October is NaNoWriMo Prep Time

nanowrimo2016Hey all! Things are going pretty well. I’m making great progress on Opus Crescendo and can’t wait to start work on Opus Requiem again. I’m also working hard on the visual novel project, the outlines for serialized novels, and the long, ongoing fanfiction. I am a busy writer! But I enjoy being a busy writer, so it’s all good.

The title says it all for this post. October is NaNoWriMo prep time. But what all goes into NaNoWriMo prep, right? Everyone has their own preparation rituals, everyone goes about prep in different ways.

deciding on a project

This is the big one. Deciding which project you want to work on during the month of November. For some people, they already have a lot of ideas that they could choose from (I often fall into this camp). For others, they have no idea what they want to work on (I’ve fallen into this category as well). There are a few things to keep in mind with what you’re choosing.

First, is this a project that is going to require a lot of research? I’m not saying that research is a bad thing – on the contrary, research is a writer’s best friend. However, I am saying that having to drop everything and research in the middle of a writing sprint is not exactly the most productive thing in the world. Solution? Research before November starts. At least as much as you can!

How much time do you have to dedicate to preparation? This seems like a silly one, right? But you want to make sure you’ll have the right amount of time to get things ready for the month. You know, develop characters, figure out how potential magic systems work or how sciences work, social structures, plot, etc, etc, etc. How does this relate to deciding on a project? Well. Some genres take more research than others. If you’re setting a story in a modern but slightly magical setting, you’ll possibly have to do less research than you will if you’re making a brand new world with a complicated magic system with various religions.

And most importantly – what seems fun/interesting? You want your project to interest you! Otherwise you’re going to get to the middle of the month and your momentum might die off and you’ll just go ‘meh’. Sometimes it’s more about working on something that catches your interest and makes you excited rather than the project you should be working on.

character development time

Characters. Characters can make or break a story. A slightly weak story with excellent characters might be beloved just because of those characters. A strong story with weak characters? I’m not as sure about. I spend a good amount of time developing my characters beforehand, but not as much as some.

I like to give my characters a little ‘breathing room’, as it were. Room to develop, room to surprise me. As such, I usually have a basic personality and a basic appearance.

ExampleThere are many aspects to Cia’s personality and it all depends on who she’s in front of. There is an innocent, sweet act that is often put on when she’s trying to win people over. She is jealous and violent. Her truest personality is that of an unsure, almost frightened young woman. She’s far more fragile than she’d ever let on, even to those who are close to her. While she is caring and loyal to those she has befriended, though it takes time to get to that point.

Cia is a small, waifish young woman. She is 20 years old and 5’2”, though she looks younger than her actual age. She looks like the type that could blow away in the wind. Her build is more girlish than womanly which only emphasizes how young she looks. Her eyes are a bold, clear malachite, with just as much variegation  as the actual stone. Her hair is silvery blonde, pin straight, and is worn quite long, almost to the top of her hipbones. Her face is delicately built, though her eyes are rather large. She dresses in longer skirts, longer dresses. She likes pastels.

Despite only writing down that much, I usually have better ideas on their family life, motivations, etc. If I’m struggling with figuring everything out for a character, I start going through character development memes. Here are a few that seem interesting: Uncommon Character Development Questions, Talk About…, and Take Your Characters out to Lunch. The last one links to even more development exercises! This one is less about character development and more about NaNoWriMo in general: 30 Day NaNoWriMo Meme. Yes, I’m aware it should be done IN November, but I’m using it as prep.

get a support network together

This seems a bit extreme, right? Writing is often a very solitary act and taking on the task of writing 50,000 words in a month can seem daunting. But you know what makes it easier? Having writing buddies. The NaNoWriMo website has this built in – you can befriend people and chatter with them about the challenges of writing. I’ve never had much luck on the website, but I know many people have had luck. There’s a rather large Facebook group, if you’d prefer to keep your social media in one place. There’s also a ton of people participating in NaNoWriMo on tumblr. Go check out the tag and you’ll already find a lot of people!

Write the Stars is still in the process of getting active – but a few members who want to chat about writing would really change that! After all, I can’t exactly get discussions going myself. Write the Stars is general writing – but there will be NaNoWriMo related threads! Come check us out.

Well, before this becomes a novel…

Happy writing!
~LL

crossposted on my Patreon

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