27 October, 2011

National Novel Writing Month: To Start With An Outline Or Not (+ 600 Posts!)

For participants in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), it's only 4 days away now, and as such, there's still time to plan that November novel. It may be 1700 words a day for 30 days, but there are lots of strategies for getting prepared with plot outlines, character sheets, research, and by figuring out all the details about the novel that will be written (by hook or by crook!).

On the other hand, there's the school of thought that NaNoWriMo is a month where you start utterly and  completely from scratch--you're already restricted to not writing anything before it starts (technically . . . there are "rebels", and I was one last year, who break that rule and work on something they've already begun), but some writers just plunge in without any preparation, other than an idea.

Me, I'm planning to compromise, as I find that if I think too hard about something for too long I'll drive out the enthusiasm I had for it, and if I don't plan a thing then I'll lose steam and get completely lost. At the moment I have a very rough outline, and I have character and setting inspiration, but I'm leaving a lot of room for improvisation as I go along this November.

After all, that's where a bit of the fun lies.

If you're doing NaNoWriMo, where you do fall? Plotter, pantser, in-between? What do you think is the best approach?


And also, this is my 601st post! I didn't even notice until today when I glanced at the list of posts I'd published. NaBloWriMo has helped that, of course . . . and speaking of NaBloWriMo, it's almost over. Sadly.

-----The Golden Eagle


mooderino said...

Wow, that's a lot of posts. Well done.

I posted on this same subject too (was nowhere near my 600th post).

Moody Writing

Jen Chandler said...

Congrats on all the posting! That's awesome. Talk about commitment :)

In regards to NaNo, I've done both. The first year, I reworked an existing novel and last year I wrote something completely new.

Right now, I'm trying to decide what to do. With only four days, I'd better get that decision made, huh?

Happy NaNo-ing!

Christine Rains said...

601! Wow! Congratulations! I've done NaNoWriMo since 2003. I'm a pantser by nature. I rarely outline. This time around, though, my time is limited. I did some outlining. I know the general story arc and I have profiles made for my main characters. That's about as much as I can do. My muse won't allow anything more.

Lah @ Lazy Girl Reads said...

Hey congrats on 601 posts!!

I always saw people doing NaNo but had no idea what it was! One of the things I've always wanted to do was write a novel but have no idea where to start. I don't even know how to time manage it!

I will definitely check out your page and others to see the process :)

Lah @ LazyGirl Reads

Theresa Milstein said...

Good luck with NaNo! I've never outlined, so I'm of no help.

Congratulations on 600+ posts!

MISH said...

I've read a lot about Nano over the past few months...
The idea of plunging in without preparation... scary!
Loved the "by hook or by crook" bit... and congrats on 600 posts!

Carrie Butler said...

Good luck with NaNoWriMo, Eagle! :)

Also, congrats on 600+ posts. Wow!

Lauri said...

Good Luck with Nano! I did a plunge one year and it was good, and I did a bit of a plan one year, and it was good too. I think whatever works for you! I'm debating over what November 1st will bring this year.

Michael Offutt said...

If I were going to participate, I might try this same strategy.

Dana said...

I think I'm probably in between. I do outline, but it's not extensive--more of a bare bones approach.

Old Kitty said...

Yay for your 600+ posts!! Hoorah!! Here's to many many many more!

Good luck with your nanowrimo writing - looks like you've already got a fab foundation going - well done you! Take care

Arlee Bird said...

I thought I knew what I was going to write about but now I'm thinking I might go a different route. Guess I'll come up with something and start pantsing and plotting as I go.

Tossing It Out

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I outline and plan. I have to or I'll lose steam fast. And one of these days I'll look at how many posts I've written, because I have no idea.

L'Aussie said...

Hey Golden. A NaNo post always catches my eye. All I need is a story idea. I'm definitely a pantser. I try to do the 'right' thing and do character profiles, general outline, blah blah, but all that work generally ends up in the waste basket. I like to write my sox off. Can't believe it's only 4 days. I've been trying to sort out my commitments to give me a clear shot but it's never easy.

Congrats on your 600-ish post!


Liberty said...

My first NaNo year, '09, I was definitely a pantser, which is, by the way, a fun word. It rhymes with panzer, which is a very large tank, but that's irrelevant right now. That novel was...an experience. Last year, I was quite pantser-ish, but better, because I actually had a world and an outline.

This year, I have a very good outline. We'll see how it goes.

Cally Jackson said...

I'm not doing nano but the idea of doing it without a detailed outline is enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. I'm a plotter through and through. I really admire those who can leap in and just trust the story will take them where it needs to go - but I doubt that will ever be me. :-)

Liz said...

I'm not doing NaNo. I don't work like that. But good luck to all who are.

As for the best approach, I believe that the best approach is different for each individual. While I would need a full outline if I had any hopes of finishing, others might need to go in and wing it.

Brian said...

Big Congrats on 601 posts, that is terrific! Good luck on the NaNoWriMo too, I know you will do great, outline or not!

RaShelle Workman said...

Congrats on your 601st post. YAY! I so need to get cracking on my outline for NaNo. It's gonna be fun.

Shelley said...

No, I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, but I hope you have lots of fun with it! :)

Tanya Reimer said...

Have fun writing in NaNo! I'll be rooting ya on!

Josh Hoyt said...

Nice job on all of the posts. They have been fun to read!

Rusty Webb said...

I think plotting has to pay off, it saves a lot of grief because if you don't at least know where you're going then you might figure out after 40,000 words that you really should have taken a different turn a long, long time ago... plotting helps avoid those nasty plot holes

Su said...

Congrats on 600 posts! I have an outline, kinda-- the ideas I have so far are written down in a somewhat logical order. We'll see how long that lasts!

I'm kind of cheating because I'm using characters that I've had kicking around in my head for years, but I'm giving them a new story.

MyTricksterGod said...

Alright champ, this is it, this is the month we've been waiting for, don't let it intimidate you, the bigger they are, the sweeter the victory, don't pull ya punches, take it nice and easy.
I know you can do it Eagle. 50k in 30d.
Go out there and kick some butt and make me proud!

cherie said...

600+ posts?! Wow!

As for Nano, I made an outline even though I'm usually a pantser, but only because this is my first time doing it and I'm nervous as heck.

Sarah Pearson said...

I have the beginning, the middle, and what I think might be the ending. It's a start :-)

Laura said...

Wow - well done on 600 posts - very inspiring!
I have been meaning to plot something for NaNo but... well... I keep putting it off, I guess I just like that footloose and fancy free feeling (plus I'm lazy!) I have two characters. But I think that's going to be about it! Can't wait - good luck! I'm going to miss NaBloWriMo too.

alberta ross said...

Hi - 1st time nano this year - I'm going to write the book I first imagined writing 20+ years ago before life got in the way!!! I dont need to plan its been in my head all that time the only diff. this year I have moved its location to here UK from there US (makes sense) changed Cop to reclusive writer of philosophical matters - changed the friends but apart from all that:) I'm not good at plotting on paper but always its in my head when I start to write anything - good luck everyone

Co-Hosts said...

All the best. Not sure if I'm dong this yet. Can't seem to find the rules.

IF I was to do it: no outline, nada. Basic idea I(I have five at least), sit at computer, and type.

Have big fun, GE. If it's not fun, it's not worth doing.


Chrissy Peebles said...

Hello! (((((hugs)))))

It’s so awesome to visit your lovely blog today on this Halloween blog hop. I think this is an awesome opportunity to meet other authors! I’m joining your blog and I hope you’ll join mine, too, so we can learn more about one another.
My favorite monster movie is Night of the Living Dead and I’m dressing up as a mime. Mime is one of the most ancient forms of theatre, appearing around the time of the Greek tragedies. I hope to perfect the art and technique of portraying a mood, idea, or narration by gestures and bodily movements. The only problem is…that I have a big mouth! LOL. It’s so nice to meet you!


P.S. I’d love to connect with you online!
My blog link is http://chrissypeebles.blogspot.com/My Facebook link is: http://www.facebook.com/#!/chrissy.peebles1
My twitter link is: http://twitter.com/#!/ChrissyPeebles1

Crystal Collier said...

Whew! 601? That's crazy cheese.

I'm not doing Nano this year, but I tried the no outline once. It went okay. I always veer off course anyway, so I'm a half-and-half-er. Personally I think if you're going to write a quality 50k in one month you're going to need some kind of outline--whether vague or concrete. Organization is the key to success.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I was hoping to do NaNo this year, but I am yet to sign up. I am still trying to get a plot outline in place before I plunge into Nano. My muse is currently on a holiday.

Sangu said...

I've never managed to do NaNo - I never seem to have the time! I could really use the push this year, though, but alas...

Good luck with it!

M.J. Fifield said...

I've done NaNo the last two years (and managed to hit the promised 50k land each year) with nothing more than a genre and a name for my MC. Of course, on November 1st, I always type that MC's name into my word processor and then am like, "great. now what do I do for the other 49,998 words?"

Maybe my characters need longer names...

Good luck!

Mark Noce said...

I prefer to fly seat of the pants, but we'll see how it goes in Nov. Good luck to ya!

Free Book Reviews said...

Halloween Hop

I want to thank Jeremy Bates for the chance to participate in this blog hop.

My Favorite monster movie - Hellraiser
My Costume - Dragon (well the wings of a dragon and the rest is my sexy self)
And I am now following this Blog (yay)

I have read quite a few of the posts on this blog and I do believe I shall
be reading more as I have found them interesting to say the least. I hope that my participation brings this blog more visitors and that those turn into more readers for this blog's future. Thanks for being a participant and for those visiting this blog for the first time. Please comment, that is what we bloggers live for. :)

****Promoting my own Blog****

Free Book Reviews is a blog that reviews indie books, interviews indie authors and generally talks about whatever amuses them in the literary world. If you are an author please feel free to submit your book for review and/or an author interview. If you are a reader feel free to check out any book listed on our blog. In any case please share this blog with as many people as you can!

Heather said...

Congratulations on your 601st post! I don't do NaNo but I love to cheer on my friends who do. Perhaps next year if I'm writing full time, then I'll be able to participate!

lynnhubbard said...

Halloween Hop!
Hi! The scariest book I've ever read was "IT". It reached deep into my subconsciousness and scared the heck out of me! For Halloween I'll be dragging out my Elmo snuggy for my couch potato costume.



JeffO said...

I think the best approach to NaNo is whatever your best approach is to writing in general. I generally wing it (i.e., I have a slight idea of where I'm starting from, but that's about it). I had hoped to try planning it a little more this year, but, as it's now 3 days away, and I haven't started any sort of outline yet, it looks like I'm winging it again.

Congrats on 600+. That's a lot of words.

The Golden Eagle said...

Mooderino: Thanks! :)

I'll have to check out your post.

Jen: Thank you!

Good luck with your project this year. :)

Christine: Thanks! :)

Good luck with NaNo this year--I'm sure you'll be awesome.

Lah: Thank you!

Hopefully we'll keep you entertained. ;)

Theresa: Thanks!

If it works for you. :)

Thank you.

MISH: It's a little scary to me, too; I like playing it safe when it comes to starting a novel. :P

Glad you liked that part. :)


Carrie: Thank you! :)

Lauri: Thanks.

Good luck to you as well!

Michael: Why not join in? :)

Dana: Sometimes I do that, or I make a basic structure with the main subplots I want to include laid out among it.

Old Kitty: Thank you! :)

Thanks! I hope the foundation works . . .

Arlee: Good luck!

Alex: I tend to lose steam after a while as well, if I don't have the novel set out to an extent.

You have 391, according to your archive gadget. :)

Denise: Good luck with NaNoWriMo!

Thank you!

Liberty: Ah, but what's life (and comments) without a little irrelevance?

Good luck with your outline! :)

Cally: Me, neither. I can write without an outline for a little while, but I depend on having some structure planned . . .

Liz: True. We're all different in the way we write!

Brian: Thank you! :)

RaShelle: Thanks!

I'm looking forward to it as well. :D

Shelley: Thank you!

Tanya: Thanks! :)

Josh: I'm so glad you've enjoyed my posts!

Rusty: Agreed. I did that for my first novel; I ended up changing a whole lot of things because I didn't plot any of it out first.

The Golden Eagle said...

Su: Thanks! :)

I don't think that's cheating--it just means you've been thinking about it for a while.

MyTricksterGod: Yes, ma'am!

Thanks for the support. :D

Cherie: Yup, 600!

I'm sure you'll do great. :)

Sarah: Definitely. And a start is an edge over those 50k words!

Laura: Thank you!

Good luck to you, too. :)

Alberta: Good luck! It sounds like you know the story inside and out. :)

I often carry an outline in my head when I'm writing, too.

Stuart: They've shuffling up their site pages and stuff--I can't find anything, either. Hopefully it will be working again soon!

Thanks! :)

Chrissy: I'll be hopping over to your blog as soon as I can--it's great to meet you. I love that you're dressing up as a mime!

Crystal: LOL. Yeah, mostly. :P

That's what a lot of me says. But there's still an influential part that says pantsing through the month might just be a good idea . . . trying not to listen too much.

Rachna: I hope your muse returns soon enough! Good luck with your outline.

Sangu: Aw, it's too bad you can't do NaNoWriMo this year.


M.J.: LOL. That wouldn't be a bad idea . . . and hey, maybe you could get into the Guinness Book of World Records for longest character name.


Mark: Thank you! Right backatcha. :)

Free Book Reviews: Thank you for coming by! I'll be over to your blog shortly.

Heather: Thanks! :)

I hope you join NaNoers next year! It's a lot of fun.

Lynn: Hello! Welcome to my blog.

I've never read It--I've heard it's a scary book, though.

JeffO: Good luck!

Thank you. :) And you're right, it is; I wonder just how many . . .

Rachel Morgan said...

All the very best with NaNoWriMo! And congrats on reaching (and passing) your 600th post!

The Golden Eagle said...

Rachel: Thank you! :)