Writing a novel is a daunting task, even when one is not trying to write it in a month. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to sit down and immediately start writing it. Planning out a story beforehand, in broad measures or tiny details, can make all the difference to how well NaNoWriMo will go.
With just over six weeks until November, this is the perfect time to start generating ideas. That gives us plenty of time to come up with a lot of seeds from which to pick. Over the next several days, I’m going to post a series of images, prompts, word lists, and other such things that are meant to inspire ideas. I’m going to try to include a variety of stimuli, because everyone’s brain works differently. Some may be more visual, while others work well with words.
Below are today’s ideas to produce seeds. The idea is not to write a full story from these. It’s also not to develop an entire plot, or list of characters, or even a set-in-stone setting. It’s simply to create inspiration. Write what is suggested for each numbered item, or whatever else may come to your mind. Then set that aside for now and do another one.
1. Write a detailed setting based on the above picture. Try to include all five senses. Whatever your instincts or preferences for setting and detail, try to over-exaggerate the scene. Write it however you’re comfortable–put a person there to experience it, write from a first-person perspective, or simply describe it more broadly. (Ex. “The air smells of…The water sprays…”)
2. Writing prompt–set a timer for 15 minutes and write whatever comes to your mind about the following statement:
You walk into a coffee shop and see Batman sitting in the corner booth.
3. Write a scene from this image. Explain what these people are looking at. Or write about what just happened that led to this image. Give the people voices, personalities. Find details in the room to include in the scene (what time of year might it be?).
4. Find some time to sit in a crowded place–the mall, a park, a bench on a downtown street. Watch people walk by and imagine what they’re doing. Imagine what they’re saying to each other. Jot down some of your ideas. Or pick out a specific person and give them a name, a career, a destination, a reason for being there.
5. Introduce these four people as a cast of characters in a story. What are their names? Why are they here together? Why are some of them dressed oddly? What are their relationships to each other? Which one is the clown (no pun intended)? Which one is the serious one? Who would be the main character (if any)? Who would be the one that can’t seem to catch a break? Give them real personalities and lives.
6. Go back through all of the previous activities and make them all fit together. This doesn’t mean that they all have to somehow be worked into the same scene, or even the same day. But find some way to connect them all to each other, some story that would encompass them all. Then write the synopsis (as broad or specific, long or short as you need it to be) that involves all five previous elements. Yes, even Batman.
For this one, you do not have to stick with what you already wrote for any of the previous activities (except maybe for number 4); you can go different directions with any of them to make them fit together.
Make sure that you are organized from the start, to make it easier later. If you are using pencil and paper to do this pre-writing, keep a folder, notebook, or some other set place where you store all of these ideas. If you’re using the computer, make each different story seed a different file, and store them all in the same location. Most importantly, keep everything.