I can’t believe we’re already almost halfway through. I hope you’re NaNoWriMo writing is going great! If you have any questions about any of these prompts or my writing process, please let me know in the comments. It would be nice to hear what kinds of prompts and exercises you use to keep your ideas flowing. What is your writing process (during NaNoWriMo or anytime)?
Day 14 (2017)
My MC is about to face the inmost cave. What about himself is he afraid to face? What and who will make him face it?
Today, I wandered about exploring some new things. The #vss365 word led to an entire exciting scene. The Amazing Sentence Challenge led me to explore Parallels in fiction which led me to explore Coincidence in fiction. So today is an exploring and filling the well of creativity kind of day today. Recognizing that this is also an important part of my writing process, I’m going to hurry up and finish my words for NaNoWriMo today and see where the whimsy of today takes me.
Today’s Simple Task
Your MC feels self-doubt and abandons his/her main objective for a lesser goal. S/he explores some regrets.
→ When I left my MC yesterday, he needed to go shopping because exploring the property had ruined both pairs of pants he brought. Is that what he will abandon for a lesser goal? Or will I be looking at his main objective which is not being convicted of murder and going home. I don’t think he’ll be abandoning that main objective for a lesser goal, or will he?
Set your timer for 15 minutes. What will your hero do to resist change? What will your hero do to fight the biggest battle he must overcome – himself? – from SavetheCat.com
→ This exercise really helped me get to some points in my MC’s character arc. It always amazes me how the ticking of a cheap kitchen timer helps me break through my inner editor and get words on the page.
Word Of The Day
spendthrift: noun- a person who spends possessions or money extravagantly or wastefully; prodigal. adjective- wastefully extravagant; prodigal.
Kirk had never that himself a spendthrift, but after meeting that man who had nothing, he couldn’t pay these prices for a pair of pants. He decided to find a charity store.
8 Action Verbs:
To clear his head and make sure he could still read words, he grabbed the Bible from the bedside drawer. Guests had annotated the pages in the margins, sometimes all over the page with their names and dates of stay, weird things that had happened in this room. After flipping through a few pages, he shut it and put it in the back corner of the bottom drawer of the dresser where he would not have the chance to see it again.
She clarified her position by handing him his keys and walking away.
They correlated his arrival in town with every bad thing that happened in the area.
He estimated he now had hours, not days to prove he couldn’t have done it.
Their ability to communicate improved after a couple of days.
He moderated his emotions by counting backward in his head.
He recorded sounds of the lake, waves against the bulkhead, burps and pops of water under a dock, splashes of fish jumping.
He started. He was so jumpy these days.
Awesome Sentence Challenge
As you develop your antagonist and your secondary characters, you want to show parallels between them and your protagonist. Parallelism is also important in your sentences.
If two or more ideas are parallel, they are easier to grasp when expressed in parallel grammatical form. -from A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and Robert A. Schwegler
a. Balance parallel ideas in a series: Hooked on thriller novels, I learned that there is nothing more important than being rich, typing code, and
to have having more than one gun.
→Watching Ida Lupina, he felt he needed to harden his heart, sharpen his wit, and tighten his belt.
b. Balance parallel ideas presented as pairs- these ideas are usually connected with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or); a pair of correlative conjunctions (either . . . or, not only . . . but also); with a word introducing a comparison (than, as): It is easier to speak in abstractions than
grounding to ground one’s thoughts in reality.
→He found it harder to ignore the house than to enter it.
→Not only was he finding his footing but also enjoying his evening.
c. Repeat function words to clarify parallels- Function words such as prepositions (by, to) and subordinating conjunctions (that, because) signal the grammatical nature of the word groups that follow: In an attempt to stop her thumb-sucking habit, her parents tried painting a noxious substance on her thumb to change the taste or making her wear gloves
changing to change the texture.
→He thought he could distract her by changing the subject, by pointing at something, or, if he had to, by touching her hand.
While you write today, look out for places to use parallelism for clarity in your sentences.
Extra Exercise for today
I’m going to take a look at that first part of the Awesome sentence challenge and make it a prompt. To do that, I thought I would look at how other authors approach parallelism in their writing and found some different takes on the idea.
- 5 Basic Literary Devices That Will Deepen Your Fiction from S. Alex Martin
- Rethinking Protagonists and Antagonists: Parallel and Perpendicular Character Perspectives in Star Wars from Chuck Wendig
- Parallel Plot and Nonlinear Narrative from Bridget Baudinet
- How and Why You Should Use Parallels and Symmetry in Your Writing from Sarah at Lopt & Cropt
The prompt: What does parallel mean to you in your writing? Look for parallels between your protagonist, antagonist, and secondary characters (traits, backgrounds, interests, events). Look for parallels for foreshadowing. Look for parallel and perpendicular character development.
Speaking of parallels, I decided to start diving into the work of Ida Lupino since I made her my hero’s mentor. She was the only woman to direct an episode of the original Twilight Zone and since I like that show I decided to start there before diving into her movies. The first episode I watched was one that she acted in called the 16 Millimeter Shrine. The story is about an aging actress that cuts herself off from the world. The parallel’s to Ida’s real life were incredibly apparent, perhaps the cliche of the aging actress, it also, in a way predicted her future, like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Ah, the circle of life.
The second episode I watched was the one she directed. Episode 25 from season 5 called The Masks. It takes place in New Orleans during Mardi Gras of course (because in the cinematic universe it is always Mardi Gras in New Orleans). I almost didn’t watch it. The coincidence of her episode being in New Orleans was a bit too much, but I went ahead and put it on while I wrote.
This made me think of coincidences. How do coincidences affect my MC?
I don’t think I’ve really explored this topic, so I found some interesting articles.
- Coincidences in Fiction: What You’re Doing Wrong from K.M. Weiland
- How to Write Coincidence the Right Way by Alice Mattison from Literary Hub
- What a Coincidence: 7 Clever Strategies for Harnessing Coincidences in Fiction by Steven James from Writers Digest
- Yeah, right! Coincidences in fiction by Michael Kurland from The Writer
- How to Use Coincidence in Fiction by Sophie Playle from Liminal Pages (also brings up another kind of parallels in writing, coincidence?)
Now I’ll be scouring my reading and writing for coincidences.
Recommended Word Crawl
Alice in Wonderland Word Crawl
Need a break from all this writing, but still want to be working on your hero’s journey? You could watch Alice In Wonderland and compare her Hero’s Journey to your Hero’s Journey or plot out the Save the Cat Story Beats and compare them to yours. Have fun with it!
I hope you find some inspiration in these exercises.