I warned you that you would be seeing a lot of NaNoWriMo junk, even before and after the month of June (not to mention during) and this is another Camp Nanowrimo post. (If you haven’t signed up yet, now is a good time to do it. See Camp NaNoWriMo) I excuse myself with “It’s never too early to make a NaNoNoteBook.”
I would very strongly advise, not to outline your plot or characters until one week before Nanowrimo. In that one week you can build up speed, get excited and nervous, and not be threatened with losing that excitement before you start, because that sprint at the beginning will be a key factor to making a successful 1st week.
Last November was my first month doing Nanowrimo and I had no idea how much fun it would be, nor how much fun you could make it, nor how wrapped up and crazy you could get about it. In short, I’m doing a lot of things different.
That’s why I have a NaNoNotebook and I’d recommend that you get one to. A whole notebook (I have 120 pages) dedicated solely to Nanowrimo.
In my notebook I’ve marked several pages in the front.
1st my “What makes a good novel” list.
A good theme
Realistic characters to fall in love with
Sweet old people
Cliff hanger chapters
Unique writing style
A resolved finish
This, of course, is not a strict list of rules, but a guideline for what I like. And what you like is the most likely thing you are going to write. (Except for humor. How can someone like me do so bad at humor)
2nd What makes a bad novel” list.
Page long details of one object
Unfeeling or unmoving main characters
Ghosts, demons, or vampires
Cliché people and lines
Cliff hanger endings
(These lists may grow as you work on them. I’ve added several already.)
3rd my character sheet which includes
Kind of being
Occupation or grade
Pets and animals
Describe his/her room
Way of speaking
Physical characteristics (posture, gestures, attitude)
Items in pockets, backpack, or purse
Talents, abilities, powers
Relationships (how s/he is with people)
What s/he wants more than anything else
And if you want to add anything you can. When I decide to use a character I usually do add more and answer them.
This is the sheet I fill out for each character, leaving blank the irrelevant spaces, and inserting any new ones if needed. For example if my character was named Eddie Malf and the story centered around his allergies to spiders, I would insert and “allergies” spot to fill that out. But then Eddie Malf detests sports so I could erase that one.
4th my “What Could Happen” page, where I jot down random things that could happen spur of the moment to any one. I use my genderless, nameless, ageless, jobless, personalityless, and featureless character ME for them all. Here’s a few:
ME is met by a street preacher
ME is arrested
ME falls into a fire
ME sees a cart fall over and rushes over to help
An atomic bomb is dropped on ME
And so on. These are invaluable when you develop writer’s block and have nothing to write. Another great idea that almost anyone will tell you is to kill a character you like. I find it hard to stop writing after I do something like that.
5th-6th Names, where I jot down any random names I come up with or hear from somewhere. I have two pages because I’m a name freak.
7th NanoKit page.
A week or two before Camp it’s fun to put together a writing kit. It could include: laptop, coffee, No Plot, No Problem!, a reference book (one of your favorite novels), coffee, notepad, pencils, magic pen, coffee, dictionary and thesaurus, coffee, snuggie, slippers, writing cap, coffee, silly putty, and pretty much anything to help you write you novel. And don’t forget coffee!
Whatever I want to have in my NanoKit, I’ll write on this page. I’ll forget the rubbing stone by the time I actually assemble mine and the marshmellows must be there. Coffee, well, I’d never forget that, but just in case…
8th Clever, funny, usable lines
That’s for us people who have trouble with humor, I write down random funny lines or just what made me laugh throughout the day. Today I got, “What picture looks nice? That! But that’s you!”
9th Character traits
What I could use on characters who have the personality of a rock. Afraid of scooters? Can’t force a laugh? Hates freckles? Goes to the library to smell books? Dreams of blowing up a tire? Whatever you can think of that might be interesting. When you start writing you can assign them to the characters and let them roll.
10th Animal traits
For you animal writers, it’s the same as above. Loves blue pillows, hates a sweater, steals peppermint…
After that, whatever might pop up, whatever might make me remember my NanoNotebook, anything at all, it all goes in there! Just be warned that doing so may mess up your personality a bit until you can’t look at anything without thinking, “How would that work in a story?…I could change this person here and this dog here and this building here and this relationship here and….” But don’t be frightened when that happens, you are simply developing an author’s mind. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a bad thing, even your mother who is begging for attention. “Hmm, I could change that hair style….”
PS I’m not implying anything about my mom’s hair.