Monday, August 30, 2010

What If It Was Just That Easy?

What if I could wake up one day and just sit down and write out the perfect story?  If I could do that, then I probably would never have to worry about facing rejection. 

What if I never had to face rejection?  Then, I probably wouldn't ever improve on my skills. 

What if blogging was enough?  I like to write.  I like to blog.  I like to write in my blog.  But, blogging isn't enough for me.  I want to write a binding-worthy-story.

Maybe then, I could just break the story writing process down into tiny little understandable bits.  Then maybe it could be just that easy, to write the story at least. 

In my writing group we are all getting ready for NaNoWriMo.  I've written a book and the others are just beginning their journey.  I'm not sure if I'm capable of helping them but somehow I am finding ways to make the upcoming book writing a lot easier than when I wrote my first two books.

This time, I sat down and wrote one sentence to describe my whole book.  This sentence might prove useful when I need a one-line pitch in the future of marketing this story, or if I find myself 20,000 words into the story and can't remember what the original idea of my story was supposed to be about.

Then, I wrote the query.  Last time, I didn't really know what a query was so it came last and proved to be difficult.  Writing the query first was actually great because now it's done, and it gives me another reference for when I start writing my book.

After the query (a micro version of the essence of the book) I decided to break down about how many chapters my book is going to be (2,000 word chapters divided by 50,000 word NaNo requirement = 25 chapters) and then I set out to write an outline.

Everyone outlines differently.  I decided to write one sentence to describe each of my 25 chapters.  This was not as bad as I thought it would be (admittedly, some of those one sentences are run-on but hey, I have an idea of what each chapter is supposed to be about).  Now, I have an opportunity to see where I need to shrink or build on different sections of my book.  Also, I can use this outline later as a synopsis (of course it will have to be tweaked a little depending on how the story actually goes once written).

After I wrote my outline, now I can pick through it and make a research page.  This research page will consist of anything I still need to figure out.  For example, this book is going to be paranormal and will deal with parallel universes, so I need to figure out how my MC is going to get through these universes and exactly how those universes affect each other.

Once I've gone through my research page and figured out how to build my new world, I then have to do some character building.  By this I mean, who is my MC, my protagonist, and all the other main characters that help my MC?  What are their motivations?  What do they look like?  What are their special skills or talents?  And so on. 

By the time November 1st rolls around, I will have:
  • One-line pitch.
  • Query
  • Synopsis
  • Outline
  • Detailed Research pages
  • Character sheets
That's probably as prepared as any writer can get for writing a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days.  Hopefully, it will be just that easy. 

How do you prepare for NaNo?


  1. You are making writing sound as easy as math!

  2. I am hoping to do this by Nano too! This will be my second book and I am hoping that is the way forward. I like James' comment! Although I wish writing were easier than math, math is so darn hard (some of it anyway).

    I got the gift certificate. YAY! But I haven't spent it yet. Maybe I will buy Mockingjay. I am so excited. Thank you very much!!!!

    Congrats on your win at Heathers!

  3. Tina - I'm definitely not someone you would want to ask to help with math, or to divide the check at dinner, or figure out the tip, but my hubby is a math guy. He thinks everything is like math :)

    Are you outlining and plotting or are you going to write from the top of your head for NaNo?

  4. I might try to copy this post and do just what you are doing! This time around I am going to outline. We'll see where it gets me. It will be fun to keep up on each others' progress as we write. What are you doing with that revised novel? Are you querying these days?

  5. Tina - I'm flattered that you want to copy my post.

    My revised novel, hmmm. Well, I finally heard back from the agent after 8 weeks and she said, "I really enjoyed this premise, but I couldn't connect to the story." I've taken a break from querying it until I figure out whether or not I should rewrite the book. I've been asked for the partial twice which tells me that the premise is interesting, but maybe the story needs more work, or a rewrite. What do you think?

  6. Those responses sound good to me, promising. I'd work on it some more! But I actually thought you just finished a revision for Heather's contest. Do you have two revised books under your belt! That is spectacular. My first one is nearly revised. And then I am querying it. Maybe we can be hand in hand in that process as well.

  7. I wrote two books (part of a triology) and then I entered a contest on Query Tracker, the agent thought I was telling and not showing and then she replied on a query I sent her long before the contest and wanted to see the partial. So, I asked if she wanted me to revise my partial to her contest comments and she said yes. That's where the revising began. I hurried and revised the first 30 pages and the synop for the request but then continued revising the rest of the book which required blending book 1 and 2 together. That's where you met me. Around the 6 week mark, I emailed the agent and let her know I revised the rest of the book and asked if I could resubmit the synop and 30 pages and she said yes. 2 weeks later I got her response of good premise, no connection. Based on that comment would you keep querying the story or pull it for a rewrite?

  8. Do you have critique partners? Has someone else given you feedback on the revision. It's hard because the 'no connection' could be purely personal or could be due to craft issues. But often when I do revisions I need distance and full critiques where someone tells me exactly what they like and what they don't like. IDk whether you should work work on it more or keep sending it. What does your gut tell you? Are you fully happy with it? Have you read it out loud to yourself?