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.