Here’s What’s Working #NaNoWriMo2020

A Beautiful Misty Morning by Maria L. Berg 2020

My first day of November started with this lovely scene of a conflicted sky. Dark vs. Light: Thick fog fighting clarity: All the makings of a great story.

What worked on day one:

Prep really helped me out on day one. For once, I have a physical timeline, an outline and a Scrivener file full of ideas, so when I was feeling frustrated about life in general on day one, I still had plenty to type away, slowly, all day and made it to over 2,000 words.

Waking Up Early Was Worth It by Maria L. Berg 2020

Not pushing too hard on day one and going to bed early-ish paid off on day two. I woke up early to this amazing morning and went straight to my morning pages as planned.

What worked on day two:

As I said plenty during NaNoPrep, publishing my goals here on Experience Writing helps me focus on them and accomplish them. That really worked on day two: I woke up early; went straight to my morning pages, had my butt at my desk by 9:30am; took a walk; and read: wrote 2200 words.

Because I hadn’t been as excited and motivated on day one as I would have liked, I started by going back through what I did on day one and added as much sensory detail as I could muster. By doing that, I discovered a new scene I hadn’t imagined before. I like how that inspired me.

Another thing I did was type some scene ideas in orange text within my writing as I went to get to the next day or later.

How is your writing going? What is working for you?

#NaNoPrep 101 Week Three – Construct a Detailed Plot

finished scene cards

This third week of NaNo Prep 101 is titled Construct a Detailed Plot or Outline.

The exercise provided is a fun quiz to figure out what kind of plotter you are. I was not surprised to find that I am now equally 9-Step Plot Dot and Plot Rollercoaster.

How I’m Plotting this year

Last month while I participated in Writer-in-Motion, I wrote a post about how I approach plot: Playing with some plots. In that post I showed examples of how I plot with tarot, use the plot-o-matic, use Rory’s story cubes and other fun tools, I even stumbled upon the Virgin’s Promise plot for the first time while I was writing the post, so I won’t re-hash that here. Instead, I will follow the path I forged last week and start with a review of materials I’ve collected and then plan my actions for the week.

Review of Plot and Structure

Over the years I have collected many writing references and almost every one has a chapter or more on plot and structure. I thought this week would be a good time to review the materials I have and select exercises and ideas for this project.

Books

  • Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer states that a traditional plot includes Reversals – setbacks for characters
  • Discoveries – characters find things out about selves, others and world
  • Complications – the central problem is not easily solved and grows more complicated
  • Resolution – a conclusion that satisfies the reader and resolves story problems

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass – The second section, chapters 13 through 24 are about Plot Development. The main idea is things can always get worse. Raise the stakes. Throw more problems at your main character. Think things are dire? Make them worse.

Wired For Story by Lisa Cron states that a story needs to follow a cause-and-effect trajectory starting on page one. She agrees with Mr. Maass that you need to make things worse going so far as asking “Does everything your protagonist does to make the situation better actually make it worse?”

Now Write! Screenwriting edited by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson – Every sequence, scene or action moves the story from hope to fear or fear to hope. Make the story unpredictable with plot twists. Set up (at least) three major subgoals for the protagonist to achieve her main objective then describe what goes wrong, so these goals can’t be achieved.

Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot by Arwen Lynch – There are exercises to explore each step of the hero’s journey uses the symbols of the cards. I like this method because it gets me thinking about the character’s emotional journey as well as external and internal events.

Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham includes A Scenic Master Plot that goes through possible scenes chapter by chapter.

Building Better Plots by Robert Kernen guides the reader through creating and organizing scene cards to create the story arc. It has some great “Quizes” to help you evaluate your scenes.

Youtube Videos

Pixar in a box collection has some good videos on story structure.

My Plan for this week

Listing my plans for the week is really working. Last week, I created my protagonist, a peer/possible love interest, a friend, and the antagonists.   Writing short stories exploring some of my ideas is helping me visualize how my characters will interact with technology and their environments in my future world. I’m so glad I started early. There’s so much more to think about.

I think narrowing my focus to specific elements of my story, so I can focus my research and extrapolations, is wise at this point.  Here’s my plan:

Brainstorm plot points and scenes: I’m going to set a timer for fifteen minutes and write as many ideas for scenes, events, actions and reactions as I can. Choose my favorites then put it away and read for a while. Then I’ll do it again. Once I have come up with lots of fun ideas, I’ll organize them into beginning, middle, and end.

Put scenes on index cards in Scrivener

Evaluate scenes with Kernen’s Quick Quizes

Explore plotting with Tarot: I will use Lynch’s exercises to flesh out my plot further.

Fill in Outlines in Scrivener

Put scenes into Bickham’s Scenic Master Plot and explore which outline or combination of outlines I want to use during NaNoWriMo.

Play around with structure: I’ll try re-ordering the scenes to find the most exciting way to tell my story.

Free-write raising the stakes: Once I’ve explored the stakes and conflicts, I’ll free-write about how to make them worse.

Interview characters: As I choose scenes and plot-points that I think should be included in my novel, I’ll ask my characters about them. Hopefully, this practice of involving my characters in the planning of the plot will keep me immersed in the story as I work.

How do you plot and outline?

Do you have specific resources and tools you like to use?

Happy Reading and Writing!

October Challenges: #Writober and #OctPoWriMo

October is right around the corner which means some fun daily challenges I participate in are coming up. I hope you’ll join me.

Writober

Writober is a daily flash story challenge with image prompts. I set up the daily prompts on a pinterest board, so you can see them all at once and jump around if you would like. This year is #Writober 5. Feel free to look through all the #Writober boards if you are looking for creepy and scary inspiration. Pinterest has changed and will not let me rename the pins by day, so my link here is how you will know which picture I’m writing to each day.

This year, I’m planning my first science fiction novel for NaNoWriMo. In hope of truly understanding the future I’m creating for this novel, I am completely immersing myself in science fiction, so each of my flash fiction stories this month will hopefully have something to do with my future world (though a pretty scary and dark side of it). Thus, you may notice the images I have chosen somewhat more future horror than paranormal horror, or so I plan to interpret them.

OctPoWriMo

October Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem each day in October. Prompts are provided each day at http://www.octpowrimo.com/

I will also still be working on NaNo Prep 101 which will continue up until Nov. 1.

NaNo Prep 101

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) usually starts on Nov. 1st for me, but this year I got my idea early, so I’m participating in NaNo Prep 101 Workshop. Each week has a specific writing focus. So far, we’ve looked at the story idea, and character. October, we will explore Plot/Outline, World Building, Organizing life for writing, and Time Management.

There is a Webcast: Writing with Abby Sher and Paola Mendoza on October 1st. I really enjoy NaNoWriMo write-ins. They always inspire me to write something interesting that works with my draft.

And two more weeks of the Writer’s Games.

October’s going to be busy, but it should be a lot of fun. I’ll be in the future. I hope you’ll join me.

What October challenges do you enjoy?

#NaNoWriMo : Futurism & NaNo Prep 101

This year, I started thinking about my National Novel Writing Month novel early, so I’m participating in NaNo Prep 101. This will be my sixth NaNoWriMo and I’m going to attempt my first sci-fi novel.

This is the first week of NaNo Prep 101 “Develop a Story Idea You Are Passionate About.” My idea was inspired by something in the news which is the third suggestion in the week one exercise.

How I’m Prepping

Declaring

I focused my intention by heading over to my NaNoWriMo site and declaring my project. I came up with a name and they gave me a pretty cool basic cover. I’ll probably collage something later, but I’m happy for now.

Coursera

Because I want to create a realistic version of Earth in the future, I decided to take a look at what contemporary futurists are up to and I found a Coursera course to get me started. “Ready, Set, Future! Introduction to Futures Thinking” is part of a Futures Thinking Specialization offered by Institute For The Future. I’m already finding the resources helpful.

Scrivener

Last year I read some books on Scrivener to finally figure out more of its functions. I’ve been creating my own templates and think I have a pretty nice set up for this year’s novel.

In my Research section, I’m collecting articles and a list of books I would like to read before November. I created an idea section for my logline and dramatic question. I have my own character and settings templates and pages for different types of outlines: Hero’s Journey, Heroine’s Journey, Save the Cat, Three Act Structure, James Scott Bell’s Super Structure, and The Virgin’s Promise. As I figure out my main necessary scenes, I can see where they would fit in these different structures and play around with plot and structure at the same time.

Pinterest

I like to use Pinterest to create a mood board for my novel. I keep the board private and collect everything I think fits my aesthetic for setting, characters, tech and objects, any images that give me ideas for my novel.

Booklist

Today, I’m going to spend some time looking for comparable sci-fi novels, short-stories, films, podcasts, radio shows, etc. It will be nice to immerse myself in both genre and specific concepts before I start writing. I like Neil Gaiman’s concept of creating a compost heap of ideas and giving it time to break down into good soil to grow my novel.

Calendars and Planner

I like the cute Sticker calendar in the NaNo Flair. I’ve collected stickers since I was a little girl. Putting stickers on a calendar over my desk is a good idea for me, but that won’t leave room on the calendar for goals. Last year I created a daily planner for writers focused on submitting stories to literary journals. I’ll be re-vamping my fourth quarter pages to fit my goals for this year. I’ll try to predict which prompts will help me get the most words on the page each day. My planner pages also bring attention to eating well and exercise which is important during NaNoWriMo as well as evaluating what works and what doesn’t each day.

Timeline

I like to create a physical timeline for my story and put it up on the wall over my desk. Because I’m writing science-fiction this time, I might want two timelines: One for the major events between now and when the story events occur to explore what will be my characters’ history, and another that is the timeline of the novel. Once I have decided on the amount of time that the novel will encompass, I can start putting my scenes on post-its and play around with where they fit on the timeline and start exploring story arcs.

Write-Ins

Tomorrow is the first NaNo Prep Write-In (9-16-2020 1pm PDT). I’ve always enjoyed the NaNoWriMo Write-Ins and find that the prompts help me think of new ideas and get a lot of writing done.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m excited to be ahead of the game for once and spending quality time developing my idea before the writing begins. Who else is preparing for NaNoWriMo 2020? What tools and tricks do you like to use?