Sunday, November 03, 2013

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


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1 comment:

John Kaden said...

I'm not doing the nano deal this month, but I love all these posts. Great refresher. I stumbled onto this blog by Cory Mandel, and he talks about how structure is like a glass for spirits - like a wine glass, shot glass, etc. - how each story is different and needs a different container. Even though some glasses have stems, some handles, they also share certain commonalities - they all have a bottom, sides to contain the liquor, a lip where you drink from, etc. And those commonalities are like story structure - they're the glass that contains your story. That's, I think, why I liked your book better than Save the Cat. You've got wiggle room in your plan, a little more flexibility. All the components are there, they just may take a different form depending on the type of story. Thanks again for these posts. Some of the most helpful stuff I've found.