it is, you know
It is almost time for National Novel Writing Month. This will be my thirteenth go at it, and although I no longer need it in order to write, this frenzied month is still when I do most of my initial drafting.
But what to write? And how to prepare?
This Year’s Story
The novel I am writing for 2016 is a story that I have tried to write before, a story about superhumans and the end of the world. I last tackled this story in 2006 and it was very close to being a disaster: that’s the year I came closest to not finishing*, and the result was bad. Not all the way through, of course: there are scenes and fragments in there that are worthwhile still, but the total assembly of words was awful.
It was still a story I wanted to tell, though. I began one alternate approach to it as a bedtime story for my oldest, although it never got more than a few scenes in and I didn’t write it down at the time. I’ve also been pottering about with superhumans in my roleplaying setting A New Dawn, and as I restarted that again I realised I wanted to have another go at the abandoned novel.
So here I am, turning over the soil, looking for the bones of the story.
This Year’s Prep
Last year I took part in a trial outing for a NaNoWriMo prep course being run by Kim at MuseCraft. I’ve been using those same steps this year, since they seemed to help before.
I have to admit, however, that I only began these steps after a couple of false starts.
The first thing I tried was to capture the opening scenes from my bedtime retelling of the story, which led me into the same traps as the original failed novel since it was freighted with many of the same issues (I also couldn’t remember all that much except that there were a couple of things I definitely did not want to use). The second thing I did was to build a character network using the Fiasco method, which works a lot better when the characters have some direct connections at the start of the story. Then, finally, I remembered the successes of last year’s prep exercises and fell back into those.
But all of this has been helpful in uncovering the story I want to tell and the way I want to tell it. There are no wasted words**.
I’m getting into the plot part of the prep next and then it’s time for chapter outlines.
This Year’s Enthusiasm
Two weeks to go. I’m going to be ready. Are you?
[*] there is a thing in NaNoWriMo culture that the second year is the hardest, but for me it was the third.
[**] … as I say to myself when justifying abandoning eight years of work.