What Happens Next?

 I’m not sure what happened here,   but  this didn’t post when it was scheduled on November 29th. Please forgive the tardiness, but I think Nathan Lowell has some valuable insight.  Yes,  NANO is over for this year,  but take a moment and hear what he has to say.  In the meantime,  I’ll try to figure out what went wrong on my end as to why this didn’t go up on the right date. 

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for real since 2007. Odd numbered years work well for me. I finished titles in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013. The even years I got sidetracked by life, travel, medical emergencies, or some other silliness.

One of the most common questions is “What do you do to prepare?”

I’m a pantser. Generally my preparation starts on November 1 and consists of turning on my wordprocessor.

Which isn’t to say I don’t know what I want to write. Each of the years I’ve completed a work, I had the idea of the book. In 2007 it was the backstory of a character from my other novels.

The only time I actually thought about the story in advance was 2009. That year a writing colleague challenged me to finish NaNo in half a month — to write 50,000 words in 15 days. I accepted her challenge but then it got complicated when other fans piled on additional challenges. I had to write fantasy instead of my familiar genre – science fiction. I had to write a female main character – something I’d avoided up until then for fear that I wouldn’t do her justice.

I had two weeks to prepare. One of the more interesting things was creating her avatar in Second Life and trying to – at least figuratively – get into her skin. It was great fun.

For me, outlining is a waste of time. I’ve never managed to finish a story when I wrote an outline first. I’ve tried all the outlining methods – snowflake, three-act, four-act, beat sheets – and the problem is that once I know how the story goes, I completely lose interest in writing it. For me the magic happens when I get sucked into the story and can’t put it down because I need to find out how the next scene ends.

Which I can’t do until I write it.

That’s one of the tips I offer new writers.

Write what happens next.

I see a lot of newer writers bogging down in trying explain or describe what’s going on now. I understand the urge, but if you want to move the story along, start with your characters in a scene where something is about to happen. I think of it like where the actors are just before the director yells “Action!” on a movie set. When you hear the director, try to write fast enough to keep up with the movie in your mind.

Don’t waste time describing the color of the floor unless it’s covered with blood. Don’t stop the story to tell us what the characters are wearing. Just write what happens next.

I’m a full time author now but I love NaNoWriMo because it’s an excuse to be selfish about my time. I work at home so it’s easy to get sidetracked by the Honey-Do List or household chores. I’m the kids’ main taxi driver.

Except in November, I’m a bear. Don’t talk to me. I’m writing. I’ve got a deadline and — even though it’s self imposed, even though it’s twice as much as everybody else — I get very possessive of my writing time because so many of you are out there pounding away to beat the clock and I want to be there with you.

Break’s over. Go write something.


About the Author


Nathan Lowell writes science fiction and fantasy. He began podcasting his novels in 2007 and since that time has written ten novels, recorded eight of them, and published nine of the ten as ebooks. He’s currently working on getting all ten of his novels published in ebook, paper, and audio before the end of the year


Find out more about him and his work at http://nathanlowell.com.

Thank you Nathan for being a guest on my blog!



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