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Spring is the time of bloom, warmth, and sunshine. Also, it’s rumoured, a lot of rain (but I’ve spent a lot of time in the United Kingdom these past few years, so my perception is rather skewered on that subject). April 1st might be April Fools, but I assure you I’m a terrible comedian who only finds herself funny, so I won’t try anything with you. Pinkie Promise. Instead, I want to invite all you lovely readers, friends, or more likely whoever it is I guilt into reading my work to join the very first monthly Creative Course/Challenge.

Challenge of the Month: Story Development

Note! Self-promotion is always the name of the game. The larger an audience you have, the larger an audience you have who is interested in you and your work. This is key for those who are interested in being published OR self-publishing. So, you’re going to document your journey.  I won’t advise you too strongly here on marketing yourself (that’s for another month) but I will suggest things. Mostly to remind you.

April 1stApril 2ndApril 3rdApril 4thApril 5thApril 6thApril 7th

April Fool’s. You can’t escape it: embrace it. Make a joke, devise a trick, or share something that made you laugh! Share it with your followers on the grand trifecta of social mediums!

Okay, ahem. Now onto serious things.

For today, solidify your synopsis. I know you already got a great idea – but you need to put it into words. The goal for today is to write a stellar logline for your story. Not sure what a logline is or why it’s so important? Read this article here on why There’s No Question, Your Novel Needs a Logline.

Once you’ve written it, share it! I would be thrilled to help you out with it or share your logline with the community.

Today, you have a logline. You’re one step closer on your path to your novel (not so scary, is it?) Today we’re going to emphasise on how you’re going to document your journey. This is the self promotion that will pay off later when you’re publishing your novel. You’re going to share the logline you have written today with your audience (use hashtags! Those are important!) and announce that your novel’s journey has begun.

Now onto what you’re actually going to accomplish for today: Drafting. I don’t mean working on your first draft, I mean setting up a means to keep all the information in one place. I highly suggest using One Note: you can create multiple sections to organise things like Settings or Characters, and then create multiple pages within it. It’s a free program you can download and it will sync across devices.

Now, I want you to place all the information, scribbles, thoughts, down into their appropriate places, and that’s it! Organise what you already have devised, so that you can remember, utilise, and develop them.

All the hard work is done! Well, no, but the hard work for this week is done. For today, I want you to write the complete history of one aspect of your story. This could be a character, a fictional city, a country, a religion – whatever! If you need help, use this format:

For Characters

  1. Character Description and Overview
  2. Early History
  3. Education
  4. Career
  5. Relationships
  6. Later Life
  7. Timeline

For Settings

  1. Setting Description and Overview
  2. Pre History
    • The factors that instigated its creation – was it discovered, developed, taken over – how did it come to be?
  3. Early History
    1. What occurred early on; were things unstable? Were the customs different? What was the place like shortly after its creation?
  4. Wars/Crises
    1. Were there any wars? Riots? Fires? What terrible events occurred that might affect the current day. What developments were created during this time?
  5. Famous People/Inventions/Days
    1. Who/What is famous in this setting? Why?
  6. Timeline
    1. Create a general timeline of key events your setting has undergone. Knowing the socio-political background of your setting is a great way to not only be familiar with where your writing, but also aware of what your plot-options are.

Note: For your benefit, try to keep these relatively to-the-point. They will be used as reference material later on. The more concise they are, the more useful they will be when you’re writing! Plot holes be gone!

Bonus: Introduce your setting/character to your audience. Write it like a headline, or a quotation, or any other creative means you can think of.

Same deal as yesterday, my friends! If you wrote a character’s background yesterday, do a setting today, or vice versa! For the rest of the month, this will be your challenge. Develop your story. I want a strong, singular world that follows its own rules! (Or, well, completely abandons them, it depends on what kind of novel you are writing).

Buy a notebook. Or find one. A little one, preferably. I task you from here on out to keep an ear and an eye out on the behaviours around you. Write down your observations, write down overheard snippets of conversation. It’s creepy, yes, but one of the greatest challenges a writer faces is writing dialogue and characters that are unique all to their own, and not just an extension of the author.

Share a #bookstagram post of your new notebook(s)!

Have an interview with your protagonist’s mother. Then their teacher. Then their neighbour. Their grandparent, their grocer, their estranged childhood friend. These are rather small things that you don’t have to go out and develop per say, but it is important to get a clear grasp of how others perceive your character, and therefore how secondary, tertiary, or even more insignificant characters might interact (or simply react) with them. Share your interviews! Pull their best lines!

And remember, not everyone can like your character. Not everyone is going to tell the truth either.

Last day of this week! So far you’re slowly working on developing the background and history of the key points of your story (or even secondary points, if you’re up to the challenge! Just be careful about too much information; it’s hard to keep track of). You’re keeping a diary of the voices and characters around you, and you’re developing your understanding of how other characters perceive your protagonist. That’s quite a lot already! I’m not letting you off easily though! Today, you’re going to write your Epilogue. Or, a draft of one.

Ending a novel is the hardest thing to write, but it’s the ending of a novel that readers are left with when they finish the book. As such, we’re going to write towards an ending. Don’t worry too much about it though! Like the logline, it can change. Unlike the logline, you don’t have to actually write prose. Jot-notes will do just fine! The point here is to write with an ending in mind, rather than just writing. That way you don’t get lost in the middle, as I personally fall victim to time after time. Learn from my mistakes, please?

Cheers to you for embarking on this strange, demanding challenge of mine! I’d love to follow you on your journey so please tag your journey with #dscreativechallenge or tag @darksentences for Instagram and Facebook and @dark_sentences for Twitter. Dark Sentences is here to help you succeed and for you to help others succeed. Happy writings!

About The Author

A graduate trying to sort all her dreams together. Writer. Photographer. Artist. Adventurer. Wanderer.

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