As many of us are gearing up for an exciting month writing novels for NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d share some of my personal methodologies for how I prepare to write a book.
I’ll be posting a few blogs on this topic over the coming week as we gear up for November!
I always like to start with some kind of inspiration when I start a book. I don’t go straight for a plot, or an outline. I start with a concept, an idea. This concept should not come from another person’s work – this should come from within yourself. Remember, at the core, that we write best when we write about what we know.
So, ask yourself this: What inspires you?
Chances are, if something inspires you, intrigues you, fascinates you, that there are other people who are also inspired by the same things. I find that when I write for myself, and am true to myself, then my work tends to resonate with other people.
For example, some of the things that inspire me:
- Gender equality
- Overcoming low self-image
- Freedom for sexual orientation
- An underdog who triumphs against the odds
- Children’s rights
- Advanced technology
- Societal norms
Your own list, as you build it, will help to define what drives you. Pull elements from this list as you start to think of your story.
Alternatively, you may also decide to explore things from another person’s point of view. A really interesting story, and movie, is American History X. What I find fascinating about that movie is really being able to explore, and understand, someone who comes from a completely different point of view, with a different set of values.
In order to be really successful with a story like that, you have to put yourself in the shoes of your character. Ironically sometimes you need to understand opposing points of view in order to really understand your own.
As an exercise, you can try to think of someone that you would normally write as a villain. Does this person see him or herself as a villain? Probably not. What is their motivation, and inspiration? What drives them?
Whatever your inspiration, explore it! Go take a walk, and observe the people around you. When you travel, instead of just doing touristy things, actually sit down for a few moments and really experience the place you’re travelling to. What are the people like? What makes their culture different from your own? What seems to really inspire these people?
Sometimes the best inspiration comes when you stop thinking about what stories you like and dislike, and just take the time to observe, to listen, and to be.