As most of you know by now, I am preparing for a writing marathon in November that is otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. Now, there are two camps when it comes to this writing marathon: you are either a plotter or a pantser. The first two years that I “competed,” I was a pantser. I “won” my first year, but just barely, and the second year…yeh, my story screeched to a halt somewhere around 25,000 words. So, I am now a plotter. I found that it works better for me over the last two years.

First, I started with an idea. In this case, the idea was: What if you lived on a planet that only had water in one location? What would you do to get the water that your body so desperately needs?

My first story that I created from this idea was lame, at best. It could have worked, but it needed a lot more time than I was ready to put into it. I was sixteen at the time. I wrote down my notes, and I shoved them in a folder for almost fifteen years.

Two years ago, I pull this idea out about a month before NaNoWriMo 2014. I dusted off the pages and looked over it, and I was like, “What was I smoking?” Then I sat down and drew up a quick science fiction idea. Nothing detailed—just enough to get me going for the 2014 writing marathon.

I won with 50,103 words. And it was a mess.

I shoved it back in a drawer and looked at it in disgust every time I saw it after that November. I was not happy with it. I was proud that I had pushed through the NaNo fever and gotten 50K on the page, but the story itself—I viewed it as utter shit. (excuse my language…)

Enter 2016.

In late August, I decided to really get my tail in gear and start working through my fiction again, but I was sadly out of my routine. And at the time, I hadn’t quite gotten the oldest three kids off to school for the new school year, so I had a lot of adjustments to make to get a thousand words on the page every day. So, I decided to start it slow.

A little map-making and world-building. And then I remembered this story.

I pulled it out of the dark recesses of my filing cabinet, spent about two hours reading through it and re-familiarizing myself with the story (all the while making snide comments about how ridiculous some of the stuff I wrote sounded), then I sat down and drew up a map.

It wasn’t much of a map. It was on a sheet of loose-leaf notebook paper, and it involved about forty squiggly lines and a few marginal notes that sounded a lot like:

** Group attacked by gigantic, sand-burrowing scorpion here **

It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough. The gears started moving again.

Within a day or two, I had the world drawn up. I had clothing styles designed, creatures created, a smattering of science-y stuff to make it a solid science fiction story, and I had the makings of a much better story.

Then I started outlining. That was around the beginning of September. I wrote up a point-by-point outline first. Factored in all the big things that needed to happen, added in the little nuances of subplot that needed to happen in the background to explain a few things that were happening in the foreground, and voila! A more solid story.

That took the better part of September because I kept changing my mind on what needed to happen and when it needed to happen, and who needed to be the bad guy that everyone trusted, and yada, yada, yada.

I started thorough outlining at the end of September. I practically write the entire book out in one gigantic synopsis before I start to really write. I’m up to chapter thirty-two now, and my outline is sitting at around *cough* twenty-six pages. (I know, I have practically written the novel.)

By the time November 1st rolls in, I’ll be able to pull out that outline and easily flesh out a two thousand word chapter in no time.

Well, that’s the plan anyway.

How is your NaNo-Prepping going?