Friday, November 5, 2010

NaNoWriMo NOPness

Thus ends week 1 of NaNoWriMo.  I've held steady with 3,000 words a day.  I try not to go over because I have other work to attend to.

While writing, I've been keeping in mind the great advice and wisdom of James Scott Bell in Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises For Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers From Start to Finish (buy it here).  The great advice and wisdom I'll leave for another post.

Bell has a theory that there are two types of writers in the world.  NOPs and OPs.  A NOP is a "no outline" person.  While a OP is an outline person.  NOPs will sit down at their computer and bust out a novel.  Only later, after they've written a mess of pages, will they sort out what they have, and begin crafting a novel off of that.  An OP will come up with the plot, characters, and scenes before writing.  Methods include treatments, note cards, diagrams, etc.

Personally, the idea of figuring out every nuance of a novel before writing it, sounds more tedious than playing the "Why?" game with a four year old.  I am a NOP.  I always have been a NOP.  In college, writing papers for me included the same skills I'm applying to my novel.  Sit down, bust out a first draft.  If it was a 14 page paper, I'd write a good 8 pages, print them out, and go over them with a pencil, writing new lines and ideas in between the double spaced lines.  There was lots of crossing out and stars and corrections involved.  After doing that same process a good twenty times (and as many trees killed), I'd have a respectable looking 14 page essay.

NaNo crushing a hapless NOP
I don't plan to use the exact method on my projected 60,000 word novel.  But the first draft is akin to brain splatter on page.  I do have a few OP tendencies.  And I've had to adopt a few to get me through this first week of NaNo.  I started the novel with a very good idea where it was going to go, and two or three plot points (none of which I've come across yet).  I had a character fully formed in my mind (helps when you are writing about your best friend, saved me a lot of time), and the idea of what journey she was going on.  After writing my 3,000 words each day, I spend the rest of the day and night (ahem, working) thinking about what to do next.  So by the time I sit down the next day, I have a plan.  A rough plan.  Not exactly a blueprint.  The characters have minds of their own, and the story simply comes to life under my fingers.

The OP has lost his way
For me, writing a novel has become... well, I can use the sailing metaphor (haven't seen that in a while).  In sailing, the shortest distance between two points is a zigzag line.  You get there eventually, and every tack is filled with its own short little action (when in a race, also filled with potential to lose or crash into other boats, or bouys as the case may be).  Way more exciting than zooming on through with a seventy foot yacht.

So tell me, what are you?  NOP?  OP?  NOP with a little OP?  OP with a little NOP?  Sail boat or yacht or dingy or cruise ship?

Happy writing!


Karen Baldwin said...

Hmm? I'm a pantser so I guess I'd be a NOP. Good luck on your 60K. Soooo, are you an A.I.T? Or a writer hoping to be published?

Amy Tripp said...

I'm decidedly undecided.
When I first started writing, I outlined the damn manuscripts to death, but then I'd get into the actual writing business and my characters would push me in new directions. Outline meet trash can.

Then I took the NOP approach and wrote on the fly. That worked out well, except I had an awful time remembering minor character names, and town names, etc.

For Nano this year, since my genre is Middle Grade Historical Fantasy (what a mouthful) and the historic part of the MGHF had to be historically correct, I busted out a journal and began researching and plotting and clipping and planning. (I think there might even be a reasonably good plan-of-action for world domination in there somewhere - perhaps page 55)

At this point, now that I've written about 14,000 words of it, I've revised the major plot points twice in that journal and once in my head. Yeah, the novel I end up with will look very little like the novel I had outlined.

So, probably a NOP, at least until next time.


I just don't sleep anymore, so I write said...

I'm the whale.

I sneak onto your computer late at night and delete your words for the day.

mwa ha ha.


April said...

Im definitely a NOP person. Always have been. I remember when I was first learning how to outline in school, I would still write the paper first and then go back and then write the outline to turn in to the teacher lol.