Writing Wednesday: NaNoWriMo Top Ten

Are you new to the writing scene? Maybe you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo. Maybe you’ve even attempted it or completed it. Maybe you are just even wondering what this crazy abbreviate even means.

Well, today my goal is to teach you what it is, give some ideas on how to prepare, and to create/share NaNoWriMo goals.

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What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. On November 1st, writers all over the world begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 pm on November 30th.

 

Intense. Insane. AMAZING.

 

It was established by a non-profit organization and actually has a very helpful web presence: http://nanowrimo.org/. In fact, if you sign up (free) there are badges you can earn to motivate you, forums you can join in on, a word count tracker, merchandise, and a way to connect with other NaNoWriMo crazies.

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NaNoWriMo Top Ten Hints

In order to complete a 50,000 word novel (rough draft) you have to write 1,667 words every single day of November (including Thanksgiving!) Knowing me, I know that will NOT happen. So I am going to plan on doing it in 20 days which means I will need to write 2,500 words a session! Holy Moly!

 

Whether you complete the 50,000 words in 20 days or 30 days, you have to have a plan. So here you go, my top ten of NaNoWriMo hints.

1. Join NaNoWriMo.org.

Get the  the boost you need to plan and push through a crazy month of writing.

2. Get your family on board.

If your family is like mine in any form, they rely heavily on your presence. NaNoWriMo means them committing to giving you time to work uninterrupted and probably more than one mean from a crockpot, pizza, and meals made by their own hands. If you don’t get your family on board, you will likely be pulled away often. I plan on bribing my family … I mean rewarding my family with lots of special meals, a couple movie marathons, and maybe a special outing to the zoo for Festival of the Lights.

3. Pre-schedule as many Blog, Facebook, or Twitter posts as you can.

There is no denying that social media is a time sucker but also necessary, especially for those building their platform. Consistency is key with your followers and taking a month off to write could be detrimental. So to avoid that do as much work beforehand and use apps like Hootsuite to schedule your posts ahead of time.

4. Flesh out your characters before you write using Susan May Warren’s book The Story Equation in October.

Next month, I will have a Writing Wednesday talking about this wonderful resource, but I highly recommend grabbing a copy and using it to help prepare for NaNoWriMo. I have been using it and I can tell you it has made a world of a difference with my plotting and character depth.

5. Figure out your GMC for each character in October.

If you don’t know what that is, check out these posts: Goal, Motivation, Conflict. Debra Dixon also has a fantastic book that you can find on my Write Resource page.

6. Plot out the main points of your story in October to give you direction.

I am a planster, somewhere between a plotter (outlining every detail) and a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants). I found that to make the most use of my time when I sit to write it helps to have a general plan of where I am going. With NaNoWriMo, writing time is a premium, so it is best to make the most of every moment.

7. Set aside your time to write and guard it like a butcher protecting his shop from a pack of starving dogs.

Just because you’re doing NaNoWriMo doesn’t mean life will stop, in fact, I have discovered that is when the starving dogs come to viciously attack. Set up barriers by marking off certain times to write, getting your family on board to protect and help you, and plan out the times you know you can’t write. As much as I would like to say I will write every day from 9 am to 2 pm, I know that isn’t going to happen. There are days I will substitute teach, doctors appointments, camping trips, and I mustn’t forget preparing for Thanksgiving! Life happens and it seems to happen more abundantly in November.

8. Get together a motivational soundtrack to help you get those words typed out.

I am a fan of Jennifer Thomas’ Illumination album. Her classical music is upbeat and gets my imagination going. For certain scenes I also have a few Christian inspirational songs to flow in the background and empower my writing. Later I may put these into a soundtrack to “release” with my novel.

9. Stock up on NaNoWriMo fuel: dark chocolate, tea, milk chocolate, coffee, hot chocolate, caffeine pills, chocolate covered nuts…

Did I mention chocolate?

10. Turn off your inner editor and just write. Remember:

worstthingyouwrite

 

So what about you? Are you joining in NaNoWriMo? Let me know! I would love to cheer you on! Are there any other tips or suggestions you would share for other NaNoWriMo participants?

Writing Craft Wednesday: Michael Hauge’s 6 Stage Story Structure

In my search for the perfect story structure and plotting, I have read many books and continue to do so. However, so far, Michael Hauge’s 6 Stage Story Structure has been my favorite. I love his linear, clear-cut structure.

 

Mr. Hauge’s structure is centered around script writing and is very formulaic. Although the percentages are more a reference to script writing, they can be loosely used for novel writing.

 

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Stage 1  – Setup or “Everyday Life”    (0%-10%)

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  • Introduce your hero in their everyday world
  • Create identification with 2 or more of the following: 
    • sympathy
    • put them in jeopardy
    • make them likable
    • make the hero funny
    • make them powerful

Inner Journey

  • The hero exists completely in their identity.
    • Their identity may be centered on what they do, their religion, or how they want others to see them.
    • Their identity is what protects their core essence. (People pleaser vs “I am fine the way I am.”)

 

 


Turning Point 1 – Presented with an Opportunity (10% marker)

Outer Journey 

  • Creates in the hero a desire to move into a new situation, something new
  • This is not the desire for the true endpoint.

Inner Journey

  • Hero gets a glimpse of what it would be like to live in their essence
  • They refuse the call to change

 

 

Stage 2 – New Situation   (10% – 25%)open-doors-1518244_640

Outer Journey

  • The adjustment
    • What are the new rules?
    • How can I get along?
  • Usually, hero believes it will be easy.

Inner Journey

  • Hero gets a glimpse of what it would be like to live in their essence.
  • Reject living in their essence.

 

 

Turning Point 2 – Change of Plans (25% marker)

Outer Journey

  • The visible end goal is established.
  • The character realizes, “No, I have to do this.”

Inner Journey

  • A foot in who their initial identity is and a foot in who they really are – their essence. 
    • They struggle back and forth with who they are and what they were.

 

 

Stage 3 – Progress  (25% – 50%)

Outer Journey

  • The plan seems to be working.
  • There must be conflict, but the obstacles are avoided, overcome, delayed, or by-passed.

Inner Journey

  • They are still straddling the fence of their essence and identity. 

 

 

Turning Point 3 – The Point of No Return (50%)

Outer Journey

  • When the hero is closer to the goal than the start, town-sign-1158385_640.jpgand they have become so committed they burn their bridges, making it impossible to turn back.
  • The hero’s life as he knew it is over.

Inner Journey

  • Their identity is stripped away.
  • They realize their essence and begin pursuing it.

 

 

Stage 4 – Complications and Higher Stakes (50% – 75%)

Outer Journey

  • It is more difficult to accomplish the goal, but also more important to accomplish.
  • They have more to lose.

Inner Journey

  • They continue pursuing who they really are.

 

 

Turning Point 4 – The Major Setback (75%)

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  • The reader has the sense that all is lost.
  • The plan they had is out the window but they can’t turn back.
  • They must make one last push or die while trying.

Inner journey

  • The hero has fully committed to living in their essence but now the outside world starts coming in and frightening them. 
  • The hero retreats back into their identity. They run away from who they are.

 

 

Stage 5 -The Last Push (75% to ?)

Outer Journey

  • Do it or die while trying.
  • Everything is put on the line.

Inner Journey

  • They realize they don’t like who they were anymore. They have had a taste of who they truly are and they have to go after it.
  • They have to find their destiny, even if it means risking everything to get what they want.

 

 

Turning Point 5 – Climax (% Depends)

Outer Journey

  • All the problems are resolved.
    • The hero can fail, succeed, or change their mind.
  • The length of the climax depends on how many problems you have to resolve.

Inner Journey

  • The moment they fully realize who they are.

 

 

Stage 6 – The Aftermathlove-163690_640

Outer Journey

  • Responding the climax emotionally.
  • The wedding, reconciliation, etc.

Inner Journey

  • The hero is going to live their new life as they truly are.

 

 

Interested in examples and learning more about either Mr. Hauge’s structure or the hero’s journey? I highly recommend buying the audible recording of his and Chris Vogular’s presentations. It is worth every penny. I have listened to it half a dozen times already and plan on listening again as I drive to Nashville for the ACFW Conference next week.

 

Michael Hauge’s website also does a great job showing examples.

 

Tell me what you think about this plotting format? Does it make sense to you? Are there any movies or books you can identify with this plot structure?

 

Writing Craft Wednesday: Prepping for a Writer’s Conference

Okay, so today isn’t really Wednesday. Between all the family craziness and trying to get ready for my first national writer’s conference, I forgot to post until Friday this week.

 

Desperate for a quick, easy topic I thought I would share about preparing for a writer’s conference in a question and answer format. Feel free to skim to the question you have and ask any I didn’t answer in the comment section. I will respond as best I can and add to my answers after I get back.

 

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What do you do at a writer’s conference?

I attended the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference last year and have been registered for the American Christian Writer’s Conference since early spring. Both of these conferences offered writing workshops on publishing, writing craft, and managing life as a writer. There are also opportunities to meet with editors, agents, publishers, mentors, and other authors, both published and unpublished.

 

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The ACFW Conference also has a Genre Dinner night where you get to dress up as one of your characters or the general period in which you write. This is a picture of the dress I ordered. After the conference, I will write a post that shares my experiences – including me actually dressed up.

 

What do you wear to a conference?

A writer’s conference is a professional gathering of other writers and professionals in the industry. Business casual is expected. You will be doing a lot of sitting and walking, so you want something comfortable.

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For me, that means I am deciding between dress pants and my long skirts. I was going to wear some dresses, but all of them are knee length, and I am not exactly the most lady-like person when sitting. Makeup and jewelry are reserved for professional events like these for me.

 

Conference centers are notorious for subjecting a person to a wide range of temperatures. Dress in layers. I am bringing a couple cute sweaters and my blouses are all short sleeve.

 

What do you bring to a conference?

 

In general, you will want business cards, one-sheets, and a notebook and pen – or tablet/laptop if you prefer, but be aware outlets are limited and there are lots of people vying for them. Depending on what your goals are and who you are meeting, you may also need to bring chapter samples, book proposals, and/or synopses.

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Some odds and ends I would not have thought of are thank you cards, to give those professionals you have met with; folders that will hold a business card, your one-sheet, and chapter samples;  and a briefcase or professional bag instead of a backpack.

So those were my top three big questions and answers? What about you? Are there any questions you have about a writer’s conference? I will answer as best I can and then add to it after I get back in three weeks.

Writing Craft Wednesday:Writing in the Male POV – Part 2

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Thor

 

Two great swoon-worthy heroes, and who doesn’t love a swoon-worthy hero? As a writer, I strive to make my heroes the type that makes you swoon despite their flaws.

 

After learning the devastating truth, that my hero was a girly-man, I sought out to learn how to better craft the male POV in my writing. This sent me on a hunt through dozens of articles written by men, women, published authors, and editors to discover what makes a realistic male POV.

 

Last week I shared what I learned about male dialogue and conversations. Today I am wrapping up with bulleted lists on what I discovered about the male’s inner world.

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The Inner Male

  • Short snippets of inner monologue are best. One or two sentences is a good target.
  • A man always thinks of himself in positive terms, even when he botches things terribly. He will phrase his defeat in terms that make it clear that he was put in an impossible situation or that he was off his game. (Of course, you can still have characters who struggle with self-image, but even then they can still have times of thinking like this.)
  • A man would never describe himself as helpless. EVER. He may be down for a time while he waits for the next opportune moment, but he is not helpless.
  • When a man sets his mind on a target, everything else vanishes from thought until the mission is accomplished.
  • Men aren’t going to agonize over whether or not they should kiss the woman, they do it, then deal with the consequences afterward. Teenage guys might naturally agonize, though.
  • Men are very visual. The way a woman dresses creates visual images a man’s brain that can linger for days, months, or even years.
  • For every problem, there is a solution, but the consequences don’t matter as much as simply solving the issue to begin with. They may just try the direct, brute-force way first.
  • Emotion, except for anger, is usually kept under wraps or repressed altogether.
  • They think about responsibilities, deadlines, family, life, and sometimes there is literally nothing. (Is that seriously possible? I can’t even wrap my head around thinking nothing.)
  • Most guys like to imagine they don’t have feelings. They use the ‘push it deep down’ approach 90% of the time and the remaining 10% of the time, it is bottled up until it eventually bursts.
  • If you push a guy, he’ll get angry; if you break a guy, he’ll cry.
  • Guys understand a woman’s emotions; they just don’t know what to do about it.
  • Most guys only know eleven colors: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, black, brown, gray, white, and pink.
  • Guys do NOT always think about sex. If they do, they are not the type of guy you want being your hero. Real men can and do think about other things.

 

What do you think? Are there any things that could be added to this list? Any things which should be removed? Leave your comments below and come back next week for my final installment with Male Behavior.

Writing Craft Wednesday: Writing in the Male POV – Part 1

 

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“So God created man in His own image;

He created him in the image of God;

He created them male and female.”

– Genesis 1:27

 

And boy did he create the differently. Ever heard of the boosolar-system-566537_640k Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? I personally have never read the book, but I can relate to the feeling that men seem to be from a different planet. (And I am sure there are probably at least a few men who feel the same about women.)

 

One of my favorite things about reading and writing romantic fiction is the perspective of the story from both sexes. Reading it is easy. Writing it? Not so much.

 

In fact, in my first draft of my work in progress, my critique partners gently revealed to me that my hero was a whiny, wimpy, girly-man (my words, not theirs). I may be married to a man, but I certainly couldn’t write or think like a man. Boy, was I thankful to discover that early into my writing!

 

So I set my manuscript aside and decided to dive into the world of male point of view. I looked at suggested articles and sought more out on my own. What I discovered, from both the male and female writers of these articles, was a pattern.

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Men are pretty straightforward creatures with specific tendencies in their speech, inner thoughts, and behavior.

 

Over the next couple weeks, I will give a bulleted list of what I have learned. Keep in mind that these bullets are just patterns that I found. There are always exceptions.

 

Male Dialogue

  • They rarely end sentences with questions or say things like “I’m not sure.”
  • They do not use expressive adjectives (wonderful, gorgeous, etc. unless being sarcastic). Usually, “it’s okay” or “it looks good” are about what you get.
  • They are rarely heard saying “May I? Could I? Should I?”
  • They rarely use words like darling, honey, or sweetheart except during times of intimacy or moment of extreme stress.
  • Make dialogue to the point.

 

Male Conversation

  • Conversations are a means to relay information not build relationships.
  • Conversations are typically on a non-important topic until everything dies away
  • Guy conversations generally involve the least amount of words possible.
  • Generally, guys only have two or three things in common with other – sports, work, music, games, food. Gossip is off the table.
  • If two guys disagree on something, expect some flaring tensions and arguments.
  • Talking with girls varies. Some are very shy, some of full of confidence and swagger. Some try to be amicable and get a laugh out of you whether you’re guy or a girl.
  • If men are embarrassed they usually try to laugh it off.
  • If men are hurt they get quiet and try not to get mad.

 

Men…

  • Prefer direct action to talk.
  • Are problem solvers. They rarely listen without giving advice.
  • Rarely ask for advice.
  • Rarely admit to being wrong and their apologies tend to be gruff and unpolished.
  • Rarely respond to a direct command unless they are outranked.
  • Say what they think. They don’t use euphemisms.
  • Use very black-and-white talk – it is what it is; a spade is a spade.
  • Don’t do small talk.
  • Rarely punctuate speakers with agreeing noises.
  • Mostly repress emotions except anger.
  • Are a lot less likely to share their feelings. Feelings are private, which are none of your business.

 

 

What do you think? Is anything off base? Is there anything you would add? Share it in the comments below and then come back next week when I tackle male thought patterns and behaviors.

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