The month of November is going to be busy for me. As I stated in an earlier post, I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month, an event whereby people from around the globe make an attempt to write a novel with a minimum of 50,000 words in 30 days.
The rules are minimal. You commence writing on November 1st, and feed your novel into a word-count tool at the end of the month to determine whether you were successful. The emphasis is on completing a rough draft within the time limit, not on creating a polished, edited, finished novel.
Advance preparation of an outline, research, and character sketches are allowed, so that's how I'm occupying my time prior to the November 1st starting date. My own approach is to use my chapter outline to determine where I start writing on any given day. If I'm stuck on one chapter, I'll start on another and come back to my sticking point later.
After the contest is over I'll spend another two months editing and polishing, so my actual time spent on getting the novel ready for publication will be three months.
It is a science fiction murder mystery. It will be set on an artificial planet on the edge of the asteroid belt. It's somewhat formulaic (drawing from common features of both sci-fi and mystery), but then again anything I hammer out in 30 days, and 50,000 words, would have to have a tightly limited number of subplots and a simple main narrative.
As part of my research I've been reading two books.
The first is The Writer's Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe by George Ochoa and Jeffrey Osier. The book is a guide to avoiding bad science in constructing the setting and technology for sci-fi stories and novels. Written science fiction is speculative, so skirting the edges of plausibility is allowable to some extent. But I'm going to try to keep the details of the story as believable and scientifically realistic as possible.
The second book I've been reading is Writing Mysteries, edited by Sue Grafton. It's a series of article on the craft of mystery writing, by Sara Paretsky, Tony Hillerman, and a number of other writers.
My plan is to work on the research, outline, and character sketches up to October 31st, then hit the ground running with the novel itself starting on the first day of November.