October 31, 2008

Gearing Up For NaNoWriMo 2008

This post is mostly about how I came up with my idea for this year's NANO. Warning: It could bore you to tears. :)

NaNoWriMo 2008 I've been on break from school for two weeks now. During this brief intermission, I've worked on world and character building for a novel I'll write during NANO this year.

I'm starting with a book idea I actually began writing several years ago. When I found the file folder and opened it up, I realized that I wrote a lot more than I'd remembered back then. (I actually opened it up with intentions of finishing this idea, and using a different idea for my NANO novel.)

I was excited about finishing this book, but after I read through what I'd written, something wasn't quite right. The characters seemed shallow. The story itself lacked oomph. When I dug deeper into my chapter-by-chapter synopsis and read the full chapters already written, I was able to put my finger on the problems fairly quick:

  1. No character depth
  2. Lack of conflict
  3. Characters goals and motivation seriously deficient
  4. Weak plot line

These were the major issues I noticed during my initial read-through. I decided this story needs to be told, but it needed some major adjustments. I've learned a lot in the last few years, much of which I didn't know anything about back then, which explains the substandard story premise and flat characters.

Step 1: Give the character(s) something to fight for.

The first thing I did was sit down and rewrite a new Goal, Motivation, and Conflict chart for the heroine. This was a very exciting stage for me because once this step was complete, I could see just how far I've grown. It was especially fun to see this character come to life through deeper conflict and goals. Very exciting!

Step 2: Build their world.

The next step was to create a world around the characters. I have to know their town, the people in it, the businesses. It's important to have a grip on simple things like road structure and complex things like interpersonal dynamics among citizens. Some writers prefer to just build the world in their heads instead of writing about it. But I've had a lot of fun writing about it and sketching out a map by hand.

Step 3: Stock up on lots of coffee.

Now that I have the basics laid out, I'm just waiting for the official buzzer for 2008 NANO to begin. I have a simple outline and a basic idea of where my story will begin. Today I'll let the idea simmer on the back burner. I might even possibly come up with an extra surprise to throw into the story. I have a nice supply of coffee on hand. I have a word count goal of 2,500 per day (figured on a 5-day writing week, instead of 7, to allow some flexibility). I'm as ready as I'll ever be!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If you'd like, leave a comment and share your profile URL with us!