The Week Two Blahs

Blah Blah Blah

Don’t let Week 2 pull you down.  Yes, the excitement of creating a new tale is past, and your characters aren’t behaving in quite the same way you’d envisioned before you started this novel.  But just because it’s gotten hard, doesn’t mean that your novel isn’t going well.  You might not be meeting the goals you set at the beginning of the month, but you are creating a novel out of your imagination, and that is amazing.

You understand how your characters must to struggle through conflict to make a compelling story, and that same concept in many ways applies also to you, the author.   If this were easy, everyone would be a novelist.  But it’s not easy, it can be terrifying, and boring, and lonely, and … and …

But you are doing it.  So keep doing it, one word, one paragraph, one scene at a time.  And if you need motivation to keep going, join us at a writing event or in our Slack chatroom for inspiration.

Here’s where we’ll be during Week 2, with all the details to be found in the Spokane Region’s Calendar.

  • 11/8  Thomas Hammer 1:00 pm  (that’s happening right now!)
    • CWI Kettle Falls Library 5:00 pm
  • 11/9  Fortified Friday (Taste of India) 6:30 pm
  • 11/10  Rocket Bakery 2:00 pm
  • 11/11  Grand Office Park  12:00 pm
  • 11/12  Virtual on Slack  6:00 pm
  • 11/13  Valley Library  5:00 pm
  • 11/14  Denny’s N-side  6:00 pm
    • CWI South Hill Library  1:00 pm

The Buddy System:
For a bit of additional motivation, this year we’re breaking up all Spokane Home Region Authors with any word count over zero into small buddy teams of 7-10 people.  At the moment we have over 200 out of 301 home region authors with word count.  You’ll all be assigned into a team (A thorugh Z) on a random basis, and then it’s up to the indiviudal team members to determine how to interact with and support your new writing buddies.

We’re hoping that the team asisgnments will provide you with an introduction to a smaller set of like-minded folk you can turn to for support, ideas, or to just check in and see how things are going, but there is no compusion for you to connect at all.  However, there may be some inherent competition built into the system, with the team results being shown on our Word War Tool, which will also be linked to the regional thread announcing the buddy assignments (patience, it’s still being sorted out).

The team assignments should be posted by early Friday morning on the Spokane Forum.  Check it out when you update your word count tomorrow.  (If I get enough words written toward my novel, you may even see the post up after dinner tonight).

Now go, stomp the Week 2 Blahs into the dirt, and tell them I said to leave you and your amazing novel alone.

 

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What’re the Wesleyan courses all about?

Hi there! This is your friendly still-mostly-newbie ML, Taube/Roxanne. For my first post on this blog, I wanted to share my experience with taking the NaNoWriMo Creative Writing Courses through Wesleyan University last year. I’ll talk about what the courses are, what you get from the course, some examples of what’s beneficial, cost and financial aid, and how to sign up.

What are these courses?

NaNoWriMo has partnered with Wesleyan University to create a unique offering of Wesleyan’s online Creative Writing Courses meant especially for Wrimos! This includes a break in the course that is intended to coincide with November so you can learn AND write your NaNo novel! The NaNo sections of these courses have a special lower price (50% off regular price!), and they are structured slightly differently from the normal progression to help you get prepared for November. Additionally, all the other people in the courses will be your NaNo peers and there are special NaNo mentors in the chat section to help guide you in ways specific to the NaNo experience. The courses are offered through the online Coursera platform.

What will I get out of it?

There are four themed courses plus a special capstone. The four regular courses cover style, setting, character, and plot. These are meant to be finished by the end of October so you can take November off to work on your NaNo novel. Then, in December, you will complete the capstone course, which is centered around applying the principles from the other courses to prepare a polished first chapter of the novel you just wrote. In every course, there are video lectures and readings, as well as writing assignments that help you work on that course’s themes and lessons. For each writing assignment, you will get peer reviews that will help you see how others interact with your writing and get valuable feedback. This includes your first chapter of your novel!

How will this help me?

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Feedback, feedback, FEEDBACK!!! I cannot stress enough how important this is! Feedback is simultaneously one of the most important and one of the most terrifying aspects of becoming a better writer. In these courses, each assignment will net you feedback from three peer reviewers. That doesn’t take all the fear out of sharing your brain products with the world, but the nice thing about this particular feedback is that all of it is from fellow NaNo writers, so you’re all roughly in the same boat. It’s not like you’re going to get stuck in a cohort of stuck-up professional writers or snot-nose, unwilling young’uns. Everyone is a NaNo writer trying to improve their writing through these courses. I found the feedback sometimes infuriating, often gratifying, and always helpful! Being able to open yourself up to critique is also an important part of increasing your skill and refining your writing, so if you want to take things to the next step, this is a great way to do it. The writing assignments themselves are also edifying and challenging. The most frustrating/helpful one was where I had to write a really quite short story which I labored over, and then the very next assignment was to write the same story in half the words! Aieeee! But what a great lesson! I got such satisfaction from completing the assignments, and then I got wonderful feedback that took me out of my own head and let me see how others responded to my writing. Priceless!

Speaking of price . . .

“Great, but how much is this going to cost me?” you’re probably wondering right about now. Each of the five courses is $29, which is half of what these courses normally cost. However, if this is a hardship for you, there is financial aid. I needed help, so I worked through this. It’s done mostly on an honor system, but you do have to write several statements in the application process to explain why you need the aid. It’s certainly easier than getting traditional financial aid at a university, and I received enough help that it was feasible for me to take all five courses despite my situation. If the $29/course makes you worry but you still are interested in the courses, I highly encourage you to take this route. Wesleyan/Coursera are very reasonable.

“I’m ready! Sign me up!”

Sound interesting? It is! I hope this has helped clear some things up about the courses and encouraged you that they will be helpful and fun. If you’re interested, visit Wesleyan’s page on the courses to learn the specifics and see how to sign up. If you need financial aid, make sure to visit this page. If you have questions, reply here in comments or message me on the NaNo site and I’ll do my best to answer! I hope this was helpful and has given you some inspiration to maybe improve your writing. 🙂

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Word Padding for July Camp Or Anytime

It’s less than 48 hours to the deadline and you still have 5,000 words to write?

screaming-146426__180Don’t give in! This is still doable even if you don’t have much time to devote.

Here are some totally legal dirty tricks for adding words to any of your NaNo projects. Listen, learn, and put them into practice. There’s no shame in word padding for NaNo, it is, in fact, part of the game and might spark a new plot twist. 😀

A simple trick to get all of these in in a short amount of time will be at the end so keep reading.

  1. Give your characters long names, at least three to five words long. So Aidan becomes Aidan Edward Vincent St. ThomasDonna becomes Donna Margaret Esther Louise Franklin. Pretty simple way of increasing by a LOT of words.
  2. Better still, add a title, Supreme Cat Carrier, Overpaid Overlord, Desk Jockey. So now, Freddie becomes Overpaid Desk Jockey Overlord Fredric Michael Benjamin Lane Peterson.
  3. Deconstruct contractions. Every don’t becomes do not, every wouldn’t, would not, etc. Again, very simple with the trick below.
  4. Lists of words using “and” rather than commas also works. Add a grocery list; bananas and potatoes and hamburger and hamburger helper and bacon and brie cheese and kumquats and pistachios and Bernsteins delicious ice cream treats of wonderment.
  5. Long insults – Have you FMC hurl a lot of uncomplimentary words at the hero. Is she mad at him? She can call him a smelly pile of unwashed socks that sat too long in the bottom of the laundry basket in a summer rain on a hot day. That was 24 words right there. It’s a great way to get some of your own freewriting therapy and add a couple of handsful of words.Purple Prose cat
  6. Add poetry, song lyrics, a short story within your story, description of your desk or your stuffed animal mascot, or favorite quotes. Have a character who loves to spout quotes and insert them at random points in the story. Do the characters ignore him or ponder the wisdom? More words!
  7. Go for the Purple Prose. Add as much flowery description as possible. The morning sun didn’t just hit the fence, it caressed it with the passionate and loving touch of a Bond villain petting his Persian as he pondered. 

Some of these techniques have even sparked further plot. Don’t discount them as just a cheat. Freewriting in itself is invaluable for simply breaking through a writer’s block.

Now for that simple trick – Find and Replace. For the names, use Find and Replace make
every Freddie become Overpaid Desk Jockey Overlord Fredric Michael Benjamin Lane Peterson. So much easier than scrolling through. Use it for the deconstructed contractions too. Find won’t, replace with will not. Find and Replace does the tedious work and you’ve just doubled your word count. Okay, maybe not doubled but given it a good boost. You can do it with the insults too. Come up with a list for each expletive and use Find/Replace.

I think you get the idea and I’m betting that’ll add a good chunk to your project and get you to the Winner’s Circle, a.k.a. The Illustrious Winner’s Circle of Creative and Powerful Wordacity. 😉 

Happy writing and on to victory! Writing_Poster.jpg.scaled500

Camp NaNoWriMo – July 2016

Camp is a fun and relaxed opportunity to build the writing habit and to mold it around our chaotic, northern hemisphere, summer lives. You can pick your own goal, as low as thirty words for the entire month!

This month we’re camping by the sea. We’ll enjoy a few oceanic excursions as we write like mad to achieve our summer writing goals.

Our characters will swim with the sharks, get distracted by sirens, maybe even “sleep wit’ da’ fishes” among other things.

Okay, you probably already know this, it’ll just be ocean theme stickers and blog posts. 😉

Catch a wave of inspiration and stay in the curl of literary productivity.

See you on the beach.

Ponderous Plotting continued

Sheesh! I had no idea you plotters are so meticulous.notepad

I got the point in the workbook that talks about making your characters and planning out your story ideas. WOW! How do you even know? How do you make them up? Just freewrite? As a pantser they just come to me. No joke. I’ll start November first with something like “Vanessa sighed.” and go from there. Already I have a character named Vanessa. I can see her. She has dark hair down past her shoulders some of it is pulled back from her face while the rest hangs loose down her back. She’s leaning on her hand on a table. Do you know what comes next? I don’t. I just watch Vanessa and see what she does. Oh, she’s reaching for her cup of coffee. No, sorry, I see it’s a latte with a fancy leaf pattern from the pour. She doesn’t care though. She’s sad. I’m compelled to keep writing to find out why.

I understand that I’m a square peg trying to fit in a round hole doing this plotting thing. (Or maybe a round peg trying to fit in square hole. Ah, who am I kidding. I’m a dodecogon trying to fit into an icosagon shaped hole. None of us are common enough to be square or round.) I feel like a sedentary person (mostly am) going to an advance yoga class and being set to some impossible pretzel twisting knot of a pose. Whew.

screaming-146426__180It’s annoying. But I know if I’m annoyed I’m challenged. And if I’m challenged I’m doing something good for me. (Yes, I have learned to like Brussels sprouts but I still hate cooked carrots.) My brain is growing and stretching. I might not make it into that twisting pretzel knot pose but I’ve gotten closer than I ever would have without trying and while I’ll be sore tomorrow, my body will be stronger and more flexible for it. And thus, my mind will be stronger and more flexible for plotting.

Try doing the opposite of what you normally do at least once (I don’t recommend this for a word war, though). See what you get. You might not get a whole novel but you might get something that plays a roll in your next project.Popeye1

I’m going to keep going with the workbook but November first is likely to see me pantsing. I am what I am.

Make sure that you have RSVPed for the KO/Midnight WI. We hope to see you there. Those first few words at midnight are pretty cool. After that we’re off like a shot. check the calendar frequently for write-ins and changes.

The Ponderous Path to Plotdom

A few years ago I found copies of Ready, Set, Novel by Chris Baty, Lindsey Grant, And Tavia Stewart-StreitReady, Set, Novel! by Chris Baty, Lindsey Grant, And Tavia Stewart-Streit

(the illustrious heroes of the sacred halls of NaNoWriMo.org). This book has sat in a drawer because, well, I’m a happy pantser. This is how I work. I’ve mentioned this before (feel free to check out a previous post The Eternal Question). It is an absolute joy to write this way. The shocked gasp when my plots go all wibbly wobbly certainly amuses anyone around me. Thus this workbook has sat.

Recently NaNo put on a NaNoPrep webinar with four writers. Jonathan Maberry (YA horror and freelance comic book work among other things) mentioned that he uses Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass as a starting point for every one of his novels.

by Donald MaassI wandered to to Barnes and Noble this morning to take a look at Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook and found it was $20. Not too bad as an investment if you’re going to plot but it wasn’t in my budget this morning. And then I remembered the tome entombed in my drawer, long forgotten. I hurried home and dug out the Ready, Set, Novel workbook. What better way to start plotting for NaNo than with an officially official NaNo workbook.

The first activity is to get you used to marking up the book. There is a huge square and you have to fill it. Anything goes. Brilliant. A way to get you into the “write in this book” mindset and get random garbage out of your head, or put some inspiring quote on the page surrounded by some fancy doodling.

I’m really going to put out the effort to do this year’s NaNo this way. And I do mean a lot of effort. This is so out of my skill set. I just found the “What-if” Activity. Sheesh. My brain doesn’t work that way. I’m analytical. I have a hard time what-iffing things I don’t want to happen and things that are simply improbable if not impossible. Yikes! At least that’s followed by some internet sites that will spark some ideas.panic-149063__180

I’ll keep you posted and let you know if I freak out and abandon the Plotter Path to return to my Pantser
Predilection. Plus, I’ll let you know how the book is as a whole.

 

Also, a reminder if you’re in the Spokane region to RSVP in the Kick-off/Midnight Write-In thread if you haven’t already.

Kick Off and Midnight Write-in

partyIt’s two, two, two events in one!

Come to the Kick-Off Party, October 31st at 10:00 pm, and stay for the Midnight Write on November 1st until 1:00 am. (See our NaNo regional page for details.)

Be sure to visit and get your KO only goodies! Then stay and get your first words done!

Please RSVP on the regional page and let us know you’ll be there. We’d hate to run out of awesome KO goodies.

See you there (costumes welcome)!