As we edge ever closer to the start of July, what can we do to prepare ourselves for the huge task of writing a novel?
This year I have set the target at 50 000 words, it is ambitious, but as someone once said:
“Always aim for the Moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – W. Clement Stone
So this is what I have done or am in the process of doing:
1. Character profiles
I’m filling in some details about my protagonists, antagonists and side characters – not all of them, just the main ones. There are many ways that this can be done, some blogs such as:
have writing resources, including a character profile chart. Personally, I like to use the yWriter5 software, here you can add characters and write as much or as little of their biography, additional notes, etc. You can even include a picture of what they look like.
An alternative method is to start an Excel spreadsheet, I use this method too. In the first column I place a host of questions that I would like to know about my characters. Afterwards, the other subsequent columns are named with the character e.g. Maya. Then I conduct character interviews, i.e. answer the questions as if I were the character. The questions start out as basic as age, full name, physical appearance to more searching questions such as fears, dreams, most embarrassing moment.
This time round, I am working on the second book in my Unity series, so I already know a substantial amount about my characters. However, over the course of the first book, they have changed. Their goals have changed, and so I am working on updating their character profiles.
Important questions to also address: What are your characters dreams/goals? What are their beliefs and core values?
2. Scene Plotting Chart
Sometimes I like to plan: plot the whole story, what happens here, there, everywhere. But I also like to write by going with the flow because it offers so much freedom and brings a special quality to the story. Therefore, I have reached a compromise.
I outline the basic structure of the novel: what happens in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. Of course, you can be as detailed or as basic in the plans that you make, it just serves as a guide for your writing so that you don’t go completely off the plot. It also helps me prevent plot holes, and in the long run can save time when editing. I will not be editing this second novel during this camp though, I will just write.
Scene plotting charts are provided by writing blogs. Conversely, you can make your own. I simply have a word document with a basic summary of what happens. Again, I also use the yWriter5 software in which I can add chapters and scenes and move them around.
3. Plot Rollercoaster
NanoWrimo had offered a workbook for young novelists and one of the most useful features for me had been the Plot Rollercoaster diagram they had on p 28 of the booklet. There was a picture of a rollercoaster which was supposed to represent the structure of the story.
Here was how they described it: (taken from the National Novel Writing Month’s Young Novelist Workbook 3rd edition)
- Describe your set-up
- Describe your inciting incident
- Describe some of your rising action
- Describe your climax
- Describe your falling action
- Describe your resolution
This can be very useful to have a quick summary of what happens along your story.