Happy National Novel Writing Month! How did your first day go? Unlike last year, I’m healthy, relaxed and in a quiet state for writing.
Until this morning, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do here at Experience Writing during this NaNoWriMo. I took a look back at what I’ve done over the years and realized that I want to follow my 2017 prompts. I did so much work and research to create all of those prompts, I figure I might as well benefit from it.
This year, I’ll be posting every day with my own responses and ideas inspired by 2017s daily prompts. And, of course all my new discoveries as I wander through my writing experience.
Since I didn’t do this yesterday and Saturday’s a good day for a double dose of prompts, let’s take a look at both Day 1 and Day 2. They also go together because they are about the characters’ ordinary world.
Day 1 prompts:
Opening Image/ theme: My prep really helped me with this. I had already filled out a save the cat beat sheet, so I had an image in my head of what my opening scene would look like and I had notes about who would state my theme. I hadn’t done this in my previous novels, but this one worked in the opening scene when my detective was speaking to the county sheriff.
Sensory information: I brought in some distinct smells and plan to have smell bring up a memory in today’s scene, but I think I’ll go back to my opening scene and bring in some textures. It will be more of an observed visual texture, instead of a feeling of texture. Oh, I could also bring in how a disgusting smell becomes a taste. Ick.
#vss (very short story): I looked at #vss365 lead this month by JD Stoxx @banjomediocrity on twitter. The prompt yesterday was fuse. My construction foreman in the first scene has a bit of a short fuse, I could emphasize that more.
Protagonist’s Ordinary World: Four of coins
What he loves about it: Four of swords
What he believes is lacking: Six of wands
My interpretation: This works for both the protagonist in my opening scene and the protagonist of the whole novel. He knows what it’s like to be poor both physically and emotionally and is holding on tight to what he feels he has earned through hard work. He likes that the battle is over and he can rest, but he feels that he is not given enough praise and appreciation for what he does.
Ask Your Character
These are great questions, but I worry answering them here, could give away something that becomes important later, so I’ll answer these in my notebook each day as part of my character’s backstory.
Word of the day:
The sheriff appeared to be an autodidact. Bill was finding him hard to respect.
8 Action Verbs:
Time accelerated. He wanted to hold onto the seconds, but they kept flying by.
Nothing felt balanced. Everything was off-kilter as if any moment something would fall and smash.
He consolidated everything in had left of his childhood in a small shoe-box that he had tucked in the back of his highest closet shelf. He looked up at the shelf. He couldn’t see the box. That was how he liked it.
They discovered the body on a Wednesday. The news had spread across the country by early Thursday.
A murder of crows had gathered on the rim of the huge, blue dumpster. They cawed angrily as he approached.
He didn’t need to be lectured about how bad this looked.
He presented himself to the county sheriff’s department as had been requested. They made him wait in a cold tiled lobby on a hard plastic chair.
He scheduled the earliest flight. He wanted to get to the site around dusk and no matter when he got in, traffic would be a nightmare.
I like that there are poem prompts and plan to write a poem each day, but because most literary magazines won’t take poems that have been published on a blog, and I can’t seem to write more than one poem a day, I’ll go ahead and write my poem in my notebook.
Awesome Sentence Challenge
My main character had a difficult childhood. His parents weren’t educated past high school and were crass and violent. So when he escaped and left his past behind, he wanted to disguise his upbringing. I think he over-compensates and tries to speak like he thinks really smart, wealthy people talk. But when he gets panicked or angry, he slips into crass, bullying language. He threatens and digs into others like the words in his head he can’t forget from his childhood.
Today’s Simple Task
I definitely described an important object in the opening scene, but maybe I can come up with another one or two. I forgot to bring in the press. I could have the news van drive up in the first scene and have that be why my character leaves.
Warm-up Exercise: My character wants to put his past behind him. The first thing he will do to get that is to ignore the news reports and pretend he is not connected to his old family home.
Day 2 prompts
The ordinary world for the antagonist: Though I am mostly focusing on my protagonist today, my antagonist is in his thoughts, so thinking about and making notes about the antagonist’s ordinary world is a good idea for today as well. My antagonist is unstable, living in his truck, but returning to his childhood home often, so his ordinary world is constantly in flux. It’s about daily survival. A reactionary existence.
“My definition of my own art is experience. I think the scariest thing for an artist to do is stare at a blank canvas and think about what they’re going to say in their work. ” – Alex Rubio
The #vss365 prompt for today is cuff. This is definitely my antagonist. For him, everything is off the cuff, and since he wears all of his dad’s old clothes and his dad was much bigger than him, he is always rolling cuffs on his sleeves and his pant legs.
My antagonist’s ordinary world: Page of coins
What he likes about his world: The Lovers
What he doesn’t like: Judgement
My interpretation: I’m not quite sure what I think of that yet. I get that he is always looking for ways to meet his human needs, and that he’s sick of earthly judgement and is focused on spiritual judgement, but I’m not sure how the Lovers card fits. I’ll have to think on that.
Word of the day:
Oren always seemed to be in the middle of an imbroglio. He kinda wished he knew why.
8 Action Verbs:
Kirk was an accomplished director, of pharmaceutical advertisements. Not exactly the glamorous life in pictures he had imagined, but it paid the bills.
He believed he was there to be briefed by the sheriff, but he ended up in an interrogation room with a female detective answering questions for hours.
The manufactured home had been poorly constructed to begin with, but he hadn’t expected so much deterioration.
They hadn’t even distributed missing person posters.
The find had generated a lot of interest in the property. Ghost hunters were flocking in from as far as Alaska.
The footpath led him behind the mobile home which on the far side looked like it had burned, and to an area of trees. He saw a fire pit and a torn sleeping bag. It looked like someone may have been sleeping here.
The way she presided over the questioning, he got the impression that she was really the person in charge.
She said they had thoroughly searched the property, but there was so much overgrowth, he doubted that was true.
The poetry prompt was about symbols. I need to think about symbols for each of my characters and how to use them.
Awesome Sentence Challenge:
Similes and Metaphors: I’m surprised I hadn’t really thought about this during my prep. I love good similes. This goes well with thinking about symbols. I’m definitely going to be using animals like rats, vultures, jackals and other animals that survive on death and carnage. I’ll also be thinking about the blind and naive, the symbols of a community that ignores the truth of what they let exist when they pretend they are too busy to see, like an ostrich with its head in the sand, like a horse with blinders on, like a person who can’t walk because he refuses to use a cane.
Today’s Simple Task:
I’ve been trying to figure out how to start today’s scene. I want my protagonist to be in mid-action when he gets the news. Maybe I can make it thrilling and scary. He is doing something dangerous and becomes distracted. This could still be so many things, but I have a better idea of how I want to introduce him.
My protagonist wants with every bit of his being to not be who he was born. He wants to be the self that he created, but now his past has found him. He is choosing to continue as if nothing has happened as long as he can, but he has a couple of things he knows he has to do before they find him.
I have something to add that I didn’t have in 2017. I made scene cards for my editing process. This time I can fill out my scene cards as I write my draft. They will be ready for the editing process the moment I’m ready to start my re-write. I’m ready to fill out my first two scene cards, but I’m not sure how I want to color-code them. I have five colors. I have two or three POVs; I have two or three major settings; I don’t know. Any thoughts?
Something happened to me this year. I don’t know if it was all the journal reading for The Planner Project or all the rejections because of The Planner Project, but I haven’t been reading novels or any books like I usually do. It could also be that I don’t trust a book anymore because I overdosed on not-so-great novels and recommended novels. It could be that I’ve tried to learn from everything I read that makes it not fun anymore, but I don’t think so. My passion for writing came from the advice–Write the book that you want to read, but can’t find. That is what I do, but it also brings me back to my original dilemma of genre. I can’t find books in my genre that I want to emulate. Why? Because I want literary fiction with the fun characters and excitement of thrillers and mysteries. Will I finally get there? I can only hope.
Do you have suggestions that aren’t on the Best Thrillers/ Best Suspense lists?