Saturday, October 24, 2009


We've got a week left before NaNoWriMo begins, and barring acts of the Almighty I'm (unofficially) joining in this year. While I know most NaNo'ers are pretty spontaneous about it, you guys know me -- I have to be organized or my head will explode. So I'm going to use the next seven days to cross off all the things on my NaNoToDo List:

Blog/Writing Schedule: I plan to write at least 2K per day as well as put up some NaNoposts on PBW, so I'll add quotas and reminders to my work calendar (because I'll also be working on two other books at the same time.)

Character Sheets: I like filling out character worksheets on my protags and the primary players in my cast; it helps me nail down a lot of details I need to know about them before I write them.

Novel Notebook: A three-ring binder with dividers for all my notes, plot outlines, worksheets and other writer junk (I have examples of the templates, worksheets and other things I do in the example I posted on Scribd as a free e-book here.) Note 9/3/10: Since instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I have removed this document, and I no longer recommend using their service. The Novel Notebook is currently available to read online or download for free on Google Docs here. See my post about this scam here.

Plot outline: I usually put together a fifteen to twenty page synopsis, but with the time constraints I'll probably do a more barebones outline version for this book.

Research: I'll pull the stack of reference books I need from the book room and see if I need to pick up anything I don't already have.

Sketchbook: Sometimes I need to sketch out a character's face or map out an interior floor plan to get it right, this will be tucked in my novel notebook.

Soundtracks: I'll go through my CD collection and see what appeals to me as music to work by (I don't play it when I write, but I'll put the CDs in the car and listen to them while I'm driving.) I'm already thinking this is going to be a Coldplay/Linkin Park/Staind story.

I'm also putting together a reward for me to enjoy after I finish: I'll be recording all the episodes of AMC's The Prisoner mini-series to watch when I'm done (I was a huge fan of the original series.)

That should keep my gray matter where it belongs, and I'll feel a lot more confident when I jump in on November 1st. How about you guys? Are you doing any advance prep work this year, or do you plan to write without a net? Let us know in comments.


  1. I'm definitely a planner and I've been working on the outlines since the beginning of September. Yes, outlines, as in plural. I'm aiming for at least two rough drafts finished.

    It's been a lot of fun preparing. I have three novels to choose from. The first book to be written is easy, but I'm having trouble choosing which book will be the second to write. It might be a case where I'll know once the time comes. :)

  2. Oh. My. Goodness.

    This post just made me realize that it was starting in a week.

    Holy crap.

    Time to get my butt in gear! :)

    Good luck on your prep!

  3. I have 3 different novel projects prepped I could run with, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do at this point. I need to wrap up the current book, and then see what I want to work on most.

  4. OMG! I'm afraid I'd go nuts with all that preparation.

    I have three books I'll be writing, two sequels and new piece which I doubt I'll finish given the second book will be about 120k.

    All of it without a net... oh, okay, I've done a little research on the Amazon jungle, but that's about it.

    I like the free writing of Nano, that the characters take control and tell the story. There's nothing quite like it.

  5. "fifteen to twenty page synopsis."

    That makes my heart go pitter-pat. So many of my friends think I'm weird because I write detailed outlines. They imply that I'm not creative (!) because I don't write by the seat of my pants.

    Someday, I would love to see a blog post by you about how using an outline makes you more creative, not less.

  6. I'm about a quarter of the way through a book right now, but I'm still going to try to write 50K on it in Nov. Usually I fly without a net, so I guess what passes for planning here has already been done. Good luck in November, everybody! =o)

  7. I wish I could outline, but it never fails that I'll sit down with paper and pencil to go through my idea step by step and I end up sitting for hours, staring at the blank sheet. I don't know if it's the paper that overwhelms my creativity or what, but I do so much better when I just let the characters take me where they will.

    I do have the character backgrounds firmly in mind when I start. I always seem to have that first. And I do a lot of research to make sure what I've come up with works and to fill in the blanks.

    But I envy people who can outline. I think it probably makes writing the story that much easier. I just know how it starts and ends. *sigh*

  8. I'm definitely doing NaNo and I'm also a planner and I love doing it.

    I completed my primary character sketches this week and I'm currently engaged in plotting and working on my secondary characters.

    Since I'm writing a historical supernatural, I've been doing research for the past month or so. I have all my research books at hand.

    I plan to write about 2K a day also.

    I also have my NaNo soundtrack playlist on my Ipod ready to go. Mostly soundtracks. :)

    I haven't yet pulled together my 3-ring binder notebook but plan to do that by the end of the week.

    I also just purchased a neat little thermos to keep my coffee hot for those away-from-home writing sessions.

    So, not quite ready for NaNo but getting there. *grin*

  9. I do pretty much everything you've listed here. I'm definitely an outline person, and I hate flying blind.

    Man, I can't wait for the first! My local group has a write-in planned, and Chris Baty himself is going to be in our city for three days. We're all planning a get-together, and I just can't wait! Woo!

  10. I love your novel workbook and will definitely give it an attempt for NaNoWriMo. I wish I was so organized in my writing.

  11. This is my first time doing NaNo. I'm generally not a huge planner, but I'm working on a fantasy and I need faces and geography. So, I'm googling images and found that my MC looks like Rupert Grint! Who knew? Today I'm going to attempt to draw a map. I've got to know where I am and who I'm with before I attack this behemoth!

  12. I'm trying to finish up my book, so I'm going to spend this last week outlining my remaining chapters. I know what's going to happen, I just need to break it down into scenes. It's taken me a year to write about 50,000 words on this. It's crazy to think I'll do that all again in another month!

  13. In 2006 and 2007, I winged it. Last year, I did brief character sketches and an outline and it was so much easier to finish. I am doing even more planning this year.

    Silly Saturday #4 - Purdie Pyrate's Halloween

  14. Keita haruka4:08 PM

    I used to just wing it...but this time I decided to do it a bit differently. I did extensive research, and I'm going to be plotting out and planning the story itself this week. Good luck, everyone!

  15. WOW! U are super organized. Yikes, it is like a week a way!!

    I have 2 stories plotted but as this is my first NaNo I am a bit overwhelmed with writing a story from finish to end that is 50k. But at the same time I am excited to be apart of this writing community!

  16. I've never planned much for it before, and I've also never won!! This year I'm in it to win, I've been outlining, using the Novel Notebook, getting my iPod ready, and doing character sketches!

    And, I've recruited my wife to do a NaNo as well, so I think that will help!

  17. This is my first NaNoWriMo so I am freakin out a bit. I've been interviewing people to help me get the facts straight and this has really helped me by taking me in a whole other direction than I thought I was going. AAAGGGHHHH!!!

    I can't believe the range of topics that people ask about in the forums.

  18. I'm still deciding whether or not to do NaNo, but I'm leaning towards it. And just in case I'm frantically planning, too. Good luck!

  19. Going for my fifth consecutive win. Writing yet another sequel to the contemporary romantic suspense series. These secondary characters demanded their story.

    I'm a pantser, but this year, I've done a little more pre-planning. I've gotten down the GMCs for the hero, heroine and antagonist and the main plot points. I sketched out a complicated scene where I needed to know the exact location of characters and what they're seeing. Guess that's from all the RPGing I used to do. I'm very visual so it helps me describe what's going on by becoming that character. The maps are helpful.

    Thanks Lynn for the links and the advice you game me last year. I wasn't able to write down that part of the story due to the time contraints.

    Good luck to all the Wrimos, official and unofficial.

  20. Anonymous8:49 AM

    I'm a planner too, and can't 'write by the seat of my pants'.

    For November my ideal scenario is that I'll have my story broken down into about 30 scenes/chapters of about 2000 words, so I won't need to do anything each day but sit down, check my scene list to see where I'm at, then start pounding the keys.

    However, the reality is that I've only got 11 scenes so far, and no idea how I'm going to finish the thing! So look for me around November 12th having a total floundering panic!

  21. I hate to be a wimp, but I'm going to have to do it next year. I am SO not ready for that. I will be following your progress though! Thank you for the ebook with the forms etc. I just downloaded it. I've written nonfiction for so long that I need to do research and outlines first:)

  22. I'm not quite that organized but I do have a lot of notes. I've had the story milling around for a month or so, and different pieces keep popping into my head-generally while I'm driving.

    I've got notes on my main character, her backstory, and the future overpopulated earth that the story is set in. I've got notes on the tech I need and ideas for scenes and a rough outline of where I see the story going at this point.

    And I've got names for most of my main characters. I know you can put a temp name in and change it later, but the characters don't seem to gel properly if I don't know what to call them.

    I still need a name that a girl who'd never seen an animal before might give to a racoon though :)


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