Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoFiMo on the horizon

I had high hopes for NaNoWriMo this year. And I still do.

But seeing as how I'm still at only 18k and there are only two days left (well, ok, a day and one evening) of November, I doubt I'll make it.

I am, however, going to try to write as much as I can before midnight on Tuesday.

That being said, for the first time that I've known about it, I'm looking forward to NaNoFiMo: National Novel Finishing Month. It's for those who weren't quite able to reach the 50k deadline but still want to go for it.

I'm looking at the calendar and thinking "These are the worst possible two months out of the year to have these events! Who decides these things anyway?"

So I have an idea cooking up in the back of my brain. At some point, I want to host my own month of novel writing. But not anywhere close to the holidays or the start of school. Oh, and not during April either because that's National Poetry Month.

Not that anyone will remember this post six months from now, but the thought was on my mind.

For those of you doing NaNoWriMo, and especially those who just need to push forward a little bit more to reach their goal, go for it! If you've finished already or just want to proclaim your word count, post it in the comments. Go ahead, boast. Or, if your word count is like mine and not worth boasting about, post it anyway because you know what? It is worth boasting about. We might not have reached 50k but I know that I wrote 18k words more than I would have otherwise, which is something to be proud about.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all have a wonderful time and are truly thankful for everything you have.

No update for NaNoWriMo sadly. I haven't had time to write anything since last week. But with the break coming up, I'm hoping to change that.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My first Write-In

Words written so far:18,633
Words left until 50k: 31,367
(i'm a little behind, but that's ok)

My adventure this week was attending a write-in for the first time ever.

For those not familiar with the term, a write-in is when a bunch of people (or even just two) get together at a coffee shop or library during NaNoWriMo and write.
They encourage each other with things like word wars, time limits, fun writing-break games, and all around writerly synergy.

For the past three years, I've wanted to attend a Write-in, but was never able to make it (or just wasn't confident enough. Especially the nanowrimo opening parties. Out at midnight on Halloween? I don't think so.)

But I had it in my mind to attend a write-in held at one of my favorite coffee shops. And last night I did.

It was a blast. Now I see why people on the nanowrimo forums are always raving about them.
I was at a point in my story when I didn't think I could possibly write another word and I was just waiting for something to happen so I could write again.
That something was the Write-in.

There were six people there including me. Three of us wrote on our MacBooks, two wrote by  hand, and one wrote on her mini-laptop. Everyone was so excited to be there and it was awesome to meet other writers in my area.

One of the girls brought her Ukelele and played a little bit for us, to serenade the creativity. She also brought a cardboard stand-up robot for no apparent reason. I think it ended up in two people's stories as a character.

I was a little nervous when the group decided to do a word war. I wasn't ready. I had no clue what I was going to write. I hadn't planned it out yet. And suddenly, one person said "Go!" and we were off. We had ten minutes to write as many words as we could, and whoever wrote the most, won.
It was as if the words were being ripped out of me before I had the chance to sensor them. It was eye opening to see what I would write if my inner editor was truly turned off, gagged, and stashed in a closet.

What I wrote was haphazard. Not what I planned at all. But it was half decent and it helped me to imagine what certain scenes in the story were like. Word Wars are great practice.
As it happened, I ended up writing twice as many words in ten minutes as everyone else did, though I have to wonder how fast the Ukelele girl could have written if she wasn't writing by hand. (She's already up to 30k words and hopes to finish by this weekend. I'm pretty sure if she was on a computer, she could've beat me soundly.)

Whenever anyone would reach a significant word count, they'd give a shout out and everyone would congratulate them and give high-fives. It was such an encouraging night and everyone was friendly and helpful.
Some of the writers even brought reference books for everyone to use, such as a Writer's guide to Names. And it was great to have other people's input when I couldn't think of a certain word.

If you're doing nanowrimo and you know of a decently close write-in to you, I highly encourage you to go. Take precautions as always, since you will be meeting strangers. But it's well worth the time and the $4 spent on coffee. (Tea for me, as always.)
I look forward to my write-in next week and seeing everyone again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why are series so tempting to read and write? (And NaNo update)

Not that statistics are glamorous or anything, but I enjoy looking at other people's progress, so here, briefly, are my own stats.

NaNoWriMo Day 8

Words: 15,358
Number of words ahead/behind: +3,689
Number of words left until 50k: 34,642
Average words per day: 2,504

This week has been both exhilarating and hard. I'm really eager to keep going though. This story is unlike any I've ever written before, and my writing partner Perrin is a genius. Being the first book either of us has written with another person, I think the process is going incredibly smooth. It helps to have similar taste and artistic vision.

This week when I wasn't writing, I distracted myself by looking at a bunch of formulas and outlines for stories online. I've heard of the 3-Act rule, the 'put your MC in a tree and throw rocks at him' rule, the three disasters plus an ending formula, and the method of grading the tension in each scene from 1-10 hoping that all your 1s will be at the beginning and all your 10s will be at the end.

One thing every single method of writing had in common was that there needs to be a climax and a denouement. (Wow, I can't believe I spelled that right on my first try!) It got me thinking.

Perhaps the reason why its so tempting to turn books into a series, and why it seems more series/trilogies are popping up in bookstores (at least to me) is because we're beginning to realize that life doesn't have a single climax. It's a continuation. The only real climax that comes to an end in our lives is death. And hardly anyone wants to kill off all their characters at the end of a book. (There are exceptions, of course.) The reader, at least, has invested a good amount of time getting to know those characters and may feel cheated at the end if they all die.

If we're trying to make our characters more real and three dimensional in our novels, then it makes sense that their lives would mirror ours in their continuation. If they were real people, of course they would die some day. But no one wants to write about the day they die.

This theory of mine sounded all nice and neat until I thought of "The House of Mirth." In it, the main character begins to rise from the beginning, but suddenly takes a dive and continues her downfall right until the end of the novel where she dies. And it's not a surprise, nor did I feel cheated out of my character.

My point(s)?

1. Perhaps it's ok to turn a book into a series if you plan on doing that from the beginning. Not in a tacked-on-just-to-make-money sort of way, but if the story genuinely takes three or more books to tell, go for it.

2. There is a way to kill off the main character in the end and not make your readers mad at you. Just do it skillfully.

3. Keep in mind it's also ok to write a stand alone book and move on to create new characters. Especially if you're sick of the ones you've been working with since the last NaNoWriMo.

Now I'm off to write more words!
If you're doing NaNoWriMo, how are you doing with your word count? Is it easier or harder than you thought it would be?

(PS I just found out about a giveaway on Through a glass, darkly. Check it out!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nation Novel Writing Month has begun. And Contest winner.

Welcome to the month of literary abandon!

It's 1 in the morning on November 1st and I just finished writing the first 1700 words of my new novel.
(I know, I'm an over-achiever.)

There was only one person who entered the contest I posed last week, but you know what? That's totally ok because her ideas were awesome. I liked her suggestion for a title for this blog the moment I laid eyes on it.

Ralene from the Faith, Hope, and Suspense blog suggested, as you might have guessed from the new graphic up above, Fiction Technician.

Thanks Ralene for being such a good sport.
And you won your choice of a graphic created by me in Photoshop about your Work in Progress, or a full manuscript critique. E-mail me at smilerjg (at) gmail (dot) com to let me know which prize you would like.

I'm excited for this new blog. And for the next month.

Write on, writer friends. Here's to a month of writing dangerously!

(PS I'm going to be looking into changing the URL for this blog soon, but for now I'm going to keep it under the old name.)