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!