Countdown to NaNoWriMo: 12 days

As November continues its inexorable march towards us, like some calendar-based slasher movie villain (imagery that October particularly lends itself to, as the Hallowe’en commercials, movies and shows begin to saturate the airwaves), I turn to you, blog readers, and ask:

How is your NaNoWriMo preparation going? Even those of you who are going to be doing the whole thing by the seat of their pants must have at least some ideas percolating in their brains about what they wish to write about. I know  that this time last year, I was bouncing around a couple of different ideas and trying to decide which one would keep me the most entertained during November, I figured that if it was a story I’d enjoy reading more, then I’d probably enjoy writing it more also.

I’m not entirely sure how sound that logic is, especially in the light of my not getting the story actually finished. This year, as this blog kind of indicates, I’ve been taking a more pre-planned approach to NaNoWriMo. I’m at the point now where I’ve opened a fresh stack of my beloved index cards, and am writing a scene or event on each. I’ve discovered over the course of my writing hobby that no matter how detailed a planned scene description is, when I come to write it, I always take about five hundred words. That means I need about a hundred scene indicators to get to 50,000 or around two hundred if I want to beat the one local WriMo who always seems able to crank out a ludicrous amount of verbiage in November.

What do I mean by scene descriptions in this context? Basically, I boil things down to a single line “bullet point” that describes the scene. I haven’t got my full hundred worked out yet (which is a little nuts with so few days left) but I do have a few, such as:

“Nikolai is thrown into the dungeon for drunkenness”

“Erica is lost in the snow”

“Nicolai stumbles upon a ruin in the woods”

“She Who Watches manifests in the world”

“The wolf dies.”

“Erica in the temple”

“Betrothals & betrayals”

Those aren’t in order, and I’m not sure if all of them will be in the story, but those little notes will certainly help me flesh out the tale into stronger scenes. The reason I use index cards and a pin board for these is that it allows me to re-order scenes if I find a better way for things to work. I understand there’s software that lets me do a lot of that, but as computer –focused as I tend to be, there’s something appealing about working with physical pencils, paper and pins. I think the tangible nature of it puts me into a more writing-driven frame of mind.

The other neat thing about doing the little notes on cards is that sometimes I get ideas for chapter headings. “Betrothals & betrayals” is a good example of that. This assumes, of course, that I am actually going to divide the story into chapters.

In addition I’m starting to stock up on a few other NaNoWriMo essentials, such as a blank USB drive for saving/transportation (and Google Drive as a backup, I lost words in 2011 by not keeping backups), a new bag of coffee beans and a few savory snacks. Less snacks than last year though, which means I have to write more words before a reward. It might also help me lose weight, though that’s not NaNo related.

How goes your preparations?

My region’s official kickoff party is in seven days. Can’t wait!


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