So I’ve read everything in “No Plot? No Problem” up until the chapters I’m supposed to read just before I start NaNoWriMo in November, and I’ve come up with a To Do list to keep me occupied and motivated as the clock ticks towards November 1. One of the first things I want to do is print and frame my Writing Magna Cartas. While I could wait a few more months to start all of this prep, the Magna Cartas are a fantastic idea I want to implement into my writing life above and beyond NaNoWriMo.
Quite simply, they are my likes and dislikes about books I have enjoyed reading. So, for the first one, I will list what I like – keeping me on track for good writing. The second one is a list of my dislikes – serving to steer me clear of bad writing.
For interests sake, some of the things I like in my favourite books include:
- humour – slapstick, self-deprecating, jokes-on-you sort of thing, I don’t mind as long as I get a chuckle every now and then
- sidekicks – must be funny, daring and loyal
- appropriate endings – though not necessarily happy, they must fit the story and be believable
- quirky characters – faultless heroes are hard to like, I prefer mine flawed
Some of the things I dislike:
- loose ends – nothing worse than a story that introduces 5 characters, and I don’t know what has happened to 3 of them by the end of it all; or alternatively, 3 of them are killed off in the final chapters because the author doesn’t want to bother with them any more
- low character motivation – make me love him or hate him, but if I don’t have strong feelings about a character, I won’t care one bit what happens to him
- gratuitous and/or graphic sex scenes – (no, I’m not a prude!) I’ve recently been listening to an audio book which has a lot of sex scenes, and the trouble with audio books is that you can’t just skip ahead a page or two when you’re over hearing about the characters’ latest sexual exploits
- anti-heroes or villains who are bad because they were bullied as a child – sometimes villains are bad because they get more girls that way; and I don’t want to read all about their troubled childhood in the final chapters either – I want to hate the bad guy, not sympathise with him.
Ok, so that’s just a taster of what I have down on my lists. The logic in writing these down is really to discover what you’re most likely good at – already I can see that I much prefer light-hearted romps rather than heavy dramatic-type novels. Escapism, if you will. There’s nothing wrong with sweeping, multi-book sagas spanning decades and generations (I will, afterall, read almost anything). When I’m reading for enjoyment rather than research, I do love something that doesn’t over-tax my brain (yes, that was a pun about my work in case you missed it).
Anyway, if you’re thinking about joining me on the NaNo journey, start thinking about your likes and dislikes, so you can get a grasp on what sort of story you might like to pour your blood, sweat and tears into come November. In the mean time, I’m off to print my Magna Cartas on parchment paper in Ye Olde school-type calligraphy font, frame them in cheap frames and stick them on my wall above my desk.