This year has been tough. For my first NaNoWriMo I came up with a characteristic that I wanted to investigate (creativity), applied different versions to have three different characters (recombining, unorthodox, people skills) and then figured out a way that the three would have some connection to each other (famous artist returning to birth city, daughter of gallery owner, son of gallery owner) and then let my protagonist work her way through developing relationships with each of these three in turn. Just let my characters interact.
This time I started much earlier in the prep process and came up with a handful of characters to fill out the plot that I built. And this story covers some 50 years or so, though most of it is focused in the present. The result is that I’ve had to write a dozen or so almost stand-alone short stories using the existing characters and trying to come up with examples that will demonstrate the personalities of the characters. It’s a heck of a lot more work, and difficult to manage any kind of flow. And lacking flow in the writing process it becomes much more difficult to imagine or hypothesize what might happen next.
But, I’m barely keeping pace right now, so I just have to keep chugging along.