Sunday 14 October 2018


The days of October are ticking away.

Half gone already.

Do you know what that means?

It means I’m half done with my NaNoWriMo prep…

(“Nano-what?” some of you say. Here’s the explanation.)

I know I can write 50,000 words in a month. I did it last year. In fact, I’m just now finishing the edits of the book I wrote last November and I’m pretty pleased with it. Strong on plot, I’d say, which is a bit of a departure for me as my characters are spend quite a lot of time drinking tea and chatting. The difference is probably that I’m aiming younger, what’s known as ‘Middle Grade’ even though that’s a reference to the US education system which is meaningless in Britain. Middle-graders don’t have a lot of truck with tea-drinking and chatting in books.

The great thing of course about writing a book that’s strong on plot is that there’s a clear forward pull on the narrative. Every time the characters stop running, you pull the rug out from under them and they’re off again. And for me to keep that much plot going at a rate of 1,667 words per day throughout November, I need to do plenty of planning.

I’ve found that the best way to plan is to ambush myself into creativity. That sounds slightly bonkers written down, but here’s what I mean. I know that my mind is at its most creative first thing in the morning before anything else has come to fill it. I spend a precious half-hour in bed with a notebook and pencil and the cup of peppermint tea my lovely husband brings me. I set a timer and for half an hour I write notes about the book I’m planning. They could be characters notes, plot notes, lists of names or places, lists of possible situations to throw my characters into, questions I need to solve. Anything and everything that comes into my head gets written down. After half an hour I put the notebook aside until the following day and begin the rest of my day. I hardly think about the book at all the rest of the day, but presumably it's all slotting into place as the day goes on because I always have more questions and more lists the next day. Last year I did this every day of October and by November 1st I was champing at the bit to get started on writing. (A side note, I worked out that if I could keep up this 30 minutes a day every day of the year it would add up to over five 35-hour working weeks of creativity – there’s a thought!).

Last year was the first time I’d tried this method and last year my daily notes were quite random. This year, just before the start of October I discovered the snowflake method of plotting so that’s what I’m trying this time. It’s more focused and because it requires you to continually go back to what you’ve planned before and expand, I think I’m going to have sorted out a lot of the potential plot holes before I start. Of course, there are potentially lots of these – I’m having a go at a detective story which turns out to be incredibly complicated… but more of that in another blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?