Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Outlining to November

Now that it's October, NaNoWriMo is well and truly on the horizon. And that means that writers around the world are getting their novel outlines ready for the big day. That includes me. Normally I wouldn't be thinking about my novel yet, or preparing anything. I'd be sitting back, letting the planners plan, and waiting for November 1st to roll around so I could start pantsing my way through my novel. But not this time.

No, this time I've decided to have a go at being one of those planners myself. This time I want to see if taking the time to plan before November will leave me with a better, more coherent story at the other end of the month. And so, like every other NaNo planner, I'm working on an outline of my novel, hoping it'll be ready in time.

Of course, I've never actually planned anything before. Always before I've jumped in feet first and made everything up as I went along, which is exciting, and very fun, but not really that good for having a solid plot by the end of things. So I don't actually know a lot about planning at all.

Which is where my new favourite writing book comes into it. I've been reading K.M Weiland's "Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success". I've never much liked the idea of outlining before, but this book has definitely helped me find a style of preparation that I actually like.

With the help of this book, I'm working out my plot by writing out every idea I have in a notebook, and allowing myself to come up with every sort of ridiculous idea, and finding the good ideas among those. I'm even starting to get an idea of my characters by just writing down everything I think about them. With this style of planning, I think I'll definitely have a good idea of my plot before November.

I can't say I'll come out of this knowing every scene, every character, every event, or even every chapter. The pantsing side of me doesn't like the idea of that. But I will hopefully get to November and have a good idea of where my plot is supposed to go before I start. And maybe, just maybe that'll help me have a not quite so completely rubbish first draft.

Are you preparing for NaNoWriMo? Have you read this book? What writing books would you recommend?

24 comments:

  1. Imogen,
    I'm not doing NaNo this year but I will be cheering you on from the sidelines!
    I'm doing a different program called OYAN - One Year Adventure Novel - which I'll start next year.

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    1. I've heard of OYAN from several people and it sounds like a lot of fun. Good luck with that Sararose.

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  2. I'm really going to try to NaNo this year (for the first time!). I have a novel in progress I REALLY want to finish. I'm a chronic pantser, but love your plan for framing the writing. :-)

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    1. Pantsing is so very fun. I'm still having a hard time convincing myself that plotting is a good idea. Good luck with NaNo E.J. I hope it helps you finish that novel.

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  3. I haven't read that one, but planning a full outline before NaNo 2010 really helped me. I hit 51,000 words and that manuscript became my second published book.
    You can do it, Imogen!
    And good to hear from you.

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    1. It's great to hear that outlining helped you with your second book. I hope it helps me at least get some form of a first draft out.

      Sorry for the blog silence, but I was away last week on holiday with the family. I've been a terrible blogger recently I'm afraid.

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  4. Outlining? You're braver than me. ;) btw I'm a nanoer and i found your blog from the Cathooic thread. I should be planning but i can't make up my mind about what plot to use. I'm doing OYAN, well off and on, and i like it. It just has SO many rules. And I've been writing for 5 years...so yeah i have my own way set pretty much. :D

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    1. Hi Abi. Great to meet you. I'm guessing that after five years of writing you'd pretty much have your own way sorted out. Good luck fellow NaNoer. I hope you manage to pick a plot soon

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    2. oops my kindle is stupid I meant Catholic thread. ;) Guess I'll be seeing you around the forum since your on the 17 thread, I started it btw. :D btw I love the name Imogen, Imogen Heap ftw! Thanks, best of luck to you too.

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    3. You probably will see me around the forums. And I thought I remembered you on the 17 thread, though I'm afraid I forgot you started it!

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  5. You completly inspired me to write up an outline yesterday. I now have a full page of it, the problem is November feels like such a long ways away and I'm worried by the time it gets hear the plot idea won't be sounding as interesting anymore. Inspiration is such a fickle thing. I'm rather excited for NaNoWriMo this year, I only went for half the goal last year, but this year I'm planning doing it for real this time. I haven't read that book, it sounds like quite a good one. I was reading this children's book on writing called "Spilling Ink" I'd suggest it, it's really quite cute and funny and enjoyable.

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    1. I'll have to look 'Spilling Ink' up. Thanks for the suggestion. Good luck on doing the whole of NaNo. I hope you reach the end and come out the other side a winner.

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  6. Today, my mom brought NanoWrimo up. I can't wait!

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  7. I hate doing outlines. I always just brainstorm ideas and hope I dream about my book. (Yes, I dream about my books. :))
    Wish me luck on my first year of NanoWrimo! I am so exited to start in November! :D

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    1. Lucky you, to be able to dream about your books. I'd like to do that, though I'm sure I'd end up being way worse at getting through the adventures than my characters are. Poor characters. They have so many troubles don't they? Anyway, good luck with NaNoWriMo!

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  8. I tried Nano last year and did okay. I don't write well under pressure.

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    1. Well, NaNo is not for everyone, and at least you tried. I'm glad you did ok at it.

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  9. Then we can be first time planners together! I normally hate planning, but the fact that I've never finished a rough draft is evidence to how that doesn't work for me. So hopefully this is a big deal for both of us. Good luck in the month to come! :)

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    1. Thanks. Good luck to you too. I think my outline is helping right now, and I hope yours does too. May we come out the other side with finished drafts (or mostly finished) and coherent plots!

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  10. I can't outline. I just print off Character Profiles to help me out a bit. Here is a good one if anyone wants it:
    http://suspense.net/whitefish/profile.htm

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    1. That's a great character profile. Thanks for sharing this Imogen. I'm going to have to try filling some of these out for my characters. Maybe that will help me flesh them out a bit. One can never know too much about characters in my opinion.

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  11. Hello!
    Autschi here. I have not heared from you in a while and started worrying until I had the very clever idea to look at your blog and your NaNo profile.
    I am happy you are okay (well okay enough to post a Wordcount) and yes...
    How is the planning working out, now that you have actually started writing?
    ... I personally develop my plot during November. that means a complete rewrite in 90% of the cases but I can do that sometime later... right. For now I develop stories I love and nothing else, I will work on the quality of it some other time...
    I have not read any writing books yet, never found one that sounded interessting (mainly because they are really well hidden wherever I am looking for them. or not even there at all...
    Doing NaNo this year as well... I will win in november too... at least once

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    1. Hi Auschi. My planning's working out quite well at the moment thanks. I'm so glad I worked out a heap of the smaller details before November started. While I can work out big things on the fly usually, the small things often stop me in my tracks and I take a while to work them out, so I'm very glad at the moment that I took the time to plan.

      Working on stories during NaNo, while you're writing them, is awesome fun. I do love to do that, and I do miss that a little at the moment, but there'll be plenty of other chances for me to do that. Most of the books I've written before need a complete rewrite too, but that will have to wait until after November. I'm going to have such a lot of work to do next year.

      Good luck with your NaNoing Autschi. I believe you will win.

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