Michille: NaNo at Day 12

National Novel Writing Month began on Sunday, November 1. I haven’t hit my word count on any day, but I have been writing. It is, however, more words than I’ve gotten on the page in a long time, so it was still sort of successful. As I’ve said before, I would love to hit the 50,000-word target, but I am more interested in hitting the write-every-day target. You’re seeing this post for the first time on the 12th, but I am writing in on the 11th. Therefore, the write-every-day target was hit for the first eleven days. Yeah me!

I had 40 ideas of things to write and two of them gave me 1,700 word scenes. Tuesday’s idea didn’t yield enough words and that coupled with a lack of time to tackle another idea had me missing the word-count. I can’t change the day job, the house can’t fall down, I felt the family could use some dinner, and various other stuff that limited my time and that will happen again so I’m not planning to focus a whole lot of energy on changing that. But I can change the quantity and quality of ideas in my pipeline so I can get more words on the page faster. I took to the Internet for more motivation and ideas.

There are a lot of websites that have NaNo advice. Suggestions like write every day, don’t edit, or write the last scenes first to change things up. One of the tips I came across is “don’t sweat the roadblocks.” If you get stuck, just skip to the next scene. I do this all the time. If I can’t figure how to get out of the scene I’m in, I’ll stop that one and go on. That was one of the reasons I didn’t get more than 659 words written on Tuesday. I got to a point and couldn’t figure out where the scene was headed. Writing sprints is another suggestions, but I still have to have a scene idea in order to do that. Continue reading

Michille: NaNo Fast Approaching

With NaNoWriMo fast approaching, I am trying to plan out a new story so I have lots of writing fodder to meet the 1,667 words-per-day goal. Just looking at that number doesn’t seem that hard to do, but I’ve done NaNo a couple times. Did it once to finish a manuscript that I now has just sat. Another time, I got to 35,000. This time I want to start a new one.

In a very timely fashion, I got an email recently about screen plays and another from the Save the Cat lady. I thought, awesome, I’ll take those mini courses for motivation and to foment ideas. Then life interrupted and nothing happened. Now, NaNo starts on Sunday and I don’t have lots of fodder or creative juices flowing.

But there is still time and I would really like to do it this year so I’m going to do those two mini courses between now and Saturday (I swear). And I’ll come up with the basics: a main character and a problem facing that character. Then write down the scene ideas for the character and the problem. This is often how I start. Although, I tend to start more the main character’s goal, and then have difficulty with the conflict lock. I don’t usually do a full plot outline in the early stages (could be why I have a conflict lock problem). I tend to just start writing and then have to do the outline later when I’m figuring out where I am and where I’m going.

Here is a quote from author Ken Follett describing his process: “I rewrite the outline – and this may happen several times. Typically there will be a first draft outline, a second draft outline and a final outline, so it would twice go through the process of being shown to a number of people. The whole process of coming up with idea, fleshing it out, doing the research, drafting the outline and rewriting the outline comes to about a year all told. There are quite often a couple of false starts within this. I may spend a month working on an idea before I realize that it isn’t going to work and abandon it. But after this whole process, I’m ready to write the first draft.”

Looks like Follett is a planner/plotter, too. Where are all the pantsers? Are any of you folks getting ready to NaNo?

Michille: National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” It starts on November 1 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in that timeframe. I’ve tried it before and was successful once, almost successful once, and an abysmal failure several times.

So how does it work? The NaNo-er signs up and completes a profile, decides what to write, selects a “home region” (used for stats on the website and offers the potential to meet with others in your area for writing time or inspiration), and starts writing on November 1. During the month, stay tuned to the NaNo website to upload word count and check on others’ progress. Although, you can just do it on your own without the website.

The manuscript I was working on during the McD program was born one November. I only made it to 35,000, but it was a good start. My successful NaNo was the next one in that series (all of which are currently languishing). One of the things NaNo does for me is mostly a head game, but when I’ve done it in the past, it was a license to write absolute schlock. The goal is word count, not quality. There are a lot of helps during the month: pep talks from authors, badges, word-count helpers, etc. If I were more competitive, that would be a help, too.

One thing I’m going to try this year for prep/motivation is to listen to the best RWA sessions from the past couple of years. I’m going to start with Michael Hauge, hoping to get some motivation and story ideas out of the sessions. In person, they always get me super excited. Listening isn’t exactly the same, but here’s hoping.

I’m starting a new story. I have no idea what that story is, but hey, I have 2 weeks to figure that out. So 50,000 words on the page that I can then edit into usable stuff for a story that isn’t in my head. At this point, I’ve done so little writing (read: none) in ages that if I get any words on the page, it will be a success.

Are any of you planning to NaNo? What are your reasons to do or not to do? What are you hoping to get out of it?

Michille: Bad Character Actions

Michille: Bad Character Actions

I haven’t been reading very much lately, much less writing, because my day job is very demanding right now. But I did read two books in the last couple of weeks that each had one of those headscratcher scenes. Well, one of them had a headscratcher theme.

In the one book, the headscratcher scene has the hero and the heroine trekking across a tropical island trying to get away from the bad guys. They aren’t rushing because they know they have a 12-hour head start on the bad guys. The bad guys do eventually catch up to them, mainly because they stopped at an oasis of a waterfall and pool where, of course, they want to stop and cool off/clean up. But they swam and swam and swam. They hung out in the waterfall. They sat around and admired each other. Then they hear the bad guys coming and hide in a cave behind the waterfall. THEN, after the bad guys go away (still looking for them, mind you) they swim, swim, swim AGAIN.

Continue reading

Michille: Reasons for a Scene

After reading Elizabeth’s post from yesterday, I decided to set a goal for the next week to get a couple scenes written. Any scene. I’ve been watching Virgin River on Netflix. Maybe I’ll try to come up with a powerful scene that could happen between some of those characters. A bit of fan fiction, if you will. By powerful, I mean scenes with multiple purposes in the story (which Virgin River has). As we have discussed here many times, every scene is a unit of conflict. I want to write scenes that go beyond a unit of conflict.

Debra Dixon, in Goal, Motivation & Conflict, suggests that there should be at least three reasons for every scene and at least one of those must address a characters goal, motivation or conflict. Dwight Swain talks about scenes and sequels with the sequel consisting of reaction, dilemma, and decision. Other purposes I’ve come across are to establish atmosphere, develop pathos, or create suspense. I’m hoping that by combining reasons for a scene, I can eliminate backstory, narrative summary and other ‘reasons’ that drag a story down.

But maybe I should say, restrict backstory, narrative summary, etc. Because stories need backstory. They don’t need big narrative passages that dump it all on the reader (especially in a series when the author does a soap opera style “as you know” rehash). I recently re-read Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. I shouldn’t because I want to watch the series and I know it will be so different from the books that I’ll be yelling at the TV the whole time – prime example: they changed a twenty-ish gossip rag writer to an octagenarian. Sheesh. But I digress. There is a scene in An Offer From a Gentleman that is repeated in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. In the first story, it is in Benedict’s head (as I recall). In the second, it’s in Penelope’s. I suppose it’s more of a prologue scene in the second book, but it happens before the real story starts – therefore backstory. It’s a good scene, but since I read the preceding story, I didn’t need a rehash – just a few lines would have done it woven into another scene. Of course, since Julia Quinn makes a lot more money writing romance than I do, she can’t be doing too many things wrong.

Conflict is a given. In trying to apply the three reasons to my scenes, I will need to identify some of the reasons for the scenes that are in addition to the main conflict. Some could introduce new characters, increase sexual tension, build or break down trust, expose backstory, or foreshadow a future event.

What reasons do you have for your scenes? How many have you been able to include in a single scene?

Michille: 11 Things Every Romance Writer (Doesn’t) Need

Young woman writing at a portable writing desk

Ideas disappear if you don’t capture them. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

As readers may have noticed, there is a particular blog that I really like (which I’m not naming here because I am going to bash a recent post). So I was extremely disappointed when said blog recently had a post about 10 Things Every Romance Writer Needs. At least one of the blog owners is a romance writer. Apparently the writer of this post is not. At least I would find it hard to believe if he is because the content of the post bordered on insulting to the writers of the genre that essentially pays the bills for the whole fiction market. It is a well-known phenomenon, this casual dismissal of the romance genre, and one that prompted the creation of the International Society for the Study of Popular Romance, the partnership of the Romance Sociologists, and was recently explored by Laura Kahn in her documentary Love Between The Covers.

Not all of the 10 things were insulting. Some of the ‘things’ apply to all fiction writing like surrounding yourself with good books to help keep your head in the good-fiction game, to spend some time reading like a writer, and to take encouragement from the success of a well-written book. Some of them apply to all fiction writing, but used cutesy sexy titles like “Quickies,” which is essentially advice to keep your eyes open and a notebook handy so you can jot down the ideas that come to you at unexpected times. The “Shoulder to cry on” thing emphasizes the importance of community – find a fellow writer or a good friend you can bounce ideas off or lament to when your writing stalls, someone to believe in us, encourage us – a good thing for all writers, not specific to romance, but would you suggest that CJ Box find a shoulder to cry on?

Then there are the ridiculous, like: Continue reading

Michille: Procrastibaking

procrastibake

This is a re-post of an old blog post. In my work world, which is K-12 grants, things are OUT OF CONTROL. All those headlines of schools going remote or hybrid or face-to-face with modifications have earthquake tremors that run through a school system because they affect EVERYONE. We have a county school system set up (as opposed to borough or township which other states have) so our school system is large (41 schools). The $21 million in restricted revenue flows through my office. Much of that requires that we submit plans to the funding agency detailing how we are spending it. Well, folks, all those grant plans we submitted in the spring need to be amended. ALL of them. So now I’m dealing with fiscal-year end AND amending the bulk of our grants. I wish I had time to procrastibake. I have a cake I’ve been dying to make.

Procrastibaking is for another day for me, but maybe you can do some procastibaking or procrasti . . . Continue reading

Michille: Preparing to Attend a Writers’ Conference

RWA2020-virtual-logoRWA National Conference is fast approaching. So it’s time to start prepping for it. Of course, getting the conference schedule is a top priority and deciding which sessions to go to, which to avoid. I’m not pitching this year, or I’d be working on that. I suck at elevator pitches and tag/log line type descriptions so creating those is torture. In order to make sure I’m not forgetting anything, I googled to find some internet advise.

PSYCH!!! Continue reading

Michille: First Lines

Take a HintI have blogged about first lines before – best, worst, would you keep reading, etc. One time, it resulted from my daughter (another voracious reader) bringing home a bag of random books and we sat around the dining table after dinner and read the first lines/paragraphs of several of the books. The motivation for this post came from a book I just started, which has a funny first line that gives a very good impression of the writing style and the language the characters use:

Talia Hibbert, Take a Hint, Dani Brown: The moon was high and full, the night was ripe for witchy business, and Danika Brown had honey on her tit. Continue reading

Michille: One More Writing Course

Like Elizabeth and her post yesterday about being Creativity Challenged, I find myself very challenged creatively. And although I swore I wouldn’t do another writing course until I got more words on the pages of my current WIP, I just signed up for one. Productivity Hacks for Writers by Jessica Brody on udemy. The tagline for it is: Simple Strategies and Proven Techniques to Be More Productive and Get the Most Out of Every Writing Day. I attended a breakout session at RWA (Atlanta, I think) that was excellent. She is an enthusiastic, endlessly positive, motivational speaker who believes wholeheartedly in her product. In fact, she reminds me of Steven Covey, except with a cheerleader’s energy and pompoms rather than Covey’s slow-paced, methodical delivery. Continue reading