It’s getting close. Do you have your story outline yet?
I talk a lot about outlines, and how each should be catered to the writing style of the author. I use notebooks to keep everything together. Some people use Scrivener, or note cards, or some other method. Some people use a single piece of paper with all the major bullet points on it. Some use a single strip with the theme of their book, and they print out that strip and tape it to their laptop.
If I can get this old Remington typewriter oiled up and find a ribbon in time, I might consider writing my NaNo book on that, hard copy. Why would I “torture” myself in this way?
I didn’t get a typewriter to look cool, or to have a prop laying around for pictures. Typewriters offer a very suitable method of producing draft copies that matches my writing style: the story moves forward, never back. Yes I could get white out, or correction ribbons, or any amount of other garbage for fixing things, but I wouldn’t use it. The typewriter, to me, eliminates this desire to sit and perfect sentences. I like to get my thoughts down, tell the story, and never look back until the time comes to start the editing process. This allows me to be creative without engaging the more analytical part of my brain that is concerned with spelling and typos.
I’ve also been filling up a composition book with story ideas. My original theme for the NaNo novel has been scrapped. It helped me find a character and design a futuristic world that seems plausible, but when I dropped my character into that world, the story arc became a problem. I know who she is, and what she wants, but I’m struggling with the overreaching story arc.
How I’m solving this problem? I’m drafting up outline after outline. I’m adding details to the story, and developing a flow for it. All I need is a big finale that ties everything together, and that might or might not happen in the next two weeks. Maybe I’ll drift to a totally new tangent. I don’t know. But so far, I have a half-filled notebook and a 4000 word short story to guide me. This is how I prep for a novel, and it has worked for me in the past. (It’s exactly how Viral Spark started when I got the commission for the novellas that are now out of print)
Doing this all with short, telly bits of outline is much easier than hitting a block in November. Outlines, for me at least, are not set in stone. They are living, malleable roads, and the main bullet points of the story are sign posts. This story has been fighting me a little all along the way, but continuing to brainstorm each element has added a lot of depth. This is probably now the most extensive outline that I’ve ever made, but it doesn’t feel like one. It’s five pages of single paragraph summations about what my character will have to go through. The rest of the book is filled with details about the world, like how the space ships work, the currency system (block-chain baby!!), some of the other characters and their motivations, what happened to her parents, life on a Martian colony (even though the story takes place on Earth), interplanetary transportation networks, etc. I have too many details in there to name them all off.
How do I come up with all of this? I grab my pen, open the notebook, and let the ink bleed on the paper. I usually start with another simple outline. Do this, then this, then this happens, then meet this guy, twist one, twist two, etc. When I get stuck, I start hashing out a story about something related to the sticky part, keeping the overall theme of the story in the front of my mind. I struggle, but as long as that fountain pen is touching paper, ink is going to keep coming, so I have to keep the pen tip moving to avoid a soaked splotch on my notebook. That’s the way I do it. That’s the way I write. Always moving in the direction of the story.
Best part of this is, if I get stuck during NaNo, I have a whole volume of information to sort through for ideas. I don’t plan on staying stuck for very long.
What about you guys that are doing NaNo this year? (I know some of you have left comments that you are going to skip it) Is your story ready to NaNo?