March 24, 2014

coming soon: camp nanowrimo 2014

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On your marks. Get set. GO!

We have one week until the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo 2014 begins, which means it's time for me to share some last-minute plotting tools. Whether you're going into this year's camp hoping to write 10,000 words or 100,000 words, having a game plan certainly doesn't hurt.

Here are a few of my go-to plotting tools, which you are free to borrow for your own adventure.

•  Character Sketch: Give your character a name, description and back story. I cut out pictures from magazines and write out key facts to know about them. Just don't get too bogged down picking your character's favorite flower that you forget to write your novel.

•  Before and After: Use this to figure out where your main character(s) is/are before and after the story. What happens in the middle is the cause that creates the effect. It's also the heart of your story.

•  The 10-Scene Tool: I borrowed this from James V. Smith Jr.'s The Writer's Little Helper. Knowing your 10 main scenes will help with pacing and ensure you drive your story in the right direction.

•  Write Your Sales Pitch: Jot down what you imagine will appear on the back cover/inside flap of your book or what you'd tell an agent if you had 15 seconds on an elevator. Whatever you put there is the most important part of your story. It only takes a few minutes to do and serves as an excellent writing exercise.

•  Build a Working Synopsis: This is your outline for the novel. Whether you write a paragraph about your 10 biggest scenes or a play by play of every chapter, doing this legwork in advance will give you more freedom to focus on generating quality word count during the month. But remember, if something in the story changes as you write it, let it happen. You can always go back and update your working synopsis to reflect the changes.

•  The Ultimate Plotting Kit: What you'll need: index cards, an index card holder, pens and a highlighter. Once complete, you will have a mobile novel kit that can go anywhere with you. One reader mentioned that she set aside each chapter card when she was done with it, because it gave her a sense of accomplishment to see that pile get shorter. I love that idea.

With that -- I wish you the best of luck on your Camping ventures. I'll be (hopefully) finishing the first draft of my third novel. I wrote the first 50K during NaNoWriMo 2013, and it's about time I put the icing on the cake.

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