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.
Those of us who have ventured into the stormy seas of NaNoWriMo before know this familiar feeling. Whether you are a pant-ser or a plotter, with seven days to go you are itching to get started.
You could start writing now, stop reading this post and pull out your notebook or journal, or open up a new word document and begin putting down the words you’re aching to write. Nothing is stopping you. NaNoWriMo works on an honor system and you’re the only one who will ever know that you didn’t follow the rules. Winning though won’t feel quite as sweet, knowing that you reached the finish line because you started early. So what do you do with yourself for the next seven days? How do you avoid temptation? Having done NaNoWriMo for more years than I can count now and having won and lost I have a few suggestions; seven in fact, one for each day until November 1st.
1) Housework. Ugh, I know but if the hamper is empty and all the dishes washed you’ll have more guilt-free time to write and less complaints from those who live with you. So NaNo clean. Trust me your house will fall apart over the next thirty days, so consider this a preemptive strike.
2) Go shopping. Make a list. What do you need to make it through these intensive days of writing? Get yourself a crock pot. Stock up on K-Cups or buy yourself a couple of Starbucks cards. Buy some Halloween candy and make yourself a stash. Look for deals on frozen pizzas or frozen dinners. Do you have enough pens, a flash drive? Stock up now. Don’t forget a new DVD for the kids. Frozen, anyone?
I wanted to include some notes from the brainstorming session we did on Sunday, October 18. We had an amazing 15 people who up, both current WriMos as well as people who heard about the event through the library. Hope to see even more next time! Without further ado, here are the notes.
Part 1 – Introduction
- introduced myself (Debby Jensen)
- explained what NaNoWriMo is
- three parts of plot (that we will also cover today in depth)
So, it just so happens that “Three Books in Three Months” also includes the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. What’s NaNo, you ask? It stands for “National Novel Writing Month” and participants from all over the world sign up to write 50,000 words in one month. Sound crazy? Possibly! lol. Here are some of the things I think are essential for surviving the month of November for anyone who is new to the challenge…
- Don’t look at the whole. Writing only 1,667 words a day sound much more manageable, doesn’t it?
- Go to write-ins. These are amazing chances to connect with local writers and exchange ideas. These write-ins have led to friendships with some awesome people.
- DO NOT procrastinate on backing up your work. I know we all got taught in school about backing up our work regularly, but let’s be honest here: how many of us do it consistently? Well, now is not the time to take risks with your words. Make sure you move the document to a flash drive, e-mail it to yourself, and/or upload it to services like box or dropbox. A little side note: For one of the camps they do, I had about 3,000 words written. I “saved as” onto my flash drive and went to open it a little later. I got “file is corrupt”. A call to my husband’s computer genius friend showed me the error of my ways. If you save a file directly to a flash drive rather than “sending to” or dragging it on there from your computer, it can corrupt the drive and ruin your document.