My experience with NaNoWriMo this year was a little different than it had been in years past. I started late with an extensive outline on the first book in a new series that ended up being short of the 50,000-word mark.
No big deal, right?
On Starting Late and Outlining as a Plantser
In previous years, I’ve tried a lot of different ways of going about writing for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been a total pantser who turned into a plantser. I’ve tried outlining a story in full before I started, but every time, I would get bogged down in the planning stages, and the story would never get written. Or, worse, I would get the outline finished, the characters created, and the world built – only to realize that I had lost all motivation to know anything more (as in write) the story.
This year, though, because I was taking part in my writing group’s dare to write in space, and therefore would be writing science fiction, I knew I needed to plan. This former pantser turned plantser would need to be a planner. I sketched out my premise. I bought two books on outlining from K.M. Weiland. I planned that story so hard, my outlining muscles screamed.
The only problem? It put me starting the writing process over a week into the month-long competition. That was definitely a challenge.
On Starting a New Series (Not Having Finished the First)
By the second week in, I knew I had more than just a one-off book, tentatively called Banquet, on my hands. I was dealing with a series.
The main problem with writing a new series is that I already have a series to finish – Deviant Behaviors – and I’m stuck in limbo on that third book. I dislike having more than one series open at a time, unless it’s a series of short fiction anthologies, like my No End to the Dark horror books.
My theory on how to fix this little glitch in my publishing schedule is that I will leave this book to settle while I work on the next in the Deviant Behaviors series. Once that one is done, I can get back to the sci-fi series, or to my one-off romance books. That would solve the problem of having too many series open at once, and would help push me forward to finish the series I started what feels like years ago now.
On Writing a 35,000-Word Novel for NaNoWriMo
Another issue came up near the three-week mark of November that I hadn’t anticipated, especially with all the planning that went into Banquet. It wasn’t going to be a full-length novel, even by NaNo’s short, 50,000-word marker. I wrote The End, then looked at my word count and was shocked when it was only about 35,000 words.
Some suggested I use my outline for words, because I had spent so long on it, and it was pretty lengthy… but I couldn’t do it. It felt wrong to me. (Not that I have a problem with other people doing that! Whatever works works.)
Others said I should start on the second book in the series, which wouldn’t have been a bad idea if I had planned it out already. Not planning it as well as I had planned the first seemed like it would make the two stories lopsided, and I didn’t want to do that to a brand new series already.
So I decided to rebel a little. I wrote the last roughly 15,000 words on an off-shoot of my romance novel, The Setup, a story called Sweat. It follows one of the side characters as she attempts to deal with life after her best friend has fallen in love and cohabitated. That one isn’t finished, but so far, so good.
My Prospects for NaNoWriMo 2017
As far as next year is concerned, I’m even more sure than ever that I will make my goal and ‘win’ NaNoWriMo by writing 50,000 new words. Do I have any idea what I’ll write? Not really.
I might continue the series I started with Banquet. I might write another romance. Or I might tackle another genre and round myself out. I’ve never written a horror novel before; what better time than NaNo to try something new?