Free-For-All Friday: Outline as Road Map in Planning for NaNoWriMo
Hello everyone! As many know, NaNoWriMo starts on Tuesday, Nov 1st, and many of us writerly types are frantically preparing summaries and character sketches and outlines and so forth as we await the NaNo kick-off at midnight.
A couple weeks ago, I thought I was doing well on keeping up with my schoolwork and would have plenty of time to prepare for and do NaNoWriMo. And then early last week, the semester blew up in my face and things have been pretty crazy around here ever since. I have not, therefore, had much time to think about my NaNo story, let alone do any of the usual detailed planning I usually do. But I’m hoping I’ll still be able to pull off NaNo with some effort, little sleep, and lots and lots of coffee. *crosses fingers* So last night, I finally decided on a title (which may change later, but maybe not), and a wrote a summary/blurb thing. I also have a fairly decent handle on the main characters. But where I usually have a pretty detailed plot outline by now, I have only the bare bones of the major plot points. I’m going to be doing a lot more pantsing this month than I usually do.
That’s not to say I ever follow my outlines all that closely anyway. But they are useful for direction. I think of them as a detailed itinerary and road map for a long road trip, that gives me very clear instructions of where to go and when. BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t get sidetracked or take alternate routes when I see some interesting or useful sign on the road. Sometimes when I get sidetracked I can improvise my way back to the main road, and continue on with my itinerary with just that small addition. Sometimes I get so far off the beaten path I have to simply make up a new route altogether and revise my itinerary accordingly. But I still like to have the initial road map to begin with. At least then I know where all the major landmarks, highways, and rest-stops are. So to speak… Otherwise, I might end up forgetting what state I’m in, let alone where I was headed.
I think it’s completely possible to have this kind of initial plan and still be a pantser at heart. Because even with the map, you still never know what you might run into or where you might end up there might be a roadblock, construction, a sign pointing to really interesting scenic route or tourist trap you just can’t resist, and so on and then you have to improvise and quick-step your way back to your main plot/goal (and maybe you even change your mind and decide you’re not going to Los Angeles, you’re going to Las Vegas instead). I highly recommend at least a basic list of important landmarks and highway exits to get you started.
But that’s just my two-cents. *shrugs*
In any case, this time around, I don’t have the whole map and itinerary to work with. I just have 5 or 6 of the major landmarks I have to reach with no clear idea how exactly to get to them. It ought to be interesting…
If anyone wants to add me to your Writing Buddies list (once they get that up and running on the site), I go by “YummieYami” there (don’t ask, long story). Also, for anyone who might be curious, here’s the summary I’ve come up with for my story, which is a weird, twisted retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid (set in an epic fantasy world I’ve created for a series of books):
When Jemirai, third daughter of King Uzon’yr of the Bheidien the People of the Sea risks not only exposure to humans, but human lives as well, Uzon’yr fears little can be done to make his angry, callous, rebellious daughter change. And then he comes to a decision: he will turn Jemirai into a human and send her to live among them in hope she will learn patience and compassion. To prevent her from using some magic to reverse his decision, Uzon’yr takes her voice as well. And then he sends her to the sea-side principality of Emen, where the advisor of the heir-apparent, Prince Garan, was once Bheida himself, before becoming human for the love of a woman.
Prince Garan, at his advisor’s behest, takes the mute, cast-away princess under his care, despite his preoccupation with the illness of his father and his unwillingness to assume the throne. Unknown to him, his cousin Duke Akthon has plans for the throne himself, believing Garan too soft-hearted to be an effective ruler.
Jemirai, meanwhile, resists her new life as a human, and is desperate to return to the sea. Then an ancient sea-demon called Wave-Waker appears to offer her a wager: if Jemirai makes Garan fall in love with her within three months and kill him on their wedding night, Wave-Waker will return her to the sea; if she fails, Wave-Waker will devour Jemirai’s soul.
Jemirai accepts. But that’s just the beginning.
So, who else is doing NaNo? What’s your project about? Do you do a lot of planning for it, or do you just go at it and see where you end up?