As the days count down, two weeks now until NaNoWriMo, there’s a growing excitement among the participants. I’m certainly planning to attempt to get my 50,000 words written. This time around it’ll be some parts blog, some parts fiction, so I won’t be producing a body of work that will ultimately be something that stands on its own as an identifiable whole. But that’s okay – the story I’m writing is much larger than 50,000 words, so there’s no way I could complete it in a month, anyway, and what I do write will have to be locked away until some time after November when all the cleanup shall begin. But the blog posts will definitely be something to show for my efforts. At least after they’ve been edited, lovingly – and at times not so lovingly – rearranged, smushed, expanded and molded into a string of thoughts I feel worthy of presentation for public consumption.
As a person who’s written more than my fair share, it’s taken a while for me to work out a system that keeps the muse flowing. In hopes that you too can achieve that lofty word count goal, I’m going to share a couple of my secrets.
We’ve talked about defining the setting of your story – the where – and then visualizing your end – the where to. So once you’ve got the map of the right locale, and you know where on the map you want to end up, the last really crucial piece of the puzzle is to draw in the lines that demarcate the journey. Right turns, left turns, about-faces, they’re all part of the story you will put to the page come November 1st. But amid all this prework – character profiles, outlines, beginning and ends – have you remembered to dream?
Characters need to exist in our imaginations for them to speak to our hands, which translate their voice and ideas into words on the page. When you shut your eyes, can you see your heroine? Is she whispering her fears, her hopes and dreams to you? Ones that you might not even share with the readers? Other times, does she bellow in rage from a perceived injustice or stomp about in disgust? Can you smell the blossoms outside her bedroom window and feel the rough, callused touch of her lover when he brushes a palm to her cheek?
If you aren’t at that point, time to stop everything else and start dreaming – or there might not be a story to tell.
Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
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