I signed up for NaNo out of desperation. Yes, many of my writing friends were doing it, but for me it was a matter of survival. (I would say it was “write-or-die,” but having almost done that this last spring, I kind of can’t use the expression anymore.) I have no time, no time for NaNo!
Unless I train myself to write consistently and in larger amounts, my career as a writer is toast. This year’s NaNo is about resurrecting a novella that was hastily begun without a plan. It’s a fun story, but it has no real structure. The supporting characters are undefined, almost cardboard-like caricatures. Can’t have that!
Bogged-down writers are not always rational. You saw me panic when NaNo began–I was lost! I had no direction! The pirate story wasn’t fun anymore! But NaNo is about word count, about putting thoughts on the page. As I’ve persevered this week–writing stuff in an exploratory way–story elements have dropped into place. Ideas have been bubbling up.
I’m making progress because I called in the “Marines” of storytelling, Pixar. The infographic (below) is new to me, but I bet you’ve seen this information floating around the Internet. I stumbled on it in 2012 and immediately shared it with my fiction writing class. To quote Wile E. Coyote, “It’s genius!”
What’s good for the student is good for the teacher. So in my NaNo manuscript–yes, right in the middle of my poor blocked story–I have pasted in Emma Coats’ 22 Tweets, one by one. I’ve bolded them and have been using them as writing prompts. Taking two or three a day, I’ve let my creative mind spin ideas into bulleted lists. And sentences. And paragraphs. And dialog. (When dialog shows up, I know I’m hitting gold.)
So far I’m on #9, and new thoughts are flying. Want to give it a try? Here’s Emma Coats’ tweeted list. A storyboard artist for Pixar, she knows her stuff:
As the coyote says, “It’s sheer, unadultered genius.” For a text version–or to download a high-resolution, poster-sized version of the infographic–visit Joshua Vardanega’s Pixar Fansite.