Friday, October 18, 2013

In the Beginning . . . NaNoWriMo Prep

As I was doing the preliminary planning for this year’s NaNoWriMo, I realized something very interesting. I’ve written before about Holly Lisle’s One-Pass Revision method and how impressed I am with the process she describes ( Check her out at for lots of good, practical writing tips. Wish I could perfect it, but I’m still a newbie.

Anyway, while implementing the first steps of her plan, I realized that I had inadvertently fallen into one of the important components of her process. She talks about finding your theme by identifying those questions you still struggle with, wonder about, puzzle over. Hmm, was my first thought last year. Like I know what that means or is!

So, last year, I didn’t search in myself, but in my paranormal ghost story for NaNoWriMo to find the theme. Then, voila! This year, looking at my second NaNoWriMo paranormal, the theme hit me! Both years my story premise centers around is death the end of the road? What happens after death? Is it a permanent state or can the dead communicate with the living?

Is that interesting, or what??? I AM intrigued by the questions surrounding life-after-death and have been for decades. So it is no wonder that my paranormal novel ideas center around that, too. You gotta love the subconscious!

Holly’s point is that, in part, doing some serious upfront prep will speed up the revision process. She claims that she edits 125K in two weeks and that she has never had to do more than two light edits for an editor. Okay! Sign me up!

One of the things to do upfront is called “Discovery”. Discovery includes identifying the theme, subtheme(s), one-line story arc of MC, writing a 25-word book summary, creating a back-of-book story blurb, and writing MC descriptions.

Theme (15 words or fewer):
         What happens to the essence of a person when the body dies?

Sub-Themes (1-6, depending on manuscript length):
         1. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
         2. Accept what you can’t change.
         3. Why do bad things happen to good people?

Micro-Summary (25 words or fewer):
         Kitty’s life abruptly ends and then restarts in her dog’s body causing more
than a little confusion for her, the dog, and the family.

One-line Story Arc for Kitty Stanley:
         Kitty resists the finality of death by sharing the body of the family dog
where she learns to accept her new role in the family.

Book Blurb (no more than 250 words):

What’s a busy mom to do? Killed in a freak accident, Kathleen Stanley freaks out. Staring down at her dead body, her spirit realizes her only hope for survival, and a continuing life with her family, is to become a walk-in soul to Maudie, the family dog.

She meets with understandable reluctance from the dog because likes living in her body. In fact, efforts to boot out the dog’s soul do not work, so they come to agreement on terms for sharing the body. The family are puzzled by the changes in Maudie but put them down to the trauma of the accident and missing Mom. All goes along well enough, however, until the dog starts aggressively parenting the kids, sticking like Velcro to Dad, and demonstrating increased vocabulary.

Maudie continues to fight with the invasive spirit she’s co-habiting with while dealing with her own doggy issues of independence. Will Kathleen ever accept her new reality or will she either find another way to be part of her family’s life or finally let go?

I am confident that knowing what my book is about at center, I will be able to complete it in the 30 days I have for NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned. In the next post, I am going to reveal some of the plot points and the chart I am using to track them.


  1. Wow! Excellent post, Sharon, and some great tips. I'm so deep into edits and revisions for "Bittersweet Chocolate" that I still don't know if I can do NaNo this year. The timing just isn't good! But I'm saving this post.

    1. Thanks for coming by, Martha! I hope this whole series I am doing will be helpful to others doing NaNo or just writing!

  2. Good luck with NaNoWriMo this year! Sounds like you're off to a great start.

    1. Thanks, Meryl! I am excited. This will be a fun story to write. Different for me since I am doing first person and comedic! Yikes!