Friday, October 22, 2010

NanoWriMo Preparation #4

Project Name: NaNoWriMo
Target Task List
A3       Like Ricky, send a letter to yourself: only make yours more alpha and less numeric.

To outline, or not to outline, that is the question.

It would seem that fiction writers gravitate strongly toward one position or another. I've written a thing or two, and I tend to "write-talk" my way to the story. I free write, I get a concept, I write or talk the concept until I have some idea of a basic story arc, and then I get to the awkward, Frankenstein-ian process of giving the arc life.

This process has always been on such a small scale; it's hard to imagine applying it to the great lurching monster known as Novel. How much do I need to do right now in order to complete something as insane as a first draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days?

I snooped around and found this article at It's an interview with David Morrell and Ken Follett. Follett is an outliner, but Morrell does something a little different:

... when I write a book, I write a letter to myself. And I say, “It’s going to take you this amount of time, probably, to write the book—why is this project worth a year of your life?” And there has to be something about the material, the research, the excitement of the research, maybe the way the story is written, that would make me, when I was all done, hopefully fuller and better.
... it occurs to me that my letter to myself, which can go on as long as 24 single-spaced pages—this is a long document—and as I go in, why is this project so important that you would write about it for a year or more, why do you want to write it, where’d the idea come from, and what I begin doing is asking myself questions … and [in one instance in particular] it took me pages to work that out, and so in a way I was outlining, but I was just doing it a different way.
So I'm off to send a letter to myself. Why will this experience be worth lo these many hours?

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