NaNoWriMo 2016 — And Structure

Yes, it’s early to be planning for National Novel Writing Month, but that’s how I usually do it.

I’ve been nursing a story idea for several years, but not doing much about it. A few notes, a few questions, a few characters’ names. But some stories nag, while others are content to fade into the background and hope their day will come. This one nags. Constantly. And it seems to have been putting down roots in my brain because when I opened it today to make some additions, I found that the plot had developed quite a bit.

So, of two or three possible choices for November’s days of madness, Empire of Masks made the cut as the only possible one. It’s a fantasy of slavery and politics. There will be kidnapping, drug addiction and death, a degenerate emperor, murder (probably), and blowing things up. It will be very, very different from anything I’ve written.

The phase outline is already in progress, and there’s enough material now to start setting up chapters and possibly a formal outline. Itchy fingers are eager to get going, so it’s a good thing there are lots of plot points to be worked out, characters and their relationships to develop, and a world to create from the ground up.

Six and a half months to go, which is great for planning, not so great for the itchy fingers.

Story structure — again.

Obviously, story structure is very much on my mind lately. I’m in the middle of Weiland’s book, but also, as one outcome of cleaning off my computer desktop (cluttered with URLs, folders, texts, etc.)

I’m also reading a tiny book by Rachel Aaron: 2,000 to 10,000, Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. The book includes, and is an offshoot of, her original blog post: How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day. My first reaction, when the post started making the rounds was just what you might imagine. Oh no. Not another speed demon telling everyone that they need to write faster. But it wasn’t like that at all. The post is descriptive, not prescriptive, and the book continues in that vein. It isn’t about writing faster, as such, but about getting rid of the things that slow us down.

She’s a full-time writer, and also a damn fast typist, if her word counts are to be believed. I’m neither. She has contracts and deadlines, and I have neither. The book isn’t “do as I say,” but “figure out what works for you and discard the rest.” Aaron has a sense of humor, and she knows how to lay out the essentials without taking forever. So, having started out poo pooing the idea of writing 10,000 words a day, I have to say that her little book  is probably the best $.99 investment I’ve ever made. Short, sweet, straight to the point. I’ll never write 10,000 words a day, but maybe I’ll be able to write more than I usually do. With a new novel coming up in a few months, I’ll have a chance to put it to the test.




4 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo 2016 — And Structure

  1. Rachel’s book is great. I’ve adopted the idea of spending a few minutes on Knowledge, and a few minutes on Enthusiasm, before starting to work on a scene, rather than just plunging in.

    I used her Time idea – keeping track of how much I actually spent writing or trying to write – for a few months back before I turned pro, but my problem is not lack of spending my time wisely, it is having the brain ON during that time, which is often not something I can control

    I’m always sitting here, but without a brain, not much happens except sudoku (and that slowly).

    I don’t have an attitude problem – I have the problem of using my little ON time for more than just writing – sometimes you have to.

    Otherwise, it is definitely a good little book: writers get in their own way more than plumbers and statisticians. It’s fixable, to a certain extent.

    Happy setting up your book for NaNo – that inconceivable horror show. Some people like it – I can’t make a deadline literally to save my life. I don’t put pressure on myself. All I want to do is write – I just can’t sometimes. Physically can’t.

    1. I’m so glad to know you like Rachel’s book too. The section on time is the least useful one, for me, but who knows. NaNo is the only time I keep a word count, and it might be not be a bad idea to see just how much writing I can do in a given time. I have endless buckets of time, but like you, the mental and physical ability isn’t always there.

      Nano isn’t for everyone, for sure, and with your piecemeal ability to work, it wouldn’t be worth it for you. I love it and dread it in equal measures. It’s my once-a-year all-out challenge to get a novel written without dragging it out forever. Of course, the revisions go on for years, usually, but at least the major work is done. I’ve learned how to reduce the pressure during November, and even take a few days off to make sure I don’t end the month totally exhausted, which is what happened the first few times. Part of getting through it undamaged and with an actual novel is the months of preparation. Six months isn’t really too long.

  2. I’m a fan of 2k, too. Have you read any of her Writing Wednesdays posts on her blog. Sometimes it’s craft, sometimes it’s more marketing, and sometimes her husband (who is effectively the business manager) jumps in with interesting techie/business type stuff. Anyway, her blog is:

    1. Haven’t had a chance to browse through her blog yet, which is something I enjoy doing when I discover a new author/blogger. May sub to it when I can get back to it.

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