29 October, 2011

My NaNoWriMo Process

Before I embark on my novel writing escapade, I thought I might write a little about how I am organizing my thoughts.

Usually, I just start writing and plow through whatever comes my way.  I add back story and other sundries as I go.  Makes revisions hard, but it seems to work best for me.

I used to feel an inordinate amount of guilt about this approach.  I read all about how people use graphs and note cards and flow charts and nifty binders and things to structure their novels.  I tried that.  It really doesn't work for me.

And I was reading in the current issue of Writer's Digest, an article by James Lee Burke, who not only once had a string of 111 rejections (holy crap! and I thought 4 was bad) but he also doesn't outline or story board or anything.

Now, I know that there is no law declaring that an author must outline.  But the idea of being super organized to ensure success is touted and blathered about so much, it kind of gets to a mind-control level of influence.

Burke had a comment that I really like.  To paraphrase:  'If I know how it's going to end, so does the reader.'

Exactly!  If I know exactly what happens in every scene, then I feel I have no room to improvise.  I feel it becomes boring and predictable.  I like to be surprised, along with my readers.  Why does the spaceship captain not like to talk about his past?  Well, maybe he committed treason and has been disowned by his family.  Why do Kevin and Strenton hate each other?  Er...I'm still working on that one.  Get back to me.

Anyway, the point is, I can't can't can't work with a super formal structure.

Having said that, with my story for NaNo, I am doing a little preplanning.  My regular process is to start with an event, like: aliens attack and bomb the capital of the planet or most everyone gets turned in a zombie.

I have the EVENT that is going to start the novel, but this time, I also now how I want it to end.  The problem with this is my characters have to make certain decisions that lead them to this end.  Which means I have to plot a little bit.  Which means I have to have some idea of who my characters are beforehand so it will seem realistic that they make certain decisions and progress to the intended end.

This is dangerous ground.  One, because my fingers itch to start writing it NOW!!!  And also, I am falling into the pit of structure from which there is no escape.  I am making do by scribbling ideas in a notebook or adding them to my Scrivner file.  In no particular order and with no real commitment.

Flexibility is the key for me, even if the outline function is singing a siren song.

Must resist!  Only three days left!