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Friday, October 31, 2014

The Call to Nano! (And yes, this is me in the Video!) Let the Magic Begin!

The time has come
to heed the call
to let the words fly.

our characters to dance
the dance of romance
or fly to alien worlds

or plunge to the darkest depths
of the sea.

To fly on the backs of dragons
or have tea with a Queen.

From Damsels in this Dress
to Comedy most Divine.

Put Quill to page, or fingers to key
50K here we come!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How I Got My NaNoWriMo 2014 Idea!

                I host a weekly online writers group, and assign weekly “Homework.”  These are prompts, usually from Writers Digest.  The rules are: 
·         You may create your characters
·         Brainstorm ideas
·         Outline
·         Prep other ways like setting
·         You cannot write on it until the night of the event, and you get 20 minutes to write on this (the other prompts are 10).

Usually I don’t get fully done, but I use other prompts to finish it within the same night, if I can.  Especially if I get a feeling it will lead to something better (or something I can work into publishable form).
This year, my assignment was to use the following:
You take a sip from your drink and feel different. That may be because your torso has an extra arm protruding from it. Another sip, another arm. Then a wing. What happens if you finish the drink?
    I brainstormed after writing the prompt out, and started character creation.  Following Joseph A. Campbells “A Heroes Journey,” I chose my MC (main character) mentor, which is her grandmother, and built an antagonist, things and beings who will be the positive influence. 
    I did a basic outline, but that is always fluid thing, because without fail, I have the story refuse to follow it.  Which is basically a good thing, the story is changed for the better, stronger even <insert bionic sound effects here>.

    I won’t tell you what it is about, because it will change in the writing, the first draft, and maybe totally different after editing.    “It’s the Journey, not the Destination,” to paraphrase Ernest Hemingway; and that makes all the difference!

Friday, October 24, 2014

This is the place I Live. Nano Prep Episode 3. SETTING:

     Per Wikipedia setting includes; the historical moment in time, the geographic location in which the story takes place, and "... helps initiate the main backdrop and mood for a story."    While this is the surface definition, and is a good place to start.  It doesn't fully encompass what setting can be.

     One of the weirdest things I learned as I've been on this writing journey, is that setting can be a character in and of itself. "Somewhere in Time," and "The Wizard of Oz," are good examples. These places are every bit as much of a character as the people contained within.

        But what makes a setting come to life?  How do you write a scene so that it is as much of a character as  the people?  Details are what do this.  The vivid painting with words, specifically ... specific details.  Instead of tree, use Oak, Conifer, Willow.  In place of car, use "fire engine red Mustang,.:  That brings up a picture for your readers.    They can be only a few words, you don't need a lot.   Enough to set the scene, introduce it's character, but not so much that it overshadows the story, or drags down the pacing.  

     You as a writer should have a detailed map of your setting.  It doesn't have to be pretty, but just an idea to give you the location of things.   I am a very visual person, and need the help in front of me, so that I get an idea of spacial dimensions for that setting.  

For Example.

Say my setting is a restaurant, I would draw something like this...keep in mind I am a very bad stick artist.

You haz been warned!

Not too late to turn back!!!


(Okay, enough with the Labrynth references!)   O'S EQUAL TABLES  I'S ARE FISH TANKS.

______________________________________ entrance________________________

O   O    O    O    O    O   O   O   O    O    O    O    O   O   I                                      X  MENS ROOM
                                                                                             I                                     X  WOMEN'S



      You get the basic gist of that.   But setting can invoke emotions in characters.   Like say the above eatery is the place where your main characters boyfriend proposed.  You want to make it as special as the proposal itself.  If I were drawing this, I would put a lot more detail...I'm just not a good computer graphic artist.   It is not where my talents lie.  But I can do a pretty good drawing with pen and paper.  Not good enough to hang in the Louvre of course, but it gets me in the mindset of how I need to describe the scene.  

     How to do this.  I might write the above scene something like this.

Linda ran her fingers through her hair nervously while Ralph was in the rest room.   She wondered why he had brought her to the snow white linen cloth, and fine silver dining place.    It wasn't really her style, but he had insisted.  So now she was dressed up in this finery, looking around at the silk flowered, candlelit tables, chandeliers raining down light on the tables; looking more fairy tale then eating establishment.  She saw Ralph make his way over to her, he was wearing a black tux, with white shirt and blue bow tie.  She had helped him put it on earlier, when he had been silent as a monk.

      This is one way of giving out details of setting, through the eyes of the character.   The other is for an omniscient narrator giving out the setting, and just plunking down the character into the scene.  
     Depending on what kind of impact you want to make, is how you should choose which method is best for your story.   You can always try it both ways, and then take whichever way that doesn't work, out later.  This is good for Nano times as you are going for word count.  
      There are various books on crafting the setting.   Writers Digest Books has at least one that I can name offhand:

         "Settings (Elements of Fiction Writing).

But check out your local library, ours stocks lots of craft books for writers.  Enjoy your NaNoWriMo!


Be sure to check out my other Nano series articles and Nano 101 blogs.

Monday, October 20, 2014

NaNoWriMo Prep Gathering @ Karl Road Library; October 19, 2014

NaNoWriMo  Gathering;    October 19, 2014
 Karl Road Branch Columbus Metropolitan Library.
Review by L. Anne Wooley

We gathered at the Karl Rd. Library, about 30 of us.  First timers and veterans alike.  The Municipal Liaison from the Columbus Region was there and led the discussion.  She gave a lot of good advice and had a show and tell with different writing books.  She also mentioned Nita Sweeney who has a local newsletter for Central Ohio writing events, as well as being a former student of Natalie Goldberg, she also teaches Natalie’s Methods. 
The diverse nature of the people who came, was really cool.   We had a couple of nurses, students, a former journalist were among them.  There were like 4 or 5 first timers, along with multiple long timers.  I fell about into the middle.

Topics of discussion were Planner vs. Pantser, those terms were defined as.  Planner- someone who outlines, creates the characters, world builds, basically everything to do with ‘Planning.’ 
A Pantser- on the other hand, is someone who just makes it up as they go along. 
I am in between.  I do some character development, and world building, basically most of the background stuff, and some tentative story line. 

The next thing we went over, was different ways to get and flesh out ideas.  She laid out the “Mind Mapping,” and then the “Snowflake Method.”  (   the mind mapping is just writing down the ideas, in a brainstorming fashion.  Just writing down stuff at random, then you can connect the ideas and get an outline type thing.

Someone asks about how to get word count?  She suggested word padding.  One of the ways to do this, was to do a challenge.  One year she did a challenge with a writing group, which everyone put a “Travelling Shovel of Death,” in.    In my online Nano Group, we have used murdering one of the Admins for the past couple of years.  Then there is a suggestion of putting crayons on fire.  You can always take them out in edit phase.  But they can go to your word count.  Other ways to do this, have your character do a diary, or write a letter.  Again, these can always come out.   Me, I add a scene I know will go out; similar to the former suggestions.

The books that she showed off had among them; Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s Book in a Day.  If you get this book, she has an online presence through Yahoo groups.  There are a lot of novel writing worksheets on there: A four page Character Creation Sheet, Plot sheet, and several others.  I personally use the Character sheet.  I do a 100 question questionnaire (though I only use what fits), then I will move the answers over to the four pages, where they are handy.  She also had Anne Lamont’s “Bird By Bird,” Jane Yolens “Take Joy,” and several other 30 day novel books. 
·         From Jane’s, she mentioned a few things.  Jane says “Value the process, not the product!”  She has this above her desk.

Things to stay away from:

·         Don’t have manuals around you when you write.  Have a book you enjoy reading for craft as inspiration (fiction).
·         Prep your space before you start writing, or you will use that to procrastinate.  Also prep some healthy foods, like vegetables, so that they are at hand. 
·         Try not to research while you are writing.  There is a forum on Nanowrimo site where you can add your question on research, and when you are ready to look, there probably will be an answer for you.   Look for “Reference Desk.”  You can save that to your forum preferences.
·         Do try to find a book that is written in similar point of view.

She also had Chris Baty’s “No Plot, No Problem,” which has a new edition out.  He corrected what he said in the first edition, “Everyone has one novel in them.”  To “Everyone has many novels in them.”  Which I agree with!

He also has Magna Carta 1 and Magna Carta 2

1 is “Thing’s about books that you love.’  For me that is characters that overcome and find the strength to within themselves.     Magna carta 2…”Things you hate about books.”  *** Pointless endings***  Like City of Angels.  The story is very strong, and the ending would have been great had it stopped with the happy ending.  But NO, they had to do the pointless ending.   
Another thing I don’t like, is switching scenes, time periods or pov without it being marked (alerted).

She also mentioned write ins.   Some folks bring sticky’s with them, and put their problems down on them.  Then others can put 5 suggestions for fixing them on other sticky’s, you may not use them, but they could jog something that will work.

Lastly, she mentioned Jim Butcher who wrote the Dresden Files series.  He had all the books plotted out before he wrote the first one.  That is something that JK Rowling also did.
Sprints were also discussed, and I mentioned things about Scrivener, even gave a demo to one of the attendees. 

I highly recommend going to your write ins, and kick offs.  They are so much fun, and it’s nice to be in a room with others who share the same joy!

And the Elements of Story:

Stay Tuned for More…

NaNoWriMo First Draft Pledge!

This is something I came up with in 2012.  Enjoy.

The NaNoWriMo First Draft Pledge

Dear Internal Critic (IC).

            Although I value your input, I respectfully request that you refrain from your task whilst I get the first draft down on paper, PDA, cell phone, Ipod, Nook, Kindle, Mac, and/or computer (PC/Laptop).
            While I need your capable assistance in the rewrite/revision process; I humbly request you cease and desist to interfere with this part of the creative process (first draft).
            What this means for you, is that you can take a vacation!  Heck, you and the other writers/Nanoers I.C.’s could get together with our external critics (i.e. parents who don not support us, bf/spouses of that same ilk), could go on a holiday….heck, even have a convention!
            Ahem…once our rough drafts are done, and I mean rough (or why else would they be called that), you may come back, roll up your sleeves, and get back to work…  constructively of course.  Until that time, let us be free to write the worst crap in the universe!
            Thank you for your support and cooperation in this matter.

                                                                                    Your Friend

<sign below>

You can print it out and sign it, hang it where you can see it (next to your writing area perhaps?)

And the Elements of Story:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting to know you.... Creating Memorable Characters Nano Prep Episode 2

What about a story makes you want to keep reading?   Is it the setting, the world building, the plot?  Well, those are certainly important aspects of story; but it's the characters that move the story.  They are the most important aspect of story, but they cannot exist without the other as well.

So what makes an interesting character?  How do you build your character?  A character should be multi-layered.  They should be pretty believable for the reader to care about them.   They should also learn something, and change during the course of the story.

But how to do that?  Basically I use a questionnaire, and then I moved the responses to a four paged synopses of the character.

The questions go over what the character looks like, what scars do they have, and character quirks.  Like do they chew their fingernails?  Do they have any regrets?  Do they have any nervous habits/ticks.

It's the little things that can make your reader empathize with, and root for, your characters.  I generally do not complete a character until the edit phase, but get enough detail to write the first draft.  Do we need to know everything about that character?  A reader does not, but we as the characters creator should know pretty much everything about our characters.

Below is a picture of a Character sheet that I use.  This comes from Victoria Lynn Schmidts "Book in a Month."  When you get her book, she has a yahoo group that you can join.

This isn't the complete one, but it gives you an idea.  You can also find Character sheets here:

And the questionnaire I was telling you about:

Those are a couple to get you started.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

That Ole Nano Magic Has Me Under It's Spell... or The Best Laid Plans

I tried to fight it.   That urge to write something new.  The urge that I have succumbed to...yes, Virginia, there is a Nanowrimo.  Every year starting November 1, thousands (and even more) begin the journey of 50 thousand (yes, 50,000) words.   We write solo or at write ins.  With our laptops, notebooks, and phones.

The main website:, puts out pep talk videos, and articles.  They have a large forum, and you can even have "Nano buddies."   There are participants from all over the world.  There is also a "Young Writers Program," and some teachers have encouraged their students to participate in Nano.

So, back to my dilemma.  I have participated in Nanos from 2005, 2009, 2010 (November and August Camp Nano, same group), 2011, 2012, and 2013.    I have an impending move, and though still no place to move to yet <insane cackle>, I was just going to edit one of the previous novels for publication.  I was not...going draft!   I was going to cut, paste, resculpt, revamp, re...well you get the point, to one of the previous drafts.   And yes, I was originally planning to do that last year....until I saw the new goodies.

But, the last few weeks, I've been feeling that excitement that I get every year around this time.  That feeling of "Coming Home," that I cannot deny.  Though  I am still fighting that urge, today I broke down and started doing some preliminary notes, some character basics, some plot basics.  Yes, a new novel is being brewed up even as I type this!

Where did this SNI  (Shiny New Idea) come from?   Well, I run a writing practice group on Facebook.  It's a closed group though, sorry.  Every Saturday night, we do a google Hangout, running with an event page.  We do writing prompts, and I assign "Homework."  This homework is a prompt that can be used for a story starter.    The rules are, that you cannot write the prompt out, you can do all your background research, planning, character naming/generation, all the prep work, during the week.   Then on Saturday night, we do this as the first prompt.

Last week, the homework generated a story idea for me to expand into a full length novel, and there I was writing notes as well as doing the prompt.  I worked on fleshing out more of it, moving what I had done over into a new document that I could brainstorm.  And so yes, I have got that need to write new.  And I figure, if I can get the 50k done in a week (one of my friends did it in one day!); then I can focus on editing something older.

So one of the questions on one of my Nano facebook groups (one which is not affiliated with the group who oversees the official stuff), was "What do you do in the month before Nano?"  and of course this is paraphrased.

Well, if I usually have been thinking about it for a while before the last month, but it is the last month that I really prepare.   I get a loose outline together, work on my characters (though it is edit phase where everything comes together).  If I plan out everything ahead of time, when I write the first draft, the story will not follow it.  No matter how much I browbeat it into being.   And the thing is, the story is usually right.

So, I normally don't plan out that far.  I just see where the story takes me.  Nothing is set in stone, and is fluid, including the "Outline."   I have the general idea, and they usually don't all get in.  During the month, and in the writing, the truth of the story is revealed.

Anyhow, that's enough for one day.   I'll be posting little tips and hints for Nano-ers.  I invite all my readers to participate in the grand challenge.  It's really not that hard.

Happy NaNo'ing!