We’re halfway through October. That means that NaNoWriMo is almost upon us! On the first of November, people across the world will be typing, scribbling and creating their soon to be realised story ideas. As I mentioned in my previous post on the subject, I’m pressed for time this year. I’m abroad for work for four days. I’m also away all day for work on a fifth day. So to win this year, I acknowledged that I need to be organised.
I sat down at the beginning of October, with a vague idea for my novel. It’s going to be a humorous fantasy set in this world. The first time I did NaNoWriMo in 2014, that was about as much plan as I had. So it should come as no surprise that at first, I struggled to move beyond this. I sat there for a while with a blank page, and eventually managed to jot down some random ideas. These equated to things like ‘Write good book,’ and ‘Don’t write bad book.’
In short, I was ill equipped for the task ahead.
Luckily, there is this thing called the internet, where you can find all sorts of information. I went on the hunt, and I came across Live Write Thrive. It turns out that there is an awesome person called C.S. Lakin in the world, and she has plenty to offer in the way of advice and writing resources. I read through her site, and I found this post. It details plotting a novel in 30 scenes.
However, you don’t plot them in the order they will appear in the book.
This was something of a revelation to me. I did some more reading, and I decided to incoporate it in my planning. However, first, I needed to get to know my characters. I also found a post on character building here. By that point, I had managed to get a vague idea of my main character, and her antagonists. Then, I came across Lakin’s character development sheets.
I started using them, and I gotta say, they’re brilliant.
I now have detailed accounts of my protagonist, and the three main characters she will interact with. I know what they like and hate. I know about difficult events in their pasts. I know the secrets they would never tell anyone. I know how others usually perceive them when they first meet, and the lies they believe about themselves and others. Not all of this will go into my novel, but it’s fantastic to have it on hand.
As I plot my scenes, I hope it will keep my characters consistent. They’ll say things that are based on their pasts. They’ll make stupid decisions that are logical for them to make, given the misconceptions the world has forced on them. And as I know where they’ve come from, I hope I can see where they’re trying to get to, and whether their goals are achievable.
The process was daunting. Some of my characters come from ancient mythology, and I realised I did not know all that much about them. To write the character sheets, I had to research them. This gave me something to focus my energy on, and helped me to avoid procrastinating (more or less).
So, back to creating my scenes. My characters were ready to play their parts with gusto and flair, now they just needed the right parts to play. I set myself the goal of having my main characters fleshed out by mid October, and then to plan two scenes a day, starting on the 15th of the month.
It’s the 15th of the month, and I have planned two scenes.
Right now, I’m feeling really positive about the whole experience. I thought that I could call myself a plotter rather than a puncture when it came to NaNoWriMo. However, I’m learning just how little plotting I actually did beforehand in the past. If I’m honest, planning things is a bit of a pain. So is taking the ideas in my head and making them enjoyable for others, in a grammatically acceptable format. But it’s worth it for that feeling you get once it’s done.
If you hate the idea of planning, run with that feeling. But plan anyway, in spite of it. You’ve got half the month left before NaNoWriMo kicks off. When the first of November arrives, you can be one of two people. You can be the person that looks back on the previous couple of weeks and wonders if you could have used your time more wisely. Or, you can be the one with a road map, however vague, showing you the direction you want to travel in.
The starting line approacheth. Regardless of how ready everyone is, I’m really looking forward to rushing across it with you all, as we knock fifty thousand dents into word goal.
Happy writing, and good luck :D.
Images courtesy of Pixabay.
Featured image used courtesy of National Novel Writing Month. Find out more about NaNoWriMo here.