National Novel Writing Month is coming up in just 20 more days! That crazy month-long dash to write 50,000 words is supposed to be a spontaneous exercise of joy, but the more I do it, the more I want to prepare for it. And I’m afraid that it’s a very fine line I walk between preparation and over-preparation.
NaNo welcomes rebels, but in order to rebel, there have to be rules to rebel against. You can see the rules here, but the one I’m worried about is this one:
Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works). While this is no longer a hard-and-fast rule, it is still very strongly recommended, ESPECIALLY for first timers.
To tell the truth, I’ve never done any of this before my three NaNos. I started with a protagonist and a starting incident on November 1, and that was it. This year is a little different. I’m writing about Bunny Blavatsky, a photographer in New York during the height of the Spiritualism craze. She’s been kicking around in the back of my head since Jilly gave us a story challenge in February. I’ve ordered books and Ragtime CDs, haunted YouTube looking at jerky black and white films of wide New York streets so unlike the New York I’ve visited, and started writing exercises which feature my character.
I love this part of a book – the discovery aspect! I just want to be sure that I’m feeding the book, not chaining it into predetermined pathways before I begin writing for real.
(-: I ought to qualify that “writing for real” statement – NaNo really is about daydreaming on paper. My NaNo efforts tend to be linear (that means I write chronologically, and try to segue logically from one scene to the next), so it’s guided daydreaming. But it’s not yet at the point where I’m looking at escalations, turning points and the overall structure. Heck, all I know is the protagonist, the setting and the time. I don’t even have an inciting incident yet, and probably won’t decide on one until Halloween.
The big challenge is to not get ahead of myself. I know that X, Y and Z need to be addressed, but right now, I need to concentrate on A, B and C.
And continuing in the alphabetical theme, YMMV. NaNo isn’t for everyone and there are many roads to Oz and all of that. But no matter how your creativity comes to you, it’s exciting – and contagious if you share. The important thing is that we’re all writing and dreaming and having some fun!