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. ūüėÄ

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. Thomas. Donna 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. ūüėȬ†

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


Whoooooo Aaaaarrrre Yoooouuuu?


(Yes, Cheshire cat is Horrifying but I had to credit the quote, my title. And this one was less frightening than the others.)

Sit down.
You heard me, sit.
I’ve got startling news for you, and you’re going to wish you were sitting if you don’t.

Okay, now take a deep breath.
No, deeper than that.
Come on, suck that oxygen in, cuz you’re going to need it for your brain to take in what I’m about to say.
Now take two more.

YOU are a writer.
Oh yeah, that’s right. I’ll say it again in a little different way.
You ARE a writer.
Once more.
You are a WRITER.

Are you with me so far?
I know the doubt. I’ve had it too. It comes about, slinking in when you’re not looking, like the neighbor cat. It curls up on the rug in front of your mental fireplace and you think “How cute.” Then when you’re not looking it scratches the furniture, shreds your certainty. Darn neighbor cat.

Okay, You and I, writers.
You know what convinced me?
A quote that I can’t find. I looked. I found some other, wonderful and inspiring quotes but not the one I was looking for. Ah, the internet Rabbit Hole and the difficulty of modern research. LOL

Take this one instead

. Real Writer

Got it? Do you see what I’m saying now?

You are a writer. ūüėÄ Now WRITE! (or edit if that’s what you’re doing for CampNaNoWrimo.)

Remember, if you are doing CampNaNoWriMo.org this April, nanomail Pacifika and ask for an invitation to our local SpokaNano cabin. See you all at the lake.

To Journal or not to Journal Part 1

journalBlah, blah, blah journal.

That was my view. But I kept hearing that it was really good for the brain and sorting mental and emotional clutter. Basically a big bucket you can dump all of the random garbage that blathers in your head. (Or am I the only one with that problem?)

And of course it’s “so important” for writers, so I decided to try.

You’d think it would be intuitive but I need to know what the rules are before I do something so I got online and took a class*.

I was surprised that there are a lot of different types of journaling and different exercises. It’s not just “sit down, bare your soul on paper, hope no one reads it.” You can do a Gratitude Journal (useful for accentuating the positive in your life), lists (great for clarifying), unsent letters (excellent way of giving your older siblings “what for” without hurting their feelings or getting your butt kicked). There are others and all have different outcomes and uses.

You may have heard of Julia Cameron and her book The Artists Way. (Don’t panic! journalcatYou, as a writer are an artist, but don’t let that stop you. Deep breath. You don’t have to be a hoity-toity “artiste.”) She suggests “morning pages” which is just free writing three pages first thing in the morning. Just babble and that’s it.

I did a technique called “Dialogues” and it was an enlightening experience which I’ll make you sit through in another post. Mwahahaha.

Have you journaled? How long have you done it? Has it helped you quiet the brain and focus?

* Spokane County Library District (scld.org) is partnered with Gale University to give its patrons an astoundingly wide variety of free and awesome classes. Check them out when you have a moment.

Swiss Army Knife and Back-up, Even When You Think You Don’t Need It

I didn’t really own an official Swiss Army Knife but I did have a cool pocket knife with extra tools. 

Extra tools are great. You can never have too many. Well, okay, maybe…No never mind. You can’t.

We have so many tools available to us as writers. Can you imagine handwriting 50,000 words dipping your quill every couple of words, in the light of your kerosene lamp with its sooty chimney? Yurgh! I know some of you hand write, even with fountain pens, but still, makes my hand hurt and my eyes burn just thinking about it.

Whew, enough horror stories for now.

When I started doing NaNo I used Microsoft Word. It was a few years before I tried yWriter (free). I love it and still use it. We also have Celtx (free; great for scripts but I haven’t done a novel on it) and Scrivener (free trial) available for computer use.


[Hmm. Now seems like an excellent time to switch gears.]


Hit SAVE more often than you think necessary. I was nearly done with this darn post and didn’t hit save. :p

So again, SAVE SAVE SAVE your work. Back-up at all opportunities. Once you’ve written that brilliant bit of prose there is no finding it again. It was the only thing you’ve ever written that was perfect the first time.



Anyway, back to the tools topic.

There are websites that are great tools too. WriteorDie.com (entertaining and motivating), WriteOn.Amazon.com (a rather social place for writing where you can hide or show new material and ask for feedback), and 4theWords.com (pretty new and still working out kinks but you can earn badges for different things as you write).

As far as editing, CritiqueCircle.com and WriteOn.Amazon.com can be great for getting beta readers and feedback. Just remember that you can end up with frustrated, nitpicky people so take what you get with a grain of salt.

What do you use? Why do you like it the best?


Catastrophe Over an Open Fire

By Pacifika

Camp-fire-cooking-283x400I was a Girl Scout. I have badges and pins adorning my troop jacket to prove it. I even graduated a Girl Scout.

And we were a camping troop. We had it down. We awed other troops with our crazy camping skills. We ate chicken roasted in a solar oven, tacos cooked over the fire. When one troop camping nearby said they were having hot dogs – again, we all looked at each with bright eyes, Hot Dogs, we’d never had them as a troop. Silly right? The favorite food however, was Catastrophe cooked over the fire in the morning. Best meal ever.

Catastrophe was just bacon, hash browns and eggs all cooked together in one pot. It’s now a family favorite. But I baconremember one fateful morning when the designated cook forgot to pay attention and the bacon burned (gasp!). We were distraught. We gave it a proper burial and a last salute as we disposed of it. We were grief-stricken, worried. Can you have Catastrophe without bacon? How can it be done? We needed the bacon grease to cook the hash browns. What about flavor? But we continued on, improvised. And everything turned out. We had
Catastrophe and it was still delicious. Not as good but still…

(Cue Obligatory Writing Analogy)

Writing is like Catastrophe. We take our characters, plot, and story and throw them bit by bit into the pot and stir. Sometimes we overcook the characters and they become too chewy. Sometimes we over-salt the plot. Sometimes we don’t simmer the story enough and it lacks the intricate flavor we were hoping for. We look at it and sigh in grief as we give the salute. BUT WAIT!

stewpotCampNaNo is coming up. We can improvise. We can make a few tweaks and add some more seasoning to compensate. We can pull out the overcooked characters and maybe stew them in another pot…

Oh, Yuck. Well, you get the idea. We have a great opportunity to fix things.

I plan on making an outline of a previous NaNo novel that I love but it turns out has some over-cooked characters and needs a little more seasoning in other places. Depending on how things go I might just take that outline and rewrite the whole book. Yikes. That’s a stressful idea. Okay, best not to think about it.

Anyway, the point is with CampNaNo you can pick the activities that you want to do. Flexibility is the best part of Camp. You can write anything you want: poetry, non-fiction, fiction, articles, blog posts or you can revise. And you get to choose your target. You don’t have to go for 50k words. You can, but you don’t have to. You can go for 10k or if you are feeling adventurous, 100k! WOW.

So give it a go. Get in there, sign in to CampNaNoWriMo.org and get your Novel created, then give me (Pacifika) a nanomail letting me know you want in to the cabin (unless you are wanting the excitement of a cabin full of strangers – which is also good) and I’ll send you an invitation.

Looking forward to camping with you. ūüėÄ

Last Chance!


Don’t forget to Validate your novel!

Archery: Hitting the Mark


Here is your bow, over there is the archery range, the counselor announces, pointing. You are giddy with the excitement born from years of pretending to be Robin Hood in the “forest” at the park. You can almost see the Sheriff of Nottingham sniveling at your feet. You can hear the “whiff” of the arrow slicing through the air on its way to the center of the target. You scoff at the idea of being only 15 yards from the bales of hay holding the targets. You scoff at the bales of hay. You’ve been practicing archery for years. It doesn’t matter that it was all in your head, visualization has helped athletes (like you) for years.

bow arrows

You confidently step up to your mark, knock your arrow, draw back and let fly! You lose it as it sails effortlessly toward the bull’s eye. You hear a loud “Yelp!” off to your left and wonder as you stare at you target, what that was about.

You find out soon enough. The bow is taken from your hand and you are led over to some benches by one of the counselors.


“So, what were you thinking?”

“What? I’m really good at archery.”

“Clearly, you are not.” The counselor indicates another counselor who is being laid down on a stretcher with an arrow in his keister and carried off.

“I didn’t do that!?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, you did.” The counselor looks at his lap. “You’re enthusiasm is admirable but let’s start again.”

hay bail

Three weeks ago we set a target for a word count that we each wanted to reach. Last week we were halfway through the month. Were you at your halfway mark? Were you anywhere near your halfway mark? How about now?

The nice thing is that this month, for Camp NaNo, we can change where the target is up until the end of April 24th. Feel free to move your target. Enjoy and exercise the freedom given to you by our gracious Camp NaNo hosts. Move your target forward if you are nowhere near it. Move it back to challenge yourself if you are near to it.

The nice thing is that this is the last full week of your writing. Your characters are fleshed out, your plot is thick enough. From here it is basically all “downhill”, gravity takes over from here and you will have to work to stop the momentum of your story.

So shoot away at that target. No keisters will be harmed.

archery merit badge