This is the first post in a series about preparing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to attempt NaNoWriMo without any preparation, then look away now.
Today I am writing about finding the idea for your novel.
Ideas are evanescent things. They can be with you for a fleeting second, and then the shape of them tumbles like a sandcastle in the waves, the sand ready to form into new shapes.
There are two approaches to dealing with ideas: write them down as they occur, or only work with the ones that stick in your mind. I’m definitely in the former camp – I carry a notebook with me most of the time, and keep notes in Evernote to capture and hold the thoughts that drift by. Other writers (notably WIlliam Gibson) only write things down if they stay in the mind – the reasoning is that only the good ones stick around. And it is important to remember that there will always be another idea along in a minute.
So what kind of idea are you looking for when going into NaNoWriMo?
Ideas for stories come in many forms. It could be a setting concept (what if we travelled using floating trees?), or it could be a character situation (this guy loses his job, but finds a magic bag that gives him whatever he asks for as long as it is for someone else), or it could just be an opening scene or line (“The train tracks buckled in the heat.”).
Maybe you even have more than one idea.
I’ve had this happen a few times now going into NaNoWriMo – I don’t really know exactly what I want to write, but I have several plausible ideas. This is where I work on what amounts to a competitive process: I write a treatment for each story idea and then pick the one which seems to have the depth to carry a novel-length story.
Whatever it is, don’t worry if it seems too big or too small: there’s no right or wrong here, and if the writing doesn’t go well you can always have another go later. Don’t worry about it too much or fret that you’re not ready to write the amazing concept you come up with – you have to write something, and it might as well be something you’re interested in.
Do you have your idea?