Today, for some unknown reason, the TV in my apartment complex workout room had only one channel that worked instead of the usual 73. On that one channel: a fishing show. So instead of watching Ellen, which I normally do while I exercise, I turned off the TV and ran on the elliptical machine in silence.
To distract myself from being annoyed at the new apartment managers, I decided to contemplate a story idea that's been brewing in the back of my mind. I'm so glad I did. I'd honestly forgotten how well repetitive motion helps me think!
In twenty minutes and a mile and a half, I plotted out an entire story—from beginning to end, act one through three, with a whole cast of characters, escalating conflict, intertwining plot, and a whole new setting/world.
I, of course, hastily typed everything up the moment I was back in my apartment and saved a backup copy to my flash drive. Tonight, I'll run it by Cody, who is a good sounding board and can help me explore possible plot-hole fixes and character traits. I'm so excited to have this whole idea almost completely mapped out! I've had sticky notes of ideas for it as they've come to me up on my wall for the last six months. A little snippet here, an idea there, a magic rule jotted down, a scene typed up. Now it feels like a book, not just an idea.
If this story passes the Cody test, I am almost certain it will be my next NaNo novel, and I'm glad to be plotting it out now, in advance. One of the key things I learned from my last NaNo novel was the importance for me of having the acts clearly defined. The other thing that I learned was to make the magic crucial to the story. 2009's NaNo story fizzled out because of those two large flaws. It makes a great character sketch and scenes for another novel, but it needs a full novel's worth of work. I'm sure there will come a time when ideas for that novel are brewing in my mind, but for now, I'll concentrate on this new idea.