National Novel Writing Month. Day 6. I wanted to write down a few things that have really helped me make progress on my book.
(1) STORY OUTLINE
The last time I attempted NaNoWriMo, I followed the “pantser” method (a.k.a. wrote by the seat of my pants). This is the reason I wrote with enthusiasm for 12 days and then struggled. The story took aimless turns and I ended up with 50,000 words of rambling garbage that will never see the light of day.
This is the point of NaNoWriMo. To release your inhibitions and just hit the word count. But this time, I’m using this challenge as a springboard for my series.
Back in August, I outlined my NaNoWriMo story. It’s bare bones, but wow! My writing is way better this time around.
(2) CHARACTER MAPS
Character is king. I’ve heard this mantra for years, but kind of ignored it. My focus has always been on the story.
But what is story without character?
A few weeks ago, I sat down and described each major character. It forced me to really think about the stakes. What does each character want? Why is it important? What is the theme in each scene? I’m amazed at the sub-plots that have emerged from this exercise. There’s a new layer of intrigue that I can add to the story.
(3) WORLD BUILDING
Duh. I’m writing a fantasy novel, so you’d think this would be obvious. But I’ve never actually sat down to think about the details of the world. What is the political system? How does the economy work? What is the currency? How do the beings sustain themselves? What is the topography of the land and how does it drive this story?
Questions, questions, and even more questions. Because the magical world definitely influences the story. I’m kicking myself for not sitting down and doing this homework before.
(4) DESCRIBE THE SCENE
I’ve written before about the evils of perfectionism. It is my greatest nemesis. I still want to write down and have perfect prose flow from my finger tips. Perfect description. Perfect dialogue. Perfect cliff hangers. Perfect tension.
Yeah, that hasn’t happened, so I stopped and tried something different.
I’m describing one scene at a time instead of writing it out like a book. Yeah, I know that goes against what the experts tell you. “Show, Don’t Tell.” Blah, blah, blah.
Well, guess what? I can’t SHOW anything, if I don’t HAVE anything. And right now, TELLING my story is working. So, I’m sticking with it.
BOTTOM LINE TO MYSELF: Don’t take shortcuts. Do your homework. And do what works for you.