NaNoWriMo 2018: Prepping, Plantsing, & Pre-November Projects

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A comprehensive list of reasons to love fall:

  • Halloween

  • everything smells like cinnamon

  • everything tastes like apples & pumpkins

  • NaNoWriMo

As October raises sleepy eyelids, November lies in wait, and hundreds of thousands of writers around the world sharpen their pencils and prime their word processors for the thrill ride of the year. For the past ten years, I’ve tackled National Novel Month along with them, and you’re damn right I’m ready to dive back in.

Or at least…mostly ready. Which is like being ready, with a dash of apprehension and a pinch of uncertainty. What I mean by that is as I’ve started to pick through the plots I’ve been stashing away for the annual literary mad-dash, I’ve found that I can’t choose just one.

I’m a plantser, and always have been. Non-NaNoWriMo speakers probably think I just spelled “planter” wrong. I didn’t, I promise. A plantser, you see, is a mixture of a “planner”, or one who carefully plots out and plans their novel before November first, and a “pantser”, which is not a misspelling of “panther” (thanks for trying, autocorrect) but instead a novelist who chooses to forgo planning and fly by the seat of their pants for thirty wild days. Plantsers like myself sit somewhere in the middle. We don’t live by our outlines, but we’re going to do some molding of our ideas before we jump into the fray. For me, this normally means going in with what I call mystory skeleton. This is a set of ideas that outlines the basic structure of my plot. Once I have the bones set up, I can layer on top of them throughout November until I have my finished draft.

In the past, when I’ve had trouble choosing a plot, I try to make skeletons for all my ideas and pick a winner based on what skeleton feels the most solid or which one intrigues me the most. The problem this year? I have two skeletons, both anatomy-class-quality, and both equally interesting to me. So…I’m stuck. And I’ll be spending October trying to get un-stuck, or else going into November with a plan to write two stories - a NaNo first for me. (Well, kind of a second? In 2016 I wound up finishing my planned story early, and used the rest of the month to work on another, less developed plot. But this was a fluke occurrence, and I had no intention to write two stories. It just happened. This year, however, would be the first time I went in with a plan to work on two stories.)

That’s what my prep will consist of for 2018. I’ve got one plot that I’m leaning towards, so I’m using that for the plot-related prompts in the Preptober Instagram Challenge, but I’m truly confused about what story to actually write. Ah, indecision. A phenomenon I’ll never escape.

In the meantime, I’m also working on an excited project for Halloween!

THIRTEEN HAUNTS OF HALLOWEEN will be a 13-night short fiction event. Each day will find a new flash fiction story featuring a classic Halloween monster. I’m incredibly excited about this series! Halloween has long been my favorite holiday, and I’m a long-time fan of spooky stories and the creatures that inspire them - contributing my part to the lore of these incredible beings is something I’ve always wanted to do. So grab your wooden stakes and silver bullets and mark your calendars for October 19th! And keep an eye on my Twitter for updates on the series. I’ll be posting some hints soon!

If you would like to be a part of the series, you can become a story sponsor by donating on Patreon! My first thirteen Patreon supporters will be listed as sponsors in a special “brought to you by” section of the thirteen spooky shorts. Tiers are currently set up at $1, $2, and $3 levels. Join my Patreon family today to support Thirteen Haunts of Halloween and so many more stories to come!