The NaNo Beginneth

I know I’m a little late to the posting game, but what can I say, I’ve been busy. And part of that has been busy writing away. If the first day is any indication, I don’t think I’ll have trouble reaching 50,000 words in one month. Of course, I don’t necessarily have a complete plot either, so if I reach the end of what I’ve got and haven’t connected the dots trouble may then ensue.

Until then, I’m enjoying it.

It’s really, really hard not to go back and edit what I’ve written. I’ve been considering adding comments to the side of the document of things I need to fix later. I think that can satisfy the internal editor enough to keep it at bay.

But I’ve already made my goal for the day and I’ve still got some good juice left in me, so I’m going to keep going. I’ve noticed the little widget I have on the blog seems to update instantly, so it’s been fun to update my progress and know it’s being displayed. It’s a real sense of accomplishment. Hopefully all this motivation will hold through the 30th.

I have one chapter finished, and I’m thinking I’ll excerpt a little bit from this for WIPpet Wednesdays. Of course, it may be that I’m being too ambitious. We’ll see.

How are all you NaNoers doing? What are you doing reading? Go write, write, write! Let’s dominate this November!

 

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The NaNo Cometh

NaNo begins this week. Okay future participants, now is your cue to start freaking out.

Am I ready for NaNo? -ish. The outline is coming along and I’m solving plot point problems, but let’s face it. I need to get some serious plotting done if I want to be ready for Friday. I guess because it’s the end of the week that seems far enough away. Plus I’m trying to get some other goals accomplished before NaNo consumes everything.

But there’s something I’ve learned in prepping for NaNo, and that’s trust your creative brain. I worried a little about connecting some dots, but I kept that conundrum on the back burner and moved forward and things are starting to work out. I don’t know what it is about the blank page before me that makes me wonder if this is the one. You know, the time where you’ve finally run out of ideas. Where you won’t actually be able to pull a story off. End of the universe kind of stuff.

I think for us creative types, that’s just not going to happen, at least not permanently. Especially if you’re feeding your creativity constantly. (That’s where reading and watching and consuming other forms of media comes in handy. Blogging especially can spark creativity in unexpected ways).

So my small words of advice as NaNo approaches, is to prepare in your own best way, then trust your creativity. Let your muse run amok, send your editor on a cruise, and write. And if you reach November 1st and you’re a plotter and things aren’t quite there yet, don’t worry. Trust yourself. And trust that this is a first draft anyway. Let it be a land free of criticism and full of discovery. Just write. And enjoy it.

Are you ready for NaNo? Still doing last minute prep or waiting for that 12:00 a.m. November 1st moment? If you’re not doing NaNo, what will you be up to this November?

Prepping for NaNo: Character Bios

A fellow blogger asked me for tips on writing character descriptions, since we’re both prepping for NaNo. I think they’re a great thing to do whether or not you’re involved in NaNo and it’s never too late to write one. Sometimes they’ll give you insights, even if you’re in editing mode. I’m sure everyone has their own definition of character bios, but here’s what I do with mine.

CHARACTER BIOS ARE

I don’t know what it is about first drafts, but they seem to summon the info dumps from the furthest recesses of our minds. The bonus about writing character bios? You can info dump all you want, and you SHOULD. Get that info out. Your brain will want it written down somewhere and your readers will thank you for not having it be the first insanely long paragraph of your first chapter.

So delve into that backstory. What makes your main character them? What do they fear? Motivations? Goals? What’s the best thing that can happen to them? The worst? How are they at the beginning of the story? How will they change by the end? What are some things that could happen that would create that change? Why are they the best person for this role in your story? Will they doubt themselves? Why? What’s their relationship to their family? Friends? The antagonist? Give them a reason for everything they do. They may not realize it themselves. In fact, the best characters often have hidden motives—things they don’t even realize about themselves.

You may not uncover it before you write the story, but that is what’s fabulous about a character bio. You can keep adding to it. However if you’re doing the NaNo, as much detail you can put in now will help guide you as your character comes to decisions. Yes, even you pantsers. And remember, none of this is in stone. You may decide to change motivations later on. And that’s okay. (Just remember to change prior motivations in scenes to match).

Do this for your main, secondaries, and certainly the villain. Anyone of importance will need a bio.

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Connect the Dots, La-la-la-la-la!

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In preparation for the NaNo I’m outlining among other things for Shade 2. I have to ask myself questions like WHY? HOW COME? WHAT FOR? And so on.

I have a major plot point I want to get to and from their out it’s fairly plotted. But all the before that, I’m trying to forge some kind of sense out of it. After all…

In storytelling, logic is retroactive.
-Robert McKee, Story

But even if it is retroactive, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. And I’m not complaining… mostly… but was just curious to know any techniques any of you have out there when you’re throwing together your story. I know some of you pantsers will say, “Ba! Outline shmoutline. Just write!” And oh, I intend to. But surely even ye pansters have a few ideas about connecting dots in the heat of the moment.

WHAT I AM DOING

When I feel like something isn’t working, I stop and ask myself what the motivation of the characters is. Heroes, villains and secondaries alike. Sometimes I’ve found it really helps if you know what the villain is after, because then you can balance it with how the hero would react if they knew or when they know, etc.

I’m constantly asking myself: what is to be gained in this scene? And sometimes I write out in margins the arc I want a character to take. Perhaps they start off really good, but then tread toward the dark side which prepares them for the climax of choosing good or evil. Stuff like that.

And sometimes I pretend I’ve killed my darlings and left them in the dumpster across the street. If I CANNOT ABSOLUTELY use the plot line I just came up with, what’s Plan B. Sometimes this will show me Plan A was really the best plan and to stop doubting myself. And sometimes this shows me new pathways to try that turn out better. And more often than not Plan A and B get morphed into Plan C because I like elements from both.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

Sometimes plot flows like I’m tuned into some cosmic writing spectrum flowing through the universe and I can hardly keep up with the ideas spilling out of me. And other times I’m forced to take the time to connect some dots. But many a writer’s conference has taught me when you come to those places where you’re struggling, when the dots aren’t so easy to find, that’s often when you’re on the cusp of something fantastic.

I’ve found that to be true in my case many times. So I’m thinking, thinking, and thinking some more. (Is there really any other way to get things done?)

But I still want to know, so if you’ve got ideas, spill them now.

What do you do when you have difficult plot dots to connect? Any techniques you use or have heard of that you recommend?