November 50k Challenge: Week 1

November 50k Challenge: Week 1So how am I doing in my November 50k Challenge: Week 1? I’m unofficially doing a NaNoWriMo challenge; Fifty thousand words of a novel in November.

Why? Ever since a work colleague ‘won’ NaNoWriMo several years ago, I’ve wondered; can I do it? Am I up to the discipline of 1667 words a day for thirty days? Can I produce a complete first draft from scratch in a month?

Only one way to find out.

Since the fantasy series is dragging a little, I’ve set that aside for the month to undertake this challenge.

‘Preptober’

November is the writing month; October is ‘preptober’ for those who choose to do a little planning in advance.

In my case I had an idea for a character in my fantasy universe way back last year. The idea continued to grow, gathering characters and sources of conflict. And I have a stack of world-building already done for the series, so I just needed to expand my setting. It seemed like the basis for a future installment in the series.

Beyond a vague fantasy-adventure involving some kind of quest and a road-trip, I didn’t have much of a plot.

What’s my character, Aeryn, looking for?

Fortunately, I have some plot threads to pull from the series itself. I have some established bad guys and some entertaining new bad guys. Aeryn’s quest began to take shape.

I have a plain text document of notes, bits of dialogue and some character work.

I wrapped that into the same 24-chapter outline as the other books in the series, using Derek Murphy’s Plot Dot or ‘hero’s journey lite’ as I think of it.

What was to be Book Six on my list is now a standalone novel for November.

There and Back Again

Altogether I had 5,500 words of prep to populate my outline. That doesn’t contribute to my November word count, so my tracking spreadsheet deducts the 5,500.

What have I got?

I have my protagonist who is surprisingly vulnerable and conflicted beneath her hard-as-nails exterior. There’s a cast of side-kick supporting characters, numerous antagonists, including a ‘shape-shifter’ or traitor to provide a plot twist.

I have a classic quest for a plot. And I’m still writing Westerns with Swords. Except in this case, more of a Samurai story. That’s a surprise.

I have a soft magic system that does as much as I need. My setting is sparse, but workable.

There’s an opening, some business in the middle and a literal cliff hanger of an ending. On a cliff edge. Trope or cliché?

And blank chapters.

There are entries in my outline containing… nothing.

Chapter 9: Finding the Child. Tumbleweed. I have no idea. [Update: turns out I do have an idea. It’s done.]

Despite my 5,500 word prep, this plotter is discovery writing whole chunks of story.

Week One Progress

Thanks to the outlining, the opening chapters poured out well over the target 1667 words a day. I’ve settled into more of a rhythm with morning and evening sprints.

The Day Eight total stands at 18,407, or 37% of my target of 50,000. Can I maintain this rate of progress?

My one note of caution? The scope of my outline looks like an 80,000-word plot. Now that’s a challenge.

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