NaNoWriMo ’16 Prep #2: The Care and Feeding of Plot Bunnies

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If you’re like me, you’ve always got more than one story idea rattling around your brain. Sure, you may daydream about one for a while, then it gets superseded by another, but they’re always there.

If you’re not like me, you haven’t already written down your plot bunnies. I do–whenever I get a new story idea, no matter how small or weird or improbable, I write it down.

So it’s time to build a plot bunny ranch.

Open up a blank document/project in whatever writing program you use, and write down everything. Character names and descriptions. Snippets of dialogue. Plot points. Themes. Setting descriptions. Scene ideas. Potential titles. Everything you’ve thought of.

It’s fine if you don’t have all of these, and they don’t have to be in any kind of order. I have one project where my notes are 75% short scene breakdowns, but I haven’t settled on what my characters look like, and the names have changed a few times.

If you’re not going to start something completely new for NaNo–maybe you are, but if you’re not–then you’ve got to decide which plot bunny gets raised to rabbithood next month, and if you don’t have all your thoughts down on paper first, you might have a harder time deciding.

Plus, all that prewriting will only help you, come November.

Got the first one done? Excellent. Open a new document and start the next one. Keep going until you’ve emptied your brain.

I’m still not 100% sure which little bun-bun of mine is getting written, though I’ve got one I’m leaning towards, and looking over my notes this week will probably decide me.

NaNoWriMo Prep #1: “Outlining”

I’ve always been somewhere in the nether-space between pantser and plotter when it comes to putting a story together.  I usually have at least some idea where I want to go in the end, but very little concrete idea when I start of how to get there.

On Saturday, I wrote 1,200 words on something that could, tenuously, be called an “outline” for the sequels to What We Need to Survive.

I opened a new chapter in Quoll Writer, called it “What Could Happen”, and in half an hour plunked down all the ideas that have been coming together in my head since the revelation/epiphany/lightning strike that hit me last week about what I needed to do to get this story moving.

The notes are a mishmash of everything from broad strokes (SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAPPENS is a direct quote from a section I haven’t quite fleshed out yet) to tiny details, like snippets of dialogue I can hear in my head for a particular scene.

They’re in rough chronological order, liberally doused with parenthetical addenda noting possible subplots, alternate routes, and items to research.

Yesterday I took the notes for Sequel #1 and broke them down into chapters, starting a new chapter in QW for each and copying all the pertinent notes into it, so that when I want to start writing that scene, come November, I have them all at my fingertips.  (This is also helpful because I can already see I don’t have enough meat for the whole book just yet.  Fortunately stuff is always coming up as I write.  Because I did outline extensively for NaNo 2013, and every few chapters I realized I needed an extra scene I hadn’t originally planned.  I’m not too worried I’ll come up short in the end.)

Today I plan to do the same for Sequel #2.  Especially because one of the first scenes I plan to write is the very, very, very end of it.  I cannot get that scene out of my head now that I know what I want to do!

I admit I’m still new to this whole “actually finishing a whole novel” thing, but in my years of experience not-finishing them, too little planning means my projects never get finished, but too much feels stifling.  (I tried using the Snowflake Method for a new idea earlier this year and I couldn’t abide it!)

Raise your hand with me if you’re pantsers, or at least semi-pantsers, and if you’re a planner, then divulge your secrets so we can all try…