The Halfway Point Review: My NaNoWriMo Game Plan

I am just past halfway now at around 30,000 words. During the first half of this month, I realized that I have a pretty set game plan every Nanowrimo.

I usually have a very light outline, and that outline only highlights the first two major plot points for the novel. It is a jump off board for me. I also have a clear idea of how the story will end. The middle is where the madness of this competition comes in.

During November, I use the first half of the month to write out all the major plot point scenes (I’ve also seen these referred to as “story sparks”). These are the huge, game changing scenes; character motive reveals, death scenes, some great mystery uncovered that changes the course of the entire novel…these are all written early on. I do this mostly to get a nice word count by the 15th, and to push me through the always annoying third week.  The word count cushion also ensures that, if I don’t finish before Thanksgiving, I have a day or two to actually enjoy the holiday.

The second half of the month is dedicated to what I call the auxiliary scenes. These are the scenes that move the action from one major event to the next. They can’t be drab, though. You’re still trying to keep your reader interested, so these scenes have to serve some purpose. For me, they are used for characterization that becomes important later on (like hinting at a relationship between two characters), minor monkey wrenches (a small setback in a bigger plan), or comic relief (to diffuse a previously intense situation and lower the reader’s guard before the next shocker hits). These scenes are less emotionally intense and are usually a little easier to write.

I can already see that this novel will need LOTS of editing later. The key word there is LATER. I was once advised that after Nanowrimo is over, one should promptly shove that novel somewhere safe and not even look at it for at least a month. After my 2009 Nano adventure, I totally understand why. You need time to remove yourself from the story, so that when you do finally look at it, you do so with a more critical, less biased eye.

I already have another story idea to tinker with in December, which will keep me away from my Nano novel for awhile.

Do you have game plans for your Nano Adventures? And what about “post-game” plans? Do you agree with the idea to take a vacation from your novel?

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