Friday, February 26, 2016

2015 NaNoWriMo the Easy/Easier Way

I have been away for a long time. Emotionally. And virtually. But things are shaping up now, so I am back to blogging again. This is a post about an old topic, but maybe not. National Novel Writing Month in November is only the beginning for us writers. Here’s what happened then and what is happening now.

I tried something very different for NaNoWriMo in 2015. I had decided to write book four in my culinary mystery series (books two and three coming out in 2016). So that doesn’t sound so different, eh? In November 2014, I wrote most of book three, Potluck. So what was so different?

2015’s NaNo experience continues the production of books in the “Dinner is Served” series. Ancient Grease follows the adventures of Alli and her personal chef business partner, Gina, in their work as demonstration chefs on a luxury cruise liner traveling back and forth in the Aegean Sea between Istanbul and Athens over one summer. Ancient Grease. Get it?

It seemed like a good idea, to use NaNo to get a jumpstart of 50K words of the 65K+ words novel. Except this one was different.

In the previous three books, I had 65K words (give or take) to create a murder mystery and solve it. Lots of plotting, clue dropping, and misdirection opportunities required, right? You’ve read before about my extensive plotting and planning. I am always ready for NaNo and crank out a bunch of words on November 1st.

I love Bells’ craft books. Write Your Novel from the Middle was a game-changer for me. The saggy, soggy, sinking middle always gave me fits. Once I read this book, I got it! I understood what I needed to do and it has worked.

Yeah, well what happens when you decide you can’t have a single mystery for the entire cruise time because you want to drop into different locales and involve more characters?

What happens when you aren’t doing one set of extensive, forty-scene plot cards but creating five?

What happens when you have to create new characters for each new story but keep up with the old ones hoping people read the book in order and don’t jump around in the titles which are oh-so-clever?

Yeah, well, that was me in mid-October anticipating a very different NaNoWriMo. But how to keep 12,000 to 15,000 words engaging? Not long enough for a novella and not short enough for a short story, these were five novelettes I was planning.

Did I panic? Uh, yeah!

Wouldn’t you?

Then, the miracle happened. I found my savior—in the form again of James Scott Bell. His book Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story delineates 14 signposts that comprise the super structure of a successful novel. But, he says, if that is overpowering for you, structure your story around just five of them and you will be successful.

I did and it worked.

The magic five? Disturbance, Doorway of No Return #1, Mirror Moment, Doorway of No Return #2, and Final Battle.

I’ll give examples of how I did it and when I used the Q Factor (another of his signposts) when it was appropriate. I’ll also reveal the five titles of the novelettes so you can anticipate its publication!

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