NaNo isn’t easy.
I’ve started it several times and have yet to finish the race. I’ve done well on several occasions but I never broke its back. This year I am intent on getting shit done. In an attempt to spur myself, and you dear reader, to the finish line this year, I will be sharing my creative process in this Writer’s Corner.
I begin with worldbuilding.
Everything I do, writing-wise, starts with worldbuilding. (This is assuming, of course, that you have the basic writing skills down.)
I start with my characters. I build up the protagonist, antagonist, and then move to your supporting characters. I find out what makes them tick, what their personalities are, and I generally write a little flash fiction story with them as the focus. Remember, every character that comes out of your ooey-gooey grey matter is a facet of your personality and the perceptions you have of other people that come and go in your life.
Next, I focus on the world. A lot of people don’t and this makes for a lame story in my opinion. When I pick up a book and get engrossed in it, it’s because the author took the time to give that world weight. It feels real and I can slip into this other reality with ease. It’s effortless and not forced because the detail is rich. This doesn’t require info-dumping on the reader. It only requires that you make the world a shade of what people experience every day.
I have all this worldbuilding logged in a story bible I create in Scrivener. That way I can reference it with no issue. It makes your writing speed much more efficient than just trying to remember the thing you thought of in the shower five days ago.
ProTip: Keep a notebook or journal with you at all times. You never know when magick may strike with a good idea or when your characters will speak to you.
I do a bit of plotting.
I’m not a pantser but I also don’t do a full-on plot either. I’m somewhere in-between in that I hit the high points of the action that will happen in order to give me a rough map of where I’m going. I find too often that if you just go in with no plan you get no good result. I typically plot the very beginning, the major turning points, and the end. That’s it. Also, they’re all subject to change and that’s determined by which way my characters decide to meander through the story.
I make a cover and a synopsis.
Some may not understand why I do this. For me, when I walk into a bookstore, I judge books by their cover. I don’t care even a little bit about a book if the author or the publisher put on a lame ass cover. Is it striking? Does it capture my attention? Does it stand out from the rest of the books on the shelf? Does it call to me to pick it up and dive into its world? These are all things I consider when selecting reading material. It’s beneficial to me to have something like this designed beforehand to give myself inspiration. Whenever I feel down about the story or I feel stuck and it’s never going to work I just look at my cover. It inspires me.
The synopsis is also extremely important. It’s a boiled down version of everything my story is supposed to be. It’s the place I will return to constantly to ensure my story is staying on track with my original theme. As the fundamental basis of my story, it’s integral to my writing process. I get off track, I read the synopsis. It forces me to stay honest.
ProTip: Never think that these steps can’t change over the course of your work. Book covers can be updated. A synopsis can be changed. Give yourself a guide but never lock yourself in because I find that stifles your creativity.
I build a soundtrack.
Music is vitally important to my process in some aspects. I use it for setting the mood. I use it to “see” what’s happening as if watching a movie in my mind. Hollywood doesn’t have shit on the kind of imagery I can produce in my head with a little help. I have a far-reaching musical influence. Below is the list I currently have and the link to the actual playlist if you want to see what I add at a later date as things progress.
Finally, I set a schedule and just write.
This is the most important part you can do for yourself when November 1st hits, in my opinion. Set a schedule for writing every single day and do your very best to stick to that schedule. Let your loved ones and friends know what you’re up to and that you’d like to not be disturbed during the process. Refuse all temptation to do other things like tidy up the house. Do the damn thing! If you focus and stick with it you’ll have 50K words of the beginning to a real story. Who knows? You may be the next big thing if you put in the work.
Good luck out there my fellow NaNoWriMos! Until next time, later tater!