Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Ready, Set, Nano!

It's here - the big day. Big month. Big everything.

The queen of suspense, Mary Higgins Clark, said about first drafts:

Writing a first draft is like clawing my way through a mountain of concrete with my bare hands.

Isn't that the truth?

Well, the point of Nano is to write so fast that you - sometimes - forget that your hands are dripping blood. It's a stellar way of turning off your censor (we all have one of those little suckers) and just get those pages out.

I'll be posting Nano prompts throughout the month, but here's a list of helpful hints if you find yourself stuck.

1. Keep moving forward – DO NOT go back and endlessly revise your first chapters. You may end up throwing them out anyway. Just move forward. If you’re stuck on a scene, just write down vaguely what might happen in it or where it might happen as a place marker and move on to a scene you know better. The first draft can be just a sketch – the important thing is to get it all down, from beginning to end. Then you can start to layer in all the other stuff.

2. Keep the story elements checklist close at hand for easy reference.

- Story Elements Checklist for Generating Index Cards

Or if you prefer the elements in a narrative:

Narrative Structure Cheat Sheet

3. Review the elements of the act you're stuck on.

- Elements of Act One

- Elements of Act Two, Part 1

- Elements of Act Two, Part 2

- Elements of Act Three

- What Makes A Great Climax?

- Elevate Your Ending

- Creating Character

4. As you're writing, you will find out more about your story. Write the premise again, and make sure you have identified and understand the Plan and Central Story Action.

- Plan, Central Question, Central Story Action

- What's the Plan?

- Plan, Central Question, Central Story Action, part 2

5. When you’re stuck - make a list.

- Stuck? Make A List.

6. Do word lists of visual and thematic elements for your story to build your image systems. Start a collage book or online clip file of images if that appeals to you.

- Thematic Image Systems

7. Remember that the first draft is always going to suck.

- Your First Draft Is Always Going To Suck

8. You can always watch movies and do breakdowns to inspire you and break you through a block.

Good luck, everyone - and feel free to stop in and gripe!

- Alex


Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and Writing Love, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, II, are now available in all e formats and as pdf files. Either book, any format, just $2.99.

- Smashwords (includes pdf and online viewing)

- Kindle

- Barnes & Noble/Nook

- Amazon UK

- Amaxon DE (Eur. 2.40)

- Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)

- Amazon/Kindle

- Barnes & Noble/Nook

- Amazon UK

- Amazon DE



Angie McCullagh said...

I really wish I had the guts to try this. I'll do NaBloPoMo instead. That I can handle. Good luck to everyone cranking out a novel this month, though. I admire every last one of you!

Elise M Stone said...

Just wanted to tell you how much I've appreciated this series. Although I've read The Writer's Journey and many other books on plotting, for some reason your explanations get through to me better than most others.

And it gives me an excuse to watch movies. :-)

Thanks for doing it.

Sandwiched Writer said...

Ah, thank you for the pointers.

I'm more what I believe they call a "pantser" ... as in seat of my.

End of day one, and I'm not yet sure if I'm going to do NaNo officially or unofficially.

Official: would be a YA novel I've roughly planned.

Unofficial: would be to finish a novel I've begun (but that was extinguished via a crashed hard drive).

I've posted Chapter one of the latter on my blog.

Got only about 700 words today (in the wake of a dental procedure). Poor planning, that.

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions Alexandra. As a fellow WANA1011, I am excited about connecting with new writers. I look forward to using your screenwriter strategies in my novels. Picking up your books asap.

Anonymous said...

Love your suggestions and will be using them in NANO. As a WANNA1011 member, I am excited about meeting new writers and reading their blogs. I will be using your screenwriter techniques while creating my novels and will purchase your books asap.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

NaBloPoMo? Blog post month?

I doubt many people crank out a whole novel this month, Adither, not a good novel, anyway. It's a good start, though!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Elise, thank YOU for reading and for saying so! I think you have to hear all this stuff from a lot of different people; new angles always bring new insights.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Sandwiched, don't think you have to start a new project to benefit from Nano. I always think you should finish what you start.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks, Sharon! But what is WANNA 1011?

You guys are throwing around the bizarre names, today...

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