November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For those who have never tried NaNo, it is an amazing experience. You push yourself to see how much you can write in a month, the goal is to finish a novel. A couple of years ago I tried it and succeeded with over 60,000 words. It was hard work and the month of November isn’t the best month for me to do a project of this magnitude. By December first, I was exhausted and spent much of the month trying to catch up with all my holiday plans. But I’m glad I did it. It proved to me that I could work on a time limit, plan out a novel and stick with a goal.
How did I succeed? Well, I’m a pantser and I hate to outline but because I write suspense and I wanted to stay on task, I needed to do some planning. A writer friend, Kate Parker gave me the idea of using sticky notes and a folding board. I wrote everything I wanted in the story: 1) characters’ names and a brief description of them (looks, emotional baggage and ticks or tells or picture), 2) places/settings with a brief description or even a picture, 3) plot points (i.e. Jack will fall down, Jill will tumble after, Mom wraps his head in brown paper, etc.). I even wrote out red herring ideas and clues.
No matter what genre you write, if you are a plotter or pantser, it doesn’t hurt to have a few ideas planned out. I love the idea of the sticky notes because I can move them around to suit my changing mind. If you’re thinking about NaNoWriMo, go for it and don’t forget to plan it out.