Troubles in NaNo land…

Staring our the window while I struggle with NaNo Prep I watch these guys.

While working through NaNo Prep 101 for National Novel Writing Month, I ran into a problem. Actually more than one problem. First, I was stuck on developing characters. I do believe it was the title that got me stuck.

Create Complex, Believable Characters
(Strong enough to shoulder a novel and hold your interest)

Nothing like the words complex and believable to make me feel cowed. Also, would my characters be strong enough to “shoulder a novel?”

I worked through it — thanks in part to one of my blogger friends suggesting I look at characters in my own life. There are some real doozies. I landed on a perfect one who was an exciting, close friend who disappeared forever. It was a whirlwind to be in her life but she moved on to more exciting adventures and people.

The next week’s assignment was plotting or outlining. It began with a questionnaire focused on what type of writer you are. Do you need to outline every detail or do you write and let your novel develop on the fly? I fell somewhere in between, not wanting a detailed outline and not wanting to wing it. They (Or AI?) suggested I try the 9-Step Plot Dot.

As NaNoWriMo participant Derek Murphy said in his Plot Dot blog post: “Nearly all fiction follows some version of the classical hero’s journey: a character has an experience, learns something, and is consequently improved. There are turning points and scenes that need to be included in your story—if they are missing it won’t connect with readers in an emotionally powerful way. And it’s a thousand times easier to map them out before you write your book.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Follow this 9-Step structure to discover the tentpoles of your story, and read the whole blog post here for more details and guidance.

I worked through this without a hitch. Then onto settings. But the settings referred to the plot dots. I thought it would be helpful to print out the plotting I had done. I have a vague idea of settings including Palm Springs, Laguna Beach and Park City. The 9-point plot dot would help me decide where and when the settings would be used.

But when I looked for my plot, I couldn’t find it — let alone print it. I opened up a new file to start again. Then I decided the system must have saved it somewhere. I searched throughout my laptop and realized I had saved and downloaded the prior steps but not my plot. I felt rudderless and wasn’t excited to recreate it. I decided to go through tabs on NaNo Prep and finally found all my files. You’d think they’d be listed under my account, but they were under file/open/my drive. Whew! I’m off and running again. Or, I should say off and writing!

What type of writer or plotter are you? Do you like to write on the fly? Let your characters tell their stories? Or do you prefer to work from a detailed outline?

19 thoughts on “Troubles in NaNo land…

  1. A little of both. I have developed too many characters. My book is done except the ending, and I have no idea how to wrap this up so that people cannot wait to see how it turns out. I hate whimper endings. Maybe I should have used a better outline.

  2. I am a Pantser, and at best I will do a synopsis of what I think the book will be about. I do pick the one of two main characters, and after that, create new ones as needed. Right now I am trying to make a name for the world and the government of my series of YA books on Amazon “Ruby and Nolan’s Great Adventures in Space.” I have been thinking of shortening the title, too! Good luck on your NaNo, I don’t have the courage to start that. Post how you are doing.

    • I used to write without anything but an idea. But I’m finding the exercises for NaNo helpful with their structure. Thanks for the encouragement and good luck with your YA books.

    • I have written several YA novels (unpublished) and never outlined. Then I put together a proposal for a nonfiction book based on my parenting tips (also unpublished). Agents and publishers all demanded extensive outlines. I found it helpful going through the outlining process. Also, that maybe that book wasn’t that interesting.

      • The thing I’m working on now…I know how I want it to end. I don’t know the climax yet…so I guess that could be an issue

  3. I struggle with writing fiction because I’ve never done it before. I wrote an outline for a novel a year ago but didn’t start the actual novel until 6 months ago. So far I’ve written 4 chapters. You can find them on kindlevella Amazon under “Tony and Sandra: A story of love, loss, and healing”. I’m terrible at remembering when I used what piece of detail and I’m also terrible at descriptions. I’m supposed to start chapter 5 soon but I freeze every time I think about it. Bravo to you for writing and hopefully you get your novel written in a month.

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