Sunday, October 12, 2014

Nanowrimo Prep: How to Choose an Idea for Your Novel

With November write around the corner (see what I did there), Nanowrimo is beginning to loom over our heads ominously.

If you've done Nanowrimo before, you're likely already well into the planning stages: coffee or tea purchased in bulk, snack cupboard stocked, calendar arranged, plot outlined.

If this is your first time, you're likely ready to cry.

So I've put together a post with a basic outline of how I choose an idea for my Nano novel.

1. Choose a Genre

    This could be easy  or incredibly difficult. There are SO MANY genres, but usually you'll have an idea of the sort of story you want to write. It's okay if the genres overlap. You want to write a Western? Fine. You want to write a Sci-Fi YA Dystopian Steampunk Romance? Go for it.

2. Come up with at Least Four Ideas

    Ugh, I know. But trust me on this one. If you come up with only one idea, you won't be distracted. But here's the thing: if you come up with four ideas, you'll have something to fall back on if you decide at the last moment to scrap your initial idea.

3. Skeleton Plot Your Ideas

    This is seriously the best thing you can do. Skeleton plotting, as I use the term, is the most basic plotting you can possibly do. Here is the skeleton plot for a novel I am currently editing:

Rescued by pirates
Join crew
Rio de Janeiro

That's literally it. No names, no details-- just come up with the most basic plot you can. If you don't have at least an idea of what is coming next, Nanowrimo is going to be rough for you.

4. Eliminate One

    Once you've completed your skeleton plots, eliminate one idea. Maybe you couldn't think of more than three plot points for it. Maybe you realized you've read that exact plot thirty times before, and you want to do something different. Maybe you just know it's going to take you a long time to plot out. Whatever the reason, you now have three ideas.

5. Write a Practice Scene for Each Idea

    Use that skeleton plot. Writing a practice scene is great, because whether or not you end up using the idea in the actual novel, you now have a basic idea of what the novel will be like. You have a sense of the type of characters. You have a skeleton plot. You know which tense you want to use.

6. Eliminate One

    I'm just kidding. Don't actually destroy it--save it for later! More than likely, one idea proved harder to write a scene for than the other two. You don't want an idea that's hard to write about because it's already hard to write 50,000 words in one month.

7. Stare Into the Void of Nanowrimo. 

    Once you're down to two, it's all up to you, dollface. Really think about Nanowrimo. It's only a month, but it's AN ENTIRE MONTH. You're going to be living with these characters every day for a month. You're going to be breathing this plotline. You're going to be dreaming about this story, more than likely. Which one do you really want to dive into that deeply?

8. Choose. 
    You are now ready to choose an idea for your Nanowrimo novel. I believe in you.

Be on the lookout for more Nanowrimo posts. I'm participating again this year!

For more information about National Novel Writing Month, hit up Bless.

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