Outlining my NaNoWriMo Novel

I’ve been working on Coldfire (and I still need to change its title) on and off for much of this year and, when I haven’t been doing that, I’ve been working on overhauling my Deathwitch novel. Both of them have been requiring complete rewrites in sections. For NaNoWriMo, I’m hoping to work on a novel I’ve been trying to write for a while but kept getting stumped. Unlike the other two, I’ve never completed a full draft of it, and what I have written before is close to useless aside from establishing some basic character relationships. And I mean basic. So basic that I don’t really need to consult the old writing since my memory is probably making it seem better than it actually was and I really don’t want to pop that particular illusion when I’m gearing up for a month of writing.

Now I’m trying to write an outline for this thing, and it’s proving difficult. I keep needing to invent new characters and have forgotten to include a side character who’s meant to be a long-distance confidant for the protagonist. Maybe I’ll just have to make a note of her existence and see where I can slot her in while drafting directly. I’m not a great judge of where things will go in some scenes while outlining.

I think I work best when my first draft is a basic exploration. While I can do some of this while outlining, there are little details I can’t nut out in that clinical environment. I’m struggling to fill periods of time in the novel, since I’m beholden to the lunar cycle, and I’m not sure how certain outcomes are achieved yet. A lot of it feels artificial in the outline and I’ll have to breathe some life into it while drafting.

At the same time, I know I can’t write completely by the seat of my pants. I’ll just get stuck. I have some idea of where I want the characters to end up. Getting them there is proving to be a headache. I’m also a terrible judge of how long certain scenes are going to be and therefore don’t know if what I’ve outlined yet will equate to a certain number of words. I am, however, getting the feeling this may end up being my shortest novel draft yet. I do have some wriggle room in that respect, given my prior completed first drafts have run between 91k and 147k.

I’ll figure it out. I have a couple more days before NaNoWriMo begins. Just needed to ramble a bit. Better I’m having these stumbling blocks now rather than during November.

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