Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How to Plan for NaNoWriMo, part 2: Drawing to Write

Hi! In my last post I promised to share a few tricks I use to help me get ready to write. I call them tricks because they all do the same thing-- they fool me into disconnecting my internal editor. None of them involve writing words that will actually appear in my book.

I use all these tricks in the pre-writing planning process, before I begin a manuscript. They enable me (and hopefully will enable you) to forget about writing and focus on story.

Tonight's trick is drawing.

Doodling, sketching, scribbling, coloring. This is the very first thing I do to help a story come toward me. I draw pictures. I start out drawing the main character. Then I draw the other characters. I sketch in their surroundings, give them something to stand on, something to hold. Every single sketch tells me something new about the story.

Usually when I share this technique with other writers, they say "But I can't draw."

Well, really, as you'll see below, I can't either. But that's okay! Nobody has to see your picture but you. And you're a writer, not an artist, so it doesn't matter if the picture's not of professional quality.

If it will help, just draw stick figures. But do try it. Give it 15 minutes. If the 15 minutes go okay, give it another 15 minutes. You'll be surprised at what you learn about your story.

When I first started planning to write Jinx, I thought the main character would be Elfwyn. I drew pictures of her, of Dame Glammer, of Simon and Sophie... pictures of scenes that never occur in the book. Then I drew this:


As you can see, I wrote in a few descriptive sentences that occurred to me as I drew. These sentences didn't end up in the manuscript. Neither did the drawing, of course. But the scene it depicted ended up in the first chapter of the finished book.

In each picture, as I drew, the trees were becoming larger and larger. I began to realize the trees were going to play a very important part in the story, that they were a constant presence and had their own opinions. They even had laws.

Here's a picture for a story that's been kicking around in my head. I don't know if it'll ever get written.

And here's a character who has yet to find a story to be a part of, although I'm hoping her day will come:

Eh, so I have a little trouble with feet. Anyway, as you can see, the point here is not to produce great art but to completely free your mind from the need to Write Something. Draw to explore the world of your characters.

Think about the story you're planning to write for NaNoWriMo. Imagine the main character. Draw him or her. Add some more characters to the scene. Draw their surroundings.

Have fun with it!

In my next post, I'll share another pre-writing trick that I find even more useful than this one... and hopefully you will too. Watch this space!

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