Following my post last week about writing habits and NaNoWriMo challenge, I thought I might share my preparation for the big event. I’m not doing the novel challenge but instead will be drafting a short story every day in preparation for submissions next year. I’m aiming for around 2000 words per day and in order to get ahead of the game, no it’s not cheating…
I’m going to prepare for NaNo like I should have prepared for them all along. It’s all in the planning. I know some folks just like to let the muse take them, but I don’t want to be stood up and left wanting in the cold. I’ve finally learned after *cough* many years that planning my writing works for me. So I need to generate some ideas first. I’m planning on 30 draft stories (the emphasis being on very draft) but would like to generate a few more than that just in case nothing grabs me. So where do I look?
Writing Prompts. I’ve written about this before but for me they work really well, there is such an array of out there just type ‘creative writing prompts’ into Google:
- Images – very evocative way to kick start an idea
- First and Last Lines – the beginning or the end
- Dialogue – just a sentence or two
- Random Words – whistle, feather, rain
- Title – The Forgotten Abyss
- Scenario – who, what, when, where, why
- Character – real or imagined
- What if…
… the list could go on and on
Newspapers and Magazines. I don’t do this as often now since I moved here to Italy, but I was a serial magazine reader in the UK. Usually when waiting, at the doctors or dentists or just browsing in the supermarket. Always cutting things out. It could be celebrity based, major international news or a snippet of local information. You never know where it may take you!
Songs. I love listening to music, but it has to tell a story. I don’t like noise for noise sake, you understand. Opera is a favourite, I just find it so passionate but I don’t do a lot of romance writing. The themes of conflict though, are very well known and could lots of ideas for stories. Luckily, like my reading, I have an eclectic taste in music so as long as I can understand the lyrics it might start the nugget of something bigger.
Myths, Legends and Folklore. I’m leaning towards writing more fantasy. Not SF but just light fantasy. I’m intrigued by the opportunity to invent or visit another world and get to know the folks in the mythological world a little better. I even bought a huge tome on the subject some years back so plenty of material to dip into!
Historical Dates and Anniversaries. I’m also a fan of historical fiction, indeed my first novel was historically based. I’m always writing down little snippets and subscribe to a list of events on dates based 50, 100 and tons of years ago. It might not become the nub of the story, but it could create other ideas.
Without ideas, there aren’t any stories to tell. A blank page is all well and good but it needs to be filled, even bullet list of one words would suffice. My only advice not to be too cautious or too safe. The danger is in abandoning ideas that sound stupid or ridiculous. No one has to see them and they may just be the inspiration behind that next great novel – or indeed a short story.
Where do you get your ideas from?