As I write, the date is September 24, 2012, and I have just spent the last hour burning with material for NaNoWriMo 2012. Ideas are just popping out and I’m throwing them down in a private blog post for future reference.
This will be NaNoWriMo V for me. I’m planning a sequel to my 2011 3DayNovel story that has grown from 23,500 words into what is now a 60,000 word novel, with further revisions, additions and deletions still to come. A few months ago (while lying in a bath; a great place for ideas!) I got the central plot for the sequel. I’ve played with the ideas off and on by creating a few different pages on ListThings, but now I’ve accumulated those pages into a single blog post, and in the last hour I’ve added about 100% more.
In keeping with the NaNoWriMo rules all these prep materials are only thoughts, ideas, descriptions, characters, plots, and questions because I’m not allowed to do any actual writing until November 1. What I’m finding useful are two things that I learned in the 2012 3DayNovel process:
- Look at how characteristics and personality traits could possibly present themselves. These I indicate with “AS: “, meaning that the trait presents itself by the character doing these possible things, or as, and,
- List moments or events, rather than thinking in terms of chapters or scenes,
and then I throw down anything that comes to mind, even if they are contradictory or out of sequence. Contradictory reactions could be the same trait presenting in a different situation, or I could build a new contrasting character from it or add the trait to an existing character for tension. And sequence doesn’t matter in the notes because I can rearrange at any time.
And I wasn’t aware how constricting the search for scenes (chapters) is for my thinking process. I wasn’t even aware that I was thinking in terms of chapters until I stopped and forced myself to look smaller, to just imagine moments. “Trips and drops books” is a moment, and later I can add the kind of day the MC was having and/or where they going and/or what distracted them, and then who saw this and what happened as a result of this moment later on in the plotting or in the writing process. If I focus on trying to generate a multitude of moments to write that relate to
- the plot, and/or to
- the exposition of a character’s personality traits, or
- conflicts between characters, or
- important characteristics of the setting, or
- basically any element of the story,
I can find ways to join them together later, or throw them out, or replace them with something else.
And the nice thing is that NaNoWriMo doesn’t require me to subtract the trashed writing from my total word count.
The other nice thing will be, if I collect enough moments, that I will rarely get stuck in the writing process. Because the moments do not always have a predetermined sequence or connections to other moments I can jump around anywhere and write anything. Now, sequentially some things must likely come before others because some moments will depend on some previous events having previously occurred (can’t throw out the baby with the bath water unless the bath has been drawn, the house has been built, the baby has been born, ect), but I don’t have to join or transition them as I write. And without written transitions I may feel freer to reorder as needed. I can save the transitioning to lulls in the writing process, or whenever I feel the need to glue some parts together to get a better sense of the whole so far.
But, I suspect that one of the keys to working this way is to generate a massive quantity of moments and possibilities, including lots and lots of small daily occurrence types of events. That may be part of the reason that my 3DayNovel ended up being a short story.