Starting when the goal is an outline

In my evolving quest to ensure that the month of November (NaNoWriMo) aids my writing process, my plan this year is to work on my outline and ‘some’ scenes for the fourth novel in my French series. It is not to write the first draft. I’m going into this intending to work on the outline, not write the entire novel.

I’ve had plenty of years of frantically writing 100,000 words to finish a first draft. That requires that I start months since I like to outline, sometimes with specific scenes and even snatches of dialogue. This summer my oldest daughter got married. And my youngest is starting grad school in Canada. I didn’t want to be distracted with working on an outline for months instead of being present this summer.

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for ten years and writing a first draft in thirty days isn’t a big challenge for me. Part of why NaNoWriMo has been good for me is the pre-November focus. How do I have that without actually starting the outline?

It helps to recall what causes me to slow down, and one of them is locations for scenes. Another is something for characters to have conflict about, or to connect over. Sometimes that’s getting a croissant at a cafĂ©, or visiting the Eiffel Tower, or … Those ors can be hard to think of in November in the midwest. Especially if I’m traveling, away from my normal routine, which seems to happen a fair amount in November lately.

So I’m coming up with a list of ‘things that can happen’ or ‘places to go’ including which characters might be involved. This is where working on a series makes this easier. I know when I read a series, I’m pleased when minor characters come back, so I try to do that, as well as the series has two main characters and several people who are involved in their day-to-day lives. When I have an idea of a place, I think about who could best fit there–or not fit when the goal is to make the character uncomfortable.

I’m having fun seeing what attracts my interest. So far today, I made a note about being enthusiastic, a survey on local government budget and some great stuff about visiting a Nespresso place in Paris for the first time. Some days feel so creative. Others not so much. But I trust my process and enjoy it when things flow.

About Katherine Lato

Writer, thinker, observer and participant in life.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.