Writing Wednesday: NaNoWriMo Tips & Outlining

Those who follow me will know that I’ve been planning for NaNoWriMo. Follow the link if you don’t know what I’m talking about. For those who will be taking part, it starts tomorrow, so my very best wishes for success. Here’s a link to a blog post by Terrible Minds with some do’s and don’ts and good advice. Chuck Wendig can be a bit gruesome and the language a bit colourful, so beware, but the advice is good, and a chuckle or two is always welcome.

Unfortunately I have had to withdraw at the last moment due to personal problems, but I have all my planning, and I can keep it to use again. That is the great thing about NaNoWriMo: nothing is ever wasted. The first time I took part, I didn’t make 50,000 words because I ran out of story. But I have 35,000 words of a novel that I will certainly go back to one day.

The second time, I tried to write a historical novel based on my local history book Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth. I wrote 25,000 words and learned that I have no idea how to write historical fiction! But I have a lot of material, and have a better idea of what I need to work out before (if!) I try again.

I wrote recently about a new planning method I was using, and promised to give you an update. This uses file cards. Initially, it starts out very much like the Snowflake Method, in writing a few brief summary sentences and then expanding them. But as you expand into more detail you make more and more cards, each with a note about a scene or part of a scene on. This enables you to shuffle them round as your ideas develop, and I was also able to write out the subplots on their own and then slot them in suitable places afterwards.

Here’s an example of one part of the story:

Each box expands further and further until you have the detail you need. Sometimes something early on will give you an idea for how that aspect works out later, and you can write a card straight away and find where to slot it in later. Sometimes a scenario you think up later needs some setting up earlier, so you can write a card or cards and figure out where to slot them in.

I liked it a lot. I think it’s good to try different ways. We each have different ways of thinking and planning, so if you try a few systems, you might find one that works for you. If you would rather be a ‘pantster’ (seat of the pants) that’s OK too. Use whatever works, and gets that novel written.


About Ann Marie Thomas

Married since 1974, Christian since 1986, 4 children, 4 grand children, disabled with fibromyalgia but was working almost full time until a stroke in May 2010 changed my life completely. Writing poetry and making up stories since I was a child, I only started to write seriously when my children were grown. My main ambition is to write science fiction, but along the way I got distracted by local history and poetry about my stroke. Taking early retirement gave me the chance to concentrate on my writing. My book, Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth, was published in print and ebook at Easter 2012. The success of Alina led to the publication of Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John in September 2013, and The Magna Carta Story at Easter 2015. I am still writing science fiction - a series of novels called Flight of the Kestrel. For all my author news, see me author blog at www.annmariethomas.me.uk
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1 Response to Writing Wednesday: NaNoWriMo Tips & Outlining

  1. Pingback: Writing Wednesday: Outlining (Adept) | Ann Marie Thinking Out Loud

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