Thursday, October 29, 2009

NaNo WriMo Cheater (Or How I'm Not)

I've mentioned in several posts that I'm preplanning my NaNo WriMo book, and I've had several people (family members) immediately ask the question: "Isn't that cheating?"

Technically, yes. All NaNo WriMo books are supposed to be complete scratch on November 1, and then written entirely in that month. Preplanned and preplotted books go against the "rules." However, the idea behind this rule is to prevent first-time, never-finished-a-book-before writers from getting bogged down in creating a perfect book, nitpicking over the details, and generally using things like storyboarding and research as an excuse not to write. The other reason for the rule is to show people who have labored over half-done novels for months or years that it is possible to finish a novel (albeit a short one) in a month.

I don't fit into either of those categories. I know that I can write a book in a month. I've done twice (though last year's dragged on for an additional month or more, but I followed the word-minimum every day the entire time and I greatly exceeded the 50,000-words minimum, so I count it). I also know that I'm not going to get bogged down in the pre-writing details of my book.

I've been editing Madison for eons (two years) and have realized that the more concrete I can make the story arc upfront, the better the story is going to be in the long run, and the fewer rounds of edits I'll have to go through (fingers crossed). Furthermore, I'm not writing the book yet. I'm waiting to start on November 1. The anticipation is motivational. It's prompted me to look at my story idea and flesh it out beyond an opening idea and a main character. In fact, yesterday I spent over an hour working through the plot points. I don't know the ending, and I'm the type of author who likes to (needs to) know the ending so I can manipulate the middle with foreshadowing and plot twists, yet still stay on track.

So, final answer, "No, I'm not cheating."


The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

Of course you're not cheating, it is 50,000 words in one month so good luck to you. I myself can't do it so I wish you nothing but all the very best.

Rebecca Chastain said...

Thank you, and that's a very good point! I think I'll mention that if anyone else accuses me of cheating. :)