Well, November is slowly drawing closer. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner! It’s actually pretty hard to believe- mainly because this year has been odd for my family, and also because, here in New Mexico, Autumn is just another word for: ‘a little cooler than last month’.
Sill, the autumn decorations are up, and that helps the mood feel a little more autumnal. It also cheers things up a bit.
Anyway, back to NaNoWriMo, I am still preparing for that great event. Among the important things for writing- especially during November, when you’re supposed to write a novel in a month- it helps to have a playlist, quick meals planned, and a document ready for you to just bring up and start writing (either that or journal to write by hand, if you want to do that, like my sister does).
We still have the meals to plan for, and I haven’t actually created a document (for some reason I like to do that last minute). I have, however, managed to create a playlist for my story- which I didn’t expect to happen, or possibly just a partial playlist.
Music is actually very important- in fact I have another blog (which I’ve sadly neglected) talking about how important music is. Here’s the link, in case you want to take a look: http://myuniversesitsinchocolate.blogspot.com/
Anyway, music is important because it helps you clarify your story. It can help tell the story- or sometimes a deeper story which you know about. For instance, in my story I wanted my character- who is going through a very difficult time- to come to a point where he must overcome the desire to simply stop, to give up, and he decides to go on. At least, that’s what I hope happens, but unfortunately it’s rather a difficult thing for me to manage to put in there and I’ve always been afraid it will fall out- partially for sounding very melodramatic and a little unlikely. However, I happened to see in my collection of music the score to the movie The Island (2005, I think) by Steve Jablonsky, the song title: I’m not Ready to Die and I suddenly realized that was the song. That’s what’s happening in my story- the simple declaration: “I’m not ready to die.”
And now that I have a song that actually applies to that moment, it seems possible that I can actually put it in my story. We’ll see if that really happens.
And of course it helps with atmosphere, it helps you concentrate, to have music. For me, it’s almost as important as the story itself.
Another good way to get in the mood for your story is to read the right books. Of course, for my time train stories set in an alternate universe there wasn’t really anything for me to read that would get me in the mood. But for my Civil War stories- ah! so many things!
(by the way, another good idea is to stay away from stories that will mess up your atmosphere or mood. For instance, it’s a bad idea for me to read Frank Peretti because he influences my writing style too much)
I need atmosphere for the place, that is the most important thing. It is the hardest for me to manage- and I have never yet managed to capture it. I’ve read Little Women and that helped me understand what the time is like, as only someone that’s lived there can write it. I’ve read the Red Badge of Courage and that, again, gave me a sketch of the past- a very different sketch. I read With Lee in Virginia, which was rather romanticized, but again deepened my understanding (and there was a summary of the Civil War that was very clear and helpful). I’ve even started to read Jefferson Davis’ and U.S. Grant’s books they wrote, both of which are a challenge but help me understand them, the way people thought, and yet another depth to that time.
I would have thought I would have a rounded perception of this time, considering I’ve read things from the perspective of a lady, military, and a fellow writer or two like myself (who had the advantage of living nearer to the time). They are all very different, and yet give an underlying feel that coincides.
But why is it that I can write almost exactly the way some of the people talked in The Red Badge of Courage and yet it sounds completely ridiculous? It’s sad.
Well, I’ve started a Mark Twain and- ah!- it has exactly the atmosphere I want! His description of a neighborhood sounded almost exactly like a place I had in my last Civil War story, but somehow he managed to make it sound charming and not clichéd! So, I think what I’ve got to do it is read a lot of Mark Twain – which shouldn’t be hard- and just start writing!
And it’s taken me all day to write this post (because I got thoroughly distracted onto other things). So without further delay, I’m goin’ back to Pudd’nhead Wilson! (ugh)
Disclaimer: there will soon be excerpts from some of these stories which exemplify the ‘dialect’ I wish to capture. I would love to just get the atmosphere and thinking style, but especially the ‘dialect’ would be nice!