I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month). Every year, millions of writers spend the month of November penning an average of 1500 words a day to complete an entire book by December. The idea is not to have a finished manuscript, but a finished first draft that can then be molded into the novel you want.
Last year, I wrote a ghost story called Connection. I finished it a few days early in fact. Since then, I’ve divided my time editing it into coherency and promoting a debut novel I wrote with my wife, fashion consultant, bowling partner, long-time editor, and fellow love adventurer, Jennifer.
Completing a book for NaNoWriMo was a personal goal for me because I had attempted and failed to deliver a few years back. In retrospect, I would have to discourage anyone from using NaNoWriMo to author their first book. Mine was about a brother and sister who found a whole world inside a doctor’s bag, but it got too big for me to control. (Some stories are like riding a bull).
Unfortunately, I’ve spent twice as much time re-working rushed sections of my new story than I think I ever would have allowed if I wasn’t trying to complete a book in four weeks. Therefore, I’ve decided that while it was a fantastic challenge, NaNoWriMo is not the best tool for me to employ as a writer.
I still love the concept and the comradery, so this year I will introduce a twist. Instead of writing a single book, I will attempt to completely outline a new book idea every day for 30 days. This will simultaneously provide me with a literary challenge in the spirit of the program, while allowing me to purge myself of several dozen half-considered plots and titles rattling around inside my head.
My wife thinks that I’m a YA novelist at heart since many of my ideas are centered around young characters. This is funny to me because I am now unable to publish a YA novel under my name due to the content of Exposure (which is super steamy, but not the butt-bead filled romps that usually decorate the erotica charts). I have long said that Jennifer and I were very fortunate to find a publisher who allowed us to release a book that has a little bit of everything (except zombies) but there is enough humpy-humpy sex to keep me out of the YA game for a while. Still, she has a point, many of my ideas have central characters who are in their teens or younger and I will have to better assess that when undertaking this challenge.
My plan is to have a comprehensive summary of each book idea, most likely three to four pages long and will include all the major plot points, character arcs and any surprise endings so I will have to fully explore each one completely. At some point, all books must be whittled down to what amounts to an essay in order to submit, but it’s also the best way to see if I have something worth pursuing in the first place.
I am starting today, November 1st, and I’m nervous because only a third of my ideas are fairly clear in my head from beginning to end. Another third have elements in place, and the last third are just a collection of locations and titles. We’ll see how these turn out as I attempt this experiment.
My goal is to report back to you next month on how crazy it made me. I fully intend to use this exercise to help me prioritize my next ten years of writing and map out my career. I want to end my Wordslinger days by taking you all along with me on one final journey before I turn my sights toward the mountain of work I’ll have ahead of me when I am done.
Next month I’ll share some of my ideas, but I can tell you that they will include books about a superhero known as the Church Mouse, a war on terrorism with a frightening new weapon, a demon hunter named Saint Larry, a vampire novel set in Mexico City, two zombie books, and a steamy series that has me teaming up with my wife again.
I have been with Bookish Temptations from the beginning and this is not even close to goodbye since Jennifer and I have been invited to continue Locklear Library and other guest posts. But as you can imagine, I will have my hands full if I succeed in completing my goal of outlining 30 fully realized novels.