Monday, 6 October 2014

NaNo Prep

I thought I'd just share a quick post on my NaNoWriMo prep for this year. I've taken part in NaNo every year since (I think) 2005 and I've won all bar two of those. This has taught me something; there are two kinds of NaNoers, the planners and the pantsers, I am definitely one of the former.

The two years when I've written over 100,000 words were both years when I had the story planned out to the nth degree. Well, technically it was the same story both times but I redid all my notes for the second attempt and it was doubly well organised since the notes were the result of around two months work!

Likewise, both times I've failed, I've gone in with the vaguest of vague outlines figuring the ideas will come to me as I write and then found that they didn't. Oh, and I handwrote for one of them, that was a huge error on my part!

So this year I'm planning. I spent most of September writing out little scenes for my Behind the Scenes story to get into the habit of sitting down and writing every couple of days. Now I'm upping it to writing every day and I'm trying to use my time to get a handle on the characters and storylines I'll be using in November.

I've heard a lot of people talk about the 'Snowflake Method' when they're planning stories and I guess mine is kind of similar. I like to try and break my story idea down into fifty points, because I know if I write 1,000 words for each point I'll be onto a winner. Obviously it's not as simple as that, often a point will be something like "Matt eats breakfast" and no matter how hard I try, I'm never going to stretch that out to 1,000 words unless ninjas burst in on his fry up or the Travelling Shovel of Death pops by for a visit, but it's a starting point.

I usually divide the general story idea into five to start off with. This year's is looking something like:

1. Tabitha shows up on Matt's doorstep.
2. Tabitha starts new job.
3. Romance stuff.
4. Something I've not quite worked out yet involving Matt & some dilemma.
5. The End.

As you can see, it's a work in progress. In each of those sections I'll have maybe five points and each of those five points might get divided into two, which in turn might get divided up. And then I'll have a whole collection of scenes to work with.

One other thing that I do during November is some pre-writing based on what happens before the story starts. That's how I came up with the Limbo short I posted a couple of weeks back. Perfect Circle (the story that was sort of inspired by, though it hadn't been written at the time) had a complicated backstory between two of the characters so I used October to explore that. This year it's Tabitha's involvement in a cult and Matt's loss of his wife, they're things that will come up in November but which won't be written about, unless I use flashbacks. It's helpful to figure out how the past has affected characters and it's good practice for the keyboard pounding of the following month.

Are you doing NaNo this year? What planning methods are you using and what's worked well in the past?

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