With NaNoWriMo fast approaching (as in TOMORROW), I am trying to nail down my approach for this year. I’m not writing, I’m editing. I plan to work on my story scene by scene for 1 1/2 hours per day. But for those of you planning on doing the real deal, which is 1,667 words-per-day, I’m sharing a page I found a while ago on a site I visit regularly: Creative Writing Now.
The subject of the post is “How to plan a novel.” Nancy (not sure who Nancy is exactly but there is a video of her explaining her approach) starts off with the basics: set a writing schedule, come up with an idea, a main character, a problem facing that character, etc. 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 includes lots of good links for more ideas like genre specific plots that focus on the structure, action, scene order, speed, rhythm, etc. Popular story structures she uses are women’s fiction, mystery novels, and hero’s journeys. She has 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? I hope you are because Get Ready, Get Set, and GO!