Sunday, November 02, 2014

Ready, Set,, Nano!

by Alexandra Sokoloff

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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If you'd like some in-depth help with your prep, the writing workbooks based on this blog, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and Writing Love, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, II, are available for just $3.99 and $2.99.




Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amaxon DE

Amazon FR

Amazon ES

Amazon IT


If you're a romance writer, or have a strong love plot or subplot in your novel or script, then Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks II is an expanded version of the first workbook with a special emphasis on love stories, and more full story breakdowns.


Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble/Nook

Amazon UK

Amazon DE




4 comments:

Silas Payton said...

4500 words in three days. The post its and pre-organizing is paying off so far. Thanks, Alex.

Kenny Crowe said...

October and your posts really paid off. !st act is done, clocking in at 15k words :)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Wow, Silas - you're doing great! So glad the prep was helpful.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Kenny, you're on fire. I knew you'd do well! :)