If you read my article on What is NaNo Writing Month? and the benefits and challenges and think you’re ready to give it a go, here are a few ways to actually start NaNo Writing.
1. Borrow a Plot
What’s your favourite novel or movie? Okay. I am a huge fan of Stephen King and I really liked The Stand. The plot goes like this (from a Goodreads search):
This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen.
Now we get to change it.
Write three different summaries where you change parts of the plot. Change settings, characters, ages, twists, verbs, adjectives, and anything else you like. Be outrageous – it gives you more with which to work.
My example (5 mins worth – a draft!). The world is on the edge; attacked by hurricanes, storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters, nowhere is safe. Out of the blue a devastating chain of world-killing tsunamis cover the planet and only those very rich, or very lucky survive. As we unravel mysteries, the rich and the lucky find themselves as always at odds to inherit what is left of the world.
2. Borrow a Character
Invent a world for someone you know or know of. Use a past family member, an old friend who has passed out of touch, someone you know from the pub, a stranger who catches your eye and you can’t stop watching, or a photo of someone striking.
- who are they?
- Where do they live?
- Who lives with them?
- Do they have children?
- What do they really want from their lives?
- What did they dream of as children?
- What have they had to do to get there?
- Or what stopped them getting there?
With all this information, find the conflict, the drama, the adventure, the disaster in their story and then make it worse as you write. This is NOT an actual person, so make them exceed their wildest dreams – or suffer and fail horribly.
3. News papers or old news archives at the library.
What happened – what are/were the headlines? A forest fire that’s out of control, the house that was destroyed despite the best efforts of firefighters.
Now run with it…
(My example, 5minutes timed write) the husband who went down the road for help, but got cut off and was presumed dead in the fire. The neighbour and his wife who came to help and eventually the house was saved. The wife and children, now fatherless and traumatised forever by the fear of fire who sell the house and move away. But is the father dead?
4. Photos as Inspiration for Place/Setting.
Try these links for inspiration:
Forbes 50 most beautiful places in the world
2020 Compilation of the 59 weirdest places in the world
Find one that appeals and then take five minutes to write your impression of it.
- What is it?
- Where is it?
- Who might/did live here?
- How did it get like this?
- What obstacles would a character have if they lived here?