Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tuesday Is Backwards Day

So I've tried to write novels before. And I mean, like at least eight or nine times before. I've only ever finished one of those attempts (I did finish a crappy first draft on one of the others, but only because I got lost midway through and decided to tack on an abrupt ending just so I could say I finished it - the story ends, but I don't think you could say it was really done). One reason is that I get so excited by the concept that I start writing way too early in the process, excited to get started, and eventually I hit a wall. I have a vague idea of where I want to go and how to get there, but I can't seem to justify it given the characters and world as they have developed. I've followed the road, but the bridge is out. I've tried outlining, diagrams, character biographies, index cards, but they never feel right.

So now comes NaNoWriMo, which encourages writing without preparation, seat-of-the-pants wordflow. This is ideally suited to my approach, no?

So what do I do? Since I'm excited about writing the book, but not allowed to start writing pages yet, I've been putting together the most complete outline I've ever written. Character notes. Snippets of dialogue. Good Lord, gasp, even index cards, choke. And it looks like it's going to be a great yarn. Over-the-top apocalyptic action with lots of juicy character conflict (and, I'm hoping, loads of humor). I'm really getting pumped up here, which is exactly what Chris Baty warns against in his guide to NaNoWriMo, No Plot? No Problem!

As he puts it, "Past a certain point, novel planning just becomes another excuse to put off novel writing. You will never feel sufficiently ready to jump into your novel, and the more time you spend planning and researching, the more likely you'll feel pressure to pull off a masterwork that justifies all your prewriting work."

So a part of me is worried that I'll do exactly what he warns against, freeze up because I've built up such pressure from all the prep work I've been doing. But another part of me isn't worried, because this is a character I've already written several stories about. I know him and his world, and it's always a joy to go back there. I can't wait to start blowing stuff up.

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