In addition to the 50,000 word challenge (because that’s just not enough… ?!) I usually set myself an extra challenge for NaNo.
The first year I did it, it was 50,000 words and a complete story, because “OMG I got to 50,000 and my story isn’t nearly half over and I don’t know how I’m going to end it” is not what I consider a novel. This became the base for all future challenges.
Next, I tried an episodic style, with ten fixed-length episodes and alternating POV. After that, I tried an urban fantasy, but ended up with SF + magical elements.
This year, I will attempt, for the first time ever, writing fiction to an outline. This also means I have already chosen my topic instead of waiting for the last week of October to do so…
Anybody else giving themselves an extra challenge?
I’m outlining, too. It’s a novel idea that’s been percolating for some time in my head. I’m not sure if needs more percolating or some “poke it with a stick and see what happens.”
Of course, I realize that if I finish my current novel-in-progress before November, I may end up using a sequel idea as my NaNo instead. We’ll see. I just want to get the 50k words done, this year.
Character sheets, though, I never do. Those are recipes for disaster, for me. Maybe 'cause my characters tend to pop into my head before I know their situations, and then I use that to figure out my world and plot. (My NaNoWriMo MCs last year had started in my head as a sci-fi couple. I decided I liked them better in a fantasy setting, because then I don’t have to mess with all that FTL and cosmology mess. Fantasy worlds are easier to build than sci-fi ones, for me–I guess because I know enough science to figure out what wouldn’t work, but I know too little to figure out what would.
That doesn’t mean my characters don’t have favorite foods and colors and such. Those just pop up as pertinent. Details like appearance and height are usually variable until I figure out more about the character. Especially when I realize that I’ve given my brunette narrator a blonde wise friend. Again.
I don’t have very detailed sheets, or even sheets to begin with. Mostly jotted down ideas about a character. In general I have them so I know who is in the story to begin with. New characters show up randomly too
For me it works very well to have a little file with my first impression of the character. Sometimes I go into detail about how they look, often I don’t. I also use them during writing to write down things I want to have come back, or make sure I don’t forgot.
It helps to prevent suddenly turning my redhead in a brunette, in matter of minutes without a hairdresser nearby.
I looked at those character interview thingies that go from the colour of hair to favourite ice-cream to childhood nightmares to what exact colour and brand car they drive (I don’t drive, have no license, so generally, I don’t even mention they drive, I just let that ‘happen’), and they freak me out. As if you know all that straight away…
If I know that somewhere along the line my characters limp will come up, I’ll be sure to put it in my notes before I start, because that helps to remind me to at least hint at the limp before it becomes A Thing. I think I start out with a sort of ‘first impression’, written down. And my first impressions aren’t always right, so I’ll add and change when needed.
It starts out relatively small but during the story grows (like the character itself), sometimes into a huge pile…
The linking feature also comes in handy for these. Whenever I think of something that my character needs to do / has done (which I will have written in my notes), I’ll link that sentence or keyword to the written scene, so I can easily find it again. I especially do this when I don’t feel too sure about the written scene yet and want to easily go back, or to simply refer to it easily.
I like to keep stuff open too, but I don’t want to waste my time re-inventing the characters looks all the time, unless it matters