SOCNOC prep: T-7 days

I decided to start my SOCNOC preparations early, so welcome to the SOCNOC prep posts, for 2009. Running each day of this week. And maybe the weekend too! Running us up to the start of SOCNOC on the first of June.

Right, I hear you say. I’ve signed up to SOCNOC (or I’m yet to be convinced, but I might be able to) but I have no idea what to write.

Give me an idea, I hear you cry! Well, if I must.

One thing that makes a good story, and this is pretty much proven, is conflict. Conflict makes a story, whether it be between people, or people and environment, or people and beliefs. Conflict makes for good writing and it makes for good reading.

The story idea I used for Nanowrimo last year followed a simple idea that (at least that time) seemed to work well. Take three characters, put them at point A, give them a point B and let them get from one point to the next during the course of the story.

My Nanowrimo last year put two guys and a girl, in a car, traveling from Whangarei to Wellington. The girl (owner of the car) was going to Wellington to visit a dying grandmother (who died before she got there), and had just lost her job. One of the guys had killed his girlfriend (that didn’t come out until the end), and was escaping his past. The other guy was almost a kleptomaniac, and a drug mule, who was selling the stash he was meant to be delivering.

Stick them three in a car, and the 50k of explosions, arguments, fist fights and angst just wrote themselves. Of course, the characters gave themselves to conflict in an enclosed space. Throw in some love interest and jealousy and there was heaps to write about.

So. Idea. Take three characters who are willing to chafe each others bits over 50k. Make them go from point A to point B. That might be a traveled journey. Well, that makes for the easiest write, I figure, but it could be a journey from scene A to scene B.

So, that’s a possible idea. This idea requires you to know a good bit about the three characters. It needs you to know something about the setting (going with NZ was an easy option for me, I made them go through all the towns where I’d lived). That’s ok. We’ll do that over the next few days.

But, what about the story I hear you cry. What about them? Well, that’s where we need a bit of throwing ourselves in the deep end, and trusting the characters will guide us. Believe me, as long as the characters have a bit of conflict between them, a story will present itself. If it doesn’t, throw in more conflict.

I’m willing to bet that this doesn’t fly for a lot of writers, but hopefully this will be of some help, if you don’t have any ideas. Failing that, try this story generator. I’ve written a few stories from that prompt.

Whether you have a story or not, I’m going to run the above idea through the wringer for the next week. Here’s what I’m gonna do for the week;

  • Tuesday — Story overview, setting?
  • Wednesday, Thursday, Friday — A character background a day
  • Saturday, Sunday — Last minute planning, setting?

Assignment for tonight, and tomorrow, is to come up with a pitch for the story. Try to make your idea as exciting, and as snappy as possible. It’s the core of the idea, with maybe a brief bit about the characters. Maybe similar to what I did up there when I explained my Nanowrimo idea. Try and pitch and sell like it’s a movie you want to get produced. Heck, put in the stars if you want.


I put setting in there because I’m not sure where I’m going to do my setting planning. My idea is a setting that’s slightly unfamiliar too me. I might just play it by ear and see how it swings while writing.

Important note; this is your first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I don’t claim to say this or that is the right way to write, just the way I write, but I think that it’s worth noting that you are allowed to make mistakes at this stage. Have fun. See how it pans out. You can’t carve a masterpiece without chipping off a lot of wood.

Right. Hopefully that’s something to get started on. I’m doing this for my own sake, but also want to give an insight onto what I do, in the hope that it may help others.

Check on you all tomorrow! Write on.


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