It’s soon that time again. What time, you ask? NaNoWriMo!
Yes, an entire month devoted to disgorging a novel whole. I took the challenge last year and succeeded (50,009 words, to be exact), and I’m starting to gear up for this year’s.
Last year, I didn’t get around to working on my outline until Halloween evening. I had had a basic idea of what I wanted to do, but nothing really fleshed out. So I spent Halloween night creating a very rough outline to guide me in the weeks ahead.
I ran through my outline within 20,000 words. Clearly, an evening of preparation was insufficient. Though I still managed to cough up an additional 30,009 words, the process was not pleasant. While I was happy with the pace and voice of the first chunk of the story, the necessity to make crap up on the fly in the latter 3/5th led to a dramatic decline in quality.
Granted, NaNoWriMo has never been about writing a readable novel, but I was hoping to make something that I would at least be tempted to polish later. The aberration that resulted from that departure from the planned path was not something I wanted to look at again. Since more than half was likely garbage, I wrote off the entire thing. (Ha!)
So this year, my goal is to write something that I would at least be willing to share and get criticism on. I’m about a third through my expected outline and it’s much more extensive than the previous year’s. One thing I discovered is that I can be exceedingly brief -- I’m not heavy on description and I don’t use two words when one will do. So, my outline is going to be verging on epic length... which means I just might reach 50K without having to start making stuff up at the end.
That said, my outlines are more like rough guidelines -- key events or concepts that I want to cover -- so there’s still a ton of room for spontaneity and creativity. Discovering how the character goes from A to B leaves a lot of room for imagination -- I only know that A and B exist, not the details.
So who else is prepping for NaNoWriMo? Do you write outlines or just have extensive notes? Do you write back stories for your characters? Do you draw your locations? Do you create your characters on the Sims when you should be doing real work? (*cough*)