Thursday, October 21, 2010

NaNoWriMo Preparation

November is drawing ever closer, and it is a little over a week until NaNoWriMo begins.

Last year when I wrote Virtuoso, the only planning I did was a blurb and an outline. Anything else that came up happened while writing. If I needed to know something, I googled it and went on. I did stick mainly to the outline, but some good surprises came up when I was writing. I finished the novel on November 29th and came in at a little over 68,000 words.

Then, the problems with Virtuoso revealed themselves to me one by one. First, I realized the novel would be much better in first person instead of third. I thought that was the biggest problem, but easily fixed by rewriting the novel and thinking in first person. Then after speaking with an agent about it, I realized the other problems from the beginning's premise being similar to another book to one of the character's ages. In other words, come December, I'll be doing research and MAJOR rewrites. Yes, I didn't do very well on the research either, and I want to make certain things in the novel more authentic. I won't say what they are, so I won't give them away, but it'll be better. Really.

So for Sarah's Nightmare, I didn't want to make the mistakes from the past over again. I want to be as prepared as possible, have as much research done as possible, so I can go into this novel knowing what to write. I've written blurbs, an outline, a timeline, and a synopsis.

Now, I'm working on character sketches. Originally I was going to do character sketches for everyone in the book. Yes, everyone, even that minor character that comes in only once. I was going to know his/her life completely. Then, I realized I have a little over a week to do it, and character sketches are hard. So, I've decided to focus on the main three characters: Sarah, her boyfriend Ted, and grad student Marc. So far, I've finished Sarah's character sketch, and I'm working on Ted's. It's not easy populating their worlds, knowing important events in their life that shaped them for who they are at the beginning of the novel. It's exhausting. But, when I was writing a flash fiction piece about Sarah, she came to life for me. I felt like I could write her because I knew her. I knew how hard it was to see her best friend in the whole world move away and have her grandpa die the same year. I knew how she wanted to fit in so badly at a college party that she drank too much and woke up with a tattoo. Or the embarrassment over her first teaching job in high school and how she couldn't handle the pettiness of it all.

I'm learning about Ted now, and he's interesting too. Boy, it's so hard to become a psychiatrist. Twelve years of school and residency, and a test bases whether you'll be a psychiatrist or a flunky. I know his driving need to understand humans because his first wife told him he didn't understand who she was. I feel his commitment issues toward Sarah, despite the fact that he loves and cares about her. It's fascinating stuff. I can't wait to get to Marc's life, even though it takes a while to have the character reveal himself.

If I finish those three character sketches, then I want to write some basic world building profiles, so I know what their world looks like.

Then, I hope to do some research next week. There are some complexities to this novel I don't know how to write them since I don't know about them. True, some I know from movies and such, but I want to do real research or at least enough to get me through this first draft. I can always do more after when I revise.

Will I get it all done in a little over a week? Personally, I doubt it, but I do feel like I'm better prepared to write this novel than the two I've written before.

That's a good thing, right?


Aubrie said...

Sounds like you have the right idea! Whenever I write fast, there's always more editing to do in the end. But this is all part of the fun of NaNoWriMo!

Nicole Zoltack said...

I'm the same way. I write cleaner drafts if I take longer but then it takes me loooong. If I write fast, I need to edit more. There's a perfect balance somewhere but I've yet to find it.

Cherie Reich said...

Yeah, I'm waiting to see if being more prepared going into a fast write will make the writing better. I'll keep everyone updated on my progress. I'm looking forward to beginning. It's just one week!