First… New Peer Review Submissions:
1. Brandon’ Pilcher’s fantasy short story, “Fighting For Food“.
2. A new chapter (2) added to Frederick Fuller’s romantic novel, “For the Heart’s Treasure“.
Please honor these writers with your feedback.
Cast Your Novel With Familiar Faces
Cut yourself some slack. You’re trying to plan an entire novel in a month — a tall order — and then (an even taller order) you’re going to write it in 30 days.
We need all the help we can get with both aspects of the experience.
For me, nailing the tonality and energy of my main characters is always challenging. While you can plan it, truth is they don’t really come alive in a visceral way until you commit that plan to the manuscript.
Here’s a little trick to help work-around any fuzziness or doubt when it comes to imprinting your character with edge and depth, and that add value to the many moments you are creating in your fiction.
Cast Someone You Know in These Roles
I recommend movie or television stars. The more established and inflexible their on-screen persona, the better. Cast your leading roles first, and if you like how this feels, go deeper into your cast of characters and do the same.
You can even use their names… until day 30, at which time you should do a search-and-replace to brand them with names of your own creation. You’ll not only have a face in your mind as you write (doesn’t hurt to paste a picture onto the edge of your monitor, either), but you’ll have an acid test that will help you nail their dialogue and possibly even their decisions.
It’s amazing how far, and how fast, this little technique will take you. Because…
If your placeholder/actor wouldn’t say it, don’t have your character say it.
Let’s say you’ve cast a young Clint Eastwood as the lead in your thriller. He’s under the gun, facing a critical decision, and you’re not sure what should come out of his mouth. At this point you can ask… what would Clint say? And right away you have a notion about what to write.
Clint wouldn’t say, “Well, I sure do hope this works.”
But he would say, “I’ll apologize later, if you’re still alive.”
One of the nice aspects of this little tip is that it doesn’t influence the direction of a story, because you’ve cast the roles in context to what you’re planning. Once operating from within that plan, and if you’ve cast it well (which might include people in your life who aren’t famous… just don’t forget to swap out their names), you’ll have built-in personality and energy to help you quickly and effectively create dialogue and decisons that align with your plan, and are closer to the optimal “moment” than you might otherwise draft.
With NaNoWriNo, coming close the first time is critical. Your story plan is a means toward this end, and this tip is a sure-fire way to make it work.