I mentioned in my most recent metablog that I’m getting ready for NaNoWriMo, which starts in just a few days. I never realized it before, but there is a pretty big community of writers who are participating. Several of my friends, my blogger/Twitter buddies, and even a few of my coworkers are planning to participate. The closer November gets, the more excited I am about it!
With only a few days to go, here are some of the things I’m doing to get ready:
- Making my Magna Cartas. If you’ve read Chris Baty’s book No Plot? No Problem!, then you know what I’m talking about here. The first Magna Carta is the list of things that, in your opinion, make a good book. These can be anything from point-of-view and writing style items to specific aspects of the settings or characters. The second Magna Carta is the reverse of the first: things that make for a bad book. I’m going to write my Magna Cartas and keep them handy. In my writing effort, I discovered how easy it is to stray from Magna Carta One into Magna Carta Two, so I’m going to try not to do that as much this time.
- Make some interesting main characters. One of my big epiphanies this week was that my hero needed a sex change. After a painless operation, he is now a she. Also, while people-watching today, I saw a little girl walking briskly across the street at a busy intersection, swinging her arms with determination and purpose. I think one of my important characters is going to be modeled after her. Likewise, I’m thinking of some of my favorite (and least favorite) people that I know so I can make interesting characters who act like they do.
- Decide on plot devices and points of conflict. Nobody wants to read a story where the characters have it easy and don’t have to face dilemmas or make sacrifices. I have a synopsis in mind and an overall ending in mind, but the story is all about the journey to the ending. What challenges will my heroine face? She’s not the only one who should face challenges, either. In real life everyone struggles, and the world in your story should be no different. Even the villains should have to face some sort of challenge.
- Flesh out the setting. This time around, my setting is a fantasy world of my own design. I’ve been creating strange animals, alien cultures, and new languages. If you’re using a real-world setting, it might help to read up on your setting in Wikipedia or study up on things you are interested in including but don’t know much about. I have recently read a lot of articles about falconry, psychokinesis, and martial arts.
- Get on the NaNoWriMo forums. A few weeks ago, I made my account on the NaNoWriMo website and found my regional forum. It turns out that several other people who live near me are playing, too. My Camp NaNoWriMo summer sessions were mostly a solitary thing. It turns out that the main NaNoWriMo site has a ton of forums, though, and you can exchange ideas, borrow characters and plots, or get advice on how to live the novel-in-a-month lifestyle.
- Form a support group. I have now met twice with my fellow writers at a local coffee shop to talk about what we’re going to write about, share writing resources, and exchange ideas. It has been excellent motivation, and it’s also been cool to meet other people who are interested in doing the same thing. We’re planning to meet at least once a week to have write-ins, play writing games, socialize, and do wordsprints together.
These are just a few things that I’m doing. I’m also prepping myself for the change in lifestyle. I will be stocking my fridge with quick, simple meals for my family, clearing out a good workspace, and finding appropriate music playlists. (I prefer writing in silence, but music is necessary when trying to drown out the pitter-patter of little feet.)
For my friends and readers who are also planning to participate, what are you doing for NaNoWriMo prep? Leave a comment!