Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What I've learned from NaNoWriMo's past

After reading an interesting blog entry here, I had planned to steal the topic and write about my past NaNoWriMo experiences.  Then I remembered I did that a couple months ago.  Instead, I'll be listing some things I learned from NaNoWriMo 2008 and NaNoWriMo 2009.
  • Don't wait until November 3rd to start coming up with story ideas (2008)
  • Have some characters before November 1 hits.  Otherwise you'll have to pinch your villain from an older story you wrote (2008)
  • You don't have to have an outline but you'd better have some idea of where things are headed in case you get stuck (2008)
  • Keep a list of things you can throw in if you're short on material (2009)
  • If you get stuck, go for a stroll.  Or curse a lot (2008)
  • It doesn't hurt to start preparing a month or two in advance (2009)
  • Get anything pressing out of the way before NaNoWriMo starts (2009)
  • The easiest way to write more than the minimum about of words per day is to set a minimum length for your chapters and force yourself to write at least one chapter per day.  In 2008, I wrote 2000 word chapters.  In 2009, they were 2400.  This year, I'm shooting for the 3000 to 3400 range.
Now that the official business is out of the way, I had second thoughts about my plot on the way home.  Was I merely rewriting Jack Vance's Cugel story with some other story intersecting it?  Is the tale of a group of wizards flying a beetle-shaped spaceship too similar to last years tale of four heroes sailing on a ship crewed by zombies?  Can I really keep this story going for 100k?

Fortunately, my commute home is a long one and I was able to resolve my issues before they developed into something worse.  I reasoned that while Fenlock has some Cugel in his parentage, I'm also one of his parents.  Cugel's story was about revenge while Fenlock's is about trying to find the girl he's infatuated with so he can engage in adult situations.  Since the characters are different, the setting is different, and the goal is different, I'm thinking the similarities are pretty superficial regarding the Silver Scarab and the Grim Harbinger.  And as for the 100k goal, it's pretty flexible.  If the story ends before then, I'm not going to stretch it.

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