The first time I did nanowrimo I was a total “pantser” meaning I just dove in and began writing. I had an idea but not a plan. This year I am working with an ever-evolving outline following “The Hero’s Journey. I am reading Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks as I write, trying to wrap my head around everything. I have the word goal in the back of my head but it will not be my main goal this year. My main goal is to have a workable START when I am finished. Something that tells a cohesive story, and follows a sort of map so that I can concentrate on the writing and not figuring out where it is going or how to write myself out of a corner or how do I fix the huge hole in my plot.
This is not to say that things can’t change. Sometimes characters get a mind of their own and if one decides to go a different direction I am giving myself permission to follow them.
I am self taught so I am looking at the challenge like this: The first year, I was a freshman. Annoying but cute – people would pat me on the head and wish me luck with my “novel”. It was a horrible, wonderful, exciting, terrifying experience and I was proud at the end that I finished period. I wrote FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS! They might have been horrible and stilted and lost in the swamp of a poor plot and wooden characters, and confuse storyline – but I learned a lot and I accomplished something (mostly a big stack of tree-killing paper and a tee-shirt)
This year I enter as a sophomore. I look at the annoying little freshman and smile, remembering when I was one but I am ever so much more mature now… I will learn more about the process and use a fluid map to make sure I have an idea of where I am going. I give myself permission to NOT have a great novel at the end, but to have something BETTER than I did last time. Even if I do not make the word count. I will do all this while working full time, cooking for Thanksgiving, planning for Christmas, and dealing with all of the daily challenges.
So folks, there you have it. My nanowrimo manifesto.
I have included a general portrayal of The Heroes Journey and how it fits with three act structure. Those of you who already know this stuff can ignore me and roll your eyes. If you are a junior or senior this is not news to you – if like the rest of us you are a freshman or sophomore you may think you have just discovered your own magic elixir.
1. The Ordinary World – hero introduced in their normal setting
2. Call to Adventure – everything is about to change whether the hero knows it or not
3. Refusal of Call/Reluctant Hero – for whatever reason, the hero refuses the call
4. Meeting Wise Mentor – Hero is committed to the quest and a mentor shows up
5. The First Threshold – Hero leaves their normal world into the unknown
6. Tests, Allies and Enemies – trials, a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that hero must undergo to begin transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in 3s.
7. Supreme Ordeal – person’s lowest point or darkest moment, chance for major change or “rebirth”
8. Revisiting the Mentor – hero revisits teachings if mentor or maybe learns from a new one, returns to the path
9. Return with New Knowledge – Wisdom gained on the quest, integrated into hero’s life
10. Seizing the Sword (or Prize) Hero defeats enemies, overcomes issues,
11. Resurrection – old self “dies” (physically, spiritually?)
12. Return with Elixir – achievement of the goal of the quest
I am posting this to make my commitment more ahem, public (in other words to shame myself into not finding excuses to NOT do this!)