Why and How I’m doing NaNoWriMo This Year

I’ve mentioned before that I’m signed up for National Novel Writing Month this November.

Why am I doing NaNoWriMo?

November’s as good a time as any to write another book, and I like the camaraderie.

If it weren’t November, it may be March, for all I care, really. What I need in terms of my writing craft is to start a brand new project from scratch. I need to take a few pages of a plot idea and a random conflict setup and turn them into a book.

Moreover, I need to do it following the process I’ve planned out.  Somewhere around draft 6 of Salvaged, I figured out several things about how I want to write new pieces, and how I want to tackle editing them.  However, I was so far into the book, it was hardly a clean start and a fresh measure.   I need a new novel that I can mold from a plain brick of clay into something interesting.

I don’t think this process is the end-all-be-all process that I’ll use. But I think it will work better than winging it. I need to put it through its paces and find out where it works, and where it doesn’t. What works, and what doesn’t. I need to test it.  The process is three drafts (as opposed to an exhausting nine). It includes one round of readers, and three planning sessions.  It includes outlining and plotting (because I’m never pantsing a whole work again).

In short, it pushes me to get more stuff right the first time.

In addition to testing the process for points of failure, I’m also going to have a clear timeline. If I begin on November 1st, how long does it take me to complete the entire process end-to-end? (Ideally, I’d discover how long it takes me to go from 2 pages of notes to a novel I’d be willing to try to publish. I don’t think the three years of Salvaged is an accurate measure.)

Here’s the first bit of the How:

I selected my plot (I’m doing the one called Development from this blog post) because as I freewrote on all FIVE of the various plots that sounded like fun, this is the one that elbowed the others out of the way and insisted I work on it more.

The way I did this was first to do a 15 minute word sprint to see which one came the most easily, which one was the most interesting and entertaining.  The Development plot was only 13 words longer than the average 585 words for all five plots. A winner, but not a landslide.

Next, I checked my sweet spot map, and I wrote out the themes and questions I wanted these books to cover. Again, none of them were particularly interesting.

In the end, it was the one I found myself daydreaming about, giggling over, and thinking about that won. The one that exceeded the others by 13 spare words.  It’s a romantic comedy. Should be a nice change of pace.

I opened up a scrivener file and I started making index cards. I now have about 20 cards roughed out for the 3 act arc. I need to do character sketches and world building then go back and fine-tune scene cards.  That’s the pre-writing. The scrivener file will be prepared and ready to go for the 1st, Full of everything from city maps to character biographies.

I’ll stick with the NaNo goal of 1667 words per day and the 50K words for the month, but I would ideally like to double that. A good target word count would be 90-100K words for a completed novel. And this is a novel process, not a novella!

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7 thoughts on “Why and How I’m doing NaNoWriMo This Year

  1. Pingback: Putting my Dreams in Other People’s Hands | A.K. Anderson | Science Fiction and Fantasy Author

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  5. Pingback: NaNoWriMo 2013: Post Mortem | A.K. Anderson | Science Fiction and Fantasy Author

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