Getting ready to tackle the 2013 NaNoWriMo Challenge? So am I. I wrote my first 50,000+ word novel last year. I was shocked, but thrilled at my own success. I had so much fun I’m doing it again.
Here is a list of ideas I wrote for myself in February. I hope it will also help you. Please share a link to this page if you know someone else who could use a little help.
Whatever you can do in advance to get a better idea who and what you will be writing about will be very helpful to you when you begin writing your novel.
1. Make a list of things you know a good deal about. Your list might consist of any of these or more:
- cleaning house
- sewing / knitting / crocheting / crafts
- family history / genealogy
- reading, writing
- teaching, learning
- raising animals – what kind?
- working on cars, boats, furnaces, pools
- tornadoes / earthquakes / storms / tsunamis
- murder investigation techniques
- making __________
- using __________
- finding __________
- motorcycling, bicycling, walking
- driving a truck, train, plane, trolly, bus, race car…
- photography, videography
- illnesses, vitamins, medicines, medical procedures, etc.
- wars / military / peacemaking
The ideas above will help you form story lines (sub-plots) you can use in your novels.
2. Make a list of things you want to know more about. Use ideas from the list above or others you can think of. These will be the things you want to study about before it is time to write your novel, so you can easily use them.
3. Make a list of ideas the main story line in your book might be about…
- the adventures of a neighborhood gang
- a couple of buddies who accidentally fall into unsolved mysteries
- a photographer who falls in love
- the life of an animal in the zoo
- a journal of someone’s travels
- life of a drug dealer
- a Christian who is looking for love
- a singer who makes it big and dives hard
- someone who wants to start their own business
- a series of murders in a circus company
4. Make a list of the main characters your story will be about. Give each person:
- color of hair
- color of eyes
- body type
- health – frequent issues, super-healthy, occasional issues, cancer, etc.
- personal history – neglected, spoiled, bullied, the bully, etc.
- results of personal history – needy, easily intimidated, pushy, etc.
- things they love
- things they hate
- habits – bites fingernails, leaves everything unlocked, etc.
5. Determine some other items, locations and other detailed info you will need for your main characters –
- car details
- neighborhood type – safe, dangerous,
- everyone knows everyone, nobody knows their neighbors,
- houses on a block, an apt. bldg., farms in the country
- job or school background
- favorite places to go
6. Make a list of your supporting cast.
- brothers and sisters
- partners – spouses, live-ins, same sex, opposite sex, etc.
- best friend(s)
- someone they have to see often – banker, store clerk, pawn shop owner, etc.
- Who are the good guys?
- Who are the bad guys?
If any of these people need a little more detail about who they are, what they do, etc., go ahead and make a list for them, too.
Basically, you want to get to know your main characters and begin to think of things that might happen in your story line. You will need a main plot — the overall problem and solution the book will be about, and many sub-plots — the smaller challenges or “chapters” that daily life offers us all, once in a while. Lists #1, #2 and #3 will help you design and organize those plots.
When you actually start writing, some of the things you have already decided will change. Don’t let this bother you, but be sure to make the changes in your notes, so you will still have a good reference when your book is almost finished and you need to refer to the info, again. Also, keep a copy of your notes on paper or on a thumb drive as well as on your computer. If your computer crashes, you want to have a backup copy.
Now that you’ve got your story background designed, let your mind wander along the story line you would like to follow until it is time to write. Feel free to make guideline notes (about what will happen when) to keep your story on track when you write it.
You will only need to write about 1,667 words per day to finish your novel in time. If you start doing some daily writing now, you will be conditioned to working in a specific time and place and your family will be used to accommodating your needs. By writing something almost every day, you should have little problem meeting your daily quota during the challenge month.
Don’t know what to write about on a daily basis until it is time to write your novel? Start a journal and write about how your day went. Or, write a fictional story every day. I try to write a factual journal entry most days and a fictional journal entry most days. I sometimes miss a whole week at a time, but I write as often as I can.
Keep yourself focused on private time when you write. No Facebook, no texting, no phone calls or company.
Here is a good place for more NaNoWriMo suggestions: Nano Prep: The NaNo Jar