The key to winning NaNo is speed. You need to be able to sit down and bang out scene after scene. For me, that means good planning in October. I start with my characters.
I have an idea for my novel this year. It’s a story that I’ve already written about half way through, but I’m going to rework it completely. I have about ten characters already defined but I’m taking a close look at them again to be sure they serve the story I want to tell.
To start the planning process I want to define high-level personalities for my characters. I’m going to use the personality profiles in Character Creation Made Easy as a short-cut to get started. I want a base personality type for each character, major and minor. It gives me a handle on how they’ll react in their scenes. Even the walk-on characters need something to distinguish them from every other character.
For the minor characters, I’ll stop with just a base personality and a small amount of background to explain why they’re in the story and what they want (everybody wants something). For major characters I need more background and most important, motivations and goals for each one. For those, I’ll go back to Character Creation Made Easy as my starting point. Once I have an idea of the base motivation and story goals for each, I’ll switch to the Create a Character Clinic. It does a great job of leading you through a series of questions that explore different aspects of the character’s life – Work & Play, Past, Present & Future, Friends, Enemies & Lovers, Life & Death, Culture, Religion & Education, and Moral Stance. Working through some of the questions in each section gives me great detail on my major characters. I can then use the material for plot ideas also, but we’ll cover that in the next post.
So, to prepare for NaNo, start with your characters. Get a good handle on them so you know what they want and how they’ll react when you throw alligators and obstacles at them.
Have writer friends who might enjoy this post? Send it to them with my compliments! And add me as a writing buddy at nanowrimo.org so I can follow your progress in November!