Elizabeth: Big Ball of Paint

With National Novel Writing Month about to start (or having just started, depending on when you read this post), a recent “Why I NaNoWriMo” post caught my eye yesterday when perusing my news feed.

The author has, in his own words:

“. . . completed NaNoWriMo three times, and have started and failed more times than I’d like to remember.”

I always like hearing about folks who have made it through NaNoWriMo and emerged with a completed book; better yet, one that has been released into the wild for others to purchase and enjoy.

It makes it seem like 50,000 words in 30 days might actually be a reasonable goal.

What really caught my attention about this particular post though has more to do with who wrote it than it does with the content.  Years ago, when I taught creative writing as part of the after-school program at my son’s grammar school, the author of the aforementioned post was one of my students.   I love that he’s continued in his creative pursuits and has moved from a photo-copied spiral bound book of crayon illustrated stories to an actual book available for purchase on Amazon. Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 1 Week To Go

October is racing to an end, which means there is only 1 week left before the start of this year’s NaNoWriMo.  Michille had a good post the other day about preparing to write and the NaNo website is full all sorts of good information, like the NaNo Prep Webcast.

Part of my prep-work has included finishing up a host of non-writing projects so they aren’t hanging overhead when I’m trying to write.  I’m also wrapping up a big multi-year project at the Day Job, which should free up some much needed brain-cells.  I will definitely need those to hit my daily writing goals.  All that is left, other than those pesky story details, is to decide when to write and to stock up on motivational “reward-for-hitting-today’s-goal” treats. I have found that cupcakes are excellent in that role.

As I’ve mentioned that last few weeks, my writing specific preparation has included drafting a rough outline for my new story, figuring out the setting(s), and getting to know my characters.

That’s all I need to craft a great story, right?

Oh wait, those characters probably need some goals and motivations so they actually have something to do.

<sigh>

Guess that means this is a good time to focus on:  Conflict Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 2 Weeks To Go

We’re halfway through the month of October, which means there are just a few weeks left before NaNoWriMo kicks off on November 1.  In order to prepare for what I hope will be a successful month of writing I’ve been doing a bit of prep-work these past few weeks.

As I mentioned in my first post in this series here, I began the countdown to November by working on the outline for the story I’m planning to write.  As the outline developed, I found I needed to clarify the setting, in order to get a big picture view of how the story will progress.  If you missed it, you can read that post, and the helpful suggestions from commenters, here.

With a general outline and the story setting(s) nailed down (kind of, sort of), I still have a pretty large gap that needs to be addressed before I start trying to put words on the page.  I need to know who these people are who will inhabit the story.  My heroine needs a hero.  My antagonist needs a supporting cast.  And I need to know who that random assortment of secondary characters is and what roles they are going to play.

Piece of cake, right?

Not surprisingly, this week my focus is on:  Character Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 3 Weeks To Go

I began the countdown to NaNoWriMo 2017 with last week’s post on outlining, which generated some good discussions amongst our commenters from both ends of the outlining continuum.

Kristi said,

“More and more over the last few days I’m starting to think of outlining (at least the way I usually do it) as a first draft. It’s just lacking details.”

That makes sense to me.  Whether your first pass through a new story is via an outline or via a purely “pantser” style process you’re just trying to tell yourself the story.  However you start out you will (hopefully) wind up with a draft that you can then flesh out into a full-blown story.

The outline for my upcoming story currently looks a bit like a movie script.  For each potential scene there are notes about location and timing, the characters who are involved, who “owns” the scene, and what the outcome of the scene will be.  In some cases where I felt especially inspired, I even managed to capture a few lines of dialog or action that I thought of while sketching things out.

One thing that slowed me down a bit during the outlining process was not having the setting(s) for the story nailed down.  I know where it starts and ends and have some ideas about the middle, but I definitely need to do some more work in that area.

Conveniently, this week my focus is on:  Setting Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 4 Weeks To Go

The kids are back in school, holiday merchandise is popping up at the local stores, and my heater at home came on for the first time this season.

Do you know what that means?

Right, National Novel Writing Month is almost here.  For those of you who are not familiar with NaNoWriMo (NaNo for short), it’s a month where writers around the world do their best to get 1,667 words on the page every day in the month of November, resulting in a 50,000 word manuscript by December 1st.

It’s fun and exciting and motivating and challenging and, frankly, hard as all get out.

It’s also a great way to focus on a writing project and get some words on the page.  Of course, not everyone has a creative muse who responds well to that kind of pressure, but as I found out in 2015, mine seems to be okay with the idea.  Something about the accountability and not wanting to be left behind when others reach their target word counts is just the motivation I need to move from “thinking” about story to actually writing it down.

Last year was a bust, for reasons outside of my control, but I’m looking forward to November this time around (and not just because there will be Halloween candy right beforehand).  I’ve already decided on the story I’ll be writing, a contemporary romance with the working title A Change of Heart.  The story is the second book in the series that I started with my 2015 NaNo story, Second Chances.

In order give myself the best chance of success this time around I’m doing a fair amount of pre-work.  It worked well for me in 2015, so it makes sense to do it again.

This week my focus is on:  Outlining Continue reading

Michaeline: Lois McMaster Bujold Answers Three (Okay, Four) Questions about the Writing Process

penrics-mission-cover-2016-11-book-three-bujold

Today, we’ve got a short interview with Lois McMaster Bujold about the writing process. Just in time for National Novel Writing Month’s first weekend! Lois writes the thrilling tales of the Vorkosigan family, the Wide Green World, and the World of the Five Gods. This week, the third story about Penric in the W5G came out: Penric’s Mission was published on November 2, 2016. (Announcement on her Goodreads blog, here.) Lois is a master of speculative fiction, and her liberal use of romance in these genres makes her worlds rich and real. Grab a cyber beverage from the Eight Ladies Writing fridge, and pull up a seat!

MD: So, National Novel Writing Month is basically about creating a first draft of at least 50,000 words. What’s your favorite thing about writing the first draft?

LMB: Finishing it. (-:

Starting it runs a close second, true. Then, probably, those moments when a sticky knot gets suddenly undone by some neat idea or inspiration that I didn’t have — often couldn’t have had — earlier. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Pre-NaNoWriMo Recharge

writing_typewriterAs Michille mentioned in her recent post, the annual writing extravaganza known as NaNoWriMo is fast approaching; thirty days of writing 1,667 words along with the existing demands of everyday life.

Sounds fun, right?

As with other goals, a little up-front prep-work can make the difference between a successful finish (however you measure success) and an angst-ridden struggle.  Or something like that.

Part of my pre-work has been getting the basics of my characters, conflict, and setting, nailed down so I have some idea of what I’m trying to write.  An equally important part of my pre-work has been ensuring I’m mentally and physically ready to write. Continue reading