So, as I am sitting at a local write-in, supposedly writing a 50k word novel in a month, I find myself blogging instead (don't worry, I did some legitimate writing first). I love my story; I think I finally have an idea that has enough substance to actually become something, but there is SO much about the story I've created that I neglected -- not intentionally, I just had no idea where my story was going…and the direction it took me was one I wasn't at all prepared for.
For those of you who have never attempted NaNoWriMo, this is not where I sit down and write a publishable masterpiece in a month (and 50k words isn't nearly a long enough manuscript to begin with). It is a purely word-count driven, get-your-ideas-down-on-paper-as-fast-as-you-can, and don't you dare edit kind of affair. It's good for me, and good for shutting up my inner editor. Most of all, it's fun! You get to novel en masse with the best of them -- from published writers to college students -- share your ideas with other writerly types, and, if nothing else, drink a few good cups of coffee along the way. For the record, I have attempted NaNoWriMo a number of times and have never reached the 50k word mark, but such is life. In fact, I have gotten farther this year than in previous years.
The problem is that I never outline; I never develop my ideas before the November 1st start, and I have learned that I am terrible at developing plot. I may have a beginning, middle, and end -- but when I say middle I mean, "yes, at some point I know that my character will _____." I have no idea how they will get to _____. I have no idea how they will get from _____ to the end. I just know that _____ will happen. This year I fell into the deadliest of plot setbacks. I need to world build. Somehow I went from my "real world" setting into one of my character's design…that means she has to design it! (Which in turn means that I have to design a world for her to design, sigh). I could spend months on world building! And without a world, there is no story. It may be time to stop writing and starting world/plot building for the greater good of my poor, plotless story.