Take Your Writing to the Next Level with NaNoWriMo

This is the first installment in a series that will lead you through the preparations for a successful NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo TipsSpread Your Wings

As much as this is (and will remain) a site dedicated to the art and craft of writing Fan Fiction, I’d like to start talking a bit about how to take your Fan Fiction writing skills to the next level.

With the breakout success of Fifty Shades of Grey and the rise in Self Publishing, becoming a published author is within just about anyone’s reach. That is, if you are will to work for it. In my opinion, no one is better positioned to take advantage of Self Publishing than Fan Fiction writers. Now this is not to say that you should change all the names on your latest fic and slap it up on Amazon, but Fan Fic writers are a prolific bunch. We all love to write, so  National Novel Writing Month  seems like the perfect step up.

November is just around the corner and I’ll be doing it this year. I’d like to invite you to join in. Whether you’ll be writing Fan Fiction or transitioning to original fiction, NaNo is a great opportunity to sharpen those writing skills.  You could finish a WIP that’s been languishing or tackle that new idea that’s been knocking around in the back of your head. In the next three weeks, I’ll be providing you with a series of posts to get you in shape and make sure you have a story to write (and all the tools you need to do it) on November 1.

Ready to go? Let’s get started.

How to ‘Win’ NaNoWriMo

I’m going to be realistic here. I’ve started NaNo a few times and wound up not finishing. Mostly because I can’t stand wasting time writing crap. For some writers, 50,000 words is a win. I want 50,000 words that I can actually turn into a story or novel that someone would want to read. So our goal here is to produce quantity and quality, which is a little different that then NaNo mission, which is pretty much “write words, edit later.” For some people this is a great option, but I am all about the goal!

There will be worksheets for this process, so start a file on your computer, a file on your desk or even a three ring binder. You’ll need to keep them all together so when you actually sit down to write your story, you have everything in one place.

What do You Want to Write?

What tickles your fancy? Makes you secretly giddy? What do you dream about writing. Personally, I’m obsessed with Fantasy novels and Castle. So I’m going to combine epic romance with magic for my NaNo  project.

Download WorksheetDownload the Idea Creator Worksheet and take fifteen minutes to fill out all the questions. Even if you are skeptical or plan to write a totally original story, this is worth doing. It will expand your thinking and help you to incorporate additional layers of story into your project.

The worksheet asks you to examine your favorite books, tv shows and movies on a deeper level. Look at the overall qualities of the book rather than specific details. Take that information and reassemble it into an idea for your next story or novel. Some questions to consider:

  • Why couldn’t you put the book down?
  • Why can you watch the movie over and over again and still be just as in love with the story as the first time?
  • How would your favorite characters act in a different period of history?
  • What if history were different?
  • Swap their backgrounds. (For example Castle becomes the cop and Beckett the writer.) What does that do to their characters? The story? How they meet?
  • Put your characters into a famous story–say Snow White or Beauty and the Beast.
  • Create your own characters (we’ll make sure it’s not a Mary Sue!) and spin them off of your favorite show or book.
The possibilities are literally endless (and giving me some great ideas!) so brainstorm away. Hop on Netflix or YouTube and watch some of your favorite scenes. You never know what might hit you and just think, you can have fun and work on your novel at the same time.

Further Reading

Robert’s Rules of Writing – Robert Masello’s fun, creative book of writing advice. It’s a quick and easy read and one of my favorite books on writing.

25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo – Chuck Wendig tells it like it is.  (He enjoys swearing, so if that is not your thing don’t read this!)

How to Write Fan Fiction – In my one of a kind book, I bread down how to write a great story–including a complete discussion on writing multi-chapter/novel style stories.

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