The Story Within

My NaNo project is falling together like you wouldn’t believe. I’m extremely pleased with the result and can’t wait to start writing this project. I’ve already started warning my family that November is “Karen Month” and I’ll be spending a lot of time behind closed doors. However, I’ve also be telling them that I’ll be accepting visitors bearing gifts of cups of tea and encouragement who don’t want to chat for too long. They didn’t seem overly impressed or willing. Never mind. I’ve still got time to talk them around.

Anyway, during this in-depth planning I realised that the supporting characters where just there to look good and didn’t actually have much of a part to play. I knew everything about them, but not their storylines, so I had to fix that. I used the Snowflake method to sort out that problem. Now they are real characters with real problems and I’m now sure their presence will improve the overall story.

I then set about “fattening” the plot so that I don’t run into problems in the middle of NaNo and anyone who has done NaNo will know that we can’t afford to flounder … and there’s definitely no time to sit and think … in the middle of the month. No, we must be able to type, type, type. I’ve broken the story down into five parts – the beginning, three cycles (borrowed from Helen Parocha’s Dynamic Tension Charts) and the ending. During November, this type of planning will help me stay focused, but will also ensure I don’t come up against a brick wall and stop typing. This is exactly what I need, because not having a plan like this will only cause me stress and stress will stop the words from flowing. That will only lead to disaster.

Finally, on the weekend, I realised that this story has another story within the main story which must be told in order for the whole thing to make sense. Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day planning out this mini story. At the end of the day I felt content that the two stories, when merged, will make a powerful combination. More than that I will not say at this stage.

Now I have to merge the plan for this second story into the plan for the first story, so that both are covered from the beginning to the end. Once I’ve done this I’m pretty well ready to write. I even know what the first sentence will be.

A Change in Direction

On 1 October 2007, I wrote the following:

Now I must move on to the second part of the goal. I have until the end of October to plan book three. This sounds like a long time, but I’ve been thinking about this book – on and off – for some months now and still don’t have any real ideas (except for the ending). For this reason, I hope a month is long enough for the planning. However, setting a public goal and a deadline might just be what is needed to get the job done. We’ll see.

Eight days have passed since then and yesterday I finally started working on that plan. In all honesty, I’m having trouble with the plot and the plan isn’t going well. This has nothing to do with writer’s block or laziness on my part. There’s another reason altogether – another story has pushed its way to the surface and is demanding some attention.

I have attempted to push it aside and return to book 3 of my children’s series several times. I have struggled for over 24 hours to stay focused, but nothing is working. I started a spreadsheet and figured out some of the plot, but this other story is quite determined to have its time in the lime light.

This afternoon, I set up Google Documents and decided that if I type up a quick outline of the other story I would then be free to carry on with book 3. To me, it is logical to think that the story just wanted to be sure I wouldn’t forget key points of the plot and would be satisfied when the outline was written. Yes, well, I was wrong!

Once I opened the door to this “other” story, everything just gushed out and I wrote a five page outline within no time at all. I now have a story title and a complete plot. However, I don’t have any character names. That doesn’t mean the characters are shy. No way. They are right there, and they are pushing their personalities at me as if to say the names are not important – the plot, the personalities, and the setting are.

It’s quite overwhelming how quickly it all came together. I told G a quick overview of the plot and he simply said, “write it.” My reaction was, “I can’t yet” and he asked “why?”

I sat and thought about it for a while. Why can’t I write this other story? Well, firstly, I want to finish the children’s series. Writing book 3 in November would be a mighty giant step to getting that goal completed. Secondly, I don’t like to swap and change between projects because that’s undisciplined, which easily leads to many unfinished projects. I don’t like the sound of that.

But…

NaNoWriMo starts in three weeks and my book 3 plan isn’t coming together. Fair enough, I never planned on doing the full NaNo thing, for me it was always going to be a Mini-NaNoWriMo month, where I aim for 25,000 words. I can manage that. I know it won’t make me turn into something nasty and, at the end of the month, I won’t suffer from burnout (like I did the first time I did the full NaNo thing).

Why is a tiny piece of me so eager to push book 3 aside? Why have thoughts of doing a full NaNo this year been swirling around my head all day? I’ll tell you why. Because this story is so full and vivid in my mind, I feel I could easily reach 50,000 words in a month. I also feel I’d be a fool not to use the NaNo experience to write the first draft of a new novel while the plot, setting and characters are so real to me. I also think that a change of “scenery” will do me the world of good.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. There’s a change of plan. I’m heading over to NaNoWriMo right now to register and I’m going to write the first draft of Mirror Image this November. Yoohoo!

Edit: The NaNo website is offline. With the increasing number of writers doing this each year, the website can’t handle the traffic. I hope the problem is sorted real soon, otherwise, there’s going to be a lot of upset NaNoers in November.

Half an hour later: I’m registered!