Kick Off Party Notes

By Debby J.

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Howdy, Fort Writerdale!

Just wanted to make sure I put a post up detailing what you missed out on by not attending the awesome party, part 1. Fortunately, there is a part 2 that you are all welcome to attend and I hope you will RSVP!

We had a wonderful guest speaker present. Barbara Levenson is a published author who writes fiction with a specific interest in mystery. She started by asking everyone their experiences with writing (specifically asking about our experiences with writing, publication, and workshops or critique groups). Here is a quick list of the things she spoke about:

  • “If you want to write, get your butt in the chair, sit and write.”
  • Many people will start to write, but will get stuck and quit and never go back. It is better to put the writing away for a few days when you are stuck and go back to it.
  • The more your write, the better you write.
  • Her experiences started when she was young and she would tell stories and write plays for her friends to act out. Into adulthood, she started writing more technical writing because of her career but after taking a class she realized she also really wanted to write fiction.
  • She said that any experience or course is very beneficial and will get you writing.
  • She encouraged everyone to join a writing group and attend seminars. Seminars are great because you can pitch ideas, but even better you can talk about writing with people who are also writers.
  • She talked about her experiences with publishing and said that no matter what, to make sure you protect your rights. The Author’s Guild has lawyers on retainer who can help with your contracts if you are member.
  • She actually bought back the rights to her novels because she was unhappy with what the publishers were doing (or not doing!).
  • Barbara also said that stories can be character-driven or plot-driven. She said that with NaNoWriMo it is likely the stories we write will be plot-driven since 50k words is not a good amount to really develop the characters.
  • She personally doesn’t outline because generally speaking she knows what major things have to happen (even if the how is vague) and knows the final outcome.
  • She knows these things because she spends a lot of time thinking (mostly when ironing and baking).
  • She said a complete work that is 50k words long is more like a novella than a novel.
  • There are no rules to writing. However, you still need to establish your point of view (POV).
  • Your POV should not change from one paragraph to another or even in the middle of a chapter.
  • She strongly encouraged we avoid the use of adjectives and adverbs.
  • We did a short writing activity. We wrote a paragraph without using adjectives or adverbs. The prompt was “He looked at the river and saw something he couldn’t explain.”
  • My paragraph: Juan looked at the river. A breeze caressed the river; ripples crossed the service as Juan stared. A fish leaped from the water and landed on the river bank. While he watched, another fish floundered out. And another. Juan looked to the sky filled with sunshine and clouds. A comet hung high beside the moon. Today was going to be something special.
  • She spent some time talking about showing and telling. It is better to show and you can use dialogue to show things. If you want to show with a scene, then use action words.
  • Dialogue makes your characters real.

After Barbara finished, I gave my little explanation of who I am, what is NaNoWriMo. I gave my background and previous experiences with NaNoWriMo and gave a few pointers that were all discussed in the Brainstorming session.

The entire thing was actually quite delightful and fun. It was great to see familiar faces and meet some new people. We had a total of ten people show up and while it wasn’t the largest Kick Off Party we’ve seen, it was very intimate. I hope it was interesting and great for everyone who attended and has helped get us excited for the start of November.

P.S. You all missed on an amazing fruit dip. I will DEFINITELY be making it for the write-ins at the library!

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7 thoughts on “Kick Off Party Notes

  1. It was a lot of fun, and great to meet everyone. Here’s my paragraph!

    He looked at the river and saw something he couldn’t explain.
    The river ebbed and flowed down stream. Something popped above the water. A shape of indescribable proportion. It lacked scales. Not a fish. He took a step closer, peering past the tall grass and reeds. Floating on the water it moved to the bank, writhing like a serpent.

  2. I wasn’t at the the party, but I’ll give it a try.

    He looked at the river and saw something he could’t explain. The water flowed northward along the bank, rushed over boulders and ran past oak trees. The river rose and gushed along the embankment carrying sand, soil, branches and leaves that swirled and eddied as waves poured over the dock and past the cabin on the far shore. He stood there wondering where all the water came from and it how much the river would overflow.

  3. ’twas awesome to meet all the people I met when I met them, and well done whoever named this Web site. By the way, if you think you’d like to fit talks on craft (at no charge) into your November novel-writing, I’ve been informed that it’s not too late to register for How Writers Write Fiction (video lessons by published novelists & transcripts in PDF, plus a forum for feedback from other participants). The sixth lesson went live yesterday. Details here:

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