NaNoWriMo2020

Maya’s Pre-Story

“You want me to do what?” Maya pulled an earbud from her ear to blink at her father.

Thomas Cooper peeked over his reading glasses at Maya. “You heard me.”

“But dad,” she whined. “I’m meeting my friends! I can’t have Bryan tag along, I would die!”

“First of all, you won’t die,” he grinned. “Secondly, your mother has to go to this meeting and Carla has the afternoon off. You’re our only choice.” He paused. “You’re the best choice, obviously. Bryan loves hanging out with you.”

“And I love hanging out with him, but not in front of my friends. It’s not cool, dad.”

Thomas dropped his phone into his suit jacket and gave his daughter his full attention. “Look Gracie,” he stepped forward and gathered her into his arms, placing a kiss on her head. “I remember being fourteen. I know exactly what you’re feeling right now. Remember how I had to stay home with your aunt and uncle so grandma could go to work?”

“Yeah. But you didn’t have a choice. Grandpa had died.”

“True. But you don’t have a choice either. Someone has to watch Bryan, he’s too young to stay home by himself. You don’t want anything to happen to him, do you?”

Maya wrapped her arms around her father’s waist and gave him a loving squeeze. “No.”

“Just act like the cool sister. Show your friends how responsible you are. They’ll be impressed.”

“But he’s so annoying,” she murmured into his suit jacket.

He chuckled. ‘He’s also your little brother. Flesh and blood. We do whatever it takes for flesh and blood, right?”

She sighed and nodded against his chest. She loved the smell of her father. He smelled like sandalwood and gun powder. She lowered her hand and ran her palm over the butt of the revolver in his belt. It brought her a strange sense of comfort knowing her father carried a gun.

“Where’s mom?” Bryan entered the room.

“She at her meeting, bud.” Thomas slipped out of Maya’s embrace and ruffled his son’s hair.

“But … ” he looked from his father to his sister and then back. “Carla is out. Am I going to work with you dad?” He bounced on the ball of his feet, excitement shining in his green eyes.

“Sorry, no. You’re hanging out with Maya,” he said.

“But she’s a girl!” he whined, looking horrified.

“See!” Maya said. “He doesn’t want to hang out with me and my friends either!”

“Look you two,” said Thomas. “We don’t have a choice. Mom is out, Carla is out. There is no one else available. If it’s going to bother you so much, Maya, then stay home. You don’t have to hang out with your friends. Or better yet, invite them here.”

“No. We made plans for the park. We have to go to the park!”

“Oooh, is Damon going to be there?” Bryan sing-songed.

“Who’s Damon?” said Thomas.

“No one!” Maya yelled, reaching out to swat at Bryan but he was too quick for her and dodged her hand.

“Maya, you’re not meeting a boy, are you?”

“No dad. It’s just me and the girls. We need some fresh air. End of discussion.”

Thomas arched a warning brow at her.

Maya crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. “Fine. He can come.”

“But I don’t want to hang out with her! Girls are gross!” Bryan whined.

“Enough!” Thomas yelled. Both the kids jumped at his sharp tone. “I need to go. Leave, stay, I don’t care, but you are not to leave Bryan alone, do you hear me, Maya? If I find out you did, you will be grounded.”

She sighed and nodded. “Okay.”

“Okay,” Thomas softened his tone and took a calming breath. “I’ll make a reservation at our favorite Italian restaurant tonight and then we’ll go out for ice cream later, deal?”

Both kids nodded and he smiled. He bent down, pointed to his cheek and smiled when Maya gave him a quick peck. Bryan hugged him tightly around the waist and hung on as Thomas started to walk away. He laughed. “Get off me,  you monkey.”

Bryan laughed and let go, stumbling backward.

Maya rolled her eyes.

“See you later, kiddos.”

“Bye dad,” they both chorused.

Maya waited for him to leave then turned to Bryan. “You better not embarrass me.”

“You better not embarrass me! I know you’re going to the park to watch Damon’s soccer team practice. I’m not stupid.”

“Whatever brat. Go grab your jacket.”

“I don’t need a jacket.”

“It’s 50 degrees, Bryan. I don’t want to go to the park and then you start complaining about being cold. In fact, I want you to be invisible. Got it?”

“Fine. I’ll bring my invisible cloak then.”

Maya growled. “Get your jacket!” She lunged for him and he dodged her once again.

“Haha! You’ll never catch me, Maya. I’m much faster than you!”

She made to grab at him again but he once again ducked under her arm and raced toward his room.

Maya scowled after him and sent Ava a text. Dad is making me bring Bryan. She walked over to the mudroom and grabbed her green pea coat from the hook. Her phone dinged as she slipped it on.

No worries. I think your little brother is funny.

You wouldn’t think that if you had to live with him.

“Come on slow poke!” Bryan bumped into her as he rushed past.

“Oh my God! You are so annoying!” She yelled after him. She grabbed her cross over bag, made sure she had the door key, her lip gloss and some cinnamon gum before following her little brother out the door.

“Bryan, wait up!” Maya yelled while skipping down the stairs. He was already half a block ahead of her. She reached in her bag and retrieved her lip gloss. She tried to apply it while speed walking after Bryan. She felt nervous. Even though she told her father she was going to the park to hang out with her girlfriends, which was technically correct, she was largely going because Damon was going to be practicing with his soccer team. She had had a crush on Damon for nearly two years and this was the first year he finally noticed her. It was also the year she developed boobs and bought her first bra so maybe he had finally noticed she was becoming a woman.

She pressed her lips together and looked both ways while crossing the street. One block to the park. She could just make Bryan out in front of her. “Bryan!” She yelled.

He spun around and began to run backward while waving at her.

“Slow down!” She could have run after him, but she didn’t want to arrive at the park all hot and sweaty. Though maybe a little sweat would make her t-shirt cling to her newly developed breasts and that would prompt Damon to finally talk to her.

She thought back to the first time she had seen Damon. They had fifth grade class together. He sat to her right, catty-corner from her desk. She had the perfect spot to watch him without him noticing her stare. He was gorgeous. He had hair the color of swirling milk chocolate and light hazel eyes. He had a dimple in his left cheek whenever he smiled. He didn’t smile a lot, but when he did, it took her breath away. He was very quiet that year and stayed mostly to himself. She thought he was mysterious and broody. He never once looked back at her and he never seemed to sense she was drooling over him every day. The only time he actually looked directly at her was when Mr. Shaw asked her a question and she didn’t know the answer. The other kids snickered and whispered but he simply turned around, grinned and said, “don’t sweat it. We can’t always know the answer.” She had been lost from that point forward.

She always made a point of knowing where he was at all times that year. Then in six grade, she had casually asked her friends to find out from his friends what classes he was taking so she could try and get into the same class. She was never able to take a class at the same time as him but she had English right after he did so they nearly always passed each other in the hall that year. He never said a word to her but she always made a point of walking past him every day.

This year, she had been lucky and had Social Studies with him. She sat directly behind him so she could gaze lovingly at his thick, wavy hair. He seemed to be interested in Social Studies and knew a lot of the answers. Because she didn’t want to appear stupid in front of him, she studied extra hard and often competed with him to answer the teacher’s questions. One time, she was asked a tricky question about September 11th, 2001, and when the teacher told her she had the right answer, he turned around, grinned and said, “nice.” She thought she would melt into a puddle on the spot. She carried that memory with her for weeks.

Then, last week, she heard he had tried out and made the soccer team. She immediately signed up to be part of the pep club so she would have an excuse to attend all of his games and cheer him on. She talked her best friend Ava into joining her. Her phone buzzed in her purse. She reached in to read the text: Where are you? Practice is starting and we saved you a seat.

Nearly there, she typed back.

She put her phone back and gave her full attention to the path before her.

Bryan was no where to be seen.

Maya’s heart quivered. “Bryan!” she yelled. “Bryan!” she yelled louder. She broke into a jog straining her eyes in search of her little brother. “If you get lost, mom and dad will never forgive me,” she muttered under her breath.

Continue reading “Maya’s Pre-Story”

Preptober

Less Than One Day to Go!

Are you ready?

Of course you’re not ready – is anyone truly ready for this monster?

I have a few tricks up my sleeve. As mentioned, I will be working on my novel as well as blogging and/or writing short stories to keep the creative juices flowing. I know me, and I know I will get bored out of my skull if I’m ONLY working on one thing at a time. So. I have my handy-dandy index cards close by so when an idea strikes, I can add it to my stack. Ideas usually pop into my head when I’m reading something, or writing something unrelated. (This is how I prep for my podcasts, too. I’ll be watching a video, or reading an article and suddenly, I have an idea to talk about and I write it in my podcast journal. Yes, I have a podcast journal because I’m TRYING to be organized here).

Some last minute tips:

I’m using SmartEdit Writer software for my novel. It’s similar to Scrivener but it’s FREE. I’m loving it so far. Try it out!

Here’s someplace you can host writing sprints – for either you or for a group! Writing sprints really work well if you need a concentrated time period of just writing. I will be trying the Pomodoro Technique – I think that will work well for me. (Remember the short attention span when it comes to writing … but only when it comes to writing – not sure why that is).

Here are some writing prompts if you’re still looking for an idea …

Sixty things for your characters to do

Character flaws … because let’s face it, our darling characters MUST be flawed. Who wants to read about someone perfect??

Don’t have a story theme? Here are some ideas

These are just a few of my resources. I hope they’re helpful to you. Maybe they will spark an idea … or two. Don’t feel like you HAVE to work on just one project – maybe you have several ideas in your head – write them all. It’s perfectly fine to be a NaNoWriMo rebel. Don’t fight your writing process. Embrace it. The important thing is to continue writing, no matter what that looks like.

My plan? *sigh* Who knows. My next writing project is to post Maya’s PRE story. I think it will help me understand what makes her tick if I write THE moment that shaped her personality and her beliefs. I have quite a few scenes written out in my index outline and maybe I’ll get a few more if I write her PRE story.

I still want to blog and I know I simply won’t if I put all of my eggs into my novel basket. I think it’s important, for me at least, to step back and take a breath of fresh air from my novel and shift gears a bit on to something else. Kevin and I are still participating in our podcast every week and I’m working on recording my own podcast each week, not to mention, still trying to read books though now I don’t think I’m going to make my 100 book goal since I will be lucky to read one book a week, let alone two plus a week like I’ve been doing up to this point. (I changed my goal to 90 books – because I’m a wimp).

Oh well.

Anyway. Don’t get too stressed about NaNoWriMo. The project is what you make of it and for me, I simply want to develop a habit of writing on a daily basis again – however that looks for me.

Good luck, Blogfam!

NaNoWriMo2020

Interview with Maya

Hello Blogfam and welcome,

I’d like to introduce Maya Cooper. She’s the main character of my NaNoWriMo project and she has graciously consented to being interviewed for my blog. Please give her a warm welcome.

Me: Hello Maya. *warm smile* Thanks for hanging out with me today.

Maya: Hi. Thanks for having me. *shy smile*

Me: So. You have a starring role in my upcoming story, how do you feel about that?

Maya: Well, *soft laugh*, if you had asked me how I felt before I lived this story, I would have been tongue tied and terrified. But now.. *shrug – pause* let’s just say I’m no longer terrified.

Me: Oh wow. That’s quite a loaded statement. Can you elaborate?

Maya: And spoil the story? Of course not. *chuckle*

Me: Well now I’m intrigued. What happens that changes your perspective?

Maya: What happens? A lot. In fact, I have a bone to pick with you, did you have to put me through so much agony? It was touch and go there for a while. Actually, several times. *she frowns*

Me: *embarrassed chuckle* Well. I couldn’t make it too easy, it wouldn’t have been as interesting to read.

Maya: I suppose.

Me: Okay, well. I’m sorry?

Maya: *chuckles*

Me: By the way, I LOVE your hair. It’s gorgeous.

Maya: Thank you.

Me: I wish my hair was long and thick like yours. Did you French braid it yourself? And I love how you left the pigtails loose at the bottom. Very pretty.

Maya: Thanks. Yeah. I did it myself. When you have waist-length hair, you think of creative ways to get it out of your face. My friend, Ava, taught me how to French braid. In fact, most of the styles you see me wear in the story was created by my friend. The color is growing out though. I need to go back in and touch up my highlights. *self-consciously touches her hair*

Me: And what a gorgeous sweater dress. That dark green looks amazing on you, it really highlights your light green eyes.

Maya: *blushes* Well, thank you.

Me: Where did you get those boots?

Maya: *chuckles* Now you’re just buttering me up.

Me: Is it working? *grin*

Maya: *laughs* Maybe.

Me: So tell us a little something about you.

Maya: *sighs* I’m not sure where to start so I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

Me: Always a good place to start.

Maya: *narrows her eyes* Are you making fun of me?

Me: No, no! Sorry. I guess I’m feeling a little embarrassed because I didn’t realize I was so hard on you.

Maya: I nearly died a few times, Karen. Not to mention, what happened to …

Me: Go on.

Maya: *shakes head* No. You’re not going to trick me into telling your audience what happens. That would spoil everything and make my story less “interesting to read,” as you put it.

Me: *blush* Okay. Fair enough. Start at the beginning.

Maya: *takes a breath and looks off into the distance* I was a happy child, for the most part. Mom and dad are still married though after the adventure you put me and my friends through, I don’t know if they will stay married.

Me: Wow. Sounds serious.

Maya: It was. You pretty much destroyed my family … in some ways, but in other ways, you healed it.

Me. Sounds cryptic. Care to elaborate?

Maya: Not at this time, no.

Me: *chuckles* You sound like a politician.

Maya: *shrugs* I’ve learned a lot about being careful what I say and to whom. *smirks*

Me: Sounds like you don’t trust me.

Maya: I don’t. *pointed look*

Me: Ouch. And touché. *nods head* Please continue.

Maya: I had a normal childhood … at least as normal as you can get when your dad is a secret service officer hired to protect the president.

Me: *blinks* As in, the President of the United States?

Maya: That would be the one.

Me: How long did he do that?

Maya: Oh gosh, years. I don’t even know how long. He has protected five presidents over the past 25 years.

Me: Was he ever hurt on the job?

Maya: That’s classified information.

Me: Really?

Maya: *chuckles* No. But it sounds cool.

Me: *grins* What about your mom?

Maya: She’s great. My mom and I are close.

Me: Are you close to your dad?

Maya: *pauses and chews her lip* Not exactly. We sort of had a falling out.

Me: Care to elaborate?

Maya: I’d rather not.  You’ll have to read my story to find out what happened.

Me: Wow. That sounds mysterious. Not to mention, that puts pressure on me to deliver.

Maya: *shrugs* You’re the writer.

Me: Or at least, I like to pretend I’m a writer.

Maya: Are you looking for a compliment?

Me: *grins and shrugs off her comment* Any siblings?

Maya: *long pause* No.

Me: Did you have to think about that? Do you not want to claim a sibling? *laughs*

Maya: *quietly* It’s complicated.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. Did … something happen to your siblings? Continue reading “Interview with Maya”

Preptober

Outline Your Novel Using Index Cards

It’s a puzzle, LITERALLY.

Outlining your novel with index cards is a lot of work, but it also makes a lot of sense. When I watched Sarra’s video, a light bulb went off over my head. I went out and bought a pack of index cards with four colors.

Act I is pink, Act II, part one, is light blue, Act II, part two is yellow, and Act III is baby green.

And side note: breaking up Act II into two parts makes a lot of sense to me, as well. As I heard someone describe the middle of your novel once – it’s the creamy, gooey filling of a delicious éclair. That’s certainly a better description than what I typically ascribe to it. *ahem*

Are all of my index cards filled out? Nope. Not even close. But laying the cards out and then writing in my beginning scenes and my ending scenes, at least, my ending as it plays in my head now, that could, and likely will, change as I get closer to the end, and then sticking scenes that pop into my head into the puzzle as they come to me, REALLY helped me. It doesn’t give me an exact view of my story, but it definitely gives me enough to start writing. I will add and change scenes as I write because I don’t like to outline fully, I like my characters to “speak” to me as I write, but I think using this method of outlining will REALLY help me as I go through the process and will likely help me not get AS stuck.

Because I’m not going to pretend I won’t get stuck. I will. And my plan when I get stuck is to move on to another writing project. Whether that’s blogging, journaling, writing short stories, or writing anything, really, and then I can get back to my novel with fresh eyes.

I understand my writing self more now. I get bored. I like to flit from project-to-project. I’m used to never finishing something completely as my day job is never ending and I’m NEVER caught up, it’s just the nature of the beast, so to speak. I am a medical assistant and when you juggle 40+ patients a week, scheduling them for testing, appointments, preparing a short synapsis of why they are coming in and comorbidities for my doctor and mid-level, answering phone calls and returning phone calls, addressing messages from my co-workers about patients, covering for other medical assistants when they’re out and all the miscellaneous work, I’m never caught up. All I can do is stay about 24-hours ahead of the “old” stuff. So I’m used to juggling several things at once and I think that’s why I get bored with one project. I like having several irons in the fire, it’s what I’m used to and I thrive on multi-tasking.

Anyway, I’m excited about this “puzzle” approach to outlining and I’m very thankful to Sarra Cannon for sharing her knowledge with us. This is the first time I’ve approached NaNoWriMo feeling comfortable with my “plan.” Which is what, you ask? I’m going to reach my 50,000 word count working on a variety of projects. I will be a NaNoWriMo Rebel because why not? That’s pretty much how I approach life, I bend rules. I don’t necessarily break the rules, but I definitely bend the rules.

I hope this was as helpful to you as it was to me.

And I hope you’re as ready as you can be for NaNoWriMo because, Blogfam, it’s nearly here!

(Pst – you can find me on the NaNoWriMo website under the username: take2max!)

 

Podcast

Podcast: Distracted by Confirmation Hearings

Ugh. I didn’t get any prepping done for my NaNoWriMo project this week. Why? Because I spent a large part of my week watching Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearing. But it was an eye-opening experience, listen why. I also review “Scorned” and “Bring Up the Bodies.” Lastly, I update you on my personal life – bad teeth anyone? Visit Writefromkaren.com for podcast details!

Take me on the go! You can hear my podcast on the following platforms:

Anchor.fm

Apple Podcast

Spotify

Overcast

Google Podcasts

Breaker

Pocket Casts

Radio Public

RSS Feed

I upload a new podcast every week. Thanks for listening!

*TALK” to you soon!

Preptober

Preptober: Daily Word Count Goals

This is my word count schedule for next month.

Let me explain my thought process … the first week of November I am going to be chomping at the bit to get started. I’m always very enthusiastic the first week, somewhat excited the second week, start burning out the third week and then the fourth week I’m motivated to make it across the finish line.

So. I figured the weekends will be my heavy word count days – I will hopefully knock out the word count goals. I figure I can stop, take a break, then come back and keep writing on Saturdays and Sundays. That’s the easy part. My weeks are going to be challenging. I will most likely get up early and knock out 1000 words before work, then sit right down after work and knock out another 1000 words before the day catches up with me and I’m nodding off in my chair. (I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve practically hit my head on my desk because I’m just going to shut my eyes, just for a second and … *SNORT-SNIFF* Where am I?)

I’m taking it easy on Mondays and Wednesdays. Those are my clinic days and by the time the day ends, I’m checked out. I’m mentally tapped out. I’ve dealt with patients and doctors all day, I don’t have any mental stamina left. On Tuesdays/Thursday, I will try and write before and after work again – we’ll see how it goes. I anticipate these days being my biggest struggle, especially if I”m asked to cover another MA on one of those days.

Fridays are also light days. Not because it’s crazy at work but because Kevin and I go out to eat and then do our grocery shopping every Friday night so we’ll get home late(ish) and I will be losing steam by the time I sit down to write anything. I’m not sure I will be able to write 1000 words, but I’m going to try it.

I will probably use the day before Thanksgiving to look at my outline and plan enough for me to cross the finish line because by that point, I’m usually stuck in my head and I’ve convinced myself that what I’m writing is trash and I SUCK – WHY FINISH??

And then the 30th – I’m using as an extra day just in case my count is off and I haven’t done as much writing as I need to – that will be my last ditch effort to make it across the finish line – I wish it wasn’t a Monday, but it is what it is.

I think the total is 53,000 words, or thereabouts. I wanted to give myself a little wiggle room – just in case.

We’ll see how this pans out.

I’m not really worried about the word count – I can write and spew crap all day long. I just need to not worry about whether it makes sense or not, I guess. I’d like to post excerpts here but I won’t make any promises because if it’s really bad … well … I won’t put you through that. ha!

Remember, you can friend me on the NaNoWriMo website if you wish. My username is take2max. We can cheer each other on. Also, if you’re interested in chatting on the NaNoWriMo website, let me know what your username is in the comments and I’ll send you an invite to the Write Away group I created. Or, you can join the group by clicking this link (just know that it will make you sign into your account – so if you haven’t made an account yet, now would be a good time to do that!).

Preptober

Preptober: Finding a Story Idea

I spent nearly all day yesterday Preptober(ing). I learned a lot, I was inspired, I bought a NaNoWriMo t-shirt and I ended the day more confused and frustrated than when I started.

This outlining thing is for the birds, ya’ll. I feel like giving up before I even start and just go back to pantsing it.

However, I don’t want to get to 25,000 words in and completely dry up, like I usually do when I attempt NaNoWriMo. So. I will force myself to slow down and start putting one foot in front of the other and waddle my way through this mess.

Beginning with a story idea.

I found an excellent site that lists a few hundred story ideas. I read through them all and these are the ones that caught my attention:

1.A hair stylist overhears something she shouldn’t while cutting hair.
2.Three friends go on a trip to a foreign country together, only for them each to get lost.
3.A character is sold the “Best Year of Their Life” by an illustrious company, with the caveat that they must die afterward.
4.An adopted child starts to receive tens of letters from people who claim they’re her parents.
5.An adopted child starts to receive tens of letters from people who claim they’re her parents.
6.In the midst of a war, the women of a local town abandon their neighborhood only a week before their husbands and sons return.
7.A dictator forces an illustrious fashion designer to design the new military uniforms for the war.
8.In a series of weekly sessions, a man recalls his experience of Vietnam to overcome his PTSD. – only it’s a woman and she is forced to recall a crime in which she was a major player
9.A character discovers they have the ability to visit the past and future, but at the risk that they’ll lose something valuable.
10.In the midst of a plague-ridden Venice, an inspector begins a series of unethical experiments to find a cure.
11.Three strangers win a getaway vacation together – one is a psycho path and plots to kill the other two for unknown grand prize
12.A diver uncovers government secrets buried at the bottom of the ocean.
13.A woman is called on a mission to save her lover.
14.A character travels back in time, where they realize they are more important than modern day.
15.A character develops the power to alter their personality, but cannot control it.
16.A matriarch deals with a rising male leader threatening her power. – flip it – patriarch threatened by a rising female.
17.A character’s home is split in two by a sudden Earthquake. They must work to find a way to the other side, where something valuable is.
18.Three friends go on a trip to a foreign country together, only for them each to get lost. Series?
19.A closed exit road sends a character on a six hour detour road trip.
20.A character participates in a march for a cause they believe in when violence breaks out against the people.
21.A prostitute meets with her family for the first time in 10 years.
22.A psychiatrist befriends one of their patients only to realize it was a fatal mistake.

All of them appeal to me in one way or another, but there are a few that really spark my imagination. But believe it or not, the idea that has been percolating in my head for several months now is not listed here. I may, or may not, massage that idea into fruition, I just haven’t decided yet. I need to stick to an idea though because I need to start developing my characters.

Also, something else to consider when you’re picking your idea and thinking about when you’re shaping the story in your head:

  1. Start with the unexpected.
  2. Start with action
  3. Start by appealing to the reader’s curiosity – make the reader want to read more to find the answer.
  4. Start with an understanding of your fictional world – if you are confident about your fictional world, it will make it more believable and interesting to your read.
  5. Start with intensity – “draw us in like moths to the flame, but don’t let the bonfire rage so fierce we can’t get close.”
  6. Build momentum – “The first cardinal rule of opening lines is that they should possess most of the individual craft elements that make up the story as a whole. An opening line should have a distinctive voice, a point of view, a rudimentary plot and some hint of characterization. By the end of the first paragraph, we should also know the setting and conflict, unless there is a particular reason to withhold this information.”
  7. Resist the urge to start too early “You might be tempted to begin your narrative before the action actually starts, such as when a character wakes up to what will eventually be a challenging or dramatic day. But unless you’re rewriting Sleeping Beauty, waking up is rarely challenging or dramatic. Far better to begin at the first moment of large-scale conflict.”
  8. Remember that small hooks catch more fish than big ones – “Many writers are taught that the more unusual or extreme their opening line, the more likely they are to “hook” the reader. But what we’re not taught is that such large hooks also have the power to easily disappoint readers if the subsequent narrative doesn’t measure up.”
  9. Avoid getting ahead of your reader – “One of the easiest pitfalls in starting a story is to begin with an opening line that is confusing upon first reading, but that makes perfect sense once the reader learns additional information later in the story. The problem is that few readers, if confused, will ever make it that far.”
  10. Keep talk to a minimum – “If you feel compelled to begin a story with dialogue, keep in mind that you’re thrusting your readers directly into a maelstrom in which it’s easy to lose them. One possible way around this is to begin with a single line of dialogue and then to draw back and to offer additional context before proceeding with the rest of the conversation—a rare instance in which starting close up and then providing a panorama sometimes works. But long sequences of dialogue at the outset of a story usually prove difficult to follow.”
  11. Revisit the opening once you reach the end. – “Sometimes a story evolves so significantly during the writing process that an opening line, no matter how brilliant, no longer applies to the story that follows.”

Sources: How to Start a Story and Ways to Start Your Story Better

I personally like shocking my readers. Nothing too drastic, just enough to make them raise their eyebrows in slight surprise. I love starting with action because I love reading stories that begin with action. The tip that I think I have the hardest time with is starting with dialogue. I LOVE writing dialogue and I always have way too many conversations in my stories – I definitely need to work on settings. However, I’m going to write my story first, and that may be all dialogue at this point, and then go back and put in fillers later. I think trying to stop and write about the setting my characters are in will slow me down and frustrate me. I never have to worry about being one of those authors that info dump on their readers – but, leaving that information out is basically two, or more people, walking around talking each other’s heads off too much and no one is interested in reading that.

 

Video summary:

Word vomit

Analyzing elements of a good story

Ask: What If …

Challenges seem realistic

Get inspired by living your life

A. Pay attention to things that evoke your own emotions

Develop the hell out of everything

A. Character
B. Worlds

Focus on your characters

If you Google story ideas, you will find many, many, MANY more ideas that might spark your imagination. Even if the idea is enough for you to lift your eyebrow and go “Hmm”, keep track of it. You’ll be surprised what your subconscious percolates when you’re not paying attention. And if your subconscious picks a tough moment to tap you on the shoulder, (because let’s be honest – ideas always come at the WORST possible moment), do not hesitate to write it down. Before long, you will have a slew of ideas for future writing projects, and/or, who knows, maybe you can combine a few ideas for your NaoNoWriMo project.

Also – side note – look over your calendar for November and come up with a writing schedule. I don’t know why I never really thought about doing this before, I guess I always just assumed I would write 1,667 words per day. (Where did I get that number? That’s the approximate number to write every day in November to reach the 50,000 word mark). But let’s be real. There will be days I’m mentally tapped out from working a clinic, or I’m so tired I literally can not keep my eyes open so it’s unrealistic of me to expect I will uphold that 1,667 daily word mark. Not to mention, my father-in-law’s birthday, my birthday, my husband’s birthday, my oldest son’s birthday and of course, Thanksgiving is during the month of November, so my time is stretched. I am going to come up with a realistic writing plan for me. I know that weekends will be the majority of my writing time but I really want to get up an hour early before work and then immediately sit down right after work for an hour and write some more will likely work for me. I’m still coming down from an adrenaline high when I get home from work and my brain is still firing on all cylinders., that would be a good time to catch my brain before it checks out for the night. After about an hour of sitting quietly and no longer being overstimulated, it’s like coming down from a sugar high, I just CRASH and I become a bumbling idiot who can’t string two words together, let alone write them.

Anyway, start thinking about your writing schedule and keep it real.

Happy Preptober!