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I am writing a pirate story for NaNoWriMo this year, because I’ve been promising to write this one for years. Because it’s been years, I’ve got a fair amount of information collected about this story, which means this will either be the easiest novel I’ve ever gotten to write, or the hardest. Still, it’s time. This one needs to be put down on paper.

The original idea is probably about a decade old now, stemming from my listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack one too many times in a row. (And yes, the original plot may have sounded something like the movie, but that was just a first draft.) A few years after that, when I started fleshing the idea out, I asked some friends for help coming up with characters for my eccentric pirate crew. And a few years after that, a friend asked me to tell her about one of my story ideas, and since that one was the most complete I told her, and ever since then she’s been on me to write it.

The problem with taking ten years to start writing a story is that all the little notes I have made over the years are scattered to the four corners of my computer, and stashed away in at least two different writing journals. (I’m just grateful that the world is one I’ve used before, so the notes on that are already consolidated.) On one hand, it was like a little treasure hunt scanning through all those old pieces of writing. On the other hand, it took a very long time. I’m not entirely sure I found it all, either.

The summaries are a lost cause. I’ve written four of them that I’ve been able to find, and while they should give me a few pointers as to the story, I won’t be able to follow any one of them. One involves kidnapping, one involves artifacts, one misspells the names of the characters, and one is only a paragraph long. They’re more like guidelines anyway.

The real gems are the character files. All the quirky personalities and odd little details are there, and even if I only use half it will be well worth the effort of figuring out exactly where I put those papers. It was a heady reminder of why we always, always save old writing. You never know when it’ll come in handy.

Now it’s time to get to actual writing work, of outlining, of sifting through those summaries and figuring out what exactly I meant to do and if I even still want to write the story that way. I’ve got a pretty good platform to start from, so I’m looking forward to seeing if it’ll hold up going through November. There are character files to sift through and rework, and people like Arzin Sannis and Chester Finn to find a place for (even if it’s the bilges of discarded characters). And I’ve got to prep my NaNoWriMo soundtrack. I’d ask for ideas, but it seems like a return to the roots of this story is warranted. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl is a great soundtrack. (And with all these outlines, there’s no way my story will come out a carbon copy of the movie.)

How about you? I’d love to hear what other writers are doing to prep for the month of November, and what kind of prep work is being done.

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