Been quite a few minutes since I've blogged about anything other than Fiction Features. To say I'm in a rut would be a gross understatement. Lots going on to keep writers down nowadays.
One of the biggest and scariest months is upon us. The face of many worlds rests on the actions of millions.
You think I'm talking about election day? Hell no!
This. Is. NaNoWriMo!
For you non-writers (aka smart people) this is National Novel Writing Month. Foolish people, such as myself, try to write 50,000 words in four short weeks. If you reach the goal, you've "won" NaNo, which unlocks a lot of cool swag and promos for self-publishing your manuscript.
It's one of the most fast-paced, stressful, and downright awesome things I've participated in. My first Nano was in 2012, when I was fresh out of college and hopeful about my budding writing career. Though the term "writing career" still makes me laugh, I did meet a lot of cool writers in my area and started a winning streak that I'm proud to boast about today.
But, alas, I must confess I found myself vastly unmotivated to do ol' NaNo this year. I guess it's kind of like participating in the holidays when your heart's just not in it. Sure, you'll go through the motions, pretend to enjoy some festivities (or stress your brains out over getting 50k written down...such good fun, I promise!) but it won't be the same.
Oh, how wrong I was.
See, this is also the first year where I had no plans of what I'd be writing. Usually, I'll continue my Lucid series (which, the final book is in progress...though on the backburner for the time being) but I was so wrapped up in life's distractions I hadn't mapped out a plan.
Now I have this little short story that's turning into a novella. It's exciting and scary to have an unplanned world spring into your mind, but I'm enjoying every minute of it.
One of the characters is quite charming.
Here's what I've learned about writing an unplanned story.
Start off small:
My premise started with a little girl in a creepy house. I didn't know if the house was going to be haunted, deserted, or even a figment of her imagination. All I knew was that I needed to get her to that house. So, I pictured myself as an 8 year-old little girl. A bit of my early childhood sparked the beginning, and that's all I needed to get the ball rolling. Those tiny details in the first chapter of your novel are important, because they're the first things your reader will encounter. Make them intriguing as well as sensible. It's always great to start with a compelling first bit, but you'll have to fill in enough blanks to keep the reader informed of how your characters got into that mess.
Set a word count goal:
This is mostly important for NaNoWriMo, as we gotta get 50,000 in before November 30th. I treat writing sort of like a workout. Sometimes I feel too tired to do anything, but I remind myself that it's important to me. If I want to be a better writer, I have to actually, you know, write. Same with working out. I won't look like Lara Croft by thinking about her, will I? Gotta put those thoughts into actions --or words in this writing case. The word count goal will be especially helpful for an unplanned story. Going in without an outline, or really any idea at all if you're like me, will lead to some dead ends. Setting a word count will not only ensure you stay on your Nano track, but it'll also help you navigate through the murkier parts of your story.
Make the goal attainable, as well. Don't shoot for 10k a day. That's crazy talk. A good 2,000 goal is just fine and will ensure a Nano victory!
Be open minded:
Remember, this is an unplanned story. It chose you! Sure, you're thinking up the characters, but something bigger than your consciousness conjured up this idea. Listen to that other part of your brain as your fingers fly through the words. Maybe you didn't want your character to fall in love with an older woman, but here he is mooning over the widow down the street. Have him take her out on a date and see how it goes! GILFs need love too, yo!
Now there's a tagline that'll get you some attention!
But really, we writers know that our stories already have minds of their own. Be more open-minded with your unplanned novel. You didn't really have expectations for it, because you didn't think it'd exist! The world is its oyster; be sure to explore all avenues!
And that's my little NaNo rant to distract me from doomsday. For all you writers, keep on writing! And for everyone else, keep readin' and dreamin'!
**ANYONE IN THE NEW ORLEANS/SE LA AREA!**
I'll be a guest author at Bad Wolf Bar & Grill's Barcon on December 3rd! I'll have bookmarks, posters, and other Lucid goodies to hand out! Be sure to dress as your favorite comic book, sci-fi, fantasy, or anime character and I'll see you there!
I'll be posting a blog about it soon, but for more info check out the Facebook event: (copy and paste into your browser)