novel ingredients for a pants writer

I must be nuts, because I signed up for NaNo this year. I’m there under Patty Jansen, so feel free to buddy me, but be prepared to lose the word-fight!

Anyway, I’m preparing for the event. Writing 50K in a month is peanuts, but only if I know what I’m writing. But hang on, I’m a pants writer. And I’ve been talking about the antithesis of pants writers: the outline. Urgh! What’s that?

Well, it’s not a proper outline. It’s a collection of scenes. Before I start writing, I need the following:

– an inciting incident
– a beginning scene
– names for all the characters
– a rough ending
– an antagonist and/or a threat

But most important is: I need scenes. I need to have a setup in my mind of something that happens, a kind of cinematographic view of a number of scenes that will bring cool-ness and variety to the novel. I may vary the setting, even the characters, but the scene itself remains a building block of the novel.

This novel has a lot of politics, so there will be a fair number of meetings: a plenary council session, a conspirational meeting of a couple of characters, a meeting where some citizens come to complain.

The character carries a gun so she will get to use it.

There is a love triangle, so there will be two sex scenes. One full-on, the other more restrained. The restrained one is with the man she loves most (to maintain the tension there)

She is in conflict with her relatives, so there will be a fight with her younger brother over the way she influences her niece, her brother’s teenage daughter.

Then there is some travel and alien cool-geeky-ness relation to her job.

The point is that until I start writing, the characters in the scenes are interchangeable with the exception of the main character, since it’s written in first person. The order of the scenes is variable. What doesn’t change is the scene type. I make sure I don’t have any scene type repetitions.


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