Okay, if you’ve been following along with NaNoPlotMo, you should be busily creating goals for each of your characters. If you’re using a spreadsheet, you’ve got a list of generic goals down the left side:
Story Goal (catch the bad guy, get away from the cops, solve the murder, save the universe, survive first date, etc.)
Along the top of your spreadsheet, you’ll list all your major characters. That’s any character that shows up in at least three scenes. If you’ve got too many characters–say more than eight–then you can probably combine a couple. The goals are your purpose, not the characters. If two characters share most of the same goals, you can probably axe one.
From there, we applied our moral purpose to each of your character’s goals. I suspect you’re still in that process. Don’t rush this. This is the outline of your story. Each character should have a “before” beat for each goal, a “moment of grace” or “revelation,” and an “after” beat. That gives you at least three beats for each goal. Each of those beats is the one line description for a piece of a scene, sometimes the whole scene. And you’ll take those one line descriptions and let the creativity flow come November 1st.
There’s No Hurry!
However–I want to drive this point home–if you do not have all your story beats in place and the scenes lined up to your liking by midnight on October 31st, skip NaNoWriMo. You are a professional. Professionals don’t deliver unfinished products. I promise you that you’ll be just as thrilled to write your book in December or even next June. Get it right now. Don’t worry about deadlines. There will be plenty of those once you’re published.
Now I want to hit the Pause button.
No matter where you are in your outlining, I want you to put your log line (or one line, or elevator pitch) in front of you. Also your premise. Does it still excite you? From what you’ve done so far, do you think your story will work? Don’t lie to yourself here. You have, at the most, a handful of index cards. Not too hard to toss in the trash and start fresh. More likely, though, you may have changed course slightly during your outlining. This is the time to make the correction in the log line and premise. But make sure that story still works before you spend several months writing and editing.
Okay. That’s your homework for the weekend. Mull over your log line and premise. Pitch that log line to complete strangers if you want to know for sure. Or at least friends who are willing to tell you that you’ve really chubbed out over the summer.
Onward an upward. You’re writing. It’s your world. Control it.