Plot or Pants?
I will take part in National Novel Writing Month this year. That’s NaNoWriMo.
Starting November 1, participants start writing their novels. If they write every day, meet a target number of words each day, and keep at it, they will reach the goal of 50,000 words or more by November 30. If they do, they win!
Winners get a cool little certificate to print out and hang on the wall.
But, that’s not all. Participants who win now have a 50,000-plus word first draft.
That first draft is one of the most important benefits of participation. For most participants, though, it is a first draft. From that point, revisions, edits, more revisions, rewrites, more edits, beta readers, more revisions, more edits, and so on until the novel is polished and ready for submission to a publisher, editor, or agent.
But, the all important first step is there. The first draft.
For me, this is a useful way to get the work done. I work best under deadline. Always have. I guess it is the old print newspaper journalist in me. Sudden Mission was a NaNoWriMo first draft in 2012. I did very little plotting, planning, or prep for it. I just jumped in and started on November 1. So, in 2012, I was a pantser (seat of the pants).
Nasty Leftovers was a NaNoWriMo first draft in 2013. I did a lot more plotting and outlining for it. Granted, the characters and story took off in directions I had not anticipated. But it all worked out. In 2013, I was more of a plotter.
Both were winners of NaNoWriMo, in that I completed the first drafts of more than 50,000 words for each novel in the 30 days. After revisions, rewrites, professional edits and all, both novels were about 52,000-54,000 words.
The working title of this third book is Alien Alliance. That may stick, it may not. We’ll see. Here is a short blurb:
In this third installment of a series now called Spirit Missions, Amy Grossman hopes for a normal life. Well, as normal as it could get after the events in Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers.
The zombies flow out of Asheville and overrun western North Carolina. Paul Shannon, Amy, and the community join forces with the “soldiers” from the Appalachian Mountains to try to hold the horde back. It isn’t working. Paul and his squad disappear during an engagement near a small town and the rest of the force must retreat.
Then, the aliens come back.
Amy is fresh out of patience.
I’ve done a bit of prepping, planning, and plotting for this, and this time you’d call me a plotter. I have a paragraph or two for each chapter describing what should happen. If it all goes well, this one will probably end up closer to 60,000 words. Maybe more.
At the end of November, I’ll have that one important thing. A first draft.