Archive for the ‘Nanowrimo’ Category

Welcome to my delayed NaNoWriMo 2016 post. I forgot all about this post yesterday. I was in the middle of finishing a certification for my job and then got called in. Anyway, my NaNo was a very interesting experience.

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NaNo 2013 NaNo 2015 NaNo 2016

The charts from the three years I won. 2013 and 2016 have a lot in common. I knew more about these books than I did about the book I was writing last in 2015. It’s funny to me that while I know more about my book I start off slowly barely or don’t meet the daily word count yet finish with a spike. By the way, Scrivener said I had only a few words over 50k. When I submitted it NaNo word count confirmation said I had over 57k. That’s okay. Just means fewer words I have to write after Nano now as I continue to write Pyre.

I will say, this year I had a lot of distractions that you can see right around day 16 through day 22. Funny how that is right after I posted my half way point post. I got through it and I am still enjoying the story. Especially figuring our my characters. A surprise character for me is Ariel. She has an important role, but not the main character. She has come to life after I got some real life inspiration for her. Maybe I will have to let her live now… Ops! Spoilers… Not really. That would mean someone would survive one of those every dies at the end stories. Crap! I did it again… Or did I. Anyway, it is a delight to write another character beyond my two lovely leading ladies. I can’t wait to get to some of my classic character I have planned for this story over a decade ago.

My biggest struggle for this year’s NaNo was simply trying to figure out how my magic systems would work. Having seven that will appear in the trilogy and knowing how a few of them will look and work is one thing. Having one of the first to appear, not knowing how practical it will be for characters who are learning will work but know the larger picture was a challenge. I do enjoy what I am discovering. Thanks to this discovery I am finding out new ways for characters to use this system for when they get stronger and how their fighting styles will be different from others.

That’s all I got. Before I got I want to send out and congrats to all who participated in NaNoWriMo regardless if you reached 50k or not. Writing isn’t easy, though the perception of it is that it is easy. I tell people who are new to writing or have been writing for some time, the point of NaNoWriMo is to get you to write daily. If you can walk away from this writing every day even if it was just a hundred words that’s great.  I also say set your own word count goal. Some people it needs to be something really easy to reach the first time. That way the next goal will be just a little more challenging. I do say that it is best to pick a goal that is going to be challenging but still possible to do. Let’s face 50,000 words is a lot of words. For those of you who did win, great keep plugging away at your novel, if you haven’t completed it yet. Don’t forget if you’re are done to take the December revision pledge to go over your novel and make it better.

Check back later today for my Craft Post. This post was supposed to be it, but I remembered I was supposed to do it. I will post that craft post in a few hours. Until then. Check back on Monday’s for my Weekly Writing Wrap-up.

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Welcome to a special post, here on November 16th. For all of you out there who are participating in National Novel Writing Month, this if for you. If you’re not participating… “WHY THE HELL AREN’T YOU!!!?” Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. I know there are reasons why you might not want to or can’t. So I guess, this is kind of for you too.

Let me guess how you might be feeling right now? “Why is this so hard? It was so easy just a week ago. I flew ahead. Words were just seemingly appearing on the page. What happened? I don’t know what is going on. I couldn’t write for the last few days, now if I want to finish on time I will have to write more than the 1667 words per day. I was barely making that many words. AH!”

Is that even close to what you are feeling? It is. Well then, let me welcome you to the club. It is called being a writer. Regardless of trying to write 50k in a month or 150k over six months. At times, writing sucks. It happens to all of us. Especially during NaNoWriMo. The first few days or even week is easy. You’re making great progress, even if you are just hitting that 1667 words per day. Then week two hits and you miss a day of writing maybe two. Week three comes along and you missed three more in a row and it seems like you have 5000 words you need to write each to finish by November 30th.

For the record, if you miss five days up to today. You have 33,335 words left. You actually only have 2222.33333 words per day. Not 5000. I know 2222 words can seem like a lot. You can do this. That is why I am posting this today. Today is day 16 of NaNoWriMo. Meaning there are 15 days left (I am counting today) to finish. Plenty of time. The key to doing this is writing. The more time you spend writing the more your are engaged with the story, the less these roadblocks like writer’s block will take place.

You might not be feeling excited about your story anymore. Maybe you are seeing those dreaded plot holes. Or, you’re in an area that is really dragging because nothing really interesting is going on, but the scene is important later on. Here are some ideas to help you get back that energy and excitement.

If you are bored with the scene you’re on, think of ways you can make it exciting without having to add an unnecessary action scene. Find the conflict in that scene and blow it up where it is really engaging. Even if it is way too big. You can always fix this later in the second draft.

You’re on a scene that is boring and you need to get through it to get to the next part that you just can’t wait to write. Skip this scene and write the scene you want to write. Especially if you can’t wait to write it. That will translate into your story. Also, you get excited and if you’re excited you will keep writing. When you come back tot his boring scene you will know how the scene after or the scenes after it take place and can better steer this scene towards those and make it not as boring.

Just write. Even if it is boring or you just don’t want to. Just putting words on the page will help get your brain fired up.

Stuck on what to write, find a writing prompt to help you. Wait a second, here are two links to some random ones. Seventh Sanctum and Writing Exercises. Click the button and see what pops up. Use that as a starting point. See how well you can make this random idea work with your story. Maybe you might find some interesting changes you want to keep.

Most importantly, this is your first draft. Whatever you write now, doesn’t mean it is going to be in your final draft. Just write the story and do it any way that will get it out. Second drafts are meant to perfect the story.

You are half way to the 30th, keep writing. You can do this.

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Welcome to week three of NaNoWriMo Prep mini-series. For those who are new, this series will be made up of four posts to help you prepare for National Novel Writing Month. To get caught up, you can find the first three posts, here (post 1)here (post 2), and here (post 3). This week’s post is all about Final Preparations. Before getting started, I just want to remind everyone the method I am using is part of Randy Ingermanson Snowflake Method. This post will focus mostly on step 8 but will cover 1-7 as well.

After the last three week’s, you should have at least a one-page synopsis of your story, maybe you went as far as and did the four-page summary. With that, you should have fleshed out your character’s. From the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s), and secondary characters. Maybe you just did the first two, or you went through and have a profile for every important character in the story. You need to do what works for you. Now, it is time to help you prepare to start writing this on November 1st.

Unless you have a very detailed outline, or I like to call it a turn by turn outline that literally is every action the POV characters turn. I have done these outlines in the past and they don’t work for me, but they may work for you. What I found does work for me is a scene list. This is step eight of Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method. Take your synopsis and start breaking down every scene. If you have the longer synopsis it will be easier.

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screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-9-27-29-amThis is a picture, is how I do my scene lists. The first column is the chapter number, the second column is scene number, the third is POV Character, the fourth is the summary of the scene. The last for columns work in pairs. The first two are estimated pages for the scene and estimated of words for the scene. I have a formulate that bases 250 words per page. All I have to do is put the number of pages, and the formula tells me how many words in the next column. The last two columns are actually pages and words after I write the scene. I manually enter both of these.

If you would like this, you can download an excel file here. It is a two-page document one like the page is setup and another that keeps track of all the pages and words in each section. This is how I do it, you don’t need to do it like that. I find knowing all my scenes helps me write. I have tried in the past from working through a bullet system and fill in the space between as I write. I can, but this is so much better. I always know what I need to write.

There will be days usually as the weeks go by, it will get harder to write. Knowing what you need a scene to achieve makes writing a little bit easier. I’ll cover the writing process at the end. For now, let’s move on to the last part of prep. Besides the scene list, use the time left to go back and fix anything you think or know needs it. If it means going back and reworking your one sentence line, do it. Even if it means writing a whole new paragraph, page, and four-page summary. In the end, it will help you. I know that’s a lot of work, but it will save you from having to do it after you write the book and find that everything is confusing because your summary isn’t up to date with what you discovered after doing your character sketches.

If you are writing a fantasy and magic is going to be a big part of it, spend some time figuring out how it works. Same goes for technology if you’re writing a Science Fiction story. I am all about knowing how things work, even if you will not ever tell the reader how. You can still have that sense of wonder knowing how things work. Also, if you write just right, you will have your fans dissecting the story for any clues on how it does. Just a thought.

The same goes for the world, I love doing maps of my storyworlds, but not just worlds, dungeons, palaces, you name it I like to have it. It helps me keep track of where things are. You don’t need anything super fancy, just enough to know where things are. This just a helpful tool, but you don’t need to do any of this. I would say if you want to do this and you don’t have things to fix in your synopsis, do it. You story for structure should take focus over this. I only say that, because this is NaNo Prep. Any other time, I would say otherwise, mostly because there is no cropping deadline to start writing the story by.

Finally, I just want to give you some advice. The first day, probably the first week you may find writing is a blast and everything is just flowing out of you. Great. Get as much writing done as you can. The daily goal is 1667 words. If you hit this every day for 30 days you will reach the 50k word count goal to win. If things are flowing, in the first week keep writing, if you have the time. Why do I say that? Good question. As the weeks go on, the hard it gets. Life hits you. Something you forgot about comes up that you need to do, or something at work makes you stay longer hours and you don’t get to write. You may not feel like writing because you’re tired or sick or whatever the reason. Writer’s block may pop up, even with all the preparations you have done.

The more you get done while the fire is burning and words are flowing the better. 1667 is not that many words. You can say I can hit that daily. What about 2143? That’s a lot of words if you haven’t ever written a novel before. That is how many words you will have to write daily after missing seven days of writing. Wanna know how I know?

The 1667 word count, is based on 50k word count goal, and 30 days. Divide 50,000 by 30 you get 1666.666 repeating. The more days you miss the more words you have to write to win. Good news, one or two or even three days, isn’t that much different. There is good news. The more words you write beyond 1667, the fewer words you have to write the next day to win. If you write 5000 words in one day, you have a lot fewer words to write now.

Let’s say you write 5000 words on day one of NaNoWriMo. You have 45000 words left. You only have to write 1551 words from now on to hit 50k by November 30th. Let’s day two you write another 5000 words. Now, you have to write 1428 words per day. Now on day three something comes up and you can’t write. You have to write 1481 words to hit 50k. Not bad. Still low. The more words you can get written early, the better chance you will be able to hit the 50k goal by the 30th as other things pop up and take away from your writing time. Trust me, there is nothing more demoralizing and cuts off the creative juices to see you need to write 6000 words per day to win. For me, that would be a challenge. First timers or even experienced writers who have done NaNo for years may lose hope.

I have had years doing NaNo and the juices would not flow. I didn’t want to write anything. It is what eventually kicked me into gear to start planning a head and really using my free time to work on my projects. Two years later and I am doing well.

That is all for this National Novel Writing Month Prep series. I hope everyone gets a good start on Tuesday and goes strong and wins. There is a chance I will post a review of my NaNo writing experience. However, more than likely it will be part of my Weekly Writing Wrap-up. Check back on Friday for the next post in our new sub-series on Economics.

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Welcome to week three of NaNoWriMo Prep mini-series. For those who are new, this series will be made up of four posts to help you prepare for National Novel Writing Month. To get caught up, you can find the first two posts, here (Post 1) and here (post 2). This week’s post is all about Characters. Before getting started, I just want to remind everyone the method I am using is part of Randy Ingermanson Snowflake Method. I merging different steps together to cover most of it in the four posts. You can read Randy’s free article on the Snowflake Method here. Today’s post I will be merging steps 3, 5 and 7 together.

So you have completed a full synopsis of your novel by taking your five sentence paragraph and turned each sentence into a paragraph. Maybe you even went beyond that and took each paragraph and fleshed it to a full page. Awesome. You know what is going to happen in your novel. What about the people who are in your story? You may have heard Character Driven stories before. If not you have now. As plotted out as you make your novel if the actions of characters in the story don’t seem believable or natural, it will seem more like events are happening to push the story forward instead of character’s actions moving them forward.

“Ah! Just perfect. Now you tell me. I have this five-page detailed story of what is going on, and now you tell me my characters have to be believable and would do these things? Just Perfect!” Some of you might be thinking that little quote. I kept it clean for this post. The bad news is yes. You might now be thinking why didn’t I start with characters? Well, that’s because if you visit Randy’s article you see he doesn’t start characters. It is why I posted a link to that page in the first post, post the link to the first post in the series last week, not just so new readers could get caught up. It is also why I reposted the link to the article this week.

There is good news. Now that you know a lot more about your story, I know what you need from your characters. Besides that, you know more about your protagonist and antagonist than you think. Let’s start from the beginning. Make a list of all your main characters. Once you have that list make a new page either in your word document or notebook and put the character’s name on top of the page. Then answer these questions.

  • The character’s name (You already have this)
  • A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline
  • The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  • The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  • The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  • The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?
  • A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline

As Randy warns you may need to go back and fix one of your sentences. I didn’t warn you because I am not going in order of the steps. Don’t worry about going back yet. I took this into account before I started this series. For some of you, these questions may not be enough. They aren’t for me, so if you would like more  you can find Google search character profiles to see what you find. You can check out the one I use, character-cheat-sheet. Don’t worry more is coming in the Snowflake method. My character sheet is an option to use or take the information from to use as yourself for the next step.

Once you have your one page of information of the questions above. Now it is time to come up with a description of your character. Randy recommends a page for each character but this is up to you. This is fleshing out your character. This is step 5 and 7 is really continuing the expanding on your characters. Write down enough information about your characters that you feel comfortable with. Some things to think about is, what your characters look like, personality, history. Randy recommends telling the story through each character’s eyes. This would be their storyline. All of this is up to you.

The more you learn about your characters you will probably realize that some of the things you want them to do in your synopsis, they wouldn’t do or would only after being forced. You might think this is horrible. It’s not. It means your characters are coming alive. You can take George Lucas approach and have your characters be that of chess pieces and they do what you want or you can have real characters and let them tell you how they would act. Publishers love character driven stories.

Let’s give an example. Maybe you have a really cool part where one of your characters purposely sabotages a mission. It is key to the story and it isn’t your villain who does it. Now the character who was going to do this would never do such a thing. You don’t want to remove it because it would mess up your awesome way your protagonist gets around it. You have two options, change the character that can be hard if the character you have is already alive and telling you she wouldn’t do it. Or come up with a way where that character has no choice but to do it. The villain forces him to do it. Maybe, only by sabotaging the mission can the protagonist survive.

Trust me when I say, listening to your characters is only going to make your story stronger. If you get stuck on thing having to happen the way you came up, and force characters to do things they wouldn’t, you aren’t going to have a very good book. Now, there are genres that don’t worry as much about being character driven and focus more on the plot. Like a Thriller, well good don’t worry about so much. However, the stronger your characters regardless of the genre you are writing the better the story will be.

That is all for this post. Next week will be our last post, and it will focus on Final preparations. If you would like to know more about what that is, check the first post in this series to find out.

For anyone who is new to my blog and like the content of like this, be sure to check out my Weekly Craft post on Fridays. We are heavily into a massive series on Worldbuilding. This Friday we will be starting a new sub-series on Economics. You can get caught up on all the sub-series in the series by going to the Worldbuilding link in the toolbar. Monday’s I post my Weekly Writing Wrap-up, that covers how  I am doing on my current projects. That’s all, check back soon.

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Welcome to week two of NaNoWriMo Prep mini-series. For those of you who are new, I am posting a four part series on how to prepare for National Novel Writing Month. To get caught up you can find the first post in this series, here. This week is all about fleshing out your novel.

First a quick review of what your assignment for the week was. You were to think through some ideas for the plot of your story. Once you have a few ideas for your story, you were to summarize the plot in one sentence. While I didn’t say it last week, I will now. You should try to get your sentence no longer than twenty words. I spent some time this week to rework my one sentence. Here is what it was last week:

Estranged twin sisters meet up and fight only to realize they have a common enemy and to stop him.

While that was good and does sum up the plot, it could be better. Here is what it is now.

Estrange sisters get entangled in events that lead to a war that happened before they were born.

Seventeen words, the new sentence is. Not only is it shorter by two words, it better summarizes the plot of the book. You might be thinking “so what if it is shorter by two words. What difference do two words make?” Well, as a writer, we want to be able to explain thing in the least amount of words that isn’t losing meaning. Second, this one sentence is known as an elevator pitch. Think of it this way: You are in an elevator hotel and who happens to walk onto the elevator, but a man with a name tag on and the name of publishing company you were planning to send your manuscript when you finished. You get the

You are at a writing convention in the elevator with another man when a woman walks on. You take notice of her name tag to see she is an agent. She takes notice of yours and the other man’s name tags.

“You two are part of the convention?” She asks.

“Yep!” the other man says.

“I am,” you say.

“What is your novel about?” she asks the other man.

“Well, you see, it is about this guy who is from the future and he came back to observe an event. Shit!” the other man says. “You weren’t supposed to know he is from the future. Let me start again.”

The woman holds up her hand. “No thanks. How about you.”

The man to your left blew his chance, but you won’t. “Estrange sisters get entangled in events that lead to a war that happened before they were born.”

“Wow, that’s really interesting.” She reaches into her jacket pocket and pulls out a business card and hands it to you. “Call me. I would love to hear more about your book.”

The elevator stops the doors open and she gets out. You look down at the card, and you see next to her name is the agency you were planning on sending your manuscript to when it was ready.

 

You might think this is crazy, but this happens all the time at writing conventions. Agents are there to find new talent and simply being able, to sum up, your whole novel in a short sentence could get you a meeting with them or them asking you to send your novel to them. Beyond being able to use this in a pitch for your book, it is a great way to help start your novel.

Now that you have your one sentence plot summary. It is time to expand it. Before I go any further, I want to let you know I will be going steps from Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method of outlining. I will only be going over a few steps. If you’re interested you can find the whole method here.

It is time to make that one sentence into a paragraph. Not just any paragraph, but a paragraph with only five sentences. Why only five sentences? That’s easy. One sentence to give me the backdrop and story setup. Then one sentence each for your three disasters or plot points. Then one more sentence to tell the ending.

Emily and Taryn haven’t seen each other since they were four years old; Emily joined Master Bishop and learn the art of life while Taryn joined the Masia Mage Society and learned magic. The two are brought back together after the man Chrono N brought destruction into their lives; For Taryn, he sent a student to his death to attack her school, Emily, he sent and succeeded in killing the man her master protected. Sister united and long with their friends, they are sent on a mission that leads them to the Temple of Knowledge to learn what the War Lord Chrono is up to. After finding the temple, sisters, friends and hired spaceship pilot and co-pilot they reach the lost source of a powerful energy that Chrono is after to launch a war for control of the universe, where they are forced to fight the powerful life user.

My paragraph is fresh and will spend the week fine-tuning it, but you get the idea. Technically it is five sentences. Spend some time developing yours this week. Now step three. Wait, you thought we were done. Nope. There is more. Once you have a paragraph you like that summarizes your plot it is time to take it to the next level. Take each sentence and turn it into its own paragraph. While in the Snowflake Method, it says each paragraph should be five sentences, but you don’t have to do that. By the time you are done you should have a one-page synopsis of your story. If you want, you can then take each paragraph and turn it into its own page making a five-page in-depth synopsis. However, that is up to you.

I am not going to post a five paragraph summary of my novel here. I may next week, but I doubt it. I will post my fine tuned paragraph, though. This week, you have a lot to do, so get cracking. Next week, we will be looking at characters.

If you have never been to my blog before, and like this post. You may be interested in my other posts. On Friday’s I post a Craft Post every week. We have been going through a long series on Worldbuilding. You can get caught up by going to the Worldbuilding link in the toolbar. It will give you all the sub-series we have covered thus far. This week, we will be covering the third and final post in our Civilizations sub-series.

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Welcome to a short series I will be posting every Wednesday for the month of October. It is to help anyone to prepare for National Novel Writing Month that starts November 1st. Normally, I write each post the day or two before I post it like for my Weekly Craft Posts on Friday. You should check those out too. I only know the topic of those post right before I write them. That is not how it is going to work with these four posts. I am going to tell you the topics of all four posts right now.

Week one: or in this post, I will talk about NaNoWriMo and how to start to prepare.

Week two: we will take what we start this week and expand it.

Week three: is all about characters.

Week four: is scene’s list, finish what is needed and review.

Ready? Good. Let’s get started.

What is NaNoWriMo? Or National Novel Writing Month? Well, I think I just answered that question. However, let’s take a little deeper look. Like other months, November has been declared a national time to write a novel. Like National Breast Cancer Awareness month is October. February is Black History month. If you always wanted to write a novel but never had the time? Well, November is the perfect time to do it.

NaNoWriMo.Org is a website where you can join, create a novel for this year and participate. The goal of NaNo is to get writers to write. That’s it. You don’t need to join the website to take part, but if you do and win, (which I will get to in a minute), you get free stuff. Like what you ask? Go to the website and find out. Usually, there is a  site that will give you a printed copy of your book. There are other things as well.

How do you win? That is easy. All you have to do is write 50,000 words by midnight of November 30th. Like I said, the goal is to get writers to write. There are other challenges you can do during it. Like the 5-day challenge. That is 10,000 word a day.  Word wars, where you set a timer to go off in ten minutes and whoever has the most words wins. Part of participating is there are regions all across the country where people meet up at coffee shops or bookstores or Denny’s and write. It is a load of fun.

Now that you know what NaNoWriMo is, and have decided to write a novel. Now, what? That is completely up to you. If this is your first time writing a novel, I would recommend you plan your novel out in advanced. Why? When November 1st comes up and you sit down to write, and suddenly you have no idea where to start, you will understand. I know that there are many people who write by the seat of their pants. However, I recommend this path for someone who never written a novel see if it works.

Okay, you are going to plan out your novel. Wanna know how to start? I sure you do. For this week, I want you do spend some time thinking of some ideas. Write them down, keep them in your head. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it. Once you have an idea for a story that you like, I want you to do one thing. Write out the plot of your story in one sentence.  One sentence, are you kidding me!!! You might be thinking. Nope. No details are needed. Just the base idea of your novel. Here, I will give you mine tagline:

Estranged twin sisters meet up and fight only to realize they have a common enemy and to stop him.

This may not be all that interesting, probably because I just wrote it. However, it does cover the plot of the novel. I will spend sometime tweaking it, but it works for now. That is all you need to do this week. Next week, I will show you how to take that sentence and build a whole novel around it.

If you have never been to my blog before, and like this post. You may be interested in my other posts. On Friday’s I post a Craft Post every week. We have been going through a long series on Worldbuilding. You can get caught up by going to the Worldbuilding link in the tool bar. It will give you all the sub-series we have covered thus far. This week, we will be covering the second post in our Civiliazations sub-series.

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