NaNoWriMo 2011

So … I’m going to go for it.

50,000 words in November.

Having decided that I will take part,it’s kind of frustrating that I can’t get started yet. On the other hand, if I could get started, I’d have to be writing 1667 words a day … which is A LOT OF WORDS when you don’t have any characters, setting or plot.

"Greetings from Nanowrimo: Participant 2011"

although I will NOT be writing on a typewriter

By November 1st, I am hoping to have at least 2 out of the 3 – can you help?

I’m trying to amass things that will help me – pictures, writing prompts, song lyrics, all kinds of stuff. Sort of like making a mood board for the novel. Tonight I’m going to start putting together a bit of a scrapbook to do this with.

I’m aiming for kind of urban fantasy – probably influenced by the fact that I’ve just finished reading Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. I’ve made a playlist of music to help me set the tone in my own head (and from which I’m drawing this collection of snippets of song lyrics that I’m hoping will be useful). I’m going to have a character called Astra, I’ve decided. She may have/be given/otherwise acquire a cat named Zorro (see what I did there? no? Oh well …). I quite like the idea of having a cat.

The other thing I’m trying to draw on for mood/theme is ‘Twilight in Cambridge’ (more prosaically, this time of year, 5-7pm in Cambridge). Dim light and impressive buildings and trees and interesting shadows …

My hope is to weave a novella out of something like 6-12 shorter stories. This is for a couple of reasons – firstly, even if most of what I write is crap, hopefully a couple of stories will be salvageable. Secondly, I am hoping to find some interesting conceits to explore (I have one in mind, although I’m not yet telling what it is) and my theory is that it’s easier to write a short story based on a conceit than it is to write a whole novel on one. And each one can be as little as 4000-5000 words, which sounds more manageable. They’ll be tied together by setting and time and have characters that overlap – like a TV series, where you may not see your favourite character for a few episodes but then they pop up again in a new plot twist where they’re suddenly pregnant/on drugs/fighting with their parents (delete as appropriate). That’s the idea, anyway.

I’m also planning to use photos. I’m not good at visualising (although my 2nd-year course in Geometry helped!) but a photo can spark off all sorts of things – thoughts about what that person would be like, what that place would feel like … I have amassed a small stack of pictures (mostly torn out of magazines and newspapers – today’s metro had a royal tram, how cool is that?) that I think will be useful. I’m going to turn them into a scrapbook and see what happens. I’ve also torn out a bunch of pictures of people, to help me with character creation and description.

So. Any advice for planning a novel? Any ideas for things I should include? Suggested dramatic devices? I’m all ears!

No, really, advice or plot hooks or writing prompts very much needed! Even the things you think sound a bit too silly. Especially the ones you think sound a bit too silly.

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One Response to NaNoWriMo 2011

  1. Jack V says:

    I love “Twilight in Cambridge” as a theme. I’m imaging all those black-and-white photos of colleges and little hidden backwaters with a vaguely magical evening feel.

    I think writing several novellas is a good plan, but it didn’t work out so well for me: I probably couldn’t have written a whole novel, but having several bits just made _each_ a hurdle to start, and overall wasn’t more productive (though I like the idea, and the sort of novel it produces).

    I’ll follow up with any other random plot prompts that occur to me 🙂

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