HELP, I’m Terrified!! (Part 3)

How The Heck Do I Write a Novel in 30 Days???

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Image from Dreamstime

 

Setting adds details and realism to your story that extends beyond your characters and plot.  It keeps the story from being a string of events happening to people we may or may not care about.  In many ways, it brings a story to life.

Think about your favourite novel.  Where does it take place?  When?  What does that place look like?  Is it hot there?  What’s the political climate like?  What do the people wear?  Now, imagine that same story taking place on the moon in 2151.  It would be a completely different story, wouldn’t it?

Although your story often starts with setting, the setting itself does not (fully) define the story.  Instead, it gives your story a backdrop – a stage on which events can play out.  But setting isn’t just a place and a time.  It can influence how your readers respond to your story.  Ideally, it will be so well described that your reader can picture it without even having been there!  It should be well-known, well-researched or, if created, consistent.

The setting includes all the natural forces, institutions, and culture that act on your characters.  These can also be thought of as time, place, and circumstance.  Without a setting, without a place, there can be no story.  Much like the force, setting helps to pull every aspect of your story together.

Your setting should be detailed.  This detail is what makes it believable and helps make it integral to the story.  It should be described selectively, preferably without the use of exposition.  Remember to use all five senses when describing the world around your character and work it in as the story unfolds.

Your setting can affect your story (the local weather will have an influence on your story theme – try writing  about a camel herder in the arctic), your plot (religious or societal forces can change or move your plot ahead), and your character (where we live shapes the person we are and the beliefs we have).  Make sure you think it through!

 

Here are some additional sources you can reference (Disclaimer: we do not personally or professionally endorse any of these sites, nor do we have any affiliation with their creators):

http://www.eclectics.com/articles/setting.html

http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/setting.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Setting-for-a-Book

http://www.how-to-write-a-novel.net/setting.html

http://www.novel-writing-help.com/fictional-settings.html

 

 Good luck!

 

HELP, I’m Terrified!! (Part 2)

How The Heck Do I Write a Novel in 30 Days???

Characters.  It’s hard to have a good story without them.  They’re what make the plot move forward, make the story world spin, and what keeps the reader interested.

So why the heck are they so complicated to write?  Well, a good character is multi-dimensional, which inherently makes them hard to write.  They have relationships with their parents and siblings, they have values and vices, some of which may even contradict.  They have strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, pet peeves and quirks.

Although good characters change as the story goes along, they need to be consistent.  That is, they need to have pretty much the same physical and emotional traits (little details like mannerisms, ways of speaking, and eye colour).  These details may tell the reader something about your character as well.  For example, the manner in which a character speaks might tell us something about their background or education.  Their table manners might indicate that they had overly strict parents, or parents who cared not a whit for manners.

One of the best ways to keep your character consistent is to keep a record of physical and personality traits.  There are many great character questionnaires and development sheets that can help with this, but how you fill them out is telling as well.  What is your character’s background?  How did their relationship with their family affect them?  What was the favourite dish that their mother used to serve for dinner?  Were they popular in school or an outcast?  All of these things will affect them later in life.

Characters should have motivations for acting in the way that they do.  These should be clear to the author and may or may not be clear to the reader.  They should also change, even if only a little, as the story goes on.  They should confront problems or conflicts and (ideally) overcome them in a way that advances the story.  Very few believable characters can go through a story without changing, but change is hard, both on the character and for the writer.  It should be slow enough to be believable, but also consistent with the character’s existing values and beliefs that is: all action should be organic and flow logically from the characters’ desires and values.

Writing good, believable characters doesn’t have to be hard as long as you keep a few key points in mind:

1) Be consistent.  How can the reader find your character believable if his eye colour keeps changing?

2) Know their motivations

3) Keep them in conflict

4) Let them change and grow

 

Here are some additional sources you can reference (Disclaimer: we do not personally or professionally endorse any of these sites, nor do we have any affiliation with their creators):

http://www.pgtc.com/~slmiller/characterdevelopment.htm

http://www.angelfire.com/mi/fictionaddiction/character.html

http://www.musik-therapie.at/PederHill/Character.htm

http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting/character/creating-characters/21-character-development

http://www.squidoo.com/character-development-questions

 

Good luck!

HELP, I’m Terrified!!

How The Heck Do I Write a Novel in 30 Days???

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Image from Dreamstime

Have you been wondering this?  Have you written before, but not at such a breakneck speed?  Have you never written a novel in your life?  Are you only doing this on a dare?  Fear not!  We have compiled an excellent list of tips and tricks that should get you on your way!

There are about as many ways to write a novel as there are novelists, but for NaNo, there are really only two ways to go: plan your novel out before the first of the month, or write by the seat of your pants.  We call these two types of WriMos ‘planners’ and ‘pantsers’.

Whichever way you choose to go is up to you, but here’s a bit of information to get you started.  There will be some more information to follow in the weeks to come, but this should get those wheels turning!

 

I THINK I’M A PLANNER!

There are many different ways to plan a novel.  I’ve listed a few below, but think about how you may have approached other large projects in your life (school reports, work projects, organizing a party, etc.) and see if you can find something similar that will work for you.

Outlining

The most basic way of organizing anything is an outline.  This may be as simple as a few key plot points, or as detailed as a scene-by-scene synopsis.  Remember that you can always start simple and add detail as things become clearer to you.

Timeline

A sequential list of things that happen in your novel that is, cleverly enough, based on the timeline.

Storyboarding/Corkboarding

A more fluid method of organizing where each idea or scene is listed on a card which can then be shuffled around at will until things start to make sense.

Mind Mapping

A very fluid method where similar ideas are grouped in a free and flowing basis.  This is probably best at the very start.

Character Sheets

Any good RPG or writing website will give you a sample character sheet that you can fill out.  These are often excellent for getting to know your characters better, as good characters make a good novel!

Snowflake Method

Listed last, but certainly not least, this is a method I’ve recently discovered that was developed by Randy Ingermanson where you start with a simple idea and gradually grow it until it’s quite detailed.

 

I THINK I’M A PANTSER!

Many people think that pantsers are just making their story up as they go along: this is only partially true.  In reality, most pantsers have done much of their planning subconsciously, and allow the characters and events to dictate exactly how the story progresses.

There are a few key things you might want to decide on before you start, though:

Character

The best and most memorable thing about a good story is a great character.  As a pantser, it’s essential to have a unique, memorable, and lovable character, as it is him or her that will largely be dictating how your story will progress.  Get to know them, buy them a coffee, take them out for dinner.  I promise, it will be worth it.

Setting

Your story has to happen somewhere, even if that somewhere is a small room, with no doors and no windows and white walls.  Where is that?  What does it feel like?  Sound like?  Smell like?  Taste like?  How do people talk?  Get your reader into the heart of your scene and let it help build your characters.

Plot

Now, don’t panic, you don’t have to have it all sorted out now!  But it might be wise to at least have a genera idea of how things are going to start, lest you be totally lost on November 1!

 

 PLANNER?  PANTSER?  WHO CARES: I DON’T EVEN HAVE A PLOT!

 That’s okay.  Seriously.  You have lots of time left.  Here’s a few websites to check out that might give you some inspiration!  (Disclaimer: we do not personally or professionally endorse any of these sites, nor do we have any affiliation with their creators):

http://howtoplanwriteanddevelopabook.blogspot.com/

http://www.creative-writing-solutions.com/creative-writing-prompts.html

http://www.davidrm.com/thejournal/tjresources-exercises.php

http://writeitsideways.com/21-writing-prompts-for-setting-a-scene-in-your-novel/

http://www.squidoo.com/story-writing-prompts

 

Good luck!