October Noticeboard

October 30, 2009

Poseidon’s Trident:
Current Chapter in First Draft (Typed) Stage:
Current Chapter in Edit Stage: None

Daniel Fox:
Current Story in Rough Draft Stage:
The Fox
Current Story in Edit Stage: None

I’ve decided that The Fox needs a re-write. Like, a MAJOR re-write. So I’ll be working on that, instead of TKAK. With PT, I cut a few chapters and combined two into one, so that changed my chapter count around.

Also, you may have noticed that the blog here has a new look. Like it? Along with the look, I also combined all the blog pages into one, CURRENTLY WRITING, with links from there to the pages. If you head over to the page on PT, I’ve changed the blurb around a bit. Click here to take a look.

Goals for October:

  • Write everyday – Afraid not.
  • Edit TFYes. Re-writes are now in order, thus putting TKAK on hold.
  • Keep working on TKAK – No.

Goals for November:

  • Finish my plans for the blog over Christmas

Looking at all the things I need to write, I’ve decided to put PT on hold for a week or two, so I can focus on some things for the blog over Christmas. Hopefully I can resume writing PT mid November.

In November, I’ll be running a series of posts about important aspects of a novel. Those aspects are plot, characters, dialogue and setting. I had planned to have all written by now, so it would be one less thing to do during my end of year exam block (last week in November). However, I’ve got one to complete.

How was your month, writing wise? Did you do well? What were your goals for October? November? Good luck NaNo participants!


National Novel Writing Month

October 24, 2009

As you all know, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is fast approaching, and shortly, thousands of writers will undertake the task to write 50,000+ words by midnight, November 30.

NaNoWriMo was first started by Chris Baty in San Francisco, 1999, and had only 21 participants. However, the project quickly expanded, attracting over 40,000 people in 2004! Now, NaNo is an international event for the writing community. NaNo have said that they considered changing NaNo to International Novel Writing Month, but InNoWriMo doesn’t sound as good. (However, I disagree, InNoWriMo sounds great in the ‘I’ in In rhymes with Wri.)

Approximately two thirds of participants manage to write the required words to ‘win’. If you want to ‘win’, and I’m sure you do, I have a little bit of last-minute-advice, before you start.

Write everyday: You’ve only got 30 days to write, so it’s definitely a good idea to write daily. If you write everyday, your journey will slightly easier, with only 1,666 word needed each day to pass. Keep in mind however, that the figure is still a lot! If you only don’t write everyday, maybe have every Saturday off, to catch up all those missed days, you’ll have to write 1,923 words instead.

Turn off your Inner Editor: If you let your little  Inner Editor out, he/she will quickly ruin your chances at succeeding in NaNo. Turn him/her off, you’ll find yourself writing much faster, as you wont have to stop to fix spelling and grammar errors. If you can’t turn him/her off, turn off the Spell Checker. Remember, NaNo is all about quantity, not quality. You can edit later.

The internet is your enemy: How much time can you waste on the internet? For me, a lot. Checking emails can lead to “I’ll just check Facebook”, then “I wonder if there are comments on my blog?” Then, next thing you know, you’ll have wasted an hour. Instead, don’t allow yourself on the internet. Turn it off. Don’t allow any temptation. If you need to Google something, make a not of it, and Google it later.

Try some ‘writing games’: There’s lots of writing games out there. Timed Writing, where you write as much as you can in a set time period; Writing Binge, where you spend your weekend writing as much as you can for one hour, take a break, then resume writing for an hour, take another break, and keep going… There are heaps of games out there, try them with a friend.
Use an outline: This may be a little late for some of you, but using an outline really does work. Instead of wasting time figuring out a problem, or deciding where the story goes next, you can write.

There is plenty of other tips out there, Google is full of them. But that’s a sample which should help you out. What tips do you have? Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? Did you win?

And to the NaNo participants, remember, HAVE FUN. That’s what NaNo is all about.

Now to you. Are you competing? What will you be working on?

I wish you the best of luck.

Making Goals When Writing

October 21, 2009

When writing, it’s a good idea to have a goal. Not a vague goal, like “I will write this novel”, or “I will edit my short story”. When you make goals, if you want them to be successful, there’s several things you need to do. Your goals have to be SMART.

S is for Specific: Don’t make your goals, vague, they have to be specific. Don’t say “I will edit”, be specific and say “I will edit my short story”.

M is for Measurable: Your goals have to be measurable for them to be successful. You  have to have something to show for it. Don’t say “I will read some of my books this month”, make the goal measurable. How many books do you want to read?

A is for Achievable: There’s no point in setting goals you can’t reach. If you can’t write 1,500 words each and every day, don’t set it as your goal. Instead, set it lower, so you can achieve your goal. Perhaps writing 250 words/day is better for you. Remember, it is better to go over your goal regularly, than to fail often.

R is for Realistic: Be honest with yourself, do you really have the time and commitment to finish the last 100,000 words by Christmas? If not, don’t set it as your goal.

T is for Time-framed:
There has to be a time-frame in which you must complete your work. Don’t say “I will write the rough draft to my novel”, say “I will write the rough draft by June next year”.

Making Minor Characters Pop

October 17, 2009

I am extremely excited to introduce my first guest blogger, KM Weiland. KM Weiland is guest blogging here today, as part of her Blog Tour for her latest novel, Behold the Dawn, which was released October 1. It is my pleasure now to  introduce KM Weiland, and her guest post on Making Minor Characters Pop.

Minor characters are one of the most vital elements in any story, simply because the vast majority of your cast will necessarily be composed of minor characters. And yet minor characters are too often not taken full advantage of. Instead of grabbing the opportunity to use a minor character to bring a scene to life, to add verisimilitude to the setting, and to give the protagonist a worthy foil, we too often allow them to lay on page, flat and flaccid and boring. While writing my recently released medieval novel Behold the Dawn , I learned a lesson about minor characters that has changed the way I approach them.

Lady Eloise stormed her way onto the scene, as the wife of Lord Stephen of Essex, the man who would provide sanctuary to my hero’s beleaguered wife, Mairead. Eloise’s only necessary role in the story was to indicate Lord Stephen’s matrimonial state and, perhaps, give Mairead someone to converse with. She could so easily have become a vapid, two-dimensional talking head: a sweet, meek old woman in a wimple. But, thanks to a reminder from best-selling author James Scott Bell, such was not to be Eloise’s fate.

Minutes before sitting down to write Eloise’s introduction, I read Bell’s article “Second to None” (Writer’s Digest, June 2005), in which he reminded writers that “minor characters should add spice to your novel, not dull it down. Well-conceived minor characters add an extra spark that distinguishes the best fiction from everything else.” With his words ringing in my head, I approached Eloise’s scene from an entirely new vantage point. What could I do to bring this seemingly irrelevant character to life? How could I keep her from falling into the role of a stereotypical talking head? What would make her pop?

From there on out, Eloise (like all good characters) took over: “The door banged open again, and a silver-headed woman bustled into the room. Quick gray eyes took in the two visitors and landed with visible delight on Mairead. She bowed to the room at large and turned back to Annan. ‘Master Annan—delighted to see you, of course. I rather expected you to be dead by now.’”

Her unexpected and acerbic comments, her physical energy, and her unequivocal opinions made her jump off the page. She wasn’t a likable character; she forced her unwanted opinions on other characters too often for that. But she was a real character. Her foibles and her quirks were balanced by a stout moral core. Eloise did whatever she thought was right and hanged the consequences. The fact that she wasn’t always right only deepened her dimensions.

Like any well-rounded, three-dimensional personality, minor characters must have a healthy balance of good traits and bad traits. They must add to their scenes, instead of being so much dead weight. And—as I hope Eloise was able to do—good minor characters must be capable of bringing that extra spark of which James Scott Bell fortuitously reminded me. May his words remind you too.

About the Author: K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She is the author of A Man Called Outlaw and the recently released Behold the Dawn . She blogs at Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors and AuthorCulture.

Snip Snip

October 13, 2009

A couple of days ago, I took an estimate of how large my WIP would be once completed. I had 33 chapters, and had the assumption that each chapter would be 3000 words long exactly (of course, the  chapters would end up being larger than the assumption, but for the estimate, it would do). So I did the calculations, and came up with 102,000 words. Yikes!

Since then, I’ve been examining my WIP, looking for any chapter that can go. So far, I’ve managed to cut four chapters, which brings the estimate down to 87,000. A shame, because that meant cutting a scene I really liked. I tried to find a way for it to be needed, but, nope. I can’t use it even if I wanted to because of a few changes I made to the overall plot to fix up where the taken out chapters are.

What about you? What are your estimates for you WIP? Have you had to do this?

Chapter Lengths

October 9, 2009

Recently, I began to wonder about chapters, and how big they should be. I know that there is not proper limit for the amount of words you should write, but I’m still curious. I asked about this a while back, all the way back in March, and one commenter said the usual average word count for chapters was around the 3,000 word mark. Since then, I’ve always aimed for that.

Anyway, as I said, I recently began to ponder this again, and did some research. The answers all varied, but many sites did say around 2,000 – 3,000 words/chapter. Of course, this all depends on the genre you write. Fantasy, as I read, can be larger, around the 5,000 mark, while YA and MG are shorter, around 1,000.

Personally, I prefer shorter chapters, as I like to finish reading at the end of chapters. I cant stand reading chapters that stretch on for pages, it gets to the point where I skim over the words, trying to reach the end.

What about you? How large do you aim for your chapters to be? Or do you just write, not worrying about the size? And as a reader, do you have a preference for long/short chapters?

Making Bad Guys Bad Pt.2

October 3, 2009

Every books needs a evil character. A bad guy, a villain, an antagonist. An antagonist can make, or break, a story. Create a believable and evil character, and you’re on the way to having a great story. Create a pathetic, two-dimensional wimp, and your work will be put down faster than an elephant in an elevator. Last time, I talked about how to create an antagonist. Now, I want to talk about making them believable.

There are several questions you can ask yourself when creating the antagonist:

What does your antagonist want? What does he/she desire? What does she/he want? Answering these questions can lead to giving your antagonist a goal. Motivation to achieve this goal. And giving him/her motivation will lead to unlocking what drives them to win.

What are her/his strengths? Is he/she strong physically? Or is the antagonist intelligent? Does she/he have superpowers, or a supernatural talent?

What about weaknesses? Does your antagonist fear bugs? Blood? Heights? Flying? Weaknesses are important for antagonists, because after all, they are created to lose. Give them weaknesses, something the protagonist can use against them.

What are his/her motivations? Why does your antagonist want to be evil? Perhaps write up a timeline for your antagonist. Perhaps he tortures people because he was abused as a child.

Is your antagonist intimidating? No one will be scared of a short scrawny midget. How large is she/he? Many antagonists are big and scary. Your antagonist needs to be intimidating to frighten your protagonist.

What is her/his habits? All characters need habits, it makes them believable. Antagonists are no exception. Perhaps she twirls her hair around her finger. Maybe he taps his foot when he’s bored. What about always wiggling fingers?

That’s just a brief overview of making believable antagonists, and in fact, all characters in general.