#NaNoWriMo: When Murphy’s Law Is Your Friend

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current word count: 47, 061

I’ve written before about how I’m more of a character-driven writer than I am a plot-driven writer. I’ve also written before about how my NaNo project is great uncharted territory for me. Part of that is because it’s a plot-driven novel. Not to say characters aren’t core to the plot! They are! But it is definitely a book where characters go and Do Things. Thus, the outlining.

 

I am in the end zone. I am so close to winning NaNoWriMo I can taste it. And I am close to winning because of a two-step process:

  1. scope out my characters’ ideal end zone plan*
  2. break that plan (thereby introducing Compelling Complications)

Part 1: How The Plan Should Have Gone

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In an ideal world, disarming the mad scientists should be a cakewalk.

So, I have to confess in the outline this part was…sketchy at best. I had a sense of where I was going, but it wasn’t that fully fleshed out. It was more like “and then the main character and some other people do some stuff to get rid of the bad dudes and voila! an ending.”

 

This meant I had to stop writing partway through the draft and figure my shit out. What did my characters want? Why did they want that? What would make sense in their context? If I was in their shoes, what kind of plan would I make?

I sketched it out, and that gave me a direction through the end of the book!

Or so I thought.

Part 2: Perfectly Executed Plans Are Boring

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You have more questions now than you would have if she had just lifted it, right? Now you want to know if she’s ok, what happened to the shoe, etc.

Complications add conflict, and conflict is the lifeblood of any narrative. Yes, it would be satisfying for me if I just wrote my main character’s plan going exactly as she hoped–I like her and want her to succeed!

 

But it would be kind of boring to read, actually.

The thing that keeps me reading a book is when things don’t go according to plan. I want to see how characters will fix a broken plan, what they will do when thrust into situations they aren’t expecting. And also? How often of your mundane, everyday plans are executed exactly as you sketched them out? I was almost late for the movies this morning because my partner ran the gas tank down to E and the dang light was on and then the first pump I was at had a bum card reader, so then I had to go to another one, eating up more precious minutes of possible Hunger Games viewing time. And that was just going to see a movie! So in a life-or-death planning situation, even when you’re super-extra-careful, life still has a way of throwing you curveballs.

I added some curveballs. It’s making this last bit of the book much more satisfying to write.


 

*Many thanks to Shveta Thakrar for enduring gchat brainstorm sessions with me as I worked out this part. ❤ ❤ ❤

2 thoughts on “#NaNoWriMo: When Murphy’s Law Is Your Friend

  1. My ending surprised me. I hadn’t expected one of the characters to show up when he did, and now the end is even more ironic and twisted than I had planned it to be! I was in a writing frenzy tonight trying to reach the finish line, and that’s when it happened. I just kept writing it and I loved it! Isn’t it amazing when your fictional made up people come to life and take over for you? 🙂

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  2. Totally agree (loving the title by the way!) My nano story was going pretty well until I realized I didn’t have enough conflict (well at least not enough to keep my interest). I’m slowly unsnarling the tangles but I’m really glad I participated. 🙂

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