Plotting a Plot

Like your everyday, basic white girl, fall is my favorite season. Why is fall my favorite season, you may ask, though you probably won’t. I’ll tell you anyhow.

  1. I freak out every time I get hot. Numb fingers and toes is my natural state and fall helps me return to that.
  2. Fall can provide some of the best camping weather.
  3. I like not sweating when I wear flannel.
  4. I think this is everyone’s reason, but fall foods are the bomb. No, I’m not a pumpkin spice latte person (dairy+caffeine+sugar+spices=death to Carly’s internal organs).
  5. The perpetual autumnal decor in my house finally makes sense during fall.
  6. Things start dying meaning my nose is less stuffy and my legs are less bitten.
  7. And National Novel Writing Month!

Have I succeeded every time that I have done NaNoWriMo? No, just the first time. A Regrettable Likeness was partially completed during my first NaNoWriMo. The second time around I had just given A Regrettable Likeness to the beta readers and I soon found out that I wasn’t ready to hop onto the next project. I’m actually still not ready to tackle that project, which is a real shame because I have the plot all mapped out. That is a rarity for this author. I didn’t know where I was going with A Regrettable Likeness when I started it. I wrote it so that I could see how it ended.

Which means that I have to actually start plotting for this November. The book I’m planning on writing… I never wanted to write (my working title is Patient 292). It came to birth in my head from some what-ifs and I just needed to get it out. Pretty soon, I realized that I had a connection with this main protagonist that couldn’t be severed. Perhaps it was my worsening health condition that made me relate to the formerly paralyzed protagonist or her relentless gumption that made me more confident, but she’s the one I can speak through right now. Still, I don’t wanna write this. For the following reasons (can you tell I love listicles?):

  • I didn’t plan on this being my next book (she says as though she ever has a plan).
  • It’s so far in third person limited, and I’m really a first person kinda gal.
  • The story is technically a prequel to A Regrettable Likeness , and, seeing as how I’m still trying to get that book off the ground, really doesn’t seem like it will be a great seller.
  • And lastly, there’s a romance element and that’s difficult for this mega awkward, more-emotionally-walled-off-than-a-seventy-something-Vietnam-vet girl to write convincingly.

Enough complaining, it’s time to get down to business. To prep for NaNoWriMo, what should a writer have mapped out before they have to face the dreaded blank document?

In my case, I like to have drafts of the first few chapters. I’m already rewriting the beginning of Patient 292, so I guess I can check off that box. Just tinkering around with your characters and setting in that manner really helps an author get to know their subject matter. Another helpful thing is to fill out character sheets. After that, I would try to see if I can map out the entirety of the plot. I’m sure it’s been said 100 times before, but a good plot is nothing if your reader doesn’t care about your characters. So for my last listicle, here’s what I’d like to get done before NaNoWriMo:

  • Fill out character sheets for five characters.
  • Map out the backstory for the setting.
  • Create a general plot map.
  • Write out the major plot points.
  • Figure out how to describe the book in one sentence for the NaNoWriMo forums.

Thinking about trying NaNoWriMo this year? Just do it. There’s no cost and no consequence for failure.

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