I have had nine thirty-day novel-writing experiences (counting both NaNoWriMo and WriDaNoJu events) and I’ve learned a lot from each and every one of them. Mostly how not to finish a rough draft of 50,000 words in 30 days. Yes, I typed 50k words by the deadline every time but once — and that was in the summer of 2005 when all I had was the book, No Plot? No Problem to go by (not a regular event so I don’t count that one). But none of those were real rough drafts. Oh, they were rough, alright, really rough. But they weren’t real rough drafts. They were just big messy text files full of gibberish that I couldn’t begin to revise because there was no structure, no real sense of story, nothing revise-able. Nothing but a mess.
This time my NaNoWriMo experience will be different because I have been developing an idea for a story for several months now. And I’m getting help from Story Engineering and Story Structure Demystified and Nail Your NaNoWriMo tips by Larry Brooks. These and other writing guides are on my laptop in my database and in my novel-writing project in Scrivener where I can read them as I write and plan and make notes. My rough draft folder is divided up into four sub-folders, labeled according to the four-part structure and context Brooks lays out in his excellent books. I’m letting him guide me through the process as I develop my idea of the story which, in turn, helps me see what kind of scenes I need to write in order to tell that story.
And I have to tell you how amazing all of this is. I’m usually a pants-ter, writing by the seat of my pants. But that method, of lack thereof, has led me down one dead end after another for many years. I was ready to try something new when I found tips on Twitter from StoryFix, Larry’s site, which helped me so much that I downloaded samples of his books on my Kindle and bought the full books before I’d even finished with the samples. I’m so inspired by what I’ve learned that I’ve imported all my other writing projects into Scrivener and have set them up the same way: draft folder containing four labeled sub-folders, and folders for the writing guides.
I’ve even made this my new standard template for all future novel-writing projects. Yes, I am intending to write many more novels, even intending to seek publication. Gulp. Hope springs eternal, as they say.