Only two weeks left until a big chunk of you decide to write away November and participate in National Novel Writing Month! Don’t know what NaNoWriMo is about? Check out their website.
For the rest that have already signed up, signed on, and been putting away freezer meals for the frantic days of making up work counts, or been creating play lists to get motivated or to write by, today’s exercise is for you. If you have signed up, be sure to home with Snoqualmie Valley region so you get all the goodness from all our fellow writers in the valley. SVW! board members, and long-time NaNo-heads and now regional Municipal Liaisons, Sheri J. Kennedy (Quinnleeeee) & Takako Wright (Tam Borgia), along with myself (aka heroprotagonist), and your other Wrimos will help you get through the month and have something successful to look back on. I personally can tell you I’ve learned something about my writing process each year I’ve done it (going on 8 now). I’m never sorry I did it. Please join us!
On Tuesday, Oct. 22 we’ll be doing more exercises on outlining. But, this is a pre-exercise, if you will.
Set aside 30 minutes for this exercise. Using a timer is encouraged, but not necessary. At the end of it you’ll have a rough outline for your book.
Each one of these steps will last about 3.5 minutes. That leaves you with a little extra on one or two steps, but not much more. The goal is to get what’s in your head out quickly. Don’t mess with it yet. That comes later. Just get it down and go forward to the next step. Stop that inner editor. Just write it down.
Step 1: Brainstorm: What do you want to write about. Concentrate on the first thing that pops into your head. Is it similar to anything else you’ve read by another author? If so, spin it so it’s different — the characters have some sort of different perspective (female vs. male, young vs. old, etc.). Do this until you have at least three ideas down.
Step 2: Decide which of the ideas above you like best. Then write down as many details as possible about the idea you decided on. What happens in Act I, II, III, & IV. Don’t know what that is? Look up what a story arc is. Stop your outlining timer is necessary.
Step 3: Once you have the rough story arc for your story, write down as much as possible that you want to include about the plot. Details that pop out of your brain, like your protagonist always carries a 9mm; or that your protagonist is a pacifist. Type or write fast.
Step 4: Develop your characters. Who’s your protagonist? Who’s the antagonist (bad guy)? What’s the major conflict? What does your protagonist want that they can’t have? How does the antagonist keep it from the protagonist? Are there any other external or internal factors that keep the protagonist from getting what they want? (Many of those questions may have been answered in step 3, but if you missed something, cover it in this step.) Write a little bio on each of your characters, including a physical description of them, potential names (unless you have something definitely scream out from your muse), background, etc.
Step 5: Label your paper (or screen) at least 1-10. Think of each number as a chapter and decide what happens in each chapter to the characters. Don’t spend more than three sentences in each chapter. Sentence 1: Protagonist does this. Sentence 2: Antagonist does this. 3. Those actions create this. Focus on the important events and write them down. You are not actually writing the chapter yet. Just jotting down key sentences and the main point of the chapter (scene, if you will).
Step 6: Take a minute or two and read over what you have.
Step 7: Add any more details that you want to this straw-man outline, but only those that come to you immediately as you reviewed it, until the timer runs out.
At the end of this you’ll have a rough idea on what you want to write and where it’s going.
Then come to our workshop on Oct. 22nd at the North Bend Library at 6 p.m. for more work. (You may come even if you haven’t done this exercise, but you’ll just get even more done if you do do this exercise). Please RSVP that you’re going to attend.
Also, don’t forget on Monday, Oct. 21 there’s a special event being held at Boxley’s (upstairs in the meeting room), “How to publish and market your own book without going crazy,” by Stephen J. Matlock, successful author of Stars In The Texas Sky. The presentation begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7. Space is limited, so get your tickets today. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. The link above also has more details on the presentation.
And now your moment of Writing Zen:
There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing, to find honest men to publish it, and to find sensible men to read it.” ~Charles Caleb Colton.
What did you Write today?
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“But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.” ~ Lord Byron