Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nanowrimo 2008 - Counting Down to the Starting Gun

Just a few days left until Nanowrimo 2008 begins! I've been working on my story for a few months, which is a breath of fresh air compared to last year, for which I had only a few weeks to prepare.

I'll be keeping a running journal here of how things are going, and the process I follow (so that I can learn from my mistakes, and/or share my success with others).

A brief recap so far:

  • Formed my general idea about a year ago, and have been gradually circling in on the spine of the story since then
  • In August, I wrote a very high level outline (following the method detailed in John Franklin's "Writing for Story")
  • I started at the end, which for me has so far been the hardest part of a story
  • Once I imagined an ending that I liked, I wrote down a beginning that seemed far from that
  • I then filled in a few of the middle bits
  • After letting that sink in, I spent September putting these events into Freemind, an excellent (and free) mind mapping tool
  • In Freemind, I began to expand the outline, filling in between 10 and 20 new events between the high-level ones from earlier
  • I followed, very loosely, the key elements suggested by Blake Snyder in his excellent book "Save the Cat" - not strictly, though
  • I wrote a total of 45 events, more or less (my target is 90k words, so I figure roughly 2k words per chapter as a goal)
  • I then used Freemind to start to break all these events down into more and more detail. Two, three, sometimes four levels deep. My outline alone is now 3,300 words!
  • Feeling pretty good about the plot, I turned to characters in October
  • Again in Freemind, I created a simple biography for each character
  • I also did something I thought I'd never do (it just seems cheesy) - I cast each character, picking some actor or actress and putting their picture right there next to them
  • Finally, I did something I found very useful: I plotted out a "typical day" for each of the main characters, specifically the day before the story will begin. This really helped me visualize the world they live in, and generate a number of ideas for those "little details" that add much needed depth to a made-up place

So that's where I am, with three days to go. Feeling pretty good about this one!

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