Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Are you stuck somewhere in your NaNo Novel? Need some help?

It is no secret I’ve been stuck in my Nano novel for most of this month … stuck in that I have not written to bring my story to a satisfactory end. I stopped last November at a place where the reader should be eager to turn the page to see what comes next. My sister was when she read my very rough unedited first draft after the last NaNoWriMo ended. In fact, she told me she was perplexed and wondering where is the rest of it! She thought I had skipped a page in my binder — I write longhand — but no, it just wasn’t there. I had purposely stopped there, unsure how the story would proceed, anyway, but I had run out of November and had to lay down my pen to finalize my word count.  I left off where a mystery box had been discovered. “Laurice took the key, put it into the keyhole, and turned. It clicked.”  You see why she was perplexed? There was such a tension build-up to this point, and then … nothing more to read. Mean me. 😉

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Now, here I am with less than two weeks to go in NaNo 2013 and I still don’t know how to end this story, or how to move from the cliffhanger and on toward the solved mystery and sensible end. I’m sure it is there waiting to be found, I just have to LISTEN and write what I hear and see.

I tend to be a very visual person; I often see words as they are spoken, and when I write I see what I hear in my mind – not only in words but in scenes. Sometimes I see it and then have to listen for the words to go with it. Is that bizarre?

I thought maybe someone else might be in the same predicament – stuck in their NaNo novel (or any writing they’re trying to work through) – so on the odd chance one of my readers fits that category I am posting here something that might help you. I’m even testing it out right now.

Are you a writer who likes background noise or do you prefer absolute quiet? Do you like the murmur of voices or it is music that helps you write? I have, during the past NaNos, usually preferred QUIET but sometimes low instrumental music or some other nice calming music. Nature sounds come to mind. Somewhere, was it on the NaNoWriMo website? I can’t recall, I found Coffitivity – a free link for people who would like to do their writing in coffee shops or cafes but can have the same background ‘noise’ without going there. What you get is the sound of people talking and laughing but you don’t ever catch what they’re saying, so there is no distraction of conversation. It’s a constant hum and rise and fall of voices along with the occasional clink of a cup or spoon or the clatter of dishes being cleared. Interesting, but it has been proven to actually help people in their creative thought. It seems there is a level of such sound that doesn’t hinder but helps people think better. Of course it doesn’t work that way for everyone, but if you are stuck give it a try!

This morning two of my girls were chatting about their cats, comparing notes and cutesy things they do, which gave me Idea #25 for PiBoIdMo! Yeah! Just now something happened here at Dad’s regarding a chiming clock and my daughter taking a picture of it, and her tale of woe regarding a mouse … ideas #26 and #27! Gosh! I’m on a roll~ Maybe this link works! or my daughters inspire me.   Yeah, that. 🙂

And now my post for NaBloPoMo is done. On to NaNoWriMo with the hope I can break through the block and help my characters find the resolution to their dilemmas. And mine!

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If you try Coffitivity, please let me know does it work for you? What tricks do you use to help you write?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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I’m participating in NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo 2013!

November is again a busy writing month for me. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month for my fourth year, and Picture Book Idea Month for my third year – having passed on it in 2012. I am going to make an honest attempt to do both again even though my life situation (caregiving) has not changed.

3886950-fountain-pen-writing-paper-with-black-inkAfter midnight last night a thought came into my mind, then an idea was taking shape, then the thought became the title, and before I went to bed I had a rough ‘rough draft’ of a story for a picture book. Day one accomplished for PiBoIdMo!

Not so for NaNoWriMo, I regret to say, as I have not written a word there yet. I am still writing the novel I began in NaNo 2010, since I’ve worked on it only during the last three Novembers. My word count is a combined total of 123,900 – give or take a few words. When I stopped near midnight of November 30’12 it was at a place one would call a “cliffhanger”, and was a bit exasperating to my sister who read it all after NaNo had ended last year. 😉  She was not happy with where I stopped and told me emphatically I had to finish the story! Even I am not sure what is going to happen next, but my characters will gradually let me know when I get into it again … which should have been today, but that’s not happening!

If you are asking, ” What is she talking about?!” I will briefly explain.

NaNoWriMo – or National Novel Writing Month – is the worldwide challenge to write a novel (really a novella) of 50,000 words in 30 days. You have to start with a fresh idea to ‘win’, but there are many who are NaNo Rebels, which is perfectly fine, too. I won (reached the goal of 50k) the first year but the next two years I participated as a Rebel in order to add to the novel I had begun and want to finish. This year I am doing the same.

If you are interested in checking out NaNoWriMo, click here. If you are taking part in it this year, let me know if you want a buddy.

PiBoIdMo – or Picture Book Idea Month – is the brainchild of Tara Lazar which she started in 2009. It is quickly becoming the widely known challenge to write a picture book idea a day during the 30 days of November. It’s for those writers who don’t want to take on creating a novel but would enjoy participating in a book writing challenge. Some of us do both. 🙂 Each day you write something … anything … a title, the name of a character, an idea for a story, or even a whole draft if it works out for you, so at the end you should have at least 30 ideas for picture books! Cool, huh? I think so! Oh, and there are super guest posts, lots of writing genius shared, and even prizes! I love that I end up with so many ideas for PB’s, even if I ‘win’ nothing. It is sort of like a conference but with so much added.

If you are interested in signing up for – or checking out – PiBoIdMo, click here. Registration closes SOON, so hurry!

Now I must create a new page for my NaNo updates so if you want to keep track of what I am managing to do you can read it there. Click on the NaNoWriMo updates (2013) link at the top of the page. Besides, if you want to cheer me on, Heaven knows I need it! 🙂 It may be crazy for me to be taking this on since I am behind in reading, reviewing, interviewing, but sometimes I need a change of pace to get refreshed and inspired anew. At least, I hope that’s what will happen! 🙂

Are you participating in either of the above challenges?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 3: The Boyfriend List

Welcome! Over the next many months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrisons teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month three:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 3: The Boyfriend List

When I was twelve, I wrote a Boyfriend List. My list included all the dream qualities I considered ideal in a boyfriend. Most of it was very superficial: blue eyes, good athlete, smart, cute, and nice. Cute and nice? Ah well, I was only twelve.

Writing that list didn’t help me much during the angst years of junior high; however, it was the first indication that I would take after my maternal grandfather and become a list writer. I live on lists. Grocery lists, lists of goals, book idea lists, books I’ve read, housework to-do… I could go on, but I’ll spare you. If you are a list-maker, you’re going to like what I have to say next. If not, please give my suggestions at least a bit of consideration. I think they will be helpful for you as you write your novel.

You’ve been fostering a friendship with your main character. You’ve been carrying this brand new person in your head, having conversations with him, asking questions, getting to know her. That’s the creative Right Brain part. Now comes the Left Brain stuff. You need to write everything down. If you’re a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of writer, you might resist doing that, but sometimes creativity has to bow to analysis. Your novel will have a much better chance to make it all the way to publication if you know your character so well that you convey his motivations and reactions so that they make sense to the reader throughout the novel. (And you also want the blue-eyed girl in the first chapter to still have blue eyes in the last chapter.) 

Most of you have done a character sketch, maybe when you were in junior high or high school. A character sketch? Yes, all this has been leading up to that old standard, the character sketch. (No histrionics, please!)

My usual character sketch includes these items: name, age, race, birth date, nationality, birthplace, hair color, eye color, skin color, facial characteristics, body type, unusual physical characteristics (tattoos, birthmarks, freckles and so on), weight, height, body language/mannerisms, voice, speech quirks (clichés, catch phrases), time period in which she/he lives, favorite food, favorite animal and television show and movie and book and music, favorite person, his/her parents, siblings, relatives, pets, jobs held, and schooling.

The list could be almost endless, and I’m sure that you’ll think of characteristics that I haven’t included. Your character sketch will vary, novel to novel. A character who lives in the 1800s will not have a favorite television show, of course, but he may have a favorite saddle. In my Alaska trilogies all characters have brown eyes and dark hair, so that was easy, but I needed to use other physical characteristics to help me – and my readers – differentiate one character from another. That was a little more complex.

You’ll need a sketch for each main character and probably for your primary villain. You may find yourself changing things in your character sketch as you progress through this novel, so an area for “additional notes” is a good idea. Don’t be afraid to throw in MORE than you probably need to know. Even though these facts may never come to light within the novel, the more you understand about your character, the better job you’ll do writing about him. Also, you never know when an unexpected twist may change the course of your novel. Characters do have a tendency to wrestle the keyboard away from the writer. That’s when I benefit from re-reading my character notes.

My character sketches get pretty messy by the end of my novel and often degenerate into layers of sticky-notes, but at least I have a reference to what I’ve done, changed, thought, and decided during the weeks and months of writing. 

What works best for me is to keep two ring binders for each novel I’m writing. One binder is for the chapters of my current draft. (You’ll need a four- or five-inch binder for this.) I use dividers between each chapter for easy reference. The other binder is for my research notes and also includes my character sketch notes and good stuff like the people to include in my author’s acknowledgements, reviewers who may want to read an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of the novel, and maps. 

It comes down to this. You don’t need to keep all the little stuff in your head. Make lists, fill notebooks, write character sketches. That will leave room in your brain for the muse to stretch out and get comfortable!

(And as for me, it turns out that a writing a Boyfriend List was good preparation for creating novels. Who knew?)

My question for you: Are you a left-brained, analytic person or more of a seat-of-the-pants kind of writer? 

Any questions for me?

Happy Writing and Many Blessings!

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you come back April 25, 2013, for part 4.

It’s the 12×12 blog party! six months down, six to go

IT’S A PARTY!

and not just any party,

it’s …

Maybe it’s because I’m totally distracted some days in just keeping up, but I haven’t said much about what I’m doing with my writing. Here’s the scoop.

I’m not writing a book, I’m writing twelve books!

Julie Hedlund came up with an idea to write one picture book manuscript a month for all of this year. She had many story ideas after doing the Picture Book Idea Month challenge and wanted to actually use them. Then – since she felt she would be more successful if not doing it alone – she made it into a ‘community’ effort, named it 12 x 12 in 2012, and put out the invitation expecting a few dozen  picture book writing hopefuls to join in. What she didn’t realize is how popular this idea would immediately become and the exciting challenge it would turn into. Boasting over 400 members (yes! over 400 for this first-time challenge), can you imagine the vast number of potential picture books being written?

Now we are at the halfway point in this writing extravaganza and it’s time for a blog party. Julie has asked us to blog about it if we want to – either celebrating or lamenting. I think I will reveal my heart and take the risk of doing both. My post will probably be different from everyone else’s but … here goes.  (deep breath)

The ideas I have for stories are varied and definitely need work (most gleaned while doing PiBoIdMo), so when I began this challenge it was with the hope that I could actually pull together a few picture book manuscripts. Now that I’m a full-time part-time caregiver for a family member I have to try to keep writing when I don’t feel creative at all; some days knowing I have writing commitments is what helps keep me going.

Julie set up 12 x 12 in 2012 not only as a challenge, but as a learning experience for us. She has guest bloggers on a regular basis, each one bringing their own perspective and expertise to the writing (and illustrating) experience. Some days I’m  amazed at the forward thinking and ingenious ideas that are shared. I so appreciate the generosity of the contributors in their willingness to let us in on their secrets, what works for them, what is effectively-applied common knowledge, and what not to do. To be frank, sometimes I am a little overwhelmed. But always I am inspired to keep going.

With all that, what possibly could be my lament? Well, maybe it is more of a whine. My isolation. There’s the fact of a wonderful support group that has developed and I’m mostly on the outside of it. I don’t use Facebook where the support group is set up, and I just feel weary and blah some days, and wishing for the push that talking with another writer involved in this challenge could afford me. So, since it hasn’t really got anything to do with 12 x 12, it’s my own problem and I don’t have a lament after all!

This year so far, the six months gone by, have been challenging on many levels. As for my writing accomplishments, although I have five – not six – rough drafts written (I should say rough to very rough) I still hope to get twelve ready by the end of 2012. I can’t say that I’m delighted with all of them so far, but they are not polished yet. There’s room and time and permission for improvement. Further to that, 12 x 12 in 2012 has helped me even more to explore the fun of writing and to tap deeper into my creative thinking and possibilities.

In closing, I just want to say to Julie Hedlund, thank you for reaching beyond your own aspirations and drawing others into your scope of imagination. This is a truly amazing experience. Where else can an aspiring picture book author have access to the abundance of talent and wisdom of published authors and illustrators – and for such a great deal? What better way to learn and share and meet others of like mind without having to leave home, allowing us to continue the flow of writing? And thank you to the inspiring guest bloggers – the writers and illustrators willing to be involved – the ones who have already brought so much and the ones we have yet to be fortunate to meet.

This is an exciting adventure and we’re only halfway there!

It will surely continue to be amazing.

Party on 12 x 12’ers!

Be sure to check out other 12×12 blog party posts here.

Oh, and Julie plans to do this again in 2013, so if you missed out this year or feel you’ve just begun to tap the well, you’ll have another opportunity. How great is that!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


More Writers’ Helps

This is another quick post to let you know that if you visit my Writers’ Helps page you will find a few more links to check out. They are interesting and fun, I am sure you will agree.

I also made a change on my About Me page which is now About Me/Contact Page. After you scroll down past the me blurb you’ll find a contact form. This is just in case you want to contact me about writing or reviewing or something else valid – without knowing my email address – but you don’t want to leave a comment the usual way. This form puts your message through to me after checking it for spam. (Thanks WordPress!)

I’m glad you visit my blog, and I hope you enjoy what you find here.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

More Writers’ helps added

Just a quick post to say that I have added more great helps for writers on my Writers’ Helps page. There are so many useful things out there but these ones stand out to me.

I will add more later, but check these ones out and see what you think. Hopefully, something will inspire you or help you to create with more confidence.

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Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

New Page: Writers’ Helps

As promised, I have created a new page here on my blog. Writers’ Helps has a list of links that will be of help to writers and anyone needing just the right word, a rhyming word, a translation, and more. I will be adding to this list as I find sites I especially like.

You can find the new page from the list at the top of the front page, and also in the pages category down the left side of this page.

If you have any great links that you would like to share, please leave a comment for me and I will check it out to perhaps add to my list of writers’ helps.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂