I made it! I won NaNoWriMo 2016! (Cue mental and creative collapse)
There’s actually still about 30,000 words of story left to go, if my estimate is correct (which it usually isn’t so it’ll probably be longer). What has surprised me most over the course of writing this story is how much the themes changed in my head. I hadn’t realized it, but after reading the blog post found here it made it clear that the central idea of the story had migrated slightly.
There’s still a certain aspect of swashbuckling and ocean flavor, but the focus of the story has changed. Also there’s a lot more Indiana Jones dungeon crawl type story than there was originally, and way less romance. Part of the change is because I started going through a how-to-outline blog series written by K.M. Weiland (eighth post in the series found here).
To sum up, it teaches to focus on the character’s core dilemma and shape the plot around their goals and desires. Knowing what drives a character and therefore what would challenge them the most is about the best way to make a powerful story. The problem is that, as the observant might have noticed, part six of this series was posted after November and my novel had started, so the outline kind of came after some of the book. (There’s actually one more post to the series, as well, to be posted 11/28.)
Going through questions and determining the core of my story and what drives my characters has changed and refined the focus from a rather scattered plot to something honed in more closely on a particular driving problem. So Piratical Nonsense isn’t so much a pirate story as it is a story about a young woman frightened by her abilities and attempting to protect her family and friends in spite of that fear, going up against an enemy who has embraced similar abilities.
The great part about this is that it’s not traditional outlining so much as it is understanding the driving idea behind a book before starting to write. I love it, and I’ll likely use it again and again. I’d love to hear what sort of process other people use to get their first drafts in gear!