It’s Monday again- Well, it was, when I started this post, anyway, and, around here, that means it’s time for Coffee and Conversation.
When I was six, my family was driving on an interstate highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living their lives, lives as important to them as mine was to me.
I wanted to see what those lives were, and to share my own…
Here, each Monday, I strive to reach that understanding through offering ideas and tidbits from my life. Settle in for a while, and share something of yours.
So here we are. It’s the Monday after NaNoWriMo, and it’s been a week or three since I have written a Coffee and Conversation post. I tried to avoid this, by writing up a few posts ahead, to sustain me through the blogging drought that always seems to accompany my intense noveling. The only problem with that was that I used those posts during my October planning time. Never having planned a novel before, and determined to see Rock Your Plot through with attention and intention, I underestimated the amount of time needed to move through the process.
As those of you who read with me may know, I finished NaNo, and my own personal goal of drafting an entire novel in those 30 days. I’m rather impressed with myself, and happy to know that I can write that much, that quickly. Read King of Shreds and Patches excerpts.
It wasn’t accidental, this mission I’ve accomplished. I set myself up to succeed. How, you ask?
I spent most of a month in planning; which allowed me to delve my characters and their motivation, and indulge my imagination. I lived close to the gestating ideas, all month. We built a relationship, this nascent novel and I, before I ever wrote a word.
When it was time to begin writing, at midnight on November 1, I already had a “container” of sorts for each scene. I knew who would be in each scene, what the premise of the scene was, where and when the action took place; why it happened (the goals of the thing); and the last – how it happened…a short paragraph each summarizing what I expected to happen in the beginning (getting the situation set up), middle (the conflict of the scene), and ending (usually with an unanswered question or some type of disaster for the point of view character).
Honestly, going in, I was a little worried about it. I write best when my characters have room to play and grow, and they usually take charge of their own stories, and let me know what they are going to do. I wasn’t sure that all this prepwork, although it seemed open-ended enough for my creative process, wouldn’t get in the way.
Those worries were – delightfully – unfounded. The planning process unrolled from the most basic – premise, goal, motivation, and conflict of the novel; major plot points – and moved gradually into other, more complex matters -character biographies detailing their life up to the beginning of the story; scene by scene outlining, as mentioned above.
I think that this allowed the story to begin writing itself, before I actually began. Rather than my customary envisioning of bits of scenes and dialogue, I felt the story building, developing, growing into a cohesive whole, with each scene a part of the trajectory of the story as a whole, and the POV character’s personal story arc.
Writing this NaNo novel felt different than any of the others I’ve begun or continued as NaNo projects (I think there have been 8 altogether, although some have or will become two novels, before they are completed). I never felt that sense of desperation that was formerly familiar in the middle of each story, as I got tangled up in my plots and details, and the entire story bogged down.
It might sound paradoxical, but the planning freed me. Freed my mind to focus on the possibilities that would advance and deepen the story, rather than flailing and floundering for something – anything! – to make the story more excited When. It. Seemed. To. Just. Drag. On. Forever.
While some of the scenes do wander and sag a little, and there are two scenes I think might want to be reversed, and a few dropped threads and inconsistencies I’ll need to deal with in revisions, this is a cleaner rough draft WIP than any other I’ve completed, and I did it far faster than ever before.
Planning wasn’t the reason, though, as much as that the planning system I chose works so well with the way I create. I’m thinking that’s the key; I didn’t need to force myself to fit the system, and the system is very open to tweaking to suit my individual tastes and needs. Like the way I write, and live, it’s flexible.
Have you ever found a system for achieving a long-term goal that seems tailor-made for you?What do you like about it? Why do you think it works so well for you? Are there clues to your own process, in the system you favor? I’ll get us something tasty to sip, and you can tell me all about it! =D
- Looking Back At NaNoWriMo 2013 (petergermany.com)
- NaNoWriMo, Part 2 (clairevioletthropeexpress.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo Follow Up (peopleplacesthins.wordpress.com)
- Post-NaNoWriMo ROW80 Check-in (poppycockpublishing.com)
- NaNoWriMo Week 4 Update: I’m a Winner (hisbard.wordpress.com)
- A novel experience through NaNoWriMo (nikkimmascali.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo Is Over. The Real Work Begins Now. (carrierussellbooks.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo’s End (rgsummers.wordpress.com)