‘Fess Up Friday: Surprises

As of this morning, the word count on the draft I’m writing for NaNoWriMo is 8,691. I’m not quite done writing for the day, but there you go.

As expected, I’ve been NaNo-ing I mean, engaging in the narcissistic commerce of writing all week long, with very little narcissistic commerce of revising to speak of. (Thanks to you, Ms. Miller, I have finally learned to spell narcissism correctly.)

Since there’s already enough negative NaNoWriMo energy going around the blogosphere these days, let’s talk about some of the great things NaNo has done, yes? There are many benefits to NaNoWriMo including encouraging discipline, getting a first draft out of it, bringing together a community to cheer you on. As for me, the biggest benefit of NaNoWriMo this week is that it has shed some light on my process as a writer.

I mentioned in a previous entry that I had two ideas I was kicking around for NaNo: one that was just a seed of an idea and one that was more fleshed out. I went with the seed. It just felt right. Now, rewind to earlier this year. My SCBWI chapter had a run of talks about scene and structure and there was a lot of talk about the benefits of plotting out your novel before you write it. (For a crash course in plotting, check out Hélène Boudreau’s blog, “Plotting… OCD Style

So, on the heels of all this great advice, I decided I was going to write my next novel outline style. I took a week and mapped out the entire thing. I made chapter summaries;I had an inciting incident, and plot points 1, 2, and 3; I knew the ending. I sat down to start writing and made it through the first chapter before taking a couple of days off. I wasn’t feeling it. I started it up again, trying to cheer myself on with the reminder that I already had a climax and an ending. I wrote a couple of scenes into chapter two and was just done. Between the move and everything else, I never went back to the project.

And now I know why. I like surprises. I like fly by the seat of my pants drafting. I like to follow my characters through twists and turns . It’s happened to me every day this week. Just as I think about moving my characters from Place A to Place B, one of my characters picks up her backpack and takes off to Place M. And suddenly a whole other piece of her world opens up. It’s kind of awesome.

(Not that I’m knocking the outline, by any means. Novels need structure and writers need to impose structure on their novels. I just find that it’s a more useful tool in revising than drafting.)

I suspect I’ve always known this, I just lost a little confidence in my process. The unknown can be scary, but for me it works. I’d like to write another thousand words today. Just this morning, my protagonist decided to cut school, outran the security guard, jumped in her truck and high-tailed it out of town. I can’t wait to find out where she’s going.


Paper Towns by John Green


Still with the Rock Band mania here. The Clash at Gallifrey is about to start our regional tour!

One thought on “‘Fess Up Friday: Surprises

  1. Great post 🙂 I’m not NaNo-ing (too busy) but I’m cheering all of you on 🙂

    And great to hear you’ve found your preferred writing style and got your confidence back 🙂 Can’t wait to hear how your wip goes.



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