Prep for NaNoWriMo

Angelyn’s got her groove back and she’s getting ready for NaNo.

I wrote my first novel at age 12.  My mother typed it up on her computer at work and bound it in a bright red folder.  I continued to write during high school but my bouts of creative writing took a back seat to my tech writing career.

I had an idea, about 4 years ago for a novel.  I had no idea how to write a novel but I was/am a voracious reader, so I figured, it couldn’t be that hard.


My first draft will hopefully never see the light of day, nor the 2nd or 3rd revision.  I started taking classes then, trying to understand and master this craft I’d chosen.  I joined critique groups, acquired a critique partner, joined writing groups, read everything I could lay my hands on about the craft of writing.  Though I continued to struggle with how to organize this novel, the story idea would not let me go.

I went on to other projects, short stories, novellas, even two other novels but I keep coming back to KAOS.

The good thing about mastering your chosen craft is that eventually, you understand why you’re having troubles.  Like riding a bicycle, you wobble, struggle to find your balance, skin a knee or two and then “voila!” you’re halfway down the block, riding with no hands.

I think I’ve figured out now why my earlier revisions of KAOS have been utter crap.

a.  I had the goofy idea that I should be able to produce a perfect first draft.  (yeah, yeah, I know.  But Lee Child makes it look sooo easy!).

b.  I shared my work too soon and sometimes to the wrong people.  Sometimes, even when trying to be helpful, non-writers or envious writers can be motivation killers.

c.  Research, research, research.  I write mysteries and thrillers, and yes, it’s all fiction but mystery and thriller readers tend to be sticklers for detail.

d.  I need to write the story I want to tell, not what everyone else believes should be written.  The only voices I should listen to during this process are Ima’s (female protag), Micah’s (male protag) and my own.  Everything else just confuses the process.

Until about a year ago, I anticipated throughout the day the moment when my household settled down and there was nothing else standing between me and my laptop.  I let A, B, C, D take some of my joy and make writing a chore, not a passion.  But I feel myself coming back and the first thing on my list is to finish “KAOS”.

Writers will ofter characterize their writing style as plotters or pantsers.  I recently read an article which introduced another style, percolators.  I think this one describes me best.  Because of my chosen genre, I have to work out my external conflict in advance.  In some ways, defining this first, helps to develop my characters and their internal conflicts and the scenes which propel the story forward.  Once I have a clear road map, I let the characters take the lead and tell the story in their own way.

My NaNo prep this week includes clarifying the details of KAOS’s external conflict.  My web browser history is full of visits to sites about guns, arms developers, weapons signature, hate group and crimes, domestic terror, the Department of Homeland Security, gun ban laws, law enforcement procedures, and defensive countermeasures.

I’m planning a very loose outline, mostly just Act I, Act II and Act III.  This should be just enough for my story to organically unfold over the course of the month.

Are you participating in NaNo this year?  What are you doing to help you sustain your momentum throughout the month?  I’d love to hear about it.


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