Michaeline: NaNo on my mind, too

Woman in a cape, looking through an oval in cardboard

Now here’s a lady with a story — noblewoman, adventuress, photographer . . . Virginia Oldoini, via Wikimedia Commons

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!

7 thoughts on “Michaeline: NaNo on my mind, too

  1. Bunny Blatavsky – yay, Michaeline, this makes me very happy! Bunny appeared thanks to the Alphabot story-starter random word generator, and she’s got oodles of potential. She deserves a story of her own. Maybe we should play the 500-word story game again in 2015 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful November, writing and dreaming and having fun!

    • Hoorah! I’ll be working on number four, as well. I made it to 50K once, but I feel like I cheated — I put on a 7000-word epilogue. However, I did find out a little bit more about my characters from the epilogue.

      I’m still trying to figure out if I’m a novel writer or not. I may be more of a short-story person.

  2. I guess I’m just a born rebel, as most of my NaNo projects were continuations of novels I was already writing. As I commented on Kay’s post, I will not be Nano-ing in November (although I might do something in January), but I look forward to hearing about your progress throughout the month!

    • I think people have to make NaNo work for them, and rebelling is a great way to do that.

      November really is a crappy month to write a novel — Baty says so in his NaNo how-to book. The point being, if you can produce 50,000 words in November, you can produce them any time of the year.

      (-: If one can’t produce 50,000 words in November, there’s no shame in that. But IIRC, you produced a WHOLE lotta words last November! Didn’t you break the 50,000 in week three?

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