Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Story of the Story

Woo-hoo, the word watch widget is up and running at NaNoWriMo! I added it to my right margin.

I am still writing, and keeping up with the daily minimums to make it to 50,000 words. But I’m reaching that point where I’m starting to wonder what I’m writing. And why. This is a point that I expected to hit around day 15, but here it is, only day 10.

The story is about a man who is secretly living in the basement of a family home on a quiet suburban street. This is based on an actual person who was living in my actual house (completely unbeknownst to me) in the late 80s – early 90s. We found his sleeping bag and a bunch of stuff in the crawlspace under our house one day. It was weird! Our neighbor told me later the guy had been living there for a while. Gee, thanks, neighbor!

Anyway, I never got to learn this man’s personal story, so I’m writing one for him. In the story, flashbacks show how he got into the situation, and the story moves forward as he tries to survive.

So far, I’ve kind of written a lot of separate scenes with no continuity and no end, and I’m running out of steam. NaNoWriMo suggests that when you hit the wall like this, you can do something unexpected like add ninjas, drop a bomb, send your characters to the circus, among other story-enlivening ideas. My favorite was to have your main character write a novel (novel in a novel!). Or you can go to a write-in with others in the area. Or you can look for inspiration or rescue on the NaNo forums.

I am mulling the Ninja/bomb/circus idea, not literally, but literarily. Something’s got to shake the story up. I am not a write-in person: it’s way too distracting to be in a room full of noisy people. But I will be trolling the forums for inspiration. Yesterday I found a whole string on “Is your main character depressed?” Perfect!

What do you when you get stuck on a project?



  1. When I get stuck on a project I typically move onto something else in search of inspiration and/or a clear head. And I'm with you; I prefer to write in solitude! Music or the TV is fine, as I can tune out one thing, but more noise than that kills my creativity.

    Your story sounds fun! And that is more common than any of us would like to think, especially in neighborhoods with smaller homes and households that leave every morning; adults to work and children to school or daycare. When you get into the neighborhoods with McMansions and housekeepers and Nanny's, it is reportedly less common.

    Hmmm, maybe you can write about how your hero choose his "home". What about the people who live in it; do they figure in the story? I would love to read it!

    xo, Anita

  2. Great idea! I think the residents are going to figure into it, but they haven't taken shape in my mind yet. Will it be an idyllic family that the hero starts to live through vicariously? Or a broken family whose fights bring back the hero's memories of his own terrible past? Lots of stuff to think about...