November is my favorite month of the year, for obvious reasons.
I spend all year preparing for NaNoWriMo, whether it be stocking up on pixie sticks or taking note of interesting names and events. At first it seemed awkward to be writing-minded all year, but now between Postaday and NaNo, it seems second nature. I’m always looking for ideas for blog posts, or plots for novels.
The latter is hard for me. Sometimes I’ll have a very vague but brilliant idea. Sometimes a phrase or lyric will catch my imagination and lead way to something new. It can be something someone says, a bit of a poem or song, even a commercial. But there’s a spark there, something that makes me stop and think, Hey, this could work. I scribble it down on whatever paper I have in front of me (or jot it down in Microsoft Word, if I’m surfing the web), and spend the next few days thinking it over.
What I have trouble with, though, is developing that vague idea or small piece of dialogue into a respectable plot. For example, I once wrote down a few lines:
“I never want to see you again!” she said, the tears running down her face.
I felt my face harden. “Fine,” I heard myself say. “I could care less.”
She turned and ran.
She got her wish. She never saw me again. But I was always watching her.
When I wrote this down, I had a specific intention and more to add in my head. But now the meaning’s unclear– is the viewpoint character a pseudo-stalker? Did he die and watch her from heaven? Or does it mean something else entirely, something brilliant that probably would have won me the Nobel prize?
There are so many ways to interpret even those few lines. Now I don’t like the way they were written at all, but the point is that this could go in fifty different directions.
Say you pick one, then start to plot it out. You get your characters, setting, conflict, and a general summary of the way things will go. OK, you’re set.
But I always have this feeling, always, like one of the other forty-nine interpretations would be smarter, tighter, funnier, better. I plot a few more out. Then a few more.
Pretty soon I have fifty suitable plots. And I can’t decide which one’s better! I go around in circles and debate, because I don’t have time to write them all into books, or even 20k novellas.
What I’ve done recently is limited myself to plotting out two or three good ideas. Then I pick one based on clarity and whether or not I’ll be able to continue generating ideas off the basic plot.
I don’t know how effective this is, though, nor if it’ll allow me to write the best book possible. So I’m looking for help: what do you do when you don’t know what to write? Do you suffer from a lack of ideas, or too many? How do you combat each problem?
On a side note, I realized I haven’t really talked much about my novel (specifically), or about Nola, my protagonist. Instead of telling you all about her, though, I’ll just show you. (Showing, not telling, eh? Get it? Not funny? Oh, sorry. *closes mouth*)
A hastily drawn rendition of how I picture her. Right now, she’s been thrown out of her kingdom and is wandering the woods searching for a neighboring prince’s hunting party (only she doesn’t know it yet? it’s kind of weird).
Isn’t it sad, that my way of procrastinating on my novel is to draw the characters from it? Seems I can’t get Nola and Co. out of my head.
Oh, and I have NO IDEA what to call the novel yet XD I don’t even have a working title. I guess I could refer to it as Rolling Girl, because of this post, at least until I come up with something. “My work-in-progress NaNo novel” is going to get tedious after a while.