Thinking about Plot for NaNoWriMo

29 10 2010
William Faulkner's Outline

William Faulkner's mad outlining skills.

Things have been so busy around here and I’m so far behind on planning for NaNoWriMo, it’s not even funny. But it’s been a good week between finishing some pretty hefty job-related stuff, visiting an old friend, quite a bit of gaming and still managing to get to the gym. I definitely need to get on the ball, though and this weekend is going to take some finesse to plan out and get all the things done that need to be.

Among the varied sources of articles on the web about NaNoWriMo, I’m particularly grateful for Paulo Campos’ Countdown to NaNoWriMo series that he’s been putting together this week, which is good advice for any writer, but for as much writing is about to go on come Monday, it seems downright essential. You can find them on his blog, Yingle Yangle (I linked to all of the NaNoWriMo articles, but the rest seem like very good reading too). The series focuses primarily on good outlining and time-management skills. In other words, exactly the things I need help with the most.

I basically need all the help I can get with plot. I think it’s an unfortunate side-effect of being trained in literature that you tend to focus so heavily on character and psychology that you lose sight of the rest. Take, for example, the figure of Emma Bovary, about whom I could go on and on and try to understand from many different angles (feminist, social, economic, and the list goes on). Flaubert’s plot is, on the other hand, slower-paced than contemporary writing and is a little heavy-handed 19th century soap opera. It’s a good plot, don’t get me wrong. I think the novel is absolutely top notch and they don’t build ’em like that anymore. The pacing isn’t the same as what one sees in today’s heavy genre fiction, however, which makes up most of what’s out there. So, from my background, I’m pretty sure that I can come up with good characters, most of what I personally know about plot is pretty old-fashioned. A good bit of it is Aristotelian, it’s that old-fashioned. For what it’s worth, I’m aiming to write something in-between strictly genre and strictly “literary” and mostly, to be totally honest, I hate both labels and would just as soon focus on the writing itself.

I am still really looking forward to it. I plan on updating with my progress here starting on Monday and hopefully I’ll get through it okay. I’m also considering going to some of the write-ins put together by the good folks managing the Nashville writers. Might be a good way to meet some new people and get out a bit more. Mostly, I need to quit sleeping so much. I’m not used to this who 8-9 hours a night thing. I know it’s healthy, but unless they’re adding hours to the day, I can’t afford more than 6!




One response

1 11 2010

Good luck! If you write a story you enjoy, I’d say you’re a resounding success. 🙂

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