I didn't get picked for a jury this week. The first case up was a murder and I could see a whole book unfolding in my head (one John Grisham's probably already written), but I was ejected from the panel. Then it was some uber-boring personal injury thing and those lawyers also rejected me. I'm trying not to take either personally. So here I am, back home. And the books I've been working on are in copyedits and with my agent. Which means its time to write a new one.
Last November I tried NaNoWriMo* for the first time. These were my thoughts starting it. Now, nine months removed, I definitely consider it a success. The book that came out of it, LIGHT AS A FEATHER, is the one that's with my agent for a final read-through. It was probably the least painful I've ever written.
NaNo officially starts in November (the sign up page is here for anyone considering it. Do it! For real! You won't regret it). But I'm ready now. Like last year, I'll be finishing something I've already started. The working title is TUNNELS and I'm about 14,000 words in, 36,000 short of the NaNo goal of 50,000 in a month. That breaks down to about 1175 words - or 5 pages - per day. I set my goals weekly, knowing there are some days I won't get to write at all. If I hit them, the draft will be done on October 19.
There's tons of advice on the NaNo website...dos and don'ts, etc. I think my biggest takeaways last year were #1 Go Into It With An Outline and #2 Hit Your Numbers No Matter What.
The outline ensured I didn't write a plotless mess. There was plenty of stuff I had to revise and add and rework when it was all over, but the story had a progression. Things happened. Characters changed. There was forward motion toward a key event. My outline was pretty basic (start here, have these few things happen, get to this final thing, the end).
But because I didn't spell everything out, there were days I'd sit down and have no idea what should happen next. That's where #2 came in. After I stared at the screen for a while, I'd start panicking (mildly) about my goal and just write. Anything. Have a character go somewhere she shouldn't. Pick two characters and get them talking. That worked best, I think. Dialogue is usually more interesting and it leads to all kinds of stuff. Plus it involves more than one character so gives you more places to go when you're stuck on the next scene.
Part of NaNo is also making your goals public so you can't weasel out. Now that I've done that, I better go write.
*National Novel Writing Month: where you draft a novel in 30 days.