FiFiDraMo: Realistic goal setting

Since it’s November 1 many of us will be plunging head first today into National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure why November got picked for this exercise in writing a complete (or so) novel in one month, since it’s not the longest month on the calendar, and is saddled with a long holiday weekend in the US, full of food prep, family visits, and other distractions like, well, indigestion.

Be that as it may, November it is. I have signed up for NaNoWriMo before and enjoyed the challenge but this year I’m doing my own deal: Finish First Draft Month, or FiFiDraMo. It’s not realistic for me to write an entire novel in one month. I could do it, I suppose, but it would be the sort of dreck that takes years to unwind, fix, and polish. That’s not worth the headache for me, at this stage in what I laughingly call “my career.” In fact, I could easily spend a more profitable month outlining a novel to come. That would be an excellent use of thirty days. I recommend that instead of trying to bang out 60,000 words just  for the numbers.

But to each his own. May your fingers fly and your creativity soar. Here’s to goals for every month of the year! Click here for info on the Young Writers Program at NaNoWriMo, a really cool project for kids.

My goal for the month of October was to get half of my new novel written. As of Wednesday, Oct. 30, I was not quite at the midpoint but in smelling distance, with 33,000 words written. That’s pretty close, so I am popping my buttons with pride! I still have about three scenes to write before I reach the midpoint where the consequences and the actions take a serious, dramatic turn and my protagonist has to leap into her Wonder Woman underpants. So if that takes another, say 5000 to 7000 words, the book will end up in the range of 70 – 75K. Maybe longer as I go back and wax a little in spots, filling in imagery and setting and emotional depth. And possibly shorter after cutting some early stuff too.

The outline I made (via Scrivener – my new favorite toolbox) has proved worth every penny, even though I am not following it exactly. It’s impossible to know what juicy tangents will come up as you write, and what is just not going to work even though it sounded great in the outline. Still it’s the underlying supports, the placement of certain scenes that makes the outline golden. I used a Beat Sheet Template written for Scrivener, based on the writing books of Larry Brooks, Story Engineering and Story Physics. If you have yet to discover the hidden structure in novels, Larry’s your man. There are other templates out there too. Find one that works for you and the way you write.

My goal for November? Finish that First Draft. As the cable guy says: Git ‘er done.


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1 comment

  • Thanks for the link to the Young Writer program. Am passing it along to our Charter School teachers. Good luck with your book.

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