The Big Picture; or, Pondering the Story Arc

(Day 5 of Post-A-Day Challenge)

Okay, since one of the purposes of participating in the Post-A-Day Challenge is to get me ready for NaNoWriMo, I should probably talk about that at some point, shouldn’t I?

So if you’re new around here, or have somehow missed all of my past ramblings about it, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, takes place every year in November.  The challenge is to write a novel of 50,000 words in one month.  Which means writing 1,667 words per day, every day, for the entire month.

The idea is that with a goal and deadline in sight, participants will focus on getting the writing done, and not on micro-editing or second-guessing themselves to the point where the story never gets written.

I’ve participated four times previously (2006, and 2008-2010), and “won” the challenge all four times.  My current editing project, the first book in the Winterbourne series, was my 2009 entry.  Last year, I wrote Book 2 in the series, and this year, I’m hoping to complete Book 3.  (There are currently four books scheduled in the series.)

But my story arc is going to need a little work this time out.  Because what I’m really writing this year is the second half of Book 2.  Halfway through last November (or maybe even later than that), I decided that there was far too much plot to Book 2 for it all to fit into one book.  So I ended that book at what seemed to be a logical ending point, and left the rest of the story for this year.

Except that what’s left really has kind of a weak story arc, and I need to figure out how to make it meatier without adding 100,000 words to the manuscript (and necessitating the splitting of the second half of Book 2 into two parts, which would just be silly).

In this book, Celia Winterbourne is headed to the Boston Institute of Science and Technology (now known as MIT) for the spring term, as part of an exchange program with the Royal Academy of Science in Oxford.  Along with her are two of her three sisters…and two stowaways.  Unbenownst to her, also on his way to Boston is her former fiancee and now enemy Tarmanian agent, Nicholas Fletcher.

One of Celia’s goals is to persuade the Americans’ Institute not to send teachers to the newly-founded Tarmanian Institute of Science.  And of course, one of Nicholas’ goals is to recruit teachers for the new college, of which he is to be the first Chancellor.

I know that in the process, the debate will grow to be over much more than teachers, growing to become a contest for each side to gain the support of the American government as well.  Both sides of the war between the British and the Tarmanians are in desperate need of resources.

I know how the story needs to end.  It’s a scene I’ve been imagining since I was about halfway through the first book.  I’ve been laying little clues to it as I went.  I hope the payoff ends up being as satisfying as I’ve imagined it.

But the problem is, how to build up to that final, climactic scene?  How do I keep the story interesting and the reader invested until it’s time for that fatal shot to be fired?

I suppose, in true NaNoWriMo tradition, I’ll make it up as I go along.

Anybody else taking part in NaNoWriMo?  Got plot?

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About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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