Tag Archives: word count

Are You Ready For NaNoWriMo?

press-start-fa915ffe8a6fb32bb3eabf7f771620b4With only two weeks to go until NaNoWriMo begins for another year, are you prepared? As a previous (multiple) NaNoWriMo ‘winner’ I’m here to help you get ready for November.

STEP 1:

Have you signed up to the official NaNoWriMo site yet? If not, don’t forget to sign up. It’s a great way to keep track of your word count over the month, and to keep track of any friends who are also taking part. Explore the forums and sign up to your local area group to get motivating emails throughout the month.

STEP 2:

Do you have a plan? Although one year I managed to write 50,000 words on a novel by pantsing, I believe having a plan can be a great help. Even just a dot point outline can give you something to refer to when you get stuck so you can remind yourself where you want the story to go. I personally like having a skeleton outline, which you can read more about here.

STEP 3:

Do you know your characters? Getting to know your characters before you start writing can make it easier to get into their heads as you write. Here is a post on various ways you can get to know your characters before NaNo.

STEP 4:

Have some handy writing tools at your fingertips. Here is a list of links to writing tools to help you during NaNo, such as Write or Die (which is GREAT for motivating you to reach your daily word count).

BONUS LINKS

Links to help you with plotting your novel.

Links to help you bolster your word count.

– And don’t forget my master list of links, including links to posts on character, tension/pacing, and much more.

BONUS TIPS

– Keep a notepad and pen with you at all times during NaNo so you can write whenever you get a moment.

– Write whenever you get a free moment. Kids occupied playing outside, sit on the porch and write. On your lunch break at work, break out that notepad and write. Waiting in the doctor’s waiting room… You know the drill. Use those spare moments. Forget Candy Crush, it’s banished for the month. Bookmark that book you’re reading and put it in a drawer. Let your partner/housemates have control of the remote control (or if you have a favourite show you can’t miss, don’t forget to write during the ad breaks).

– Link up with fellow writers, particularly those doing NaNo, and do writing races. Example:

Me (on social media site/forum): Who’s up for a writing race? 30 minutes starting at :15 (use just the minutes to account for people in different time zones, so it could mean 7:15am in Australia AND 4:15pm in New York).

Writing friend: I’m in!

Me: (at 15 minutes past the hour): Go!

*30 minutes pass*

Me: Stop! 868 words.

Writing friend: 934.

– Stock up on chocolate/caffeine/Wiggles DVDs for the kids/whatever it is you need to get through writing when you are stressed/tired/despairing over character arcs. (I’ve picked a really good time to start a new diet, so it will be my first NaNo without a stockpile of chocolate/caffeine to get me through. Eep!)

Share your NaNo tips in the comments below.

HAPPY NANO-ING!

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Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts October 2011

As it’s October, there will be a special NaNoWriMo section of links for those who will be participating in NaNoWriMo in a few days time. But first, a round up of the other helpful sites and blog posts from the last month:

Writing

Five Fun and Easy Ways to Lengthen Word Count

While some writers write long novels that ultimately need to be trimmed, if you’re anything like me and tend to write spare, sometimes you may find you fall short in the word count department. I have this problem with my current WIP and I found this post to be quite helpful. It suggests ways to lengthen your word count without adding unnecessary fluff or padding.

Your Formula for a Kick-A** Young Adult Heroine

These tips are drawn from a panel of authors who all have kick-butt heroines in their novels.

Revising

Editing Your MS in 30 Days or Less

Some tips from author Elana Johnson on how to edit your novel in a month. While the tips in the post are probably easier to achieve for those of us who don’t have children, they are invaluable tips none-the-less and can still help with editing your novel in a shorter amount of time.

The Twelve Steps I Followed to Format “My Cheeky Angel” for Kindle Direct Publishing

Although this post is primarily directed towards self-publishing authors, there are some valuable formatting tips for all writers to follow before submitting to agents/publishers to make your novel stand out as polished and professional.

10 Proofreading Tips to Ensure Your Self-Published Works are Flawless

This is another post that, although it’s written for self-publishers, can just as easily be used by all writers. A great checklist to keep in mind when revising.

Picture Books

Only One Published Book? Aaack!

What picture book writers can do on library/school visits if they only have one published book.

Do You Want to Write Books for Children?

This post covers some common misconceptions and mistakes made by picture book writers and how you can fix/avoid them.

Marketing

Tips on Marketing Your Novel

Literary agent Natalie Fischer shares her best tips on marketing your novel, from the pre-sale phase (before you even sign a publisher) right through to the book release. Perfect for any writer at any stage of the process.

Eleven Deadly Sins of Online Promotion for Writers

Another one for writers in any stage of the process, including those who are seeking to attract an agent. 11 things you should never do when you’re promoting your writing online.

NaNoWriMo!

9 Ways to Prepare for the National Novel Writing Month

This would have to be the BEST post I’ve ever come across on preparing for NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t talk about outlines, but rather how to prepare yourself mentally and organise yourself and your life in preparation. It outlines 9 areas you may not have considered in the lead up to NaNoWriMo and provides questions to ask yourself to help get yourself prepared. It was written by 5-time NaNoWriMo-er and awesome writer/editor/publisher, Jodi Cleghorn.

5 tips for NaNoWriMo Success

Five quick tips for helping you achieve your NaNoWriMo goal.

NaNoWriMo Starts Right Here right Now

Some advice from a past NaNowriMo winners on how to get past the NaNoWriMo finish line.

My NaNoWriMo 2011 Tips

Some tips for succeeding at NaNoWriMo from a two-time NaNoWriMo winner. (I personally think the 1st tip is an especially important one to remember.)

For those who are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, good luck!

Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts May 2011

It’s time for my monthly round up of helpful writing sites and blog posts. All links will be added to the masterlist (link at top of blog).

Writing

50 Books That Will Make You a Better Writer

A list of 50 of the best writing books, from Stephen King’s On Writing to Stunk and White’s The Element of Style.

Need Some Bling for Your Title? Try PRISM

Five elements to keep in mind when brainstorming an effective title for your novel.

How to Write the Ending of Your Novel

Author Joanna Penn gives tips on writing the ending of your novel so the reader will finish the book wanting to buy your next novel.

How to Write (a Book). A Wee Rant

12 points on how to write. No, this isn’t about the technicalities of writing, or plot, it’s about sitting your butt down and actually putting words on a page. One of my favourite lines, “No wonder we all have writer’s block. We’re not even writing. Plumbers don’t have plumber’s block, do they? NO, THEY GET ON THE FLOOR AND CLEAR OUT THE WINDEX AND EVIDENCE OF MOUSE POOP UNDER THE SINK AND GET TO PLUMBING.”

The Only 12 1/2 Writing Rules You’ll Ever Need

A great motivational poster for writers with some great tips.

Ponder, Polish, Perfect: How to Successfully Revise

Literary Agent Natalie Fischer goes over some ideas to help you ‘re-envision’ your work.

Wordcount Dracula

Literary agent Jennifer Laughran (aka literaticat) has put together a very comprhensive post on word counts in kidlit (PBs through YA) including examples of published books.

Picture Book Construction: Know Your Layout

A must read post for picture book writers on picture book layout and having an awareness of page breaks.

16 Manuscript Format Guidelines

Getting ready to send of your manuscript to a publisher and all the guidelines say are, ‘Standard Manuscript Format’ and you’re not sure what that means? This helpful post outlines what standard manuscript formatting entails. A couple of the points are a little outdated, so I would also suggest scrolling down through the comments that correct them. And in particular have a look at the comment by NEB which is quite informative.

Pitching

Hook ‘Em In (in three seconds or less)

Literary agent Natalie Fischer gives some helpful hook tips.

Marketing

The Seven Book Marketing Mistakes That Authors Make

Want your book to sell? Make sure you’re not making these marketing mistakes. A couple of these are more applicable to self-published authors, but some of them are applicable to all authors.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself After Hearing: We Can’t Sell Enough to Justify Publishing It

Some tips on what to do next. I’ve put this under the heading of marketing because in most part the tips relate to making your book more marketable or building your author platform.

Blogging

Formatting Posts and Pages

Geared towards WordPress users, but helpful to other blogging platform users too, this post outlines the golden rule for formatting your blog posts to make them easier for your readers to read (hence keeping their attention).

Blog Law – Is Your Giveaway Legal?

Many writers I know do giveaways/ have competitions on their blogs. But are those giveaways/competitions legal? An attorney and blogger provides information on running blog giveaways in simple/easy to understand terms.

NaNoWriMo – The journey so far

LAST YEAR

Last year I attempted NaNo for the first time. I only got 25k. I managed to finish the novel a few months later and have recently just finished editing.

THIS YEAR

The plan…

This year I had four story ideas I was throwing around, I finally decided on the one I had the most ideas for since I figured it would make it easier to write. I planned it all out, I had an outline, I had character bios, I even knew what I wanted to happen chapter by chapter (I’m a real planner when I write, I like to know what’s going to happen before I start.)

November starts…

I started out slow. Really slow. In the first week I got a total of 3000 words. I had the ideas, I knew what I wanted to happen, I even had the time (since I’m not working at the moment). I just wasn’t feeling motivated. By the end of the week I knew it just wasn’t working and it was a choice between giving up completely or starting something new.

Second attempt…

I thought I might switch to the sequel for my last year’s NaNo, since I already had a few ideas for it and I was already in my characters’ heads from all the editing. I wrote 100 words and realised I needed the month break from that universe I’d promised myself (after all I’d been working on that story non stop for a year already).

Finding the right story…

I thought about the remaining two stories I had on my back up list and decided I didn’t feel the pull for either of them. There was only one thing left I could pursue. What had been my major distraction during that first week? A new book series I’d discovered a few months ago and which I’d just recently finished reading. Every time I didn’t feel motivated on my story I would read fanfic pertaining to this series. I’d written fanfic in the past (as I mentioned in my guest post on Harry Potter for Writers last week), why not try my hand at a new fandom?

Motivation finally…

The first day I started writing my fanfic novel I wrote 7851 words in one day! That’s more than double my word count from the entire week before. I’d found my motivation. The following days I wrote 5k a day. By day 9 I’d surpassed the daily word count goal and kept ahead. I couldn’t believe I was writing so much by the seat of my pants with no real plan and only the vaguest of ideas of where I wanted the story to go. It’s scary in a way, I’ve never written anything this long without a plan before.

Motivation dwindling…

Last week my motivation started dwindling. It was a combination of a couple of reasons. Firstly I hit a spot in my story where I’d written a really climatic scene and found I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to happen next (the downfall of writing with no plan). Secondly morning sickness kicked in. It probably wasn’t the smartest idea planning to get pregnant when NaNo was about to start and I knew morning sickness would kick in sometime in November. I planned to power through. Not so easy when my stomach is churning and I’m feeling tired on top of that and I just want to go to sleep. We’ve also been hit with some really hot days here the past few days, so that’s compounded my lack of motivation. Monday I wrote nothing at all.

Where I am now…

My total word count at the moment is just over 38k, I’m sitting right where I should be for my daily word goal, but have lost the lead I built up earlier. I need to hit 40k by the end of today to keep on track. I’ll have to keep fighting through the morning sickness, fatigue and heat if I want to hit 50k by the end of the week. Wish me luck!

NaNoWriMo this year has been a real rollercoaster ride so far, full of highs and lows. I know in the end I won’t have a publishable novel, since I’m writing a fanfic, but it’s a nice break from the editing I’ve been doing on my original novel. Perhaps I’ll find a fanfic site to post it on.

I hope wherever you are on your NaNo journey you just keep writing. There’s still a week to go, anything could happen! And no matter what our word counts are by the end, whether we get 50k or not, every single word is an accomplishment. Every word makes us better writers (and so will all the editing when we’re finished). Good luck to all my fellow NaNoers as you partake in the final week!