I’m attempting NaNoWriMo again this year, although in a slightly informal way as words have already been written in that story. I’ve already mentioned this. I’ve also been involved enough with others doing NaNoWriMo and others who write closer to fulltime than me to see that there are many different approaches to penning a story.
This is not a surprise to me. Not anymore.
But taking it a step further and activities and exercises that one NaNoWriMo regional group provide (and encourage participation in) simply cannot work the same for everyone. It is easy for those running the same group year after year to get in ruts with familiar tools that seem to work. It is less easy to look around and find other tools and activities that might help more aspiring writers.
I did a new one the other week. We were given a word or brief thought every 20 minutes or so and asked to respond as our main character. I know my main character fairly well at this point. Or rather, I know parts of him fairly well. But this exercise reminded me that my MC is on a journey. The whole novel is to show this journey from fleeing farmboy to leader of a powerful insurgency. I’ve had this goal for months. This is the story I want to tell.
There is a reason this blog is called “Just Add Story”. World-building cannot produce a novel. Interesting characters cannot produce a novel. Dialogue cannot produce a novel. All of these are necessary to write a novel-sized work, but the one thing a novel always needs is a story. ‘This happens, then this happens, and them because of that, this happens.’
Simplistic? Perhaps. Simplistic can sometimes get your attention when complex does not.
Write a story. Let your characters change and be changed. Find the journey you want to take your readers on.