Novel Writing

Annoying People Make the Best Characters

I bet you have one, we all do. That person who sets your teeth on edge, who drives you up the wall, who makes you google how to get away with murder (I’m joking about that last one…). That person who makes your life difficult.

Have you ever thought of them as Novel Fodder?

Novel Fodder – Definition by Blissful Scribbles – A person or object that can be directly placed into a work in progress to add tension, drama, and interest. Can sometimes be used passive aggressively, which although best avoided, is incredibly satisfying.

Novel Fodder is a great way of letting out your frustration. Write out that person in minute detail, the exact things they do, put it in a character. The annoying character traits? Give them to an antagonist. 

If a good relationship with said person is preferable or necessary editing will need to include a stringent “identity protection” portion so you can veil your frustration. This is recommended in such instances as your wife’s best friend or you boss.

However, that snarky woman you met in Tescos? Write her up. 

That rude driver with the obscene bumper stickers? Write him up too.

Write them up until the frustration is gone, and you’re left with a novel full of real life people. (Obviously make sure to add a large dollop of characters you DO like, otherwise your novel may miss the mark!)

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Novel Writing

The Benefits of Writing in the Morning

Most writers don’t have the luxury (yet) to write as their day jobs, and some, like me, wouldn’t want to. As an extrovert, I need to see and speak to people for most of the day, so a full-time writer’s life would kill me. Part-time writing comes with its challenges, namely, finding the time to write!

One solution to this problem is to either wake up early or go to bed late. As someone who starts falling asleep on the sofa at 10 pm, I am not a good candidate for late nights. Early mornings, however, I can handle.

Here are the top reasons I love to write before my day begins – 

Peace and Quiet – Does anyone else love the sense of peace that morning holds? I live by the sea and it’s a wonderful place to be in the morning. The fresh sea breeze and seagulls are somehow different in the morning before most human’s wake up. There is space to breathe.

A Clear Head – I’m sure I’m not the only one who tries to cram too much into my brain in one day. As an administrator I am adept at multi-tasking, however, it does leave a hangover of sorts in my head. In the mornings my brain is clear and that helps my writing.

Coffee – Coffee is writing fuel, the petrol to an authors engine. At least that’s the case for me, I write best when I can guzzle caffeine until my heart’s content and not worry about sleeping later on.

The sense of Achievement before the day begins – How wonderful does it feel to have ticked something off your to-do list before your work day even begins? Those who run in the mornings know this feeling well. It works in the exact same way for writers.

Evenings free for Friends and Family – Family time is precious, and I would hate to lock myself away every evening. Although I lose out on sleep or perhaps go to bed earlier than others, at least my family feel they have my full attention in the evenings.

I would love to find out if you agree or to hear from a night owl. All comments are so very welcome. 

 

 

Novel Writing

My Novel Writing Secret – Shhh Don’t Tell

I have a secret, a big, fat, secret. It’s increased my daily word count by a third. Do you want to know what it is? Then read on…

I stopped writing my novel weeks ago.

What? How can you have an amazing word count and have stopped writing, you ask? Let me tell you how.

I started dictating my novel.

I’m using a handy dictation tool on my Chromebook and speaking out my novel as it comes into my head. It took a fair while to get used to it, but now, after weeks of NaNoWriMo practice, I am a whizz at it.

Here is a small list of how dictation has improved my novel writing –

Get more words down in the same amount of time. Enough said. Who wouldn’t want to increase productivity without spending money or extra stress?

Improve the quality of dialogue. When you dictate speech it is more authentic, as, well, speech is spoken word, so doesn’t it make more sense to dictate dialogue?

Less temptation to edit as you write. Nearly every post about dictation mentions this. Dictate helps you get into the mindset of telling a story and stops you becoming distracted by editing as you go.

Kinder to your back. Back pain and RSI can cripple an author. We simply aren’t designed to sit hunched over a computer all day. With dictation you can pop on a headset and wander around your laptop – no back strain for us!

This is a small list, there are plenty more reasons to look into dictation – if you are interested I recommend checking it out. If you are a seasoned pro I would love to hear from you. 

 

NaNoWriMo · Novel Writing

NaNoWriMo – I Can See the Finish Line

How are you, campers? Exhausted? Delirious? Manic?

Whether broken or motivated by NaNoWriMo, I have good news for you! It’s the final stretch of Camp NaNoWriMo July 2017.

Well done us, we are still going, and whether we are set to win or lose, we are all winners. Imagine what your word count would be without this month?

How far have you come? I bet it’s a long way, and even if it’s not it’s some way, and that’s enough.

Keep on striving for the finish line. You can do this!

NaNoWriMo · Novel Writing

NaNoWriMo – Drink a lot of Coffee – Write a lot of Words

Good Morning Campers!

We are now three days into Camp NaNoWriMo. How are you getting on? I know my plan was to feverishly write nearly 6,000 words in the first two days (this is a scheduled post by the way. Can you guess why?). It’s not even the first of July at the time of writing of this, and I am pretty sure I would have failed my goals already. (FYI – I didn’t! Why are our inner critics so harsh I wonder?)

 

 

Do you know what? That’s okay. There is only one rule for Camp NaNo, and that is to KEEP GOING. A missed word count sucks, but the ability to stick at something is worth so much more. 

Crack on – you can do this!

Novel Writing

Advice Please: To Plot or Not to Plot?

Are you a panster or an outliner? Do you plan your stories in minute detail or do you let the words take you where they will? Are you a JK Rowling or a Stephen King?

I want to be a pantser, I really do. It’s so romantic. I dream of letting the pen take me where it will and following its call. I tried it. For a while, I would give myself an hour a day and let the word vomit flow.

But it didn’t flow.

I found myself, confused and irritated, sat in front of the blank computer screen with no clue of where to go. Suffering from literary constipation.

When the muses did strike me, I would find I had a string of scenes, so different from each other in style and content that they could have come from separate novels.

I had to face the sad reality that I need an outline. But my disappointment was short lived as I soon found a love for the order and creativity I found in my outline.

 As an administrator with a science degree, it’s not hard to see why I need to organise my writing. I am detail orientated and precise person with a creative flair, so for me, a strong outline is a necessity.

There are a thousand and one posts out there about the for and against’s for outlines which are incredibly varied in advice. My plan is to get a range of opinions from you wonderful writers on the blogosphere and put a collaborative post listing the benefits of pantsing and outlining.

I would love to hear from you in the comments section. I will write a post collating all the comments and linking to your blogs. 

What I’d love to know is –

  • Are you a Pantser or an Outliner?
  • ONE benefit you have found from being a panster/outliner? 

Thank you again for your wonderful advice and wisdom. Last time I did this with sentence starters the information gained was priceless.

 

NaNoWriMo · Novel Writing

July 2017 – Camp NaNoWriMo

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.

Plan Ahead

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!