Nanowrimo Musings

So I have gotten through Nanowrimo month victorious! For the uninitiated, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is absurd on the face of it. In thirty days you are to write a novel of 50,000 words. This means that you must write at least 1600 words a day, every day. And not just any words, but 1600 *good* words–words that you would like to appear in a novel that you show to others, minus any editing and final proofing.
It doesn’t say that in any of the official rules. I made that rule for myself, else I don’t see the point really. The rules do state that you do not have to have a finished work at 50K, and I have used this to console myself when I am in the dire middle-muddle and have no idea how it’s going to reach the ending I envisioned.  Anyway, I did it! I reached a finished novel of 50k words in a month.
All of this leads me to want to share some of what I’ve learned in the course of doing the challenge. Writing really is a process of self-discovery, just like they tell you in school, only I have found that it is the process of creating that is the forge of discovery, instead of whatever autobiographical stuff you may insert in your piece. Here’s some of what I’ve found:
I am a seat-of-the-pants writer. This means that I have no idea what I’m going to write beyond a bare sketch of characters and a very general plotline. Sometimes the characters appear in a scene and I have to question them: How did they get there? Where are they? Who are they? What is going on? it’s the answers that make me excited, and the answers that make the story. When it goes well, I find that I am really jazzed to sit down at the keyboard, as I can’t wait to find out what happens next. The other very valid method I have heard of is that of the detailed outliner, who has every point of their story planned out in advance. I personally find this approach to be rather dull frankly. To have everything mapped out in advance seems to me to strangle the juice out of the story, and leave the writer with little motivation. To be honest, I write what I want to read, and the discovery of those answers is why I write. I feel that having the answers all worked out and then writing  to fill it in is, well, cheating in a sense.
This is not to say that I don’t work in advance of sitting at the keyboard. I usually have at least a vague idea of what is going on. It seems that I am always fiddling in the back of my mind with a piece of dialog or simply saying to myself, “What if X finds out Y? What the hell are they going to do with that?” Those who know and love me have caught me staring at the wall more than once, knowing what I’m doing.  Needless to say, I am very self-entertaining, and ever occasionally amusing.
So gentle reader, if you write, which camp do you fall in? Seat-of-the-pants or detailed outliner, and why do you like it? .

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