Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Plotting Your NaNovel: The Spinny Thing of Doom

A warning - it involves a pencil, a sausage roll, a pair of scissors, a packet of tasty cinnamon cereal, and a reprehensible abuse of highlighter pens.

Those of you who were here to view my not-so-triumphal return to the blogosphere may be wondering exactly what manner of insanity I was referring to when I listed the world's most eclectic shopping list as the requirements for the act of choosing which idea should receive my unwelcome attention during NaNoWriMo. 

It is now merely two days until the even itself begins, and until the saving grace that was my attendance of my Creative Writing Society meeting last week, I would still not have a clue what I was doing. As it was, they were kind enough to gift me with the three words that would make up the criteria for this year's NaNovel: Western, railway, enigma.

Thus far, I have two protagonists (read: rough outlines with names), a rather nebulously outlined setting, and something that might just be a plot if I shake it hard enough. The only thing I do have that knows what it's about is the antagonist. And as usual, I don't know where it came from or how it got here, but I can already sense the impending overindulgence of its charmingly destructive urges.

However, if you are yet among those who have not scribbled out the ingredients for your very own recipe for disaster, help is at hand . . . in the form of the Spinny Thing Of Doom.

The Spinny Thing of Doom was something I came up with over the summer, thinking to use it as a motivational tool to get on with writing that I never actually got around to. Nevertheless, I was far too pleased with the premise to let it escape entirely - so here it is, for your exploitation and enjoyment!

Step 1 - Draw and cut out a Thing. So long as the Thing is Spinny (as specified in the title), the exact number of sides is both irrelevant and up to your own creative impulse.

Step 2 - Cut out and divide your Spinny Thing into zones. The size of these zones can vary depending on how many ideas you are tossing up between, and how much preference you want to show to one idea by letting it dominate half the zones.

Step 3 - Take a break and feast upon a small bowl of your delicius cinnamon cereal.

Step 4 - Commence criminally painful abuse of highlighters to colour the allocated Plots upon your Spinny Thing. Ensure you have a differenct colour pen upon which to mark out the title, themes, and plot bunnies you have for each idea.

Step 4.5 (Optional) - Create more Things, following Steps 1-4, an allocate spaces to random themes, plots, characters, title ideas, or assorted plot bunnies.

Step 5 - Pierce pencil through centre of Spinny Thing, and spin it! Celebrate eventual success of achieving a decent spin by gleefully devouring a sausage roll.

Step 6.1 (Ideal) - Accept the decision of your Spinny Thing(s) and go forth into glorious plotitude!

Step 6.2 (Likely) - Turn up your nose at the outcome of the Spinny Thing, and spin it again. And again. And again. Despair of process, bash face into table, cry a bit, drown sorrows in cinnamon cereal . . . then spin it one last time and resign yourself to the nonsensical outcome.

Step 7 - Put Spinny Thing in a drawer until next use is required. In other words: abandon it to moulder for all eternity.

To all you despairing souls out there, I hope these steps bring you some meaningful shred of comfort against the impending onslaught of doomfulness. 

In the meantime - feel free to come and befriend me in my NaNo bunker. I am aiming for weekly updates throughout the month, at least, alongside other posts designed for the tittilation and amusement of those who are taking the wise path and saving both their time, energy and sanity by foregoing the NaNo challenge this year.

For now, though, I bid thee farewell - I have essays to plan, and errant laundry to hunt.

~ Charley R


  1. If ever I find myself without any idea of where to go next, rest assured, I shall come back and use your Spinny Thingy of Doom. It's definitely an interesting way to do things, and it's better than simply reducing it to two options and flipping a coin. Why ignore the coin when you can ignore the Spinny Thingy of Doom?