Nano Prep #2

This is for all of you who are planning to write a book next month. It can be daunting to get started. Here’s an exercise I came up with to get you started thinking about your story.

  • What is your story about, in one sentence?
  • What is your story about, in one paragraph?
  • What is your story about, in one page?
  • Who is your main character? (more on this at a later date)
  • What genre is this book?
  • What is the setting? Date, place?
  • What is your intended audience?
  • What is the theme of your book? More here.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that I wanted to write a story about a couple trying to have a baby. My sentence description might be, “A couple in their thirties face a series of challenges trying to have a child of their own.” That sounds a little weak. Maybe I could change it into “A couple in their thirties must overcome a series of challenges in trying to conceive a child of their own.”

That’s better, but I could still expand on it some. Is my main character the man or the woman? Or is it a same sex couple?  So my sentence might read, “A woman and her partner must overcome a series of challenges in trying to conceive their own biological child.”

I could expand more on that, discuss what the challenges are, or maybe what kind of book this is, but that’s a place to start.

Then I need to discuss the genre. Is this science fiction or contemporary fiction? It’s probably not fantasy, horror, or mystery. Let’s go with plain contemporary fiction.

That helps me narrow done the setting. It’s present day. I’m most familiar with the US, and since I want to write about some cutting edge reproductive technology, a big city would be a good place to start. Maybe New York City.

And it’s pretty obvious that this would be geared to an adult audience.

But theme – that might take some thought. There are lots of way I could take this story. But let’s say that I want my readers to see that a challenge like this uncovers a lot of secrets in a relationship, that I want to describe a relationship that isn’t quite the way it seems on the surface. So my theme might be “Challenges uncover who we really are.” I may not be phrasing it just right, but that’s the general idea. Obviously, it will become more clear as I write it. But I hope you can see how this is done.

Now I could go back and rewrite my one sentence, moving on to a paragraph and then a page that details what my story is about. All this can be done now, before you really start to work in November.

Hope that helps! Good luck to you writers! Next time we’ll work on character.

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Writing prompt

You get a chance to time travel. If you accept, you have a 90% chance of arriving where you intended, a 90% chance of arriving with your clothes and money, and a 90% chance of arriving with your memory.

You accept. You wake up 100 years before you intended, naked, with no memory of how you got there. What now?

Writing Exercise

I tried this writing exercise a while back and here’s how it works – get two books. Then it works best if you have someone else help, but you can do it on your own. Ask someone else for four random numbers. If no one else is around, you could throw a dice.

Then take your random numbers – we’ll go with 20, 14, 33, 87. Then turn to page 20 in Book 1, and pick the 14th word on the page.

“Black”

Take the next set of numbers and turn to page 33 in the second book. Pick the 87th word on the page.

“Couldn’t”

Now challenge yourself to write two pages about those two words.

I like this challenge because the goal is to write, not to write perfect, shiny words that will be immortally inscribed on plates of gold, but to WRITE. Write rubbish, write plain, just WRITE. You can’t get to the good stuff if you don’t wade through the bad stuff first.

Let me know how it works for you.