As I slowly give up on NaNoWriMo (because when the required daily wordcount quickly approaches 10k, is it really possible I can win this year?), guilt sets in. Guilt for not writing. Guilt for not having enough tenacity to just stick to it. And guilt for once again, failing.

Yesterday, Savannah J. Foley posted an entry on the Sudden Novel Death Syndrome, and two of the reasons she gave are 1) talking too much about the novel and 2) beginning too soon.

1. Some agree with, and some disagree with, the first rule. Thinking about it, however, that just might be the explanation (or part thereof) for me. Talking to too many people about the novel pre-first draft causes an idea to become stale and saps my creative juice. Instead of channeling the pre-writing enthusiasm toward the first draft, I use all of it on telling everybody I meet how awesome my ideas are, and how this novel is going to be the best ever. By the time I actually sit down to write the novel, it’s not very… novel anymore.

Bouncing idea off another writer/reader, however, is a different matter altogether. I still need to find the balance between the two.

2. Beginning too soon has always been a fault of mine. I begin typing the moment I have the beginning, the characters, and some semblance of the central conflict. For some, this might just be enough. Not for me, though, I am beginning to suspect. After writing the first chapter, I would sit back and think to myself, “Soooo… what’s next?” and come up blank. I have important scenes with no thread to tie them together. This thus gives rise to inane scenes with flaccid prose. Which makes me think all my writing is, well, terrible, and that the novel is frankly unsalvageable: no point in even writing it.

Detailed outlines, however, makes me feel as though I have already written the novel, since I already know everything that will happen. There’s no factor of surprise, of wanting to know more.

I wonder: how does everybody approach planning a novel? Do you do a detailed outline, or do you just write and see where that takes you, or a blend of the two?

mirrored at livejournal

After the 50k drivel of a novel that came out of NaNoWriMo 2007 (entirely un-salvageable, it was!), I promised myself I would never attempt such madness again. Writing it slow, however, is turning out to be no writing. “Better unintelligible words than no words at all,” I thought. So, here I am, gearing up for yet another year of NaNo, the decision made just a few days before.

I think I must be quite mad. There are so many things going on in November (final papers and exams!) that adding 50k worth of a novel is perhaps mental and academic suicide. Then again, academically, my best term at Rice so far was Fall 2007, complete with NaNo. So maybe NaNo will be my savior, who knows? I tend to do better the busier I am. :>

The novel in question is tentatively titled The Beast’s Apprentice, a steampunk re-telling of Beauty & the Beast (though it is less Sci-Fi than contemporary fantasy set in Victorian era). Not wholly original a premise, but I am hoping to that writing it my own way will be good enough.

Thus far, I have a tentative synopsis, partially clear images of the two main characters and their names (this is important: I have a terrible predilection with names), some important scenes and conflicts that will drive the story, and a hazy vision of the climax — though strangely, there’s no ending scene in sight, which is rather worrying. I’m afraid I am grossly under-outlining, but too late to worry about that now!

I am reading and re-reading ‘s The Giant NaNo Prepping Post: Or, How Maggie Writes a Novel, whose prepping process is very much similar to mine (except I don’t have a playlist), and whose post is incredibly helpful in helping me finalizing the last few steps of prepping before the actual writing starts tomorrow.

I am excited about this novel. Here’s to hoping what I have learned so far in the Victorian Lit course will come in handy! *crosses fingers*

mirrored at livejournal