October tends to be the month of preparation for me when it comes to National Novel Writing Month. However, I never go into too much depth when I plot. Mostly because all I need is the main idea of the plot since the finer details of how the plot is implemented depends on the characters and where they are.
To prepare, I outline a summary of the basic plot ideas, then I go into the character building and setting building exercises. I consider those to be more important in the sense that if those are clear in my mind, the character motivations that may influence the plot will surface. It gives me a certain amount of freedom to manipulate the plot so that it serves the character motivations and reactions, thus avoiding me being in that uncomfortable position of writing myself into a corner, where I have to backtrack to avoid writing a duex machina or throwing a character to the death/dogs in order to save the plot from self-destructing. Both are very contrived ways of dealing with plot issues, so I’d rather just backtrack and go back to my character exercises, where I let the characters speak for themselves. Often the best solutions for times when I’m stuck comes from those exercises with my characters. Besides the story is about them and their issues. The finer details of the plot of their stories are very flexible to fit who these characters are, and the main core issue — usually summable in one sentence — never fully changes even though how it’s implemented in the tale may.
That’s how I approach NaNoWriMo. This way I can focus on just getting to the end no matter what. I can repair any major plot holes later, and if I do get stuck during November, I have a battle plan for how to pass through it and come out the victor. This is the basics of my planning.
It’s a great way for me to jump-start my daily writing again. Plus it’s just plain fun to try for fifty thousand words in a month.