Death To The Adverb!

By Natasha R.

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You may or may not have heard about the dreaded adverb and why it’s bad in writing. In case you haven’t though, let me start from the beginning.

Adverb – a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there )

So, what makes the adverb bad? Adverbs in and of themselves are not bad. They’re very prominent in academic writing and essays, but that sort of writing is meant to inform people. It’s telling. That, my friends, is why adverbs are considered lazy writing. A large amount of adverbs will make your manuscript telling and not showing.

Does that mean you can’t ever use an adverb? Of course not! Sometimes they’re appropriate, but most times, in the editing stage, you’re going to be able to pluck out those adverbs and find a stronger way to write your sentence.

Example:

Joan passionately, intimately, and abrasively kissed Michael. 

Whoah! That’s a lot of adverbs, and all telling. There’s no picture in my head of Joan and Michael’s kiss.

So, how do we turn it into showing?

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Have you hit THE wall?

By Debby J.

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I know that every time week 2 rolls around I start to get down on myself. I hate the week 2 blues during NaNoWriMo. This is what I always find to be the most challenging week and I believe this is typically when you see a noticeable drop off in word count updates, participation, and enthusiasm. I know that personally, this is the week I see a marked decline in the number of people attending write-ins and I can’t help but wonder what I could do differently as your Municipal Liaison to support you during this week.

The problem is, I’m in the exact same boat as you. I find myself hating my plot. Or maybe I’ve written myself into a corner. Or I realize that all my carefully planned plans have been derailed and I can see the gaping caverns that are also called plot holes. It’s hard to see the finish line when you know you’ve got to hurdle the grand canyon of plot holes, right?

So, what can you do? What should you do? I know many people will throw in the towel. I’ve done it before. You’ll make the excuse of “the writing was bad” or “I don’t have time” or “I’m too far behind.” And that’s okay. The fact is, you’ve made it farther then most people. But what if you want to finish? What if you don’t want the excuses to be the reason you quit? I’m sure there are a lot of you reading this post, wondering what you can do to make it through? Continue reading »

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Winning NaNo with Children

By Debby J.

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I was kind of stumped for words. Well, not with my novel. But yeah, with that too. I was trying to think of a short and sweet blog post I could write that might reveal a little bit about me, your Municipal Liaison but also have information you might find helpful. I am sitting here, at 11pm in my bedroom while my kid snores loudly beside me. She is only one year old but she sounds like a freight train. I’ve hit my word count for the day and really should be trying to get ahead but instead I’m penning this for your reading pleasure.

I was catching up with a fellow ML in our top secret chat room and it got me thinking about NaNoWriMo and how people do it with children. See, WitchyRobyn has been doing NaNoWriMo for way longer than me and was there in the chat room my first year. She is in charge of the Elsewhere Region of Louisiana and if I recall correctly, she was super pregnant and was running most of her write-ins virtually. So, seeing her again in the chat room this evening made me think, “Man, I would have loved to have some hints about how to win NaNoWriMo with a kid before I even thought about a kid.”

I asked for her advice, and she said, “Be sure to let everyone in your life know what you’re doing. People are more likely to help out and watch the kids for a couple of hours if they realize how much this challenge means to you. My girls are turning 1 and 2 this month and the help I get from my husband is invaluable to my success. In the future, as I continue with both writing and MLing, I want my girls to see that any challenge can be met despite the obstacles. Also, I would suggest looking at co-ops with other wrimos with kids in your area. Arrange playdates with them to split the load and give everyone a little bit of writing time while the children entertain themselves for a bit. Don’t discount the creativity gained from looking at the world through your child’s eyes. Get on the floor with them, play with them, and worlds can open up.”

Pennblade from the Massachusetts Southbridge/Sturbridge Region says: “To always have fun. I told that to my son. Writing is a journey, not a chore. Enjoy the ride. You’ll never know where you’ll end up.”

Rachel Sanford from the Arkansas Fayetteville/NWA Region says: “I have a 2 year old son. I try to let him do his own thing during November and let him be as independent as he wishes. I also keep in mind that things happen and to just go with them. There are days you aren’t going to meet your goals, but nap time and bed time are invaluable times for writing.”

AuroraLee from the Canadian Annapolis Valley Region says: “If kids are old enough, get them to write with you. A great way to let them explore their own creativity? (disclaimer: I don’t have kids)” Continue reading »

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Week 1 Pep Talk

By Debby J.

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November is here! Are you guys ready to write those novels? The great news is, you are reading this and I doubt you need much pep to get your fingers flying. Week 1 is always the “easiest” week in NaNoWriMo for those who come prepared with at least a plot, or character, or setting, or something. For those who are hyper organized and have outlines and infographics galore, the first week is also pretty straight forward. This year, I need all the pep I can get because I’m coming into this thing with absolutely nothing. I can’t seem to get the microscope of my author’s vision to zoom into the lives of my characters. I’m stuck. I have no clue as to what I’m doing.

Would you believe me if I said this is how every November begins for me? I have a vague sense of “something” happening in some world I created in my mind. I usually start my novels for NaNoWriMo by describing the world in excruciating detail. It’s really painful to read because the minutiae is minutiae. But by starting about a million miles away from the action I can hone in on the important things happening. I see the big picture and slowly the focus comes and I suddenly have a character, a conflict, a scene, a something to work with.

So, if you are like me, then you may have nothing. But if you have even one thing to start writing about, even if it isn’t very good, you have the makings of your novel. To give you a taste of what my NaNo first days are like, here are the beginnings of my past NaNos.

  • 2008: Alison looked at her watch and sighed loudly. This was not the time nor the place. She was already running late for her doctor’s appointment and the bus was running even later.
  • 2009: It was the most baffling thing that came ashore. The sun was setting and the sky was clouded over and there it was. I squinted my eyes, not really believing that something like that was on the shore, but there is was. As I approached it, it became clearer, the features more distinct. I bent over and scooped it up, sand slipping between my fingers. I wiped my hands on my pants and tossed the object from one had to the other, getting a sense of its weight.
  • 2010: I remember everything about the day I left my home. My sister and brother each held a hand as my parents trailed behind us. We were headed to the convent where it seemed I was destined to spend my life. At least when I was seven it seemed like my destiny. Alisa was stoic. Her blue eyes looked straight forward and she almost seemed to tug at me, pulling me along faster then I really wanted to go. Alexander seemed to be a counterweight, dragging his feet as if to keep me from going away. And I just walked. Since the day I was born, I knew that just as Alisa was destined to inherit the family business and Alexander was destined for the military and, essentially politics, so I was destined for religion. It was the way things were done in Kyria.
  • 2011: Margie looked at the man and tried not to laugh. He was wearing a giraffe costume and looked absolutely ridiculous. She had requested a clown, not a giraffe. Or any animal for that matter. She smiled politely at the man and shook her head a little bit, her short brown hair swaying against her neck.
  • 2012: Taylor looked out at the ocean as her father’s ship flew away. He was only home for a few weeks at a time but Taylor loved the time she got to spend with him. He was a merchant by trade but was very well to do. He was one of the few individuals authorized to cross the border between Leylandia and Technologia. While considered a citizen of Technologia, he carried the precious steam technology through the sky and over to their rival nation. The two countries were as different as children from different parents. Technologia was a sprawling country that had mountains surrounding three sides and long coast that gave them port access. In the center of the country were forests. The country was not afflicted with deserts or tundra. The rich land lead Technologia to develop into a nation that was very technological. Their primary export was the steam technology that had come from all of the resources.
  • 2013: The black, pearlescent sand clung to her milky, pale skin. She flexed her fingers and toes and looked at the world around her. It was vastly different yet very familiar and similar to the world she came from. Lush green trees rose high up in the distance and even farther beyond were hillocks and mountains. The sky above was navy blue with spots that glimmered in the distance. Two giant orbs floated in the sky – one seemed to sit right on the horizon, a blue disc that reflected light. The other was smaller and high in the sky. It also did not seem to emit any light of its own. It was reddish in color and seemed to be pockmarked where the blue orb was smooth. 

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Paper Trade

By Neliza Drew

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Let’s say you’re super-pumped for November 1st. You’re cracking your knuckles and hopping up and down and doing your very best “I’m Ready!” dance…. But, you don’t have a computer of your own or you hate typing on your tablet or you want to write while your kid’s at soccer practice without whipping out a laptop or you’re technology-averse or you spend all day programming and the last thing you want from your muse is more screen time.

At any rate, yes, you can write your NaNoWriMo project by hand. And yes, you can even validate it and win.

Some writers swear by Moleskine or Field Notes. Others are big fans of Arc (and other discbound systems), the neat thing about those being that, like an analog version of Scrivener, you can rearrange the pages and write scenes out of order or include research sections without losing your mind.

Writers are often stationery and office supply fetishists, so if you talk to a bunch of them, you’ll probably find a lot of favorite pens and favorite papers and all sorts of oddball quirks that work for them, but might not work for you.

You don’t have to invest in a fancy paper system. You just have to find something that works for you. Heck, one of my favorite writers fills dozens of plain yellow legal pads before her novels are complete. You can use composition books, three-ring binders and loose-leaf, wire bound notebooks, the backs of grocery receipts (although then you might have to write rather small) or whatever else you find works.

And if you want to go full-on analog, designer David Seah has updated his printable word count tracker for 2014.

Don’t forget to check out the digital Tools of the Trade.

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Wearing Many Hats

By Jamie W.

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Hello, again. 🙂 I promised you all a post before, but another more timely one came in I wanted to get out. That all said, you may have noticed that these Friday posts I do usually come out a bit later in the day than other posts. Basically? It comes down to one thing: A desperate need of organization and feeling a bit overwhelmed at times.

I’m sure you know what I am talking about. As authors, we usually wear a ton of other hats. We’re also editors. Marketers. Some of us are designers as well. Add in jobs (Stephen King pointed out in On Writing only 5% of authors make enough to live solely on their books alone), and it gets even crazier.

That’s where the need to organize and get on a schedule is so critical. Here are some things I am planning to implement and some resources to help.

  • Make a list. While I fell out of the habit for a little while, I love to-do lists. They bring some structure to my day and it feels great to see things getting checked off.  Put the highest priority stuff at the top and work your way down.
  • Be Realistic. This is related to lists, and a trap I’ve fallen into a few times. I’d start jotting down a ton of things that I needed to get done and only get half of the list completed. I was trying to jam too much in one day, which left me feeling disappointed and even more overwhelmed.

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But I Want to Start NOW

By Tina R.

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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?

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Being a Multi-Genre Author

By CP Bialois

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Hello everyone!

Being a multi-genre author is a topic that’s been one of the most discussed topics in the writing groups I’m in, so I thought I’d throw my two cents in and share my thoughts.

As many of you know, I’m a multi-genre author. For me, it’s a simple choice since I have an interest in just about everything and anything. I love sci-fi and fantasy, action adventure and horror, so it’s easy for me to have ideas and stories in all of those that I want to explore and share.

Sounds simple, right? Not so fast.

There are many arguments against being multi-genre and some of the most vocalized cons of doing so I’ve heard are: “Your readers won’t know what to expect from you”, “You need to make it easy for your readers to find you”, and “It’s easier to brand your books if they’re in the same genre”.

Now, those are all good arguments to a certain extent. Let’s take the first one about our readers not knowing what to expect.

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Keeping The Excitement

By Natasha R.

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The days leading up to NaNoWriMo are often filled with anticipation, excitement, and the undeniable desire to start typing. You brainstorm, you talk to your NaNo buddies, and may even secretly squee a little bit.

You know you do this.

Then November 1st arrives and you’re a writing machine. 

The muse is strong within you. The words pour from your fingers like syrup onto pancakes. It’s so smooth, sweet, and delectable. At three in the morning you’re loathe to stop, but know in four hours you have to get up for the dreaded day job.

The eloquent words that fall from your lips may be something like: “Stupid day job is stupid.” At three in the morning, who can blame you?

This is the pattern for the first few days. You keep up, or even surpass your word count goal. Everything is going according to the plan–or the pantser is enjoying winging it. Whichever.

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