NaNaWriMo’14 Day 1

I did it. Even with the teenagers having a Halloween party last night and staying up WAY past midnight.  I still have more than 6 hrs left and I may be able to increase my word count, but I’m happy with what I have. How are you doing so far?

Is Your Tale Character Driven or Plot Driven?

Here’s a big question, one you kind a need to consider before sitting down to start your story. What’s going to move the story along? Why will people keep reading? Are they going to like the characters and keep reading to find out what happens to them or are they going to get caught up in the situation and need to find out the resolution, even if they may not like the characters? Yes, it is possible to do a combination of both.

Why is this important? Because it tells you from the beginning what type of thing you need to do or focus on.

For example, most romances are character driven, people read to find out what happens to the people, and the people in these stories are likeable. You have to like the people enough to care what happens to them. On the other hand many mysteries are plot driven, it’s all (or mostly) about the events and solving the crime, the people in these are not necessarily likeable. You can have a detective that people don’t like but they’ll still read to find out what really happened to the victim (if you do it right.)

Once you know which element drives your story, you know which to focus on. I’m not saying that both elements don’t need your attention, but if you’ve got a plot driven story, and you focus on the next step in that story, then you won’t have to spend as much energy on your characters. The characters will react (and some of that will come with practice) to the situation naturally, and often  you don’t really have to think about it consciously as the story unfolds, things seem to just happen.

How Well Do You Know Your Character?

Your main character that is.

Could you answer any question posed them? Could you answer an interview of them? If you know them well enough to do that, then you’re on good ground. You know how they’ll react to most situations, even if it’s not a conscious knowledge.

I can tell you from experience, when you know your character well, they will surprise you. Things happen to them and their reactions may not be your reactions but they won’t let you make them do anything else. If you don’t know your character then you my find yourself struggling with how they interact with people, environment and situations.

My advice? Find a questionnaire, it doesn’t have to be a long one a page or two will do, and fill it out for each of your main characters, anyone who plays a decent size role in your story. Personally, I like the ones with off the wall questions like what does she wear on an average day and what would she wear to a wedding? funeral? etc. They make you actually think about your character and his/her personality. Once you’ve answered a page or two of questions about them you start to get a feel for them, and that makes writing about them worlds easier.

Do you have a favorite questionnaire? Feel free to share the links.

Enter the World of World-Building

There are a billion and a half questions to answer when you start building an alternate reality in which to set a story (or series of them) What does the world look like? What’s the weather like? The terrain? What’s the political system and climate? history?

Most of this won’t go into your story, in fact, unless it’s a long in-depth saga, only a tiny sliver of all this will go into the tale, however, simply knowing it will help immensely in the writing of the story.

Say your main character does something against the law for your world, if you have done proper world building, there’s already some idea of what happens when someone breaks the rules/laws of the world (be that planet, country, city, etc.)  You don’t have to stop and figure it out before you can continue the story.

Why am I talking about this now? Because I’m working on my world and character building for NaNoWriMo, which starts in less than a month. It’s not the most fun part of writing, but it can make things so much easier that it’s worth it. (Especially if this works out to be a series like I’m hoping, world build once, use it over and over and over.)

Have you started your NaNo Prep?

Round and Round I go.

Where I end, nobody knows.

Actually, I don’t really feel like I’m going in circles, just that I have a ton of stuff to do. Since sending the manuscript of LIVE off to my editor I’ve done some reading (actually, beta read two books for two different friends, as well as some pleasure reading,) made an appearance at my hometown county fair (had a total blast!) dealt with a lot of family issues and drama (2 teenager, 1 near teenager and a boy thing) plus that never ending circle of shopping and feeding them all.

Now, on October 1st, I realize that NaNoWriMo is only a month away. I need to start thinking about what I’ll work on for November. (Aside from the fact that I’ll have Live back by then I’ll have some changes I need to make and I need to do formatting too.) So this morning I opened up a new Scrivener project  (if you’ve never tried Scrivener, I highly recommend it) and started with a little bit of an outline (I spent my girls softball practice last night bouncing ideas off a friend, I had to copy those out of our chat and save them too.) The outline will grow over the next few weeks and come November 1 I’ll start writing. Not sure if I’ll manage to win this year but I’ll do my best.

NaNoWriMo 2013, a week in.

Here we are, a week into NaNoWriMo, or NaNo for those of us who’re veterans of the insanity. There may be a few of you out there asking NaNoWHATMo? After spending two years as my area’s Municipal Liaison (local official representative), I’ve heard this a lot. It’s short for National Novel Writing Month, but the name is a little misleading in that it’s not limited to the US or to any one country, it’s a world wide challenge. To do exactly what the name says, write a novel in a month. Sound crazy? Sound impossible? While it is a little crazy, I assure you, it’s entirely possible.

In setting up the system the creators had to come up with a definition of a novel, what they ended up with was 50,000 words. That will give you about 200 pages a standard mass marketed paperback size book. Not too bad huh? My personal best is just under 70,000 words in November, but I’ve seen people who’ve done over 100,000. Another question I’ve been asked is ‘Is it a contest, and how/what do you win?’ Well, it’s not really a contest, it’s a challenge. The only person you are competing with is yourself. All you have to do to ‘win’ is achieve 50,000 words. As for what you win, mainly it’s bragging rights. The ability to say you did it! (You also get that first draft, and let me tell you, that is priceless! If you stick with it, revise it and edit it, it could be gold!)

So, once again, here we are, a week into NaNo, how are you doing? Are you ahead? Behind? Thrown in the towel? Even if you have, I know from experience, it’s not to late to pick it back up and keep going. My first NaNo was in 2009. I’d never written much more than for communication, or to vent frustrations and feelings but I jumped in with both feet and started writing. I only had a vague idea of what I was doing, but that didn’t stop me. I wrote and wrote and wrote and still had no where near the 50k word count. I gave up, but a few days later an idea occurred to me and I went back and started writing again. I managed to (barely) win that year! The important part was that I did it.

After that I rewrote, revised, edited and rewrote again, then started submitting my manuscript to publishers. I received back rejection after rejection, but finally one of them came back with a comment, one that has really helped the way I write. You see, I’d written that first book in First person, present tense. I’d done it on purpose, but what I didn’t know at the time is that first person, present tense is very hard to do well (especially for a beginning writer) and is even harder to sell. By this time I had another manuscript from NaNo 2010 and I was hard at work on revising/finishing that one. I knew I could save that first book, but it would take an extensive rewrite and changing the entire book from present tense to past tense. It wasn’t something I felt up to at the time. I continued what I was doing and in the end I opted to self-publish in lieu of hunting down a publishing house to take control, and a huge chunk of the income. (Yeah, I admit, I have control issues.) I did NaNo in 2011, and won. (Note to self, I really need to go back and look at that, I have very little memory of what I wrote that year, it may be another book that needs a little polishing and can be published.)

In January 2012 I published Change, it’s the first book in my Kitsune series and my NaNo 2010 project. In the time since I’ve published four more books, the most recent, Robin’s Nest, was my first project, that one I wrote in 2009. I finally sat down and took the time to rewrite it, to fix the problems and the tense. It’s not the same as most of my books but it’s good, I’ve had some people tell me it’s their favorite of all my books.

My point is, even if you think it’s too late to start, it isn’t. Jump in, get your feet wet and start writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be good, you just have to get the ideas and thoughts down. You can fix crappy, you can’t fix non-existent.

Now, go get open your book and write on!

Fall is here.

This means cool nights and days under 100 degrees. I have to admit, I’m really enjoying it. The downside is more than a little wind, but that’s okay. I’m willing to deal with the wind to get cooler temps.

In the mean time I’m trying to get notes and plans together for this year’s NaNo, I’m not sure what I’m going to write yet but either way I’m sure I’ll stay busy. Are you planning on doing NaNo this year?

November, and NaNoWriMo are over.

I did  manage to make my 50k words, though, it was only due to some marathon days at the end. I’m glad it’s over and we’ll have our TGIO party next week.

Now, however, it’s time to go back to Hunt and finish my rewrites. I started today and I already have several chapters done. I’m eager to finish this so I can send it out for edits and then get it out to you. I’m hoping you’ll find it as intriguing and absorbing as I did… Now I just have to get it done so you can find out.

NaNo ‘12 Day 16, 17, 18

It’s been a very busy few days. I’ve struggled every evening, working until within minutes of midnight each evening, and not always making the daily word count. Today I’m golden. I’ve made the daily word count, and I’m on target through today for the month. I’ve managed to achieve my word count earlier today than any day this week, it actually happened before six pm!! I’m not giving up for the day though, I’m hoping to get a little ahead for the holiday.

NaNo ‘12 Day 15

Whooo hooo!! I’m all caught up! And another thing, today is the half way mark. Not only have I made twenty five thousand mark, but I have a great feeling about my story. I’m excited to get started again tomorrow.