Monthly Archives: October 2011
After all your preparation, notes, ideas, outlining, research and dreams of NaNoWriMo logos (Anyone? No? Maybe just me then) it all comes down to this one final moment. Yes, dear blog reader, National Novel Writing Month is almost upon us! I can almost hear the collective anxious pause as novelists all around the world sit with fingers poised, ready to unleash our imaginations in 30 days of writing frenzy!
The most common question I’m seeing in forums and Tweets is: “Can I panic yet?”
In short. Nah. Don’t sweat it! Maybe you’ve spent weeks preparing for the writing onslaught, from endless outlines and character bio’s to research and setting up your NaNo Survival Kit. Or perhaps you’re just going to wing it and set those fingers to work translating the stuff trapped in your noggin into wordy goodness.
Whatever floats your boat.
And the statement I see most often is: “I’m not prepared for NaNo.”
You are. And you’re not. No one is. Not really. You can prepare as much as you like but in the end it is your imagination that breathes life into your story and characters. Those lovely sparks of inspiration are what you want to capture. Susan over at Three Cats on a Sofa says it best in her post: Don’t Write What You Know, Write What You Feel.
I have a few last-minute tips to calm your chi and enhance your karma. Or to put it another way: “Take a deep breath, focus, then let the words flow like mountain spring water, clear and true.”
Talk about exciting stuff! This is my first year taking up the NaNo writing challenge and I’m keen to make sure I start out the right way and not churn out 50,000 words of junk. No doubt some will be sheer dross but hopefully there will be some gems to salvage.
The photo to the left shows my first story ideas I jotted down about a month ago. Usually I have no problem cranking out stories, I thrive on short fiction but I have a problem when it comes to longer pieces. Well, maybe not a problem, more of a stamina issue. I start out well, my brain swimming with ideas, plot twists, characters and so on but I tend to lose interest midway through.
I have 2 cracking novels half complete, really cool plots and characters too, but I hit a wall at 50,000 words. The scale of the plot suddenly felt so large I had trouble keeping up the momentum.
Although, having said that I ploughed through my novel, The Range, without a single wall in sight. Not only that but I recently started on a sequel. I guess the subject matter was more appealing and that spark went off and I knew this was the right story for me.
Short and sweet.
When I heard about NaNo I wanted to make sure that spark didn’t fade away after the initial burst. When writing short fiction I start with one line or take inspiration from a photo, like with Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press. I just start writing and see where it goes. I don’t set myself a target. I know it will be short – a few thousand words, so I’m not thinking too far ahead.
By writing short in short bursts it feels easy to finish a story. Maybe that’s why I enjoy writing Arcane Insane, because each one is a short self-contained piece that I write straight into WordPress instead of MS Word.
I figured I’d apply the same principle to my NaNo story, break it down into bite sized chunks. Chapters that if taken away from the whole would be a story on their own. I scribbled lots of plots in my notepad, mostly junk I admit, but a few had the glimmer of a spark waiting to ignite.
I narrowed the list further, filtering out the crap until I had a short list of story ideas. I was tempted to take one of my short stories and turn it into a bigger piece but it felt like cheating and I wanted to start with something fresh. I also had an idea for a story about killer bunny rabbits. Not my finest moment as a writer.
Every Wednesday I’ll be sharing some hints and tips about how to improve your writing. These are basic things I have learned over the years, from writers websites, published authors and constructive feedback from friends, family and online pals.
There is an argument that fiction writing cannot be taught because it comes from talent alone, it is in your nature to be creative. Whilst there is some truth in that, even the most creative person needs to learn how to use their ability and make the best of their craft.
This week: Is story telling in your heart and soul?
This weeks topic is about the essence of story telling. Telling a story is an art from. To some degree you can learn the nuts and bolts of how to arrange a plot or create believable characters, but to tell a story that captivates your audience requires much more than mere mechanics. In my experience the tools every good story-teller uses don’t come from a book, they come from within. The story-teller can dip into their imagination bucket and throw words across a page, creating vivid scenes the reader will want to keep in their memory long after the story has ended.
In days of old.
I remember reading books in primary school where shepherds would guard their flocks in the dead of night and tell tales to one another. They were often accompanied with illustrations, typical ye olde worlde shepherds gathered around a fire or lantern. Beards, long cloaks, stars twinkling in the sky, crooks resting nearby, you get the idea. There was always one set apart from the group, the story-teller. The expressions on the faces of his audience showed how captivated they were by the story-teller.
The story-teller span yarns based around superstition or rumour and there was usually a moral or two behind the story. Whatever the basis of the story, one thing stuck with me, the fact that the story teller was compelled to tell their story.