NaNoWriMo 2016: Getting Ready Tip No. 2

There are 38 days left before the launch of National Novel Writing Month 2016.  Once again, I'm gearing up for the challenge.

Can I write a 50,000 novel in 30 days?  Probably.  Will I?  The better question.

This year, I'm trying my hand at a thriller.  Even if I don't make the deadline, I'm going to have a lot of fun in November!

There's no rule against planning in advance for NaNoWriMo.  You just cannot start writing the content before 12:01 on the morning of November 1st.

NaNoWriMo Tip No. 2: Have Your Outline Ready to Go

Sure, you can write by the seat of your pants without a plan.  Many authors prefer it.  However, I want to complete 50,000 words in a four week period that includes the Thanksgiving holiday.

I know from past years that the "seat of the pants" approach is more exciting for me -- but it has also caused me to buckle around two weeks into the campaign.  I get distracted as it is, and there are more distractions now.  The holidays are coming!  The holidays are here!

This year, I'm going to have a map to follow. An outline for my thriller.

Having made this decision, I have to remind myself not to take this outline too seriously.
  • Its purpose is to help me get back to work.  
  • It will not be set in stone.  It will be written in pencil, not waterproof ink.  I don't want to feel controlled by the outline,  (This can be very hard for me not to do.)
  • Things change as your story comes out of your head.  Characters change, or maybe you just get to know them better as things progress.  The outline has to be subservient to this evolution.  
Just making the decision to work with an outline is a confidence booster. I feel braver when I think of 30 days divided by 50,000 words is 1666.67 words per day.  Every day.  Even Thanksgiving Day.  

References for Outlining a Thriller

Here are a few reference materials I'm using as I build my thriller outline:

  1. James Scott Bell's suggestions in his Writer's Digest article, "The 5 C’s of Writing a Great Thriller Novel."
  2. Another Writer's Digest article, "How to Write A Great Thriller: 5 Pieces of Advice," written by David Ellis
  3. Every interview and article I can find dealing with Thrillerfest Grandmaster Nelson DeMille.  I love this guy.  

and I'm re-reading some of my favorites, including:

  • James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice;
  • Frederick Forsyth, The Day of the Jackal;
  • Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca; 
  • Vera Caspary's Laura; and
  • Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.

And, of course, this is an excuse to watch or re-watch lots of great movies that have been made out of great thrillers.  Fun, fun, fun.  

Maybe all this will help you too, Dear Reader. 


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