Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NaNo Notes Edition 1

Hints from "No Plot, No Problem":
The founder of NaNoWriMo wrote a really fabulous book called "No Plot? No Problem!" that is packed full of useful hints and hilarious anecdotes. I know my Swiss counterparts will probably be unable to find or order the book in time, so I plan to include a few choice tidbits in this blog throughout the month. (Note to Chris Baty: I promise to donate to the NaNo site in exchange for haphazardly shortening and sharing your wisdom!)
  • Focus on "low expectations, high yield" with your writing - remember this is about completion more than genius
  • Stock up on snacks and rewards. Go through your music and set aside some good "novelling" music. I plan to treat myself to new I-tunes every 10000 words or so.
  • Find a writing area you like and are comfortable in, isolate yourself there (with snacks and caffeine of course) for a set amount of time, when you are finished, be sure to clean the area up so it is ready for your next visit.
  • Pick up a new notebook, preferably pocket-sized, and a new "favorite pen." Keep these on you at all times for jotting down ideas as they hit you and tidbits of conversation you overhear. Make note of interesting things you see that could be included.
  • Make two lists in your new notebook: one of things you LOVE in books (mine would be things like quirky characters, lots of descriptions, all things food-related and modern takes on mythology) and one of things you HATE in books (some of mine would be historical romance, most chick lit, cheesy horror and excessive bad language). Reference these lists frequently throughout the month, including as many things as you can from the LOVE list and trying to avoid the items on the HATE list.
  • Don't stress out too much about having a plot before NaNo starts. As Chris Baty put it in the book, "As intimidating as it seems, plot is simply the movement of your characters through time and over the course of your book. Which means that by having characters in your book, you're guaranteed to have a plot."
  • Choose a point-of-view to write your novel from: is it first person, narrated by your main character ("I-based") or is it third-person, giving a bird's eye view of the entire story ("he-or-she-based").

"How I plan to deal with writer's block and pad my word count":
Not sure what a character should do next? Check their horoscope. This works really well with multiple characters and gives you an excuse to add drama and tension. Wikipedia is a great place to go for random topics to include as well. If you're really stuck, go for a walk and observe the other people around you. Watch people on the bus and in the grocery. Go find some public place and just sit and watch until something good hits you. Go back a couple thousand words and try to fill in some backstory. Go to Epicurious.com and find a bizarre new recipe; "feed" it to your characters and describe their reaction. Don't forget to fill in info about where they ate the dish and why and how they got there, etc. Go to Flickr.com and look at random photos until something inspires you. For more ideas, check out all the tools available on iGoogle. (More on iGoogle near the end of this post)

Other Tools:
Question list of help flesh out your characters
How to Write a Novel Badly (ha ha!) My plan is every time I get stuck, I reference this list and try to add something from it. My goal for my novel this year is "deliriously wretched"

iGoogle is the Best Around:
Have you checked out and configured your iGoogle homepage yet? It's full of a huge number of really helpful tools... and plenty of ways to waste time as well. I created a tab called "Writing" and found several great tools, including a writer's idea bank that is so funny.


Kasia said...

Thanks for all those hints! Surely inspiring and helpful! Peter can tell you that I indeed have a notebook and pen always in my bag and on many occasions he cought me writing in the most weird places. Anyhow, my novel is slowly growing, not only in my head but as well in my notes. Thanks again for hints! But I am affraid that that novel possessed me already... it must be haunted >:[

AciDemon said...

nice one!
thanks for sharing.
some of the points you mentioned, i already had in my mind, some are new good hints to me.

i was about to ask you about this book anyway, so thanks for this blog post. :) do you think it's a good help for your novel?

btw: i added the writers idea bank too. haha, it's funny, but a little silly too. :) but who knows, maybe it will be THE good plot for a scene in my novel. :)

ps: the flickr link doesn't work properly. (in case you want to fix it)

Miz K said...

Thanks for the feedback already! Acidemon, I think the book "No Plot No Problem" is really helpful and a really really funny read: if you can find it, I highly recommend it. The Flickr link is now fixed as well (whoops!). Kasia, should I send you a novel-exorcist? ;-)

AciDemon said...

i'll wait until end of november. if i still like the whole thing, i will order the book, so that i will be even more prepared for next year. :)

ladylinoleum said...

Okay, I signed up. I'm getting started!