NaNoWriMo Prep: Plotting

National Novel Writing Month begins in 12 days – but who’s counting?

This will be my eighth year doing NaNoWriMo, and my seventh book. (I admit I was a Rebel one year: I worked on Hadrian and Sabina two years in a row. I freely offer the sage advice that one should never continue working on a book, thereby increasing its word count to 100,000 plus, despite the fact that Hadrian weighs in at an edited ~130,000 words and I think it’s an appropriate word count.) The first two NaNo novels I never finished, but I absolutely will one day (I love them, I love the characters, I love the plots!) The third book was The General’s Wife which I self-published. Fourth and fifth were Hadrian. Sixth was Dr. Christopher’s Device, soon to be published by Ellora’s Cave as The Pleasure Device, the first book in the Harwell Heirs series. Seventh was Lord Petersham’s Contract, which will be published by Ellora’s Cave, probably with a different title (I’m guessing), and is the second book in the Harwell Heirs series. I’m working on edits for that one at the moment.

This year, my eighth NaNoWriMo, will be Miss Danby’s Condition, the third (and maybe final? I might have another idea, hmm…) book in the Harwell Heirs series:

Victorian aristocracy has very strict rules concerning marital connections and familial obligations. But the Harwell heirs—Helena, Sophia, and Arthur—discover love doesn’t always follow the rules. Scandalous affairs force these scions of society to choose between duty and desire, deference and destiny.

Probably the most frequent question I get asked is “how do you come up with your ideas?” and, since I write erotic romance, if my husband is next to me there is the invariable wink and raised eyebrow in his direction. That is most definitely another blog post. 😉 But, the corollary to that question is: how do you create your plots? The answer is: I start with an idea and then November happens.

I write the rough drafts of all my novels during NaNoWriMo. I find the “quantity not quality” aspect exhilarating. I find the forums and the personal interactions whilst volunteering for them to be encouraging. (Favorite story: during one of the first [the first? maybe; I’m not sure] Night of Writing Dangerously events I was stuck on a plot element in The General’s Wife. During a lull in activity, I asked my cohorts manning the registration table how I should approach this plot element. Seconds later — yes seconds! — I had my answer.) I find the bizarre magic that happens during November to spark the creative energy to answer all those nagging plot questions.

But, also, I keep notes.

I usually have the idea for a NaNo novel well in advance. I’ve never gone into the event totally cold, i.e., no characters, no setting, no time period, no genre. In fact, I have the ideas for a bunch of novels on my hard drive, some ideas more fleshed out than others. In the case of a series—NaNo years 1 and 2; 6, 7, 8; plus there’s a sequel planned for year 3’s General’s Wife—I’ll start forming the follow-up while I’m writing that year’s NaNo November novel.

Does this make me a cheater? Well, if you saw my notes, you’d probably say “no”. My notes are like an over-enthusiastic fan describing a just-seen movie: “Okay, so, then this thing happens, no, wait, this thing happened first, and they were all, like, whoa, and then this other thing happened, and stuff. It was totally cool.” Plus, my notes are mostly hand-written in a notebook, although if the notebook is downstairs and I am upstairs and the computer is on, the notes end up on the computer, but they are truly train-of-thought notes.

This year, though, is the very first year I’m writing a novel which has already been contracted. I had to come up with the plot synopsis for the publisher well in advance of November. But, me being me, I actually came up with the plot idea during the last couple of years while I was writing the first two books in the series.

I hope you’ll follow me on this November journey, in whatever way I blog about it (that aspect of all of this I am going into cold: this is the first year I have a blog during NaNoWriMo). You don’t know my characters yet, maybe only that Dr. Julius Christopher is named after the founder of NaNoWriMo (yes, he knows) but I hope you will join me on this November 2013 adventure. This year:

  • Lady Lavinia Foxley-Graham will fall in love
  • Arthur, the Earl of Petersham, will fall in love
  • Dr. Julius Christopher will realize he is in love
  • There will probably be no m/m action (last year’s took me by surprise), but I can’t guarantee that
  • Except for role-play (Arthur, you cad!) I have no idea what “kinkiness” will ensue
  • Any and all excerpts I post are “drafts” per my publisher’s provisos

Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Post a comment below and “buddy” me!