Thursday, October 17, 2013

NaNoWriMo Preparations by Victoria Escobar

It will be here all too soon.  What will?  November.  This also happens to be National Novel Writing Month, my favorite time of year.  It’s almost better than Christmas.
Of course this means participating in NaNoWriMo.  I love the challenge, and the community built around 50,000 words in 30 days.  I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo twice before and have plans for this year to be my third.
With that being said, I’ve been asked, “How much do you prepare before NaNoWriMo?”
Well for me, each year I’ve tried (am trying) something different.  I haven’t quite found a rhythm that I am comfortable with yet, though I’ve combined some of my regular writing practices with NaNoWriMo set up.
My first year of NaNoWriMo (2011), I finished on day 26 with 50,031 words.  As you can imagine I was ecstatic.  I hadn’t heard about NaNo before then and I prepped for it in about a week, as that’s all the time I had before November began.  Being that it was so last minute, I decided on the bare necessities.
I went into the 2011 NaNoWriMo with a one paragraph character description for each of my characters and an abbreviated outline.  Here an example of what I had:
Character Description:
Ryane is unusually tall and disgustingly thin – not angular thin.  More dancer or sprinter thin.  Has silky black hair cut in an asymmetrical bob that barely comes to shoulders.  Her eyes are a vivid, unnatural blue that almost glow in moonlight.  She has had vivid nightmares all her life and limits her friends to limit ridicule. She’s suspicious and quiet.  Almost always watchful.
Part of the Outline:
XIV. Rendezvous
            A. BF finds – Cannot stay here
            B. Will explain needs to act normal for a little bit – goes home
            C. Knight’s anger – should have known
It’s very bare bones, but it’s all I needed.  The idea I had for this was to just fill in the blanks and keep moving forward.  I let my characters drive the train (I have five chapters that weren’t in the outline that my hero insisted on).  As long as I could semi direct to the end point I wanted the how I got there wasn’t very important.  I could edit in December.  I have since edited, added, beta read and re-edited the novel and it’s in the process of formatting for indie publishing.
In 2012, I didn’t plan at all.  I had no character paragraph, no outline, no real idea of what I wanted to write or where I wanted to take it.  I’m not really surprised I didn’t finish.  I made it to 26,876 words then just got stuck.  I had no idea where to go, and my character was not helpful in the least, though, I may use her again for something else, as I feel it wasn’t her fault I didn’t finish but my lack of vision or plan.
Now here we are in 2013, and NaNoWriMo is upon us once more.  I put up a poll on my FB to determine if I should write Urban Fantasy or Chick Lit Contemporary Fiction.  Urban Fantasy was the popular favorite so I did some thinking.  Then I started my research.
As I’ve never written Urban Fantasy before I looked up a couple of things before I “began”.  The first being the genre’s plot, and character standards.  Not because I want to conform to standard but because before I do anything my way, I need to know what the “right way” is.  (I can either follow or ignore the rules later – as needed for the story.)
Secondly, I refresh my writer’s mind with my ultimate Go-To Reference which I provided at the end of this post.  Leah Clifford, author of A Touch Mortal reposted a huge list of reference from Character Creation to Dialogue, to Plot, to Tool Tips, on her Tumblr.  It’s REALLY handy to have, and I’ve certainly used it more than once.
This time around I have about 20 pages of research completed for NaNoWriMo, since I had the time to properly prepare and have actually used that time wisely.  I’ve got a full page bio for each of my main characters and the antagonist AND full life histories (at least the important life changing parts) for them; I have several pages of one paragraphs for all the minor characters that I’ll need (because I wanted them to be individual and not cardboard cut outs); and I have a complete list of environment descriptions that is several pages long, because my character is going to do a bit of traveling.
I don’t have an “exact” outline this time.  Instead what I did was when I created the environment descriptions I sat down and thought of it like a storyboard or movie script.  Where is my character and why is she there? So under each description I have what the goal is for that environment.  For instance:
Luxurious Mansion: Richly decorated, high ceilings, many breakables.  Could pass for a movie star home.  Marble and antiques everywhere.  Wine cellar and huge “bank vault” safe in the basement.  
Goal: Valene is there because she was told there was something of value to her in the safe.  She wants it.  Chaos ensues when the police show up.
It’s still not a lot compared to the actual outline I had, but it doesn’t need to be.  It’s just a guide.  The next scene, surprise, is an underground safe house not a police station.  So my job as the writer is to get her from the vault, away from the police and to the safe house.  There are plenty of spaces there for 3,000 words if I want or 300 words.  It’s up to me.
My greatest advice for NaNo writers, first timers or veterans looking for a new approach, is to leave room for exploration.  Allow the side trips, if you don’t like it later, that’s okay.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Editing and additions comes after.  Just keep moving forward.
I do have some other awesome advice to share, not from myself; it was given to me by Robin Palmer, author of Cindy Ella, Wicked Jealous and Geek Charming.  “Write everything down first, no matter how good or bad and then once it’s all down clean it up.”
I wish everyone good luck, and happy writing this November.

My Ultimate Go-To Reference Leah Clifford

Currently, Victoria has set down roots in New York with her family.  She reads and writes every day and enjoys movies or sketching in her down time.  She has finished her debut novel Of Gaea in the Spring 2013 and its sequel, Of Sparta for Winter 2014.  She has a Contemporary Fiction, Just About Healing scheduled for release in Fall/Winter of 2013.  Victoria has several other ideas and projects in the works and hopes to continue writing for a long time to come.





Of Gaea onAmazon 

Her choice will change the world.
She hated the wheelchair.  Hated the way it made her feel less than what she was.  Most of all she hated not being able to do all the things she used to.  Ari had been a track and field star, an archery champion and an Eskrima pro. Now she was confined to a wheelchair slowly dying inside from its restraints.
Medical science wasn’t working.  The tests, the drugs, the therapies were all useless and a waste of time.  She was tired of wasting her time; she was tired of failure.  It was time to look away from the obvious and try something unconventional.
Nothing was ever free and that included miracles.  Abruptly, Ari finds herself tangled in a web of lies, questioning everything she’s ever known as truth.  Never had she believed she’d be thrown headfirst into a world of good and evil, magic and Gods.
Trapped in the middle of a war she had never known existed both parties demanded her allegiance.  Ari was a catalyst that could change all the rules of the Earth.  But when the time comes to make a choice will she be strong enough to know right from wrong?