NaNoWriMoPrep: The Anatomy Of A Novel Part IV: Expanding the Big Idea

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We’re only 6 days away from NaNoWriMo. Are you getting nervous yet? I know I am. I have a book dropping mid-November that I have to promote every day. I have edits of another book I’m working on, I’ve got my job which keeps me busy and two kids which keep me even busier than that. Whew. How am I ever going to find time to write a novel?

This is exactly why I’m preparing as much as I can in advance so I can just be in the flow and not think about it. So far we’ve gone over generating ideas, worldbuilding and producing characters that have some life to them. I’ve made 6 character sheets myself, and anticipate at least 4 perspectives out of this book. So what next?

This step is short and sweet for me, much simpler than the last few exercises we’ve gone through.

I start by refining my idea.  Last I left my idea, it was about a politician who steps down because he doesn’t want to have any part of a government propagating an interstellar war. Pretty cool.  But that’s not a story in and of itself. What happens from there? Where do these other characters potentially fit in? What’s he going to do about it to resolve the situation?

I start out simple, then expand. For this exercise I jot down a few concepts of where I’d like to see the characters go, or where I think they would like to see their story go, and have them work toward those goals. I refine it and do either one of two things: I make a mock back of book cover pitch, or a mock query letter as if I’m explaining the book to an agent/publisher. It ends up between bout 100-500 words of work, no more than one page, but it’s a guideline for the next step: where I break this concept down into an outline, which we’ll start on next time. Simple enough!

I can’t share the whole brainstorming of my upcoming novel  to be released on November 15th just yet (I will in the future) but it started out with a couple sentences, expanded into about two pages of notes. I wrote my outline a couple weeks later after that was approved. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and when you get to the outlining stage you might want to change things. Even when I get to my first draft I end up changing things as the writing dictates. These don’t have to be held tightly onto, but writing down notes will help you clarify and remember your thoughts, and should make the writing process easier later.

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