Friday, October 22, 2010

NaNoWriMo, getting started, comparing writing methods

The countdown is on: November’s ‘Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon’ that are NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), are only eight days away. In 2008, while unemployed, I took part and was victorious, writing over 70.000 words, although the story wasn’t quite finished. Another 10k, and it should be. Some day I might dig it up, revise and end it.

With that novel, I just sat down and began to write. I had a basic idea of characters, and the conflicts between them, which by itself carried me through. Yielding to the old adage ‘write what you know’, there were horses in it, and I loved writing about them, which also made it easy.

This year, I plan on taking part again. I’ve been working on the plot outline of a new idea, writing down detailed notes on characters, settings, and even jotting down a few scenes in my notebook. I think it’s got a lot of potential, and I’m eager to start this project, though I’m not sure I’ll make 50.000 words in thirty days, seeing as I have a lot of other stuff to do. But it’ll get me started, and it’ll be an incentive to keep at it, to get through 2000 words every day.

I usually don’t start a story with a detailed plot outline and characters. I get an idea in my head and let the ‘flow’ take me where it may, for as long as it will. Then I start to think about where it’s headed, what development I want my characters to make, and how that might be achieved. I never have a clear ending in mind when I start out.

This time, I do. In some respects, this makes it easier. I know who the baddies are, their motives, how they’re hiding or covering up their evil intentions. I know how my protagonist is going to muddle along, trying to figure out what’s happening.

On the other hand, I’ve already limited myself, imagination-wise. The ‘flow’, my zen, might be harder to get into, if I’m always heading down a clear path, instead of letting my imagination explore its own infinite reaches.

It’ll be interesting to compare and contrast, at the end of November. Maybe then I can tell for sure which way suits me better.

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