October 13, 2012

NaNoWriMo and World-Building Hell

All rights reserved © AJ Bradley 2012

You can see by this picture why I'm no artist (wink, wink). I'm ok with it.

I've been (like almost everyone else, it seems!) preparing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month-November). NaNo, for those of you who may not know, is an exercise in "quantity not quality" writing. It's a way (for me) to write without being enslaved by my internal editor; that little voice that questions every word of every sentence as I write it, which really slows me down. Because in NaNo, you have to write 50,000 words in 30 days or less to "win", I figure I'd have no choice but to ignore the editor and just write like my fingers are on fire. 

I've decided to use a cool little program called Write or Die  (seriously, check it out!) in conjunction with NaNo to write the sequel to A Bird's Eye View, The Sea Change. I've decided to go with The Sea Change because I know the main characters already (they appear in BEV) and I have a vague idea of what their story will be. BUT, this means I have to expand my world a bit. Argh. World building is hard. I'm no geologist, so it requires a lot of research to make sure that the settings I'm dreaming up are at least somewhat feasible. But this is when it gets fun. Because in researching geology and geography, I'm seeing all kinds of things that I can use to propel the plot. Like badlands, and archipelagos, and volcanoes.  

Badlands National Park by geoftheref
Stensholmen by dirigentens
The Valcano Rumbles by stuckincustoms

As I've been figuring out how my characters can best be tested by the landscape, I've learned how they face challenges, how they cope with each other, and what really motivates them. World-building is so much more than designing a geographical reality, it's designing a way for the land to be a character in the story. One that can both help and hinder the other characters, and one that can (with some fun with symbolism) help the reader sense the deeper meaning of each scene.

So the world of The Dakina Islands has altered, again. It's fun and it's time consuming and I've learned that I'm a horrible map-maker (cartographer?). 

But I'm ok with it (wink, wink).

PS: If you're interested in NaNoWriMo, here are some helpful links:

The Plot Whisperer for NaNo at Writer Unboxed 

 NaNo Prep by Janice Hardy

An Entire Series of NaNo Prep Posts by Kristen Lamb 

Chuck Wendig's Thoughts on NaNo


  1. Wow flashback to when i first decided to start my WIP and reading all those national geographics books about deserts, etc :) so true the land becomes such an influential character! Also that is a wicked map ;)

    1. Lol, thanks sjp; and welcome to the blog! I never thought of deserts, what a cool landscape...hmn... ;)


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