Guest blogger Jamie DeBree on NoNoWriMo, Past & Future
Last November I set out to write a novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), as I often do. I gathered my things - my trusty computer, a blank character and a great first line - and I started writing.
I hear the collective gasp out there as writers everywhere shake their heads sadly. No outline? No synopsis? No ending? No plot? No way!
Actually, it's quite possible. I call it "Writing Without a Net," and it's really the only way I can write without losing interest in the story before it's done. If I have an outline, it means I already know the story, and I have no interest in (re)writing it. If I know how it ends too soon, aside from the general ending certain genres dictate, I see no reason to explore the rest of the story. That's just how my brain works. If I know too much about the story before I start, I lose interest in actually writing it. The fun is in the discovery for me, and the discovery is in the writing.
I can start with a general idea as long as I don't have too many details - for example, this particular story led to an idea for another based on a supporting character that I'll probably turn into a trilogy of stories just for fun. And for the second story, I know the main character's name and basic personality, as well as the main conflict (as set up in the first story). That's what I'll start with, and just see where it goes from there.
When I write, I let the characters just tell me the story. I don't tell them who they are or what they're doing or where they're going - they run the show. It's more interesting that way, because I'm usually just as surprised at what happens next as the reader will (hopefully) be. Once I get to know my characters personalities, I can generally predict the decisions they'll make, and thus start predicting where the story is headed. Scenes start forming earlier, and I normally have a good idea of how things will end by the time I'm two-thirds of the way done.
So what happened with my would-be NaNo novel last year? It's my latest release, Sleep With Me - a contemporary romance novella. Why a novella instead of a 50k NaNo novel? Because it didn't need to be any longer. When I start a story, I write until it's done, whether it ends up being shorter or longer than I'd originally thought it would be. I won't force a story to be longer than necessary - and likewise, I won't cut a story off short just to hit a certain word count.
Can anyone write like this? I'd say yes, but most writers won't. You really have to trust yourself to keep going, especially when you have no idea *where* you're going...and I think most writers are unable or unwilling to give up control to that extent. But I'd encourage all writers to be brave and try it, even just once. I think you might be surprised at just where this method of writing can take your stories - and your confidence as well.
Webmistress for local government by day, Jamie DeBree writes steamy romantic suspense by night, along with horror and erotica by her two alter-egos. From her world headquarters in Billings, Montana, she's published over twenty books through her own independent press, Brazen Snake Books. Connect with Jamie at http://JamieDeBree.com and check out her novel Sleep With Me at http://tinyurl.com/dxrxsud.