HERE COMES NOVEMBER
All that’s left of October is the costumes and candy. Which means we are into November. For some it’s Movember and moustaches. For writers, it’s NaNoWriMo. Yup that’s a writerly term. It means National Novel Writing Month.
Hundreds of writers sign up with the goal of getting a first draft done in one month. A noble goal … especially if you have a decent product in the end. It isn’t enough to get 50,000 words on paper. It needs to be 50,000 words of a sensible story. That means there has to be some preplanning. I am not one to say only ONE method of preplanning works. But for me, I need:
1. A solid concept
I like Dwight Swain’s method in Techniques of a Selling Writer for this part. He lists the story elements as:
Then he says to put these five elements into two sentences.
Sentence 1. A statement containing situation, character and objective.
Sentence 2. A question containing opponent and disaster. This sentence is so framed it can be answered with a yes or no.
2. Interesting, sympathetic, motivated characters.
My favorite chart for this is found in another book–Alice Orr’s No More Rejections.
3. A plot structure.
There are probably as many of these as there are writers… Aristotle’s incline, The Hero’s Journey, etc. My favorite and the one I use all the time is the W plot. I learned about this in a workshop taught by Karen Doctor.
4. Some Idea of Scenes
Again, there are so many ways of developing this. And noone can tell you how many you need to start. I often have only a vague idea of most of the scenes–allowing them to develop as I get the characters acting and reacting and emoting. Other writers, like my writing buddy, Carolyne Aarsen, likes to have a lot more of them figured out. Her favorite way of developing them is using a beat sheet from Save the Cat by Blake Snyder.
One of my favorite blogs is written by Larry Brooks. During October he has given a hint a day to help people prepare. He uses the term beat sheet in a slightly different way than Blake Snyder, but it’s every bit as helpful.
The question you’re all dying to ask (I know you are)… Am I going to do NaNoWriMo and write a book in a month. No, I’m not. For several reasons.
1. First, I don’t have a story ready to write and am knee deep in edits and revisions.
2. I write this way with every story. Once I have it figured out, I vomit it on to the page. It’s like the whole story is sitting in my brain and I must get it out before I lose any part of it or forget my plans for the plot. I took a course years ago (I’m not confessing how many) on writing a book in a week. I believe it was by April Khilstrom
http://www.sff.net/people/april.kihlstrom/biaw.htm If so, I was likely one of her first students. By the time I’d completed her course, I was convinced this was the way to work. No doubt it fit my OCD tendencies.
Read what another writing partner of mine says about the process at Debora D’Alessio’s blog How Writer’s Write (right click on link)
I guess the point is we don’t need to wait for the perfect time and place, the exact details, or the muse to move us. In fact, here’s a picture from Facebook that is right on.
Just do it.
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