NaNoWriMo Featured Author of the Week: Alissa Leonard

Hey All! My name is Alissa Leonard. This is only my second year doing NaNo, and this year will be completely different. Well, maybe not completely. Last year I wrote almost 20K in November (which was AMAZING for me), and I’m hoping to do more than 20K this year (yes, that’s pathetic, but I figure ‘more than last time’ is a great goal – while, of course, hoping to reach that elusive 50K by some miracle). I had approximately 10K on the novel before November last year, but I have only the very first scene this year. Well, the first scene and the last scene…it’s the same scene, but cut in half. The rest of the book will flashback four years and follow the story, so really I’ve written the last scene… Or something. That scene is 1,343 words. 🙂

Last year I wrote a YA high/heroic fantasy novel. I actually just finished it in October (the first draft ended up at around 150K). I’m letting it sit this month and jumping into NaNo with a SHINY NEW IDEA, which is not a fantasy novel. That’s kind of odd for me. I typically lean toward fantasy/sci fi, so when this one hit me…well, it was strange that I was so excited about it. I’m actually not sure what I’m going to call it (You Must Really Love Him is my second working title already). I have no idea what kind of novel it would be marketed as (definitely YA, possibly a combination of Literary Fiction and Christian Romance? I’m going to call it Literary Romance, just because I can and no one can call me on it because no one has read it yet).

The idea came to me as I was thinking about my high school experience and wondering what might have happened if I had made different choices than the ones I did (which would, of course, make me a different person). It’s probably as close to autobiographical as I’ll ever get, but it will include so many things I never did or considered. It’s my way of exploring how our choices matter. All of them.

It will explore concepts of faith and relationships and how the choices we make affect everyone around us. My spark was to show a first person POV Christian perspective where the main character’s growth in her understanding of Jesus and the Bible heavily affects the choices she makes and how she interacts with people, and the consequences of those interactions.

I am a discovery writer (pantser, as some people like to call it). That means I don’t have an outline. Some discovery writers are able to do some planning, I am not one of them. I’ve tried. I sit and try to think of what’s going to happen in the scene I’m writing…and nothing. Without my fingers on the keyboard (or sometimes I can brainstorm some with pen and paper) I cannot continue with the story. Perhaps that will change with time? Perhaps I’ll learn tricks or something that will help me overcome that, but it’s not now. I am extremely jealous of all the outliners out there – especially when it comes to NaNo. You see, you can practically WRITE YOUR BOOK before November, I can’t do a thing. Not legally anyway. So, I have a plan. I’m going to sit down in October and brainstorm ideas for scenes. Very general ideas. I’m hoping for general events during high school (dances, parties, birthdays, trips, etc) and things I want to accomplish (two characters discussing a certain topic, this realization, this confession, etc) and hopefully have some sort of framework to hang stuff on come November. Like maybe I can have a discovery writer’s outline somehow. I’m not sure it will work, but I’m going to try it. I would love to be able to do some sort of pre-planning and this book lends itself well to trying this idea out, especially since I am drawing a lot from my own memories. I can sit down and think, “hmmm, what happened to me in high school? How did I respond? How would she respond? How would that change things? For her? For him? etc.” Maybe I can even make it halfway (to 25K) with this approach.

Anyway, I’m super excited about this idea and I can’t wait to begin. I’m on Twitter at @lissajean7 and I have a blog at www.alissaleonard.blogspot.com if you’re interested in checking me out. I write a lot of flash fiction, so you’ll find a lot of that on my blog.

One thought on “NaNoWriMo Featured Author of the Week: Alissa Leonard

  1. Profile photo of Amanda Fanger

    Great post Alissa! I like that term, “discovery writer”. Good luck with NaNo! This is my first year and already on day two I’m beginning to wonder if I have enough ideas to get me through to 50k. But, as the saying goes, “It’s better to finish dead last than not to finish at all, but even not to finish is better than having never started.” Write on!

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