NaNoWriMo awakened something within me, and that something is that I now can not stop writing: On my drive to work I am creating new characters, when I talk to me colleagues I start thinking about which conversations can spark a new subplot, and when I’m lying in bed trying to go to sleep I am thinking of different plot devices to push my characters and my story forward.
In doing so, I have (or at least i like to think that I have) created an easy to follow and easy to organise plan. I thought I’d share this with you all because I would have loved to have had some sort of guide when I first started writing stories fully.
Start with the basics
When I get an idea that I think I can run with, I usually start with three main areas:
- The World: where is it set? What are the main locations? What are the main characteristics of each place?
- The Characters: Who, what, when, where and why?
- WHO are they? What is their name, age, personality. What makes them who they are and what events in their life have shaped them.
- WHERE are they in relation to the World?
- WHAT are they? If you’re writing a fantasy story, what race are they? Are they necessarily human? You could even be writing from the point of view of an animal or hybrid or even a plant.
- WHEN do they become important to the story? If you are working with one main character, you may try to plan when they start to develop their character arc. If you have lots of sub-characters, you may have to plan when each one starts to interact with the main character or when they become important to the story.
- WHY are they important? What is it about them that makes them necessary for your story to progress. What do they add to a scene or the overall story that no other character can add.
- The main story: How does your story begin and how does it end? What events would you like to happen throughout the story? I find it is best to start as vague as possible – main character meets new character who changes something. Figure out how you can get the story to flow through your main milestones and then see how your characters can aid in that progress.
Pusheen loves to plan
Write it down
Being a visual learner, I like to be able to see all of my notes in front of me, and when creating a story I like to be able to add notes as when needed. Most times, I will do this in a notebook that I will section off into the three main parts. Then when I get a random idea pop into my head during the day I can write it down in the section. I can also look back through my ideas and reevaluate some of them: As I begin to develop my characters more I may see that some of the milestones I had thought of no longer seem relevant to my characters journey and therefore need to be rethought or changed around a bit.
If you are not a visual learner, find a way of keeping notes that works for you: You may want to look at keeping audio notes through the use of a Dictaphone or audio messages to yourself. It could be helpful to draw story boards for certain scenes or events to help you work out how you want it to play out in writing. However it is, keeping a trail will help you keep on top of your ideas and help you organise your story.
Start with setting the scene
Despite having so many ideas you may find that when you actually sit down to start writing you don’t know how to begin. When this happens to me (which is almost always) I find it helps to describe the setting first. What is the weather like? Does it have a particular smell to it? What colour is everything? It can be as basic or as detailed as you like and can always be completely removed in the editing stage of your writing. Once you’ve written a few sentences, you will most likely find that the scene starts to play out on it’s own and you won’t even be thinking about what is going down on paper.
Bilbo knew how to start a story…
Imagine you are watching the events before you
As with the above, if you find a scene is lacking something to help it along, I find a good trick to pretend that I am witnessing the events playing out in front of me: Am I stood in the office where the main character is having a brutal throw-down with their boss, or am I watching an old film about an ancient priest summoning evil spirits. When you can see it in your head it is easier to write down what is happening. Again, this can be as detailed as you like. It may be as simple as one character walking towards another person, but you can then build up to describe the gait of each character and the look of intent in each pair of eyes.
At the end of the day, writing should be fun. It should be the one thing you do that is solely and exclusively for you. When you’re first writing, don’t focus on what other readers may think of the scene, or what critics may say about your sentence structure. Write because you have a story to tell that only you can tell. If you don’t feel like writing one day, or the words just won’t seem to come out, then just walk away from it for a moment: Go and make yourself a cup of tea, do some household chores, watch a movie, hang out with friends and family and completely forget about the story. The words will come back to you when they’re ready to and you will be back on track.
Have you guys got any tips for writing? Let me know in the comments and share the lovely tips and tricks that you have found work wonders.