The goal taken at the beginning of November was to write 50,000 words in 30 days. There is time for a bit of jubilation in reaching that goal in 22 days but now that I have a rough first draft completed what next? A lot. However, now that I can take a quick breath I’m able to reflect on the 2013 NaNoWriMo experience so far.
Without a doubt the best thing I did was spend October working through an outline of my story. I followed some, not all, of the steps put forward in K.M. Weiland’s book “Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way To Success“. I found that I was able to generate the story, twists, turns, and sub-plots early on in the process. Knowing where I needed to place foreshadowing components as well as find dead ends in the outline was tremendously valuable.
As I moved into writing the draft I never found myself at a point of having writer’s block. I’m convinced that the upfront planning made the writing process much easier than being a “pantser”. Let me be clear though. There were parts of the outline that I changed after writing because the characters and the story was leading in a different direction. That’s totally great! Outlines aren’t meant to be unbending guides. In fact, I never thought I’d have an end-to-end story based entirely on the original outline. I knew there would be changes along the way.
Think and Then Write Write Write…
…and don’t worry about finding the right word. I recall one of the struggles I felt when I wrote in the 2012 NaNoWriMo was wanting to find the perfect word. Sometimes I’d stop while I did additional research in the middle of a writing session. That boots in the mud feeling was horrible. This time around I made a point of just writing and leaving the editing for later.
What do I mean by thinking before writing? I had an outline that detailed out each scene… at least as best as I could do but before my fingers touched the keyboard I would take a few minutes to picture the scene in my head. How were my characters going to react to events and with each other? What would build tension, if needed? How would I introduce clues or foreshadowing without giving away the farm?
The little bit of mental imagery was a great way to start my writing session and the few minutes spent up front most likely saved me hours of painful moments of writer’s block.
I have the really rough first draft done and now need to go through the first round of revisions. While I didn’t stop to edit during the draft stage, I did take some notes of areas I knew I needed to expand or generate more detail. These are all story pieces that I couldn’t quite figure out how to write but knew I wanted to include somehow. Now is the time I go back and work on these sections. I also keep track of what I’ve put into each scene in a separate chapter notes document. What I’m hoping to do is identify some of the details I’ve put in earlier chapter so I can make sure they are consistent in later chapters. This will help in rounds 2, 3, and 4 of revisions.
This is a process. After I complete my rounds of story revisions I will turn this over to my beta readers and get their feedback. Once I have the story in place I will do my own multi-step grammar check and then send the manuscript to a professional editor. At the same time I will be looking for some cover design work to be done. When I’m finished putting in the millions of grammar corrections I expect to receive from my editor it will be time to pull the trigger. Maybe I’ll do a cover reveal and some other pre-publishing madness but that’s down the road a bit (though I need to do some planning here too).
So…. that’s the scoop behind my evolving writing process that I put into NaNoWriMo 2013. I hope the finished project turns out well.
Image courtesy of Adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.