One week to go before NaNo!!

NaNoWriMo is my favourite time of year. I enjoy it and look forward to it more than “the Christmas season” (I like Christmas the holiday just fine but more than a week of run-up is awful and at least in Toronto it seems to start mid-October as soon as Thanksgiving stuff is done. Sometimes there’s Christmas stuff right next to Halloween supplies. It’s insane.)

This year my novel is Blackout Odyssey–a return to the Melanie!verse, namely a magical realism trip through TO. It is a retelling of the Odyssey set in the big blackout of 2003. So that’s been fun to research (typical google search: “nokia models available 2002 southern ontario”). And I can’t wait to get back into writing again after months of editing.

But what is really setting apart this year for me is a new goal: finishing a novel in a month.

The previous attempts at NaNo are divided into two types: the ones where I don’t finish because I have the Week 2 Weepies really badly and give up early on and the ones where I do 50,000 words and am nowhere near the end. And trying to continue on into December doesn’t really work for me because of all the aforementioned Christmas Season stuff. Plus, if you think about NaNo as running a marathon… it doesn’t really make sense to run another marathon as soon as you cross the finish line, does it? Didn’t think so. Meaning the half-finished novel gets shelved for a while and/or hangs around my neck like a millstone of guilt until I recover enough to try to finish it.

I know the purpose of NaNo is to write a complete novel in one go and many people manage to do it. I also know that traditional methods for outlining don’t work for me: as soon as I know too much about a story the urge to work on it stops dead. So I’ve just been pantsing my way through November with abandon. Which worked until suddenly I had three novels in the editing queue because editing is so much slower than writing. Lousy bottlenecks!

Now that I have plans and goals and shit of a career-y nature I can’t afford to just start a new novel and finish it when I feel like it any more.

So 2017’s goal is no longer 50K in 30 days. I know I can hit that. Instead I want to go from “Once upon a time…” to “they lived happily ever after, the end” in one shot. One month.

I’m gonna need an outline.

  • I’ve been trying a few different approaches over September and October and I think the one that might work best for me is the Snowflake Method. It’s a very concise + methodical for asking yourself pertinent questions about your characters, plot, and world; it gets very nitty-gritty in the later half and I tune out long before then. I don’t want to know the nits or the grits ahead of time. But for the big strokes, it’s been pretty useful.
  • How To Do NaNoWriMo When You Don’t Have The Time is a great overview for beginners.
  • While Too Much Of A Good Thing: Overplotting Your Novel is geared towards people already outlining, the questions asked also work as a launching point for putting a story together (and Fiction University is a useful resource for writers of all levels)
  • And even if you don’t want to outline at all, Rachel Aaron over at Pretentious Title has an AMAZING method for upping your word count productivity. She uses an outline, but the triangle/three points system works just on a scene-by-scene pantsy basis too, I can personally attest.

See you next Wednesday at the starting line! Good luck! (And don’t forget you can hit me up on Twitter if you’re roughly EST and want to do a word sprint. I love word sprints.)

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