Posts Tagged ‘NaNoWriMo’

Many writers are very organized people, and they are called plottersfractal-1681742_960_720, making their outlines and using bullet points before really setting down to write.

Other writers use their intuition to guide them. They are called pantsers because they “fly by the seat of the pants.”

Then there are those of us who do a little of both, one way or another.

The funny thing about my NaNoWriMo project is I have the whole thing planned out in as close to an outline as I can get, but I’m not able to tell the story.

Why?

For me, outlines are very bad.

I didn’t intend to “plan” the story. I wrote down my idea  so that I wouldn’t forget while I was working on Book Two of my trilogy. This has tricked my brain into thinking that I’ve already written this story and now I’m struggling to actually write the story.

Instead, as I try to push through and find the words, I end up researching. I’ve spent hours
reading up on Mesopotamian history and culture, and I’ve learned some amazing things. My story doesn’t take place in Mesopotamia, but a place inspired by it. All of this research is great, but it’s putting a damper on my actual writing time. I already don’t have much time to write to begin with considering I work 40 hours a week, have a family, write a blog, and of course get caught up in the random distractions we all have.

Another reason I think I’m struggling is because I’m trying not to edit. That’s a “writer rule,” and one that I don’t follow at all. I edit while I write. By the time my first draft is done, every chapter has been edited for content at least once. NaNo rules say “No Editing!” but that’s like telling me “No breathing!” My mind is gasping for air as I try to create the new without fixing the old.

The point of NaNo is to build a writing community and to teach young (or new) writers how to be disciplined and finish something. I’ve never participated before. I have finished things I’ve started – stories, articles, and novels, – doing things my way.

While I struggle with my NaNoWriMo project, my chaotic mind still needs to write something. I’ve been working on part eight of The Hunted. I also started a short story for a contest, because of course I did. The project I thought I would be working on is simmering quietly, taking shape, but also fighting me. With my chaotic mind, I could suddenly find the right thought and it will send me flying through the narrative.

At least you can all expect another episode of The Hunted next week.

Thank you for reading. If you have anything to add, please feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

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This week I started up my National Novel Writing Month project on November first. That means spending time in a whole new world with a whole new cast of characters. These characters have been in my head since January, building up some basic background information for me to work with as I get started. Despite that, I’m just getting to know them and learning how they interact with each other.

One of the easiest ways to write a story is to know your characters. Stories consist of two key elements: an event and a character’s reaction to that event. A character’s motivation will dictate their reaction. By allowing your character’s motivations to drive the plot, the story moves forward organically. When stories move organically, they are more believable to the reader.

Motivations are discovered by character development. The character’s role in the story is only the first step of characterization. The antagonist’s role is to create a problem, and the sign-697220_960_720protagonist’s role is to solve that problem. But why? The answer comes from character background, personality, and current events; a complex combination that produces motivation. Side characters also have motivations, and they are created in the same way. They can either help or hinder the protagonist, but either way, those reactions need to make sense based on the narrative of their characterization.

I already knew who was playing which role before I began writing. I knew the backgrounds for my protagonist and antagonist. I knew the background of the primary side characters. I knew the activating events. Now that I’m putting the characters on paper, they begin to develop their personalities.

What I’ve learned in my first week is that my protagonist is not only intelligent and willing to ask questions, but is also playful and caring. It will be interesting to see her grow and change over the course of 50,000 words knowing what is happening around her. I’ve also learned that the antagonist is much colder than I expected, even when he’s attempting to hide his true nature.

Another type of motivation comes from character relationships. When two characters connect, it builds emotional investment for the reader. The more a character resembles a real person, the more a reader will connect with them. Real people have friends, family, or lovers that they connect with, and so should your characters.

It also gives the characters deeper levels of motivation; it may cause them to act when they would otherwise be still. Producing driving forces through the people they care about is another organic way to drive a story forward.

What I’ve discovered this week is that my protagonist is quite close to her younger sister. Not only does it give her motivation to act, it also adds to her personality. By allowing the reader to witness this relationship, they are given another reason to care about what happens in the first few chapters.

So remember:

  1. Organic motivations make it easier to move a story forward
  2. Motivations are created through personality, character background, and relationships with other characters

As of today, I have 4,950 words on my NaNoWriMo project, which puts me a little behind but I’m worried about it. I’ll catch up.

Thank you for reading. If you have anything to add please feel free to leave a comment.

 

That’s right, you’re hearing it here first (unless you follow me on Twitter.) I’ve signed up for National Novel Writing Month for the first time every. (Hurray!)

Because this is a writing contest and technically Book Three has been written before (it’s just very dismembered and in need of much repair,) I will not be working on it for NaNoWriMo. Instead, I’m going to be taking on an entirely new project that has been simmering for some months.

As you may know, I’m a “plantser.” I don’t really plot and I don’t really fly by the skin of my teeth, but I do a bit of both. This is a rare instance where I’ve actually a pre-written synopsis of the story. It’s not an outline, but it is. Sort of. A disorganized organization type of outline, my favorite. I don’t do that very often, or ever, so that was a sign that this project needs to get off the ground.

 

blank-page

It all starts with a blank page.

 

What is this project, you ask? It’s a fantasy with hints of mystery and horror. Set in a non-Western inspired  civilization, it has a loose comparison to 1001 Arabian Knights with a female protagonist relying on her wits to get her through unexpected situations. Unlike Sharaezade, however; my protagonist will be up against forces she doesn’t fully understand.

What does this mean for my other projects such as Book Three and The Hunted? Well, The Hunted will continue to get updated through November, perhaps once or twice. I’ll be starting on Book Three once NaNoWriMo is over, so December or January. My goal is to have it out by the end of 2017, as that will be the 20 year anniversary of its inception.

If you’re also participating in NaNoWriMo you can find me as RR Willica (shocking, I know!) I’ll be leaving updates on the blog with my progress.

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment.