We’re already on day 3 of Camp NaNoWriMo and yet I’ve only managed to put down a significant number of words for the first time today. Over 1,500 words to be precise, and I’m rather proud of them because it took a lot of finagling to get them out.
But let me back up a moment and explain how my brain works when it comes to stories, because I’m certain that everyone is simply dying to know that about me*.
First order of business is to come up with an idea. This idea must have the following two things before I’ll even consider it :
- It must have all the elements of a successful story at first glance (interesting plot, complex characters I’m curious about, conflict, potential for a twist);
- It must excite me so much I can’t not write it.
When the idea comes, it’s usually in the form of a vivid scene revolving around the main character (or in this case a man and woman since I’m writing romance), and 99% of the time it’s the meet-cute. Along with this scene I would also have a good enough idea of many of the other important story elements. If I don’t, I either work on it until I do, or I brainstorm another idea.
In this case I spent most of yesterday brainstorming different ideas and scenarios, but nothing gelled. Nothing. Then it finally happened today, that light bulb moment. I saw a 40+ year old woman sitting at a booth in an all-night diner at 3 o’clock in the morning, wearing a bright red sequined dress and 6 inch heels. I knew she usually never dress like that. I knew she just came from a party but fled when she realized she was there for all the wrong reasons. I also knew she was feeling out of place and wondered if this was what a mid-life crisis looked like.
I also saw the guy. A quirky, young artist who worked the graveyard shift at the diner to pay his rent. I knew he was her opposite in every way and at least 15 years younger. I knew without a doubt that he thought she looked mighty sexy in those heels, especially since she looked so uncomfortable in them. I knew that he poured her a cup of coffee because she clearly needed it, and then made her food so he could strike up a conversation. Then… well, I already have the twist, the first conflict point and the romantic parts worked out in my head, and that’s enough for me to pants** the rest of the detail as I go.
Those candy bar scenes usually give me enough inspiration to crank out a lot of words in a short time, which is how I managed to write so much today***. Unfortunately a book isn’t just a bunch of delicious feel-good scenes, and it’s those “other” parts that tend to trip me up when writing.
Not to worry though, it’s still early days. There’s enough time to still get stuck and complain about it to my heart’s content.
* That was heavy sarcasm, in case you missed it.
** From the saying, “to write by the seat of your pants” which means to write as your whims lead you without any prior planning or plotting.
*** I also wrote this epic blog post, which added over 700 words to my total word count. Since it’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m allowed to count it too😛