It’s almost that time again! Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is almost upon us! I know, I was just talking about this a few short months ago in November of 2012, but the first Camp NaNoWriMo of the year is starting the first of April, and I’ve decided to take the challenge again! This will be the seventh NaNoWriMo event I’ve participated in, but this time I’m diving into an entirely different type of project than any I’ve done before. In April I’ll be working on a SECOND DRAFT.
Though I managed to make it to the finish line of 50,000 words in November of last year with my novel “Snowfall”, there was a great deal of the plot missing in the middle. However, I love the characters and the setting and most of the general plot, so I’ve decided to try to fulfill its potential by completely outlining the whole thing and rewriting a second draft. This will be a pretty big undertaking for me–for one, I’ve never gotten far enough to really complete any serious editing of any of my previous novels. I also have never written such a large project using an outline I made up beforehand.
However, I’ve been learning a lot from my Creative Writing class this year, and one of the things I’ve been learning is how helpful an outline truly is. Before I began the Novel Project we are doing for class (a short, 30 page novella we are writing over the rest of the semester), we were told we needed to write up an outline for our story. At first I was really skeptical. Whenever I’ve written a novel before, it’s always been in a meandering, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of way. When I started, I would have a general idea of where I was going with it, and I would already have a fairly good idea of the ending, but the middle, the meat of the story, I came up with as I went along. Now, that has certainly worked fairly well for me before–I’ve come up with some of my best ideas on the fly–but this story was so short that we really needed a good solid outline in order for us to be able to finish the story in 30 pages.
So I wrote my outline, and as I wrote, all of these ideas started to come to me, filling my head; and filling my outline. I toyed and prodded and rearranged until my outline made me super excited about the story it was going to help me produce. There’s character development in all of the right places, and action to help speed things along and keep people interested, and the characters are so much more complex for the time and effort I’ve spent working on them. So, now that I’ve learned so much about the advantages of outlining, why wouldn’t I use my newly acquired skills to help me fill plot holes before I started working on the second draft of my novel?