This is a post from a previous year on NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated. It’s a movement to jumpstart your novel by committing to writing 50,000 words in the month of November. They can be good words, or crap words (probably the latter as most first drafts are), but to win a prize they must be done within the calendar month, Thanksgiving weekend be damned.
Are you ready? If not, if you’re in the middle of a novel you might try my alternative outlined below, FiFiDraMo, or Finish First Draft Month. Or do what I’m doing this year: NoOutMo, Novel Outlining Month. Having 50,000 words in a messy pile is okay for beginning writers but for me it just causes headaches and inertia. I’ve learned that for myself, if I write a cohesive outline with plot points and strategy and tension, I’m way ahead of the game.
But to each his own writing! That’s what’s so awesome about this thing we do. Do it your own way. Check out my writing nuggets on Pinterest. And remember: There are no rules.
Since it’s November many of us will be plunging head first today into National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure why November got picked for this exercise in writing a complete (or so) novel in one month, since it’s not the longest month on the calendar, and is saddled with a long holiday weekend in the US, full of food prep, family visits, and other distractions like, well, indigestion.
Be that as it may, November it is. I have signed up for NaNoWriMo before and enjoyed the challenge but this year I’m doing my own deal: Finish First Draft Month, or FiFiDraMo. It’s not realistic for me to write an entire novel in one month. I could do it, I suppose, but it would be the sort of dreck that takes years to unwind, fix, and polish. That’s not worth the headache for me, at this stage in what I laughingly call “my career.” In fact, I could easily spend a more profitable month outlining a novel to come. That would be an excellent use of thirty days. I recommend that instead of trying to bang out 60,000 words just for the numbers.
But to each his own. May your fingers fly and your creativity soar. Here’s to goals for every month of the year! Click here for info on the Young Writers Program at NaNoWriMo, a really cool project for kids.
My goal for the month of October was to get half of my new novel written. As of Wednesday, Oct. 30, I was not quite at the midpoint but in smelling distance, with 33,000 words written. That’s pretty close, so I am popping my buttons with pride! I still have about three scenes to write before I reach the midpoint where the consequences and the actions take a serious, dramatic turn and my protagonist has to leap into her Wonder Woman underpants. So if that takes another, say 5000 to 7000 words, the book will end up in the range of 70 – 75K. Maybe longer as I go back and wax a little in spots, filling in imagery and setting and emotional depth. And possibly shorter after cutting some early stuff too.
The outline I made (via Scrivener – my new favorite toolbox) has proved worth every penny, even though I am not following it exactly. It’s impossible to know what juicy tangents will come up as you write, and what is just not going to work even though it sounded great in the outline. Still it’s the underlying supports, the placement of certain scenes that makes the outline golden. I used a Beat Sheet Template written for Scrivener, based on the writing books of Larry Brooks, Story Engineering and Story Physics. If you have yet to discover the hidden structure in novels, Larry’s your man. There are other templates out there too. Find one that works for you and the way you write.
My goal for November? Finish that First Draft. As the cable guy says: Git ‘er done.
To get a sneak peek of what I’m writing now, sign up for the newsletter. I’ll be giving out the secret password to get a copy of the booklet, “Thalia Filbert’s Killer Cocktail Party,” with recipes from the new culinary thriller I co-wrote, Beat Slay Love.