Camp NaNo Prep: Day 2

V. Be Open to Trying New Things

Most NaNoWriMo’ers are not new writers. As such, you’ve probably got at least a little bit of a background in writing, and you’ve probably got a genre or two that you’re comfortable with.

However, this is the perfect chance to try something new. There’s not really a whole lot to lose if you screw up your first attempt at a new genre, and you may even find yourself surprisingly good at it. You’ve got a month to work on it, and since it’s new territory, you have a wealth of things you probably haven’t tried in a story before.

See, each genre has its individual motifs and advantages. I’m more of a fantasy/sci-fi writer. I’ve already done the whole Destined One cliche, so I’ve moved on (more or less) to more unique and new challenges. But coming up with something novel for a, uh… novel can be difficult. So I decided that I would try writing a murder mystery. I came up with the idea for it at work, and borrowing themes from other books/movies, I was able to craft the basis of the story. It was completely new territory, so I could make whatever I wanted and not worry if I screwed up.

Of course, you can find that story right here if you want to check it out.

If I had gone the fantasy route, however, I may have stopped and decided to take my time on the story. I don’t like to rush things that take a lot of work, and since I had wasted October not planning the story, I wasn’t going to come up with anything worthy in three days. With Slice there was no pressure. I just wrote whatever came to mind, not really worried about screwing it up because there was nothing to screw up.

VI. Be Open to Learning New Things

As you write at breakneck speeds, whether it be in a new genre or one you’ve perfected, you’re going to come across some unique things that you’d only notice through NaNoWriMo. I, for one, can’t tell you what those are going to be, because they’re different for everyone. However, I started to wonder about things writing my story, like, how soon should I introduce the real killer? How long should I pretend we don’t know who the real killer is? These were questions that came to me as I was writing, and they were challenges I needed to confront immediately for the story’s sake.

If you’re writing fantasy, you may think of other things regarding your story’s characters/world. Like, how does magic work in this world? How do I make sure my character doesn’t become too powerful, thus ruining any conflicts because he can plow right through them with a fireball?

Or more generic questions, like, how do I add conflict when the story is starting to run a little stale?

These aren’t questions you can just look up and have answered. When I say you have to be open to learning, I mean learning things about yourself as a writer. How do you write?

VII. Get Inspired

If you’ve got the time, take a chance to check things out in your genre that you plan to write. Books, stories, TV shows, YouTube videos even. Anything that has some level of excitement that gets you hyped up for writing this story. In fact, find things written by your peers across the web and check those out. You might even be able to pick out their mistakes and learn from them.

If you like, join a writing community. Share your stories with others and read theirs. It’ll be fun, and it could just give you motivation.

VIII. Recognize Your Faults

Just as you may pick up on others mistakes and be able to learn from them, you’re going to have to turn a less biased eye on yourself. Of course, don’t go back and reread your stuff because that might lead to you editing (more on why this is bad later) but make a note if you notice you did something that doesn’t quite work. This might have to come along with the editing part, of course, but like I said before, you need to learn more about yourself as a writer. Your faults are the ones that are most important to be able to fix.

Like I said about trying new things, your screw-ups are your biggest learning tool.

 

That’s it for today. A bit shorter, I know, but I’m working with bullet points here. Not like I planned this.

See you again tomorrow!

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