Nail Your NaNoWriMo #5: Don’t Forget to Fall In Love

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by Larry Brooks on October 4, 2011

31 Posts in 31 Days to Prep You For NaNoWriMo

About that “idea” for your novel.

There are ideas… and then there are Ideas.  The latter being significant concepts, fantasies, landscapes, arenas, themes and even semi-developed stories you are saving for a real effort at writing a novel.

Well, it doesn’t get any more real than this.  Than NaNoWriMo… if you go about it properly. 

NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be practice, but rather, it does end up being one of two things: success or basically a waste of time.  A certain percentage of NaNoWriMo writers get this, and a certain other percentage doesn’t.  That latter group truly has one and only one goal: fill up blank screens with 50,000 words of… anything that seems, to them, to be linear in nature.  To them, that’s winning.

Winning!”  Remind you of anyone?

For real writers, NaNoWriMo isn’t about that. 

I think we owe the craft of storytelling more than that.  I know it demands more of us than that.

So let’s shoot for real success, ya think?

You know that old saying, “you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken sh*t?”  Make sure your NaNoWriMo idea doesn’t smell like the henhouse.

One way to move toward that context — and this is today’s tip — is to build this project around an idea — a concept, a character, a theme, or something that happened to you or you wish would happen to you — that’s worth a few pints of your blood and sweat.

There are no definitive criteria for this.  You’ll know if the idea is big enough, exciting enough, to be the one thing that drives you toward doing this right.  An idea you can’t get out of your head.  An idea that you’d read if someone else wrote about it.

Make your NaNoWriMo novel about that.  Nothing less.  Don’t settle.  Honor the craft, honor your time, honor your dream. Don’t concoct a placeholder story for a placeholder writing month.  Make them both count by writing something real and significant… for you.

Because — and you already know this — this is gonna be hard.  It’s like a relationship… they’re hard at times, and when it is, only if the other person is worth it will you proceed forward productively, and with a chance at bliss.

Love your story.  Accept nothing less.  That’s the only way it will ever love you back.

Yochi October 4, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Are you by any chance a mind reader?? I am getting so excited about NaNoWriMo this year – especially since it is only October and there is time to prepare – there is only one tiny little detail clouding my good intentions: I am completely dry. I don’t have a story or concept. I haven’t written fiction in quite a while, but I miss it, and I want to participate in NaNoWriMo this year but I can see that taking a hiatus from fiction writing comes at a price: an atrophied imagination muscle.

So here you come into the picture, Larry, with the perfect post. You see, just today I remembered a short story (a romance) I had written years ago which was rejected, but the kernel of the story still seems valid to me, better yet, really exciting. You are absolutely right, a concept, a feeling, maybe even a smell, can all lead to the terrific story you are meant to write. And settling for something that doesn’t excite you in your belly isn’t really going to fly for 1667 words each day…

Thank you, Larry, for your generosity.

spinx October 5, 2011 at 2:13 am

This is a real problem for me……….I still get confused with the true impact my ideas have on me (yeah, basically I am still a bloody beginner, so I will have to start using my brain some more!).

Either it reaches the obsessive-mode pretty quickly, or there is a character that draws too much attention, or, and this is something I have been noticing recently, I get to hung up on a story or number of scenes that sem interesting when I take notes, but then……..I just can´t find myself getting into it.

This is really hard……………..behhhh…………it really just get´s down to this- do I like Arthur on King of Queens? Sure, he is funny, he is crazy- but would I want to spend time with his character in real life? No! Absolutely not.

That is what I have to sort out!

——————-

Was the idea for “Bait and Switch” love at first sight for you, or did it have to grow into it?

Olga Oliver October 5, 2011 at 11:18 am

Larry, the truth rings forth: Fall in Love with your story. This morning, a few seconds before your ‘Don’t Forget To fall In Love” zipped into my email, an email arrived telling me that I’d sold an essay to Woman’s World Magazine. Now, that’s not the Smithsonian Magazine, you know. But I did get a nice, nice rejection from Smithsonian recently.
Now, why am I ranting about this little essay? Because it is written in an alphabet of love. I dearly love that simple little true story. So, with my little essay written in love, and your message about Falling In Love, my attitude about NaNoWriMo has flipped over. Bring it on. Now I’ll hush, calm down and get to work. Perhaps I’m learning – That which you seek is also seeking you.
Olga

Robert Sloan October 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Excellent article! It makes a big difference to write what you love, then do your best to make it the best of your current skill. That’s beyond winning.

spinx October 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm

My question just got answered by the new post!

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