Preparing for NaNo: The Outline

So, what does it take to prepare for National Novel Writing Month?

Do you have a burning passion to be a writer? Do you have a story in your brain that is screaming to be released into the world? Do you want to prove to yourself that you can do it? That you can be the writer you’ve always wanted to be? Are you ready to take the leap and begin?

Then you’re prepared! Just wait until November 1, and go to it! That desire and determination to succeed, no matter what, is what drives you towards success. Once you have that, don’t let anything stop you. Step forward, with determination and confidence!

But, if you’d like, there are a few things you can do right now in preparation for your November 1 launch party. One of the things that many people do is prepare an outline.

More than likely – and especially if this is your first go at writing a novel – you have a scene, or several scenes, in your head that you’d like to get down onto paper. Now, you’re not allowed to actually write these scenes until NaNoWriMo starts  – that would be cheating! But you can jot down short synopses of what will happen in these scenes. For example….

Jack walks into warehouse, looking for Jill. Frightened by shadows. Hears Jill scream echo off walls. Gathers courage, then heads in direction. Sees light, walks to it. Sees Jill tied to chair, surrounded by men in black clothes. Jill sees him. Screams, “Jack you idiot, run!” Cue attack by ninjas!

There isn’t a whole lot of detail in that paragraph, but it’s clear what’s supposed to be happening in that scene. Some authors like to write down scenes on notecards at first. Then they can arrange the scenes into whatever chronology they would like. Perhaps that battle atop the skyscraper would be better as the opening sequence, rather than halfway through? Or maybe the revelation that Alice is a vampire would work better in the climax, rather than than right after the chase scene with the dragon. While you’re arranging your scenes and creating an outline, keep asking yourself “and then what?” This could lead to the creation of other scenes, and allow you to develop a smoother transition between your different acts.

Also remember, your outline isn’t set in stone. It’s just there to serve as a general guideline as you work on your first draft. You may find yourself deviating from your initial thoughts as you write. There’s nothing wrong with that! Writing is supposed to be a fun exercise, a way to play with words and experiment. So, experiment away!

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned. I’ll have more suggestions for preparing for National Novel Writing Month coming up!




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