The best laid plans of…NaNoWriMo

Five weeks to go until NaNoWriMo fever hits the writing world. Are you ready for it?

Well, I’m beginning to believe there is such a thing as being over-prepared.

I’m still in the midst of my preparation. I have my characters, a vague plot, my setting and a fairly clear idea of how I want it to end. Things still to consider are viewpoints – because I plan to narrate from more than one POV – where the story begins and I think my character motivations need tightening up. I probably still have some work to do on my secondary characters also, because while I know what they are supposed to be doing, that doesn’t mean that they will conform once I put my fingers on the keyboard and start writing…

How do I know this? Well, read on.

My other major project before 1st November is to complete the first draft of last year’s NaNoWriMo battle. I’m so close. I have about eight more scenes to write totalling possibly 5,000-8,000 words. Except, in my last bout of writing something unexpected happened: the doctor’s wife suddenly showed up and I discovered that she knew my protagonist – which I hadn’t planned for at all.

Now to explain a little, the doctor’s storyline is the secondary plot – the one that takes the reader away from the main show for some light relief. The doctor has been having an affair with his nurse for some time (yes, it’s a cliché)  as he’s lost interest in his wife since she discovered they can not have children. I haven’t really thought much about the doctor’s wife, as she isn’t in the novel very much, but recently she has been waving her arms in the air trying to get my attention – hence, showing up in scenes she isn’t mean to be in.

It was only yesterday that I realised how this impacts the main plot. While it might complicate my nice neat plan for getting the novel all wrapped up before NaNo 2012, suddenly I understood what my muse was trying to get at and have now decided that there is an extra twist in the plot to end on. It will probably add a few more scenes, maybe an extra 5,000 words, but it seems like such a great parallel to have the secondary plot follow the trajectory of the main story, despite what these characters have learned from the protagonist. I just can’t resist. It’s almost like history repeating itself and Madeline will be able to get one final punch in before she dies…

It’s these types of (fun) complications that I am concerned with for November. I have planned my NaNo attempt this year much more than my last and given my experience now, realise that “the best laid plans of mice and men can often go awry”. I suppose it isn’t too detrimental for NaNo, because the aim of the game is to just keep writing – so even if I lose my way as long as I can continue onward then I’ll win.

But, this isn’t just about winning. I also want to tell this story that I’ve been holding back on since I thought of it way back in June! NaNo is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for in order to do this. Of course, some might suggest that if, during November, the story does take a different turn, that this is the story I was meant to tell anyway and my muse is purposefully steering it this way despite my outward plotting.


Basically I’ve concluded that I need to stop thinking so much about NaNoWriMo. Otherwise I’ll drive myself crazy. What will happen, will happen. This year I’m not so nervous about making the word-count: I won last year, and I didn’t even really believe I would – at least now I have faith in myself. All you really need is the kernel of an idea to take you forth on the journey to see where it might lead. And I have created myself a great big tree with plenty of nuts…so, come 1st November I guess I’ll just have to see where they fall.

What have I got to lose?


6 responses to “The best laid plans of…NaNoWriMo

  1. Cool, Cat. I’ve never done NaNo, so with you finishing the story you worked on last year, is that part of the whole NaNo thing or is that a personal goal? 5,000 words? Eh, you’ll knock that out in no time. Sounds like you are rip snortin and ready to go! Exciting! Go, Cat, Go!

  2. I have a working title, a short paragraph synopsis and a short piece of dialogue between two unnamed characters. I’ll probably walk into November with not much more! I do love jumping into the deep end… 🙂

  3. The post-it note sounds like a good plan! I’ve never got past day 2 of nano before, and when I last wrote a novel it was an extremely disorganised affair. I’m hoping to start planning this weekend, but I think the planning will be fairly loose, so I have room to play around with it 🙂

  4. Personally, I’d rather have a loose plot so I’m not stuck wondering where I’m going (hence the bullet pointed prompts). You can waffle as much as you like, but at least you can come back to the action to keep the continuity. They’re the kind of plans that are flexible though. Post-it note planning in this manner helps for flexibility as you can move them around.

    • I used post-it notes last year to great effect: Every day before writing I’d post-it the next couple of scene and use this as the basic outline for my 1,667 words…It worked fairly well and kept me on track.
      I have to admit, I’m not a pantster by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes I just have to follow my muse and see where she takes me – usually, she’s on the right track.
      Thanks for commenting
      Take Care, Cat

      • It certainly does help having a rough idea where you’re going. I had a list of expected actions, so I just kept checking back in when I was stuck. I had a habit of going a little nuts when I tried planning the novel with post-its – I spent so much time colour coding and such, that I got side tracked from the writing. haha.

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