NaNo: Reading With Attention

Here’s a link on reading that clocks landmarks like I posted earlier this morning (and takes it a few steps further). I’d like to direct you to Wordplay, Reading With Attention.

Quotey goodness:

Now, every time you reach one of those milestones you outlined on the other side of this paper, I want you to jot down on this side what happens to the protagonist and their conflicting needs. I can guarantee something does.

Granted, if you’re planning for NaNo right here, right now, you may not have time to pull out the last twenty books you’ve read and study them with the depth that Ms. Mixon suggests. (Though, I would recommend it some other time, perhaps in December when you’re rewarding yourself for a NaNo-well-done.)

But it’s good to be aware. Perhaps you can find some inspiration just by remembering the last few books that really stuck in your mind. What were the moments that you can’t forget, and how did they change the character’s needs?

So as part of my planning, I’m adding a new little column to my milestones chart. My character’s needs will change, somehow, either clarified, redefined, or made-needier.

While this might seem like more planning work and holy cow is this Barb-person going to keep cramming the plan-your-novel stuff down my throat all month long? (Answer: yes). But. But. By taking a little while to ask these potentially-tough questions about your character now, a few good things will hopefully happen. Ideas for scenes may spring forth from your fingertips. And if you’re stuck, the answer might become blindingly obvious.

And if you get stuck in November, this is something to come back to. Oh, I can’t believe how simple it sounds… but I excel at getting stuck in ruts, asking myself the wrong questions to get unstuck, and it never fails to surprise me that light-years later just asking the right question gets me (wait for it) the right answer.

And the right questions almost always go back to: what is the story I set out to tell from the start? What does this character need?

How is your character helping you plan your story?

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