My 9-Step Planning Process for NaNoWriMo: I’m In. Are You?

nanowrimo-logoI started the registration process for National Novel Writing Month 2014. but I need your help to finish. You see, I have to put in the title of my book. And, well, that’s where you come in.

Every year, I post ideas of books I intend to write. Then I let readers pick the one I’ll pen for NaNoWriMo. While this might seem early to you, I do a ton of prep for NaNoWriMo so that November goes smoothly. When you are writing 50 thousand words in 30 days, you gotta make tracks! I can’t stop to ruminate on next scenes.

I have my novel planned down to the gnat’s derriere. That is not to say that all I planned is written! My characters surprise me. I need a transition scene I didn’t foresee. The ending works better another way. Still. I have a framework for the novel that keeps me keeping on.

Even committed plotter-oriented writers realize when to be pantsers and go with the story unraveling from their fingertips. The planning I do is my map to the novel. Mostly I want to stay on the freeway, but there are the inevitable blue line highways that beckon me off-road. Places of surprise and discovery.

So I take those exits off my freeway and explore the area. Sometimes those explorations lead me back to my freeway or so far afield that I find my way to a different freeway. That’s okay. There are lots of roads to Chicago. And since Chicago is my goal, I don’t really mind how I get there.

I create documents for my novel based on Holly Lisle’s techniques married to some of my own strategies. I’ll share in November what the details look like. Here are my plotting process elements for my books:

1) Write the theme in 15 or fewer words.
2) List 10 key events in the story.
3) List 1-6 sub-themes dependent on total word count I anticipate.
4) Write a story treatment. And Sister Heather’s post will help me do that better.
5) Create character sketches for each person in the novel.
6) Using the 10 key events, expand to about 40 scene note cards (give or take) with who, where, when, point of scene, and what happens.
7) Create a micro-summary of 25 words or fewer.
8) Write a one-line story arc for the protagonist.
9) Create the 250-word book blurb for the back cover of the finished novel.

I do all of that prep prior to November 1st. Each day in November I write one or more scenes until I finish all the note cards and my novel!

30 days: 1167 words per day = 11, 669 words per week = 50,010 total words. I can do this! Now help me pick the novel I will write in November. I have four books I plan to write someday. But which one will come first? Pick what you want me to write for NaNoWriMo, and I will tally votes from Twitter, Facebook, and here.

1) Sex for Sale, the sequel to Streetwalker, is an erotic romance. Carrie and Harlan are together at the beginning of the novel, having made a commitment to one another at the end of the previous book. But as Harlan is drawn further from the day-to-day operations of their brothel by his photography efforts, Carrie begins to feel neglected. She is finishing her degree in business administration and decides they need to get out of the brothel side of sex for sale and into legitimate areas. She gets sexually involved with a police detective and jeopardizes all they have built. Lauren, their former attorney, decides to strike back at Harlan’s rejection of her and works with the police to bring him down. Carrie and Harlan are fighting for both their livelihood and their freedom.

2) I Dream of Djinni is a paranormal suspense with romantic elements. My tagline for this maybe-series/maybe-single title is, “Djinni are the new vampires.” 28 year-old Gwyneth Catrin Warlow recently broke up with her long-time boyfriend. When she receives a letter from a Welsh solicitor regarding an inheritance she heads to Wales to claim the estate. It is all hers to dispose of as she wishes with the exception that she is not to touch anything in the attic. Emrys, a world-traveler, collected many things. All in the attic is to be gathered up by a mover and burned without examination. She can’t resist and uncovers an artifact that is home to a djinn, Abdul Wahid. Complicating things is Uncle Emrys who tricked the djinn into giving him partial immortality, and trouble ensues when he shows up.

3) Potluck is the third book in my culinary mystery series. Potluck is a play on words since recipes and the story line will center on medical marijuana as well as large portion dishes to take to neighborhood gatherings. Arizona and other states have medical marijuana laws so Alli and Gina whip up some pot recipes, much to Gina’s dispair. A client needs to ingest marijuana rather than inhale, and they come up with recipes for her. Alli wants to sell mixes to supplement their income because they are still struggling personal chefs. Alli re-establishes a friendship with a local medical marijuana provider, a friend from high school and his grower. When the grower ends up dead of a heroin overdose, Alli doesn’t believe it and seeks to solve the mystery. She is sure someone killed him. But is it the high school friend, a local druggie known for petty thefts, a rival provider, a doctor known for generous prescribing, or the political crook who has a lot to lose if his addiction is made public? We find out why Alli is reluctant to commit to Evan. Alli’s brother is released from prison early, and she realizes Cal is unredeemable.

4) Lost in the Woods. Blake Crouch wrote a series of paranormal/scifi/fantasy books that will be a Fox TV series in 2014 (“Wayward Pines” starring Matt Dillon). Kindle Worlds has the rights to sell fan fiction for the books/TV series through their new initiative. I’d like to take some story threads from the book series and do past events and future ones to submit to Kindle Worlds for publication. The town of Wayward Pines isn’t what it seems. You may arrive in the town, but you’ll never leave. At least not in the expected way of travelers. I plan to explore the “heartbeat” of Wayward Pines, the main character’s wife and child, and one of the watchers guarding the town.

(VOTING IS NOW CLOSED! Thank you for your wonderful support.) Vote below by leaving your pick in Comments! Deadline: October 13th 2014!

Author: Sharon Arthur Moore

Sharon Arthur Moore is an intrepid cook, who has lived in every region of the country except the Pacific Northwest and loved every single one of them.

30 thoughts on “My 9-Step Planning Process for NaNoWriMo: I’m In. Are You?”

  1. Hi Sharon! I like your systematic approach for NaNoWriMo – even though, I plan to do #WNFN this year, which is the non-fiction equivalent.

    That said, I lead a weekly chat called #StoryDam for writers each Thursday night 8pm ET. I was planning to chat about Nano & WnFn this week. I’d love it if you could join us! Either way, I am *definitely* going to share this post during the chat.

    I also invite you to share this link on the StoryDam weekly blog hop. I know that a bunch of writers in our crew would enjoy it! (I actually see a few of them in your comments here!) Anyway, I’m hesitant to share a link in this comment, lest it gets marked as spam… but you can find the linky if you like by simply visiting storydam dot com. 🙂

    ~Tui, popping by from #WWWblogs 🙂
    p.s. I love the title I Dream of Djinni!

    1. Thanks, Loril! I’m glad you chimed in. Right now Potluck is ahead, so we’ll see how the tally goes by Monday night. I loved the play on words with large size recipes and pot recipes! I hope you’ll be back to visit. This site is filled with great tips and insights for writers.

    1. Hey, Exploding Mary! Thanks for coming by to vote. I really appreciate the input. Monday night I will know which one won. Drop back in to explore this site. There is so much great information from my Sisters.

    1. Nice to see you here, Amanda. Glad we “met” on Twitter. I’m happy you think these are helpful steps. I’ll be posting my planning at WriteonSisters when the winner is chosen. And thanks for voting! I am so excited to see what I’ll be writing!

  2. Wow, I don’t think I could do those tips – I’m a pants’ter. I don’t usually know the themes of my books until I’m well into them! Wish I could do that stuff ahead of time – but it’s more fun for me to just wing it. (It takes so much more time though. sigh.)

    I’m with Pauline, I vote for the Djini story!

    1. Thanks for coming by and chiming in. I am so eager to see what wins! As to the 9-steps, we all have our methods. I actually “pants” some books and “plot” others. I let the book tell me what to do, usually. But for NaNo, I have to have a good map, or I’d never finish the 50K in 30 days. I’m going to do a post someday on the false dichotomy between pantsers and plotters. I think we make to much of it! Hope to see you back here Pooch (love your handle!). There’s a ton of helpful info on this site.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing those 9 steps – fascinating. I won’t be doing NaNo but these seem like solid planning for any book. And I’m so impressed you have 4 ideas formed.
    My vote goes to I Dream of Djinni. I can’t resist the sound of the Uncle Emrys character! And commercially, the next big thing after vampires sounds worth exploring. (Second choice – Sex for Sale – great conflict brewing there!)

    1. Thanks for voting, Pauline! I do use these steps for all novels, but for NaNo, being super prepared is the key to “winning”. I love all of these books (and I have many, many more planned to this level of detail) and am looking forward to writing one next month. I hope you will visit us here again. My Sisters write remarkable pieces.

    1. Patrise, thanks so much for your vote. I’m looking forward to my 3rd NaNoWriMo year. It is such fun! I love the jump start it gives for my work. I hope you come back to our blog. There’s tons of good stuff here!

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