Today begins a month-long opportunity to refine the plot arch of your novel, memoir, and screenplay.
If you participated in NaNoWriMo 2010, first take time to congratulate yourself! You've done what many talk and dream of doing -- you've written an entire story from beginning to end. Celebrate!
Next, craft the project into a coherent piece worthy of publication.
During December, take the steps needed to analyze what you've written and brainstorm for an effortless draft two in January '11.
Revision your project before actually rewriting the manuscript. (This also works for writers without a first draft. Whether you merely have an idea for a story, a few chapters or scenes, just tweak the assignments to make them work for wherever you are in the process.)
Everyday this month, I'll provide plot tips and tricks and inspiration.
No writing required.
Following are a couple of caveats for our month together:
1) Do NOT show anyone what you've written so far. The first draft of any writing project is considered the generative phase. At the end of the generative phase, a writer is often faced with a manuscript full of holes and missteps, confusion and chaos. This is part of the process in that editing and/or an unbridled internal critic in the generative phase risks stifling the muse, which often results in stagnation.
Your first draft is a fragile thread of a dream. You know what you want to convey, well, maybe and sort of. Few writers can adequately communicate a complete vision in the first draft of a story, especially when writing by the seat of your pants. Allow others to read your writing now and you risk losing energy for your story and becoming overwhelmed by the task ahead of you.
2) Do NOT read what you've written. I know, I know. You're anxious to read your hard work. However, the longer you give yourself before actually reading your first draft, the better. If you read your manuscript now, you're still close enough to the work that you'll automatically fill in the gaps. Give yourself distance first. This allows you to read your work more objectively later.
Let's get started!
By now, you know who the protagonist of your story is. Stories are about character transformation. The character who is transformed by the dramatic action in your story is your protagonist. Fill out the following for your protagonist. If the major antagonist in your story is a person, fill out the following for that character as well. If you have more than one point of view character, fill out the form for that/those characters, too.
CHARACTER EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Dramatic Action Plotline
Overall story goal:
What stands in her way:
What does she stand to lose:
Character Emotional Development Plotline
For an in-depth explanation of the three most important plot lines in every great story and using as examples: The Girl with a Golden Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, The Space Between the Stars by Deborah Santana, click here.
Good luck! And remember, as tempting as it is, do NOT read your first draft. That will come later. For now, use what you know about your characters to fill out the form.