Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo day twenty-nine: I'm gonna make it!

Thanks to a flurry of writing activity over here, I am within sight of my goal of 50k words written on my novel in the month of November. I have just 5k words left to write, and considering I wrote 6k today and yesterday, that should be no problem tomorrow. I just have to make sure I do it in the morning and get it over with so I don't get caught writing at midnight and miss the official deadline! I drank so many cups of decaf coffee at the write-in that I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep any time soon! I'm just so relieved to be at this point...a couple days ago, and even at some points yesterday, I was't sure I was going to be able to pull it off. Now, it's a certainty! See you tomorrow.

Show vs Tell: What does it mean, and how do you do it?

"Show, don't tell" is a common mantra among editors, would-be editors, writing experts of both the genuine and self-proclaimed type (I don't claim to be either, by the way. I just like to share what I've learned and what works for me!). However, I think sometimes these people don't quite know what it really means...and I think a lot of beginning writers struggle with it. So, let's talk about it a little.

When you think of showing vs telling, think about the reader experience. Do you want them to know something because you told them straight out, or because they envisioned it through your imagery? Readers aren't stupid. If you describe Harold as weighing 10,000 pounds and having big, floppy ears and a trunk, they'll probably guess that Harold is an elephant. That's a pretty silly example, but you get the idea.

Some people mistakenly think that showing is the same thing as describing. That is not so. Nothing turns me off faster than pages (or even paragraphs) of description with no action or dialogue or anything else to keep my interest. I usually skip past it, and I know other readers who have the same view. Oh, sure, there are some master writers who can spend an entire chapter describing a tree, and you just sit there in awe of how amazing this tree is. However, most of us are not able to do that. I think I'll talk more about description in a different post, because that's a whole 'nother discussion...for now, I want to concentrate on what is showing vs. telling.

Here is telling:

Randall drove a compact car. It was too small for him. (snore)

Here is showing:

Randall shoe-horned himself behind the wheel of his car and felt the shocks sink a little. He often wondered if he looked like one of those clowns at the circus or in cartoons--the ones where they drive into the ring in a tiny car, and they get out and they're a huge clown. He reached back and pulled up the lock on the rear passenger door so Kelly could get in. He smiled as he watched her open the door and climb into her car seat. She had inherited her pride from him, and the minute she was able to fasten her own safety harness and close the door by herself, she insisted that no one help her. He feared the day her independence would get her into trouble.

Did you get that the car was small? I also got inspired and kept going (fun how writing prompts can do that for you, eh?), and how much more did you learn about Randall and Kelly? I coudl have told you the same facts in 2-3 sentences, but this way you can really see the scene and it's much more interesting. Plus, it helps pad out your word count, if you're worried about that sort of thing. :)

When you write, think about how you're telling your readers about a scene or person. Are you looking through their eyes and showing them the scene as though they were watching a movie? Or are you listing facts, like they would get in a business report?

I've put a little exercise to help you practice this concept on the Accentuate Writers Forum here: Come on over and try your hand!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo day twenty-four: Halfway point, a little late

There are six days left, and I am halfway through my nano. I am "only" 15k words behind now, which is an improvement from being 16k behind. I have to write 4148 words per day for the next six days if I'm going to finish. There are worse things. The good thing is, the holiday weekend is her, and although my business never really stops, I can take the excuse to slow down my other projects just a tiny bit so I can do this. I can do this!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NaNoWriMo day twenty-three: SO BEHINDER

Well, my busy schedule has continued to be ridiculously busy (making money, which is good for the whole paying rent and bills and buying food thing), which means I've had little time to write. I thought I'd get some done while travelling, but got maybe 2k done. Last night, I was going to go to the all-nighter write-in and get some done, but a migraine knocked me out for a good part of the day...and of course, I had deadlines, so work takes priority. Sooo....I'm now 16k behind. That's a lot to make up in one week! Oh well, I did it last year, I can do it again this year. I'll get a bit done tonight, and I'm caught up on a lot of stuff, so I'll try to get a bunch done tomorrow. Then, Thursday is Thanksgiving, darn it, and I am taking the day OFF from work. I will use the day to nano!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaNoWriMo day sixteen: SO BEHIND

I have been super busy the past week, between getting a bunch of work in and having a bunch of events that took me out of the house for hours upon hours. Therefore, I missed four or five days of writing. I went to an all-nighter write-in last night in hopes of catching up, but we had left our dog home alone for an awfully long time and decided to call it a night there at midnight. I did write some more when I got home and put in a total of 2600 and something words, but I am still at 19,311...WAY behind today's goal of 26,667. I have a lot of catching up to do, but it won't be today. I am getting caught up on some of my work, but then I got some new assignments...I should be able to do some writing tomorrow. Maybe not enough to catch up at ALL, but maybe at least my daily quota. For now, I need to get back to work.

Hang in there, wrimos...we're halfway through! I hope you're doing better than I am!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo day eleven: tip of the day

I am now a whole day behind. I guess this is the rhythm for this year's nano for me...get caught up, fall behind. Get caught up, fall behind. Alas, what are you gonna do? I'll just keep pressing on. Also, have I mentioned I am just not feeling this book? It's slow and booooooring. I can't wait for something interesting to happen, but I have to slog through all this boring stuff first. That's Ok...I know it will get interesting eventually! I'll keep writing and and then when I have a decent book, I'll edit out the crap. Embrace the suck!

NaNoWriMo tip of the day: Have a word war with a friend. Word wars are a super fun way to get a bunch of words written. What you do is agree on a time frame--10 minutes is good, but it can be whatever you want. The goal is to write as much as you possibly can during that time, and whoever writes the most wins. This means you have to apply the nano principles of embracing the suck and turning off your internal editor--just write, write, write, as fast as you can!

NaNoWriMo day ten: tip of the day

I didn't get much done on NaNo today...too much work, a riding lesson and dinner at Mom's...I didn't think I'd get any done, but I made myself sit down and write a few hundred words so I'm only 1000 behind...I don't know how much I'll do tomorrow, but hopefully at least 1667 so it won't be hard to catch up again.

NaNoWriMo tip for today: Embrace the suck! By this point, you're probalby thinking that your novel sucks, you can't write, you never should have started this stupid nano thing, and you should just give up. Something along those lines, anyway. I'm thinking, "oh my GAWD this is boring. There is nothing good happening in this story. No one is going to get through this." What you have to do is just get OVER it and keep writing. Let it's Ok. get the words on the, document. Just write. Don't worry about bad grammar, confusing sentence structure or coming up with just the right words to describe your character's alarmingly blue eyes. Just get it can edit it during LAFFN when we dust off our manuscripts and clean them up! Keep writing, and eventually a story is going to come out that you can live with.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo day nine: tip of the day

Well, the NaNoWriMo site thinks it's tomorrow already, but as far as I'm concerned, it's still today. I didn't think I was going to meet my goal today, and I didn't--haha! Surprise ending...Ok, it's 12:24 and I'm a little tired, so I'm amusing myself. Anyway....I didn't write 1667 words today, but I did pass the 15k mark by a whopping 34 words, which is where I'm supposed to be. Whee...good thing I got ahead this weekend. I got 1297 in today. I had some other work, an appointment and then went dancing tonight. I have a lot going on tomorrow, too, so we'll see how much I get done. Hopefully I can at least do the minimum.

What is my nano tip for today....Ok, here's a counterpoint to yesterday's (guess you'll have to go read it to find out what it was! Aren't I clever? Oh, a link? Sorry, no. it's past midnight. Anyway...) Offer yourself a good reward if you finish the book. Offer yourself smaller rewards for meeting smaller goals along the way, even every day for meeting your daily goal. These can be simple little things. I'm not supposed to encourage you to reward yourself with food, but you could let yourself eat that last piece of cheesecake IF you meet your minimum word count. Or, you can let yourself go to the movies, or go for a walk, or watch a trashy chick film, or whatever it is you want to do but didn't think you should.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo day eight: tip of the day

It's monday, and the third day in a row of being on track! I did just a tiny bit over my daily goal and ended the day at 13,737 words. Did you know has a stats tab on your profile where you can see how you're doing in relation to your goal? It tells me I'm averaging 1718 words per day and at this rate I will finish on time. In fact, I only need to write 1649 words per day here on out to finish on time. Yay me. Now I have some work I'd better get done before bed. But first, my NaNoWriMo tip of the day!

Are you easily distracted by the Internet, email, snacks, hot baths, etc.? The obvious answer to all these distractions and temptations is to ignore them, but that doesn't work very well for me. When I say, "OK, no more backgammon until you've written 1,000 words," I answer, "Screw you. I'm going to play ten games of backgammon." It's kind of like dieting...if you say you'll never eat candy again, it can be really hard to stop thinking about candy, especially if you really like candy. So, allow yourself a little indulgence now and then, but make yourself work for it. Make yourself write 500 words or get to the next round number before you can go get a snack, play that game of backgammon, or even go to the bathroom. Then, have your little distraction, but get back to work!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo day seven: tip of the day

The first week of NaNo is over, and at this point we should be at 11,669 words. I am at...drumroll...12,000! Yippee, ahead of schedule! Ever so slightly, but ahead nonetheless. I would love it if I could actually finish the whole book by November 30. It's one thing to get to 50k words, but then if the book isn't finished, you still have to, yanno, FINISH it. I'd rather do the whole thing in one big push, and then all I have to worry about is editing. If I can keep up this pace, it should be no problem! Since it's a middle grade fiction, it only needs to be between 55k and 60k words. My first year in NaNo, I wrote 63k and finished the book. That was my chick lit...I have to edit it some day and work on getting it out there. So many projects, so little time!

Anywho, here's my NaNoWriMo tip for the day: Go to a write-in with other wrimos in your area. You can find out about them by going to your region on the nano website. For me, there is something about A. leaving my house to write somewhere else and B. the camaraderie of physically being with other writers who are writing like crazy to hit 50k just like I am that inspires me to write, write, write! I usually get a lot done, and it's a lot of fun. If there aren't any in your area, try to arrange one. If you can't, just try uprooting and going somewhere special to write, like a cafe, so you feel you have to write a lot to justify going there! Plus, you get away from the yammering family. If you're really smart, you'll go somewhere that doesn't have wifi so you won't be distracted by the internet! I'm not that smart. ;)

I do hope my readers will comment and tell me how you're doing. I know you're out there--don't be shy! Where are you at today? What are you struggling with?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

NaNoWriMo day six: tip of the day

Huzzah, I put in some extra time today and wrote a bit over 3300 words and am now caught up! I'll do a bit extra tomorrow, too, and aim for 2k a day to stay on track if I miss another day. The story is coming along well, although for a while I was a little worried. I think later I might want to go in and cut a little to move things faster, but we'll see. I was working during the write-in last night and tonight's was too far, so Greg and I went to the cafe and had our own little write-in all by ourselves. Something about leaving the house inspires me to work instead of get distracted...well, at least I get distracted less and inspired more. :)

Here's today's tip of the day: If you don't know where your story is going, that's OK. While you're writing, just try to do the next scene, whatever that might be. Use your non-writing time to think about the general plot line and what you want to happen in the story, and if you need to, brainstorm with a friend to figure out what you should do. You'd be surprised how much that helps. But, in the meantime, right now, when you're supposed to be writing...just worry about that one scene. You'll get that much more done, and who knows...maybe it'll inspire another scene, and another.

Good luck! Keep writing....only 23 days left!

Friday, November 5, 2010

NaNoWriMo day five: tip of the day

Today is day five of nano, and I had a lot going on today. An assignment I had to finish, an interview to conduct, an appointment, a nap and the dance tonight. So, I fully expected to fall even further behind on my novel. However, I woke up early this morning (hence the nap) and got my other stuff done, so I splurged a little and spent time on nano and got my daily quota of words in after all. Sweet! It partly happened because I spread it out throughout the day--I did 500 this morning when I got up, another 500 or so when I needed a break from other stuff, then the rest of it when I finished my other tasks. I might go do a little more after posting this, but I'm pretty sleepy.

Here's my tip for the day: if you find you don't feel like writing, or you don't know what to write about, make yourself sit down and write just 100 words. 100 words is nothing! However, what happens to me is, I'll do my 100, but then I want to finish the sentence or even the paragraph and it become maybe 167. Then, I want to get to the next round number, so I decide to do a little more to hit 200. The next thing I know, I have 275, so I might as well go for 300. I did some of that today, and it got me through 1670 words when I wasn't sure I'd get more than 500. Even if you do stop at the 100, it's still more than you had before you sat down.

NaNoWriMo day four: tip of the day

Well, I got in my daily quota of words today, and I am just under a day behind. I have 5348 words and should have 6667. That's OK...that's still not that far to be behind! I have a feeling I won't get much done tomorrow, but I'll try to catch up this weekend. The story is coming along pretty well, although I have a little more research I need to do. I have an appointment in that regard next Thursday, so I might have to skip over some details and add them in later.

Here is my tip for today: Don't let yourself get stalled because you're not sure how to handle a scene or you need to research something to add the appropriate level of detail. Sketch in a skeleton for the scene, or even skip it all together, and move on. The difficult part of this is that you have to remember to go back in later and add the stuff you missed, and you might end up adding something that changes details that come after in the story. However, it'll take less time to fix any problems than the amount of time you could lose spinning your wheels. Why lose a whole day just because you're not sure how you want Billy and Jeannie to break up, or how Johnny's death scene should go?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo day three: tip of the day

Well, nanoers, it's day three of our crazy quest to write a 50k word novel in one month. By this time some people have already dropped out, thinking they were crazy to want to try this in the first place. Others realized it was harder to write 1,667+ words per day than they thought. Others came up with myriad excuses or had life crises or who knows what.

The rest of us are still here, typing away, having barely begun our novels. Some of us, like myself, are already behind. I JUST caught up to where I should have finished yesterday, because I didn't have a lot of time to write yesterday. That's all right, because there's plenty of time to catch up. I'll get a bit more done tonight, then try to make up a bit a day until I'm caught up and even a little ahead for the next day I don't have time for nano.

So, here's my tip for the day: no matter how busy you are, try to write just a little every day. Even if it's just 100 words, that's more than you had if you did nothing, and you can toss that off in about 5 minutes. Maybe you want to invest a few more minutes, try to knock out 500. Even if you're tired, it won't take that long, and you'll thank yourself later!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo is in full force!

I've been meaning to post some "nano is coming" posts, and time just got away from me. Well, it's here! It's National Novel Writing Month, where we write a whole novel of 50,000 words or more during the month of November. It's not too late to get in on the fun...I started a week late my first year (2007) and I wrote 63k that year. The next year I struggled with tendonitis, and last year I was working about 12 hours a day. I still finished. So, you can do it! All you need is an idea....get going!

I have 2059 words so far. One thing I like to do is write a little in the morning, then more later that night to kind of break it up. If you write every single day, you only need to get in 1,667 words each day. I shoot for 2,000 to give myself some leeway, but if I get more in, great.

I'll try to post some more with different tips, etc., for success. If you have any questions or problems, feel free to post! We're all  in this together!