Do you want to connect with other writers for NaNoWriMo this year? We do too, so please let us know what you are working on and how it’s going! This is our second blog post leading up to NaNoWriMo, so if you missed it, check out our previous post about writing in November.
How are you preparing? Are you brainstorming? How is that going? Do you have any tips or tricks to share with the rest of us? We really want to know!
Here are a few more questions we each answered. Please comment and let us know your answers to these questions or share any information you would like about your writing style. Also, lets us know if you have questions you would like us to answer. Happy writing everyone!
What brainstorming method has worked best for you?
Sara – At first I had a hard time getting my idea to take shape–to make all of the pieces fit in a way that made sense. I had several typed and written pages of notes, and I knew that there were going to be several characters and tons of moving pieces. I just couldn’t wrap my brain fully around it. One day I sat down and literally taped three pieces of printer paper together end to end and started pencil drawing a time line. This helped me so much! My story follows several people in several different places and most will eventually collide at some point. I had to ask myself: where would this person be while this is happening over here?
After that I found the snowflake method and things really took off from there. You should have a look at this website if you are having a hard time getting started. My favorite is the part where you write a summary of the entire book from each character’s perspective. This not only helped me to get the story on paper (or on the computer screen), but it also helped in coming up with plot details and continues to be invaluable for filling in plot holes!
Stacy – I really got rolling with brainstorming when I was on a road trip with Sara last spring. It helped to finally say my ideas out loud and figure out (at least initially) what did and didn’t work. If you have someone you feel comfortable sharing your idea with, I highly recommend it! When I got home from our trip, I immediately sat down and added to my brief, bare bones outline. It still ended up only four pages long. But as I have started manuscript, I have found myself making bullet point lists below my copy as additional ideas for subsequent plot points occur to me. These have been really helpful so far!
If you are looking for some good outlining advice, there are seven good methods listed on NowNovel.com. I also like the three straightforward worksheets found on The Writer’s Craft website. The worksheets cover characters, settings, and scenes, and they help flesh out specifics on things you’ve probably already began tossing around in your mind. But it’s good to get it in writing because, if you’re like me, when the thoughts are flowing you get scared you’re going to forget some exciting detail you just dreamed up!
What are your favorite writing bloggers or websites?
Sara – As I mentioned under the previous question, Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method is on my list of favorites. I also really enjoy The Better Novel Project for learning how a few successful YA novels have followed a particular format that really works. She even has an outline that you could roughly follow if you are hung up.
Stacy – There aren’t any particular websites I’ve visited repeatedly. But if you’re looking for a comprehensive writing blogger, try She’s Novel, a website that’s been around for a couple of years. The blogger’s name is Kristen Kieffer. The bio at the bottom of her home page says she’s a creative writing coach and the author of a couple upcoming fantasy novels. She has great qualifications, and her website is easy to get around!
Have you found any good writing ideas on Pinterest?
Sara – Yes! There are tons of great articles and ideas referenced on Pinterest. Check out our board Writing a Novel to see what we have found so far. I really do try to read all of these. It is part of my ongoing learning process–to read an expert’s take on writing at least every other day. I had already heard about Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft but after seeing an awesome pin about it, I’m planning to read as soon as I can get it from the library. Take a look at the pin here…
I also have several private boards where I pin photographs that will help me with forming my setting and characters.
Stacy – Sara and I started a Pinterest board about writing several months ago, and Pinterest is where I’ve found all the websites I reference in this post. Even though I’m in the middle of the first draft of my manuscript, I love looking through the many editing pins on our Writing a Novel board. They keep common grammar mistakes in the forefront of my mind, and I know many of them will be key in tightening my copy once I start the editing process.
Some of my favorite articles I’ve found for the writing phase are as follows: How to Write in Deep Point of View at She’sNovel.com, How to Write Your Character’s Thoughts at GoTeenWriters.com, and The Master List of Physical Descriptions on Bryn Donovan’s website. The first two have so many great tips on immersing the reader in the world you’ve created as well as in your character’s head. The third website is so much fun! You already have a clear picture of each character in your head, right? But how do you describe their eye shape, face structure, body type, and more? How do you transfer the picture in your mind onto paper? I like the lists this website has to offer.
What is your writing method?
Sara – I am a planner! I LOVE the planning process. My computer holds 10 documents from my early planning phase and five that I’m working from right now. I have pages and pages of setting notes and complete backgrounds for several characters even though I know most of that information will never make it in a final draft. I’m just beginning to actually write the novel, and I didn’t start at the beginning! My tendency is to over edit a lot along the way. I’ll spend days editing one piece before I move on. I’m going to try to forgo all editing during November. Not looking back for mistakes or a better way to say something is going to be very difficult for me!
Stacy – While I’m a usually planner (we’re talking extremely Type-A), I have decided to forgo major outlining and just start writing. This might lead to a lot of revising down the road. But right now I’ve really got the writing bug, so that’s what I want to spend my time doing. However, I want to add to my background information notes on my characters and setting soon. I know some additional planning up front will help pay off in the long run! One more out-of-the-ordinary thing for me writing-wise…I am a rock-n-roll girl when it comes to music, but I turn on classical music when I’m writing. It’s creatively stimulating, and instrumental music works better for me because words in songs seem to compete for attention with the words I’m trying to write.
What is your plan for #nanowrimo in November?
Sara – November is a heavy travel month for me, so, like Stacy, I am going to shoot for 30,000 words. It will be a mess and that will drive me crazy, but I really want to use the time in November to just type out the whole story beginning to end. I have already warned my family that I will be binge writing. I will use every possible moment that I can find to write. Ideally I will have several uninterrupted hours a week to write, but I don’t want to let the random hour here or there that I have to go to waste either.
Stacy – I know the common NaNoWriMo goal is 50,000 words. I have already started the first draft of my manuscript and am about 25,000 words in. I have discovered my writing pace clocks in at approximately 1,000 words per hour. With my busy schedule, other commitments, and holiday travel in the month of November, I don’t think I’ll be able to find 50 hours to write. Therefore, I have modified my goal to 30,000 words. In addition to my normal writing time on Fridays (referenced in our previous blog post), I am going to try to isolate myself from my family on Saturdays for several hours to write. 😉 And I am going to dedicate the hour before bedtime (my usual reading time!) to writing just for the month November.
Again, let us know if you plan on writing in November for NaNoWriMo! And watch for our next post about our November progress!
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