I was all geared up for NaNoWriMo – had my story swirling around in my head for the month before and had gotten to the point where I was waking up in the morning (my usual inspiration time) and quickly writing notes on the pad I keep by my bed of new scenes for The Book.
The Third book in a three book series that is currently getting interest from both an agent and a publisher, I was eager to get off the hamster wheel of editing and re-editing the first two books and jump into the last book of the three book series.
Then life happened. My much loved mother-in-law Betty Hudson died the night of October 30th and we were on the plane the next morning for Ontario. It seems petty to even mention my NaNo plans in the light of this event. I am so glad we went and spent the time with the family, but the fact remains on November 11th I was back at home and had zero words written.
Then a funny thing happened. I have always been a serious pantser, starting to write without much or any idea where the story was going, but this time I really didn’t know where the story was going. I had recently read James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel From The Middle and now I went back to it. He says it works for plotters to, but as a guideline for pantsers, it’s terrific. Short and clear and to the point, his concept of the Mirror Moment clarified a lot about that central turning point for me, and how important it is to have that nailed before or shortly after you start to write. And the idea that the Mirror Moment is internal rather than a big bang in the action also made total sense for the type of books I write, more women’s fiction than action.
Then I realized I really didn’t know anything about the internal world of my two main characters. Sure, I knew Louise was the smart talking waitress at the cafe, but beyond that I really didn’t have a clue. And Blue was the strong silent type, but so silent in the previous books that he was equally enigmatic.
So I turned to The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines, Sixteen Master Archetypes, (Tami Cowden, Caro LaFever, Sue Viders) and quickly found not only my characters “types”, with some motivations, hopes and fears, in general terms that I could tailor to my characters, but I also found the archetypes they morphed into over the course of the book—i.e. their character arch.
And in the process I’m amazed to find that I’ve morphed into a plotter. Of sorts. I fully expect many secrets to be revealed in the writing process and am excited to get started, but I hope this preliminary work will keep me on track and make the actual writing much faster.
I think this is akin to what Jenny Crusie calls Discovery, something she has been sharing lately in fascinating posts on her blog, Argh Ink .
NaNoWriMo aims at 50,000 words in November. My personal NaNo plan was to
finish 85,000 words by Christmas. Now I’m glad I took this time for my own Discovery though and armed with my new outline, I’m still going to try.
How is your Nano coming?