Outage is born

When I started the Nanowrimo challenge in November of 2013, I had no idea I'd eventually end up with a book.  In fact, I wasn't even going to join the challenge because I hadn't done any research or planning.  I didn't think I had a story to tell.

But on November 1st I emailed a friend and told her I wanted to do it (accountability), and then I sat down in front of a blank Word doc and started a brainstorming session with myself.  I made a list of books that I admire and that I wished to emulate.  Then I made a list of what kind of story I wanted to tell (fairy tale or mystery, romance or sci-fi, etc).

I decided to write a book that I would want to read.  I've always loved post-apocalyptic fiction, and I read far more YA than anything else, so it was an easy decision to combine the two.  I decided to write about a solar flare that caused an EMP and what happened because of it.

Next I needed a setting.  I'd had a dream a few weeks earlier - one of those dreams that feels like you're watching a movie.  I told a friend that it would make a good zombie book, and he found a little corner of Washington that he thought would be a good place to start the story.  I figured I could use that for Outage, so now I had my setting.

Last I needed some characters.  I vague knew what I wanted:  

  • A troubled teen girl
  • A wise mentor
  • A love interest
  • A good friend 
  • A dog

I started writing.  I wrote 10,000 words before my research uncovered that a solar flare wouldn't do nearly the kind of damage I wanted.  Not enough to end of the world.  So I had to set aside a lot of those original words and try again.  Those were dark days because cutting so much really put me behind on my word count, and word count is everything in the NaNoWriMo challenge.  I almost quit.  (This was before I found out I shouldn't be editing, and I could count all of the words I wrote, even if I had to cut some later.)

I think the biggest reason I kept writing was that even I didn't know what was going to happen next.  I had a basic outline I will share in a later post, but it mainly said stuff like "plot twist" and "climax begins."  I was so motivated to write because I wanted to find out what my characters would do next!

Once I reached 15,000 words I knew I was going to finish the novel.  I would later run into more trouble, but by then I knew I needed to find out what happened to everyone.  I'd gotten to know the characters and they demanded I tell their story!