Ive been thinking about how to best spend my time while waiting to hear back from agents and publishers regarding my recent submissions of my YA novel. Time ticks by so s-l-o-w-l-y while waiting for responses from these mysterious and slow-moving entities. So instead of staring at the clock and checking my emails fifty times a day, Ive decided to throw myself into a new project. After all, NaNoWriMo starts in less than three weeks and I have a killer story (literally, a story about a killer) in my head. Sadly, my next book contains no horses, but I will have some horse-related news to report very soon. (Fingers crossed!)
Ive signed up for NaNoWriMo, starting November 1st. For those of you who dont know, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a novel in thirty days during the month of November. I participated last year and, although I fell short of my goal to write 50,000 words in thirty days, I ended up with the bulk of what eventually turned out to be my YA novel.
This year, Im going into the challenge more prepared. First, Ive been using the templates from Mary Buckham and Dianna Loves BREAK INTO FICTION: 11 STEPS TO BUILDING A STORY THAT SELLS, to familiarize myself with my characters, their motivations, and key twist points in the plot. The worksheets include such subjects as Powerful Characters Template, Powerful Openings Template, and Conflict Template. Each template contains 8-10 questions that force aspiring authors to think about (and write down) major characteristics, motivations, settings, conflict, and internal/external changes that will make up the overall story. For anyone just beginning to think about writing their next commercial fiction novel, this book is a great place to start.
Second, Im utilizing some exercises I learned at VCFA Day in Ann Arbor to really get to know my characters before I start writing. During the conference, speaker Coe Booth reiterated several times that character is the beginning, middle, and end of a successful story. Here are some questions she suggested answering when creating believable characters:
1. What is the characters earliest memory?
2. Does the character have any irrational fears?
3. What is the characters biggest fear? How does that drive him/her?
4. What sadness does the character carry with him/her?
5. Where are YOU, the author, in this story? The author needs to look within herself to incorporate emotion and feeling into her writing. For example, this is what anger does to my body: _________.
6. What were the three biggest defining moments in this characters life?
Remember, all of this information does not need to appear in the book. These are exercises meant to help the author get to know his/her characters better and to know how they would react in different situations.
Finally, Im developing my To Read list to include books similar to the one Im writing, as well as books on craft. The next book on my list is Donald Maas THE BREAKOUT NOVELIST: CRAFT AND STRATEGIES FOR CAREER FICTION WRITERS. I recently signed up to attend to the Write On the Red Cedar winter writing retreat in Lansing, MI on January 16-17, where veteran agent Donald Mass will conduct one of his highly sought-after writing seminars. I cant believe Im going! Woo-hoo! Im sure Ill have plenty of material for my blog on January 18th.
Check back on November 1st when Ill be kicking off my NaNoWriMo and updating my progress on my blog as I go.
Are you participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge? What are you doing to prepare?