Novel Writing · NaNoWriMo

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!

 

 

Autocrit · Novel Writing

Game Changing Writing Advice: Sentence Starters

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 –

Shallow POV:

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.

Deep POV:

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

Autocrit, which I have reviewed here, is a great tool. They also broach this subject in an article shared with me, VIA Robert. Have a look, it’s helpful.

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.

Novel Writing

Imagination: Why I love to Write

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.

Elixir: Creative and Reflective Writing

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.

Albert Einstein

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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Novel Writing

The Editing Style Guide

Here are some great tips for those of you who are editing your novels, I hope it helps.

Nerdy & Wordy

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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