Getting ready for NanoWriMo

Underwood Typewriter

Underwood Typewriter

November is approaching rapidly and I have the usual annual decision to make. Do I do NanoWriMo?

One thing is nice this year. Usually November is a nasty busy month for me at work, which makes getting the time… and especially the energy, up for the fifty thousand words extremely difficult. This year, October is the tough month and November will be easier – except for the first week. The first week is brutal – so I’ll have a slow start but should be able to catch up. I have to take some vacation time, so maybe I can even go on a bit of a writing trip.

As you may have guessed by now, I am going to give it a go. (my Nanowrimo page) I have tried four times and made it once. The other three I wrote myself into a corner and couldn’t get out. They weren’t total losses – I still had a few tens of thousands of words that I might be able to use someday. Probably not. Crash and burned NanoWriMo paragraphs are hoarder houses of writing – piles of useless mouldering crap that seemed useful once, but really needs to be chucked into the dumpster out on the front yard.

I will say the one year I made it was a bigger thrill than I thought it would be. That year I picked a novel idea that I knew had no dead ends. It was an old man, caught in a life-or-death situation, reminiscing about his life during lulls in his struggle. I knew that if I was stuck I could always come up with another memory.

When my word processor said I had hit the fifty thousand words, I uploaded it and discovered that by the official count, I was still about ninety five words short. It was amazingly difficult to write one more little cluster of paragraphs at eleven fifty on the last night. I almost couldn’t squeeze it out.

So this year, my idea to avoid the dreaded dead end plotting is to develop the ideas ahead of time. I want to have about a hundred scenes listed out so all I have to do is write each one, five hundred words or so each, and then I’m done. No possibility of sliding off into the ditch.

The other day I saw The Tempest at the Wyly theater in downtown Dallas. I had seen it before, but I was still impressed. What I think I will do is update the basic plot lines of this last Shakespeare play to modern times. I’m tentatively making Prospero a deposed drug kingpin named John Prosper. Starting from that point, most the other characters start falling in line.

I’m working on Ariel… that is a key character. Setting too…. Maybe an actual island is doable… maybe in a lake. Do I want a supernatural element? Haven’t decided that yet.

Of course, I won’t follow the Shakespeare plot too faithfully. For example, somebody, probably more, will have to die. I do have my writing station set up nice… one less excuse.

So much writing. So little time. Wish me luck.

My secretary setup

One place where the magic happens