Ah, November. Leaves on the ground, turkeys in the oven… and the ultimate writing marathon.
National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner- I’m looking at you, November- and that means October is spent making preparations for the masterpieces to come.
The last NaNoWriMo I participated in was November, 2014. If I learned one thing from that month of writing, it was how much I would have benefitted from more preparation. Yes, I took the “pantser” approach to novel writing that year and ended up with 50,000 rambling words that I haven’t looked at since.
That first attempt at penning a novel was not a total loss. I am now confident that I can complete the challenge and motivate myself to show up every day as a writer. Sometimes that’s enough, especially for new writers. However, this time I would prefer to end with a solid manuscript that I will continue to edit into a completed work.
While some writers prefer a free-form approach- and there are stories that call for it- a more traditional narrative structure typically benefits from preparation. Especially, when writing genre fiction- fantasy, sci-fi, horror. My novel, for instance, is set in another world, so building the world, cultures and characters is integral for the novel’s foundation. I have drawn (and redrawn) a map for the world and written histories for the races, religion and politics for the continent where it takes place. While that sounds like a lot of unnecessary groundwork, it gives a fantasy novel depth and brings life to a fictional world.
Along with the worldbuilding, I have been working on a pretty specific outline for the story to follow- with some room for exploration along the way. For me, thinking ahead about story structure, theme, where major story points fall and even certain dialog will allow my to focus on writing come NaNoWriMo, without floundering, directionless. Also- my characters are going on an overland journey, so I want to have that mapped out.
November is (somehow) just a week away and this the final stretch of NaNaWriMo prep. One thing I have learned from this prep month it is that, when I started, I did not realize just how much outlining and worldbuilding I needed. That sounds like an obvious statement, but the more I outline, the more I know what is needed for the story and I see the holes that I probably would have missed until editing, had I not used this month to plan.
Happy writing, fellow Wrimos!
What’re your thoughts on NaNoWriMo prep? Are you a diligent plotter or a free-spirit pantser? Leave a comment!