Monday, October 31, 2011


Today is Halloween, and we all know what that means - National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow!

This year I am going to try to have a basic outline before I start. (Yes, that means I have to start - and finish- the outline today.) This will be my third NaNo, and if I finish the outline today it will be the first where I started out with any sort of real planning ahead of time.

The first year I tried NaNo, I actually tried twice. I tried by myself in April after I bought the No Plot No Problem Novel-Writing Kit. I have two words to describe that attempt: epic fail. I tried again in November, when everyone else does NaNo. I signed up on the site, but other than going to the first write-in for about ten seconds and leaving, I did it alone. That time I finished. I am the proud author of a completely useless manuscript. It has plot holes, plot craters, probably even plot canyons. It has too helpful characters, too useless characters, and characters who need to be edited out.

I tried revising it, until I realized that what it really needs is a complete rewrite - from the first word on. It's terrible. Totally, mind-numbingly horrible. Does that mean it has no value whatsoever? Not at all. There are some parts I could use if I rewrote it. More importantly, though, it taught me that I can finish a novel-length work. More than anything, it gave me self-confidence. That makes it worth every second I spent on it.

I tried NaNo again last year with a little more planning. I had a couple of characters who wouldn't leave me alone, and I thought I had a plot idea. What I really had was an idea about the world they live in and the very beginning of a plot idea. I worked on it for the beginning of the month, then got sidetracked by my sister's wedding. That time I didn't finish. The story, though, lives on in my hard drive. I bring it out every now and then and work on it a bit. I'll finish it someday.

That's why this year I want to try with an actual plot outline in hand. I want to finish, but I also want to be able to revise the story into something usable. An outline will, I hope, give me the guidance I need to keep me from writing a rambling, canyon-riddled plot like I did the first year. I just need to write the outline. Guess what I am doing between classes today?

What about you? Are you NaNo-ing? Will you do it with or without an outline?