NaNoWriMo Chronicles: Welcome to Preptober!
Welcome to Preptober!
I’m so excited to move into the planning stages of NaNoWriMo with you all! Honestly, this is my favorite part of writing. I mean, I enjoy the writing part too, but the planning just is the part that I really enjoy. Which I suppose is why I have so many works that stall out after this phase is over. Oh well, hopefully, this process of outlining during Preptober will help you with your novel!
I have already gone over what Preptober will look like post-wise for Bethenaeum, so I won’t rehash that for you, but I do want to tell you more about what Preptober looks like for me personally.
I tried really hard to keep the post schedule similar to what my personal development process looks like for beginning to work on a novel. We will start with genre and premise, but that is mostly due to the falling of the weeks during the month of October. Normally, I would start with characters. As I’ve stated before, this isn’t the way everyone begins. Each creator starts differently down the road of their process. In my experience though - characters are a safe place to start. As an example for this post let’s look at the characters for a work I’ve been wrestling with for several years now, Mai and Josiah from ‘Ohayo!’. This particular piece began with the idea of writing a for fun, short story with characters based heavily on people I knew. In walks Mai. As the central character of the work, she was originally based loosely on me. She is an extrovert who rather than fix her own problems would rather run from them and try to help fix those around her. In comes Josiah, a character now loosely based on my husband. Although, you’ll find that most of my male protagonists have at least one trait modeled after him. This work started with these two, but as the plot - small as it was - grew, so did the characters. The plot became much more than what I had originally intended and so the characters had to grow and adapt to fit the plot. But I still started with the characters.
Next, I move on to plotting. So, imagine these two basic characters I have started with:
Mai - an extrovert, focuses on individuals over situations, has her own darkness that she hides and refuses to face. Kitsune.
Josiah - an introvert who would rather work on his cars than talk to others. With him, you get what you see. He doesn’t try to hide who he is beyond attempting to avoid attention. Reaper.
My plot development began with the question, ‘how would two people like this meet?’. Given Josiah’s personality, he would have to need something from Mai to have the desire to develop a relationship with her. Cue some plot. Josiah is needing something. What is he needing that Mai can give him? A home? Food? Companionship? Why does he need something? Plot develops when you ask questions. Pull that thread and watch the plot unravel before you. If you ever find yourself stuck on plot, just ask yourself, ‘what if?’.
World building is my least favorite part of novel conceptualizing. However, if you have a good plot going and characters well developed, world-building becomes much easier. Let’s look at Mai and Josiah again. In their character profiles, I mentioned two things - Kitsune and Reaper. These are their races. I wanted this piece to be a mythology/folklore inspired and the characters were a large part of that. Their race would influence where they came from, their backstories and the world they are in now. Mai is a Kitsune, a Japanese fox being, so Mai’s family home is in Japan. While she doesn’t live there now, it does influence the world they occupy. Josiah is a Reaper, and while I wanted him to be from somewhere outside of Japan, I did want him to be from nearby a commonality they can share later on when they move west. Again, like plotting, allow the other parts you have already thought through influence the rest of the work, so it builds naturally until you have something like ‘Ohayo!’, which is so gigantic it has sat on a back burner until I find a way to begin to unravel the tangled mass it has become.
That’s another hint. Know when to stop pulling the thread.
Alright, so I know that this post has basically become a complicated mess of me talking about how to pull threads, but I promise in there somewhere is a creative process. If you take nothing away from this, know that creating something messy. But in the end, you as a creator pull something beautiful out of the chaos.