Tuesday, October 12, 2010

As I mentioned the other day, this year I am jumping on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon.  I'm a total newb and I haven't the first clue what I'm doing, but being clueless is half the fun, isn't it?

Actually I am taking a different approach to this project than I typically do.  I'm a plotter, one of those folks who tend to plan my stories out to the nth detail.  Outlining and creating character sketches/backgrounds are tasks that are an integral part of my writing process.  I sometimes even go so far as to dig up pictures for my primary players and paste them around my writing space; this helps me better conjure images of my characters when they interact. 

While this process is important to getting the outline of the story straight in my mind, another wrinkle of my unorthodox approach is that once I sit down to write, I become more like a pantser.  Much of what I developed in my plotting stage gets tossed aside while writing the first draft.  It's almost as if I create a blueprint of my story, right down to the addresses of key locations and dates of birth of main and secondary characters, only to deviate from this gameplan at every opportunity in the first draft.  I know what your thinking: schizo much?  Yeah, I know, but it's worked for me so far, so why change it, right?

Still, that's exacly what I'm going to do--at least for NaNoWriMo.  I've been curious about other writing approaches, recently.  I really respect those folks who can sit down with nothing but a blank sheet of paper and just let things fly.  In my mind, this kind of writing is walking on a tightrope, working without a net, letting go of all that is cautious and familiar and easy.  Dangerous.  Death defying.

So I'm taking the plunge.  This year, I'll jump in the deep end of the pool, wing it, and just write on the fly, just see what happens.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't done any tinkering with this story idea.  In fact, it's been kicking around my brain for well over a year now, so of course I've given it some thought.  But I certainly ain't gonna do the detailed plotting/planning that I usually do.  I'm just going to put one word in front of the other, until the thing's finished.  What could be so simple, right?

I'm so curious to see how it turns out--and so anxious to get writing!--that I can hardly hold a coherent thought in my head (as this post no doubt attests :D).  What about you?  Got any big NaNoWriMo plans this year?  Is this your first rodeo?  Will your process be the same as previous projects?  What are you doing differently?

P.S. My NaNoWriMo handle is jpcircusboy, so come look me up if you're in the neighborhood!

12 bolts from the blue:

glnroz said...

good decision. We discussed this at our local writing group last night. I think I will give a stab at it. I take a different approach (am not at all convinced it is the right one, lol), but I just "take off" and see where the adventure goes,, ok, let's open Door Number One and see what is behind there...

Summer said...

I hope you're righting that story...the one with the unit leader who has superpowers...and you were kidding about it, but I totally thought it would be awesome. Remember that? Yeah. You should write that. :)

I'm still whipping around in the wind as for NaNo. I got another great idea yesterday, though technically it's an idea I've had for about 4 years and just not written yet. Maybe this is the chance!

Lola Sharp said...

I've no clue, nary a thought, what I'll be writing for Nano...but that's how I roll.
Even if I wanted to plan, I'm deeply entrenched in Revision Hell on current WiP right now...and house guests, and football parties... I haven't been online in a week. Zip. No time. I'm totes living in the present...and it aint all it's cracked unto be. ;)

So, I'll 'see' you Nov. 1st (obvs we'll chat with our critter group before then) and we'll see what that brings us. (at least you've put thought into it...I couldn't even give you a genre!) It'll be FUN! :)


Laurel said...

I'm with you in trying a new approach with NaNo-ing. Though I'll probably do the opposite. I pantsed too much with book 1 and as a result wrote total suckage midbook that took years to fix. This time I'm doing more up-front planning in hopes I'll write more quickly if I meander less.

But mixing up our routing is good, I think. Wishing you a productive November!

Claire Dawn said...

That's the beauty of nano. It's only a month. If it doesn't work out, you haven't wasted that much time. Nowhere near as much as you could waste on Facebook and Twitter and DVDs :)

I had my nano idea today!!! Actually, I thought I knew what I was writing already- a story I thought up for Script Frenzy in April, but I was feelin kind of lukewarm about that. And then it hit me today while walkign home.

This WIP is THE ONE!!

Heather said...

I'm not doing NaNo this year...I think. Last year I sat down with a blank page and wrotewrotewrote, and ended up with a lot of crap which I'm just now revising into something which will finally be awesome. But I had to plan a lot to get there. I'm already planning my next WIP, because I can see that will work out wayyyy better for me!

Good luck and have fun! It's actually really great.

DL Hammons said...

Flying without a must be some kind of pilot or something! :) Have fun with it!!

Jo Schaffer said...

I have been wanting to do this for a while... but this year my editor has me so busy on the novel I have already written--I'm not sure I can! Hmmm. Maybe.

Jon Paul said...

Glenn--Door Number One, indeed! On November 30th, it'll be like or Christmas morning...or NOT! :P

Summer--Rest assured, I am working that novel idea, but I already wrote several chapters, so I can't do it for NaNoWriMo. This other idea is called "Daisy," and I think it'll be fun! We'll get back to the squad leader in due course.

Lola--You're one of the folks who has inspired me to try this different approach. To me, it feels kind of like jumping off a bridge...but in a good way!

Laurel--Yeah, I can see that it's a balance. I'm expecting to have plenty of editing to do on this one. Thankfully, this story has a roadtrip/Odyssey-an quality about it, so taking out sections and adding sections shouldn't be too terribly hard. Of course, conflict continuity will be the big challenge.

Claire--CONGRATS! I love that feeling when a shiny new idea hits. I bet you're walking on the moon!

Heather--Hey there! Yeah, that's the one fear I have--having a ton of writing that isn't very structured--but I'm still excited to see where it goes. I'll keep you posted.


Jo--Good luck with the editing. I'm sure that's a job in and of itself.

Thanks gang for stopping in and sharing your thoughts. Stay groovy!

Liza said...

Yea, I'm struggling with the idea of NaNo. It would be a good goal, but I'm not sure I have the dedication right now. That said, my finished first draft I wrote character descriptions but other than that, was pretty panster all the way. In my head though, I knew where it was going. I thought of things in the middle of the night and then get them down on paper. Now it's rewrite all the way. I think the story flows but it needs a lot more depth and there are places where critical scenes are missing.

Lola Sharp said...

I'm with Summer! I still remember you mentioning the military leader w/ 'special' paranormal powers story. I'd love to read that puppy!

Man, you already have a TITLE for your Nano project???! *sigh* *hangs head in shame* I STILL don't have a title for the current WiP I'm revising. (usually I DO have a title for a WiP fairly soon into the first draft, but the perfect title just hasn't hit me yet for "WiP #3". (<--you know you're jealous) Titles have to be perfect, just like character names. (which always hit me instantly, thank goodness)
Anyway, I digress...I'm still slogging through WiP #3, haven't given this year's nano project a single thought...and you have a title!

I like the title Daisy. Sounds happy. :)

Then again, Daisy could be a dark story about an insane murdering ninja-zombie on a road trip and I'd love that too. ;)

Heavy revisions are the downside to winging-it...plot holes and timeline glitches are my world right now. But, I LOVE the creativity and freedom of first drafts. It's magical. Also, I think you'll be surprised how good some of it will be. Just trust your instinct and let it flow organically.

Okay, back to those heavy revisions for me now...

Jon Paul said...

Liza--I totally get it. If I had a WIP underway now--or a first draft done!--it's doubtful I'd be jumping in the NaNoWriMo lake, but my output this year has been less than I expected, so this is a way I can play a little catch-up. Can't wait to hear more about your WIP!

Lola--WIP#3? I am TOTALLY jealous. Actually Daisy is a working title. It may end up sticking, but at this point, who knows. In the interest of full disclosure, it's the name of one of the main characters, so it wasn't hard to generate.

I do like how fresh and easy Daisy sounds, because the novel (if written to the specs in my mind) has some darker elements, and I'd like those to come as a little of a surprise.

On a different note, I too am one of those folks who can't get a single sentence down until I have the perfect title--but that is another one of those perfectionist tendencies I am railing against. Sometimes good enough can be good enough.

Thanks ladies for stopping in!

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