November is a way off yet, but I have an idea for National Novel Writing Month. Actually, I had the teeniest grain of an idea, I tossed it out at Hubby, and he handed me a fantastic idea to play with. I'm a big fan of outlining the story before you start. Not that unexpected things won't come up, but I want the broad brushstrokes in place before I get going, who goes where, what big picture stuff needs to happen and so on.
Characters names are important to me. Not necessarily what they are, but that the reader can tell them apart. I read one (really badly written) story where the three main characters all had names starting with K or C, all pronounced with the hard C as in "cat". It was hard to keep them separate, and the author actually mixed two of them up for a couple of chapters. I have a chart with all the letters of the alphabet, and they can only be used once. A character called Bob Smith knocks out both the B and the S. I've been accused of using odd characters names in my novels like Galen, Kerensa, and Albion, so I'm making an effort to use more normal ones.
Another tool is casting people to play the characters. This one was Hubby's idea and I like it a lot. I've cast my good guy (Simon Pegg), a neutral character (Jason Statham), my Big Bad Guy (Vin Diesel), and a bureaucrat (John de Lancie) so far. It helps to have a real face to pin the character on.
November 2009 starts on a Sunday, with five Sundays and four Saturdays to play with. The St Louis NaNo writers have several local Saturday write-ins (Hubby and I hang out with the St Charles crowd) and a central write-in on Sunday, a couple of hours each day with friends to punch out as many words as possible. Writing in company is either very productive, or very distracting. It depends on who you're sitting next to, whether your laptop has internet signal, and for me, whether I have a clear picture of the scenes I want to write. Last year I finished the novel at a the Crooked Tree coffee house with the St Charles crew. My Mac tends not to get internet access there which can be a good thing. If you need a picture of a Eurasian lynx to describe in the story, it's a bad thing.
I have four and a half months to pull this plan into shape. This could be my most organised NaNoWriMo ever!