Today’s lesson ~ Flexing those mental muscles & getting fit for NaNoWriMo


Me Running

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I am centering today’s mental muscles in honour of this being the last week before the gun goes off and the writers are sprinting away in the mad creative marathon of NaNoWriMo.

So is your story clear in your head? Is your story as tangible as a photograph or is it a scarf, flung carelessly, constantly been blown out of your reach? Could you describe it in a page, in a paragraph or in a sentence? Are character/s knocking on your mental doors or have they been breaking & entering in through the windows? Are the character/s nagging you yet? Have they been revealing themselves to you or are they a little reticent?

Well for today’s muscle flexing, I am going to give you some tools that may help you catch that scarf of a plot or maybe your niggling runner’s cramp is a reticent character. Either way, you have one week left to flesh out your character/s and colour your story. Maybe nerves are striking and you keep on wondering why you have signed yourself up for NaNoWriMo in the first place. I mean it’s crazy to think that you can fit more time into your day solely devoted to writing. What about the animals, or the kids or the spouse – who is going to feed them? What about that pesky Day Job that steals at least 8 hours of your time every day? Before you resign from the Day Job and move into a secluded, but handy hermit’s cottage, just like the spooky one you used to skirt past as a kid….Stop….Breathe…that was 3 deep breaths please…Now refocus…Feeling better? If you are still in the freak-out, hair turning white from stress, stage….maybe it’s time to test yourself a little without breaking the NaNoWriMo rules either. I can help you with that. Of course if you are cool, calm and collected and as ready as you ever will be, well you can do these for fun then.

As this may be the first time you are entering this creative gym, I will go over the etiquette. You need to do at least 1 of the exercises listed here. If you do, let us all know which one you chose and how it went. You can do this by commenting on this post. If you put it up on your blog, please link back through to my blog. As with everything else, feel free to pay it forward and give these exercises to anyone you may feel needs to do them. Now onto the workout floor…Hope you brought your stretching mats, work out towels and water…Ready? Let’s begin.

  1. Plotting ~ Write up your novel’s plot into a 1 sentence synopsis. Now flesh that out into a paragraph length synopsis. Next flesh that out into a single page length synopsis.
  2. Plotting ~ Music is a vital tool to anyone. Firstly our sense of hearing is the first sense we develop and the last we lose. So with this is mind…Close your eyes and think of the story you have so far. Now listen carefully. In the background you will start hearing a melody that will turn into a song, maybe even a compilation. This is your story’s theme song. Everything needs a theme song. Now you have your NaNoWriMo theme song. Use it for inspiration or even to vaccinate yourself against procrastinitis.
  3. Plotting ~ Without telling them it is your story, get a trusted friend (non-writer) to read the synopsis from exercise (1) and tell them to give you an honest opinion on whether they would want to read this story. Also ask them what the plot’s strengths and weaknesses may be. Does the story hook them? If it does not, what is missing? (Aside: Remember every story needs to be read as well as told. Readers give invaluable insight.)
  1. Character ~ (This first exercise is for the writer with the reticent and secretive character/s.) Find a spot where you feel comfortable and relaxed. Grab a few snacks and treats. Then make a date to rendezvous with your writing muses. Ask your character/s to introduce themselves to you. You may be surprised. Maybe your character/s are polite and were just waiting for you to make some time for them to introduce themselves to you. (This exercise needs a minimum of at least 2 hours. Make sure you have no interruptions in this time.)
  2. Character ~ Close your eyes and picture your character/s in your mental vision. Once you have them in your mind, start a sketch of your character. (You don’t have to be an artist to do this exercise. Remember this is just for you.) You can keep this sketch in your NaNoWriMo notebook or pin it up on your corkboard / wall to keep you focused throughout November. Sometimes you have to see to believe it.
  3. Character ~ Close your eyes again. Now ask your character/s what their 6 favourite meals are. Now for the next 6 days make these meals for yourself and for your loved ones. Taste is a vital key to personality. Is your character a gourmet or fussy eater? Is your character a simple home-cooked pasta type of person? Use these meal times to further get to know your character and to flesh out their personality/s.

Now choose at least 1 each of the above exercises, 1 for plotting and 1 for character, and let yourself have fun with it. Now how are you feeling about NaNoWriMo? Remember this should be a FUN Adventure and not a chore. You have a story locked inside of you. Use NaNoWriMo to unlock this. Use these exercise to help draw your map for your NaNoWriMo story.

Good luck and happy stretching!

(For any of you NaNoWriMo participants: if you would like to add me as a NaNo buddy, my user name is last_lines)

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you my faithful friend for your lovely comments as usual! Thank you also for my lovely awards you gave me! I cherish and treasure them!
    Looking forward to Monday and the start of NaNoWriMo. Good luck with your WIPs.
    🙂

  2. Thanks Kim, for this wonderful post. Love the idea of dating my characters. I like the idea of writing down a one sentence synopsis,then a one paragraph synopsis and finally a single page synopsis. Its something that really works for me.

    All the best for NaNoWriMo. 🙂

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