Sunday Special: Nanowrimo 2017

Well folks, it’s over: my very first Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) experience has come to a close. I penned the final 1,000 words on November 30th, which brought my final total to just over 53,000 for the entire draft one manuscript. My first novel.

I tackled the project on a whim, deciding to attempt the challenge in the evening hours of October 31st. Heedless of potential complications in my already-busy life, I hastily drafted a beat-by-beat outline, according to the Save the Cat structure, from Blake Synder, which is both popular and reviled in Hollywood at present. As such, the structure is intended primarily for feature-length screenplays; all the same, I adapted it for the meta-structure of the novel. The plot is straightforward, to say the least, conforming to standard 3-act structure throughout. Thus, the outline was completed.

From there, I outlined each day’s work with another tool: Dan Harmon’s concept of the Story Circle, which was conceived primarily for recurring television episodes. All the same, I used the Story Circle to plan each of the 30 days’ worth of writing. I divided the eight segments of the Circle by the 1,667 word target for the day, which gave me a basic layout for events, and helped to drive inspiration when I was stuck. I found I could usually squeeze out a few more words to reach the next milestone, which kept me on track.

As a result, I hope the draft is decently strong, structurally, and offers a rollercoaster effect in the reading, where challenge is routinely met and conquered as the stakes of the piece grow.

Of course, this is all merely hypothetical: I haven’t read a word of the novel yet. I’m letting it stew, now, backed up and safe, while I address my chronically-neglected blog. As the holidays really get into gear, I’ll come back to the draft, and give it a read. Already, I have in mind a subplot I’d like to weave through the main story, which would strengthen one of the principals significantly, while also adding as much as 30,000 words to the total draft. This idea will also stew, and I’ll consider it for January, when I anticipate beginning my next major project.

If you have any questions about Nanowrimo, please leave a comment!