Thursday, 10 October 2013

Do you want to write a novel? Session 2

Or not...

After Week 1, we have to face the Week 2.

If you worked for this past week and you must have an idea about what you are going to write in your novel. Have you thought about what you like and what you dislike, what you want to read and what really have wanted to start writing.


Unless you are a genius and then I don’t know you are doing here, it is normal that right now you may have only a slight idea about what you want to write. That is, something like I want to write the story of a young woman who discovers a schoolmate who did much damage and intends to apologize to everyone he misbehaved.

I want to write the story of a pirate who takes as a slave to a naturalist and from that moment her life changes and just wants to look for animals.

That kind of thing. Okay, is normal.

You have great ideas, or small ideas, very original or not original at all, but you're dying to write about it. But, generally, at this stage of preparation of the novel all we have is that, a general idea, vague and imprecise, that does not tell us much more about how our story will develop.

It is time, then, to prepare our novel itself. Here we have several options, because like everything in life there are tastes for everyone...

Plotter VS Pantser

Thus, most writers fall into two distinct camps, and almost opposites. I mean Plotters against Pantsers. Some cannot imagine how to work of others, and the others put their hands to their heads thinking how is it possible that someone can work that way, but you know that each person is different...

Plotters are those who plan every detail of the novel they are contemplating to write. Chapters, numbers of words, important events, plot and subplots ... everything you can imagine they have already planned and targeted.

By contrast, the Pantsers are those who sit to write a novel like an adventure. Usually only know the basics, and from there they sit every day and begin a new adventure.

The plotters say that if you do not know what will happen in your story would be unable to write anything, the pantser claim that they know what is going to happen with all the mystery story would have evaporated and therefore would be unable to write anything.

What is the correct position? Well, neither, or both. But above all, it is a very personal decision and, like everything else, depends much on the character of the author.

In my case, I adopt an intermediate position. I like to plan some, a little , enough to know roughly what will happen , but when more ideas I have is when I'm actually writing . It is in those moments when you're in the middle of the story when the characters themselves are asking you to write this or that. And we all know that you, as an author, you are a mere slave of your characters...

I have to say, in my personal experience, and with NaNo framework in mind, the best times I've done have been the times I've planned something, even a little. I have never come to plan everything everything

everything , so I do not know if I would of much or all the contrary , but sometime I have to try , I suppose ...

When we talk about Plotter or Pantser, if you are a Plotter does not mean that you have everything planned to the millimeter and refuse to include any changes. On the contrary, those ideas that just happen as they write more easily incorporated to already have a specific place where to fit it.

For me, for example, is extremely useful me talk about my plot with some friends. There are authors who refuse to speak anything of what they are writing because it says that then lose interest. For me it is quite the opposite. Talking with my friends (especially those who also write) about what I have planned to write not only makes me even more excited with my story, too, in many cases, it gives me ideas that will be very useful later.

In this case, such that for many of you is the first time that you dare to write a novel, I think it is better to work some basics. If you are Pantser to death as well, not going to hurt you...

I think it is essential that before you start writing your novel have clear some obvious points:

1. What is the story (plot). It's okay to want to be as surprised to see how it evolves your novel, you should not rule out the element of surprise, but I think that this time it would be nice if you prepare a timeline, albeit short, with the most important points of your story. Then return to this, do not worry.

2. Who is in your story (characters)? Just below discover you urgently need a character at that point in the story or, quite honestly, the mother of your neighbor's protagonist is not particularly important, but I think to start you should know at least the basics about your protagonists. We will not talk about the characters now, the next day we will devote the entire session.

3. Where goes your history (World Building). Is not the same build a story around a piano student in contemporary Bulgaria do about a Roman slave days before the death of Caesar. This becomes more important if you are going to write your novel placing it in an alternate universe, for historical fiction and fantasy worlds. If your story is to be placed in a special environment (space, fantasy world) or even in a city you do not know, you should make some guidelines so that everything matches in the best way possible.

Building a map of your story

If you want to write to nail it, sit down every morning with something in mind to write about instead of going mad to see if you get something nearly-good, I think it's a good idea to have a map to keep going.

This map can be as detailed as you want, but in the most basic case, I advise you jot down at least three key moments: the beginning, middle, and end.

The end of what I mean, because I never (NEVER) know how they will end my stories and they are there, unfinished and waiting to have mercy on them. So we're going to take seriously (me too), and we will work on this.

This mind map can be as long and detailed or as short as you like. You can write, one by one, the chapters of your novel, with great detail (points of view, most important actions, dialogue, etc. . .), Or you can target a single sentence mentally remind you what you have to deal in that chapter. The latter is what I usually do, but as always, it depends on the person.

Again, I repeat to create this mind map that not means that you should if you only have to write this and refuse a new idea or a new character. On the contrary, you can always include it and see where takes you. But I have this map says is a tremendous help when you have to write a certain number of words a day , as with the NaNoWriMo , and you sit in front of your computer without you can think of anything.
At that point you're going to say thank you for being announced even a phrase like the girl is angry with the protagonist he has looked to another in the nightclub.

Narrative Structure

Again, even if you are pure of heart Pantsers , I advise you at the time you begin your novel you may have more or less clear narrative structure something that will keep your history.

There are many types of novels, very different from each other , and the structure is not always the same . This will depend a lot on your way of writing and your personality and voice as an author, but , generally , all stories have some key points that are precisely what makes the story forward .

The classical model , we learn that even at school, is that not talking about a story in three acts : Beginning, middle and end.

Beginning : We know our players , we place ourselves in his world, and we know the first turning point , when our characters start having problems (of any type ) , and is when the action begins. This should not be more than 25 % of the story , but there are exceptions , of course.

Middle: Here we are in the heart of the matter. This section should occupy 50% of the story, approximately. The turning point we saw at the beginning if it does become increasingly difficult, so that our hero has to overcome different difficulties, until the final issue, we see in the

End: Our protagonist must face the biggest problem of all (from getting money to buy that ice cream that both want to end his greatest enemy in an epic battle), everything is solved (for better or worse), and we ended our history. Here you will spend the last 25% of the story.

These turning points, these problems, make the most important milestones in our novel and are what gives us the basis to start working. For example, a turning point that our protagonist would become unemployed and have to return to live at home with their parents. His life has changed from the beginning of the novel, but with the following points of inflection thing complicating going until the end, for better or for worse.

Easy, right?

No, at least for me, so that I too I have to work very hard with this.

As a homework assignment for the next session, I suggest that you try to map your story. If you are Pantsers to death, try to at least imagine the major turning points in your history. If it helps you to visualize, you can think about turning points in series / books / movies.

In Frankenstein, for example, there is a clear turning point when the doctor abandons his creation.

In Jane Eyre, Jane's life changes when her aunt sent to the orphanage, and then switch back when it starts working for Mr. Rochester.

Is that clear? Well you know what you should do now...

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