I love autumn. It’s my favorite time of year, the anticipation for Halloween, and Thanksgiving, then Christmas. It’s the time that people start gathering indoors, drinking hot chocolate and snuggling up in blankets.
Recently, there’s one more thing to add to the anticipation, and that’s NaNoWriMo. It’s my favorite month of the year now, and preparation sometimes takes up an entire month as well.
Every year, I try and do something different. I try and push myself into doing something that I haven’t necessarily tried before. My first year, I wrote from the point of view of a male main character. Last year, I wrote a contemporary about a middle-aged woman dealing with her father’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Every year, I learn something new about myself as a writer, and about writing in general.
This year, I’m trying to write a series. Not just one book, but the beginning of a story, one that ends with a cliffhanger and everything. The preparation for this one has been brutal.
I’m a planner, and I have to know where I’m going. When I’m planning a series, it’s not just about this book, it’s about the entire story arch, so that when I start, I know what I need to add in the beginning to make the ending fit. When the ending’s three books away, that can be kind of daunting.
The only thing that gets me through this is outlining. My outlining process hasn’t changed too much over the past few years. It really depends on time, if I’m crunched, I might do a general outline, but when I really want to sit down and do it right, I go through a 3-4 step outlining process.
All of my outlining is handwritten. I feel much closer to my creative juices when I can use more than just my fingers on a keyboard. I start with notecards, writing down the basic plotlines that I hope to skip through. Once I finish those, I flip them over and add more detail to those specific plot points.
Then I type it all up and add triple spacing, and print it out. That’s when I either do two or three more drafts. Since I’m crunching on time, I suspect I’ll only get one draft finished, but that’s okay. It’s the same basic idea. I take the outline that’s printed out, and I add even more plot points to it, more explanations as to why it’s important.
Then I type it up.
Since this is a trilogy, and since November is fast approaching, I’m actually doing all three processes at once. I’m trying to get all of my basic plotlines (the green draft) finished before November starts. Then I’m trying to get at least half of the back of the notecards (the yellow draft) finished so that I have the basic idea of at least where the next book is going.
And then I’m trying to do the fine detailed outline (pink draft) for this book.
How about the rest of you? What kind of preparation are you making for your NaNoWriMo novel?