Almost ready for NaNoWriMo

Earlier this month I considered attempting NaNoWriMo. As the month has progressed I have become more and more certain I would try it. This post is therefore to declare my intentions: I am definitely attempting it. After hitting the 50,000 words mark in my writing since July on Sunday last week, it seems apt to try to double that at the time of the year when tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are making the commitment to write.

Over the last few days I have started to make preparations. I’ve put the main Kell story aside for the time being in favour of background stories to help me get a better grasp of the characters. So far I have not, as I had planned, gone into the other characters in Ekan’s crew, but I have gotten a better grasp on Kell’s history over the last ten years. I’ve also been busy making notes and filling out the world. Characters have new names and basic descriptions, regions are better defined, I’ve got a few more locations, and I’ve sorted out a linguistic framework (which is partly why some character names have been changed).

There are now two days remaining until NaNoWriMo begins, and though I’ve covered a lot of ground in preparation, I’ve still got more work to do.

  • I feel that the first chapter lacks a hook and an early conflict, so I’m hoping a prompt or dare (from the Fantasy Dares thread in the NaNo forums) might give me some ideas for that.
  • My outline for the second chapter remains very vague. There will be a storm, and character relationships and interactions will play a part in the arc, but aside from that I’m unsure. Again, I might need to add another element, perhaps an old grudge between two of the characters that comes to the fore as a result of the circumstances. Maybe I’ll write the story of the source of that old grudge today or tomorrow.
  • While the third chapter is pretty much decided at this point, after that I have nothing. Again, dares and prompts may be what I need to get things moving there, but it does worry me. The first three chapters won’t get me past 20,000 words tops, probably more like 15,000, so I will definitely need some more ideas. I’ll go hunting for them over the next two days, and on into November, and keep a record of what they are in my NaNo Resources spreadsheet (where I’ve also listed possible character names).
  • Linked to my chapter 2 problem, besides Kell and Ekan, and to a certain extent Meyri (who has been renamed Merdrig), my knowledge of the characters is quite limited. Writing background stories in the last two days of this month (and perhaps ongoing into November) will help, so I’m going to push in that direction.
  • Locations. I’ve done a bit on the places certain characters are from, but beyond Waytown (which appears in chapter 1, and is where Merdrig is from) and an as-yet unnamed village a few days south of Waytown (which features in chapter 3) I’ve got nothing. Googling the bronze age and stone age landscapes of various regions – Brittany, perhaps, since it’s the inspiration for the names and culture for the region around Waytown – might give me some ideas beyond just a string of villages and towns. Hopefully those locations can help with further ideas for chapters 4 and onwards.

To get all that done, I’ve got a few hours this evening after work, and a few hours tomorrow. I can of course continue working through those issues into November, until such time as they become critical, and I will do that, but I will want to focus on meeting the 1,667 words per day target as a priority.

I’ve read advice that aiming for a higher target, such as 2,000 words a day, is a good idea. It gives a buffer in case of bad days, and can help towards not just meeting the 50,000 word goal but flying on right past it. So I’ll see if I can manage that, at least for the first week. Background stories might just help me towards that.

All going well, I should end up with between six and ten chapters of this story completed in first draft by the end of the month. My intent for December will then be to tidy up the earlier chapters and continue writing more. Hopefully come January I will be ready to start posting them here on my blog for you to read.

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