January 19, 2014
How a Good Editor Amplifies Your Voice

lettersandlight:

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The “Now What?” Months are here! In 2014, we’ll be bringing you advice from authors who published their NaNo-novels, editors, agents, and more to help you polish November’s first draft until it gleams. Author of Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Tilia Jacobs explains why you can’t write a novel by yourself… and how to find the right editor:

You need an editor. That story of yours? That you love, that carry around all day and take to bed at night; that story that made you a novelist?

It’s lost.

Well, not lost. Buried. In your manuscript, deep within the jumble of exuberant mediocrity that is a one-month first draft. Fortunately, you know that no one writes a book alone. Witness the acknowledgements section of many a novel; a good editor is a story-magician. But how to find one? And work with one?

Read More

Since I’m currently editing something, this was a good way to flip my perspective a bit - how is my writer going to interpret my edits?

Also, pay attention to this advice — DON’T try and edit your own work. 

December 1, 2013
Our final Word Wars! How did you do?

This is just to check in on how your NaNo went. There is no judgment or gloating please. We each have our own NaNo journey, and not all of them end at 50k.

Let’s share our final word count and celebrate together.

November 30, 2013
On the last day on NaNo Writrs gave to me…

A tidbit from my college Intro to Fiction textbook:

Is there something I can do to make this job less horrific? Is there a trick to unlocking my words?

The variety of authors’ habits suggest that there is no magic to be found in any particular one. Donald Hall will tell you that he spends a dozen hours a day at his desk, moving back and forth between as many projects as he can. Philip Larkin said that he wrote a poem every eighteen months or so and never tried to write one that was not a gift. Gail Goodwin goes to her workroom every day “because what if an angel came and I was not there?” Julia Alvarez begins every day by reading first poetry, then prose by her favorite writers to remind herself of the quality of writing she is aiming for.

Like Hemingway, the late Andre Dubus advised students to stop writing mid-sentence in order to begin the next day with the challenge of completing the thought, thereby reentering their creative flow more easily. Dickens could not deal with people when he was working: “The mere consciousness of an engagement will worry a whole day.” Thomas Wolfe always wrote standing up.

Some writers can plop at the kitchen counter without clearing the breakfast dishes; others need total seclusion, a beach, a cat, or a string quartet […] If jogging after breakfast energizes your mind, then jog before you sit. If you have to pull an all-nighter on a coffee binge, do that. Some schedule, regularity, pattern in your writing will always help, but only you can figure out what that pattern is for you.

—Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (Seventh Edition),
By Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French

The gift that National Novel Writing Month gives you whether you “won” or not is that you now have words on your page, and a sense of how they got there. You now know what works and what doesn’t work for you in terms of getting the job done.

It is your choice now whether or not you will sit down every day in 2014 and continue to write bit by bit until you get where you are going, or if you will wait for the motivation of next November (or for Camp NaNo in the summer) and drill through another 30 days straight.

As always: Happy Writing,
-Camille

November 25, 2013
Holy Activity Decline Batman!
Hoping this is just you writrs keeping busy to finish your NaNo novels! Don’t forget if you have any writing questions or need some advice about your story our askbox is always open!

Holy Activity Decline Batman!

Hoping this is just you writrs keeping busy to finish your NaNo novels! Don’t forget if you have any writing questions or need some advice about your story our askbox is always open!

12:42pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZIcQdw-PcnlI
  
Filed under: NaNoWriMo Writrs 
November 24, 2013
This is your last week, make it count!

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Filed under: NaNoWriMo 
November 19, 2013
Some encouragement from author Donna Steele

Okay, we’re more than half way there and your word count is not where you wanted it to be. Join the club–no really you’re not alone there. The thing is, if you quit, I’ll never get to read your story. Think about that.

 You’ve fallen behind, real life has intruded, and the kid spilled juice over your keyboard. Okay not that bad, but you’re ready to throw up your hands. Been there. But that happened behind you, now we have to face forward again, pull up our big girl panties and get back on track.      

It’s not easy (and childbirth is not just pressure–see I’m not lying to you) but you can do it. Go shut yourself away for ten minutes (bathrooms work) and think about that last scene you were able to get down. Feel it, live it, visualize it and make it come alive in you again.

You know what happens next. But you’re shut up in the bathroom, so just sit there and let it play out in your mind. No pencil, no keyboard, visualize it. No one knows these characters like you do, let them play. If they zig left and away from the story, let them go for it. This is their freedom, you’re just watching.

This is something I do all the time, not just for NaNoWriMo. When I go to bed at night I run that scene through again and set it in my mind. I feel like I’m slipping a cassette into the VCR (I’m old, I understand that technology better) and just watch. It’s amazing how freeing that is. I’m not writing, I’m literally letting them play. They need that since I had them harnessed to my story all day. They need to stretch their legs. The first thing in the morning, before the alarm goes off and ruins it is another good time (probably best for Saturday or Sunday). This also works great for when I’m stuck. These characters can come up with great ideas too, you know, if you’ve made them real enough.

Your mind is working all the time, whether you’re conscious of it is another thing. I was recently on a long car trip. I told myself before I started the engine for the return trip that I wanted to write a Christmas story, just a short little thing, for this year. That’s all I thought. Seven hours later when I got home, I had a story mostly written in the back of my mind. It’ll be published this holiday season – Nowhere for Christmas. It didn’t write itself, I wrote it, but it’s because I let them play the whole time I was in the car.

Another trick I use when I’m stuck is to rewrite the scene in a different POV. He sees things a lot differently than she does. Use that, get it down. You don’t have to decide which to use right now, so write them both. He might have noticed things she missed entirely and ramp the story up a notch or two. I tend to write my manuscripts in one POV. Then when I’m “finished” I write the other person. Seeing it from both sides adds a lot of depth and layers to the scene. He might not notice or care if the curtains are drawn, but she’s not going to do anything the neighbors might see. Same setting, same people, totally different scene.   

You’ve got tricks too whether you realize it or not. Share them (in December after you’ve finished this book) and try someone else’s idea. There’s no right way to do this, only what works for you.

Big girl panties on straight? Get back to it! My TBR pile is calling you…

Stop by and see me!  www.steelestories.com – you can check out the blurb for Nowhere for Christmas there.

 

November 17, 2013
Help! My story is almost done and my plan is almost used up!

We’re past the half way point, and some of you might be worried about your word goal because you’ve already written most of your story and you still have a long way to go in order to reach 50k.

That’s precisely where I was three years ago. It was my first NaNo, and my life was pretty crazy. My neice was born on the 10th, (Happy Birthday Faith Marye) and I had come to the point where I realized that I didn’t know how I was going to catch up on my word count, and I had no idea what I was going to do with the 20k+ words I had left to fill.

So I quit.

Remember that Camille and I have been generating that last couple of years, and I didn’t have the experience to say that it could be done. (and yes it can be done.)

So this year, I decided to go back to that first story and finish it. I was referencing what I had written before, but just to reference because I thought the story was good already. and then I got to that point in the story and I was a little worried how I was going to finish the story and generate more words, but then I took a moment to dig into my understanding of writing.

So here are some ways that you can stretch out your story and keep it moving right along.

  • Split your characters up At its heart, my story is a buddy cop story, so what better way to generate more story than to see what your characters do when they are on their own? Don’t worry about  bringing them back together, you’ll figure that out too.
  • Introduce someone new New characters provide new dynamics to your story. How will your characters relate to this new person? What kinds of conflicts will be created because of your outsider?
  • Throw in a plot twist If needed, you can create an even more complex twist into your story. We’ve been posting a plot twist every Thursday, but here are a few ideas for you to consider. Someone gets arrested. Someone wins the lotto. Someone gets attacked. Someone has to go to the hospital.
  • Write out your story so far and see if there’s anything you missed. Get a note pad and write down a summery of every chapter in your book. Is there something you can insert into the story? If so, go back and write that chapter. Once you do, you may find that your story still has lots of life in it.

There are a few ideas for you to try. If you need more help, let us know. Camille and I are always happy to help.

November 12, 2013
Pep Talk from Jennifer Blanchard

Day 12—how’s your word count? Have you managed to stay on track? It’s really important to keep up during the early days of the challenge when you have the most energy and enthusiasm.

Another thing that’s really important to do early on is turn off your inner editor.

You know all about the inner editor—It’s that voice inside your head. It tells you that what you’re writing sucks or that you’re not good enough or that you can’t do this. It’s the voice that tells you that you should go back and fix everything.

It can be very difficult to turn this voice off, since it’s always in your head.

But you can do your best to ignore the voice and forge ahead, no matter what it’s telling you.

Truth be told, you are in control of your thoughts, not the other way around. Which means you can control your inner editor. You can tell it to shut up and choose to ignore it, rather than feed into its lies.

An inner editor is basically just a lack of confidence.

When you’re feeling confident, writing is no problem. You can easily type your daily 1,667 words without a care in the world.

But when your confidence is missing, that’s when the inner editor rears its ugly head. 

That’s why you have to do everything in your power to remain confident, in order to keep your inner editor at bay.

Here are some tips to help you do so:

·         Think back to a time when you accomplished a writing task. Remember what it felt like when you hit that writing goal. Remembering that you did it before will help you do it again.

·         Use the voice recorder on your cell phone (or a handheld recorder if your phone doesn’t have one) and record yourself a little pep talk. Play it back to yourself whenever you need a confidence boost.

·         Close your eyes and imagine yourself reaching your writing goal (either writing today’s words, or finishing your 50,000 words). Visualizing yourself attaining your goals will help give you the confidence you need to continue writing.

·         Ask your friends and/or family to make a list of all the great things about you. Refer back to the list often. (You can also make a list yourself.)

·         Stay focused on the task at-hand. It’s easy to get distracted while writing (this is usually when the inner editor starts popping up), so try to keep focused on just getting the words down and not thinking about or doing anything else until you do.

Stick with it. You can do this!

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is a writer and writing coach. She helps fiction writers go from idea to draft, without fear, distractions or disorganization. If you’re feeling stuck, sign up for her free “Un-Stick Your Stuck Words” email workshop.

November 11, 2013
It’s not nice to play favorites, but I know you’re doing it.

Who is your favorite character in your story?

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Filed under: nanowrimo questions 
November 9, 2013
Time for Word Wars!

This is just an informal word count for your book so far. This isn’t judgmental, it’s just a chance to share. So won’t you reply with your words so far?

November 8, 2013
How do I maintain my stamina during the month of November?

1667 words a day for the entire month of November. That is the goal for National Novel Writing Month, and it can be a difficult task to accomplish. So how do you keep on that track and still have a life, and maybe a little bit of sanity too?

Well, here are an assortment of hints to help you on your way.

  • Do what you can to get ahead-Even if it’s just a few words a day, getting ahead can help you when you run into unexpected problems. There is bound to be something that keeps you from writing at least one day during the month, and having a little cushion of words can make all the difference in the world.
  • Know what you need to write every day-Before I start writing each day, I take some time to think about what I need to write that day.Knowing what is on the writing agenda helps me to get excited about writing that day.
  • Give yourself reasons to get excited about your story. When you are excited about your story, then you will want to get back to it every day. So make a list of exciting elements of your story. Who are your favorite characters? What plot elements are your favorites. Imagine what part of your story your characters will love the most.
  • Talk with people about your book Share your story. Get others excited about what you are doing and leave them wanting more. They are going to keep asking you about the book, which will keep you on track.
  • Work in mini sessions Rather than write all of you words in one session, break it up a little. Maybe instead of 1667 words, Five yourself two writing sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. If you do that, you can aim for 834 words for each session. If you do three, then you only have to come up with 556. (Four would be 415, and five sessions would be 334)
  • Don’t judge your work too harshly. NaNo isn’t about creating the next great novel in a single month. It is about creating something that you can use as a rough draft to create that novel. Maybe something is missing or taken out. That isn’t a problem because any writer has this challenge as well.
  • Give yourself a break after you have reached your goal. Whatever goal you give yourself for the day is up to you, but I would suggest that after you reach that goal, you should stop for the day. Give your story time to ferment in your mind, and give yourself a chance to do other things that need doing.

So as you continue through the month of November remember that the best way to get there is to keep on writing.

Best of luck,

Billy

November 3, 2013
Don’t Forget!

Although NaNoWriMo is a personal challenge, part of what makes it fun is being part of a nationwide network of writers with the same goals.

So if you have any questions about NaNo or writing in general, or if you need any advice or help with your story… our askbox is always open!!

Send us a message: http://writrs.tumblr.com/ask

Not only will moderators Billy and Camille will do their best to provide you with a constructive answer, but once it is posted there are 1,000+ followers in this community who will see it and can reply or respond via message with their own input as well!

October 25, 2013
NaNo is coming up fast.

Tell us about one of your characters?

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Filed under: nanowrimo Questions 
October 25, 2013
Creating Conflict

Let’s start with a definition of the word conflict from Merriam Webster so we’re on the same page as we talk.
:  fight, battle, war <an armed conflict>
2a :  competitive or opposing action of incompatibles :  antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons)
b :  mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands
3:  the opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction
So where does this put us? When you are writing, your story has to have some kind of conflict. It doesn’t have to be a major conflict, and sometimes, the conflict can happen within another conflict that doesn’t impact the actual story.
(I think that needs some clarification. Think about a movie set during a war. My first thought is Casablanca, but you can think about another example if you don’t know that movie. In Casablanca, there is a war going on, but that isn’t the actual conflict of the movie. There’s another story going on within the war.)
So what do you need to do to create conflict in your novel this November? Well, in my mind, conflict is all about two people that want different things. Just like in my movie example, the conflict doesn’t have to be anything big. Maybe their conflict is choosing where to have dinner. One wants Chinese, the other wants pizza.
Your story needs conflict. If you don’t have it then it will get pretty dull. Let me try to give you an example of how that would look.
Tim and Tom were going for a walk. They decided to go to the beach. They got everything together and chose their favorite path to the water. After several hours of fun, they went home.
Not very exciting was it? What if Tim and Tom couldn’t agree where they wanted to go? Maybe there could have been an argument at the beach. I’m sure you can think of hundreds of ways to make that little story better.
So what are you waiting for? Take my idea, or one of your own, and fill it with conflict.

October 24, 2013
1000 Followers!!!!!!

Hey everybody!

Writrs! has reached another milestone with 1000 followers today. I don’t know about Camille, but when we started this blog three years ago, I didn’t expect to get this many followers.

We are excited to have all of you with us as we prepare for another year of NaNo.

Along with that, we are preparing for a 1000 followers giveaway, but since it will involve writing just like our 500 follower giveaway did, we’ve decided to wait until December to start it so you can focus all your writing energy on your novels.

We’ll have more details down the road as we put things together.

Thanks for being a part of this with us,

Billy