So, it’s Sunday and NaNoWriMo starts on Friday and you are not ready! Don’t worry! Here are some tips that I picked up last year that will hopefully help.
1. Where and How?
Where are you going to write? At your bedroom desk? The library? Local coffee shop? Neil Gaiman’s gazebo? (yes, I heard he has a gazebo in the woods and if I ever get the resources I will have a gazebo on a beach, because how awesome!)
Pick a spot where you can focus. A place that you can comfortably spend a few hours every day for a month without wanting to pull your hair out.
And how are you going to compose your story? Long hand? Word document? Scrivener? This is extremely important. I wrote my first 4 drafts of my current manuscript in Word, but a friend recommended Scrivener and I am using it for my rewrites and I LOVE it. You can go full screen, organize your manuscript by acts, scenes, etc. And when you’re done, Scrivener will do all the work to make sure that your finished work is formatted to industry standards.
2. Write a Synopsis
Could be a sentence or it can be a page, but make sure you know what your story is about. This includes genre, main character and what it is that they want/need to achieve. This is your log line, your “elevator pitch,” something to get your idea on paper. Don’t get bogged down in details or specifics. Just the basics. What is your story about?
3. What’s Do You Hope Happens?
On my computer and iphone you will find notes about all the things I want to happen in my book. I’m writing an Urban Horror Supernatural tale. Which is a genre that i just created, because it will be part urban fantasy and part supernatural horror. My notes read, “cabin in the woods with graves,” “girl covered in blood,” “do you know what your name is?”
You’re probably like, huh? But, I know what these notes mean and this week I will spend some time compiling my notes into a check list. These are scenes, events and dialogue that I want in my book.
Do the same. Write your self a dream list of all the cool scenes and actions you would love to include. Don’t worry, it’s not written in stone. It’s just ideas of things that will hopefully fit.
4. Is Your story “All is Lost?” Starring Robert Redford?
All is Lost is a film about Robert Redford getting stuck at sea. He is the only character in the movie. Is this your story?
Probably not. At this point you probably know who your main character is. Maybe not everything, but an idea. Before Friday, it will be a very good idea to start to flush out your characters. Who is the villain? Why do they hate your protagonist? Whose the love interest? Why is their mother bugging them now? Get an idea of your team. You are going to be in their heads for at least four weeks. Get to know them a little, before jumping into bed with them!
After figuring out what’s going to happen and who it’s going to happen to…double check that there is some conflict. One of the worst things to happen to me was when an Emmy award nominated professor turned to me and said “I almost worried that you didn’t understand conflict. Nothing happens in your script.”
Make sure your characters butt heads. How do your characters connect? What is the major problem? What are the smaller disputes, feuds and contentions? Conflict is the most important aspect of storytelling. If your character’s back is never up against the wall, what is the point of us reading about them?
6. Where Is This Taking Place?
The Streets of Paris? The Mountains of Ireland? The deserts of Abu Dhabi? Time to figure this out and do some research. A 16 year old New Yorker is a lot different from a young Irish lad. The way they speak and dress, what they eat, etc will all be different.