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?


Week Three Spectacular!

Fox Socks Box Knox
Knox in Box
Fox in Socks
Knox on fox in socks in box.

Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss

My all time favorite Dr. Seuss book is “Fox in Socks.” Crazy full of weirdness and rhyming. ūüėÄ And a perfect book for our Week Three talk.

At Week Three Dr. Seuss had already dealt with Chicks and Bricks and Blocks and Clocks. He’d taken care of The Goo-Goose chewing new blue goo. He had celebrated Ben’s band, Bim’s band, Big bands, Pig bands. Ah, Week Three is of course when Dr. Seuss would have written:

Through three cheese trees three free fleas flew.
While these fleas flew, freezy breeze blew.
Freezy breeze made these three trees freeze.
Freezy trees made these trees’ cheese freeze.
That’s what made these three free fleas sneeze.

And then, because Seuss was now on a tongue twisting roll, he began:

Very well, then, Mr. Knox, sir.
Let’s have a talk about tweetle beetles…

(The best part!)

In all of the month, Week Three is one of the best! You’ve got your characters fleshed out, your plots are moving. In fact sometimes they start moving really fast. It is¬†hard to keep up! Your characters have¬†their own ideas of what is going on and it doesn’t always mesh with what you planned but it doesn’t matter. You’ve gotten into the swing of things and you’re just madly taking dictation. You know you’ll fix it later.

Week Three is a great time to ride that rollercoaster! At each write-in do word wars. Take breaks and refuel. Get as much down as you possibly can while things are moving.

Write like Mad! For soon your story, like Knox, will say:

Fox in socks, our game is done, sir.
Thank you for a lot of fun, sir.

~ Pacifika aka Patti

Last Chance!


Don’t forget to Validate your novel!

Hitting the Trail

horse trailsYou started off on the trail horse with the rest of your group. You hoped and trusted that the stable hands knew what they were doing when they cinched up the saddle. And off you rode with the confidence of “The High Plains Drifter” to seek your fortune on the trail and to prove you’ve got “True Grit”.

Yes, there are people in front of you but there are people behind you as well. You all have varying goals; some want to just ride a horse for the first time, some want to recapture their youth, some want to see the scenery, some want to photograph but you all have the same destination, the end of the trail.

top of trail

You have been riding for a couple of hours now. You are starting to feel a little saddle sore, okay, let’s say what we feel; the butt hurts. The horse periodically takes off in a spleen jolting trot or stops randomly for a big bite of the delectable green grass on the side of the trail. One seasoned horse rider gets annoyed at the¬†incompetence of the riders in front and gallops past you. You won’t admit it but you secretly hope that the jerk gets bucked off or at least in trouble for not following the rules. You also won’t admit that you wish it was you running freely with the wind in your hair.

You ride up a hill. You feel like you are going to slide right off the back of the horse but the saddle keeps you on. Whew. Thank you saddle and thank you stable hand for cinching the saddle correctly. You get to the crest of the hill and all of the group is milling about and looking out at the vista. You can see forever. The sky is clear and there is a forest of multiple shades of green below you and it all goes on as far as the eye can see. It is breathtaking.

The leader announces that if you look off to the southwest you can see your destination. And you can, just 


blue yugo

There is a blue roof among all of the green. It looks so small and so far away.

You revel in the fact that you are on a¬†horse, the Mercedes of the animal world. You look down at your trusty or perhaps more rusty steed and realize it’s maybe not the Mercedes, but at least¬†¬†it’s not the Yugo.

You have made it halfway through your trek. Your goal, though far, is in view. You can do this. You can complete this goal. You are filled with hope and wonder at your own amazing awesomeness!


Suddenly, you find your world slipping sideways. “What the…!” You yell as you are dumped head first on the ground. You sputter the dirt from your mouth and bless the helmet that you originally cursed. You lift your head and look at your backstabbing horse. How did it throw you off? The horse just looks back at you blankly. The leader walks¬†over and jumps off of her horse¬† and asks you the questions¬† they ask all people who have been dropped on their heads, “What’s your name? How many fingers do you see? Are you okay?” You answer but there is a definite edge of anger and humiliation to your voice. She ignores it as she inspects the horse.

“Ah, here’s the problem.” She tightens the betraying cinch of the saddle. “They didn’t get it tight enough. Sometimes that happens. Glad it happened while we were stopped.”

Oh, yes, you think. Lucky me.

You are sore, you are embarrassed, you are trying to figure out how to get back on that enormous beast that is still just staring at you. Do you even want to? Your grandfather’s words come to your mind. “If ya’ fall off a horse, you get back on.” Ha, you think. Why bother? You can walk the rest of the way. This whole thing has been hard.

The trail leader looks at you as she holds her hands out to give you a boost back up. “You’ve come this far. Are you really going to give up? It’s all downhill from here, Rider, so get up, dust yourself off and get back on that horse.”


You, writer, have come this far with your Camp NaNo endeavor. It has been difficult. You have been¬†thrown by your characters. You plot has come undone. But you are halfway there. Yes, you may be behind, the last one in the pack, but you are moving forward doing something that you’ve always wanted to do. Will you quit now? Or will you get back on that horse and ride the rest of the way.

It’s all downhill from here, Writer, so get up, dust yourself off and get back on that horse and know that there is a stable and rest and the knowledge that you’ve achieved the once unachievable waiting for you at the end of the trail.

~ Pacifika

horse merit badge