NaNo Prep season is officially upon us. What are you doing to prepare for the biggest novel writing event of the year? I’ve decided to do things differently this November than what I usually do. Typically, I approach November with grand ideas, but no plans. I dive into the writing on November first with little more than a character’s name and a vague idea of who he is or what he will do.
I’ve successfully completed NaNoWriMo every year since 2010 in this fashion, pantsing my way to 50,000 words or more with wild abandon. What I have failed to do, however, is come away from November with anything resembling a completed novel draft.
This year I am working on a novel I started a couple of years ago. It has grown into a series that will total five books when complete. The last few months, then, I have been working to prepare for writing a complete draft of at least one of these novels during NaNoWriMo 2018. There is a ton of work to do, but I’ve tried to focus on three major areas: Organization, Characterization & Plot, and Research.
A novel alone is a lengthy project. One that can involve some intricate planning. In my experience, keeping track of all that goes into just one novel is a daunting prospect. Now, multiply that task by five. I am now keeping track of characters and locations for five separate, interlocking novels. I need a way to keep it all straight.
I purchased five 3-ring binders, one for each novel. They are different colors so I can color-code each book. Here, I can keep records of each character within the relevant binder – pictures, descriptions and back story. Everything is all in one place and easily accessible when I need it.
Characters & Plot
This is probably the most basic of novel-prep – character profiles. It is a lot easier to write about people you know. Therefore, I spent most of July’s Camp NaNoWriMo working on profiles for the various characters that will fill my fictional universe. I’m still working my way through all this, and it feels like it’s taking longer than it should.
I have also started working on a plot outline. I know basically how I think the story should go, and I am building a story arc for the series as well as arcs for each individual novel. Each novel will ideally work with the others to build and complete the larger story. Discovering the connections between each character as I build the overall story is fun and exciting. I love all the little break through “aha!” moments.
Along with plot outlining there is also map making and world building. This series takes place on a universal scale, thus my map is a model of the universe itself. I learned somewhere that it has been theorized the shape of the universe is a dodecahedron. I like this idea, and have adopted it for the purposes of my novels. I have put together a small 3-D “universe” using the dodecahedron idea. This will provide a good visual to help keep me motivated as I write.
My research for this set of novels has led me into an interesting selection of topics. I’ve been reading about veganism, numerology and space travel. I’ve tried to learn more about African folklore and the African diaspora that resulted from the slave trade. I researched the best city for motorcycle enthusiasts, and where on Earth would be the best place to build a space port.
There are also multiple planets besides Earth involved in this series, so I am learning the basics of geology, climate, botany and zoology. And not only do these planets need to be built from the inside out, they need to have a name. I thought naming characters was difficult. I’ve since decided naming a planet is even harder.
This is my plan over the next two months as I prepare for National Novel Writing Month 2018. My goal this week is to work on the overall story arc for the series and decide where each of the five novels fits within that arc. Also, I hope to hunt down pictures for at least the most significant characters.
I’ll post an update about my progress in a semi-regular post, Fiction Friday. This will hopefully keep me accountable and moving forward with this novel series.
Are you planning to participate in National Novel Writing Month? What are you doing to prepare? If you’ve participated before, is this your usual approach, or are you trying something new?