NaNoWriMo PREP Challenge Oct 1-31,2021
A blog on my personal writing process. Just random thoughts, notes, and other stuff. Don’t know yet what that will be like. Am exploring possibilities and pulse towards an unknown future. Let’s find out!|
"Game of Thrones" 2017
"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" 2020
"Noveling Journey Instruction Center " 2020
"Resurrection Jukebox" 2020
"NaNoWriMo Write-A-Thon" 2020
"The Fiction Writer's Toolbox" 2020
"October Novel Prep Challenge" 2021
Oct. 18: - Setting: Cultural Setting ▼
Describe the cultural, political and/or religious setting in your novel, regardless of whether the cultural setting is fictional, historical, or modern.
(1) What do your societies believe?
(2) In what practices do they engage?
(3) What laws or rules of society are in place?
(4) Who/what enforces the laws and rules and how successful are they?
(5) What technologies are in use?
(6) How does the setting impact your protagonist(s) in their pre-story lives?
(7) How does the setting impact the plot of your story?
There are two worlds in my story. The modern world of today and the ancient Chinese world of more than 2000 years ago. (Hsia Dynasty)
Oct. 16: - CONTEST ROUND: Antagonist Background Story ▼
Write a story about your antagonist that takes place outside of your novel. The object of the contest is to make your judges understand and empathize with the antagonist's motivations.
If your antagonist is a situation rather than a person, write a background story about that. The Tom Hanks movie ""Cast Away"" famously features only one character (unless you count Wilson), and his antagonist is loneliness. Could you personify loneliness? Why does loneliness exist? What motivates it? How would a lack of loneliness affect survival of the human race? How did it drive main character Nolan to survive for years alone on a deserted island? Loneliness has a job to do. Make us believe it's a valid one.
*Contest Round entries may be any rating. Follow these instructions ("IMPORTANT: How to compete in a Contest Round" ) by 1200 noon WDC time on Sunday to compete. WDC time is New York City time and can be found at the top of the IM Console. If you miss this deadline or choose not to compete, you must still log the assignment complete (without linking your work) for the grand prize, per the standard Prep guidelines.
More than twenty thousand years ago, in the South of the mysterious country China lived a creature named Yuang, the fish woman. She had a woman's head but the body of a fish.
Oct. 11: - Setting: Definitions List ▼
(1) Create a list of definitions (see below) in a format easy to edit and expand.
(2) Optional: Brainstorm and describe an object critical to the plot. Add to definitions list.
In your definitions list, you'll flesh out details that you'll want to remember later for consistency. You won't have to dig through pages of scribbled notes to find whatever you decided about these definitions - they will all be compiled into a neat list / binder / database / note cards / whatever your favorite form of organization happens to be.
Example definitions for the Harry Potter series:
rules of magic
the Ministry of Magic
modes of transportation (apparition, Floo network, portkeys, flying, etc.)
the four Houses at Hogwarts
the sword of Gryffindor (note: this would also make a good plot background story)
Non-speculative examples requiring definitions:
a fictional student organization to which your protagonist belongs
the fictional company or division of the FBI for whom your protagonist works
the disease afflicting your protagonist, which is a real condition you need to research
the antique artifact your protagonist intends to heist
NOTE: You can revise this list at any time, so this revision is not expected to be fully accurate or complete
Definition List for research:
Oct. 15: - Character: Antagonist Profile ▼
Draft a profile of the antagonist(s) you identified in the ""Premise"" assignment. If your antagonist is a situation rather than a person, choose another minor (but significant) character to profile.
"Romance/Love Newsletter (October 12, 2011)"
"ANTAGONIST (Re: A LOT of confusing things)"
My antagonists are the ancient Chinese monsters (Mai-Mai, the headless hunk, Nu-kua-shih, the lady snake, Pin-Pin-Hut, the dragon, all 2020-year-old monsters appearing from the Book Shanhaijing.
Oct. 14: - Plot: Outline Revision #2 ▼
(1) Review your plot elements thus far and organize them into your outline.
(2) Add a chronological timeline to your revised outline, using whatever measure of time is appropriate in your story. Determine when plot events happen in time (which is not necessarily when you will reveal them in your novel.) See this example composed by JK Rowling while outlining one of her famous Harry Potter novels.
(3) Optional: Brainstorm the best chronology(ies) for your story and work it(them) into your outline.
*Bullet* Linear Narrative - the story is told in the order the events occurred.
*Bullet* Non-Linear Narrative - the story is told out of order.
*Bullet* Reverse Chronology - the story is told backwards.
*Bullet* In medias res - the story starts in the middle, goes back to explain how it got there, catches up, and then resolves.
*Bullet* Flashback/forward - individual scene(s) that take place prior to or after the current action.
Note that the difference between these chronological devices can be minute. Read the examples below to see how most stories use more than one style of chronology. Your job is to plan the order in which you will tell your story to the reader. Don't get hung up in the nomenclature.
Lord of the Rings is mostly linear. The events of the story are revealed to the reader as they unfold for the characters. Some flashbacks occur, such as when Gandalf tells the Fellowship how he defeated the balrog and what happened when he visited Saruman.
The hit TV drama ""How to Get Away with Murder"" begins in medias res, with a group of law school students burying a body. The rest of the story is generally non-linear because it routinely moves back and forth in time. The screen will display ""3 months ago"" on a series of scenes, and then flash back forward to the body-burying scene again, then move back in time to ""2 months ago,"" using flashbacks to build the story for the viewer. Also, some scenes are repeated multiple times as flashbacks, often as visual-only scenes replaying while a character is explaining something to other characters or building a defense in the courtroom, but through careful camera angles or a few additional seconds of footage, the scene reveals more about the mystery than was obvious the first time the viewer saw that same scene. In this way, the show plants red herrings to fool the viewer and later prove their assumptions wrong.
The hit TV drama ""The Walking Dead"" is famous for beginning episodes in medias res and then going back in time to explain how the characters got there. On an academic level, these opening scenes could also be construed as flash forwards because, much of the time, the scene at the beginning of each episode is not actually the climax, or the action in the middle of the story, but rather, it shows where the characters end up at the very end of the episode. In medias res is technically the middle, not the end.
One episode of ""The X-Files"" featured a character who woke up each morning to find that it was one day earlier than the previous day. On the ""first"" (last, for the character) day, he was on trial for murdering his wife. On the ""second"" (previous) day, he was meeting his attorney. The plot continued to move backwards in time until it reached the day of the murder, at which point, the protagonist had enough information to prevent the murder from occurring at all. This is an example of reverse chronology, a rare but effective tool for revealing mysteries.
I want my story to be told in a linear chronology with the story of Wolf and non-linear with the story of the ancient Chinese Book Shanhaijing. So, the story set in the present time will be intertwined with chapters of the Book itself, descending 2020 years in time.
Oct. 13: - General: Freestyle Brainstorm, World Building or Research ▼
Spend at least fifteen minutes clarifying things through ""What If"" brainstorming, mind mapping (see resources at the bottom of the calendar), freestyle writing, lists, drawings, or research as follows:
World-Building: For fantasy, science fiction, or other speculative fiction, develop the history, geology, ecology, and/or maps for your world.
Research: For reality-based fiction, research aspects of your novel that will lend credibility to your writing.
You may also choose to use this time to finish a previous assignment that needs more time.
Freewriting for 20 minutes. I set the alarm.
Oct. 12: - General: Theme ▼
(1) Theme. What is the theme (see below) or moral of the story?
(2) Resolution. Brainstorm ways you could resolve the conflict(s) within the confines of the theme. You are not required to identify a chosen resolution from your list of possibilities yet, so really think outside the box! Anything goes.
NOTE: This list of universal themes might give you some ideas, but don't let it box you in. Feel free to add your own.
I think I can identify two universal themes in my novel (from the list): Quest for knowledge AND survival.
Oct. 08: - Character: Dramatis Personae ▼
(1) Identify allies and enemies encountered along the journey and describe how they help or hinder your protagonist(s).
(2) Create a list of characters in a format easy to edit and expand.
(3) Write a brief profile on each character new character.
Relation to the main character(s)
Rough physical description or image (try a Google Image Search or comparable)
NOTE: You can revise this list at any time, so this revision is not expected to be fully accurate or complete.
3 mythical creatures (the lady snake, the headless hunk, the dragon), Professor Xiao Tan, Poppy Ryan, and Brigadier, the dog.
Oct. 07: - Plot: Outline Revision #1 ▼
(1) Select a desired outlining strategy from the list below.
(2) Review your plot elements thus far and organize them into your outline.
(3) Flesh out your outline by adding more details.
"Outlining Your Novel: Traditional Outlining" format with bullet points, numbers/letters, or chapters.
Index cards (paper or electronic) which can be easily shuffled to change scene order later.
The Snowflake Method.
Use one of the following story models as a fill-in-the-blank outline template:
The Five-Point Story Structure.
The Eight-Point Story Structure.
The Hero’s Journey Story Structure.
"Save the Cat Beat Sheet (Outlining Method)"
Any other appropriate model.
Using the Five Point Story Structure with Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Resolution.
Oct. 06: - Plot: Rising Action (How does the story get there?) ▼
Review your notes from the ""Premise"" and ""Beginning"" plot exercises, and tweak the conflict(s) and inciting incident as needed before proceeding with the ""Rising Action"" plot exercise, as follows:
(1) Describe any initial refusals on the part of your protagonist(s) to face the conflict.
(2) Describe the moment when your protagonist(s) makes the choice to face the conflict.
(3) Describe the moment when your protagonist(s) crosses the point of no return and cannot change their mind.
(4) Fill in some of the blanks: How will your characters get from the point of no return to the climax?
Premise, Beginning, Conflicts, Inciting Incident, Rising Action. in Freytag's Pyramid.
Oct. 05: - Plot: Climax (Where is the story going?) ▼
Where is your story going? Describe the climax, the point at which everything changes and the tension of the primary conflict is finally resolved. Use the ""What If"" brainstorming exercise to create a list of possibilities, remembering to consider the growth of / change in your main character(s) as a result of this event. The climax can be as hidden and seemingly tiny as that moment when your character finally makes that decision they've been dreading or avoiding for fifteen chapters, or it can be as huge and obvious as an exploding planet. Sometimes, the climax is a little hard to pin down. Was it the moment Ender won his game? Or was it the moment he realized the moving images on his screen were not a simulation, not the game he thought it was, and that he had just personally wiped out an entire alien race?
The Climax. Possibilities.
Oct. 04: - Plot: Beginning (Where does your story start?) ▼
(1) Describe your protagonist's life in the beginning (""Ordinary World"" or ""Stasis"") of the story. Brainstorm ways you could establish normality through action and dialog to avoid boring your reader.
Wolf Meyer's Ordinary world is described in "Backstory Protagonist - Contest entry" .
Blog on Spicing up Dialog
(2) Describe the inciting incident or trigger ("Call to Adventure") that prompts your protagonist(s) to embark on this story's journey (whether literal or metaphorical) and face the conflict. This incident could be large and obvious like a death or disaster, or it could be seemingly insignificant, such as an offhand comment by another character.
After purchasing the book and meeting Poppy, there are a few trigger incidents that prompt him to take on this journey to investigate and leave for China.
Oct. 03: - Character: Protagonist Profile ▼
Draft a profile of your protagonist. Include detailed information such as name, age, physical attributes, occupation, education, culture, religion, family, relationship status, personality, likes, dislikes, strengths, weakness, motivations and desires.
Use Google Images to find an image of your character. The point of this exercise is for you to get to know your character inside and out before you write your novel. If you don't know your character, how can you expect it of your readers? Flesh out your pre-story character in detail. Keep in mind that your protagonist will grow in some way during your story.
For more serious character profilers, here is are two optional, very extensive templates: "Character Interview / Profile Sheet" and "(Another, Very) In-Depth Character Profile" . Also, here is a "Traits List" to draw from.
Name: Wolf Meyer
Photo Wolf Meyer
On character profiling
Oct. 9: - CONTEST ROUND: Protagonist Background Story ▼
Write a story about your protagonist that takes place outside of your novel. Make your readers relate to him or her in such a way that we would be devastated if he or she were to experience conflict (which, ultimately, sometime in November, he/she will.) The object of the contest is to make your judges root for your protagonist! Simply put: the character we like best wins. If your protagonist is a drug dealer or someone similarly "unlikeable" (a.k.a, an "anti-hero"), never fear! I love Vlad Taltos, the professional assassin. You can make us love your character, too.
*Contest Round entries may be any rating. Submit your ITEM or ENTRY number by 1200 noon WDC time on Sunday to compete. WDC time is New York City time and can be found at the top of the IM Console. If you miss this deadline or choose not to compete, you must still log the assignment complete (without linking your work) for the grand prize, per the standard Prep guidelines.
Backstory 412 words; deadline Sunday, October 10, 2021
Now-thirty-five-year-old Wolf Meyer fell in love with the City of Angels as soon as he visited for the first time. He intended to stay for a long weekend after the summer, but he inhaled the beauty of Los Angeles and decided then and there to rent a room for a month.
Photo Wolf Meyer
Oct. 02: - Plot: Premise ▼
Now that you've brainstormed the general story idea, let's identify some story elements:
(1) Setting(s). Where does your story take place?
(2) Protagonist(s). Who is(are) your main character(s)?
(2b) Flaw(s). What is(are) the protagonist's major flaw(s)?
(2c) Goal(s). What does(d) the protagonist(s) want (or want to avoid)?
(3) Conflict(s). What's keeping them from their goal(s)?
(4) Antagonist(s). Who or what is creating the conflict(s)?
Just for fun: Write a provocative one-sentence description of your story.
Example: ""A young, mistreated orphan discovers he is a wizard and must face the evil villain Voldemort to fulfill his destiny.""
Wikipedia’s definition of Narrative Conflict
The story takes place in Los Angeles, USA, and China. (Use of Lonely Planet Guides)
Log-line: A 2020-year-old book causing occult phenomenons leads Wolf and Poppy on an adventure in mysterious China where they defeat ancient monsters to save their world.
Oct. 01: - Plot: What If? ▼
Every good story starts with a 'what if'. What if a young boy discovers he's a wizard? What if a girl discovers a world hidden inside her wardrobe? What if there was a cemetery where pets came back to life if they were buried there? What if dinosaurs were real again?
In this exercise, imagine your story and your main character(s). Who is(are) the character(s)? Why do we care about them? What happens to them, and why is it a problem? (If it's not a problem, it's just life, not a story. *Wink*)
Spend at least 15 minutes imagining all the possibilities in your story. Make a list of every possible 'what if' you can think of. Nothing is off-limits here - let your brain go.
Answers to questions & List what if's (15 minutes with timer)
- Wolf Meyer and Poppy Ryan meet at an auction in Los Angeles. He will buy an item, an old Chinese book; she is writing an article about auctions. It clicks. They meet again, and then things start to become weird. There is a fire in the basement while nobody is in the house; Poppy's cat is missing, and Wolf's dog gets a freaky accident. They experience mysterious phenomenons like knocking sounds in the middle of the night, pawprints in the bathroom, reflections in mirrors. They investigate the cause of the trouble: the Chinese book. They travel to China and encounter several monsters described in the book. (…) In Los Angeles, they have to react fast to change the chain of events and save the city from harm.
# somebody else wanted to buy the book but wasn't there on time
# the book was too expensive for Wolf
# Wolf is a male escort instead of a poet
# Wolf never met Poppy
# They were followed when leaving the auction with the book
# They didn't believe the occult phenomenons
# he wins a lot of money in the lottery so he can travel to China
# the monsters in China were real
# the monsters in China were hallucinations
# they couldn't save the city
# they could save the city
# Poppy turns out to be one of them
# the book got destroyed
# Poppy and the book disappeared
|PREP Challenge OCTOBER
Working Title: The Shanhaijing Prophecy or The Modern World Monsters.
PLOT1 & 2 interwoven.
Plot1: A 2020-year-old Chinese book shows up at an auction. The main character, Wolf Meyer buys it cheap because no one recognizes its significance to the world. He meets a girl, Poppy Ryan. Strange events occur in their lives (the house is suddenly set on fire, pets disappear, the main character experiences occult phenomenons like knocking sounds in the middle of the night, pawprints in the bathroom, reflections in mirrors). Together they investigate in China. They meet monsters. Book predicts a deadline for a major disaster that hits their city (Los Angeles?) and will kill many people. Can they stop the prophecy?
Plot2: The story of the ancient book Shanhaijing, The Book of Mountains and Seas revealed. An extraordinary encyclopedia containing strange and terrifying creatures that the Ancient Chinese believed existed on Earth.
The Mythology Bible (2009) by Sarah Bartlett p.292-293
China, Lonely Planet, 2017
USA, Lonely Planet, 2004
The book of Mountains and Seas, 1999, Penguin Classic
LOG assignments in
|I signed in for
But I want to be prepared.
Last year I just wrote a novel in 30 days flying by the seat of my pants, this year I want to do more research in advance. I am very curious about what that will bring me. Which take will work the best for me?
I've got a working title: Shanhaijing Now. Reference to a very famous Asian book from decades ago. The Shanhaijing, The Book of Mountains and Seas may be more than 2,000 years old. It's an extraordinary encyclopedia containing strange and terrifying creatures that the Ancient Chinese believed existed on Earth. (The Mythology Bible by Sarah Bartlett, p. 292-293}
Why this title?
It just sounds good.
I don't know. I may change it during these two months.
It can be an action novel, a cultural and mysterious story. That's all I got so far.
"Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragons intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon." ― G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles
This pandemic year began in the Netherlands, Europe on March 13 when our Prime Minister announced that during that weekend bars and restaurants would be closed and a partial lockdown was installed. It was called Intelligent lockdown which boiled down to: take your responsibility, wash your hands frequently, avoid mass gatherings, and practice social distancing. Wearing masks was questionable at that time.