Saturday, November 9, 2013

Panters, Plotter or culotter? How do you approach NaNoWriMo?

                For those who don't know this is National Novel Writing Month ...NaNoWriMo for short. The goal is to write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in 30 days.

               I have tried NaNoWriMo twice with no success.  Part of it was timing.  I worked full time and cooked Thanksgiving dinner with lots of from-scratch items.  Then, of course, there are the Christmas holiday preparations.  

               Another part was my inability to turn off my inner editor and organizer.  I am not a full blown plotter but I am not a pantser, either.   When I wrote Dark Dealings, I could not get momentum going until I had a vision (no, nothing requiring medication, I think) of a beginning middle and end and a very clear picture of my main characters and, at least, most of their goals, motivations and conflicts. But I also don't work with a full-blown outline.

                Ogham Court started as a NaNoWriMo project but didn't get finished in the month.   I did learn a few things about myself and my characters as a result. One of the things I am working on is the ability to turn down, if not turn off the editor.  I can’t do it completely which is a good thing.  In pushing myself to move Ogham Court forward I am discovering things about Nora, the main character and the course of the story.  Unfortunately it means some revisions.  One night I went to bed thinking that a seduction plot line felt wrong.  I had the antagonist romancing Nora.  In the meantime I had introduced her mother, a quirky divorcee.  A woke one morning with one of those writer’s light bulb moments and realized that the romancing had to be of the mother as a way to get to Nora.  It means rewriting some scenes, but I think it gives me the piece I needed to lead to the middle and the end.  At least that’s what I think today. Then again, I could be wrong. My characters will set me straight.

                So I am a half-pantser, or as I told a fellow writer, I am a culotter. No being a culotter does not involve rum, coconut and a blender. Okay maybe it does.  What it means is that I am somewhere in between a  plotter (full detailed outline) and a panster (seat of the pants) as a writer.  But most of all I am dedicated to writing the best damn story I can write.  That, in my mind, is the first and largest part of being a successful author –Write a damn good story that lots of people will want to read and share.

                And it all starts with the plot….tension, tension, tension. Even if your plot evolves like mine from just a beginning, a middle and an end.

                A few reminders as you work through NaNoWriMo:  Show don’t tell.  Dig deep into your characters to find out what makes them tick.  Then in NaNoEdMo (March) edit it and polish it until you can see your face in it.  When you think you’ve got it right,  give it to trusted betas readers with sharp red pens or pencils to have a go at it.  You may not accept everything they suggest but they will see things that you cannot because you have been too close for long to the words, the characters, and the story. They will help you be a better writer.

           Life sometimes gets in the way of things but I am working on a short story for an upcoming Breathless Press anthology and then I will attack Ogham Court.  The voices are back.

          But I have my first draft, the rest is just editing.... um JUST???

          By the way, I am also a Content Editor for Breathless Press, if you have that novel and it is looking for a home...message me. If you are just looking for some awesome reads, stop over and check out our selection. (Warning: Some are EXTREMELY steamy!)

        Are you a plotter, a pantser or a culotter?



  1. I have trouble turning off the editor as well. I keep telling myself edit later but often find myself editing as I goa long then go back and editing again and again

  2. I'm trying to nip that in the bud myself. With the bootcamp, I'm using Word "track changes" to leave comments for myself about what I need to go back and fix or research. What I learned from Dark Dealings is that I know the "theme" of the story, the overall arc but that specifics will change along the way. For example, my original opening scene is now about thirty pages in. Halfway through on the advice of a great mentor I found an earlier point in time where things really began and the emotions were higher.