I’ve been NaNo-ing all week. I feel good about my progress even though behind on word count. After a week, I’m at 4829 words. That’s about three day’s worth at the average count of 1,667 words daily.
I’ve come to value the process of outlining and now am outlining on the fly. Its been interesting. Some of my actual writing minutes have been sacrificed for organization. That has paid off with productive time on task.
Then on Sunday and Monday, in the presence of that after-the-fact plotting, I spent way too much time perfecting the first chapter. This is NaNo with it’s write fast, fix it later mentality. Yet, I need to make sure my story gets off on the right foot. I’m not revising the beginning as much as adding missing things. Not all of it will be kept for the final book, but I’m still using it for my word count.
As the novel evolves, I keep updating my premise statement. Both K.M. Weiland and John Truby espouse the wisdom of so doing. The premise statement is the essence of the book, a single sentence that conveys the plot and theme. Weiland includes it in her Outlining Your Novel:Map Your Way to Success book and Tuby in his The Anatomy of Story. The idea is to nail down the whole book in a sentence or two.
As I work with the concept, it has helped me see what the book really is about. From there, I can see where characters are at the beginning and where they’ll be at the end. I realize that some things should be in place before the book begins. Others are inciting incidences that move the characters/story arcs. This allows me to use my first chapter to set the rules for “normal” in this world and lay out the incident that knocks things off kilter. As I have several things going on, I can plot out the each story or character arc.
Now I’m taking this premise device to each chapter. Before I sit to write, I try to see which of my premises next need to be advanced. Then I set chapter goals to deal with them.
It has taken time, but I can’t emphasize enough how a little organization up front has given me clear direction for how and where the story leads. I’m still new at this outlining thing and being pressed for time I can not give this story the full outlining it needs. NaNo is here and that means we tap, tap, tap those keyboards to churn out the daily word quota. Once I get the story set-up, it should run at a good clip.
That’s the theory, at least.
(This article also posted at http://utahchildrenswriters.blogspot.com)