Tuesday, October 28, 2014

50 Ways to Generate Ideas for NaNoWriMo

November is...

National Novel Writing Month!

Or NaNoWriMo. I don’t need to explain what that is because I know you already read Kate's post here on YAtopia a few days ago. (If you didn’t, come on, get with the times.)

As October winds down and you stock up on candy to devour pass out to all the kids dressed as Elsa and Star Lord, you’re probably devising magnificent plans for your NaNo novel. You might even have an outline so thick you could use it as a step ladder.

Or maybe not. Maybe you have nothing planned. Maybe you’ve been staring at the wall, biting your nails until they bleed, eating too much Halloween candy.

Wherever you are on that spectrum, things will change for you starting November 1st. If you have it all planned, your characters will take control and switch things up without your permission. If you have nothing planned, you’ll touch that keyboard and a story will leap from fingers. Either way, a little inspiration can only help.

Which is why I’ve made of a list of 50 ways to generate ideas for your NaNoWriMo novel. Pick one or do all fifty–it’s entirely up to you. Apply these as you wish. Go nuts. That’s the spirit if the month, after all.

1. Order Chinese food. Use your fortune cookie.

2. What’s the next class being offered in/near your city?

3. Check out the “personals” section on Craigslist. (Be careful! Stranger Danger is real.)

4. Go to Wikipedia and hit “random”.

5. Go somewhere public and eavesdrop.

6. Most awkward middle or high school memory.

7. Twelfth Pin you see on Pinterest.

8. In the grocery store checkout lane, pick a magazine headline.

9. On Facebook or Twitter, scroll down to the fourteenth story.

10. Pick your favorite supporting character in your favorite TV show and research the actor/actress. Use something about their life.

11. Repeat, but with your favorite movie.

12. What’s the first thing that pops in your head when I say “animal”?

13. Go ask a child what you should write about.

14. Go to any college or university website. Find the courses offered. Scroll through until you have a lightbulb moment.

15. Who’s the "wild card" in your family or circle of friends? What’s his or her best quality?

16. Who is your personal, real-life hero? What’s his or her fatal flaw?

17.  Turn on the radio and listen to the lyrics of the first song you hear.

18. If you had to change your identity, how would you look? Why?

19. Page fifteen of the next magazine or newspaper you come across.

20. The reason behind the next tattoo you see.

21. The next Vine you watch.

22. Dictionary.com's  word of the day.

23. What’s next on your social calender?

24. What would never be on your social calender?

25. A local job posting.

26. Go to a resale store and find an item that “speaks to you”. What's that item’s history?

27. Look up quotes about life, death, love, and food. Which one would speak to your protagonist the most?

28. What place do you want to visit?

29. Notice the next stranger you see. Why are they dressed the way they are?

30. Go to the spam folder in your last email. Pick one of the most recent ten.

31. Type into you search bar, “Why do people” or “How do you” and pick one of the suggested searches.

32. Use a motive generator. Here are three: RanGenChaotic ShinySpringhole.net

33. Ask Cleverbot for ideas.

34. Go to http://www.theuselessweb.com/ and click the button. (Most are truly useless, but I got a site with a guy saying, “Bury me in money!” Hmm...

35. What pops in your head when I ask, “What if?”

36. Look up some “would you rather” or hypothetical questions.

37. Uselessfacts.net

38. Open to a random page in an old diary or journal of yours.

39. Imagine you're standing in front of a huge bookshelf at the bookstore. Right in front of you is a new book you've never heard of that you're dying to read. What is it? Write it.

40. Take something from the last dream you remember.

41. Think of your favorite person from history. Why do you respect them?

42. Imagine a person from the future.

43. “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do...”

44. What’s the number one song on the charts?

45. Next radio commercial.

46. Make inspiration boards on Pinterest for your characters. Pick out fashion, quotes, and anything else.

47. Your favorite childhood game.

48. Google "weird news".

49. Pull out your psychology book.

50. The Plot Generator

BONUS: If you’re in need of inspiration to keep going at any point, read No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. It’s a hoot and helpful to boot.

Other random pieces of advice:

Don’t take yourself or your novel seriously. In the words of Chris Baty, “You should lower the bar from “best-seller” to “would not make someone vomit.”

My favorite quote about first drafts is Hemingway’s, “The first draft of anything is shit.”

You'll find lots of pep talks and fellow writers at http://nanowrimo.org.

On the days you feel inspired, write like your life depends on it.

On the days you feel like having Netflix marathons and eating a gallon of ice cream, write like your life depends on it.

Happy rapid-writing,

P.S. Go here if you want to be my NaNoWriMo writing buddy!

P.P.S Leave a comment! Were any of these helpful? What would you add to the list?

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