I woke up this morning. Had coffee. Walked around. Yep, still a published-author-to-be. I have this surreal sort of hangover, and it’s wonderful. However, now I’m editing like a madwoman and that poses a problem – less time to plan for NaNo. Try combining a. editing at a furious pace in order to submit by October 18th. b. Trying to finish your senior-year subjects for school so you can take November off and b. trying to create an entire novel during October so you can write it in November.
It’s a glorious whirlwind. NaNo has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it – you look forward to it all year, and then just as you start to forget about it – BOOM.
“Is it November already?”
So while I’m juggling all of these (not to mention art commissions, and planning what to get everyone for Christmas on a limited budget, and…) I’m trying to figure out exactly what’s going to happen in Unforget. It’s not enough to have a scene here and a scene there – unlike what Chris Baty says, no plot IS a problem. (Or maybe I’m just challenged.)
You all know my notebook strategy – buying one notebook (thick; mine has three sections and two pocket folders, and a pretty blue cover) and using that as my ‘NaNo’ notebook. I fill it with pictures, quotes, scenes, snippets, and any random inspiration that falls into my lap. It’s very useful, and I’ve used up a good deal of mine already.
Here are some other steps I take.
1. Plot out as much as possible. Major twists, turning points – the skeleton of the story. You can flesh it out to your satisfaction, but having at least some idea of the overall structure is important.
2. Know what your characters look like, what their personalities are, that sort of thing. You don’t want to dive headfirst into NaNo and realize you barely have a passing acquaintance with them.
3. Create a playlist for your novel. Personally, I write much better with music. I have an iTunes playlist for every one of my novels – Monster, Acceso, Unforget – and it proves mood-making and inspiring. My Monster playlist was fairly short; thirty-three songs total. My Unforget playlist is longer with 100 songs (and I have more to add!). Put it on endless loop and there you go.
4. Find models for your characters. It’s a trick I’ve used for years now. Because I’m me and I have problems – I mean, quirks – mine are usually Asian since I’ll find someone who inspires a character and then nobody else will do. I still don’t have a model for Moon – she’s tricky. Caucasian, with white hair – it ain’t easy to find someone like that, but Mom helped me look for pictures the other day and I’m deciding.
5. Pray about it. It’s important to pray about a novel before you begin it, to start you on the right track – and keep praying, so you don’t get off! Writing a novel is hard, and you don’t want all that effort to go to something with no value.
6. Don’t be afraid to do something creative and different. A lot of people are afraid to write what they really feel like they should. There are serious issues that often aren’t addressed because people don’t want to offend others, or they think they may be judged, or they think the issue is too touchy to – well, touch. I’ve decided I’m going to be the sort of writer who writes about serious issues and themes without bothering if it’s going to step on other people’s toes. (Now, I’m not advocating ‘In-your-FACE’ writing. I AM, however, stating that if God puts something on our hearts to write, then we should regardless).
7. Read a lot of how-to articles and books but follow no one completely. It can be very helpful to absorb as much advice and as many ideas as possible, but don’t let what you read rob you of your originality. Even published authors can be wrong.
8. BE EXCITED! Gather NaNo buddies, people who you can exchange your daily quota with, spazz about characters and plots with, and bounce ideas off of.
There you have a short list (though reading it, it probably didn’t seem so short) of things I do to prep for NaNo. It’s by no means complete, and there will be more.
There will be more.
INSERT FUNNY STORY: So my older brother has, for the longest time, called the Korean artists I listen to ‘Japanese.” Every time, a brief scuffle during which I was like “KOREAN! THEY’RE KOREAN THEY AREN’T JAPANESE!” and he protested “THEY SOUND THE SAME!” would ensue. Today he came downstairs while I was writing and listening to Gackt. He pauses, listens, and says, “Oh, Taylor (fiancée) was wondering if you still listen to Korean music.” I said, “This is Japanese.” You really had to be here.