Monday, October 8, 2012

Now's as Good a Time as Any

I have completed my third novel, Kokoweef, and continue to polish it. In a couple weeks, it will be ready for pitching to an editor. I haven’t decided what my next project will be. So, to get some ideas, I shall play the ‘what if’ game.

In the ‘what if’ game, writers make lists of possible characters for a story. They decide on one. Then they write down a list of conflicts the character might face. They select one. Then they ask what if he encounters this particular problem? They write down the probable consequence. Then they ask what happens if there is a second complication? Then a third. A fourth. In a while, they have a pretty good feel for what their novels will be about.

In my posting on September 9, Do You Have an Article in Mind, I gave a brief description of story structure. A lot of writers prefer to start with the skeleton of a story then flesh it out. Others, called seat of the pantsers, find this method too restrictive. They just start writing and keep going until they are done. They arrive at the same structure as the planners, but it may take a lot of false starts and wrong turns to get there.

For a concise lesson on design, I recommend Randy Ingermanson’s article How to Write a Novel: The Snowflake Method. In it, he likens the process of story writing to the building of a snowflake. One begins with a sentence, builds a paragraph, and expands to a page then to a scene. When there are enough scenes, the writer has a story.

I have never attempted to “NaNo”, but I thought I’d try it this year. NaNo, or NaMoWriMo, stands for National Novel Writing Month. In this world wide program, writers of all levels are challenged to write 50,000 words in one month. There is help to plan and execute your project, and you can receive encouragement from staff, published authors, and writers from your area of the United States or of the world.

So fellow empty-nesters, if you are interested in finally writing that story that’s been buzzing around in your head for several years, now’s as good a time as any. Join me on my journey.—Quinn

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