#1 From Me
Tonight I have a book signing at The King’s English bookstore in SLC. I’d love to see you there. I’m reading from my novel MESSENGER which was pubbed on the 18th of this month! The gig as at 7:00. And for once, I’m bringing treats! (I am not a treat maker. My cute daughter is going to do this for me.)
#2 From Caitlin Shirts
So NaNoWriMo is right around the corner and WIFYR is playing along. Here’s some of that info, from our WIFYR newsletter: WIFYR will be hosting a reward party! Our group goal is 400,000 words OR, if you’re in the middle of a masterpiece, a second group is editing 2000 pages (8 pages a day per person). All who meet their goals are invited to come to the reward party. Whether your goal is 20,000 words or the full 50,000, or you’re editing 8 pages a day or 15, this month is a good time to reach your goals. Click here to join the group or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are two hints from Caitlin Shirts that helped her succeed in playing the NaNo game.
Prepare for NaNoWriMo
To avoid spending all November staring at a blank screen, I prepare with these two exercises in October.
1. Make an outline.
My NaNoWriMo outline has two purposes. First, it keeps the flow going. If I get writer’s block on Scene 2, I can skip to Scene 3 without losing my word count for the day. Second, it helps me write with more focus. NaNoWriMo drafts tend to have long meandering sections that are destined to be cut in the next draft. If I know where my character is at the beginning of a scene and I can write straight to where that character needs to be at the end, less is wasted.
A detailed 25-page outline gives you a sneaky head start on your word count, but anything that gives you direction will work. Last year, my outline was a bunch of Post-It notes, each with an event in the story, arranged in roughly the order I wanted those events to happen.
2. Set a personal backup goal.
Last year, I wrote 55,000 words during NaNoWriMo. To be honest, the main reason I surpassed the goal was not that I started with an outline. The main reason was that I have no children. Whatever your responsibilities, 50,000 words is hard. If you hit November 15 and realize there is no human way to get to 50,000 words, it’s easy to give up. A personal backup goal gives me a reason to keep going. Set your goal to support the reason you chose to participate in NaNoWriMo. If you want to get in the habit of writing daily, set a personal goal to write 200 words a day without missing a day. No matter how busy you get, 200 words is not overwhelming, and at least you’ll open the manuscript. If you want to experience the social support of NaNoWriMo, but you know you’ll be too busy to write during Thanksgiving weekend, give yourself a pro-rated word count as your personal goal. A backup goal could be to write more words than your sister, or to reach a certain part of your plot, or to promise that if you fail to reach 50,000 words, you’ll throw yourself a PersonalNoWriMo in February when your life is less hectic.
Also, remember: Nobody cares if you cheat a little, as long as you get out of NaNoWriMo what you want to get out of it.
#3 From Cheryl Van Eck
What do you do when you get to a spot and you have no idea what happens next?
This happens to me all the time. I know the next place that my character needs to be, but I’ve worked them into such a fantastic dilemma that I have no idea how to get them back out. Luckily, there are a few options.
First, think about what definitely would not happen. Amuse yourself with this for awhile. Have a few serious suggestions, and a few fun ones. My character will definitely not climb onto the back of an elephant and be sucked up by aliens. She won’t break out into a choreographed Bollywood dance with the woodland creatures in tow. She won’t cry.
Next, think of at least 10 things that could happen. Don’t stop just because number 3 sounds pretty good. Go all the way to 10. Even if it’s a bad idea, or one that’s in conflict with another part of the story, write it down. You can discard it later, but for now, you need to see your options.
Lastly, if you’re completely stuck, don’t push it. Write it down on a slip of paper, and put it somewhere that you’ll see it. Then forget about it. Skip the scene. Move on. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you’re still working on it. And at some point, probably when doing the most mundane of tasks, it’ll resolve itself. Give it time.
Above all, don’t give up. You can get your character out of this! You just need to think outside the box.