Can you feel it? The prickle of tension on your skin, the butterflies waking up in your stomach? I can, and it only means one thing. Camp NaNoWriMo approaches. Let the writing begin. Camp NaNoWriMo… More
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is set in WW2 and follows two female characters from very different classes. They develop a friendship as young children and the book on from there to finish in their twenties.
Although I found some interesting details about the “Cable Girls” I struggled to enjoy this book. Other Lesley Pearse books have captivated me from the start, and I’ve barely slept while trying to finish them. With this book, I was… bored. I don’t know why because if I think about it, it is a great concept with twists and turns and drama.
It just felt too familiar to me. I wonder if I’ve read too many Lesley Pearse books? As her books tend to follow a particular pattern, perhaps I’ve learnt to guess what’s coming next. To someone else, who hasn’t read all of her other books, I would say give this one a try. But for me, somehow it just didn’t click.
It is precisely a month until Camp NaNoWriMo July 2017. The fear and excitement are starting to kick in. Are you ready? Is anyone else gearing themselves up for the rollercoaster ride of late nights, early mornings and word counts?
I failed NaNoWriMo in November 2016 (you can read all about it here) because I grievously underestimated the dedication required. No experience is a wasted experience, however, and I learnt some valuable lessons that stuck with me. Here are a few I thought I’d share with you all.
Schedule Time to Write
Do not imagine that the joy of writing will push you through to reach your word count. You need to set aside dedicated time to write and stick to it. Writing 50,000 words in a month is TOUGH, you need to grit your teeth, make a plan and stick to it.
Use the 10x Rule
In his recent book The 10x Rule, Grant Cardone explains how success comes from putting in 10x the effort you would expect to put in to get average results. Now, I’m not expecting you to write 500,000 words, that would be ridiculous. We can apply a similar principle, however, and aim for a higher word count than we need.
To succeed at NaNoWriMo, you need to average a word count of 1667 a day. In light of the 10x rule, we could aim to hit 2,000 words a day. That way, when we miss our target, which we will, we are still on track to hit the word count.
One of the reasons I failed NaNoWriMo is because I didn’t have a robust outline, which I need in order to write a lot each day. Some people are pansters, and oh, how I envy them. Most of us, however, need to spend time thinking and planning about our scenes before we write them. For advice on planning out detailed scenes, this is a helpful article.
Be kind to yourself
Don’t worry if you don’t hit the goal. Although the words “winning” and “losing” are often used when talking about NaNoWriMo, if you think about it, we are all winners. If you “fail” then you’ve still written a large number of words, learnt about your writing process and have moved your WIP forward. Even a failed NaNoWriMo is actually a win!
A while ago I wrote a post asking you lovely bloggers for advice on how to stop using He, She, Character Name as sentence starters. I am so overwhelmed by the level of guidance and support I received from that post. To check out all the incredibly helpful comments click here.
As promised, I’ve collated the information and have put together a brief list of the advice I received. These tips are game changers.
Use Deep POV – Anna Kaling Author
One sure way to avoid using too many pronouns is to write from a deep point of view. Rather than acting as a distant narrator, write as if you are feeling and seeing through the eyes and body of your character. Here is the brilliant example of this used by Anna Kaling in my comments section –
Jane listened to Andrew drone on about his day and wondered when she’d stopped loving him. She watched clouds float across her coffee as she stirred it. She hoped she didn’t look as bored as she felt.
Andrew droned on about his day. When had she stopped loving him? Clouds floated across her coffee as she stirred it. Hopefully, she didn’t look as bored as she felt.
Start with -ing words (but not too often) – John
Another way to avoid starting with your character name or pronoun is to use an -ing word to describe what they are doing. A lot of you gave this as a handy technique, but there seems to be some controversy over this too. Make sure you don’t start with a verb too often because it can annoy the reader.
Cause and Effect – Fab Writings
Here is a brilliantly simple trick. Start with a cause and write the effect it has on your character. Here is the example Fab Writings gives in the comment –
Effect + cause = She sprang from the sofa, upon seeing a cockroach.
Cause + effect = The moment she saw a cockroach, she sprang from the sofa.
Start with an adverb – Brian Bixby
I’m a firm believer that adverbs should be sprinkled throughout your novel with caution and as a last resort. However, when you do choose to use them, why not start with an adverb at the beginning of your sentence and add some variety to your sentence starters?
Do not worry about this in your first draft – Jonah Bergan
Although it is good to be conscious of your common writing pitfalls when writing your first draft, it’s not something you should get bogged down with. Don’t go back and edit during your first draft. Write, write, write and edit later!
Autocrit advice – Robert Batton
The root of the problem – Yennaedo Balloo
Hints and guidance are fantastic, but sometimes the most helpful advice is to be shown why you struggle with a particular aspect of writing. If you start with too many pronouns, it is likely that you have a bais towards focusing on your characters and not other aspects of a novel, such as setting, description and action. If you find you are often starting sentences with pronouns, have a look at your work and see if you are neglecting description and setting.
This is the beauty of blogging, collective wisdom is so valuable! I hope it helps you as much as it helped me.
These quotes are so blinking inspiring! Any of you having a bad writing day, check these out. If you’re on top of the world, read them and feel even better. I hope you love them as much as I did.
Imagine is an ancient word, borrowed from the Old French, from the Latin ‘imaginari’, which means, ‘to picture oneself’ although imagine currently means to form a picture in one’s mind.
To write is to imagine,not just an image but an idea, thought, impression, place, even a feeling. Can you imagine being present when the words below were first uttered or written? What or who do you imagine prompted them? What happened next?
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau
The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power to that…
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Here are some great tips for those of you who are editing your novels, I hope it helps.
Look, editing is hard. I’ve said it many, many times. When you’re starting, it can be incredibly confusing. One person tells you to do this, and another tells you oh God no. Do this. Do that. It’s hard. I can’t tell you what’s right for your story, but as far as I can tell, there are a couple basic things you need to know.
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This is a brilliant piece about character development. It helped me realise how tough the task of writing truly is, but I’ve finished reading it excited and ready to dive head first into the challenge. I hope you find it helpful too.
by Meg Dowell
On a page, you are in control of time. Outside of it, you aren’t.
I have read and experienced many fascinating stories in my lifetime.
I have also experienced many poorly executed stories.
The deal breaker for me are a story’s characters. If, by the climax of a story, I do not care what happens to them, if I am not devastated by the possibility of an imaginary person failing or dying, then I cannot in good conscience call it a good story.
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Hello, lovely people, I hope you are well? You are? Great! I know I am, it’s Friday after all! The last few days I have been outlining my scenes so that I am ready for Camp NaNoWriMo in July.
I’m reading an amazing book by CS Lakin called The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction which I have found invaluable. Lakin gives a scene checklist which I recommend you get your hands on.
I have used this to ask myself set questions per scene, and they are helping me so much I thought I would share them with you. Let me know what you think!
What is the action or revelation that is the high impact crux of this scene?
What new information will this scene tell the reader?
What is the purpose of the scene?
What do I want the reader to know by reading this scene?
What is the protagonist reacting to here?
What added extra sparkle does the scene have?
Where does the scene begin?
What action is taking place when the scene starts?
How is it different to the opening of the scene before?
What is the POV?
How will I show this POV in the first few sentences?
How will I show the passing of time from the last scene?
What is my hook that grabs the reader at the start of the scene?
Imagine I’m in the scene, note down the first five things my senses notice.
List all the conflict that will take place in the scene.
How will the high moment stand out?
What juicy revelations that come further along in the book do I hint to?
How will I end in a way that excites the reader?
By the end what has been resolved or left hanging?
What do I want the reader to feel by the end of this scene?
What is the beginning middle and end of this scene?
Do you use a similar list of questions, or are you more of a pantser? As always I’d love your comments and any wisdom you have to share.