This year during NaNoWriMo, I had the opportunity to beta-read the first draft of a professional writer’s novel while writing my own. As I slogged along in my poorly organized story, this writer dashed off elegant prose and posted a new chapter of it every day or two. She knew the setting. She knew what was coming next. She knew her characters inside and out. She knew how to write all of the above so it showed up on the page.
By contrast, I had only the barest notion of my setting. I had a beginning and an end in mind and only a bit of an idea how the characters got from one end to the other. I knew a few of the characters pretty well, but was spitballing all the others. As for knowing how to write it—I can’t say I know how to write something when I don’t have it firmly in mind, can I?
I’ve now completed five novels during previous National Novel Writing Months—if by completed, you mean that I’ve written at least 50,000 words each time. Some Novembers were more successful than others. Maybe two of them gave me novels that felt more or less whole. Beginnings, middles, ends, character growth. All that stuff. For those two, I was well organized and had clear goals. The other years were more about discovery writing, aka “pantsing.”
All writers have their favored ways of working, falling somewhere along the Pantser/Plotter continuum. Now that I’ve had a chance to process my process, I think I’m happier being a plotter. It’s not that there are no discoveries (AKA surprises) when I write from an outline, it’s just that the discoveries seem more useful when I’ve defined the context better. Which brings me to an offer I’m about to pass along.
Since I “won”, I’m entitled to several winner perks and goodies from some of NaNoWriMo’s sponsors. There’s one perk that I’m not going to use, and which I have permission to pass along to anyone who would like it.
[EDITED 1-8-2015: I’m leaving the information below so the post appears pretty much as it did initially, but the offer of my Scrivener half-price code has been accepted, so I’m not able to provide it any longer. If you’re interested in a NaNoWriMo winner code for Scrivener, you may still be able to find someone who has it to spare, but mine is gone! END of EDIT note.]
If you want to try the writing software Scrivener , you can get a free 30-day trial through the web site, Literature and Latte. If you’ve already tried it and know you want to own it—or if you just want to own it without checking out the trial version—I have a code that will allow you to buy it at half price. Right now (12/9/14) the Windows version is selling for $40 and the Mac version is selling for $45, so that means that with my coupon code, you can get it for either $20 or $22.50, depending on which version you want. This 50% off code is good until May 30, 2015.
I’ve been using Scrivener for the past few years for novel-length work, and I really like it. It gives you a place to organize information, research, and inspiration as you’re working, and makes it easy to find these support materials when you have questions later—questions like, “What was I thinking?”
So please, if you’d like to know more about the program and/or would like the coupon code and information on how to use it, contact me. If we know each other via Facebook, Twitter, or some other way, please message/email me. If not, please leave me a contact method in the comments section below, and I’ll get in touch with you.