Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How To: NaNoWriMo


Keep calm. NaNoWriMo is coming.

It's that time of the year when you either decide to take part in what I consider to be one of the most painful months of the year, or you're looking for an easy going month without too much prefer.

This year, I'm that guy. The one that doesn't want to write 50,000 words in 30 days, but that doesn't mean I won't try and help those that do.


You should know how you write the most effectively, for me, it's when I've planned everything out that I can start writing, but for others, all they need is a well fleshed character and they're ready to hit the pages running.


source: nanowrimo.org
I have a pre-NaNo check list (in no particular order):

Snacks: this is very important, if you're writing at night time, you're going to get peckish, so keep some snacks around, they don't have to be coated in sugar (but that's how I like them) you can always chop up an apple, or eat orange segments.

Stationary: it's always nice to have some new stationary around. I usually buy myself some nice new paper and pens before I take on a writing project, and NaNo is an event, so give yourself every advantage by feeling awesome at the start of the month with some new stationary.

Read! A lot: don't forget to do some reading, before, after, and during the event. Oh, and don't forget to keep those writing books by your side as reference. I have an "Emotion Thesaurus" which is an amazing reference guide that helps when you're trying to describe how a person is feeling without saying "he was sad".

Caffeine up: keep your levels peaked, eat chocolate, drink tea, drink coffee... and if you're no fun, you can drink water, I guess... because believe me, you're going to need some caffeine if you're being 100% committed to NaNo, or it will swallow you whole (it will probably swallow you whole anyway).

Characters: You might not want to plan your book out, but you should definitely invest in your characters. Take time to think about your character, let them develop. Ask them questions: how do they react to situations? Remember that once you've planned some amazing characters, they will definitely be running the show for you. They will tell you what they want to do.

Unplug: take yourself away from the internet. Facebook and Twitter are both your enemy and friend during November as you'll be connecting with people and sharing your NaNo experience... but you'll also be wasting time where you could be getting those 1,667 words down. Give yourself an allotted time frame for the internet -- and note that a quick search on "how to clean blood from a carpet?" can lead to a quick stop by Twitter and before you know it, you've wasted thirty minutes.

Keep saving it: it's become second nature to me to press ctrl + S whenever I'm not typing, just so that I'm saving my work... and it's really helpful, it's even more helpful if your laptop is prone to crashing and/or overheating. So don't forget to save it!

How do you do NaNoWriMo?

source: nanowrimo.org
There is no definitive guide to writing a novel in 30 days, even if there are people who claim to know the secrets and blah--blah, there just isn't. Each person is unique and each person will write their novel differently...

I know of some people who can write 10,000 words in a day -- but do they struggle for the rest of the way? (I guess most likely, unless it's all planned.) You do not want to burn yourself out too soon, slow and steady really will make you a NaNoWriMo winner, and there aren't an allotted amount of winners, everyone can be a winner if they put their head to it and work for their daily word count.


Need to Think About...

Time - when do you usually write? Well, whenever that is, you should write then. I usually write in the evening or at night time, however some people write in the morning, and in the case of NaNoWriMo, writing as soon as possible would be best, that way you can meet your daily word count goal earlier.

Goals - you need to know yourself, you need to know how much you can write in a certain time frame. Some people can only write a little amount at any one time, while others have huge bursts and then can't write for a while after.

You should also WRITE WRITE WRITE, and don't stop to edit. This is crucial to all writing projects. Don't edit until you've finished.

I've created three different brackets, the first is the bare minimum that you need to be a NaNo "winner", and then the second two are for those of you who are more daring.

Minimum
1,667 words a day
11,667 words a week
50,000 in 30 days

2,000 words a day
14,000 words a week
60,000 in 30 days
(AN EXTRA 10k)

2,500 words a day
17,500 words a week
75,000 in 30 days
(AN EXTRA 25k)

Make sure to treat yourself - create some positive reinforcement and treat yourself. It's always good to treat yourself, especially after a hard day of writing.

Plot & Plan - I love plotting and planning, I do it for hours, days, weeks, before I start writing because starting a new project is terrifying. However, with NaNo it can be fun to just be spontaneous and plan to do random things... you can plan to introduce new characters, or kill someone, or have an invasion of some kind. Planning characters is a way forward, if you get stuck, you can always look back at your character, see what they would do, and just let them lead the way.

Oh, and don't forget that there is a world outside... you do need fresh air, and yes, you also need to socialise -- fresh air and communication can be inspiring

Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

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Monday, 20 October 2014

The Seven Sins of Writing


"On the charge of sinning, how do you plead?"
"E-e-excuse me, what do you mean?"
*bangs the gavel*
"Order in the courts!"
"But, what do you mean? I haven't sinned."
"You're a writer. Correct?"
*nods*

We're ALL guilty, but that's okay. Writing hell is the kind of hell where the coffee is constantly warm, and that's the kind of reality I'd like to live in.

Go on, own up, who's sinned?

Wrath
An anger to brew in a writer -- people often annoy you, and you know for sure that if they aggraviate you too much you're going to write them into a story, and you're going to make sure that their death is painful and prolonged. Yeah? Familiar with this feeling? A constant state of Monday Blues? As long as you haven't started to sharpen your teeth yet on pencils because it's a more convenient way of sharpening your tools. *wink wink*

So, who hasn't killed someone off in a story or at least THOUGHT (because thinking about doing it still counts) of the ways in which you'll kill someone off. I'd also like to think that as a writer, we're responsible for creating villains, so we've got to have some wrath inside is.

HOW DO YOU PLEAD?

Sloth
Ever have one of those days where you just can not be bothered? Often because you're just all written up, and pressing any more keys might give you an aneurysm. Or perhaps you're a serial sloth, you're one of those writers who's constantly says that they just don't have the time to write. Or, you're taking a break from writing. MAYBE you're waiting for inspiration to hit, maybe you're doing that while decidedly not moving anywhere for the duration of your day *ahem* week.

Your catchphrase might have been mistaken as "I'll leave that until tomorrow".

HOW DO YOU PLEAD?

Greed
You want MORE and you want it NOW! You want more people to like your Facebook page, you want more people to follow you on Twitter, and Instagram, and you want more of the little double-tap love heart things. No. You need it. You want to be pampered with attention, oh, and sales, without sales you can't afford the lavish things you need in life i.e. coffee, and stationary.

Sometimes I just write books for the money. I don't necessarily love writing, but I do love money, and I guess that's all that matters when your bottom line is coffee. I tried that erotica thing that everyone was raving about. Yeah, I sold like a gazillion books at 99c and earned enough for a low-fat soy skinny caramel latte. That was a good day.

HOW DO YOU PLEAD?

Pride
Would you like an actual head with that ego of yours? You've got a lot of belief in your own abilities, and you're awesome about it as well. You find it very difficult to recognise others as equals because, well, you're just better than they are. You've also by now taken it upon yourself to start hashtagging your name in everything that you do, because you want people to know just what you've done.

There's believing in yourself, and then there's delusion -- but you prefer the term "superior" and you're not afraid of showing it. And if someone else is doing something, then you know you're going to be pushing yourself to the forefront of that trend. So how's that film coming along?

HOW DO YOU PLEAD?

Lust
So you have a mild coffee addiction, that's nothing to do with lust, lust is all to do with pleasures of the body... oh, yeah, coffee, chocolate, snacks, you name it, I will probably have a craving for it within the next twenty-four hours, and that's not a promise to you, that's a promise to myself. Writing is a craving that give my body pleasure --- well, my mind, but still... and it gets quite heated when a write certain characters *wink wink*.

I guess you could say that I lust after people too, and attention. I like to show people everything, but only if it looks good.

HOW DO YOU PLEAD?

Envy
I try to keep my jealousy down to about three things a day -- once, I used them up on one person. I loved her shoes, her cute gold necklace and that nice sunkissed tan she had. But I mean, jealousy isn't oh wait, you meant writing. Yeah, I get jealous of people. Those people who can type really fast, especially those people who publish a bajillion times a year. I want what they've got. Just their skills. And I want their bestseller titles, I mean, how can gorilla erotica even be a thing? I want to their originality too.

I get jealous of the popular kids. Like, how do they even do it? I want their popularity so bad, I'd sell a parent just to get half the attention that they get. *pout*

HOW DO YOU PLEAD?

Gluttony
Sometimes I don't know when to stop -- like, I'll write my word goal of 50 word per day, but then I don't know when to stop and I'll just keep on writing and writing and writing and before I know it I'm in a writing coma and my fingers are all jittery. Some times I buy those "couples meals" and it says "FEEDS TWO" on the sleeve -- I just take that to mean, "feeds two hands" and I have those!

HOW DO YOU PLEAD?

I hope this was a nice piece of comic relief to get your Monday off to great start. I know it made me giggle writing it, and please, share away. I love to know that you guys are reading these posts, and that they're getting a lot of computer screen time. These a very extremes.

Are you going to own up to your sins?


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Saturday, 18 October 2014

How To: Write a Blurb


The blurb is a way of selling your book, it's all about telling the reader what your book is about in a nutshell -- and yes, writing a blurb can be hard, but it can also be enjoyable.

The tone in which the blurb is written must fit the tone of the book or even the genre. There's is no better way of learning how to write an effective and awesome blurb than with looking at those who are at the top of their genre.

Examples

Horror
Pet Sematary by Stephen King

source: StephenKing.com
The house looked right, felt right, to Dr. Louis Creed.

Rambling, old, unsmart and comfortable. A place where the family could settle; the children grow and play and explore. The rolling hills and meadows of Maine seemed a world away from the fume-choked dangers of Chicago.

Only the occasional big truck out on the two-lane highway, grinding up through the gears, hammering down the long gradients, growled out an intrusive threat.

But behind the house and far away from the road: that was safe. Just a carefully cleared path up into the woods where generations of local children have processed with the solemn innocence of the young, taking with them their dear departed pets for burial.

A sad place maybe, but safe. Surely a safe place. Not a place to seep into your dreams, to wake you, sweating with fear and foreboding...


Romance
The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

source: NicholasSparks.com
"Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible. She'd believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen."

In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.

Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. Neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew -- about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear -- was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past?

Are they effective?

If I hadn't listed the genres below the titles -- or even the titles, I'm sure that you would've come to the conclusion that the first is for a dark book and the second is for a romance. That's what YOUR book needs to do. It needs to sell itself to the reader.

Joe's Blurb Writing Tips.

In the blurb you do not to rehash everything that has gone on in the entire book.

Write in the tone that the book was written in -- you don't expect to see flowery prose from Stephen King, and you don't see that in his blurb, but in Nicholas Sparks, he's almost grown a garden patch with his abundance of flowery language.

Like with the above two blurbs, they each start with text I presume is taken from the book. It's a good idea, but it's not essential. It's set up a situation and also mood e.g. intrigue, excitement, etc. they both then go into detail about the area i.e. the time, place, and the circumstances happening within the book. 

Once you've introduced the setting of the story, you'll need to introduce some kind of problem or issue that has happened -- or hint towards something bad having happened. In blurbs you often find that there's a BUT somewhere, or other word that hints towards 

You will probably want to re-do your blurb several times, in most instances you won't get your blurb right the first time. And make sure to show people and ask them what they think about your blurb. This problem should raise questions and entice the reader into your book.

The ending of a blurb -- in the examples, we're given a question and an ending with an ellipses.

You should make sure that not everything is down -- if you end it with a question, there should be some hope, for example, "Can love truely rewrite the past?" or "Will they make it to the castle before the plague catches them?" and the kinds of question that make people ask CAN THEY?

A blurb is like a magazine advertisement -- you want to put the airbrushed hair model with the nice gloss instead of the woman with the brittle locks and split ends. You want to put a polished blurb out instead of a blurb that's broken without any care taken of it.

Shorter blurbs are better -- too long and you lose the reader, and with the saturation of books on shelves and in all the online stores, a reader isn't going to wait around while you attempt to hook them in.

Some questions you might want to ask them?
Does this intrigue you? What genre do you think this is a book for? Do you want to read this book?

Now get to writing your blurbs!

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

How To: Write an Amazing Novel


Well, the first thing that you need to go and do is rid yourself of all thoughts that you're going to write an amazing novel right off the bat -- because you're not going to, and you'll only frustrate yourself when you don't pen your amazing novel.

Writing a novel takes time and effort -- not only the writing, but the planning (unless you're a pantser). It won't come easy either, there's emotional strain and sometimes there can be physical strain -- I know that my wrists usually kill after a writing session. I should really get wrist support before anything permanent like carpal tunnel gets me.

There's probably a quote out there, but I can't find it...

A lot of writing is rewriting.

In fact, I think the true art of writing is in the rewrites -- this is where we try and perfect our craft, but we shouldn't try too hard for perfection straight away, we'll only frustrate ourselves. It's something that needs to be built on gradually.

Example
You can't just paint a masterpiece on a blank canvas, you have to prime the canvas, paint over it, add the shapes, lines, and it's not until you've been over and over what you're painting do you actually add the smallest details.

Writing is...
With writing there is A LOT that you need to think about before you start writing -- again, this is coming from a purely planner outlook on the writing process; I do this, and it's my favourite method. Aspects of writing to think about -- characters, places, genre, themes, story lines, character arcs. There are a lot of things that you can think about, and you need to think about it all. Think about writing as long term, a habit that you need to get into.

Writing a novel is hard, let alone writing an amazing novel.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?

How do you define what an "amazing" novel is anyway? Is it by the amount of readers you could potentially reach? Is it through monetary value? Is an amazing novel one without error?

I feel like this a little preachy, but you should just write, draft, edit, draft -- and keep at it. Allow people to give you harsh criticism, allow yourself to be brutally honest. If you're writing a love triangle because you've seen other books with them in, then you're probably doing it for the wrong reasons.

You don't need to go to school or take creative writing classes to be able to write -- that's just another excuse that stops people from writing "oh, but I'd feel more confident if I took this class" etc. instead, read a book, maybe take a class around grammar and punctuation, or even read a book on the topic. Remember that with whatever you do, don't stagnate, keep on moving, the more you move, the more momentum you build.

People don't have to know you're writing for you to be considered a writer -- as long as you know it. Also, the word amazing is very subjective, so believe in your book.

Now, go write YOUR book! 

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Let's Stop Author Bashing! Yeah?


If you're an indie author and you think that because you're an indie you'll have the support of other indies--well, you'd be sadly mistaken. At one time this was true, and the indie community was amazing--so much overwhelming support that has lately become more like the Hunger Games and less like an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Reasons to bash an author...
NONE!

There are no reasons why you should be bashing an author. So don't do it. Maybe you're a bit of a &%*$ -- but that's no reason to insult or attack a fellow author on a public forum; Facebook, Twitter, on a blog etc.

I have both bashed and been bashed -- and neither are pretty, but both can affect an author's image.

I have seen a lot of author bashing lately, one case an from actual bestselling author. It's messed up. Where the hell has professionalism gone? People are climbing on board to attack others for something they've said or done -- and it's often nothing bad.

The expression "air your dirty laundry in public" is very applicable to these situations, and the aim of it is to NOT air your dirty laundry, just in case some people don't understand that. If you have an issue with an author because they decided to title a series similar to yours or someone has done something that you'd planned and you're brandishing them as a plagiarist, you should TALK TO THEM about it instead of calling them out about it and jumping to conclusions.

When you assume, you make
an ASS out of U and ME.

And yes, some people have made themselves look very silly in the past when they have been bashing authors. Everyone knows you're a writer -- you write, that doesn't mean you're also a keyboard warrior, use your words and start a conversation.

So, let's stop author bashing, and let's be decent human beings.