How's your NaNo outline holding up?

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Morgan Morrow

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If you made an outline for your NaNo project, how is it holding up?

I haven't felt the need to change anything major, although I have found some gaps that I need to bridge. My main concern is that I'm 20 chapters into the 29 chapter outline, and only 24,000 words into the draft... I'm going to have to go back to the beginning and do some filling in and fleshing out to reach my 50,000 word goal. That shouldn't surprise me, since I always have threadbare first drafts that need to be built up a lot, but I'm still a bit dismayed. Nevertheless, I shall persevere!
 

PraiseRao

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The 16 synposes, of what was originally planned as a series of short stories in a composite novel morphed into a regular novel. Of course the further along it goes the more deviated it has become. I had a small alignement then yesterday or so I had a rather large alignment. It's still generally in the same shape of course but the outline framework has definitely shifted while still being present.
 
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Sage

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My outline is a playlist and it's very fluid, so that it's not really done until the book is. But yesterday I really solidified everything up to and mostly through the part I'm on. There will be things that surprise me in the future (that may or may not require songs) and I have a lot "these songs work for this book in general but don't have a specific location yet" songs, which may or may not find a home in the actual story, but I'm feeling pretty good about the first half.

That said, anyone know of any good, "Oh, god, I got drunk and kissed you" or "You only kissed me because you're drunk" or "Oh, no, I kissed a friend and I don't know what's going to happen" songs? Preferably not country. I thought this would be an easy spot to add, but it's surprisingly been hard to fill. I know plenty of songs about alcohol, but nothing that really matches with the kissing situation.
 

Kat M

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That said, anyone know of any good, "Oh, god, I got drunk and kissed you" or "You only kissed me because you're drunk" or "Oh, no, I kissed a friend and I don't know what's going to happen" songs?
As in, the lyrics convey this sort of situation? Or just the vibe? No promises because everything I listen to is country-adjacent. 😅

I didn't exactly have a NaNo outline, but . . . after finishing up a pesky rewrite on one WIP I've been trying to redraft a previous WIP that's been cooking for some time. I had the outline perfectly laid out in my head, but the main plot was so short and I kept trying and failing to flesh out the subplots. I also wasn't happy with the ending. It was ambiguous (my fave) but sort of stopping-in-the-middle ambiguous, not this-is-a-stopping-place.

Turns out there's a whole back half to the story I didn't discover until I was desperate for words and took a shower. A new POV character and a whole other sequence of events to tie together a lot of the unanswered questions from the first half.

Still don't know how the darn thing ends, though. Possibly with Kat braining everyone with a banjo and scrapping the whole thing, but . . . we'll see.
 

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Lyrics, please! I have plenty for the aftermath that I can use afterwards, and in a pinch, I'll use "Something Stupid" for the moment itself but I have so many places where "Something Stupid" can go.

Shower epiphanies are the best, IMO. Actually the whole second book of this trilogy came from me imagining a scene in the shower. Suddenly I had reason to use the "what ifs" I had considered before that because there was a scene to build a book around.
 

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I wrote a list of 17 bullet points before November. It's 1,129 words, which took me about an hour to type down (I wish I could hold that amount of words per hour when actually writing the first draft).

Those points would take me about halfway through the story. I haven't really deviated from it, and still haven't used all of them, but I have added a couple of POV characters that I hadn't thought of before I began writing.
 
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Nether

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Because I was drafting a separate novel through all of October, I wound up not doing much of an outline so... you know, it's going about as well as something with a thin outline usually goes for me. Well, at least better than the last one where I did basically the same thing, but not as well as book 5 where I also didn't have much of a plan at the beginning.

I'm supposed to plan the next one while working on the current one, but it hasn't worked out that well lately. And then my back-up plan of writing the first few chapters then figuring out the rest worked for book 7, but not so much for book 8 and things are kinda fungible in book 9. However, I have the major beats in place and I've timed them to hit at certain points, so it shouldn't be an issue.

That said, I've changed some elements a few times now. One character became three, my MC interacts with the three more than planned, and instead of stopping them in the middle of an attack, my MC lures them out into the woods to kill them... partly because there are three of them now so the logistics a little harder. Still, the character murders the person he was supposed to, tries to get the MC to do the same thing, threatens the same people, and the outcome will be the same. I just changed the steps to get there. And I've changed the steps in a few places.

My main concern is that I'm 20 chapters into the 29 chapter outline, and only 24,000 words into the draft... I'm going to have to go back to the beginning and do some filling in and fleshing out to reach my 50,000 word goal. That shouldn't surprise me, since I always have threadbare first drafts that need to be built up a lot, but I'm still a bit dismayed. Nevertheless, I shall persevere!

No matter how I plan, I tend to run 10-15% over (so I set my projections a little lower accordingly). Granted, I tend to outline in terms of events rather than just chapters (with the exception of themed chapters) and I leave myself some room, so it's a little different.

And my first drafts tend to be light on descriptions (because I hate reading them and writing them) so my first proofing/polishing always involves adding more descriptions or more detail to those descriptions. I'm getting a little bit better about putting those in during the first draft (and book 6 I went heavy on that deliberately, but it scaled back as I continued through the draft simply because it feels so unnatural for me -- although that wasn't always the case).
 
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Morgan Morrow

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And my first drafts tend to be light on descriptions (because I hate reading them and writing them) so my first proofing/polishing always involves adding more descriptions or more detail to those descriptions.
Same. I tend to zoom through the first draft because keeping up my momentum is key. Writing descriptions requires that I slow down and get into a different headspace, so I leave it for future drafts. Which is why I'm thinking I'll probably be able to reach my 50,000 word goal by going through and elaborating on the bare bones descriptions I tossed in there. I just write the most important bits in my first draft, not making any effort to avoid being clunky or cliché. In subsequent drafts I switch out those early descriptions for better/more elaborate/hopefully more poetic ones.
 

rileyariel

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I didn't exactly have an outline, but certain portions planned and middle sections...not. I have reached the part where my planning ends and now have to flail until I hit the general plotpoints I know need to come next. This is the worst part for me because writing the beginnings of stories are my favorite parts. Getting it where it needs to go in the right order with the right pacing, not so much.
 

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My outline is a playlist and it's very fluid, so that it's not really done until the book is. But yesterday I really solidified everything up to and mostly through the part I'm on. There will be things that surprise me in the future (that may or may not require songs) and I have a lot "these songs work for this book in general but don't have a specific location yet" songs, which may or may not find a home in the actual story, but I'm feeling pretty good about the first half.

That said, anyone know of any good, "Oh, god, I got drunk and kissed you" or "You only kissed me because you're drunk" or "Oh, no, I kissed a friend and I don't know what's going to happen" songs? Preferably not country. I thought this would be an easy spot to add, but it's surprisingly been hard to fill. I know plenty of songs about alcohol, but nothing that really matches with the kissing situation.
I love this. Here are some selections from my own playlists that may or may not work for what you're thinking.

I know it's not exactly the same vibe, but my first instinct was Iris by the googoo dolls because to me that song is about being terrified what you have with someone is going to be destroyed by outside circumstances and trying desperately to trust that it won't be. That you two will keep it safe together.

Second thought, Treacherous by Taylor Swift which about being afraid of falling into something you can't stop and wanting it but being terrified it's going to hurt worse than anything you've ever felt. Additionally Delicate by Taylor Swift because to me it's a companion song, starting something and being afraid you're going to break it.

If the mood is absolute terror about losing someone close to you I highly recommend Sick of Losing Soulmates by Dodie, it's about wanting to have that person forever in whatever way you can, and being willing to shove away your feelings if that's what's necessary to have that.

Pretty great by fickle friends is about falling in love with a person you kissed at a party when you were drunk...not exactly the friends to lovers vibe, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. It's a great song, I love it.

Ruin the friendship by Demi Lovato is about a kind of friends turned fwb situation where neither person is being honest about their true feelings.

Is there somewhere by Halsey is about falling in love accidentally.

On the bound by Fiona Apple is about needing someone and trying to trust them.

Bags by Clairo is about worrying you're not on the same page as someone else.

I know there are more that I can't think of right now that probably work better than these, but hopefully this helped at least a little bit!
 
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Those are awesome, riley. I have quite a few with general themes I see in these songs, but a few in here definitely look like they’re hitting a specific feeling I can use for the book. I especially want to check out the Fickle Friend & Demi songs!
 
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No outline, per se. Just an idea and a rough map of where I'm headed. Keeps it interesting? Nope. Keeps it exciting? Nope. But it does keep me writing, so I must like it somehow? :p
 

rileyariel

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Those are awesome, riley. I have quite a few with general themes I see in these songs, but a few in here definitely look like they’re hitting a specific feeling I can use for the book. I especially want to check out the Fickle Friend & Demi songs
Glad I could help!
 

Morgan Morrow

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Welp, it happened... I reached the end of my outline and my draft is only at 35,000 words 😬

I guess it's time to go back to the beginning to add more emotions and descriptions to parts I left threadbare on the first pass. I think I can get to 50,000 by just filling stuff out here and there, and maybe adding some new scenes... 😅
 

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Welp, it happened... I reached the end of my outline and my draft is only at 35,000 words 😬

I guess it's time to go back to the beginning to add more emotions and descriptions to parts I left threadbare on the first pass. I think I can get to 50,000 by just filling stuff out here and there, and maybe adding some new scenes... 😅

I've never hit the end of a draft and been massively short -- usually I'm more likely to be slightly over the expected word count (never more than that, because I'll course-correct as I go along; the only time I ever went way too long was when I confused about a genre guideline) -- so that's uncharted territory for me.

However, if I ran short, I'd probably just add another story arc or a subplot.

Oh, I guess I might have come up short once -- depending on how you look at it. I'd originally planned on book 6 -- a high fantasy novel -- going 120-130k words, but I was so sick of it midway through that I wound up trimming things so I finished at 95k. Although that was a matter of shortening a few earlier events because I was planning on having more later on, and then shortening the later on because I hated the project by the point. So it was shorter than originally intended, mostly because of cuts made while I was drafting.
 

Morgan Morrow

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However, if I ran short, I'd probably just add another story arc or a subplot.
I'm happy with the current story structure, I like where it starts and where/how it ends. I do have to add one character, who will require a small subplot. But I think I'll make up for the lack of words mostly by finding spots that I rushed through and buckling down to write them properly this time around.

To use a house building metaphor - I like the framing of the house, the rooms are the right sizes and in the right places. I just need to add a roof, and drywall, and paint, and furniture, and, and, and...
 

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This book is following the plan, but, boy, is it paced oddly. Here I am in the climax, which is far chiller than the section that came before. Either that or I'm in a very long denouement. Then again, I guess there are fun books like Return of the King and American Gods where plenty of stuff happens after the big battle. It's not that bad compared to those.
 
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Nether

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I guess I could do a postmortem at this point.

I had the original idea for Sometimes the Moon Howls Back years ago, and multiple visions for the novel -- although all incorporated a werewolf trying to hide in a small town.

When I started to plan it, I realized I had too many conflicting elements (the result of those multiple visions for the project, which only really shared a few key elements and a starting point) -- and not enough of a hook to keep him there. I probably shouldn't go into too much detail, but I managed to combine the elements which made sense, changed the hook, and dropped a few things.

The outline had a lot of detail for the first few chapters, a small amount of detail later on, and then basically just notes on what needed to happen for the ending.

I deviated from the outline/planning in a handful of places:

1) Because my initial plan was vague in how I'd implement a meddler (who recognized the MC from another town and begins to piece things together), he wound up as more of a background character. (However, part of that change might have still been while I was in planning since the day 1 was different.)

2) As mentioned, one character (another werewolf) became three, which made more sense from a character motivation perspective. Then because I had three characters instead of one, I had to change how they were handled. The story arc otherwise mostly remained the same.

3) I brought the "bigfoot" angle into the story sooner, because of the nature of the now-three werewolves and how the matter was resolved. This also directly impacted the meddler's story arc, and was a secondary reason for a change. This story element was a bit more flexible anyway, and I had debated bringing it sooner.

4) Because I brought the "bigfoot" angle (it's not really a subplot, just background noise) in sooner, I wound up adding another setting because the MC wouldn't risk transforming in those same woods. I then moved part of the final arc to that setting as well, because it just made more sense.

5) The ending (or, I guess, more the climax) was changed repeatedly -- or, at least, one specific element. The original vision was a bloodbath, but I decided to tone that down in planning. And then I changed it further. And I toned it down again.
-Pre-planning, I was envisioning the ending as Dog Soldiers
-Planning, I left it up in the air. I knew what I wanted the outcome to be (which ultimately didn't change), just not the final steps to get there. I was leaning towards a big chase or a final fight.
-About halfway though, I think I'd decided to just have a fight as part of the final sequence.
-Near the end, I realized a full fight wouldn't make sense.

Ultimately, the climax (again, I hesitate to call it that given its nature) was foreshadowed throughout the book -- from relatively early on -- but... I feel a little iffy about it. While a big fight of some kind feels right, I'm not sure if that's enough to really sell the climax. During revision, I have to add more references foreshadowing the resolution.
 
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Morgan Morrow

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My outline held up pretty well. I ran out of story and had to go back to flesh some stuff out, and I had to add some background and epilogue scenes to reach 50,000 words. But I made it! And without any major structural changes to the story, just a few adjustments of things I was unclear on when I was outlining.

All in all, I'm happy with the story I wrote. It's going to need a lot of work to get it ready for querying, but that can wait until next year.
 
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