NaNoWriMo Day 2: My four-steps

Was my first day of NaNoWriMo 2022 was a huge success? I wrote over 1700 words. The story is coming along wonderfully and I’ve come up with some ideas as I’ve composed. 

During Preptober, I made a list of phrases describing scenes. I also compiled a list of characters for the two novellas I’m writing for this year’s NaNoWriMo. The good news is that I’ve already created most of these characters, so I didn’t have to spend time on character creation.

In other words, familiar characters, new story.

And as a result, on the first day of NaNoWriMo, I applied a four-step method for developing my stories. The steps are a combination of The Snowflake Method, Save The Cat and several other plotting devices.

Here’s the method I’m using:

Step 1: Write one complete sentence summarizing each scene

I take the three or four word phrases and expand them into a 10-15 word sentence. Each sentence gives an overall view of what’s going to happen in that scene.

Step 2: Turn each sentence into a five sentence paragraph.

I expand each summary sentence into a more detailed review of the beginning, middle and end of each scene.

Step 3: Turn each paragraph into five paragraphs.

Now, I’m starting to really get details on how the scene will unfold. I write about what is happening on the outside, that is the physical action of the characters, but start adding nuance about the interior feelings of the POV character.

Step 4: Turn the five paragraphs into a narrative

Most of the time, people skip the first three steps and go straight to step four. Nothing wrong with that. This is the fun part. This is the dialogue, action, setting, description, interior dialogue and all that other fun stuff.

I’ve already complete Step one all the way through both novellas. Now, I’m writing the one paragraph for each scene. I’ll do that all the way through before I start Step Three. I keep everything because it really bulks up the word count.

“Why waste time doing Steps one through three during NaNoWriMo? Shouldn’t you have done that during Preptober?”

The answer is yes. I could have, but I wanted the fun of discovering the details of the story by using steps one through three. I may only spend the last two weeks of NaNoWriMo in step 4, but I’m okay with that. I believe it will be that much more enjoyable because I’ve already worked through the details.

And, although there are no “rules” for NaNoWriMo (except the participant can only count words written in November), using outlines and notes can be included–if they’re written in November:

“… we welcome all writers at any stage. Outlines, character sketches, and other planning steps are encouraged, and you’re welcome to continue an old project. Just be sure to only count words written during November toward your goal.”

Everyone does NaNoWriMo their own way and this is my way, this year. And I may do steps one through three next year during Preptober and step four only during actual NaNoWriMo. Best of all this method is showing me this is a great way for me to quickly develop a rough draft for future works in progress outside of November.

Was my first day a success? I’d say so. So, yes, I’d say my first day of NaNoWriMo was a success.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán

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