Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Do you want to write a novel? Session 1

At last, I have the correct letters...

Yesterday we started the workshop Do you want to write a novel? at the American Corner, in the Sofia City Library. We are going to have sessions every week, on tuesdays, at 16:00 h. so feel free to join us!  By the way, if you miss any session, don't worry, because I'm going to post about it every Wednesday...

So, here we go!

Week 1. Motivations and ideas.

If you are here because you like to write or have ever thought of writing a novel. Ok, this is the time. This fall, all of us here are going to write a novel. All of you and me too, of course. In these meetings we will discuss different aspects of writing a novel, the motivation to write, build a plot, create characters, and all other aspects

These talks will serve as training to prepare for NaNoWriMo. What is NaNoWriMo? It's National Novel Writing Month, and celebrated in November. This means that during the month of November we are going to write a novel of 50k words. Fifty thousand words in a month, almost 2k words a day. You may think I'm crazy, but it really is very, very funny.

Except when your characters begin to do what they want. At that point you suffer a little, but anyway.

You can enter by signing up on this page, is free, and there you can comment on forums, have your works listed, see your progression, etc…

NaNoWriMo started as a joke between friends, but you see that little by little it has become an international event, and now people worldwide participate. This is the first time something is organized in Bulgaria and the Sofia City Library has become the first library in Bulgaria to participate in the program  Come and Write In.

By the way, during the month of November we only will write the first draft of our novel. Then we have all the time in the world to rewrite and edit and correct, but we made the first step, the most important. At this point, it's quantity over quality.

Why would you write a novel? Why you want to write, in general? Do you feel that impulse that makes you think Oh my god, I have to tell this? Have you fallen in love for character? Do you have a general idea, or a particular scene and you think you can develop it?

For me, for example, it starts with a character that I fall in love, and since then I cannot stop until  build a world, a whole life around. This is different for each person, of course, but in my case I often build the plots around a character.

Why you want to write? What is it that made ​​you come here today?

We talked about the reasons we have to start writing, so now we have to talk about an important point. What to write? I do not know if you already have something in mind or going on an adventure, but at this time we will work on it.

Every writer is different. Some writers think it's best to write about what you know. On the contrary, many others think is best out of that comfort zone and venture to discover things we never thought. About this there is no single valid opinion so for this reason we can findso many different stories and so many types of novel.

For me, one of the most important tips on this issue gives us Ray Bradbury. I love Ray Bradbury, so you can expect it mentions more than once. Ray Bradbury tells us to write about what we love. Write about what you love, whatever it is.

Bradbury loved the planet Mars, dinosaurs and circuses. So he wrote about that. When you read his stories you can feel his passion, his love for those things.

Write about what you love. No matter if what you like is cooking, or if you prefer ghost stories. If you like vampires or if you prefer stories based on real events. Never mind. You'll spend a lot of time writing about it, so choose something you're passionate about, what makes you get up every morning wanting to write. That story that you cannot stop thinking, that character you are madly in love.

Another tip when choosing a topic to write about is this Write the story you want to read. I think it is very logical, and in a way has a lot to do with what we talked of love. You need to want to know what will happen next, and only you can do.

Imagine your book as a movie.

Think for a moment: you can do whatever you like, no limits. You have absolutely everything at your fingertips. You can put your characters in a castle under the sea, or in a London neighborhood. On an unknown planet or in this same library. You can have as many characters as you want. You can have your favorite actor as a protagonist, if you like. You can dress them in the clothes you've always wanted to take, or not dressing at all. Make traveling to that country you've always wanted to visit, or even make time travel.
There are no limits.

You own an universe, so imagine the possibilities.

Let's do a little exercise. Think for a moment in a movie, a series or a book that you really like. Already? Perfect. Now think of a scene or a situation that you would have liked to change.A small change, or a bigger one. As you want. Write down. When you get home, write about it. They can be a couple of paragraphs or thirty pages, which you want.

What I want from this exercise is that you feel the power you have when you write. Feel that power, do the characters behave as you want.

Where do you find inspiration? Well, every person is different, and what I find inspiring to me may not work with you. It can be a song, a work of art, or why not, a character in a movie. It may be that you come across someone that catches your attention, and begin to imagine his life. You may find what you are looking watching the news while having breakfast, or on the cover of a book while giving a tour of the library.

Almost all writers recommend carrying a small notebook in which to jot down little things that caught our attention, so rare that dream we had those ideas that suddenly assail you. Be not deceived, many of these ideas never you will use, but it is comforting to know they are there, if you need a moment of inspiration you can always read your pages. I also use Pinterest, which is an image file and can create different boards by theme. It is free and is very easy to have a collection of images that you like, you remember what you like and that at one point you can serve as inspiration.

Ray Bradbury (yes, again) for example, recommended to make two different lists with the things you liked and things you dislike. I have to admit that I have never used this, but it seems as good a way as any to learn more about our true interests.

Maybe some of you and you may have some idea of ​​what you will write. Great. Maybe some, as happens to me, you may have several ideas lurking in your head and you may have to choose only one to start working. In any case, you have homework for this week: find (or decide) what are you going to write your novel in November.

Well then, to work!

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