Below are my favorite components of a Victoria-style Survival guide for National Novel Writing Month! :)
Hope you all have a lovely month, and I'll see you in November!
It'll be a short post today, but I wanted to take a minute to talk about themes.
I used to never think about what my books' themes were, but a year or so ago I realized how important it is, and ever since then, part of my book prep fun has been figuring out what the main theme of that particular book was going to be.
Now for some clarification. A book's theme = the main message throughout the book. No matter what genre your book fits in, it's going to have some sort of theme. Without a theme, your story will just be a bunch of things that happen without any compelling connection to the main character. The theme is the heartbeat of your story--you may not always hear it, but it's what makes everything go smoothly. ;)
Some examples might be: Pilgrim's Progress--A journey (spiritually, inside of Christian, as well as a portrayal of the journey of life), Little Women--Family (the importance of family, family relationships growing stronger etc), The Bronze Bow--Forgiveness and Love (Love for Jesus, love for his people, and love and forgiveness for his enemies).
So those are a few examples, and I'll just say here that people will probably interpret different themes from the same book sometimes too. :D But still, having a plan of what message you want to run subtly--or obviously--throughout the book is a good idea so that you do have a specific thought in mind as you write.
What are the theme(s) of your book, or from your favorite book to read? This NaNoWriMo, my book carries the main theme of accepting God's will for your life.
You all have a lovely day!
People go at things in different ways. It's just part of what makes us unique. Some people might haphazardly throw handfuls of chocolate chips in the cookie dough while mixing it with utmost vigor until it "looks right". Others pour in an exact cupful, fold carefully, and scoop with a tablespoon. While others roll out a cookie and place three chocolate chips in each. :D
Of course, this isn't a blog about cookies or even about food. I'm talking about writing right now, and so today I'd like to share 5 different ways you can go about planning your book. If you're planning a book for NaNoWriMo (or just any book), this is for you. I'm not a professional by any stretch of the imagination, but I have used many various ways of planning my books, and so I just wanted to share my experiences with you. :) Like I said above with the chocolate chip cookie analogy, everybody will find different ways that work for them. Maybe some of these systems of novel planning will work for you, and probably some won't. :)
(And yes, I am a firm believer now that I personally should generally plan a bit for my books. I would typically recommend a bit of planning to others as well, even if you're a "pantser" (aka you open up an empty document or notebook and just start writing without any pre-meditation). It not only makes things more efficient, but it also keeps you from really bad writer's blocks. :D I used to never plan and my books ended up confusing, boring, or cliche most of the time, haha! It was so bad I was scared to edit them. Now you might not be a complete planner... You might be a total "pantser" or a very even mix of planner+pantser. --That's me, lol-- And that's great too. Just find what works for you.)
1. The Character Questionnaire and Basic Outline Technique: This is the way I did it for some of my first few books that I actually bothered to plan. It's your standard point by point outline of the plot, but I always threw in a "character questionnaire" too. The questionnaires are always fun, allowing you to get to know your character better, or think of things you might want to add into the story. As far as the basic outline goes--it works, but I have to admit that sometimes just sitting down and thinking "I'm going to come up with an outline" just doesn't work. It's pretty bad if you get stuck on your outline and don't know where to go next... :D It comes together the nicest when you already have had lots of stuff simmering in your head for a while with a clear idea of where you want things to go.
2. The Character-driven Plot Developer: I have used this perhaps one time so far. It works really well for books that have a lot of character growth, or for books that have relationships that develop and change between two characters. You have a list of basic questions, for example, "The first test between relationship", "A darker moment" etc, and you answer these from various relationships the MC (the main character) has with various supporting characters.
With multiple angles to answer the questions by, when you organize them into a proper timeline for your book, it gives an interesting, quick way of doing an outline with the bonus of great development in character growth and friendships. You will have the original plot point questions all mixed up, so there will be varying degrees of "surprise twists" or various "tests" throughout the book. Having several angles gives different levels of intensity/drama to each point, depending on the nature of the setting, basic conflict, or relationship, so it provides a nice balance. I am pretty sure the plot structure and story would change almost every time this method is used.
If you all are interested in the plot point questions, I can do a more detailed post on it later. :)
3. The Mind-Mapping Method: This is a really fun way to plot a book, especially if you're a hands-on, visual person. All you need is a good sized sheet of paper and a writing utensil of your choice. :D You write down in the middle of the paper the first seed of your idea and then begin writing everything out around it, drawing bubbles around the fragments of ideas and then adding lines to connect related bubbles. Once you start doing this, a bunch of ideas will start pouring out. The main objective here is to just get it on paper! :) When you feel satisfied with it, you'll have a bunch of thoughts that when put into its proper order will give a nice rough outline. From there on, you can fill in details as you like in the outline, or just leave it as a basic plot so you can have more freedom in writing. I really like this way of plotting out a book because it can really be customized to fit you and your writing style. :) It's especially great for really twisty, complex plots!
4. The Research and Jot notebook Method: This is a lot like the mind map only it's my way of doing it geared more towards researching. If you're writing a book that takes a lot of research, this is an excellent way to get your ideas and thoughts figured out into a basic (or not so basic, it's up to you) outline. Essentially, as you're researching, keep a notebook handy (or Evernote if you use that) and when you come across something that sparks your imagination or makes you think "Oh, what if..." write it down! :) I am doing my current NaNoWriMo novel this way and am enjoying it a lot. As I'm researching Japanese-Americans and baseball during WWII I am coming across so much good material, and sometimes even non-related ideas for the book pops in my head as I'm working. It's all in a handy, ever-growing list right now, and soon I'll be taking all the ideas and plot points I've gathered and turning it into a basic outline.
5. The Snowflake Method: This is a method I've used the basics of for a series. The premise of the idea is that you'll start from something as small as a sentence and gradually work it into bigger and bigger pieces until it has crystallized into an intricate, information-packed outline (plus a lot of other details). There are explanations for how this works in more detail online, and many people like it. I'm glad I used the main rules of the method for my series, so now I have a good scope of the multiple books. However, when getting down to the nitty-gritty of each specific book I did, and probably will in the future, switch from the large Snowflake scope to my own style of planning from one of the above. :)
So there are the 5 ways I've used to plan my book. :) How do you like to plan your books? Do you think you will try one of the ones mentioned above? How do you like your chocolate chip cookies? :P
You all have a lovely day!
It's October, and NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. For those of who you might be unfamiliar with that term it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's a free writing event that is held every year in November. The goal is to write 50,000 words in a brand new novel during that month. I adore NaNoWriMo, and I think it's a great challenge.
So anyways I wanted to invite you all to join me for NaNoWriMo, as well as my NaNo prep during the month of October because I'm going to be sharing inside looks at the book I'll be writing. Plus, I like the fact that you could write with me. It's a lot of fun and I would love to be able to know that you all are in this with me! I'll be sharing my favorite NaNo tips and tricks, maybe sneak peeks at my very first draft (eek!), and other interesting and fun things.
If you're thinking "Yeah, this sounds really great!" Here is the link so you can sign up for NaNoWrimo. It's totally free, no costs involved at all. If you're under 18 and you want to do it, there is a Young Writers website as well, with the option of choosing your own word count to fit your age. Don't forget to look me up on NaNoWriMo once you get on there so we can be writing buddies! :) There is a search bar at the top right of the website, and from there you can find me. My username is LittleBookBug, and it should be pretty easy to find me. ;)
If you're still needing some convincing, here are 5 good reasons why NaNoWriMo might be something you might want to consider. ;)
1. NaNo opens up a world of creativity you might not have realized you had. I've always been a scribbler of stories, but not everyone is like that. If you're a new writer, and you're a bit unsure of things, or perhaps you've never written a story in your life, then NaNoWriMo gives you a good chance to commit to the goal of writing. You might realize during the month that you have an amazing story inside of you, and your life might change forever. You might be a writer and just not realize it yet. ;)
2. It's a good push for those who like writing but just sit around thinking about it instead of doing something. With people all over the world joining in, NaNoWriMo is a great way to jump into the world of writing. You've got a challenge, a goal, and a huge support system. Not only do you get winner goodies for hitting your goal at the end of the month, but you can also buy swag, win virtual badges, get writerly pep talks, participate in sprints, word wars, and word crawls, and more. It's a huge boost of motivation, and it's got a great amount of encouragement along the way.
3. It's a good way to let loose and be a little crazy... Did I mention that NaNo is tons of fun? Of course the goal is pretty epic, and of course you have to have a lot of determination to get through the month while writing all those words. But NaNoWriMo is also insanely fun. You can join up with other writers (like me, lol), share your progress, give sneak peeks of your novel, have an excellent excuse to drink lots of coffee, and lose yourself in a world all your own. Novembers are some of the best months of my life, because I just enjoy it so much!
4. You can learn a lot during the process about yourself and life in general if you pay attention. :) So you can have fun AND learn? YES! If you read the pep talks, pay attention to any critiques from your writer friend, and look out for your own writing tendencies, you can really learn a lot through the process. I have learned more in NaNoWriMo then I can ever say. My first NaNo was when I was 15 and that book is crazy bad. But it's also one of the best experiences I've had, and I gained so much from writing it that November that I still keep in mind today.
5. If have a story that you would like to tell, NaNo helps you get started with it. Or, you may realize through NaNoWriMo that you have a story you should tell that you never even knew about. :D Maybe you're still hesitant. "I'm not a writer, that's crazy!" you say. Well, I suggest you give it a go--even just one time. You can even set a personal lower goal for yourself if you want, instead of shooting for the set-in-stone 50k. The point is to focus on writing for a month, because you never know what might turn up. I think most people have a story in them. Is it going to be the popular genre? Probably not. Mine aren't. But whether it is or isn't, stories are important. Even if you decide to bend the rules of NaNoWriMo and write 30k on a memoir, it's still an amazing feat. So write an epic poem. Write a vintage style mystery. Write a literary political novel. The point I'm trying to make is-- be you. It doesn't matter if you're not the typical fiction writer who adheres to the "rules of writing" (those are made to be broken anyways). NaNoWriMo is there to get you writing, to tell the story that's important to you--so even if you think you're not a writer, you might just end up being super glad you joined. ;)
I really hope that you can do this with me, I'm really looking forward to the prep and planning, and then the actual writing--I just get so excited thinking about it! :) So, writers, sharpen your pencils and sign up, and those who don't feel like NaNoWriMo is the right fit for them right now, please stay tuned throughout this next month anyways so you can still be a part of the fun on the blog. If you have a friend you think might enjoy this, be sure to let them know about it so they can do it too. :)
Thanks so much for everything, and I hope you all have a lovely day.
Victoria Minks is a bookbug and writer, with oodles of daydreams and ideas. She loves historical fiction, chocolate, music, horses, and old books, and firmly believes that there is whimsy and beauty in any day. She was saved at age 5 and desires to write for God's glory.
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