NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo: Plot

Making up your plot is one of the easiest things you can do, especially if you’re starting with it first. Plotting comes in three stages, brainstorming, organizing, and finishing touches.

First, the brainstorming. A lot of people like to do this in different ways. You could use our brainstorming worksheet, which you get from following us with email, or you could just write everything down. Write down all of your ideas, the big and the small, and try to focus things that you want to happen in this book. No matter what make sure you keep all of your ideas together, as that will help with step two.

The second step is organizing. There are a few ways you could do this. I recommend opening a word document or using notecards, anything that allows you to move things around. Then mark all of your big ideas from step one and put them in order. Make sure with these ideas you have a beginning, middle, and end (or something similar to one.) Once you have those, add in your smaller ideas.

The last step is the finishing touches. Really look at this outline you’ve built. Do certain things skip from one thing to another? This is the time where you fill in the blanks or add in small details you can the reader to notice at this point. Maybe even making notes like how this is supposed to change your main character.

Follow these three steps and just like that, you have a plot! All it took was brainstorming, organizing, and adding some finishing touches. Next time we’ll go even deeper, with scene planning. Until then, keep up the good work!

Name Bank

Behind the Name: Casper

You know him as the Friendly Ghost, etymology knows Casper as “treasurer” in Persian.

Finding the perfect name for a character is a common plight for writers, and while we can’t end your search completely, Plan Your Muse can add this name and its history to the back of your mind for the next time. More importantly, we recommend that you use this as inspiration for writing prompt, make it a brief character study. Get into their head and show us who they really are.

MEANING & HISTORY

Casper is actually the Dutch and Scandinavian form of Jasper, which means “treasurer” in Persian. And while most people might associate Jasper with its more recent namesakes like the character from Steven’s Universe, a vampire from the Twilight series, or an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. called Jasper Sitwell, the name was assigned to one of the three wise men, who visited the baby Jesus. You won’t find names of the three kings/ wise men/ Magi in the bible, but you can find them within Judeo-Christian Legend. According to Western tradition, Caspar, also known as Gaspar, Gathaspa, or Jaspar, was an Indian scholar or sometimes a king of India. He is often portrayed as a young beardless man, who brought frankincense.

Variants of the name were commonly used in the English-speaking world during the Middle Ages and during the 1890s, Casper and Jasper saw a spike in popularity in the United States. Both, died off by the 1940s until Stephenie Meyer brought back the name Jasper in 2010. Although, I like to think that everyone was just super into naming their children after the gemstone instead of the vampire.

RELATED NAMES

Variant: Caspar; Gaspar; Gathaspa; Gazsi; Jasper; Jesper; Kasper;

Nickname: Cas – This is also a diminutive name for Castiel. Thanks, Supernatural!

Looking for another Behind the Name prompt? Check out Agatha.

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo: World Building

It’s entirely possible to start with world building. Personally I find it more difficult, but that could be because I never do it, not often anyway.

The first thing you want to do is decide what makes up the Setting, with a capital S, as in the time and place. In the instance of a novel writing, time means what period and place, at its core, asks: Are they in our world or one you’ve decided to create? Are they in medieval times or something more modern? If you’re starting out with world building, then it all depends on what you feel like writing.

The second thing you want to do is make sure you have a genre. Crazy, I know. Needing a genre in the world building section? It’s important to know where you’re headed, and even if you don’t have a name for what genre you want to use, a blurry watercolor picture is enough.

This is where things split, in a very simple way, because not everyone is choosing the same place and time. Some of you might not even be using magic (gasp!). So you need to make a list of a few things:

Create a Few Key Locations

There’s an idea in your head, you know what you want, but you don’t actually know what it is yet. So make a couple of areas: a church with some secret passages; an apartment complex with some odd characters living next door to one “normal” one; or maybe you wanna go in for some fun with an underground labyrinth accessible from a mausoleum. I would suggest at the least four fleshed out locations to get your brain moving. When you write, these will be either important locations or just somewhere your characters pass by. You don’t need to decide everywhere your character will go right now, especially since you may not even have one yet or a plot. This is only the beginning of your planning, so start with a few things and maybe a simple map.

Making Magic

If you have magic, you need to figure out how that nonsense works. I’m serious. Sometimes people think that doesn’t matter or they say, “It’s magic, it doesn’t have any set rules!” But you guys, friends, pals, it so matters. You can either make up your own magic system or “borrow” it from somewhere else.

PLEASE NOTE: I’m not saying plagiarize or actually steal. Many magic systems are exactly the same or work similarly.

When you construct your own magic or science if you lean more toward the sci in sci-fi, remember that it needs to have a system of checks and balances. You don’t want crazy overpowered characters ruining your book or flying in at the last moment for some deus ex machina. The two most popular ways to do this is to either limit the magic, Harry Potter mostly uses wands and a collection of spells, or give it a consequence. The common trope of using too much magic is to you lose your mind or have it affect the users body negatively.

Monsters!

Yeah, everyone loves a good monster. And if you’re going down that route, I suggest you do some research or invent your own fun things. If you decide to use something from a religion or culture, make certain it is used carefully and do all of the research you can. Using things from people’s religions, or even religions themselves, should not be taken lightly. Also, do not use people of color as your evil monsters either. This is a big problem amongst writers, and a good source to use to make sure you don’t fall in the same sad pit is the blog Writing With Color. I highly recommend it.

There are always so many more things you can do with world building, secret organizations, portal mechanics, races of super humans that live off of cheese and walnuts, but world building is generally not something you do all at once. It constantly changes and is added to as you go along. So if you had any set ideas, make sure to delve into them now. But a word of caution, try not to do too much or you will become overwhelmed if you haven’t thought of a plot yet.

So remember, all you need is a few key locations, magic (if you have it), and monsters to get started. An easy way to keep all of this together is to use one of our worksheets from our shop. See you next week!

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo: Characters

Characters can either be the easiest or the hardest part of building your book, but when it comes down to it all you need to know is their motivation. Motivation will get your character going, but it might not be the easiest way to write. The more you learn about your character, the faster the words will come to you during NaNoWriMo, which is why we created a character development worksheet, nine of them to be precise.

Nine pages! That’s too many!

Nah. A lot of that room is space for you to write out your answers to our carefully crafted questions. Each page is designed to focus on particular elements of your characters so you can make a three dimensional main character. We recommend you print this out twice and answer it for your antagonist too, everyone loves a three dimensional antagonist.

Some of you might glance at it and think wow, this is possibly the most overwhelming thing I could look at, why would you do this to me? Fear not! When you first print this out, your goal is to go through and fill out everything you already know, which for a lot of people will be the Physical Appearance Page and the Favorites and Habits page. When you start to feel too overwhelmed, take a break and come back to finish everything you know. When you’re done with that, start with whatever page you want and answer some questions, feel free to skip around, you’ll find that some questions will help you answer others.

Obviously you don’t want to fill all of this out for every side character and random person that appears in your book, so we have a quick reference sheet, which is a boiled down version of the character development worksheets. It’s quick and easy to glance at in case you forget something, and perfect for side characters.

Some of you might still be overwhelmed, so I’m going to tell you this right now, you don’t have to answer every single question. However, if you do answer every question, your writing will go much smoother, and if you answer these questions for your antagonist, your plot will be super awesome.

So until next week, make some characters! Use the quick reference sheet for side characters and the Character Development sheets for your Protagonist and Antagonist. And if you aren’t buying our sheets, then remember that a good motivation and some word prompts are always a good way to flesh out a character.

Prompts

Prompt #4

Write at least 100 words of someone suddenly becoming blind. While it doesn’t have to be the person whose point of view you’re writing from, I would recommend it. It’s a good exercise in writing the other senses when so many people focus only on what they see. It’s also just fun. Good luck!

 

Prompts

Prompt #3

Pirate Ship!

Yeah, that’s a weird prompt, but they need to get a bit weird sometimes.

Write at least 100 words with a scene involving a pirate ship. Maybe someone got a toy pirate ship, or they were sent back in time and ended up on one. Or maybe someone dressed up as Jack Sparrow for Halloween. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be great.

Good luck!

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo: The Basics

So, you wanna know more about NaNoWriMo and what you’ll need to start off? Well, you’ve come to the write place! (Get it? Sorry.)

In NaNo, there are two types of writers: the Planners and the Pantsers. The Planners are obvious, they plan and plan until they can no longer plan. The Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants. Often times you’ll see someone start planning their novel literally the day before it’s time to start writing. That’s a pantser. Because we’re all about planning, the majority of our posts will be for Planners. But don’t worry, if you’re a Pantser you can still read them, and we will be sure to have a post especially for you right before NaNo begins on November first.

Planners, we’re going to assume you’ll follow us along for the ride and start right here right now at the beginning of planning your novel. Now is a good time to think of The Basics:

  • What Is It: Point of View, Genre, Estimated Length (IE Stand Alone, Trilogy, Novellea), Voice, Theme?
  • The Big Story: Any Plot Points that came to mind when you came up with your story idea.
  • The Small Stuff: Minor details that came to you as you wrote down The Big Story.

If you’re looking for an easy to use worksheet to help you get started, click to follow Plan Your Muse in the sidebar and receive notifications of new posts by email and we’ll send you a link to download our free Basic Brainstorm Worksheet.

After you’ve completed the Basic Brainstorm Worksheet, you’ll need to decide what section of your book you would like to start on. By what section, I mean what aspect of your book. Are you starting on world building, characters, or plot? We’ll have a separate post for each section, which you can feel free to go through as you please, just make sure you do the three of them first before anything else. Until the next NaNo post, spend your time brainstorming, and we’ll see you back here to learn about characters!