Count Down – Three Days to NaNoWriMo 2011

It’s like holding back a wave and then the dam breaks – the story starts pouring out of my thoughts and through my fingers. The story unfolds on the screen in front of me. Over 200 participants live in my area for 2011. Well over 300,000 world wide took part in this blitz to write 50,000 words in 30 days. My outline is in place and my thoughts keep going back to the story I want to write. Research files sit ready on my book shelf.

Our Amarillo area kick-off is tomorrow (Sunday, October 30, 2011) to get everyone to the starting line. Lots of free and discounted things are available to participants. If you’re not signed up yet, you still have time. It only takes a few minutes and even if you don’t write the full 50,000 words you are eligible for surprises just for signing up.

I do hope you’ll come and join us on this journey. If you want to attend the kick-off then here is the information:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Amarillo Northwest Branch Library (on west 9th across from the V.A.hospital and just to the east, next door, to Amarillo College West Campus.

2:00pm – 4:00pm

Have a great weekend and great NaNoWriMo!

Story Elements

Whether you’re going to join in with us in NaNoWriMo or you’re working on a short story you need to include the basic story elements in your work.

1. Setting: Include the place, time of day or night, what country, season, inside or outside, year or decade. These can be stated if they are important or weave it in your opening scene. For example, suspense novels sometimes have a date stamp at the beginning of each chapter (12:15 am, January 13th). Another way to indicate when your story takes place could be” Jane’s calf length suit skirt caught on her leg as she ran to a phone booth. Her white gloved fingers jammed a dime into the pay phone and she looked over her shoulder.

  2. Plot: If nothing is happening to your protagonist then you don’t have a story. In the first few paragraphs you have to grab your reader’s attention or they won’t purchase your book. Something has to happen or  be in motion to get things rolling.

3. Conflict: Without some type of conflict and challenge, the character has nothing to react to or to solve. The conflict can be internal or external. It can be a combination of both. An internal conflict could be a crisis of conscience or beliefs. External conflicts come from outside the protagonist. External circumstances or actions can be man versus man, man versus circumstances beyond the character’s control, and man versus society or social issue.

4. Characters: Your key characters are the protagonist (hero or heroin) and an antagonist. Also, develop the secondary and incidental characters who are included in the story. Leave out any character who does not have a reason for appearing in the story or furthers the action. Give your characters a personality, background, physical features, and quirks. Remember that even your antagonist needs at least one redeeming quality.

5. Point of View: Decide which character’s point of view the story represents. Either write it in 1st person or 3rd person.

I like to add a 6th element: Theme: This is the main idea or central insight behind the story. It helps you stay focused on the direction and meaning you want to give the reader.

 

NaNoWriMo Preparation

It’s already October 18th and only 13 days left in this month. Then ….. NaNoWriMo begins. You can start writing at one minute past midnight on November 1st if you want to. Are you wondering how to get ready for this crazy rush to write the first draft of a novel – 50,000 words or more in 30 days?

Answer: 1620.9 words a day will get you there!

How to get ready?

Go online to the National Novel Writing Month website and sign up for free. I’ve you’ve participated before then just go in and put your new information for this year.

You can find people in your area who are also participating and each area has a volunteer coordinator. Some of the participants get together for a kickoff party and then meet periodically to have a “write in” and work on their manuscripts as a group.

Decide on the subject. Write a basic outline for the book. Decide on a working title. Do some character development charts for the major characters.

Don’t be intimidated by the number of words required. Even if you don’t make it within the 30 day challenge continue writing until you’re finished. Look at it this way. How far along will you be on your novel if you don’t give it a try? I’ve participated off and on for the past several years and made it all the way to my goal of 50,000 words for the first time last year. I promise that it is an exhilarating feeling when you type “The End.” I hope you’ll join me this year. Let me know if you sign up.

Just a Note

I know that the posts have been a little sporadic and unpredictable over the past couple of weeks. I apologize and am back on schedule for this new week for the regular Tues – Thurs – Saturday posts. Family challenges and the loss of a dear friend have had their impact on things.

I hope all is going well and each of you are writing. I hope you’ll participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. Go to NaNoWriMo

August – Writing Goals

I always think of August as a transitional month. This month in Texas is always hot, but 2011 has been a year like no other that I can remember and I’ve been here a long time. My mom doesn’t remember one like this either and she’s been here a lot longer than I have. We’ve only had about 1.5 inches of rain in the Panhandle of Texas all year. The thermometer reads 100+ more days than not. Thank you God for air conditioning.

August is the month everyone purchases school supplies and new clothes – Back to School season. Teachers go back to work in preparation of the first day of school, which for us is August 22. College students head for campus, purchase dorm stuff, text books, and pay tuition for the coming Fall Semester. Working moms look forward to fewer calls during the day from her children asking if they can go to the pool or reporting on a sibling’s behavior.

Most people seem to settle into a routine that follows the school year. If you’re a stay at home mom or dad, then you have more time during the day to set aside for writing. For more mature writers, for me at least, there is a sense of change and schedules. People are back from summer vacations or taking their last trip before school.

Our thoughts, as writers and readers change. There were some great summer reads, but excitement for new releases in the fall and all those great holiday releases will expand the pile of books by your favorite chair or expand your files on your Kindle or Nook.

Writers are setting goals to accomplish before the end of the year. We have  five months left – almost half of the year before us. Make your goals reachable but challenging. Myself, I can get overly ambitious sometimes and then as the writing process takes place I shift my self-made deadlines with an eye on reality.  One goal I encourage writers to prepare for is to participate in National Novel Writing Month, November. The challenge is to write a novel draft in 30 days – 50,000 words. The NaNoWriMo website gives you sign up and tells how to officially participate. Even if you don’t reach 50,000 words in 30 days, think about how far you will have progressed during that time and just keep on writing. It comes out to about 1,600 words per day and you can take Sundays off.

Upcoming Writer Workshops

The following is a partial schedule of upcoming writers’ workshops or conferences I have on my schedule so far. If you’re book club or writers group would be interested in booking me, then leave a comment with your email address or url where I can get back to you.

Scheduled presentations and workshops:

Developing Plot & Character Arcs

Basic Editing of Your Own Manuscript – Friona Public Library – April 16, 2011

10:00 – 3:00

All day session: Arcs workshop in the morning

Editing in the afternoon

For Friona area writers group

Friona, TX

Frontiers in Writing Conference – Amarillo, TX – June 24 – 25, 2011

Finding Balance: Time Management for Prolific Writers workshop

Also, Preliminary Judge for Memoir contest

Basic Novel Writing Class – Amarillo, TX – November 2011

Sponsored by the Amarillo Public Library and YMCA

5 week class covering basic novel writing skills

Participants encouraged to participate simultaneously in National Novel Writing Month

If you have upcoming book releases or presentations, then let me know and I’d be glad to post an interview with you and help promote your efforts.

45 Days After NaNoWriMo

I know that a lot of you participated in NaNoWritMo this past November. National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel (first draft) during the month of November. Over 300,000 people participated, world-wide in 2010. Some succeeded and reached their goal of at least 50,000 words, others only made it part way. Hurray for everyone that participated.

Some participants say “I couldn’t believe that I could do it, at first. Then, I knew I couldn’t just stop along the way. I had to finish it and the best thing is that you learn you can do it.” Once you do it you can do it again.

I’m working on a sequel to Shelter from the Storm edits.

If you’re like a lot of us, we’re working our way through editing and re-writes so we can submit the manuscript and get it published. I’m working on a sequel to Shelter from the Storm editing. Good luck with your books.  Please join me in a discussion on how we’re all doing.

Please Welcome My Guest, Robert Medak

Robert Medak is a freelance writer, editor, book reviewer, aspiring marketer, and aspiring author. He spent 37 years in Telecommunications, upon retiring he decided to follow his dream of being a writer. Robert has written or ghost written over 350 articles and 80 book reviews.

Hi Robert, glad to have you here today during National Novel Writing Month.

Thanks for having me, Dianne.   My Photo

What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?

This is a hard one to answer, because the process is different, at different times. I have been on the way to work and something will trigger a thought and out comes a poem. I was taking out the trash one day and a sight started me thinking, out came a poem. I was recently tagged to write a Christmas story, while laying in bed, I was thinking and had most of the story created in my mind before falling asleep. I woke up the next day and wrote the short story in less than an hour. Reading a good deal also helps your writing. I try to read and write something every day.

Since this month is NaNoWriMo and some of our visitors may be participating  writing tips are always appreciated. What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?

Good writing.

There are many ingredients that make a story.

1. Plot
2. Believable Characters
3. Realistic Dialogue
4. Setting
5. Pace
6. POV
7. beginnings, Middle, and Endings that make sense
8. Consistency of theme

What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?

Someone the reader can identify with. Someone with the same characteristics that the reader may know personally. A person that you love, hate or causes a reaction or emotion in the reader.

By being open, and observing real people in real situations and their response to it.

A writer should always carry a notebook, pad of something to write down items they observe in daily interactions with people, animals, or just the place they live. These are all ingredients to creating a living breathing character in stories.

Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?

Yes. I run most of my writing past my wife, and avid reader. Also, critique groups and others whose opinion I trust.

What are you working on now?

I have a children’s book, a YA-Adult, Adult, eBooks.

The YA-Adult is Science Fiction, the adult is about alternative lifestyle, the eBook I am currently working on is to answer some questions I have been asked in regards to freelance writing. I will be offering an eBook about freelance writing to writers that sign up for a specific online writers conference in 2009 where I plan on being a presenter for a freelance writing course I will be creating. I created a course for writers at Writers’ Village University that I facilitate; I have also facilitated other courses.

Where can we learn more about you?

Writing & More is my business: http://stormywriter.com

My WordPress blog about freelance writing: http://rjmedak.wordpress.com/

My WordPress blog for kids and about animals: http://kidsandanimals.wordpress.com/

My Blog about writing: http://rjmedak.blogspot.com/

My Book review blog: http://rjmbookreviews.blogspot.com/

Thanks for being such a great guest, Robert.

Thank you for having me.

I hope everyone will continue this month’s great tour tomorrow with Debra Eckerling who is the guest at Janet Ann Collins blog.

November is NaNoWriMo

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo, then you are where I was until a few years ago. It is National Novel Writing Month. Every November since about 1999, participants have engaged in writing abandon by writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. At first, I thought that was impossible, but learned it can indeed be done.

This November 2010 I’m signed up and ready to go on a sequel to Shelter from the Storm. I’ll also be facilitating a Basic Novel Writing class during November on Tuesday evenings where I live in Amarillo, Texas. The class is at the East Branch Library on 26th near Sam’s Club on Ross-Osage. We start this coming Tuesday at 6:30 for an hour and a half of writing fun.

You can sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo from home or where ever you are. Sign up at NaNoWriMo. Even if you only get part way through and don’t finish within the 30 days, it is an exciting experience and you’ll probably surprise yourself with how much you can accomplish and how your way of looking at writing can change. Most of all have fun.

Here’s a few words from the staff at NaNoWriMo:

When you registered for your account, you had the opportunity to affiliate with a NaNoWriMo region. You can affiliate with more than one NaNoWriMo region, and choose one region to make your Home Region. Many towns have Municipal Liaisons (MLs) to organize NaNo write-ins and get-togethers in October and November, and affiliating with a region will automatically add you to the regional email list for updates about local events. Every region has a special message board called a Regional Lounge that becomes visible to affiliates of that region on the Forums page.

To affiliate with any region, just sign in to the site and click the My Regions link in the left-hand menu on your profile page. When you click that, you’ll see three tabs. The Regions tab lets you affiliate with any of NaNoWriMo regions around the world. Once you’ve affiliated with the region (or regions—you can pick a bunch if you like), you should pick one of them to be your Home Region on that beautiful Home Region tab.”

Before you head off to begin training those typing fingers, we wanted to offer a few bits of advice. You’ll find many great tips in the forums, and we’ll be sending pep talks directly to your inbox during November. But for now, here’s a quick overview of the three-and-a-half things we wish we had known for our first NaNoWriMo.

1) It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Really. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one. If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do so. But it’s also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what that story might be right now.

2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

3.5) There will be times you’ll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to yodel.

And we’re talking the good kind of yodeling here.

A final word before you head off! NaNoWriMo is a grassroots nonprofit, funded almost entirely by participant donations. If you get something out of NaNoWriMo, we ask that you come by our secure online Donation Station and Store and make a small donation to help keep the program going strong. Even $10 makes a world of difference! http://store.lettersandlight.org

With great well wishes on the noveling month ahead,

The NaNoWriMo Team

NaNoWriMo and other things

I’m signed up for NaNoWriMo this year. With everything else I’m working on it may be interesting to try and make some progress on that as well. For those of you who are readers and not writers, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It takes place each November. People sign up from all over the world and write the first draft of a 50,000 word novel. That comes out to about 1700 words per day if you write every day. It’s a great way to get one done and ready for editing and revisions to submit to a publisher or agent.

I’m also in a group of 29+ writers who are organizing a virtual book tour on our blogs to begin November 15th. These are fun to follow you learn about new writers and new books and we help each other promote everyone’s books. Cool huh? I think so.

I’m 50% finished with the rewrite of my novel Escape, and plan to get it to my publisher by the end of this month.