Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo 2012

Photo By: Mike Licht via Flickr

As we near the end of NaNoWriMo 2012 (National Novel Writing Month where writers commit to the goal of writing a 50k novel – or writing 50k fresh words into a current WIP), I decided to reflect back on the month of November and draw out the lessons I’ve learned thus far. (Especially since this year, NaNoWriMo didn’t go as smoothly as it did for me last year.)

Lesson #1: Clear Your Calendar (If Possible)

November’s a busy month for everyone no matter which way you look at it. The start of the holiday season, a time to start gearing up to shed all the bad from the year and setting goals for the new year, etc.. For writers, when you add in the task of writing 50k words in 30 days, you’ve just added a whole lotta busy to that calendar of events. For me personally, November’s already incredibly busy because it’s smack in the middle of the selling season at my dayjob. So when attempting NaNoWriMo, clear the calendar as much as possible. I’m not saying don’t spend time with the family or your friends. But what I am saying is that you should value and guard your time like it’s the hottest ticket item on Black Friday. While we’d like to believe we’re super heroes and can do everything, all that truly comes out of the attempt is a new patch of gray hairs, sleepless nights, and a sparkling cranky attitude.

Lesson #2: Minimize the Writing To Do List

I’d like to think this is a nobrainer, but as I learned this month, it’s incredibly difficult to edit one WIP while writing the first draft of another. So while it should be easy to remember, unfortunately it’s not. And the main reason why is because, for some of us, when we edit our muse is working in the background on the other WIP, and more than likely it’s pulling and expanding on ideas that you’re thinking of while in editing mode. Sounds easy, right? Exactly! And it’s even more fun when you’re editing someone else’s work, because their beautifully polished prose, in turn, pushes you to make your WIP better. However…there’s a fine line between the editing brain and the creative brain, and if we’re not careful, the fence will come crashing down and we’ll find ourselves in the middle of West Side Story. So when you face a large writing task, such as writing 50k words in 30 days, the best bet is to only write those words. Nothing else. Any other time of the year you can tackle the edits on one and write the other, but during NaNoWriMo when you’ve got to burn up the keyboard? Nah, not suggested.

Lesson #3: Don’t Lose Focus

I know what you’re thinking. “Well, duh! You’re trying to write 50k in 30 days. Of course you’ve gotta keep your focus!” Yea, yea, I know. And even though this is a cliche, keeping focus is so much easier said than done. As I stated earlier, November is a busy, busy month. Between family functions, and however busy you are at the dayjob, trying to get some personal reading time and keeping the creative well full and flowing, the focus ball is a hard one to keep in the air without dropping the others. And there will always be something you can’t simply not do. This is where Lessons #1 & 2 come in handy so that you can keep your focus trained on writing those words. Once you’ve cleared your calendar and minimized your To Do List, now’s the time to close the door to the writing cave, insert those ear buds, hang your ‘Back in 30 Days’ sign, and block the rest of the world out.

Lesson #4: Daily Weekly Word Count

Everyone’s who attacked NaNoWriMo knows that in order to write 50k in 30 days, you need to write 1,667 words a day, right? One of the main points behind NaNo is to teach us to write each and every day no matter what. Which is good, but what about those days where words just aren’t going to hit the page? Creativity well’s running dry, you’ve got too much going on in your personal life, you’ve gotta work overtime at the dayjob, etc.. All of these drastically affect how much writing we’re going to get done on a daily basis. So instead of a daily word count, I prefer to go by a weekly word count (as suggested by James Scott Bell). 11,700 words a week is an easy target. There are no stressors because you didn’t write anything on a particular day because you can pick up the slack later in the week. And this was waaaay too true for me this year. Last year, I was able to hit 1,667 words a day (give or take one day here or there), but this year it just wasn’t gonna happen for me. So I made it a point get my words in during long spurts of writing. As in 5 hours on Friday night, some time on Saturday, and a little bit on Sunday. Needless to say, my bar graph on the NaNo site didn’t have that beautiful steady arc like others. 🙂

Lesson #5: Have Fun and Don’t Stress 

I previously posted about this particular earlier this month. (Along with some fun Southern Sayin’s and Chuck Norris jokes.) NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a fun and real experience. It’s supposed to teach us about ourselves, about our writing, and we’re supposed to learn how well we can work under pressure – aka: readying us for when we have a multi-book contract. 😉  Anything we do in life can be made so much better if we just add a little fun into the mix, and this is something I think we all need to remind ourselves when we’re so far behind on the word count that we can’t bring ourselves to think about anything else. So for my final lesson for this year’s NaNoWriMo is to keep a ‘favorites’ file in your internet browser specifically for sites with jokes, witty one-liners, and hilarious comic strips.

Your Turn: What lessons did you learn during NaNoWriMo this year? Have you busted through the 50k finish line yet? If you could change one thing about how you attacked NaNoWriMo this year, what would it be and why?

The Key to Surviving NaNoWriMo: Don’t “Should” Yourself, Don’t Stress, Have Fun

Are all my fellow NaNoWriMo-ers out there having fun yet? I know I am…. *grin*

Here’s how much fun I’ve been having:

On day 1 of NaNo: I didn’t get any writing done. I had a personal appointment after work that lasted until the middle of the evening, and between putting food in my belly and getting my weekly mash-up of writing links together, my muse decided it was safer to stay in his corner and drink his Grey Goose.

On Day 2 of NaNo: Again, no writing done. I was on deadline for a 30-page exchange on the WIP I worked on in Colorado at Immersion Master Class, and so I absolutely, without any exceptions, had to have those pages done! While I could’ve skipped out and my partner would’ve understood, my muse decided that if he couldn’t get me to put new words down in the newest WIP, then he’d get something outta my tail with this other one. *sigh*

On Day 3 of NaNo: No. Writing. Whatsoever. AHHHHH! By the time the appointment time for our personal ventures approached in the afternoon, I was “shoulding’” all over myself. I should’ve gotten up earlier. I should’ve stopped reading this awesome book five chapter ago. I should’ve kicked the hubs outta the bed and turned off the TV. I should’ve, I should’ve, etc. And it didn’t stop there. I ended up “shoulding” myself that night – again! *double sigh*

On Day 4 of NaNo: Nope. Nada. Nothing. Stayed up too late doing personal research with the hubs and found my body and brain just simply wanted to relax. That is, at least until another appointment that afternoon. When that was done I got excited – Yay! It’s 4:15 so there’s plenty of time to go home and get some writing done. But then my bestie’s hubby spoke a bit of wisdom: If you haven’t written all weekend, don’t start now. Finish the rest of the weekend away from it, relax, then start back tomorrow. Hmmm…. *nods a ‘yes sir’ in his direction*

On Day 5 of NaNo: Hmmm…. Dinner – check! Editing notes almost complete – check! Blog post almost done – check! Well, it looks like I’ll have just enough time to squeeze in about 2,000 words tonight after all. Huh….

My point with that little break down is this: If you’re like me and haven’t written any words into your brand-spankin’ new WIP, you may be freaking out a little. Am I right? Or you may be “shoulding” yourself for not getting earlier to get some writing done, or for keeping your nose in that delicious book you’re ready. Am I right?

Well, the “shoulding” should stop now! Because the key to NaNoWriMo is not stressing, and not “shoulding” yourself all over the place. These first few days of NaNo are GONE. Unattainable. Finito. Done. So why “should” your pants off? All that’s going to do is stress you out even more. All that stress isn’t good for anyone. Stress kills! That’s something the hubby’s always reminding me of since we lost his mother last May. And since then, I’ve tried to live by the following moto:

So when it comes to NaNo – or anything in life – a lack of stress and “shoulding” is key.

Why?

Because like most things in life, when you’re not thinking or stressing over something, somewhere along the way you’ll find your wishes, hopes and dreams will come true. If you learn to take it easy, laugh, smile and have a good time, you’ll find your wishes, hopes and dreams will come true. If that wish, hope or dream just so happens to 50k by the end of November, then guess what? If you don’t stress, then it’ll happen. If you don’t “should” yourself? The words will flow from your fingertips and you’ll find that you’ve conquered NaNo.

And if for whatever reason you find yourself short a couple thousand words on November 30th? So what…who cares…no big deal. At least you had fun, right? *grin*

So while I’m talking about having fun and not stressing, I thought I’d offer a few a things I’ve turned to make me laugh these last few days. Hope you enjoy!

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Funny Southun Sayin’s and/or Southun truths:


I’m finer than frog hair split four ways.
Don’t you piss on my leg and tell me it’s rainin’!
He was as mad as a mule chewing on bumblebees.
That was faster than green grass through a goose.
Southerners know everybody’s first name: Honey, Darlin’, Shugah
Southerners know their religions: Bapdiss, Methdiss, Football
Southerners know their elegant gentlmen: Men in uniform, men in tuxedos, Rhett Butler
Southern girls know their prime real estate: The mall, the Country Club, the Beauty Salon
Southerners know the difference between a hissie fit and aconniption fit, and that you don’t “have” them, you “pitch” them. <—This is my fave – and it is SO true!
Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of “yonder.”
In the South, “y’all” is singular, “all y’all” is plural.
Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who’s got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor’s trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin’! <—AMEN! Now I want some banana puddin’ *smile*
And last but not least…. Southern girls know men may come and go, but friends are fah-evah!

Because we hardly ever get ‘ true snow’

Some new Chuck Norris “fact” I discovered online this week – ‘cause I’m a dork *smile*:

Chuck Norris won a hand of blackjack, with one card.
Jalepenos think Chuck Norris is hot.
Chuck Norris can travel through time by running 88 miles per hour.
Avatars were invented when Chuck Norris laid an uppercut to a smurf.
Chuck Norris can light a fire by rubbing 2 ice cubes together.
Chuck Norris is the only man who can set a person on fire…underwater.
Chuck Norris finished the Never Ending Story.
And last but not least…. Jason Bourne is Chuck Norris’s daughter. <—This one had me snorting soda on my keyboard.


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YOUR TURN: If you’re participating this year, how’s NaNoWriMo going for you this year? Are you feeling stressed at all, or are you pretty relaxed over your word count? Whether you’re participating or not this year, how do you handle the stress that comes with life and writing? Do you often find yourself needing, craving a good laugh to get through it? Or are you finding that patch of white hair on your head getting larger by the day? 

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Do you remember when these were the ‘BIG thing’?

I’ve been tagged!

On Thursday, Jami Gold tagged me for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. And with this particular tagging adventure  is all about your next big thing! As Jami so eloquently points out, we’re about to head into NaNoWriMo, which is all about writing…you guessed it, the next big thing!  🙂

I’m going to tackle the Next Big Thing questions based on the story I plan to complete during NaNo, then below that I’ve tagged five other writers so they can also share their Next Big Thing. After that, I’m excited to hear what your next big thing is.  😉


Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

Retribution

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Hmmm…. out of thin air. Seriously! Out. Of. Thin. Air! I think I was actually editing at the time, and it was one of those moments where your mind wanders from the page at hand, and all of a sudden you find yourself envisioning an opening scene. You’re not sure what it’s for, or who the story’s going to be about, but the second the jab of sudden inspiration hits, you open a new word doc and type. And type. And type. When the scene – or scenes – were finally on paper, I had a nugget to work with.  

What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal Romance. I’m talking typical series where each book in this particular series is going to focus on two characters that in some, way, or form will change in order to find their HEA.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

*cracks knuckles* I’ve been waiting for this question. Usually when I’m envisioning a character, I attach the look of an actor or actress that fits the character I’ve already pictured in my head and fleshed out on paper. So here would be my cast of characters for this particular story (in order of importance):

Ali Larter: Anya Barrillo (Heroine)
Ryan Reynolds: Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Gelvira (Hero)
Kit Harington: Reinhardt (Antagonist)
Hayden Panettiere: Constance ‘Tuck’ Tucker (Heroine’s BFF)
Casey Affleck: Finn Ansila (Hero’s Friend)
Timothy Olyphant: Benjamin Barrillo (Heroine’s brother)
Emma Stone: Lola Gelvira (Hero’s sister)
Ron Perlman: Radar (Heroine’s vampyric mentor/sidekick/teammate and a chainsmoker)
Vinnie Jones: Sebastian ‘Bastian’ – aka: Bastard (Heroine’s other vampyric sidekick/teammate… and he’s an asshole)
Dougray Scott: Phillip Barrillo II (Heroine’s father)
Judi Dench: Gellar (Vampyre Clan’s elder vampyre)
Abigail Breslin: Rosie Turner (Antagonist’s ‘pet’ human – a child with heart disease)
A young Terminator 2-era Edward Furlong: Jared (A techie human teenager who desperately wants to play hunter with the adults)

**Note: Most of the pics on the IMDB links aren’t the actual ones I used for the characters. Either their hair color’s different, or the men have facial hair, or it’s a still from a movie they’ve done that spoke to the specific character’s essence in my head (though Vinnie Jones’ pic is really, really, really close to what I actually used).

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Yowsers… so not my thing, but here goes nothing (and no judgements please *smiles*):

In a world where most of the population was annihilated by a deadly virus, a young woman must choose between love and survival, her future or that of her race, as she prepares to face her vampyre coven leader – and fiance – after discovering the truth behind the virus’s creation.

Will you book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ll have to answer that after I’m actually finished writing and editing the story.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m actually still in the process. Back in June, I wrote the opening scene. Then towards the end of September, when the characters just wouldn’t shut the hell up until I got back to writing their story, I began writing through Act One. I’m inching towards the middle but I’ve had to stop myself from going any further to ensure that I finish it during NaNo this year. So that would bring the total time to about 2.5 months. *fingers crossed*

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’d compare it to J.R. Ward, Thea Harrison, and Nalini Singh. Both of these authors are favorites of mine, and both work with Alpha males and the badass women who love and challenge their men. But looking beyond that, I’d compare this story to these authors because of the action, humor, the worldbuilding, the cast of characters and how they relate to one another.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always loved stories that had a dystopian and/or otherwordly feel to them. And I most enjoy stories where preternatural creatures are involved, so I decided to create a bit of a mish-mash between those two loves: Vampyres in the future after the world’s basically been destroyed (or become inhabitable – aboveground, at least).

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

When the idea first crossed my path (after writing the opening scene that floated through my mind), I wrote down what two movies I envisioned the feel of this particular story to be: Contagion meets Underworld meets I Am Legend. The description alone piqued my interest and instantly bumped it to the top of my ‘Story Idea’ listing. Well, truth be told, it was both that and the fact that I’m kinda doing a role reversal of the male/female romance story. The books in the series will bring the focus mainly from the females’ POV (whereas The Black Dagger Brotherhood mainly brings the focus from the males’ POV).

The five Writing/Blogging pals I’m tagging today are:

Tina Moss is one the first writers I met upon entering the blogging world and Twitterverse. She’s always there to lend an ear whether I needed advice on how fix the first 75 pages of another WIP, or whenever things got a bit rocky in my personal life. She’s a wonderful person and a great friend, and I’m excited to read her answers to these ten questions.

Yelena Casale is another one of those writers who I met shortly after venturing into the blogging world – she’s also one-half of the super-writing duo that includes Ms. Tina Moss (as mentioned above). Just like Tina, Yelena is supportive and always ready to lend an ear. Every Friday she posts an Art History Feature on her blog. I don’t always get the chance to comment since Fridays are even more hectic than Mondays around here, but it’s definitely a highlight I look forward to at the end of every week.

Annie Neugebauer is an author, a poet, a blogger, and just an all-around creative and wonderful person. I first met Annie on Twitter, then of course I hopped over to her blog and a lovely little pool of writerly advice and inspiration. She has many WIPs going on right now, but that doesn’t stop her from popping on Twitter and supporting her fellow writers.

Ava Jae is who I might look to whenever I need a #1k1hr writing sprint to get the words flowing during NaNoWriMo. But she’s more than that. She’s also another supportive writer – one whose presence I don’t think Twitter ever lacks. Every morning, like clock work, you’ll always see a ‘Good Morning’ from Ava. Her blog, Writability, is one I’ve been following for quite a while now, and her posts on what not to do always end up being in my weekly writing link mash-up  post.

Daniel Swensen is yet another great author, who like the ladies above, I definitely have a world of respect for. He’s knowledgeable and funny, and I always look forward to reading what he has to say on his blog, Surly Muse. And I just recently read that he’s knee-deep in a WIP. Hmmm….. wonder if he may be willing to share? 😉

Rules for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop:

***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
 

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Your Turn: What is your next big thing? If you’d like to answer any of the questions above, go for it! Or if you just want to share what you’re working on right now, be it drafting, revising, or what not, go for it! Whatever project you’re excited about, I’d love for you to share!

NaNoWriMo Check-In & The Song of the Week: Glycerine by Bush

Hello and ‘Happy Monday’ dear friends!  With two days left of NaNoWriMo I can *officially* say that I have surpassed the 50,000 wordcount goal with 51,130 words – and it has been validated!  *throws confetti*  Now I just have another 40,000 or so words to go before this draft is officially completed and ready to be run through the ringer – otherwise known as the editing process. *smile* *bites nails* *tries to smile again*

Without further ado, I can officially say that the ‘Song of the Week’ weekly post is back up and running!

This week’s song comes from a little band called Bush.  You’ve heard of them I gather? Good, ‘cuz this has been on constant loop all morning as I added another 3,000 words to my WIP this morning. 

Hope you enjoy this week’s song and be sure to come back on Wednesday for a new day of weekly postings that will be starting this week – Writerly Wednesday – where I will share either what I’ve learned or am learning within my own writing.

Happy Reading & Writing Everyone!!! 

Melinda

This Week in Favs….

**It’s nearing the end of Week #2 in NaNoWriMo – I do hope that everyone’s pounding away on their keyboards (or making their wrists hurt with all that writing)!  Speaking of which, I’m a little behind, so this will be extra short and sweet today!

Keep it up, everyone! We’re *almost* half-way there!! :0)

Playing on the Zune: Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve.

10) “A Dangerous Side Effect of Becoming a Writer” by Roni Loren. When I started writing, there should’ve been a site that listed the side effects of becoming a writer. Side-effects that include: becoming introverted and partially isolated, spending way more time at home than usual, and thought intrusion by characters who need to stay locked up during day job hours. Roni’s pinpointed a major bad side effect here, which is why it’s extremely important that we make time to enjoy and immerse ourselves in a book – at least once or twice a week (more than that when we’re not in the middle of first drafts). You can’t be the best writer you can be without making the time to read.

9) “Writing When You’re Sick, Tired, or Just Hate the World” by Daniel Swensen on SurlyMuse. Daniel’s put together some great advice on how to make sure you’re writing…even when you really don’t want to. We’ve all had days where we didn’t even want to look at a computer, but the most important thing we can learn and instill in ourselves about our writing is that we must write everyday no matter what! Even if it’s just 500 words, we need to learn how to do it even when it feels like our world is falling apart. Great post, Daniel!

8) “How to Use Allusion Like Taylor Swift” by Joe Bunting on The Write Practice. This was an incredibly interesting article that I discovered this week – even more so because I never knew this about Taylor Swift’s writing skills. I just thought this one was rather interesting and it does make you want to dig a little deeper with your own writing.

7) “A polishing Till it Shines Checklist from Mia Marlow” on Roni Loren’s Writing Blog, Fiction Groupie. Ah…a much needed checklist for every writer. And this will be even more important for all of the NaNo-ers out there when it comes time for editing those fast drafts within the coming weeks.

6) “Using 12 Stages of Physical Intimacy to Build Tension in Your Novel” by Jenny HansenI loved these tips – ‘nuff said! :0)

5) “Can You ‘Fast Draft’?” and “What Makes a Story Feel Unrealistic” by Jami Gold. I had never heard of Candace Havens – much less the “Fast Draft” method – until I read this post from Jami (which is one of the reasons why her blog is a must-read – I always learn something new from her). Jami has summed up ‘fast drafting’ so good here that I’m honestly thinking about signing up for one of Candace’s workshops so I can learn how to silence the inner editor while getting down that first draft. Another great article that Jami posted this week – which is something I feel is very important to get down either before or during the first draft – is making sure your story feels real, that it’s something others can not only relate to but something they can believe in.

4) “Cliché’s…Safe to Use?” by Angela Ackerman on The Bookshelf Muse. This is a great take on the cliché argument: instead of going after the fact that we shouldn’t be using cliché’s, Angela focuses on when it’s actually okay to use them. This is extremely helpful for those moments where you’re torn between using the cliché or being original – bookmark it!

3) “On Your Mark: Marketing Your Novel (Part One & Part Two)” by Janice Hardy, guest post on The Bookshelf Muse. This is exactly why I love and enjoy Janice’s blog – her posts are straight-forward and extremely helpful to her fellow writers. Marketing is one of the most important tasks we will all undertake (sooner or later – the contract must come first), and I think that no matter what stage you’re in – querying, represented, awaiting that offer – this post will help to open your eyes and give you a good direction in marketing your work.

2) “A Love Affair… With Index Cards” by Julie Musil. I love Julie’s reasons as to why she uses index cards! It’s been a while since I’ve pulled the index cards, but you can bet I’ve started making friends with them again this week. If you don’t have one already, will you begin an affair after reading this? 

1) “Be a More Confident Writer: 5 Choices That Might Be Hurting Instead of Helping” by Annie Neugebauer, guest post on Writer Unboxed. Wow….. this was an absolutely fabulous and inspiring post from Annie. All 5 choices that were listed as hurting us rather than helping us are spot-on – and one or two can really hit home for some of us. Thank you for this great article, Annie!

**Bonus Link**
This was posted last week on The Huffington Post: NaNoWriMo: “Advise from the Fastest Writers Ever”
Seeing as how most of us have been engulfed in getting those words on the pages, I’m sure that some of us have missed seeing this post – and hearing the encouraging advice from these amazing writers.

Happy Reading & Writing!!

Melinda

NaNoWriMo Song of the Week: Spotlight by Mutemath

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting several fellow NaNo participants at a write-in. Now, for those of you who know me know that I have a weekend routine that I like to stick to – part of that being the fact that I prefer to stay home on Sundays and write while doing the laundry. But I figured, what the hell….I’ll be going for three hours and will be doing exactly the same thing I’d be doing if I was home (minus the laundry), so why not go and see what it’s like.

Well, we met at this café called The Green Bean, and I have to say, it was a great experience! The café itself was great, very hipster (as my sister called it) and low-key with an awesome selection of tunes. I enjoyed the location just enough to where I might actually decide to make some trips there on my own so I can write away from the house for a couple of hours.

When I walked in the door, ‘Spotlight’ by Mutemath was playing. This song in itself set the tone for my time there which is why I wanted to share it with all of you.

For fans of the Twilight movies, you might recognize this particular song since it was on the first movie’s soundtrack.

Hope you enjoy!

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Happy Reading and Writing!!!

Melinda

This Week in Favs……

**Due to NaNoWriMo, my Friday round-up posts are going to be fairly short, sweet and to the point – at least until December 2nd. To all my fellow NaNoWriMo participants:



Photo Credit



Playing on the Zune (MP3): In My Head by No Doubt <— Lurve this song! 10) “Guest Author Cheryl Rainfield: Bringing Tension and Conflict to Your Novels” on The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy. For newbies and veterans alike, it’s always good to be reminded to start your story with some tension and ensure that you not only have conflict, but good conflict that will keep the reader until the end. I rather enjoyed reading Cheryl’s tips for creating both within your writing. 

9) “Stop, Collaborate and Listen: Plot Building for the Character Driven Writer by Ashley March” on Roni Loren’s Writing Blog, Fiction Groupie. Ice ice baby too cool, too cool…. okay seriously, every time I’ve looked at the title of this blog, I couldn’t help but sing a little Vanilla Ice. These are some of the best tips I’ve come across for the character-driven writer. But these can also be good for the plot-driven writer – for example: “…listen for ideas from your characters for scenes you might want to include. If you come up with a great idea for a twist of the ending, be prepared to ditch it if the characters don’t lead you down that route.” <—This is incredibly true for the plot-driven writer because who’s to say that you’re characters won’t start dictating your plot once you’ve gotten to know them better?

8) “Scaring Your Readers” by Lisa Hall-Wilson on Girls with Pens. Even if you don’t write horror (and there are some UF & PNR novels with a small element of horror in them), you could still learn a little from this post. Regardless of the fiction genre, your plot might could do with a little scare for the readers, especially if you just want to make sure they’re really paying attention. ;0) But in all seriousness, when I’m reading a book, what scares me the most is the honesty, and the fact that what I consider to be the worst possible thing that could ever happen is happening to this character that I’ve come to know and love.  Go forth and read this one and realize that it’s okay to scare your reader a little…or a lot!

7) “Bad Dialogue – Bad, Bad Dialogue” by Beth Hill on The Editor’s Blog. Want some examples of what not to do in dialogue? Well, here you go! Some of these had me snickering a little since I totally got busted doing one or two of them in my own dialogue. 😛

6) “The Publishing Biz: Will it Break You?” by Rebecca L. Boschee on WordServe Water Cooler. I’ll let the following quote from this post do the talking: “You can be paralyzed by the changes of today and uncertainty of tomorrow, or you can refuse to dwell on the reasons ‘why not’ and learn what works and what does from trial and error and from those working alongside you – those who keep putting themselves out there so others can keep dreaming.” ‘Nuff said? Go read it then decide that you won’t let it break you.

5) “Backstory: A Lesser Known Reason Why Not to Dump it Upfront” by Jeannie Campbell on The Character Therapist. What a great, real-life example of why it’s best not to have the backstory up front and center! “It can be off-putting or color the reader’s entire perception of the character.”

4) “Writing: Mastering the Balance” by Ava Jae on Writability. I rather enjoyed this post about balance…mainly because it didn’t talk about the balance of the day-job, home life, family life, blogging and writing – instead, Ava addressed the tricky balance of the author having a voice while allowing the characters to have their individual personalities. In other words, finding the sweet spot where you don’t have the wicked author intrusion. 

3) “When You’re Too Close to the Book” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of View. Grrr…… this is something I still have a hard time doing: putting the novel in a drawer for a few weeks. But you know what, Lisa is 100% correct when it comes to why we absolutely, positively put the novel away for a bit! I think I’ve found the best way to ensure I put it away though – pass it onto my CP or Beta Reader and busy myself with their work instead. ;0)

2) “How Deep if Your Department of Mysteries?” by SP Sipal on Harry Potter for Writers. Need some tips or questions to get you thinking about the world of your WIP? SP Sipal selects a great excerpt from the Harry Potter Series to show exactly how world-building can be weaved into your story in a way that doesn’t take away from your plot but at the same time, adds to your story by allowing you to see through the character’s eyes. Once you start answering these questions, the weaving will become easier to execute.

1) “Five Ways to Stay Motivated While Writing a Novel” by Nathan Bransford. Just last night, in my Facebook NaNo group, someone was saying that they not only had writer’s block already (2 days into NaNoWriMo), but they were de-motivated. Well, Nathan has some perfect timing if you ask me! As soon as I read this, I posted it on our group page as a not-so-subtle-way to remind everyone how to stay motivated, especially when we’re working on a deadline such as NaNoWriMo!

And here’s our giggle for the week:
This Simon’s Cat cartoon came out about 2 years ago, but it’s still pretty funny. Can’t you just imagine your pet doing something like this to your computer or notebook when you step away? Makes you wish you could never want to walk away when you’re in the middle of writing, huh?

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Happy Reading & Writing!!

Melinda

Musical Monday: NaNoWriMo Playlist & The Song of the Week

It’s absolutely incredible how fast time flies. Here we are on October 31st, one day away from the start of NaNoWriMo.

I’ve been doing some super prep work these past two weeks – researching locations and backgrounds on a few new characters (I think that’s as close to plotting as I get these days), getting Scrivener and all of my research set up on my PC so I can hit the ground running tomorrow (after the day job, of course), and convincing my Muse that November is not a good month for a vacation <— God I hope she listens! One other task I’ve undertaken, this past weekend in particular, is meticulously selecting the perfect music for my writing playlist. In writing, music sets the tone – it evokes the feeling you’re after in a particular scene. Sometimes, you can get so lost in the words, the music just seems to fade away. Other times, it’s there to push you through to the end of a difficult scene. Whatever your reason for selecting the perfect soundtrack for your writing, music is an intricate part of the process. Here is my NaNoWriMo playlist – which will also be updated on my ‘playlist’ tab – and links to each of the songs on YouTube. There’s always the chance that not all of these songs will be used, and the list just might actually grow as I get further into the writing. But for now, this is what it looks like – in no particular order – and you may notice I’ve got quite a few themes going on: Another Way to Die by Disturbed
The Bleeding by Five Finger Death Punch
Alone by Bullet for My Valentine
Closer to the Edge by 30 Seconds to Mars
Uprising by Muse
21 Guns by Green Day
Misguided Ghosts by Paramore
Glycerine by Bush
Map of the Problematique by Muse
Feel it in My Bones by Tiesto featuring Tegan and Sara
Fuel by Metallica
Crawling by Linkin Park
The Show Must Go On by Queen
Haunted by Evanescence
Releasing the Demons by Godsmack
City of Delusion by Muse
Attack by 30 Seconds to Mars
Hero by Skillet
Unnatural Selection by Muse
Symphony of Destruction by Megadeath
Place for My Head by Linkin Park
Voodoo by Godsmack
Your Betrayal by Bullet for My Valentine
Jesus (Don’t Touch My Baby) by Ryan Adams
Con-Science by Muse
Serenity by Godsmack
Piano Thing by Muse
Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
Knights of Cydonia by Muse
Seek and Destroy by Metallica
The Kill by 30 Seconds to Mars
Conspiracy by Paramore
Beautiful Tragedy by In This Moment
Let the Flames Begin by Paramore
Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars
Woman King by Iron and Wine

Now onto our Song of the Week:

‘Night of the Hunter’ by 30 Seconds to Mars. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, there’s always a song by these guys that fits the situation perfectly.

I hope you enjoy! :0)

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Happy Reading & Writing!!!

Melinda


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