Notes from the novel prep workshop

Here we are with less than one week before the start of NaNoWriMo–is your novel preparation complete? While there are those who prefer to plunge into November without much if any preparation, I definitely fall into the camp of people who needs the structure and planning to be in place. Otherwise I find I spend far too much of November trying to come up with plot or character developments and too little of it actually writing.

This isn’t to say that you need to plan out every little detail. I think if you did then November would become as drudgery-filled as the editing phase. But think of your pre-November planning as a trip itinerary–once you are on your actual trip, you can make side trips and changes, but you are secure knowing that your rooms are reserved and that you know you have options available (disclaimer: I am an INxJ).

Thursday’s prep workshop at Barnes and Noble went well, I think, though we only had 12 people show up (and none who had learned about the event through Barnes and Noble, alas). I shared my mindmaps with notes from two very good novel writing books (Plot and Structure, by James Scott Bell, and Book in a Month, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt), answered questions about NaNo for some who just learned about it, and, with the help from Joe (Corrupted_Flame), led the group through a couple of exercises.

The first one focused on writing a scene from a time before your novel begins about one of your characters who needs additional development. Put them in a challenging situation. There were some interesting results shared within the group.

The second exercise was a twist on the plot twist exercise: each person wrote a synopsis of their novel and then asked for suggestions from the group in a specific topic area (e.g., plot twists, character developments). I heard a lot of comments from people that this was a very difficult exercise. On the front end, people struggled to come up with compact synopses of their novels. On the back end, it took time to absorb what each author wanted and to come up with suggestions. In the future, I think I’ll stick with plot twists for that exercise!

I hope all of you are where you want to be with your novel prep. If not, please do join us Monday and Thursday at 8 pm when we will have some jabber chat discussions to help folks out with wherever they are stuck.


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