Well, first of course, you need a story to write. Or a shred of a story, or a character to center everything around, or just some kick off point.
Where Did I Get The Idea For My Novel?
Despite how November has snuck up on me, I've been waiting for this NaNoWriMo for months now. Back in February of this year, the idea for my NaNo novel came to me. I was in the gym, suffering through a HIIT routine that was seriously kicking my ass and becoming frustrated with how much my body had betrayed me. I use to take pride in having complete control over my body, willing it to do this move or run that long. Why did I let this happen? My gym overlooks a busy city street and facing the windows I could see my sad reflection staring back at me spotted with headlights and storefront signs. I wanted to give up, and then Vengenance by Zack Hempsey began playing. And the slow-building epic track, oozing with the spirit of redemption and bloodshed, pushed me through the rest of my workout and into a story idea.
Niles popped into my head almost immediately. In all his bad-assery, armed to the gills and effortlessly killing this workout beside me, he pushed me forward. We worked in silence and his character began to take shape between one pushup and the next, one belabored breath and another. My head spun with rumors told by locals of this fantasma of death, shrouded in darkness and reeking of destruction. At that moment, I knew this story was set in a fantasy world, and as much as the idea of writing fantasy scared the shit out of me, it also spurred so much excitement. Shortly after, Cassia rushed into my thoughts, this deep-skinned siren whirling through my head like an angel of death, just as cunning and stealthy as her brother but with a charisma that made her far more lethal. And then the world just began to unfold from the there and the story knit itself together in the confines of my Notes app. I refused to begin actually writing it though. Susan Dennard's newsletter (which really is a diamond in disguise, I swear) said to be wary of the "shiny, new idea" while drafting, and she was right. I couldn't allow this new story to halt my progress with Omission. So I refrained from writing it, jotting down full scenes and quick one-liners in my phone for safe keeping.
How To Prep For NaNoWriMo
That should probably read more like "how I prep for NaNoWriMo", because let's be real: I've only participated (and won!) NaNo once, I'm no expert. Preparation of this NaNo novel, temporarily titled "Letters of Love and Treachery", is much more overwhelming than expected, proving that dreaming about the thing is a lot more fun that actually doing the thing. I really love reading fantasy, but I'm feeling a bit out of my element, getting bogged down by the pressure of writing an epic and action-packed fantasy novel. All that said there isn't much to my prepping currently. But nevertheless, I will share my scattered plans.
Get a grasp on the atmosphere and feel of your story. Pin any and everything that inspires you.
Since I imagined this story first in terms of characters, getting to know them seemed like the least daunting task so that's where I began. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words, meaning I can write so many words just by drawing from an image. As I'm already so in love with Niles and Cassia and their relationship, I started pinning photos that reminded me of them. Then I branched into pinning settings and elements and scenes and well... after only fifteen minutes, I already feel like I see the story much better.
Creating a "soundtrack" for your story makes writing much smoother and sets the tone for the novel.
I've had my playlist set for months now, but I'm always adding songs to it. I've generally stuck to slow, haunting type tracks with a little bit of Kanye thrown in there, because, ummm Kanye? As to where you should host it, Spotify is a great place and it's where I make mine, but 8tracks is also an awesome tool to make and find inspired-playlists.
Keeping a story bible binder (or digital folder) not only helps develop your outline, but it can also be a resource for obscure details while you write.
Last year, I dedicated an entire post to my story bible (How I create my story bible) and how I had the foundation of it all set before NaNoWriMo. Omission was conceived as a story line first, the characters developed after, so it was easy to create an outline. Letters of Love and Treachery is different. I have an idea as to an opening scene and a few plot points, but otherwise, it's all just this storm cloud of ideas in my head. I have created a very loose outline for the story, which I will add to and flesh out as I go, but it seems like majorly pants-ing is probably a good strategy for a novel dependent on imagination. Here are a few articles that have helped me with my outline:
- Fiction University: Plotting A Novel
- Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet
- Kristin Van Hoose's Amazing Compilation of NaNo Prep Materials
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how are you planning for it? And add me as a friend, why don't ya?!
Have you seen my twitter recently? If so, you'd know the exciting news (well, exciting for me) that I'm now a blogger for Huffington Post and was published for the first time on Friday! Imagine me with wide eyes and a stupid grin on my face and that's pretty much what I looked like this weekend. For someone, who's always lived to write, it's nice to feel like I'm working towards writing for a living :) I'd love you forever if you checked it out <3