My ‘Preparation’ for NaNoWriMo 2016

It’s a bit early for National Novel Writing Month (which starts Nov. 1 until the 30th) but I can’t help but think about it. It’s 1.5k+ words a day just to finish on time. Plus, most of my social life during that month is next to nothing. I can’t read many books. I can’t any videos games. It’s a dark times ahead for me. BUT . . . I have made a different blog for NaNoWriMo 2016 and later this year, I’ll be linking it to my main blog. If you have noticed, I did change the layout and I added a page with NaNoWriMo 2014 and you can read all about how I didn’t finished my goal but ended up almost half way. I hope that this year I will be more successful because I won’t be attending graduate school until wayyyyy later. And I don’t have an excuse.

So, I have been working on getting my first novel published; the one I wrote almost five years ago and edited many, many times. I only bring this up because I have started to work on the second book. For the most part, I have the overall plot and subplots figured out. It can be tweaked a bit more but that’s not going to stop me from writing a few scenes.

We’re four months away from November (give or take) and I’m planning on sending out my query letters by the end of the summer. Hopefully, more of my beta readers have finished reading my story by then. Fingers crossed. Technically, I could start writing the second book during November but I think it would be better to seriously start writing the second book now.

It seems like my creative side and planning side are unbalanced at the moment. A part of me knows that if I don’t have some idea of where the story will go then, there are problems later on. Another part jut wants to write and not care about the little things. That can all be fixed through editing. Where do I draw the line? I don’t think I will be able to finish writing the second book any time soon. Perhaps I’ll get much of it done but knowing me, I’ll rewrite the same scene over and over again until I like it.

Or perhaps I’m over thinking this. Maybe all I need to just keep writing. Usually, inspiration hits when I’m writing. Right now, the only thing going for me is that I got time.

(Rants also help me come up with ideas.)

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My List of Resources

This week I’ll share with you my list of go to websites when I need extra help in my writing. There are plenty of websites out there and I’m not saying some are better than others. I will say, however, that I have mostly stuck with the following websites because they have worked out for me so far. For the most part, this list is biased toward fantasy tools but there are other websites too.

1.Evernote

I use Evernote to jot down notes, story ideas that pop into my head, and copy down urls. Since I have the app, I can access all my notes on my phone so I don’t always have to be in front of a computer. There’s a free basic version that I think works well and the websites has other features you can pay for.

2. Donjon

This is a website for fantasy generators and it also has information/generators for D&D and science fiction as well. It has a world generator that you can customize and the websites shows an image of your map which is really cool.

3. Seventh Sanctum

This is another website with generators. This is more diverse than Donjon because you can generate armor, weapons, magic, technology, superheroes, and anime and manga.

4. Chaotic Shiny

This website does focus on fantasy (I’m finding a theme here). There’s generators for culture, people, places, accessories with a wide variety.

5. Fantasy name generators

Although it says fantasy, this is primarily a name generator for many things; places, real names, descriptions, and pop culture. For those of you who play WoW, Guild Wars, Diablo, this website is for you. There are generators for every race in the games; Warhammer 40k, LOTR, and so much more.

6. Plot Generator

I don’t use this one often but you can pick the genre you’re thinking about writing and fill in some blanks. With a click of a button, you get your plot. It might not be what you want to write about but I think it’s a good way to start.

7. Writers Plot Idea Generator

This is another plot generator but the website includes plot twists, character name, character profile, and location generators.

8. Fiction Factor

This websites has articles on writing and tips. There are also other genres they talk about with their own website like fantasy or horror.

9. Pronounce names

I use this website when I have no idea how to even pronounce a character name. This situation falls under all the names I make up in my head (or on a generator).

10. Celtx

Primarily I use this website for my scripts but they all have a novel function that you can use. They also have app that can be downloaded.

 

The list isn’t perfect and it all tailored to what I need.  If there are other websites out there that are really great, please tell me. I’m open to any suggestions on other websites that I can use. Like I mentioned, I don’t have all the list of resources but I found these very helpful.

Increasing Word Count

While rewriting a project, currently called Crimson Queen, it hit me that I only have less than 40k words. Plus, it’s a fantasy novel. Double punch. Make it triple. Right off the bat I knew that I could beef up my description a bit, perhaps add some flashbacks, and do a little more world building. When I really think about, perhaps my plot is too linear and needs more conflict than what I currently have.

Thinking back on what must have been my thought process was that I was more focused on the plot and making sure I didn’t get lost somewhere in the chapters. In practice, I think I was off to a good start. Most first drafts aren’t going to be perfect and mine is no exception. Perfection comes in many rewrite (IMHO). I talked about telling versus showing a few weeks ago and this ties back to that. Rewriting parts of a book that shows what the character is going through (he was anxious) with good description (his heart thundered in his chest. Every breath was strained) then it you add more words to your story.

Below are some suggestions that I have found, used and will used in future projects if the occasion calls for it again:

Pacing

Have you ever gotten to a really good part in your story and you just wanted to put it on the page? I have. Just recently I wrote a scene where a Council looked over information and discussed about the explosion in town and, although I don’t have the full word count, I’m sure it is less than 500 words. It’s fine to want to have everything on paper but going back and rewriting the scene to add tension, conflict or something that moves the story forward will help on the long run.

Subplots

I like subplots. To me, they add conflict and tension between characters that might even distract them from their main goal. It prevents the story from being too linear and they’re also a way for you to develop and/or flush out your character whether it’s your protagonist or not. Or you can develop these subplots further.

Minor Characters

We interact with a lot of people over the course of the day and they have a story of their own. The people in your stories are no exception. I’m guilty of not giving my minor characters enough page time and they pop in and out because the plot demands it. Give them more page time and have them talk or interrupt your character when their on their way visit a family member in the hospital. Or something like that.

New Characters

This kind of goes hand in hand in minor characters. These can be anyone from a friend from the past, a new guy, the guy that lives next door but you just noticed. There’s always an opportunity to complicate things for your character. That first prize art contest, have a new guy show up and he can paint/draw anything. Make him/her a rival and see where that goes.

Description

Use with care. Beef up those scenes that might need an extra push to make the world seem alive. When your characters are talking, don’t let them stand on white space. Have them move around the room or store. Have them pick up things. Do you stand still when you talk to someone? I don’t.

Complications

Nothing should go according to plan. That’s a motto I live by. Well, not really but I do some times. Saying that, if your character is racing to the hospital (different example, I promise) because his/her friend just cut their finger on a razor, you bet you have to pull them over or have their tire get a flat. This does sound cruel but you get the gist. Nothing should be easy because it isn’t.

Anything else I miss? What do you do to increase your word count? What works for you? What doesn’t? Thanks for stopping bye. Until next time.

 

It’s all in the details

On the path to rewriting a project I’ve been working on for a long time, I began to think of a basic question: how was bread made? Off to the internet I went searching for answers and, not only did I get the information, I learned about the type of bread different social classes ate and the different ingredients that went into making bread. Somewhere in the midst of those paragraphs, any hype I once had about the impact of bread in my story vanished.

Not only did I realize that I have been out of the researching game for a while, I also thought about the actual impact bread would have in the story. What difference would it make to have those small details? For some project, say historical fiction, those types of details would definitely be important and I’m sure readers would call you out on it if it wasn’t right. But in my case, when I really thought about it, mentioning bread wouldn’t make much of a difference. If for example, I turned my story into a rags to riches story and bread was one of the ways that would reveal to the reader how out of place my character is then you bet I would research bread throughout history.

Today, I’m here to say that basics matter. I guess that seems obvious but at the same time, it’s not something that pops out right away. At least, in my case, it doesn’t. Some writers have everything planned out from what their characters ate on a particular morning to the type of underwear they were at night – if they do at all. If you’re like me, however, I tend to focus on the plot and how to get my story on paper first before I deal with all the small details.

I’m not saying that I don’t do research for my stories; when it comes to weapons, I research everything; time period, the way they were made, who used them, everything. Looking at lore, clothing, social classes, hand-to-hand combat are but a few of what I look up in books and internet. However, sometimes the research tends to get too overwhelming and my excitement evaporates which is why I have to write the story and if anything major comes up that I need to look into then I will.

Suggestions?

 

Well, do become knowledgeable about whatever topic you’re writing about. Consult experts, books, research studies, etc. Just don’t overwhelm yourself with so much researching that you won’t want to write your story. Read other’s work. Look at what other authors have done and what can you take from them.

Plan out your plot. Knowing what’s going to happen a few scenes down the road would definitely help. For example, your story takes place in medieval times or in a fantasy, you did research over weapons. Your characters walks through the market and two knights are fighting each other. One has a broad sword and the other wields a falchion. Small opportunities like that add to the world building and also reveal that your character knows what a falchion is and it reveals your research. In the end, it makes your story jump off the pages.