While the world is busy wrapping up halloween costumes, eating up all that halloween candy and buying christmas decorations, all the creative heads are pumping up for the world’s biggest writing fiesta - NaNoWriMo!
I eagerly wait for NanoWrimo, it brings such positive vibes with it. Even though I don't take part every year, I find watching others hit their writing goals so inspiring. From Preptober to when Nano starts, there is so much support being offered from so many writing communities.
Everyone has their own way of preparing for Nano and set a ground zero of their story/world. Mine is to get to know my characters and world inside out before I even attempt to write those chapters.
I usually get a brand new idea for a story almost every day. Most of them fade away after a few days, while a handful of them stick around. But how do you know which one of those ideas is good enough for an entire world of its own, built with around 50,000 words and more? That is when short-stories come handy. I usually pick an idea and spin a short story of around 500-1000 words around it. Chances are I get over that idea after one or maybe two short stories. When I lose interest in the world and characters, I realize that the idea is not potent enough for an entire book of its own.
You shortlisted a brilliant idea. What next?
Once you have narrowed it down to one brilliant idea, it is time to explore every inch of it. This is my favourite part. Putting every character in different situations and writing about it for a maximum of 500 words. This exercise helps to know various ways in which the characters react differently. Many of these short stories can be reused in the actual story as well. Once you know the ins and outs of each character, it is time to delve into bigger affairs. To explore or create the various dimensions of ‘the world’. If the story takes place in some known world like ours, then this part is not a big challenge. However, for all my writer friends who dive into the dangerous and tempting waters of fantasy, this part might be the biggest canvas you have to let your imagination run wild on.
Start from the beginning!
How did the world come to be? What are various elements of your world? What social groups live in your world? What animals reside in your world? Adding these details makes your story and world rich, and lets the reader imagine that this story might have been a real at some point in time.
The key to writing a good story is making it believable. Don’t overwhelm yourself by adding too many details in one go. Pick one at a time and write a short story on it in about 500 words. It offers dual benefits: it helps you create a rich world and helps you maintain a habit of regular writing (even 500 words count).
Different authors have different ways to know their world better. Making aesthetics, doing various challenges based on the world, writing short stories and so many more. Pick any of these ways that help you to better understand your story.
Writing a complete story is a jigsaw puzzle. You create different pieces of the puzzle when you write short stories and then join them together to form a complete picture. Every piece of the jigsaw, no matter how small, matters. If you have built these pieces with precision, nothing can stop your story from being perfect.
When to stop with the explorations via short stories and jump into drafting the big one?
As much as short stories are helpful with world and character explorations, they can drive your focus away from the main story. Think about it, more short stories mean more opportunities to deflect from the actual outline of the main story. It is like falling down the rabbit hole of Pinterest. As much as Pinterest helps spark new ideas, it can be overwhelming too. Same thing happens with short stories. The key to remember here is to have a rough outline of the idea ready and then start with short-story explorations. Think of it as a 'Ooh! I like the sound of it' short-story exploration. Then when you have explored the idea enough and you still love it, you are ready to write the full story.