December 1, 2012
OK, let’s do this Secret Santa thing.

  1. Like this post.
  2. The night of December 5th, I will send you your Secret Santa assignments.
  3. Every day, send that person an anon message. Try to include something with a writing focus-maybe a quote, or something inspiring.
  4. Christmas morning, you reveal who you are if you haven’t goofed and missed the anon button at some point.
  • Don’t forget to have your anon on.
  • Share the love
  • Don’t forget to send your message every day.

November 9, 2012
"Show, Don’t Tell"
This short phrase represents one of the very most core distinctions between being a writer and being a great writer.
The Big Idea:
Maybe not everyone here is as big of an English nerd as I am, but have you even read a passage in a book that was so well written that it just sent a tingle down your spine? One that you had to stop reading for a second to just admire how perfectly it was worded? Or even a scene in a movie that is so well written it makes you sort of jumpy and you get that “Yes! That makes perfect sense now!” feeling. The kind that makes you so excited that you want to turn to someone and say “Get it!? Because she said _____ in the beginning!?” but of course everyone already gets it because the scene was just so flawless.
Usually these are the passages where the author sums up a theme or where some major plot element ties together without the author directly telling you that it’s being wrapped up. It’s usually a passage that is heavy with symbolism and key words, one that links back to a previous moment of foreshadowing, or one that provides an important insight into a character. These moments wouldn’t be as intensely satisfying if the author just came out and told you exactly what they meant, the reason they are so satisfying is because the author guides you, as the reader, into figuring it out for yourself.
Obviously your story will not be all big reveal moments that need to be cleverly crafted but it will be important to sprinkle your novel with key words, clues, and the like that will help you better be able to show the reader later when your story eventually does come together.
BUT:
You should also be trying to incorporate this technique into your prose because overall, even for the mundane things, it is more fun to read when you have to deduce some of the elements for yourself. You don’t want you just be telling your reader about what happens to the characters, you want them to be able to experience what is happening to the characters. You don’t want to just tell them what is happening, you want to show them how it’s happening.
For example:
1. "Maya was broke and burdened with debt. She knew she deserved a raise, after all she was the best barista in the whole coffee house."

2. Maya expertly pressed espresso and steamed milk, pulling levers here and pouring streams of hot delicious beverages into ceramic mugs and paper cups there. The aroma of darkly roasted coffee swirling around her as she spun around the coffee counter like she was practicing a choreographed dance. She smiled as handed customers their beverages and wished them a good day, especially the sleepy or grumpy ones. It was a grey, gloomy day outside but she was sure her chipper attitude and the glorious caffeinated elixir they were about to partake in would be a much needed pick-me-up!When the morning rush died down and the regulars were all settled with their books and laptops sipping their chai lattes and cappuccinos, Maya untied her apron and leaned on the counter with her phone in her hands. She popped open her mobile banking app and scrolled through the recent transactions for a while then let out a tired sigh.An old man sitting on the couch furrowed his bushy brows and folded his newspaper, “What’s up buttercup? Student loan payments coming again?” Maya looked up from her phone “You know me Merv, always trying to make ends meet…” He frowned a bit and said with a hint of derision “Anthony still only paying you minimum wage, huh?” Maya let out a short chuckle but just nodded.Merv got up and put a five in the tip jar before heading out, Maya smiled appreciatively and said to have fun at physical therapy. She tied her apron back up and began to sweep the floors, pausing only to glance up at her picture on the wall under the words “Employee of the Month!”

In both options the next sentence or paragraph could still easily be an action that leads to your next plot point, but they are both very different approaches. The first example tells you that Maya is broke, that she needs a raise and that she is the best barista. Whereas the second example shows you how Maya is the best barista, it lets you discover for yourself that she is broke and then through dialogue leads you to the conclusion that she deserves a raise.
You can see this is also and important distinction to make for NaNoWriMo because you can turn a 25 word leading sentence into 275 word chapter introduction while simultaneously making your story more interesting to read.
Practice:
This was a previous writing prompt we posted, it was also an exercise from one of my fiction writing classes in college and probably one of my most favorite writing exercise ever: http://writrs.tumblr.com/post/18519594456/
If you find yourself stuck on this concept take a break from writing and try the prompt! make sure you pay very close attention and stick to the rules! You can even use your MC from your NaNo novel instead of one of the characters on the list and if you end up liking it, add it to your word count!
Good luck!-Camille 

"Show, Don’t Tell"

This short phrase represents one of the very most core distinctions between being a writer and being a great writer.

The Big Idea:

Maybe not everyone here is as big of an English nerd as I am, but have you even read a passage in a book that was so well written that it just sent a tingle down your spine? One that you had to stop reading for a second to just admire how perfectly it was worded? Or even a scene in a movie that is so well written it makes you sort of jumpy and you get that “Yes! That makes perfect sense now!” feeling. The kind that makes you so excited that you want to turn to someone and say “Get it!? Because she said _____ in the beginning!?” but of course everyone already gets it because the scene was just so flawless.

Usually these are the passages where the author sums up a theme or where some major plot element ties together without the author directly telling you that it’s being wrapped up. It’s usually a passage that is heavy with symbolism and key words, one that links back to a previous moment of foreshadowing, or one that provides an important insight into a character. These moments wouldn’t be as intensely satisfying if the author just came out and told you exactly what they meant, the reason they are so satisfying is because the author guides you, as the reader, into figuring it out for yourself.

Obviously your story will not be all big reveal moments that need to be cleverly crafted but it will be important to sprinkle your novel with key words, clues, and the like that will help you better be able to show the reader later when your story eventually does come together.

BUT:

You should also be trying to incorporate this technique into your prose because overall, even for the mundane things, it is more fun to read when you have to deduce some of the elements for yourself. You don’t want you just be telling your reader about what happens to the characters, you want them to be able to experience what is happening to the characters. You don’t want to just tell them what is happening, you want to show them how it’s happening.

For example:

1. "Maya was broke and burdened with debt. She knew she deserved a raise, after all she was the best barista in the whole coffee house."

2. Maya expertly pressed espresso and steamed milk, pulling levers here and pouring streams of hot delicious beverages into ceramic mugs and paper cups there. The aroma of darkly roasted coffee swirling around her as she spun around the coffee counter like she was practicing a choreographed dance. She smiled as handed customers their beverages and wished them a good day, especially the sleepy or grumpy ones. It was a grey, gloomy day outside but she was sure her chipper attitude and the glorious caffeinated elixir they were about to partake in would be a much needed pick-me-up!

When the morning rush died down and the regulars were all settled with their books and laptops sipping their chai lattes and cappuccinos, Maya untied her apron and leaned on the counter with her phone in her hands. She popped open her mobile banking app and scrolled through the recent transactions for a while then let out a tired sigh.

An old man sitting on the couch furrowed his bushy brows and folded his newspaper, “What’s up buttercup? Student loan payments coming again?” Maya looked up from her phone “You know me Merv, always trying to make ends meet…” He frowned a bit and said with a hint of derision “Anthony still only paying you minimum wage, huh?” Maya let out a short chuckle but just nodded.

Merv got up and put a five in the tip jar before heading out, Maya smiled appreciatively and said to have fun at physical therapy. She tied her apron back up and began to sweep the floors, pausing only to glance up at her picture on the wall under the words “Employee of the Month!”

In both options the next sentence or paragraph could still easily be an action that leads to your next plot point, but they are both very different approaches. The first example tells you that Maya is broke, that she needs a raise and that she is the best barista. Whereas the second example shows you how Maya is the best barista, it lets you discover for yourself that she is broke and then through dialogue leads you to the conclusion that she deserves a raise.

You can see this is also and important distinction to make for NaNoWriMo because you can turn a 25 word leading sentence into 275 word chapter introduction while simultaneously making your story more interesting to read.

Practice:

This was a previous writing prompt we posted, it was also an exercise from one of my fiction writing classes in college and probably one of my most favorite writing exercise ever: http://writrs.tumblr.com/post/18519594456/

If you find yourself stuck on this concept take a break from writing and try the prompt! make sure you pay very close attention and stick to the rules! You can even use your MC from your NaNo novel instead of one of the characters on the list and if you end up liking it, add it to your word count!

Good luck!
-Camille 

November 3, 2012
I wanted to talk about using visuals to help organize your writing. It is something I find really helpful, and hopefully you can take some of these ideas and use them as well! These are things you could plan ahead of time, or add to as you go along. 
Bulletin Boards

Whether these are actual cork boards with pushpins, a binder and a hole puncher, a notebook you carry around to jot down notes, a pinterest account or a tumblr page… one thing I find helpful is collecting pictures, poems, lyrics, etc. Anything that I see that inspires a story.
You can do this in general throughout your daily life to keep you thinking about writing, but you can also do this specifically for whatever story you are currently writing. 


Character Mapping

There are two different strategies I’ve found helpful for doing this. First being the “family tree” method and second being the web method that they used to make us do in middle school for “brainstorming” an essay.

Basically character mapping is just an interactive way of making a list of all your characters. The main reason it is helpful to mark down relationships, friendships, coworkers, etc for you characters is continuity. I find generally that it is easier to do it this way than it is to have pages of notes to flip back and forth from.

Geographical and Other Maps

When I’m writing a story that takes place in a fantasy world or another planet, or even sometimes on earth in a real place it helps to draw or use an actual map. Mark down important places your character goes, mark down areas they will meet other important characters, if it is an adventure-type story chart the path your characters will take.
If you have a clear picture of the layout of someone’s house make a quick map of the floorplan! That way when your character needs to snoop in a friend’s backpack if they ask to use bathroom your character can say “first door on the left” and it will be continuous with that time you said they woke up hungover and stumbled down the hallway and took a sharp left before vomiting on the bathroom floor.


Quick Sketches

If you have a clear idea of what your characters look like, and you have any drawing ability above stick figures, make a quick sketch of what they look like. Especially if you are stuck on a description. Pay attention to their height in relation to other characters, eye color, hair color, the type of clothes they wear. If you are very talented maybe event body language and facial expressions, but I wouldn’t spend TOO much time on it, you don’t want it to take away from writing time.
Being able to visualize you characters can help you better describe them verbally, it helps them become more real. This also works for locations. If you can’t draw another good idea if you get stuck might be to open up The Sims or any other avatar creator and try to combine ready-made elements into something that resembles the character you have in your mind!


Progress Posters

I made myself a poster with all of my personal goals and rules for NaNo, as well as a daily schedule with certain times blocked for writing. I also added little activities to the bottom to keep track of my daily word count and my overall progress.


Block Box

This is your one stop writer’s block cure. It’s not necessarily a visual aid but I felt like it still sort of fit with the theme of this post. Have your friends give you a word, phrase, image, or lyric. Write down a list of short writing prompts or directional questions. Collect all of these things on scraps of paper and put them in a jar or shoebox. When you’re feeling stuck, take an idea out and try to incorporate it into your story!
You can find our virtual Block Box here: http://writrs.tumblr.com/tagged/block+box


Some of these may take a bit of time, but it might be a good consideration if you find yourself stuck or distracted. An hour spent working on something novel-related is better than an hour spent on Tumblr or watching TV!
Happy Writing, -Camille

I wanted to talk about using visuals to help organize your writing. It is something I find really helpful, and hopefully you can take some of these ideas and use them as well! These are things you could plan ahead of time, or add to as you go along. 

Bulletin Boards

Whether these are actual cork boards with pushpins, a binder and a hole puncher, a notebook you carry around to jot down notes, a pinterest account or a tumblr page… one thing I find helpful is collecting pictures, poems, lyrics, etc. Anything that I see that inspires a story.

You can do this in general throughout your daily life to keep you thinking about writing, but you can also do this specifically for whatever story you are currently writing. 

Character Mapping

There are two different strategies I’ve found helpful for doing this. First being the “family tree” method and second being the web method that they used to make us do in middle school for “brainstorming” an essay.

Basically character mapping is just an interactive way of making a list of all your characters. The main reason it is helpful to mark down relationships, friendships, coworkers, etc for you characters is continuity. I find generally that it is easier to do it this way than it is to have pages of notes to flip back and forth from.

Geographical and Other Maps

When I’m writing a story that takes place in a fantasy world or another planet, or even sometimes on earth in a real place it helps to draw or use an actual map. Mark down important places your character goes, mark down areas they will meet other important characters, if it is an adventure-type story chart the path your characters will take.

If you have a clear picture of the layout of someone’s house make a quick map of the floorplan! That way when your character needs to snoop in a friend’s backpack if they ask to use bathroom your character can say “first door on the left” and it will be continuous with that time you said they woke up hungover and stumbled down the hallway and took a sharp left before vomiting on the bathroom floor.

Quick Sketches

If you have a clear idea of what your characters look like, and you have any drawing ability above stick figures, make a quick sketch of what they look like. Especially if you are stuck on a description. Pay attention to their height in relation to other characters, eye color, hair color, the type of clothes they wear. If you are very talented maybe event body language and facial expressions, but I wouldn’t spend TOO much time on it, you don’t want it to take away from writing time.

Being able to visualize you characters can help you better describe them verbally, it helps them become more real. This also works for locations. If you can’t draw another good idea if you get stuck might be to open up The Sims or any other avatar creator and try to combine ready-made elements into something that resembles the character you have in your mind!

Progress Posters

I made myself a poster with all of my personal goals and rules for NaNo, as well as a daily schedule with certain times blocked for writing. I also added little activities to the bottom to keep track of my daily word count and my overall progress.

Block Box

This is your one stop writer’s block cure. It’s not necessarily a visual aid but I felt like it still sort of fit with the theme of this post. Have your friends give you a word, phrase, image, or lyric. Write down a list of short writing prompts or directional questions. Collect all of these things on scraps of paper and put them in a jar or shoebox. When you’re feeling stuck, take an idea out and try to incorporate it into your story!

You can find our virtual Block Box here: http://writrs.tumblr.com/tagged/block+box

Some of these may take a bit of time, but it might be a good consideration if you find yourself stuck or distracted. An hour spent working on something novel-related is better than an hour spent on Tumblr or watching TV!

Happy Writing,
-Camille

September 25, 2012
Another follow-up narrator-based question: Do you prefer past or present tense?

Again you can answer as a writer and a reader.

3:16pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZIcQdwU3k-N7
  
Filed under: Activities 
September 24, 2012
Thursday I posted about narrators, so I think we will ask a bunch of questions related to that.

Which do you like best: 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person?

(Both as a reader and as a writer)

Billy

9:21am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZIcQdwT_-EBB
  
Filed under: activities 
September 18, 2012
Hey everybody! I’ve got a pack of cards that I picked up over the weekend, and I’d love to send all 10 of them to 10 of our lovely followers. If you would like one, just put your address in the ask box. I promise I will only use that address to send you a card. It will probably be filled with reasons why you are so awesome.
Who doesn’t love mail, right?
Best of everything,
Billy

Hey everybody! I’ve got a pack of cards that I picked up over the weekend, and I’d love to send all 10 of them to 10 of our lovely followers. If you would like one, just put your address in the ask box. I promise I will only use that address to send you a card. It will probably be filled with reasons why you are so awesome.

Who doesn’t love mail, right?

Best of everything,

Billy

12:38pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZIcQdwTdUUHC
  
Filed under: randomness Activities 
September 9, 2012
I’m working on the piece for Main Characters. How many people have picked their Genre?

Which one did you pick?

2:05pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZIcQdwT4LfS_
  
Filed under: Activities nanowrimo 
July 21, 2012
What kinds of help do you need in preparation for NaNoWriMo?

April 18, 2012
I just reached the recommended half-way mark. Only 3 days late. How is everyone else doing with Script Frenzy?

April 15, 2012
We’re halfway through Script Frenzy. You should be finishing up page 50 today. How are you doing?

April 13, 2012
How is your Scriptr Frenzy script coming along?

After yesterday, you should be at 40 pages.

April 3, 2012
If you are participating in Script Frenzy, what is your script about?

April 2, 2012
Script Frenzy people are you finding SF to be easier or harder than NaNoWriMo?

April 1, 2012
Script Frenzy has started! How is it going?

March 31, 2012
Should we change our URL?

We started this specifically to support people that participated in National Novel Writing Month, but we have expanded to doing much more, and we would like the URL of our blog to reflect this. What URL would you suggest to reflect our blog as it is now?

11:08am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZIcQdwIrcKCc
  
Filed under: Activities