Planning for NaNoWriMo: Building a Plan – A Guest Blog from Karen Wiesner

Shonna Slayton — 

Introductory Note: Karen Wiesner started a series of blogs this week to help us make it successfully through NaNoWriMo (and beyond, really). The first blog was on Tuesday, called Planning for NaNoWriMo: Building an Outline. It really is a companion piece to this one so make sure you check it out here. We’ve put these two blogs close together so you can maximize your outlining time before November. Karen’s blog will return every Tuesday in November. Happy outlining everyone!

 

A Guest Blog from Karen Wiesner

 

http://www.karenwiesner.com  

 

Take a look at my Work in Progress listing for the past few years here:

 

How did I do it? By alternating between the distinct stages of completing a book (which I’ll discuss more in Week 4 of NaNoWriMo) and allowing myself to come into each of those stages completely fresh and eager to complete another step. I love that I’m never doing the same thing in terms of outlining, writing and revising, nor am I always working on the same project. I’m always fresh, always enthusiastic, always eager to add another layer to complete a project that I know will be solid and ready to be sent to editors when the stages are finally done.

How long does it take to do all of these things? Well, as you might imagine considering all the deadlines I’m working under, I have to be extremely disciplined. Most people think that I must work 24 hours a day based on my productivity. That’s the really amazing part of this whole method. I don’t. I don’t have to. Working in stages allows me to take off every weekend and most of the summer. In total, when it comes to projects (outlining, writing and revising), I usually work 2-4 hours a day, 5 days a week, to accomplish what I need to.

 

For each project, once a story has been brewing for a considerable amount of time and I’ve amassed the necessary research, I start with an extremely detailed outline. The outline can take anywhere from a day to week to work out, depending on the complexity of the book (and that’s only for a fairly long one; a novella may take only a day or two).

 

As soon as I’ve let the outline sit for as long as I possibly can, I can begin writing. To write a full novel at 2 scenes a day, 5 days a week, I need about a month—generally much less (3 weeks is my norm). Novellas obviously only take a week or so.

Revision requires under a week because there’s very little left to do once I get to this point. I worked out all the kinks in the outline, wrote based on an outline that can really qualify as a first draft, and the only thing left is smoothing the whole thing out.

 

In this way, I alternate my time between books in various stages of completion, and I can write at least 5 novels and quite a few novellas per year. My WIP page really shows you how well this works and how I’m able to juggle all of these stages for multiple projects—and progress steadily. Best of all, with this system, I can always be working at least a year ahead of releases. That’s especially helpful if a story doesn’t come as easily as I’d like.

 

Even if you had only 1-2 hours per day to work, especially during your NaNoWriMo challenge month, if you’re working with a solid, scene-by-scene outline, you’ll always be progressing. You will never sit down at your computer and not have a clue what to write. Your outline contains every single scene of your novel, and you can start writing immediately each day. Conceivably, you could finish a novel from outline to revised final draft in 1-2 months. That makes it more than possible for you to write many novels per year and, if you’re published, maybe even get a year ahead of your releases. Talk about never-ending momentum!

 

Shonna Slayton

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Shonna Slayton is the author of the YA novel Cinderella's Dress, a fairy tale set in the 1940s, out June 3, 2014. Visit her website at ShonnaSlayton.com for a short video and to sign up for her newsletter.

4 responses to Planning for NaNoWriMo: Building a Plan – A Guest Blog from Karen Wiesner

  1. Kelly at

    Karen… this is awesome advice for anyone wanting to make this their business. Most Editors interested in you as an author will ask up front if you can produce 3-4 books a year. They are looking for someone worth investing their time in. Though I do have to caution Productivity shouldn’t outshine Quality. Your formula prevents this! Thanks!

  2. Hi Karen. As you know I have both books and thanks for writing them. I have a question about subplots. IOf course I know the plot and have 1 subplot, but I need another. I know the events that take place in 2nd subplot. My main concern is where does the 2nd subplot happen in an MS. My goal is to beteen 65k to 85k for my current WIP. Thanks in advance.

  3. <>

    Exactly, Kelly. My point is always to produce quality, and I can’t do that if I’m burned out on working on one project for too long. This way, productivity and quality work hand-in-hand. : )

    Karen
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  4. JerryR wrote: <>

    Jerry, FROM FIRST DRAFT TO FINISHED NOVEL goes into great detail about story sparks. See page 32. The paragraph that starts “How often should story sparks come?” That should help, but ultimately it is somethiing that you’ll have to figure out yourself since this is your work. Good luck. : )

    Karen
    http://www.karenwiesner.com; Karen’s Quill, KarensQuill-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, subscribe for a chance to win Karen’s books every month!
    Only $9 each if you buy 3 paperbacks! Visit http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/specialorderform.html!
    Men and women who live in the shadows… Award-winning romantic suspense, 5 star reviewed Incognito Series, Books 1-7 now available, http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction7.html
    “Perfect Cadence”, Book 1 of the Kaleidoscope Series, available now in CHRISTMAS WISHES, A Jewels of the Quill Christmas Anthology, http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction8.html
    Just in time for Halloween! WOODCUTTER’S GRIM SERIES–Classic Tales of Horror Retold, available now, http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction6.html
    What is Karen Wiesner (Dame Amethyst) up to? Find out at http://www.JewelsoftheQuill.com. Monthly book giveaways!