Saturday, 23 October 2010

Planning for NaNoWriMo - It's Only (Almost) One Week Away!

I'm panicking. I am, personally, the definition of panic. NaNoWriMo is only about one week away and I still don't have a clear idea in my head of what I'm going to write. I spent the entire (yup, from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, with the exception of when I ate and showered...) day yesterday working on my characters and plot. It took me hours just to work through my two main characters (MCs). I had thought I would have plenty of time to gather all the loose ends and plan out the details, but all I've got is the broad strokes of the main plot, and the two MCs, and one minor character. And that took me all day! It's insane.

NaNoWriMo has truly eaten my soul. It's all I think about. Except when I have to think about school, which freaks me out even more. I just want to get the planning over with so I can be confident that I have enough to write about come Nov 1st. In the hopes of simplifying the processes I went out a few days ago and bought a whiteboard. It's come into handy, but more with school work than with NaNo (whiteboards are excellent for planning databases and the structures of adventure games!). I still love it, however. It feels good to erase everything and have a clean slate to write on each time you've filled the board, and you can still doodle on it - a function MS Word unfortunately lacks. Aaaand that's the end of the sales pitch for whiteboards...

I thought I would show you some of the steps I went through yesterday when planning, and perhaps help someone else out there with the same problem as mine. First I popped in a good CD with music I could plan to - i.e. nothing I might be tempted to sing along with. I started with my MCs and began by writing random facts that I knew about them. I set as a goal to always fill the board before erasing. Note that I took a picture of the board each time I had filled it - the things I write weren't lost forever. It seemed the easiest way to do it.

Excuse the handwriting, and remember that however amazing whiteboards are, they don't come with spell check.

After I ran out of random facts I decided to organise things a little more and started writing about weaknesses. I filled the board again, and it looked a little like this:

It took me a long time to write this, and even longer for my other MC who isn't really the "weakness" kind of person (which, in itself makes her weak, but that's another story). 

After weaknesses I moved to motivation (which I separated into internal and external). To read more about character motivation, see my previous post on the subject.

I then finished with strengths, since I thought that was going to be the easiest. It was, but that didn't mean that it was easy.

I've already scratched some of the things I wrote on this. E.g. I really don't know why I wrote the part of her making a "mean chilli", since she is a terrible cook and cannot even make toast. 

Using the whiteboard wasn't a magical solution, but it did seem to unlock my planning-block that I've been experiencing. I just wish that my brain didn't take so long in coming up with things, and that it came up with less stupid things. The following is an example of how things can go when your brain isn't really cooperating:

Needless to say I didn't use this. I did add it to the "Your Best Worst Notes" thread on the NaNo forums however, so some good came out of it at least.

As you can see from the above images I had already named my characters and if you were very perceptive perhaps you noticed that Jenny and Isaac are indeed Jenny and Karl from my post on characterisation. Karl suffered an identity crisis and changed his name earlier this week. 

I now have left to plan out the more detailed plot points for my novel, and since there will be a whole bunch of P.I. cases I have to come up with some of those as well, as with many, many minor characters that buy the P.I.s' services. I generally tend to limit the amount of minor characters I use so this will be a bit of a challenge.

And now for something completely different: I've received my first comment on a post today! I'm thrilled, and hope many more comments will follow. Thank you Alice, whoever you are!

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