With NaNoWriMo fast approaching, I am trying to plan out the rest of my story so I have lots of writing fodder to meet the 1,667 words-per-day goal. Just looking at that number doesn’t seem that hard to do, but I’ve done NaNo a couple times, and it is tough. I made the goal once, but only got to 35,000 the other time. Both times, I was starting from scratch. This time I have 40,000 and just want to finish the darned book.
In a very timely fashion, I got an email from a writing site I subscribe to called Creative Writing Now. The subject of the email was “How to plan a novel.” It starts off with the basics: come up with a main character and a problem facing that character. Then write down the scene ideas for the character and the problem. This is often how I start. Although, I tend to start more the main character’s goal, and then have difficulty with the conflict lock. Nancy goes on into a description of a plot outline. I don’t usually get this far in the early stages. I tend to just start writing and then have to do the outline later when I’m figuring out where I am and where I’m going.
The post included several genre specific plots that focus on the structure, action, scene order, speed, rhythm, etc. Popular story structures she used were women’s fiction, mystery novels, and hero’s journeys. She had some specifics on what those books contained, but they all can be divided in the scenes and acts with tension ramping up and something big changing in the middle with the final climactic scene(s).
Here is a quote from author Ken Follett describing his process: “I rewrite the outline – and this may happen several times. Typically there will be a first draft outline, a second draft outline and a final outline, so it would twice go through the process of being shown to a number of people. The whole process of coming up with idea, fleshing it out, doing the research, drafting the outline and rewriting the outline comes to about a year all told. There are quite often a couple of false starts within this. I may spend a month working on an idea before I realize that it isn’t going to work and abandon it. But after this whole process, I’m ready to write the first draft.”
Looks like Follett is a planner/plotter, too. Where are all the pantsers? Are any of you folks getting ready to NaNo?