I’m getting into the swing of it, finally, but the slow start seems to have been the first sign of a lot of changes from my normal NaNo state.
The outline? Gone with the wind. I never got around to finishing it, anyway, but I was hardly out of the gate when what little there was became irrelevant. I have a ton of notes though, and they should be enough to keep me going from scene to scene without becoming completely lost.
The structure? Not only am I mixing first person present tense with third person limited omniscient, I’ve done away with chapters. This first draft is going to be rough — very rough, and it won’t be until I read the whole thing and start the second draft that I’ll even know whether it works.
I now recognize a pattern that comes up every year — the point where I finish writing a scene and have no idea where to go next. If I could develop and follow a rigid outline this wouldn’t happen. If I could develop and follow a rigid outline, I could probably be writing best-sellers. But I can’t. Notes to the rescue. What I wind up doing — once I’m finished panicking — is go through my notes, a lot of which ask questions about aspects of the story. And I pick something, more or less arbitrarily. It has to follow logically what just went before, but it’s only one of several possible choices. Arbitrary. And being arbitrary, I don’t know where it’s going to take me.
This is a good thing to remember, because life presents us with a multitude of choices and we have no idea where the ones we ignore might have taken us. Looked at this way, writing a novel resembles one of those “choose your own adventure” stories. Every time you rerun it, having made a different choice, it takes you in a new direction.
I’m learning not to panic when I hit one of those crossroads without a direction marker. It’s just time to stop and think about the possible choices. And yes, even during NaNo, there’s time for that. The alternative is to panic and give up.
So where did the latest arbitrary choice lead me? To my secondary main character having a serious crying jag. A guy. A manly man. Or is he? That point isn’t settled yet. But a guy, anyway, boohooing like a kid.