Wow, here we are in the second week of Nanowrimo and I have to admit I am behind on my word count. This morning I realized I needed to make some changes to my approach. In my previous four years of Nanowrimo-ing, I've simply dived in, written my heart out, and ta-dah! A 50,000+ word manuscript, messy as a mud pie, but still, mine own. This year things aren't going quite as smoothly.
What makes the situation even stranger to me is that I came to the table much more prepared than ever before: I had an extensive outline, I had my writing prompts, I had my collaged "scene illustrations" all made in advance. Now I'm thinking all this advance work could be my whole problem: I may be a little too organized. I know what I want to have happen in my story, and it seems to be taking me forever to get there.
So starting today, my new modus operandi is to experiment with writing only my key scenes, whether they're action, dialogue, or descriptive passages that express my characters' emotions. I'm not going to worry so much about the "how" or even the "why" regarding my plot structure, I'm just going to put my characters in place and in jeopardy and have them fight their way out of the story "trouble." I know they can do this--they're tough, resourceful, and very motivated. In fact, they'd be great candidates for tackling 50,000 words in 30 days!
Already I can see some serious benefits to this new writing system. For one, it really does follow my favorite writing maxim regarding scenes: "Enter late, leave early." I think by ignoring transitions, at least for the moment, my writing will be much tighter when it comes to the revision stage. Any transitions I do need later on will be fairly easy to pop in where necessary. But the real benefit is going to be in my renewed willingness to get to the blank page and start writing. By concentrating on the scenes that truly interest me, I have a genuine reason for participating in Nanowrimo--I can't wait to find out "what happens next." And if I can't wait to start writing, with any luck that same enthusiasm will fire up my readers to want to keep reading. In my opinion, there's nothing worse than a boring book, either to read or write--and I've got better things to do than cope with boredom. I'm sure you do, too!
Tip of the Day: Experiment with abandoning or minimizing your transitions, at least for the first draft stage. You may actually find your word count increasing despite the loss of endless pages of characters opening and shutting doors, or taking several hours to learn how to handle a gun that really needs to just be fired. At the same time, don't forget The Essential Guide for New Writers, From Idea to Finished Manuscript is still on super sale. You'll find great information inside on all aspects of writing, including transitions. Just click here for my US $5.95 plus free S/H special.