The Story Bible 1: Vows & Goals
We are in the midst of NaNo Prep and the insanity is almost tangible. I have been cruising around the NaNoWriMo forums, making a nuisance of myself, adding thoughts and opinions like the Easter Bunny drops jelly beans.
More than yapping, however, I have been picking up lots of tips and ideas on how best to prepare for National Novel Writing Month.
Writing a 50,000-word book in a mere 30 days ain’t easy. Up till now I’ve always been a pantser – that is, flown by the seat of my pants – going in with no plot, no definitive plans, and only the briefest of ideas. And it shows, because I’ve yet to complete a NaNo project. Unacceptable, ladies and germs. So this year I’m doing something different.
I’m evolving from pantser to plotter.
Some very helpful forum threads cover this very notion. I’ve also been building a stockpile for the last year on methods of plotting. Now the time has come to put it all together, into what many writers reverently refer to as…
The Story Bible.
A brief side-note on The Story Bible:
They are typically much more character driven than I intend to go. I’m pretty good at building solid characters through dialogue and action, so making profiles just ain’t my bag. They also are extremely heavy on world-building, something I am uninterested in taking on at this juncture. That’s not to say I won’t try out these ideas in the coming years. For now, however, I’m trying to master the basics of plotting and outlining. It seems like a good place to start without getting too overwhelmed.
- Vows & Goals
- Briefs & Summaries
- Plots and Outlines
- Lists & Notes
- Quotes & Motivation
Over the coming days I will break down each section to show you what I’ve put together. Hopefully you will find some of it useful, too.
Part 1: Vows & Goals.
This is the easiest, most exciting, and most fun bit. And other than providing motivation, it doesn’t much advance any story lines. Still, this is the most important stuff, because it’s where you decide to DO THE THING.
Yeah, that’s right. Part 1 is about YOU. Not your story. Not your characters. Not your plot. YOU, the writer.
The Story Bible, Part 1: Vows & Goals
1. NaNoWriMo Vow
“The Month-Long Novelist Agreement and Statement of Understanding” – which can be obtained here. Print, sign, and file as Page 1 your pledge to write (at least) 50,000 words in 30 days. Seems silly, but seeing it in black-n-white makes all the difference. It’s harder to follow through when you have committed yourself and have the paper to prove it. Page 1 = NaNoWriMo Vow.
2. Penmonkey’s Creed
Composed by the inimitable Chuck Wendig, the mantra begins, “This is my book. There are none like it, because this one is mine.” And it just gets better from there. The invigorating post from whence it came is entitled “GO BIG, GO WEIRD, GO YOU, AND FUCK FEAR RIGHT IN THE EAR” and I recommend you Run-don’t-Walk go read it immediately if you haven’t already.
Then print out his creed (it’s at the bottom of the post) and make that Page 2 of your Story Bible. Since you’re clearly a Penmonkey, why not just go ahead and sign and date that bad boy while you’re in the mood to make big, exciting promises?
3. Goal Chart
I nabbed this from one of the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program workbooks. They are free to download in PDF format, so I did that and printed the appropriate page. Then I filled in the word count goals in the appropriate spaces. I’m shooting for 50k, but many industrious writers are aiming much higher – 75k or even 90-110k words! Others are attempting a lower count, and that’s cool too.
While NaNoWriMo asks you to work toward at least 50k, I say YOU DO YOU and all new words are winners. The chart places milestone recognition for every 10% you reach toward your goal. For me, that means I get to snarf a Whitman’s sampler every 5,000 words. Just kidding. Maybe. I haven’t decided on my prizes yet. The Goal Chart is Page 3 of The Story Bible.
4. Beat Sheet
The best place to find super-dee-duper Beat Sheets in all sizes and types is at the blog of author Jami Gold. She not only has the #1 Beat Sheet created by Blake Snyder of Save the Cat fame, she also has several other additions – and a bunch which she combined to create uber Beat Sheets. These will help you decide “what” happens “where” but I like to have a nice, blank copy, free of my notes, for reference. Make this Page 4 of The Story Bible.
A forum I discovered last year and to which I shall return as long as I participate in NaNoWriMo – Declare your DORG, or Day One Ridiculous Goal. And man, some people get seriously ridiculous. The ridiculosity is un-freaking-believable. And admirable. But still crazy. Why do such a silly thing? The daily goal is approximately 1667 words; maintaining this schedule will ensure you cross finish line in a timely fashion.
BUT! Maybe you have to take a day off. Maybe you WANT to take a day off (Thanksgiving, anyone?) “It’s about capitalizing on the energy and excitement at the start of things” and yes, I will do it. Some people are hoping to write an entire 50k on Day 1. That’s insane. I mean, good for them. But I can’t do it. My Day One Ridiculous Goal is 5,000. Declare your DORG: Page 5 of The Story Bible.
6. Writing Quotes
And this is where you visit Pinterest or float around on Quote Garden to find all those lovely, motivational posters that always end up on Facebook. I actually have a board on Pinterest dedicated to “Writer-ish Things”, but I want to print some out specifically for my Story Bible. That way, if I’m somewhere writing without WiFi, I can still get a bite of inspiration as long as my binder is with me. Page 6 of The Story Bible – Any string of words which move you to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and CREATE.
That’s it for Part 1 of The Story Bible. Stay tuned for Part 2: Briefs. I promise not to talk about undies.
- Do you have a Story Bible?
- How much do you prepare for NaNoWriMo? or any writing project in general?
- Declare your DORG! What is YOUR Day One Ridiculous Goal?