The NaNoWriMo website has had it’s makeover and been relaunched, which means we’re at that time in October where planning for NaNoWriMo should really get started. But what happens if you’ve gone blank? All of a sudden you have no stories in your head?
Well, try a few of these tips and see if you can be inspired. Not just useful for those without an idea, these suggestions can also help focus and extend existing plans.
Clichés and Sayings
If you’re stuck for ideas try searching for clichés and sayings that could help inform your theme. ‘All’s fair in love and war’; ‘Money can’t buy you happiness’; ‘The brave may not live forever, but the cautious don’t live at all’. Start with any of these (or others) and see what story you can brainstorm that would help support them.
Now – this is the most fun part – what about stories that refute these sayings? Think about the ‘exception that proves the rule’. What would happen if a struggling single mother won the lottery and, thanks to the cash, she no longer had to struggle, leading her to concentrate on being the best mother she could and helping others in her previous position?
Plenty of stories have been written to support the sayings we’re familiar with, but fewer focus on what happens when they can be disproved.
Whether you dedicate ten minutes, an hour or a whole day to this tip you should really find some key elements to consider for your novel writing attempt. Just sit and watch (in a cafe, library, bar or even a supermarket) and perhaps take some surreptitious notes that could lead to inspiration. It might be a characteristic you want to give to your protagonist, a habit that your antagonist just can’t break or even something as basic as the start of a conversation which would inform your plot. Whatever you get can be used as a starting point for your fiction.
Take a character you know well – be it from a book, TV or a movie. Take them out of their comfort zone and see what happens. How would Miss Havisham have reacted if Compeyson had returned? How different might her life have been if she’d gotten married to him after all, or if she had found a man who loved her for things other than her wealth?Once you’ve started exploring these possibilities you can alter your character to become less familiar and to really embody the story you are trying to tell. Sometimes, one character is enough to lead us to any number of others – think six degrees of separation – and you might end up deciding to write a story you based on Miss Havisham’s lawyer, or a solicitor dealing with a mean old spinster who ends up falling in love with her?!
For those taking part in NaNoWriMo if you want to add me as a writing buddy throughout the frenzy of November, you can find me under the username ankhofbastet