#NaNoPrep 2015

NaNovember starts in less than a week, and so far my prep has consisted of the following:

  • thinking I could write a companion to High School Soap Opera called High School Comic Book, with completely new characters
  • thinking it might be about time to really write The Story of Disco World, an idea that goes back to NaNo 2009 that I have tried twice
  • creating a NaNo Soundtrack for myself, with general songs plus inspiration songs from each year (except 2013, because I can’t find record of any songs that inspired my writing for High School Soap Opera)
  • skimming through what I wrote for TSoDW in the past, and thinking some is okay and some is bad but I should probably start over completely
  • visiting the NaNo forums, but not as much as I used to
  • thinking it might be about time to really write Escape From Candy Land (working title), which I started in 2013 and probably need to come up with totally new plot ideas because what I had was dumb and wasn’t even 1000 words
  • skimming through the words I have written for Escape from Candy Land in the past, and thinking knowing it totally sucks
  • thinking I really should post in my blog more… and here I am

Yesterday my brother asked me on Facebook if I have been outlining or brainstorming. I said:

Here’s what I do. I spend the last week or so of October planning, then November comes and I change my idea. So I haven’t done any hardcore planning that I would just be throwing out, no.

That’s pretty accurate. In fact, the last year I participated/won was 2013 and that whole novel came about after I did some freewriting with a thought I had several years ago and wrote down in a writing notebook I have. I actually think that is the best novel I’ve written – I’m definitely improving with each one.

So what am I going to write this year? I have no idea. And if I did have an idea, I would change it next week anyway. I may pick up with one of my previous attempts, or I may write something completely new. I only work on 13 days in November, so hopefully my daughter won’t get in the way too much. I actually write best late at night, which would be after she goes to bed so I think I’ll be okay.

#NaNoPrep Back to Disco World

“Can you remind me why I thought that this would be fun?”
-Kristina Horner, “The NaNoWriMo Song”


After all that hard work in the first half of October, getting to know characters better for my Cassandra novel, I’ve decided not to work on that one next month. I know, I know, what a waste! (Not really, because I did valuable work on characterization that will help me in the future when I do work on that one again.) So why did I decide to go in another direction? Well, I think a major part of it is that a big part of what makes NaNo so fun for me is the fact that I’m creating a world, and anything can happen, even with a basic outline.

Plotting a novel is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s awesome to know where I’m going and to know where in the novel I have to hit what plot points. Last year I had a pretty specific plan going into the month, which I was able to add to as I started writing and getting to know the story. When I didn’t feel like writing, it was easy to get started anyway, because at least I knew what I wanted to have happen. I wrote 20 chapters, and each chapter was around 2500 words, and I had a lot of fun writing with a plan.

But then I think back to the first NaNoWriMo I ever did, which was 2007. I had spent some days in the month doing “practice writing,” short stories and vignettes that were not intended to go anywhere. On October 17 (yes, I am looking back through my old blog posts from them to refresh my memory and get exact dates) I wrote something that I referred to in my blog as being about Talking trees and giggling fairies. I had previously come up with an idea of what I wanted to write (ironically, it was also something I had started working on in the past but abandoned), but after writing this day I realized that this idea was more exciting to me, and I said, “the possibilities are endless and I found myself wishing today was November 1 because this story sounds like it could be a lot of fun to make into a novel.” On October 21, I officially decided to take on this fairy story for NaNoWriMo. I did some basic NaNoPrep on October 27, like make lists of my (then unnamed) main character’s allies and enemies, and the next few days were minor prep things like naming my main character. But I had only outlined a bit of the beginning, not the whole thing.

And what was the result of this pantsing adventure, you ask? I finished my novel – Quest for Serentasia was 50,001 words – by midnight on November 21. Yeah, yeah, I was barely working (6 hours/week) and had tons of time, but three weeks is still my fastest win to date. Because I was coming up with things off the top of my head. I had a notebook where I would write thoughts for the future parts of the novel, and I would cross them out as I wrote them, but it was little structure and lots of fun.

Then in 2008, it was another year of total pantsing. I wrote scenes jumping back and forth, then later added in whatever was needed to connect the sections. I started writing a diary, then changed my mind on what I was doing and realized I would need to rearrange the order of the diary entries to change the timeline. I had so much FUN.

2009 doesn’t count. My husband was in the hospital half the month, so I started the Cassandra story but didn’t get far with it, maybe 2000 words. I wasn’t having fun, so I tried The Story of Disco World instead and got to 6,300. 8300 words total is still a good showing for that year, all things considered.

2010 – I returned to the Cassandra story, and I pansted the hell out of it. I mean, I still had a notebook with my novel ideas and notes, and lots of research, but overall I didn’t have a plan.

2011 – I don’t know if I wrote anything. Well, I guess I did. I started writing the sequel to my 2007 novel, Return to Serentasia, but stopped on November 3 because I had a really bad case of Lyme disease and had zero energy. I didn’t even write any blog posts about NaNo, that’s how bad it was.

2012 – I wrote Return to Serentasia, which was really writing the whole thing. I had a plan. I had a big outline, and… well, I already talked about that.

So basically, after all of that, this year I want to remember the fun I had writing my first two novels. Not that my experience hasn’t been fun since then, but it’s been a different kind of fun. This year I want to write something fun and crazy that I know will never be published but that’s not the point. I have a very basic idea of where I think the story will go, but I’m open to whatever the characters decide to do. If they decide instead of going after a job they want to hunt buried treasure or solve a mystery, that will be fine with me. I don’t want to overplan and take the fun out of this. I am going to go for it, and I won’t even worry about anachronisms. Who cares if it’s set in 1980s and I mention something that wasn’t around until the 1990s or 2000s? That doesn’t matter. What matters is having fun, and that’s my plan motivation.

Disco World plotting

Today I went to a write-in and moved my Disco World story from 1500-ish to 3100-ish by adding 1667. My new NaNo total is 11331 words, including my old story and notes, and I am still hoping to be able to do 50k on Disco World and not need the Cassandra story to be part of my validation text. All in all, I think it was a very successful write in. I definitely need the encouragement from others, though I still feel like I’m crawling toward the finish line.

I didn’t write more because I still need to figure out my plot, so tonight I used a spread idea from Corrine Kenner‘s Tarot for Writers. Since I have written about 3k I have a basic opening and very vague plot idea that I needed to add to. My main character is a boy (new perspective for me) named Joe. He heard the actor playing Maurice Gibb is in line to be fired, and Joe wants to be hired as his replacement. So I laid out three cards as a Three Act Structure, and afterwards laid out one more to be a “climax” card, to take place between acts 2 and 3. I’m using my Universal Waite deck, my usual deck for writing readings.

Act 1: Judgment – Going on the idea of new beginnings, this part is all about Joe wanting the job as the new Maurice Gibb. He has already heard that the powers that be do casting at the Saturday night dance competitions.
Act 2: The World – I saw the woman dancing in the center of this card and immediately saw it as a dance-off between Fake Maurice Gibb and Joe. This is unofficial – the job is not on the line just yet. Fake Maurice Gibb wins this round.
Act 3: The Chariot – Joe and Fake Maurice Gibb have an official dance-off. This time Joe wins and gets the job.

“Climax”: The Hermit – The fourth card from the top, after those for each Act, stands for events between Acts 2 and 3. Joe stays away from Disco World for a few days. He takes time alone to consider if he really wants the job, and to practice his moves.

I think as little as the plot is now, it’s more than what I had and it’s enough to get me started for now. Let’s hear it for pantsing!