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Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Around the Corner

Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. Even though I have a few things planned, I realized that I might have made a mistake. My new job takes a lot of time to travel and exhaustion is more than an issue than I had initially thought. Saying this, I will still try to do my best in the following month. My overall goal count might decrease by 10,000 words or perhaps 20,000 words, but I’m not backing out.

The past few posts have been about developing ideas for April. Now that Camp NaNoWriMo is around the corner, it’s best to sit back and take a breather. By this point, a writing schedule should have been put in place. If not a writing schedule, perhaps an idea of between what times you’re going to start writing. There are some things that we’ll have to give up, but I’m willing to cut down some time from other activities to write.

This weekend is about ironing out the starting details for your story. Even if the middle and end aren’t exactly planned out to the fullest, just having a vague idea or a goal, will make writing easier. The first few days (maybe the first week) of Camp NaNoWriMo are, I believe, fairly easy mostly because these days are about introducing your character and their everyday life. You might want the perfect starter sentence but don’t worry about perfection until later. Focus on writing.

Have pen and paper on hand or perhaps use an app like Evernote or Google Docs on your phone so you can write away from home. Ideas tend to strike when you least expect it. Also, write when you get the chance. You’re waiting for something to heat up? Write. You’re a passenger? Write. Take advantage of the free time you have. Of course, you don’t always have to be writing. Taking breaks is essential. You don’t want exhaust yourself every day.

Personally, I like to write whenever I get the chance. I like to decrease the word count as much as I can before I sit down and actually write.

Overall, test the waters the first few days. If you get to write more than the daily recommended amount, that’s good. It gives you a bit of leeway on other days. Figure out what works for you and go from there.

Just remember, take a deep breath. We got this.

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Backwards to a Goal – Method 2

I’ve been talking about a few methods of how to develope an idea for Camp NaNoWriMo in April. We only have a week left before it truly starts. So, like promised, today I’ll touch upon working backwards to a goal. This specifically is having an ending to a story and working backwards to figure out how you, the writer, is going to get there.

I’ll be the first to say that starting with the end is tricky because more often than not, you don’t have the ending planned from the beginning. Should you not try this method? It depends. Personally, there are times when the ending suddenly comes to me right as I start writing act two. Then, it’s a simple matter of figuring out what scenes are going to lead up to the end.

All of this works specifically if you have the end in mind so this post will address that situation. Act three is important. This is where the characters may or may not have closure, might be a cliff hanger, or neatly wraps up a series. Knowing how it all ends helps the writer focus on the writing and can keep the story concise.

So, the question remains, how do we work backwards for a goal?

A good question to ask is how did the character get there? What did they have to do to be in that moment in time? This queation is meant to get thise gears turning. It works like retracing your steps only it’s not for you. I tend to write the steps in bullet points so its easier to visualize.

Once those bullet point come in mind then it gets simpler. What came before that scene? What about the one before that? And the before that? You see where I’m going with this?

This method can also work even if you didn’t have the ending in mind at the beginning. Maybe you started at the beginning and, as you wrote, the ending solidified. Now, all that is left is to figure out those steps in between. The writing becomes focused with purpose.

Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that scenes and endings don’t always appear so suddenly. A lot of it comes from the writer writing and thinking what’s going to happen next. Keeping thinking, keep imagining what will happen next. Let the gears turn. And as always, have fun and take breaks to prevent from becoming frustrated with the lack of progress or if the execution isn’t as you intended. Take a deep breath and plan on.

Posted in Gamernation News, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Developing that Idea – Method 1

You decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. Awesome. You have an idea of what you’re going to write about. Cool. You’ve mulled it over for some time and you have a a vague story. Yet the question remains, how are you going to get that idea to blossom into 50k words for you? This is where I’ll put my two cents in.

This post will mainly focus on developing the idea for novel writing that can bleed into scripts, novellas, and short stories. To begin, I find it good practice to summarize  your idea into one sentence. I’ll use the following example throughout the post.

A prince must escapes his kingdom to save the world.

It’s not the greatest logline but it will have to do. Now, if this was my idea, the first question I’d ask myself is ‘how?’. How is this going to happen? This is where the three arc structure comes into play.

To summarize, it consists of the beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is where we introduce the character’s normal life before we introduce the big inciting moment. This moment is where the character realizes (somewhat) that their normal life won’t be the same. They are thrust into the new world (act two: the middle). Here they struggle, overcome obstacles, meet the ‘big bad’ that can be an actual enemy, a tough decision, bigger life changing event, etc., before leading up to the end (act three) where they find out the consequences of their decision and we get too see how it all plays out.

How does this look in practice? So in the first arc, I’d introduce the prince and his life. This is where I’ll show the readers his daily life, what he strives for, and what he fears.

A lot of developing the idea process will blend into other areas like character creation, world building, etc. It might seem overwhelming because there’s so much to do, but focus on the idea first. In my humble opinion, I believe that without a well developed idea, the writing can fall through.

So, in my notebook, I’d write down a few qualities of the prince. He’ll be responsible, eager, and stubborn. As mention before, the first arc introduces his world. We find out about the family and all that good stuff.

At some point, he discovers that a family member began a coup so, the youth prince must flee (It’s cliche but, for this purpose, it works). Perhaps during the escape, he learns some information. His aunt must obtain some relic in order to take the throne (or something). So, off the young prince goes with retainers or a bodyguard. That’s act one.

Act two, is the largest part of the story.  This is where the young prince tries to find more information on the relic. Where is it located/ hidden? He’ll probably have to consult with far away people and mystics for that information. During his travels, he has to hide his identity, learn how to survive, and dodge his aunt’s assassins and bounty hunters. All of these are obstacles.

To raise the stakes, the young prince learns that the relic only appears every ten years, on a certain day, under certain stars, and under a tree. That day is technically a week away and no one knows where this relic is. Eventually, they find the location and off they go. A race against time and enemies. You get the picture.

To simplify, what does your character want? How are they going to get it? What can you do to make it more difficult? Or another way. What does you character cherish? What can you do to take that away? Everyone wants something. Start with that and then rock the boat. Make that journey more difficult, think of obstacles.

Say for example you’re in the middle of the story and everything is going smoothly. No. It can’t. Murphy’s Law. Think of what can go wrong and make it happen.

Lastly, you don’t have to have everything planned out right at the beginning. I would suggest starting with the first act of introductions and rocking the boat. This is probably the first five or so chapters in the story. Then, starting thinking about that middle part. How can it get more complicated. Give your character some wins but keep the pressure on. The ending is where you resolve everything.

Ideas may come to mind as you write that are completely different from what you wrote initially. Embrace that. Not everything will go according to plan and that’s okay.

For the next post, I’ll go into starting with the ending and writing backwards. Thanks for reading.

Posted in Methods, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Where to Start?

Now that I’ve decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo (some of you may have too), it’s time to decide where to start. This is where the time to decide what project to work on for the month comes in. My project for April is currently ongoing at the moment and I do have a few chapters written. Camp NaNoWriMo will be used to write 50k words of that story. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have any planning to do.

For those who don’t have a project in mind, I’ll offer some advice. In my humble opinion, I feel that Camp NaNoWriMo is all about writing (I’ve probably already said this before and I’ll continue to say it). It doesn’t really matter what you write, only that you’re writing. We all have a story inside of us and that doesn’t necessarily mean that this story will or should be share with anyone else. Maybe it’s a story you have to write for yourself.

The story can be anything. If you want to try your hand at fan fiction, go ahead. If it’s mystery, or romance, or science fiction then, go for it. It’s not going to be perfect – it never is – but at least you’re going to try and that’s all that matters.

Most of the writers I’ve met keep an idea journal with them. What’s to stop you from choosing an idea from there? However, in case that you can’t seem to choose something, there are tons of story idea generators out there. A quick search online gives you a lot of websites. Choose ones that interests you.

Once you have a story in mind, what I like to do is to keep a separate notebook or folder for this story. This is where I place all my notes so that I don’t loose anything and they’re easy to find. The method of developing the stories and generating ideas differs from person to person. I tend to think (daydream) scenes with my characters or maybe it’s just a phrases but I take note of everything because I might use it later. The scenes I think about don’t always make it into the writing itself but it is a place to start.

Now, what I won’t go into is naming the characters. It must be done. What I will say is that it’s okay for character names to change. For now, especially for Camp NaNoWriMo, use a name and, if later you don’t like it or doesn’t fit well, change it. The name doens’t have to be perfect right off the bat. I literally used “the Vampire Prince” has a name for almost half of my story on wattpad because I finally figured out a name for the Prince. It can be done.

The next “step” is a little tricky. We have to figure out what’s going to happen at the beginning, middle, and end. Planning is probably the second hardest thing, I believe, when writing. Editing is the first hardest then, writing. So, how are we going to plan?

For starters, there isn’t a correct way. It depends on how you write. Do you need a detail plan or do you just mostly wing it and see where that leads you? This is where having scenes in mind can come in handy. If you have a scene, you can figure out how the characters are going to arrive at that point. Maybe that scene is how the story starts. Planning is a lot of brainstorming and trying to fit it all together.

Lastly, if you’re new to Camp NaNoWriMo and/or writing, try both ways. Write down a sequence of events. It doesn’t have to be too in depth. Rough ideas or scenes help too. I find using flashcards for this helps. With the scenes on each flashcard, you can rearrange them how you like without deleting, copy and pasting, or starting over on a document. You don’t have to be a newbie to do this either. When I’m not too sure on which scene should go first, I take out some flashcards and lay them out in front of me.

Overall, find an idea and try brainstorming about it. The idea might change but the more you think about, the more it can help. April isn’t here yet so, you have time. Be flexible in your thinking and planning.

As always, thanks for reading.

Posted in Methods, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Can I really do it and How?

Writing a novel, much less 50,000 words in a month, can be a bit daunting. Every year/ NaNoWriMo month I ask myself I can really do it. I ask if I’m ready to commit to a project and to all those hours of writing. Every time, I ask myself “why not?”. Why don’t I just try? What do I have to loose?

Upon making that decision, I tend to start panicking because it means I have to prepare and block off hours of my time to even write. Then I find that I’m going about it the wrong way. While my goal may be 50k words, someone else might be 30k or 40k. It all depends. There was a time where I knew it was going to be a busy week so, I gave myself a different goal.

Campnanowrimo allows you to change your overall goal for the event. So, if you believe that you can only write 35k words then, it’s possible to track that progress. There’s also the option to have a writing buddy in case you want a partner in crime.

Once you decide you’re really going to do it, the next question is “how?”. How are you going to complete set set goal for NaNoWriMo? The answer depends on the person and commitment. Plus, each project is different. You could write an anthology, biography, poems, etc.

First, it’s important to figure out your end goal. How many words are you going to write in the month? Mine will be 50k words. My project will be to finish up the rest of a novel that I’m working on at the moment. I believe that 50k words should be enough to complete the story. That might change and 50k words may not be enough but, for right now, that’s what I have set. Set a manageable goal.

Next, what will you be using? I don’t plan on using any software. The story is posted on Wattpad and I’l be using their site to work on the story. I won’t be posting every day as I finish my daily goal but there is where I’ll have all the chapters. If I’m ever away from my phone or a computer, I don’t mind using pen and paper to write. I don’t find it a chore to type up what I hand wrote.

Third, while this doesn’t seem like a big deal, I feel like I should mention it. Check out the website for the event. CampNaNoWriMo has a resources and pep talks during the event to help writers. They have a twitter account with word sprints and topic starters last time I checked. Plus, when you input your daily goal, the website helps you track your progress and let’s you know how many words you must write to reach your goal in time.

Lastly, I won’t be going into too much detail on how to actually plan (or not) your project for April. That post is for another day. What I will say is that Camp NaNowriMo is about opportunity. It challenges you. Maybe it’s your first time participating maybe it’s your fifth, but overall, we all together to write and I really think that’s amazing.

Thanks for reading. Until next time.