NaNoWrimo is underway!

Hey you writers out there! How’s it going so far? Have you been writing every day? Did the prep help? What are you struggling with?

I’m up to 18k words and starting to hit the hard stuff. At first, I was mostly rewriting old chapters, but now I’ve got some original stuff I need to include and I think it will slow me down.   🐢

Remember, the goal is to write. Hitting your target number, writing every day, doing word sprints – those are just tools. Find your own style and make it work for you. Good luck!

SR

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NaNo Prep #3 – Character

World building is great, solid writing is a must, but if your characters don’t stand out, then your book isn’t worth reading. BOOM.

OK, you say, I want to write amazing, three-dimensional characters. Where do I start?

There are a lot of ways to get moving on your characters, but it all comes down to understanding what makes them work. And before you truly understand them, you need to define a few basics. I searched for character worksheets, and came up with this one from writerswrite.com.

Character Profile Worksheet

Basic Statistics

Name:
Age:
Nationality:
Socioeconomic Level as a child:
Socioeconomic Level as an adult:
Hometown:
Current Residence:
Occupation:
Income:
Talents/Skills:
Salary:
Birth order:
Siblings (describe relationship):
Spouse (describe relationship):
Children (describe relationship):
Grandparents (describe relationship):
Grandchildren (describe relationship):
Significant Others (describe relationship):
Relationship skills:

There’s much more at the link, but this is a good place to start. For me, I started with a person in my head and then used the worksheet to help me answer some questions I didn’t think of on my own.

Once you’ve filled out some sheets like this one, it helps to write some scenes with your characters as you’ve written them. These scenes are not meant to be in your book; they’re just writing exercises to get you thinking about how your characters interact. You can search for writing or character exercises – there are a LOT on the internet. Nanowrimo.org has some great links there listed in the forums. This will help you see if your characters have more to tell you than you get from a worksheet.

Again, why are characters so important? Ask yourself, if I read a book with a beautifully detailed world, intricate and well thought out, or a realistic setting I could imagine walking into, a world described by the most amazing writing you’ve ever read or imagined and a truly unique plot that just blows your mind

BUT

peopled exclusively by the most generic, boring characters you’ve read a thousand times over, acting with no discernible motivation….

Would you finish reading the book?

No. Because it wouldn’t matter. If you can’t connect on an emotional level with the action or the setting, then it doesn’t matter. Characters are where we connect to the emotional content of the story. But with flat characters, the struggle in the plot has no immediacy; the writing describes a great world but that’s all. You put down the book and forget to pick it back up again. When you finish it, IF you finish it, you don’t care what happened or how it happened. You just vaguely remember a couple of details and then move on.

So we want characters that readers care about. Part of that is in building a great back story, one that may not ever be seen by readers but will nevertheless shape everything we write. And we want to rewrite until our characters and their struggles become more and more real. Sure, our characters may – will! – surprise us as we start writing, but they shouldn’t BORE us.

Hope this gives you a place to start. November is just a couple of weeks away! Good luck!

Who’s Ready for NaNo?

The old opened book is christian Psalter
19st century Psalter. Isolated over white with clipping path

Are you planning to be part of NaNoWriMo? For those who don’t know, that stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is in November, and it celebrates the amazing amount of literary talent out there, waiting to be discovered. There is an official site (nanowrimo.org) which has so many helpful tips you’ll be overwhelmed!

I took part last year. The official goal is 50,000 words. I came it around 35K, which I was very proud of. Since then I’ve hit my 50 thousand, but my book is still not done. This year I’m unofficially joining in with the goal of finishing my stinking book! I almost don’t care if it’s good, I just want it to be done! After all, that’s what rewrites are for.

Now is the time to prepare. If you are a planner, start with your outline, your character descriptions, your research, and get it all underway now. If you’re more of a pantser, plan by clearing your schedule for next month. Make a writing playlist, stock the freezer with meals and the cupboard with snacks, and tell everyone that you won’t be around much next month.

Anyway, I’d love to know who else is joining in the fun. Let me know in the comments if you will be signing up, what genre your book is, and title if you have one. Then we’ll be writing buddies. My book is an adult thriller and I know I can finish next month.