Hi writers! It was a busy first week of October for me. I posted my second NYC Midnight Flash Fiction entry on the contest forum and have had fun responding to feedback from other participants and reading their entries. I signed up for a noveling conference next month and have been trying to read at least one novel from each of the authors who will be presenting there. And I’m gearing up for an intense 48 hours this weekend as the NYC Midnight short screenplay contest kicks off.
And then there is NaNo prep! I’m loosely working my way through two texts this month in preparation for National Novel Writing Month in November: Lisa Cron’s Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel and the workbook Ready, Set, Novel. So far, the two dovetail nicely. Chapter 3 of Story Genius is called “The What If?” (see last month’s posts for summaries of chapters 1 and 2, which lay out Cron’s story-writing philosophy) and Chapter One of Ready, Set, Novel is called “Storming Your Brain.” Both challenge you to tease out from that nagging little kernel of a story idea you’ve been carrying around a bunch of potential novels. This is always the nerve-wracking part for me; committing to one idea when there are so many others floating around. What if I choose the wrong one and wind up hating it in November?
But that isn’t really how it works. I’ve gone into NaNoWriMo as both a serious plotter and a pantser (NaNo speak for someone who does no planning and simply sits down on Day 1 to write by the seat of his or her pants) and I can tell you I have never regretted a moment of planning. You are not rigidly stuck with your outline, notes, doodles, random thoughts, character sketches, or other NaNo prep work. You will still be surprised by the directions your writing takes during the month. But a little planning significantly cuts down on the amount of time you will stare off into space (or at a blank notebook page or blinking cursor), wracking your brain for what to say next.
This week I’m diving into Chapters 4, 5, and 6 of Story Genius, titled “The Who?”, “The Why?”, and “The Worldview,” and Chapter 2 of Ready, Set, Novel, titled “Creating Your Characters.”
Not into these books? Here are some other NaNo Prep resources you might be interested in:
- The folks at NaNoWriMo have a whole workbook full of exercises to get you thinking about your novel that they use with their high school student participants.
- They are also offering a few webcasts this month, including one this Thursday, October 11, on NaNo Prep, and one on October 15, focused on how to find time to write every day.
- And you can check out the new weekly podcast Write-Minded, by NaNoWriMo executive director Grant Thornton and Brooke Warner of She Writes.
- Are you a checklist person? Check out this one by Deborah O’Carroll.
Happy prepping writers!