For me, story ideas often start as a character sketch, a location or a line of dialogue. Something will come to me and I’ll sit with it for a few days, mulling it over. During that time more details start to form until I have an idea of who my main characters will be, where I would like the story to take place and what the main conflict will be. Once I have that down I’m usually immersed in my story for awhile. I know where I think it’s going to start, what the ending will be and some big events that will help me get there. I start jotting down notes at this time; notes about my characters and the beginning, middle and end of the story. And then I always write a sample beginning.
This sample beginning is always rewritten and usually changes drastically, but it’s a lot like dipping my toes in the pool before jumping in. I can tell if the story and the characters and I are going to get along or not. Basically, it lets me know if this story is going to work for me. If I don’t write the sample beginning I always feel off as I write and eventually I go back and start at the beginning again.
Which brings me to NaNoWriMo. Every year I think, “You have to start from scratch so I’m going to start from scratch and not even test the waters before NaNo begins.” I know people who have a “sample beginning” when they start writing and they always get this out of the way before NaNo, but for some reason I can never bring myself to do that. So I start writing for NaNo and it feels off and I know deep down that I need to start over. But that goes against the whole “don’t look back” rule of NaNo, so I press on until I finally admit that I need to start over. This is where I was this weekend.
I am also used to spending weekend evenings with a pot of coffee, plugging away at my computer. In fact, it’s one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend evening, so I have no doubts that if I’m diligent this weekend, I should be able to catch up.
Now, back to writing!