As most of you know by now, I am preparing for a writing marathon in November that is otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. Now, there are two camps when it comes to this writing marathon: you are either a plotter or a pantser. The first two years that I “competed,” I was a pantser. I “won” my first year, but just barely, and the second year…yeh, my story screeched to a halt somewhere around 25,000 words. So, I am now a plotter. I found that it works better for me over the last two years.

First, I started with an idea. In this case, the idea was: What if you lived on a planet that only had water in one location? What would you do to get the water that your body so desperately needs?

My first story that I created from this idea was lame, at best. It could have worked, but it needed a lot more time than I was ready to put into it. I was sixteen at the time. I wrote down my notes, and I shoved them in a folder for almost fifteen years.

Two years ago, I pull this idea out about a month before NaNoWriMo 2014. I dusted off the pages and looked over it, and I was like, “What was I smoking?” Then I sat down and drew up a quick science fiction idea. Nothing detailed—just enough to get me going for the 2014 writing marathon.

I won with 50,103 words. And it was a mess.

I shoved it back in a drawer and looked at it in disgust every time I saw it after that November. I was not happy with it. I was proud that I had pushed through the NaNo fever and gotten 50K on the page, but the story itself—I viewed it as utter shit. (excuse my language…)

Enter 2016.

In late August, I decided to really get my tail in gear and start working through my fiction again, but I was sadly out of my routine. And at the time, I hadn’t quite gotten the oldest three kids off to school for the new school year, so I had a lot of adjustments to make to get a thousand words on the page every day. So, I decided to start it slow.

A little map-making and world-building. And then I remembered this story.

I pulled it out of the dark recesses of my filing cabinet, spent about two hours reading through it and re-familiarizing myself with the story (all the while making snide comments about how ridiculous some of the stuff I wrote sounded), then I sat down and drew up a map.

It wasn’t much of a map. It was on a sheet of loose-leaf notebook paper, and it involved about forty squiggly lines and a few marginal notes that sounded a lot like:

** Group attacked by gigantic, sand-burrowing scorpion here **

It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough. The gears started moving again.

Within a day or two, I had the world drawn up. I had clothing styles designed, creatures created, a smattering of science-y stuff to make it a solid science fiction story, and I had the makings of a much better story.

Then I started outlining. That was around the beginning of September. I wrote up a point-by-point outline first. Factored in all the big things that needed to happen, added in the little nuances of subplot that needed to happen in the background to explain a few things that were happening in the foreground, and voila! A more solid story.

That took the better part of September because I kept changing my mind on what needed to happen and when it needed to happen, and who needed to be the bad guy that everyone trusted, and yada, yada, yada.

I started thorough outlining at the end of September. I practically write the entire book out in one gigantic synopsis before I start to really write. I’m up to chapter thirty-two now, and my outline is sitting at around *cough* twenty-six pages. (I know, I have practically written the novel.)

By the time November 1st rolls in, I’ll be able to pull out that outline and easily flesh out a two thousand word chapter in no time.

Well, that’s the plan anyway.

How is your NaNo-Prepping going?


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tammy J Rizzo
    Oct 13, 2016 @ 16:22:42

    Your NaNo prep is going better than mine is! 😀 I have only JUST discovered a “typical” day in the life of my current MC (or other possible MC). See, I don’t even know if I’m writing about the librarian or her cats! ARGH! Or what happens out of the norm for them, yet. But at least I have their typical day outlined, so there’s that.



    • J. C. Cauthon
      Oct 13, 2016 @ 18:57:00

      Mine is only going so well because it is not a 100% original novel. If I was starting from scratch, I’d probably still be piddling with the map. It will all come together, though, for both of us.

      Liked by 1 person


  2. Susan
    Oct 13, 2016 @ 18:04:57

    I’m still busy tweaking my synopsis, then I need to do detailed character sketches – I love doing that bit! When those are done I’ll be able to expand the synopsis into an actual story plan/outline.

    The other day I sat down and worked out which days in November I won’t be able to write, and adjusted my daily word count accordingly. Scary how many words I’ll have to try and churn out per day…!

    Liked by 1 person


    • J. C. Cauthon
      Oct 13, 2016 @ 18:58:13

      With the exception of two days with doctor’s appointments, one day with a school field trip, and three days of Thanksgiving, I should be able to write every single day in November. I just hope I don’t get sick like I did last year. Cooties run rampant in this house starting around Halloween.



  3. Reprobate Typewriter
    Oct 13, 2016 @ 19:44:25

    I’m mostly a pantser so, there’s not much prepping. I have just a few goals. I want to win and I want a cleaner draft. I am going to limit myself to ONE sheet of paper at a time. I hope it works.



  4. Trackback: NaNoWriMo here we come! | coffee2words

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