Preparing for NaNoWriMo #2: Starting over

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So far in my journey for feedback in the early stages of my writing, things are going smoothly. The overwhelming sensation I had before feels more like a challenge that I’m finally up to doing. Awaiting feedback from my editor is like waiting for Christmas. Feedback is no longer daunting and scary. It’s not humiliating. It’s meant to help me improve and become a better writer. When I keep that frame of mind, everything is always okay.

I’d sent the editor my initial outline meant for National Novel Writing Month. I learned many things (the most prominent being that I need to improve my novel outlining skills). She complimented me on my story structure but said I’d forgotten about some other essential elements. You know, like, character arcs. Oops. I had mentioned nothing about what made my characters move and why they made the decisions they did. I gave her nothing on why this story mattered. The good part is that I don’t have to start from scratch; however, I still have a lot of work to do, and with National November Writing Month weeks away, I better get to it.

So what are my goals?

As I’ve written before, my focus is on being more aware of the writing process and slowing down. Since then, I’ve refined that goal to include doing things right the first time (as much as possible).

My goal is to make novel writing less daunting by eliminating newbie mistakes and getting rid of bad habits. Essentially, it’s becoming better. I know writing is forever messy (and editing even messier), but there are some things I can do as an amateur novel writer to prevent major headaches. I also know I won’t be able to fix everything (and all of my weaknesses) before November 1.

Baby steps.

To facilitate needing to redo my outline to make it better, I am reading Creating Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland as well as going through her accompanying workbook. The end goal is to have a recreated outline that encompasses character arcs and story structure. So when NaNoWriMo starts, I have a better guide. And when I go back to revise, even if things change afterward, I have some semblance of a foundation for my story.

I chose Weiland’s books because I like the step-by-step approach she offers. She suggests reading the book first before hitting the workbook, but my method is to approach each chapter by chapter. I’m excited to get started with the books as one of the critical things addressed in it is blending story structure and character development. The workbook gives you questions to help guide you in understanding your characters and their development in the novel.

Her books engage my preferred methods of working, which means a logical, point A to point B method. It’s not because I’m linear; it’s because I’m the opposite and need some boundaries and guidelines.

The writing process and the art of improving my novel writing certainly won’t be linear. I bet it will still be frustrating. That’s why I also want to chronicle my attempts at being a better novel writer before, during, and after NaNoWriMo. I figure it would help give insight into what’s working and what’s not. So, when I look back, I have something concrete to use as I continue practicing and improving.

By the time Oct. 25 rolls around (my next publication date), I expect to have crafted a more detailed outline complete with character arcs and good plot structure. And then I’ll move forward with getting ready for the final days as we all countdown to the start of NaNoWriMo. We’ll consider this my public journal, and I hope to share the good and the bad times with anyone interested in reading. Perhaps we can all gain something from it.

P.S. If you are thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo, but have no idea how to prep for it, then I highly suggest Eva Deverell’s Preptober Schedule. She’s got a lot of great worksheets that I always use that are meant to get your creative juices going as well as challenge you as a writer. You can also use the official NaNoWriMo site for more information. I’m not affiliated with either, but love sharing resources that I find helpful.