When I discovered the list of Emotional Wounds on www.onestopforwriters.com last year, I was beyond excited. One of my novel projects would involve the POV of three sisters facing life-changing events and I needed to get to know each of these characters personally and separately in order to give each woman her own voice, struggles, fears, etc. I had an idea of their current personality conflicts, but wasn’t sure how they got there.
Sadie, the oldest, is about to have her first baby. Rachel, the middle sister, is the mother of six and recently found out her husband may have terminal cancer. And Ava, the youngest, has a teenage daughter who has just revealed that she’s pregnant and her plans for college may not happen. They are all on their way to their grandmother’s 80th birthday party, haven’t spoken to each other in years, and are not planning on sharing the details of their fears with each other at the reunion.
The Emotional Wound Thesaurus entries helped me to clarify and understand each sister’s struggle and I discovered why they had parted ways and what their biggest fears were coming into the story.
For the purpose of preparing for NaNoWriMo 2017, I have taken the online resources (and in anticipation of the release of the printed version of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus at the end of October), printed out the worksheets and my notes, and typed up a scene synopsis for chapters leading up to the start of Act 3 — a hybrid approach to having plenty of material to work with for writing 50k or more beginning November 1.
Steps to Scene Summary Starting with the Emotional Wounds
To share how I envision using my strategy for NaNoWriMo and to help those who are looking for inspiration or direction in Preptober, here is my step-by-step plan, starting from the initial inspiration and ideas I took from The Emotional Wound Thesaurus entries.
- MAJOR EMOTIONAL WOUND: Becoming a Caregiver at an Early Age. As is true in real life, none of my characters have just one emotional wound. But I’ve given each of them a major wound that will dictate who they are in the present story, along with shared and individual wounds. I’m using Sadie (purple) as my example as I’ve worked through the majority of her wounds, fears, and arc. Sadie is the oldest of the three sisters and took on the brunt of caring for her younger sisters while their mother moved them around, following men and odd jobs and often leaving the girls to fend for themselves. Because of this, Sadie has avoided becoming a mother until she could provide a stable, secure, and predictable life for her family.
- SHARED EMOTIONAL WOUND: Failing to do the Right Thing. (Backstory that won’t be fully revealed until mid-way through the book, but important to know as I build scene tension, fears, etc. between the sisters). The sisters attended a party as teenagers and the youngest, Ava (yellow), ended up being date-raped. Sadie has always felt responsible for this event, but has distanced herself from Ava.
- Negative and Positive traits that stem from emotional wounds, fears, triggers. etc. The next step was for me to decide how Sadie would respond to her wounds over time. Some of us can overcome wounds and move on. Some wounds are harder to heal from than others. Lifestyle, birth order, personality, and the support system surrounding each character can also impact how they manage their wounds and move forward in life. See my video on Using One Stop for Writers Emotional Wound Thesaurus for more details on how I came up with the plot concept of the three sisters, and how I’ve also made notes and tagged entries in the Negative Trait and Positive Trait thesauruses.
- Sadie’s FEARS. At the beginning of the story, she is 9 months pregnant, and despite all her planning and preparation, feels ill-equipped to be a mother. Since she’s always been the one to tell her sisters what to do and how to do it, she’s too proud to admit her fear and ask for help. She’s also afraid of putting her daughter in harms way as a result of what happened to her sister. There is a way to create a Character Fear in the My Workspace section of One Stop for Writers. Once I filled in the blanks for Sadie, I generated a PDF, which I’ve printed and place in my WIP binder.
- Brainstorming scenes where these wounds and fears will propel the story. A few months ago, I spent a full day typing up the synopsis for chapters and scenes, color-coding for each sister. Knowing the backstory is only one step. The challenging (but fun part) is discovering how to use the background for each character in the present conflict. After going through the process of choosing emotional wounds, traits, fears, etc. I knew each sister more intimately — like going from a flat drawing to a 3D sculpture. The process also helped me to pinpoint the major elements of the plot, character arcs, and how secondary characters would play a part in adding more layers.
- Choose a scene to write for a word sprint. What I’ve come to love about Scrivener is the access to a visual summary of my WIP. Here’s a snippet from my chapter and scene summary outline to get me started. Hopefully you can see how all the steps I took to get to this point will give me a buffet of options. This could likely end up as three chapters (I haven’t decided if I’ll divide POV within a chapter or have each chapter dedicated to one sister’s POV). This particular chapter is where Rachel’s (pink) daughter reveals her dad’s cancer diagnosis during the birthday dinner prayer and the sisters start arguing about why they no longer share details about their lives.
I’ve also created a second video where I discuss other ways I’m organizing and preparing for NaNoWriMo. Check it out below!
I’m not quite done yet, but wanted to share where I’m at as of now. For the rest of the month, I’ll be finishing my preparation so I’m ready to write with all the tools and references I need to easily hit 50K or higher in November.
Feel free to check out my Author info and add me as a Buddy on the NaNoWriMo site. I’m Roey37 :)
How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo? What resources or tools are helping you get organized?