NaNoWriMo 2021 Prep

Querying for my MS:D manuscript is running in the background and my attention can come completely to the work of preparing for NaNoWriMo to begin on November first. The manuscript I will be writing this year is MS:SOS and I cannot wait to start.

First, a brief explanation on what National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is. NaNoWriMo is a challenge where a writer sets out to write an entire 50,000 word first draft of a novel during the month of November. This is 50,000 words on a story that some people do some amount of plotting for, affectionately known as plotters, and some people dive into without much of a plan, affectionately known as pants-ers. I have always been a plotter and taking on the challenge this year, my fifth year of NaNoWriMo, will be no different. I wrote the basic three act structure for this story during the last bits of summer, as is my plotting way. The form that MS:SOS (manuscript key) is going to be written in came to me a few years ago, though this story has been writing itself in my mind in the decades that have followed my young adult years. It’s a story I knew I wanted to write someday, though not as any kind of autobiography. As I’ve said before, I learn, experience the world, and process through stories. Doing those things as a way to learn from, experience, and process my own stories are no different. I knew I wanted this telling to be done in a fictionalized story and I also knew that I wanted to wait until it came to me that way. Over the years the story has nudged at the back of my mind, but never in a structured form. It was a few years ago while I was listening to a keynote speaker at a conference when it came at me in a rush and I knew who the characters would be and how the story would be told. I even captured the title of the story that day and it has been waiting patiently for me ever since. When I wrote the overview for the three act structure of this story, I was surprised by some of the things that came through from one character in particular and really surprised by how the third act of the story wrapped itself up. Thinking of how the story will end brought that bittersweet ache for the wistful years of youth (yup, I’m old enough to say that now) and the gratitude for the years between then and now that I always long to feel at the end of a story like this. Capturing that feeling and delivering it through the pages to the reader will be one of my biggest goals in this story.

The other large goal of this story is to be true to the characters as they want to come across on the page. The one character in particular that really struck me while I was sketching is challenging me to get to know her backstory. I know what her character arc is going to be, but as I was thinking about her journey and the things that happen to her, I was struck by the emotions she was bringing forward in relation to her reactions. Moments where I thought she would feel angry or want to disengage with another character were actually places where her fierce protectiveness of the other character boiled up to the surface. She was still angry in those places, but understanding where her anger was coming from and knowing that she is going to try to disengage from the character because of how much she wants to protect, painted her in an entirely different light for me as the writer. This week I’m hoping to do some writing exercises to get to know the characters better as I continue to plot the story. I did figure out what my timeline for the story will be based on the amount of words I want to write. The past four years I’ve stuck with the 50,000 word count that the NaNoWriMo challenge calls for, but this year I’m going to push for 60,000 words. I know adding that 10,000 words will give me more to work with during the revisions and will give the scenes more room to breathe. That will put me at about 2,000 words a day (1,667 words a day for 50,000 word goal) to write the 60,000 words by the end of November. It’s going to be a bigger challenge than I’ve taken on yet and I’m excited to continue plotting and getting prepared for it.

In case you haven’t been told today, you are more than enough.

Happy Writing!

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