#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!

The Story of Disco World….


I am writing a new story called The Story of Disco World. I don’t yet know what’s going on. Am I doing this instead of Cassandra? (3k/day wins NaNo in 17 days.) Is this a break before I get back to that one? I don’t know. All I know is that I had this title pop into my head a few years ago, and I was looking in my writing ideas notebook and this jumped out at me. So I’m playing with it. As you can imagine, Disco World is a 70s perversion of Disney World… and it’s two words.

And I mentioned Disco Inferno, and the next song my new Pandora playlist played for me is… Disco Inferno! I think that’s a good sign. 632 words so far. I won’t post the whole thing as I go, but here’s what I have so far. Thoughts?


    I walk down the street, almost blinded by the sequins, trying to make my body as small as possible to avoid touching anyone. Where did they all come from? They are dressed like women but with manly features, large jaws and adam’s apples highlighted with bronzer and red gloss. They have wide platform stilettos and fishnet stockings, miniskirts and shiny ringlets, and bras pushing up god knows WHAT they are stuffed with. They meet each other with names like Allison Wunderland and Goldie Locks. They watch me with whispers and licked lips and I finally realize I’ve somehow managed to go where no straight male is ever meant to be: Drag Queen’s Row.

    When I was a child, I always wanted to live at Disco World. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be in the middle of Saturday Night Fever twenty-four hours a day? Even at age six I had four pairs of bell-bottoms, eighteen tie-dyed t-shirts, and an afro wig. I owned every album put out by the Bee Gees, and I never washed my hair or feet. I was the ultimate stereotype and I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get a job at the happiest place on earth. I wanted to be John Travolta. I wanted to date the Dancing Queen and I wanted to be her Disco King.
    The eighties were a tumultuous time. The introduction of the microwave and synthesizer meant the end of life as we knew it. The disco ball was out, and neon was in. Disco World was created as a magical kingdom where Grateful Deadheads and flower children could coexist as they extolled the virtues of world peace and free love. It was the most original theme park in the world, of that I was certain…

    By the time I turn fifteen, in the middle of the eighties, I have waited long enough. I put on my brown bell-bottoms and a brown vest. I don’t have any chest hair yet, but I hoped that wouldn’t matter. I brush my hair, blonde and down just past my shoulders, grab my record just in case, and ask the Farrah Fawcett poster on my bedroom wall to wish me luck.
    I walk the mile to Disco World, humming Oh What A Night and bopping my head. I’ve practiced my routine for months, and I hope I will soon get a chance to strut my stuff. When I reach the gate, I can see the Disco Center looming in all its mirrorballed wonder. Sure, I love Boogie Wonderland, Funkytown, and the Copacabana. I even like the World of Yesterday. But my favorite part of the park is the Disco Center. That’s where the Disco Showcase is, with pavilions where you can learn about the many different disco singers and groups. I heard that the guy playing Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees might get fired any day, and I am more than ready to step in as his replacement. I walk up to the security desk, which is being manned by a guy that looked like KC, as in “and the Sunshine Band.”
    “Can I help you?”
    “Is it true that Maurice is on the outs?” I ask.
    “I can neither confirm nor deny rumors about Disco World employees.”
    “Maybe this will help.” I slide a fifty across the desk. He slaps his hand over the bill and looks at me sharply. He tilts his head and nods slightly, and I glance at the upper corner of the booth. I don’t see anything, but there must be a camera there. Of course. I give the guard a shrug and keep my lips shut.
    “Everyone loves working here,” he says. “Unfortunately, once in a while somebody gets disco inferno, if you know what I mean.” Inferno… he must mean fired!