NaNo Week 4 is here. Seven days left to hit 50,000 words. I can see the finish line, and it’s not that far away. How have you been doing? Will you hit your 50k before next Sunday?
After almost 2 weeks of hiding from the #@&!$ cold (Yes, I live in MN, but it’s still not supposed to be below freezing in November. It just isn’t.), we are getting a two-day respite. There’s nothing as refreshing as a walk in relatively balmy 40 degree weather, even if the sun is still playing behind the clouds. Reminded me of spring, with the damp air and brown grass exposed after the snow melts. Except I know it isn’t spring; this is just the warning shot over the bow.
I’m within a few days of hitting the NaNo finish line. I’ll have my word count, but I’m nowhere near the end of the story. In fact, I’m just reaching the midpoint. This is a first draft/rough draft, so I can make notes and fast-forward to the major scenes, but the idea is to write the whole novel: beginning, middle, end. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who runs into this. My problem is this year I’m rewriting a novel I wrote a couple years ago, and because of real life chaos, I never got a solid story arc set up for the reboot.
Some writers are “pantsers”: they sit down and just write. That’s it. And it works for them. Some are planners: they have an outline, rough or detailed, and use that as a road map for the story. I like the idea of an outline, and I use one if only to make sure I stay within sight of the road. I brainstormed the story, but failed to build any sort of guiding outline. My muse is tsking, and I know he’s thinking “I told you so.”
Are you a pantser? What do you do when the story road suddenly disappears, and what you thought might happen won’t? Do you change your vision?
Sometimes planners have detailed outlines that guide their story like train tracks. The story can’t veer off the path without risking derailment. But what happens when the characters decide they want to get off the train? That’s why my idea of an outline is just as a guide. I’ve learned the characters know what they want to do, and they’ll do it, or risk becoming less real and more like cardboard cutouts. That’s the beauty of rough drafts; write it no matter where the story goes, and wrangle things into order later.
Kick your muse into high gear for the sprint to the finish line. Offer her extra-strong coffee or promise those fine European chocolates as a reward, but you can do it. See you at the finish line!