#NaNoWriMo: When Outlining Your Novel Goes Awry

Hi there.

It’s been a while (sorry!), so I thought I would update you on my progress prepping for NaNoWriMo.

When it comes to writing 50K words in the month of November, everyone says to prepare, prepare, prepare. So at the beginning of October, I came up with a plan. 

I strategically wrote out what I was going to do each week this month to prepare my novel for NaNo.

Sooo…I have to confess. I did NOT stick to my plan exactly. But what I have now for NaNo is much better because of it.

My first idea for a story was a Gaslamp fantasy involving dark fairies. That’s as far as I got on that one. I personally love Gaslamp fantasy, but I immediately felt overwhelmed by the amount of historical knowledge I would need to research on Victorian London. (Sadly, I don’t think binge watching Penny Dreadful was going to be enough).

That idea morphed into a Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy involving demons and angels. I had a situation in mind that I thought could work. I dove in and outlined all of the key plot points in the novel and created character arcs for all of the characters.

I was ahead of schedule, so I wrote the opening scene.
That was total disaster. But why??

Did I outline enough? Did I miss some key scene in the genre?

I used a combination of outlining methods including Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants, Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beat sheet and Jami Gold’s Romance Beat Sheet.

It didn’t make any sense. I had all the tools I thought I needed.

Except, well, I don’t really like to read Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy.

When I read fantasy, I love exploring new worlds with different creatures as much as the next person, but for me it’s really more about the journey and the world building than romance. Not to mention, I love history and the medieval period. Urban fantasy is just not as exciting to me.

So here I was, about to write a sweeping romance (yuck) in an urban fantasy setting (boring) with angels and demons (oh, hi, I am an atheist). Whoops.

Should you look at the market? Yes, but you should also be passionate about what you’re writing otherwise it will show through in your writing. You’ll get everything lined up and then when it comes to writing those key scenes they will feel forced. Because they are!

What am I passionate about? What gets me excited in a story?
Magic. Swords. Dragons. Medieval castles. Archetypal Characters.

All the cliches in classic fairy tales, really. We are constantly told to avoid using cliches in fantasy, to think of new ways of telling the story.

So here’s what I’ve decided to do: Stick with what I love to write about but put a twist on the cliches.

You may have heard Cinderella a thousand times.
But what if Cinderella was an assassin given a contract to kill Prince Charming?
I think this could be the dark twist that makes the story interesting again. It’s got me excited and feverishly outlining scenes. I finally feel ready to tackle NaNoWriMo.

Less than a week to go.
Let’s do this!

-Em

4 thoughts on “#NaNoWriMo: When Outlining Your Novel Goes Awry

  1. Whoa. I LOVE that twist on Cinderella! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! I’m super excited to get started on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep, I’m also loving the twist! Have a great NaNo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! That is encouraging!

      Liked by 1 person

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