Finding a strategy for NaNoWriMo

I can, I will. End of story.

This year’s NaNoWriMo is going to be tackled by a well prepared, fiercely motivated and unappologetic me. And I’m going to goddamn finish it, holding a hefty chunk of novel draft in my cramped hands, or else! Because this November I’m diving into the horror corner of science-fiction, and that requires careful planning (yay), a lot of mischievous plotting (yay!), and an overdose of twistedness (YAY!). I love horror science-fiction! *shudders with deliciousness*

But here’s the deal:

I only have 20 days to write those 50,000 words, because my weekends are offline-heaven, toddler-time. That means I have a daily target of 2,500 words!

Those 50K will cover about 50% of the total novel length. That means two terrible things for me:

  1. Abstain from stretching into space-opera size, which is very hard for someone who keeps conjouring up new plotting devices each time a chapter threatens to come to an end;
  2. I need to plan very well, but not too tightly, so I won’t have to double back after NaNoWriMo, travel into the past and strangle my old self, creating a paradox that will twist the space-time continuum and destroy the universe.

I have to kill my inner editor, which will kill me. No more fiddling, no more rephrasing, no more “just a little checking” before I write. No self-doubts. No perfectionism. Shoot me now.

And then I have to add an extra dimmension to it all: accountability.

I’ve considered creating an “official” NaNoWriMo account, but I really don’t want another piece of real-estate on the internet which I have to tend to. I have enough gardens swamped by weeds and pierced by slugs, and backyards that have turned into rodent amusement parks. Don’t need no ‘nother tag upon me.

But then… how will I get the necessary kicks in the rear (or pats on the back) when things get tough?

The oldies: Twitter! Facebook!

My own bullwhip-swinging, fang-whetting conscience! *gulp*

The key, I think, is transparency. I will talk about my efforts as often as I can (which is quite unusual for me), and engage with all of you guys who are doing the NaNo too. I’ll blog about my progress each weekend, and thus lay bare my failures and successes. Basically, I’ll share what I learn, publicly delude myself that it’s all for a good cause, and laugh the insanity away while I try not to go up in a sizzling puff of short-circuit smoke.

My plan — because deh Little Prince sez “A goal without a plan is just a wish” — is simple:

I will write only the most essential scenes of the novel, as crisply and tightly as possible, no flesh, no fluff, no make-up, and squeeze the whole plot into those 50K. Or as much of it as possible. I’ll make notes for the things I’ll need to write in later, and plow ahead until the big bell bangs and the fat lady croaks. Given that I’ve already plotted the damn thing, I’m even likely to succeed. Cray-ze!

Here are some of the technical things I’ll do in this novel:

  • Omniscient POV, though tightly focused on the protagonist (won’t be that hard since he’s technically the only character… more or less…)
  • Present tense (I tried writing in past tense, believe me, I tried. And I hate it. Nah-ah.)
  • Mixture of scenes and reports, logs, and other types of material (won’t list it all here)
  • Different levels of “information”, meaning that at first the reader will know as much as the protagonist, then gradually more (fearing for the unwitting protagonist’s fate), yet never quite as much as The Menace
  • and by the way, you know who The Menace really is, right? The author. Right. Mwahaha!

To the torture chamber!

And how about you guys? 

Anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year? How are you tackling it? Any hot tips?

11 Replies to “Finding a strategy for NaNoWriMo”

  1. I’m so glad you’re joining in the NaNo madness. Like you, I aim to overachieve this year: 100K instead of 50, a full rewrite–from scratch, with the lightest of outlines (which I’ve yet to make, so maybe not even that)–of my first novel, which has lain in forced repose for long enough. So you have time limits, I have quantity overreach syndrome 😀

    I do find the NaNo website a powerful, powerful motivator. Nothing gives me greater pleasure (and I’m taking into account here the wine, the caffeine and nicotine overdoses, the who-needs-sleep binges) than seeing that counter grow every day. It’s a little thing, that bar of purple, but–oh, the kick. So my only suggestion to you would be to reconsider that bit. It’s just such a huge source of pleasure for me.

    You’ve got everything to make this year a winner, Veronica–and I can’t wait for that novel to be out in the world where I can read it 🙂

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    1. Glad to see you’re doing NaNo again, Guilie! *high-five*
      Hope we make it. MUST KEEP MOTIVATED!

      I might reactivate my NaNoWriMo account, and lurk around the forums and such… the wordmeter is not so important for me, I count my words anyway and Word / Scrivener / Wordmonkey are as good as any progress bar. And I will keep a progress bar here on the blog as well, in the sidebar, anyway. 🙂

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  2. Here’s way to get it done. Go into it knowing your milestones and then develop a scene by scene beat sheet before writing. Filling in between milestones, building to and then away from each one, makes it easy.

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  3. Glad to see someone else not quite playing by the rules! (I’ve started my NaNo already, hoping to complete it in 22 days). Your plan to write only the most essential scenes sounds like a good one, best of luck!

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  4. I’ve done the Nanowrimo for the last few years. Every year my approach is a little bit different. This year I have a fairly fleshed outline and full character bios. Usually, I sort of wing it. The difference this year is I’m planning on writing the full novel, which will sit closer to 80 or 90 thousand words. (I won’t be certain exactly till its done).

    In addition, it is a vampire novel in post post apocalyptic Earth that is in recovery. Which is pretty weird.

    I agree with Guilie I love using the Nano site as well. I find a great source for inspiration. My critique group also does a lot for Nano so I have a good support system.

    In fact last year our president wrote two full length novels during Nano, the jerk face : )

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  5. I decided on November 1 to dive into the NaNoWriMo waters again this year. The novel I’m in the process of editing had its genesis in NaNoWriMo 2009 or 2010, so I’m predisposed to a certain affection for the challenge.

    That year I started with minimal prep and an outline I scrapped once I was three or four chapters in. This year I’m going in almost cold. I wrote a thousand-ish words of linked flash stories a year or so ago, and I’ve been wondering where those characters might end up. Guess I’ll find out by the end of November.

    Good luck with your NaNoWriMo adventure, and with building a writing habit that will carry you forward over the next few months.

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