In case you missed this post earlier this year, I am guest blogging for Anne Clare, a frequent contributor to my site, about when a character turns into a problem child. To read Anne Clare’s interviews and posts on my site, click here.
Although I haven’t done NaNoWriMo, I’ve read about it and conversed with people who’ve done it. Dedicating a specific time to write a first draft, writing straight out of your imagination, is a wonderful concept. I just wish somebody had picked March, which, for me, is the least cluttered month. To reach 50,000 words by Dec. 1, a writer must be dedicated and focused. But if you find yourself flagging, if all your preparations in October are holding you back instead of propelling you forward, then I advise that for NaNoWriMo let your imagination soar.
But before you unleash your imagination, you must …
Send Your Internal Editor on Vacation
If you’ve written for very long, you know who I mean. That part of your brain that has to start polishing even before you have finished a scene. The internal editor has no reason to stick around for NaNoWriMo. So let her pick her favorite vacation spot, help her pack, and say farewell with hugs and kisses and an order not to contact you until Dec. 1. The internal editor will most likely ignore your request (mine is particularly rude), but it is imperative that you stand firm. I knew my internal editor could cramp my creativity but I didn’t understand why until I talked to my youngest sister who homeschools.
She said she assigns the first draft of a writing project one day and then the editing the next day because the two tasks are so different and require using different parts of the brain. That’s probably why my creativity can dry up in a first draft–my internal editor overwhelms the free-spirited artist in me.
Now with your internal editor is enjoying a much-needed rest …
Let Your Imagination Soar
Without your internal editor to hamper you, now is the time to explore your story. If a scene isn’t working, try these tactics:
- Write the scene from the perspective of another character.
- Add characters.
- Remove characters.
- Change the setting.
- Examine your setting to take better advantage of it.
- Have a bad guy do something good.
- Have a good guy do something bad or foolish.
- Work against stereotypes–like creating a nice cheerleader or a science geek who’s an extrovert.
- Write extra scenes to get a handle on a difficult character.
- Let the worse thing that can happen to your main character happen.
- Have a friend turn into an enemy.
- Have an enemy turn into a friend.
For more posts related to NaNoWriMo, click here. What has been your experiences doing NaNoWriMo?
My prompt this week is to prompt you to share your ideas if you need help brainstorming for NaNoWriMo. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo because November is a terrible month for me to expect to write 50,000 words. But I do love to brainstorm with other writers. So if you’re writing and find yourself hitting a wall between you and your imagination, drop your problem in the comments and I’ll do my best to come up with some ways to tear down that wall. And other readers can offer their brainstorming ideas too. Creativity sparks more creativity!
Last year, I also offered photos in case you needed some visual prompts. Click here to find the prompts for NaNoWriMo.
Since it’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I’m featuring one of my favorite novels. One surprising pleasure of getting older is finding new enjoyment in books I originally didn’t like. The summer I was twenty, I tried the Father Brown mysteries and didn’t like them at all. Twenty years later, I read them and couldn’t get enough of them. I wrote about that in my blog post last month about my favorite mysteries. The same thing happened with The Father Hunt by Rex Stout.
I discovered the Nero Wolfe series when I was a junior in college and slowly built up my personal library of these mysteries. Somewhere along the line, I acquired a copy of The Father Hunt. The first reading didn’t impress me because when I decided to pack it for a trip to the beach last summer, I didn’t remember anything about it. But I took it on vacation, and the novel hooked me.
Maybe I love it now because it’s not your typical Nero Wolfe mystery. It was written late in the series, and perhaps Mr. Stout was trying a different kind of mystery with a different structure.
Amy Denovo, a twenty-two-year-old college graduate, hires Nero Wolfe and his bodyguard and legman Archie Goodwin to find out who her father is. Her mother Elinor, who recently died in a hit-and run, never breathed a word about him or her own background. But on her death, Elinor left Amy a note, saying that her father sent her $1,000 every month since she was born. Elinor refused to spend it, so now it belongs to Amy–$264,000.
With nothing more to go on than the bank that issued the checks, Wolfe and Archie take the case.
Usually, in a Nero Wolfe mystery, a crime, most often murder, is committed and only a handful of people are possible suspects. Sometimes there’s a second or third murder, each providing more clues until the killer is caught. The Father Hunt begins with no crime, although seasoned mystery fans are instantly suspicious of any unsolved hit-and-run. What I like is how Archie investigates, following one lead after another, bringing his findings to Wolfe, who directs their strategy. Each time they think they reach a dead end, they find another path to follow, such as they uncover the man who wrote the checks but refuses to say why. He proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was in a hospital when Amy was conceived. So Wolfe and Archie begin digging into his relatives and associates.
The other thing I like is that the suspects and other people questioned are more fleshed out, seem more like real people. Many times in mysteries, the characters are just props to misdirect the reader. But these characters come alive when described by Archie Goodwin:
Cyrus M. Jarrett, the man who wrote the checks:
As he approached I noted that he looked his seventy-six, but he walked more like fifty-six. Then he got closer and sat and I saw the eyes and they looked a thousand and seventy-six.
Dorothy Sebor, a businesswoman in her fifties, who tells Archie she’s never worked for a man and never intends to. Because of her assistance, Archie says he’ll send her roses and asks what kind she would like.
“Green with black borders. If you sent me ten dozen roses I’d sell then to some customer. I’m a businesswoman.”
She certainly was.
Elinor Denovo. Aside from the fact that she never talked about her life before Amy was born to anyone, she also had no photos of herself. After Archie interviews Amy and goes over the apartment she shared with her mother, he reports to Wolfe.
“I’ll skip the details of the inspection unless you insist. As I said, no photographs, which is fantastic. The letters and other papers, a washout. If we fed them to a computer I would expect it to come up with something like SO WHAT or TELL IT TO THE MARINES.”
Because of rediscovering this gem, I reread other stories in the series, trying to find a new favorite among old books.
What about you? Have you fallen in love with a book on the second time around?
I am so excited to share my book trailer with you! I hadn’t planned on making a book trailer because I knew I didn’t have the skills to make it look great. Or even nice. But my niece has been editing home movies with music and special effects for years, so I asked if she could help me create one. For two hours one Saturday afternoon, we searched for public domain video and music clips to create the 45-second trailer. It was fascinating watching my niece work. I felt like a Hollywood director collaborating with a top-notch editor while my sister acted as creative consultant. So much skill, and my niece is all of fourteen years old. Without further delay, enjoy the world premiere of A Shadow on the Snow: the Book Trailer.
For my fellow writers–if you like how the trailer looks, I recommend downloading the software Filmora. You pay a one-time price, and the software comes with automatic updates. However, that price does not include a fourteen-year-old film technician. So you’ll have to recruit your own.
If you like A Shadow on the Snow, please consider leaving a positive review wherever you review books. Reviews help authors gain more visibility on the book retailer sites.