As I’ve said before, I’m not a plotter. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t plan. Professionally speaking, my background is in project and change management, and we live by the old mantra of fail to plan, plan to fail. It’s ingrained.
Heading into NaNoWriMo, what do I plan? What can I plan?
First, there are the basics. I make sure that I have a pretty good idea about:
- my back-up strategy
- my writing “schedule”
- how I’m going to do it
From a story viewpoint, even though I often have no idea what’s about to happen, I also like to have sketched out some background information regarding:
- the location- where the story is set, and
- main characters- who are the protagonists and the antagonists
We’ll look at location today.
Where is your story set?
I like to treat the location as a character. It really is that important.
This loose series of four (or is it five?) books are all set in Melbourne and (to greater or lesser degrees) Bali- although the actual places that I’m using are quite different.
In Baby It’s You, most of the action occurs within a tight radius around Melbourne and Richmond- the inner city suburb where my heroine, Emily, has her apartment. This was done deliberately because much of the story’s theme is around comfort zones- staying within them, and breaking out of them. We get to know Emily’s emotional world through her physical world.
When I did take her outside of Melbourne and off to Bali, it wasn’t just so that I could switch locations. I needed to create enough discomfort to force her to make the changes she’d been resisting.
It was also an opportunity to demonstrate just how far she’d come in her own development. As a result, Bali is a supporting cast member, but integral to the plot.
Before I started writing, I did some location scouting (hey, it was a good excuse for a trip to Melbourne):
- What does an average apartment look like in Richmond?
- Where would she eat?
- Where would she work?
- What’s in walking distance?
- Public transport?
I looked on Real Estate sales sites for the apartment details and tripped around on a tram a bit for the rest. I took photos, downloaded images, made a few notes and popped it all on the cork-board in Scrivener.
Both Melbourne and Bali play completely different roles in Big Girls Don’t Cry. In this book, Bali is central to the storyline- although you’ll need to read it to know why.
I did a similar thing for I Want You Back– I wrote a bit about it here– but, being an ensemble cast, the locations aren’t nearly as important as the characters are.
I haven’t even started defining locations yet for Finding John Smith. It’s a journey piece, and although I know where we’re ending up at, at this point I have no idea as to how we’ll get there.
Having said that, I’ve started collecting images on a Pinterest board…
What about you? Where’s your current work in progress set?