About NaNoWriMo – Cohesive Story

I’ve said before that NaNo is about first drafts. Do not ever shoot off your work created within the month of November to an agent, publisher, or attempt to self publish. It isn’t ready. There is hope, if done well and carefully, you can produce a quality first draft that isn’t riddled with so many flaws even Edward Nigma wouldn’t want to go near it. The key is knowing what you are going to write. What is the story that you want to tell?

What follows may throw a wrench into a pansters plans, but should be reassuring for a plotter.

A cohesive plot will make a story come together. There are many moving pieces, but without a plot, they mean nothing. Thus a strong understanding of what your story is actually makes what you are writing more impactful. For a plotter this means that you likely have this down. But it may not. Just because you have a string of events does not mean that your story is solid. Just because the events lead into each other, doesn’t mean you have a story. You have a story when your string of events bring your character through some sort of emotional journey.

Many people like to judge a story by the idea that a character must go through some sort of transformation. This means that the world they once knew was upended and returned to a new resting state. The world could be identical or different, but it is stable. The emotional state and knowledge of the main character has since changed and nothing can be the same for that character due to the events of the story.

I don’t completely agree with that. While I do think it is necessary that the main character must change, I don’t believe that change is a permenant reflection. In fact, I believe that the state a character is thrown into is just another state they need to work through. Just because the story you told for a character is over, doesn’t mean their story is necessarily over. Unless you kill them of course. A character still has more to give, if they are still alive. This is why I don’t think a story needs to destroy a character.

Understanding your story, is not reserved for plotters. A panster can also recognize the story they want to write before words are set on paper. Events, twists, and turns are not necessary to know when you discover the plot. One simply needs to acknowledge the heart of the story. The feeling or short tale that a reader will remember when the immediate words before their eyes have faded into forgotten memories. While there is nothing wrong with simply writing what comes to mind as it unfolds is a viable option, writers must know that this method requires more backend work if the story was not realized before writing began.

I plot to keep my story on track. As I plot, I detail major events in a chapter only. By placing the events together and in line, I am able to clarify my story and when I write that story remains at the forefront of my mind. The plot drives my story. While there would be no story with out the plot, every event is there to service the story, not just to be there. That is how I discover my stories, but everyone has a different process. I think we can all agree that the story is the end game.

How do you deal with making your story cohesive?

Check back later today for my NaNoWriMo excerpt post.

One thought on “About NaNoWriMo – Cohesive Story

  1. Pingback: Roundup November 2013 | So, I pondered...

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