An idea comes along;
it won’t let go;
you fall in love;
you can’t stop thinking about it; so
you make a commitment
by putting your thoughts to the page.
Then the fun begins.
Let’s say … your main character has a serious problem, but he’s afraid to deal with it because his family will think he’s scum if they find out.
So he buries it.
Meanwhile, he refines his “likable guy” character and smiles at his clients while he plans how he can siphon their hard-earned fortunes into his bank account. He’s the essence of success on the outside, but his heart is a chunk of cold steel.
His wife is unnerved by his late night wanderings and the strange conversations that he has in his sleep. Her love for him grows thin after years of emotional thrashing. He’s not surprised when she leaves. It’s who she turns to that draws him close to the edge.
Someone comes along who’s willing to take what he doles out, as long as she has a credit card and enough time on her own.
And just when he thinks he can move on with his new life of all play and no strings, his daughter gets arrested. She’s a naïve contributor to a hateful crime, and her only chance for acquittal is if Dad goes head to head with the serious problem that he’s been able to avoid since that dark day in February, 1989.
How’s that for a novel summary? A bit cliché, but not terrible.
And, no, it’s not a story that I’ve been working on. I wrote it just now, with nothing in mind but a character with a problem.
That on-the-spot writing is an example of what so many of us will be doing in November for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) — a one-month, 50,000-word writing frenzy where we’re making it up as we go. All for fun, practice, and the chance to say, “Hey, I wrote a novel!”
And that novel may even turn out to be one I’ll feel is good enough to send to an agent or self-publish.
Or, like my two novels from previous NaNo years, I’ll keep it to myself while I edit the words into the story I dreamed it would be.
If you’re curious about the adventure that is NaNoWriMo, then click here to visit the site. And read my post that describes my first-year experience, and what I learned about the writing life and about myself.
My latest story idea came to me while I was reading a history book. An amazing incident occurred in a small town, but the details were sparse and I wished there were more. So I decided to fill in the blanks myself by writing a novel.
Then, a passage from the Bible came to mind and with it the entire outline for the story. I made a list of major and minor characters, and collected links to websites that are gold mines of information for the time period in which the story takes place: the Great Depression.
So, come, November, come!
I’ll keep you posted on my progress and give you glimpses of my story as the month rolls along.
Are you taking the NaNoWriMo challenge? If so, be sure to let me know so that I can cheer you on.