NaNo Wrap Up!

NaNo Wrap Up

December already! November flew by, probably because I had my nose to the grind stone, type, type, typing away at my NaNoWriMo goal. It was all worth it too; because for the first time, I won! If you read my post NaNoWriMo 2016 explaining what NaNoWriMo is then you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not and you want to know what I’m talking about, click on over to NaNoWriMo 2016. I’ll wait here…

Alright! So, yes, I won! The goal was to write 50,000 words toward a novel between November 1st and 30th. I Won on November 26th, and ended November with 54,703 words. I have almost completed my story. I’m still working on the last 2 chapters and then I’ll have my first draft complete! I’m using a lot of exclamation points because that’s how excited I am! I am so glad I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. It was on my list of goals for the year and it’s now one that I can put a checkmark next to. It will also be going on my list again for next year.

How NaNoWriMo Went for Me

November 1st came and I was ready to get the ball rolling. On the NaNo site they have a word tracking graph and all kinds of achievements and badges you can earn throughout the month. This really speaks to the gamer in me, and when I saw there was a badge for updating your word count every single day in Nov I  knew I had to have it. Therein  meaning I needed to write every day. I had already planned to, but having that in the back of my mind helped me make sure I always got my words in for the day.

Overall,  the stats say I averaged around 1,823 words a day.  I got big chunks of it on the weekends or days I took off from work. I write best in the morning, so on days I had to work after I got home, I could only get a few hundred words before I was falling asleep on my laptop as I wrote nonsensical things. I had to shake myself awake and delete whatever the last silly thing was that accidentally slipped out of my head. To make up for those days, on my days off I would get up at the same time. (4:30-5:00ish) and start writing. Usually I was able to get at least 3,000 words on those days. I think I even had a day I wrote 6,000 words!  

Writing every day is a great habit to be in. What I learned most from it is that sometimes you’re not going to feel creative. You’re not always going to feel like a good writer.  You can’t stop writing just because you don’t feel like it, or aren’t feeling inspired. I mean you could, but you’ll probably never finish anything.

When I was at a stall, I just looked at my outline and looked where the story needed to go. It might not have been pretty but I just wrote what it took to get me to the next part of the story. “Keep moving forward, I’ll fix it later.” became my mantra. Because of that mindset, I have a FIRST DRAFT! Not just an idea, a character, an outline, a chapter, a general sense of where it’s going, but a WHOLE first draft! My first, first draft of a book! That’s crazy talk!

Overall I am 100% glad I participated in National Novel Writing Month and I know that I’ll be doing the same thing next November. Hope you do too!

NaNoWriMo 2016

Let’s talk about National Novel Writing Month! That’s right November is almost here and that means NaNoWriMo is almost here. During the month of November hundreds of thousands of writers all feverishly work to puke out 50,000 words of a novel. We sign up online, band together, try to encourage each other, and build community. The term “Hermits United” comes to mind.

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Since it started in 1999 with just 21 participants and only 6 “Winners” (winners being anyone that hit 50,000 words) it has grown exponentially. In 2015 351,489 writer's participated and 40,423 Won. That’s a lot of people! That also means only 12% of the participants finished/won. This year I want to be on that 12%. Oh and I got all these numbers off wikipedia so we know they are 100% accurate.

I myself haven’t participated in NaNoWriMo since 2011 and I was not even close to winning. I didn’t know at the time that the story I was writing was an epic odyssey much to grand a tale to try and pump out in one month. That was the first match in the inferno of a Novel I have been working on all year.

For November however I’ll be taking a break from that story (I really should give that this some kind of working title). I’m going to break from that novel, my reading and Fiction Friday to focus as much energy as possible on NaNoWriMo. I know I just got the ball rolling again on Fiction Friday but realistically I can’t be able to keep up with both Fiction Friday and NaNoWriMo.

I’ve got to say I’m more excited than I thought I would be. It helps that I am getting prepared. I have a concept, characters and a general outline that’s taking shape more and more everyday. Plus the fact that this story is about 300 times less complicated than my last NaNoWriMo story concept. It really feels like this is my year! I feel it’s best to go in with hope and big dreams. Big dreams meaning I’m going to hit that word goal and just hope I don’t end up with a steaming pile of garbage I’ll call my first draft.

If you are interested in how I’ve been preparing for NaNoWriMo might I direct you to my last Manuscript Monday post How to Construct a Story in 5 Step.  After those 5 steps I’m feeling vastly more prepared than last time. I’m also trying to get some blog writing done ahead of time, and finish a few extra books.

This is how I’m planning for a successful NaNoWriMo 2016.

  • No reading in November. It sounds silly I know, but I’m a slow reader and that ends up as hours I could be writing.
  • Little to No TV. I’m not going to lie and say No TV but I will say I’m going to cut it way down
  • Less Social Media. This one will be easy right now since I have been avoiding facebook more and more anyway.
  • I’m planning a few days specifically set aside for writing. I get not 1 but 2 holidays in November. Huzzah!  
  • Writing on my breaks at work. This one is more iffy really, I’ll try but it’s hard to get my head in the game in a 15 minute break in which I also need to eat and convince myself not to flip a table.
  • No editing as I go.  
  • Use [Brackets]. Getting hung up somewhere? Through in some brackets with a generally gist of what you need [Insert Science Here] and move on. Come back to it latter.
  • Get with other Writers. This might be the one that’s got me pumped. I have a few friends that are also participating. Having someone to encourage you or keep you accountable can be a great help in finishing.

I’m looking forward to November and I hope you are you too. If you’re participation in NaNoWriMo let me know. If you’re not just know I might be a bit MIA.

I’m glad it looks like the end of the year is shaping up to finish strong.

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nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participant

How to Construct a Story in 5 Step.

How to Construct a Story in 5 Step.

 

With NaNoWriMo on the horizon I thought now would be a great time to talk about how I come up with a Novel Idea. Get it. ;)  If you were wanting to participate in NaNoWriMo or simply wanting to start writing fiction in general but don’t know where to start I hope this helps! With the disclaimer that what works for me may not work for you. Feel free to take away what you like from my methods.

 

Step 1: Story Concept.

It always starts here for me. It usually comes to me randomly when I’m driving somewhere or while I’m in the shower. You know, doing mindless stuff, like when I’m at work.  It’s the question that drives us. “What if?”  For example: What if your planet was destroyed? What if you found out you were royalty? What if you lost something so valuable you would do anything to get it back?  

From here I start answering the question and other questions that it incites.  Almost like reverse engineering a story. What if your planet was destroyed? Well that tells me you must not have been on that planet. Why weren't you on the plant? (Maybe you’re an astronaut or you were vacationing on Neptune.) How were you not on the planet? (Mission to repair spacey type telescope or Space cruise liner.) Who destroyed the planet? (Natural disaster or pissed alien race.) Why was the planet destroyed? (Maybe those aliens were having a really bad week.) How will you now survive?

Keep the Q and A going. Keep what you like and toss what you don’t. Eventually a story concept will emerge and even a very, very rough outline.

 

Step 2: Characters.

Sometimes my concept and my characters come to me at the same time, sometimes they don’t. After you have your concept you can ask yourself; what kind of person would be in this situation?  How do they handle the situation? Are they funny? Are they serious?

There are hundreds of Character building lists on line. So I’m not going to get too crazy in depth with this section. Basically I flesh out my main Character then ask; who is their support system? Family? Best friend? Significant other? Then I have my secondary characters.  

Then time for what might be the most fun part. Who is making my hero’s life harder? My protagonist! Everyone loves a good bad guy these days.

 

Step 3: Building a Strong Outline.

So the world of writers boils down to two types of writers. Planners and Pantsers. I’m, (if you couldn’t already tell) a planner. Pantsers like to make it up as they go. Don’t get me wrong making it up as you go can be freeing but… every time I have tried this it’s like looking up to find out you're in the middle of a field miles from anything. Where’s my plot? It’s just not for me. So planner that I am, I start working an outline.

The setup: In which I do just that, introduce my character, tell ya a bit about their life. Right before a change it all.

The Trigger: Which is the event that sets the story in motion. (Boom your planet gets destroyed!)

The Midpoint: Now you throw rocks at your character. (Plot point rocks that is) Conflict, conflict, conflict!

Rising acting: Time to start solving some of your small problems and giving your character much bigger ones. All leading up to…..

The Climax: When your story reaches its crescendo. It all gets as bad as it can get and then you figure out how to fix it.

The Resolution: Where this all ends up after the conflict is over.

That’s all crazy overly simplified but that’s how I start simple. From these simple points we can build them into a lot-o-plot!

 

Step 4: Conflict!

After my outline I have to work out what the conflicts will be. I generally like things to be easy so I have to push myself to make life harder for my Characters. Sure the overall conflict of my story is there, but I have to work to figure out what rocks I will throw at my hero.

 

Step 5: Resolution.

The resolution, as I previously mentioned, is where everything ends up when the conflict is over. I’m going to so real and tell you this is my weakness. It’s always the hardest part for me. Nothing like having a story with no idea how you want to end. I usually come up with 3-7 options and stare at them for un undetermined amount of time.

So my advice to you and myself is this. Come up with lots of options. Stare at them for an undetermined amount of time. Then start the process of elimination. Cut the ones you know you don’t like. Cut anything that’s overly cliché. Till you’re left with only the top contenders. If you still don’t know, this is the time having a writer friend can really come in handy. They really don’t have to be a writer but having someone to bounce ideas off of can help you in your decision making process. Who knows, something they say might even inspire you to have a totally different ending than you thought. I’m, of course, not saying take someone else's idea. I’m just saying you don’t have to be alone.

And remember if at the end of your story you blame aliens in a story that had nothing to do with aliens till that point or you end it with a variation of “and then they woke up.” expect your readers to find you and punch you in the throat.

 

After those 5 Steps it’s all about putting in the work. Choosing to work on your story and write instead of watching Netflix or browsing Pinterest. Honestly this is really and truly the hardest part. Coming up with the ideas can but so exciting and invigorating that when the time to write comes it’s a snooze fest. Writing is a rollercoaster. The downs come very suddenly and the ups can be a long arduous climb. But at the end you have an amazing experience to look back on and hopefully a first draft.