Tag Archives: National Novel Writing Month

#NaNoPrep Season: Learning Your Pre-writing Style #NaNoWriMo

Today I am featuring a post by my good friend, and fellow Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo, Lee French. Lee poses the question: Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter?’ For me, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I plot, then I wing it, then I replot, and let it fly. Without further ado, here is Lee’s post.  I heartily suggest you read it all and click on through to finish the post on her page.

Scripturience

There are many writers who claim to pants their stories. That is, fly by the seat of their pants, aka no plan, no outline, no nothing before starting to write. The other option is planning, which consists of drawing up a complete outline, character bios, detailed setting documents, and so on.

Pantser vs. Plotter

I wish to submit two controversial opinions:

  1. Pantsing and plotting are not two options, but rather two ends of a spectrum.
  2. As with many linear scales, most of us fit most comfortably somewhere between the two extremes.

The popularized term for folks who do “both” is Plantser. My argument is that we are all plantsers. Or, at least, the majority of us are.

Planster

The hitch: until you start writing, you have no real idea where you fit on that spectrum. You may think you’re on the Pantser end, then you get stuck on Day 4…

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#amwriting: #NaNoWriMo–let the madness begin!

nanowrimo-yoda

Google images, via http://www.writingchimp.com

Every November I participate in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Around our house it is also referred to as “National Pot Pie Month,” an homage to my culinary efforts during November.

For the last four years I have been the Municipal Liaison for the Olympia, Washington Region. This year indie author Lee French agreed to be a co-ML with me, which really takes the pressure off in regard to small ML duties. We have 165 active novelists and are gaining new wrimos all the time.

At 12:01 am on Sunday November 1st, I met with 9 authors at Shari’s Restaurant (open 24 hours) and we worked for three hours, getting our first day’s word count written and uploaded to the national site. Then we went home and wrote some more.

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2015 nano calendars via tumblr.com

It is true that the primary goal of participating in NaNoWriMo is to produce a 50,000 word novel in the space of 30 days. That sounds crazy but it can be done–I do it every year. The first draft of Huw the Bard was written from start to finish during November of 2011 as my nano-novel that year. Mountains of the Moon was written in 2012, and published 2015.

HOWEVER:  I spent the month of October 2011 outlining the novel. After the first draft was completed, I spent the next three years getting HTB ready for publication, rewriting it through 3 more drafts, having it edited professionally, and finally it was published in March of 2014.

Many people use the concept of NaNoWriMo to jump-start their noveling career, but there are just as many who spend the month of November writing family histories or memoirs, writing daily blog posts, writing essays, or even working on their dissertations. I know two people who write screenplays during November.

epiphany

The month of November is when we celebrate the act of creative writing, and encourage every person with an inner author to let that creative energy flow.

This year, I am working on a series of mixed genre short-short stories that will be written in the month of November 2015 during National Novel Writing Month.

My intention is to write one tale a day, or two or three longer tales a week, many of them set in a Medieval village, but some set in the fantastic future.  Robots, Spaceships, Dragons, Fairies, even Mad Scientists and Crazed Wizards–all will be fair game.

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbFor me, writing the first draft of a novel  is only the beginning. Once that is out of the way, the real work begins–making it fit for others to read, getting it through the editing process with a professional editor, these are tough but necessary steps.  I don’t rush the revisions. I have nothing to lose by taking the time to do it right. Right now, I have three books on the back burner in various stages of dismemberment, and in December I will return to getting them through that process.

This year there will be no novel in the traditional sense, but hopefully a LOT of short stories will emerge from my fevered mind, things I can use for contests and submissions to magazines and anthologies.

NaNo-2015-Participant-Banner

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The race is on!

Zuni Folk Tales Frank Hamilton CushingNational Novel Writing Month is in full swing.  I have 30 days in which I can do nothing but write, write, write. The wheels are turning in my head, and my new story is flowing at a slow but steady rate. I know who I am writing about, and I know what his story is. I know what the action is and where it goes within the framework of the novel.

My only problem is I can’t key fast enough. When I do key fast it becomes illeggiebble…illegeabngle… .

Doh!

the Zuni EnigmaAnyway I have just received my newest textbook, The Zuni Enigma: A Native American People’s Possible Japanese Connection, written by Anthropologist Nancy Yaw Davis. I  have found some wonderful legends in the small book,  Zuni Folk Tales, by Frank Hamilton Cushing.

This book is an incredible departure for me.  Not only am I working in a world that exists in reality, I am working with a culture that is both known and unknown to me, and I must do it with respect.  This novel is a historical fantasy, but it is set in the 1890’s. I have to remain true to the period, to the two cultures this tale depicts, and I have to make my character real.

Zuni frank hamilton ushingWhat makes this even more tricky, is I am telling this story from the perspective of the main character–something I have not done before. But this tale is a diary in a way about one man’s journey, and the duality of his path in life. It is a stand-alone novel, and while it is definitely fantasy, I think it will be more of a literary novel than Genre Fantasy.

The Zuni are a private, mysterious people, and rightfully so. This makes it imperative that I know what I am talking about. Fortunately have been immersing myself in the Zuni culture through the work of early anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing.

Frank Hamilton Cushing’s stay at Zuñi pueblo from 1879 to 1884 made him the first professional anthropologist actually to live with his subjects. Learning the language and winning acceptance as a member not only of the tribe but of the tribal council and the Bow Priesthood, he was the original participant observer and the only man in history to hold the double title of “1st War Chief of Zuñi, U. S. Ass’t Ethnologist.”

My goal is to honor these amazing people, respect their privacy and maintain their mystery, and entertain my readers. The story is amazing–if only I can get it right.

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Mmmm…chocolate…

halloween kisses

Kisses of Death by artist Andrew Bell

I’ve always thought that if you really wanted to do something creepy for Halloween, you should hand out little mini-packs of chocolate covered ants, or something. I  just feel there is nothing scary about a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and to do the most sinister night of the year justice, we should serve evil treats.

Halloween is the most important day of the year for many reasons–not the least of which is the annual midnight write in at Shari’s Restaurant for those intrepid heroes who can’t wait a minute longer to start their November Novel!

HTB New Front Cover with gold frameI wrote Huw the Bard in 2011 as my NaNoWriMo Novel–it had a different working title. In 2014 it was published, and the changes it went through in those two years was amazing. Fortunately I have a supportive husband who  regularly allows me to neglect him.

This year I am writing a novel that begins in the old west of northern New Mexico, where a journey to take a holy relic to be melted down at the smelters in Durango takes a terrifying turn into a world between the worlds. The first plan I had for this story was to co-write it with indie author Aura Burrows, but that didn’t pan out as various commitments made it impossible for us to get together on it, and she is unable to do it. But I fell in love with my main character, William Two Cats, and I am going to tell his story.

I have a working title, I have designed a placeholder book cover, I know who and what I am writing about, and tonight at midnight I am off to the races. On the National Novel Writing Month website I am Dragon_Fangirl, and you can see my book page and follow my progress here.

William Two Cats is a man of two worlds, the white-man’s world and the world of the A’shiwi–the people we call the Zuni Pueblo Indians,and yet he is a man of neither. His white mother insisted he be educated him in both cultures, and his Zuni father agreed. The tribal elders know he is destined to be firmly centered between the two worlds, and ensure he takes the path of the shaman. When we meet William, he has left the pueblo.

I can’t wait to get started on this new novel, counting down the hours to midnight…counting…counting….

Oh, look! We still have chocolate covered ants left! Yum!

What? They’re not vegan?

Curses….

ants

 

 

 

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Prepping for NaNoWriMo 2014

nano_14_ml_badge_300pxNational Novel Writing Month begins in just 15 days. I am the Olympia Washington municipal liaison, but this year I will not be able to attend the first two days of write-ins in my region, as I will be at Northwest Bookfest, a conference at Northwest University,  both as an attendee and as a presenter. On Sunday November 2, I will be talking about writing natural dialogue. As you know, I love to talk about the craft of writing, and can talk until the cows come home, to use a tired cliché.

However, I will be working at my word count through the evening in my hotel room–and cheering my fellow WriMos on with virtual write-ins. Beginning Monday the 3rd of November, my life will revolve around writing the rough draft of my novel, helping my friends get their rough draft written, and encouraging the young (and not so young) writers of our community to explore their storytelling abilities.

Patrick Rothfuss said in his pep talk last year, “Thou shalt not just think about writing. Seriously. That is not writing. The worst unpublished novel of all-time is better than the brilliant idea you have in your head. Why? Because the worst novel ever is written down. That means it’s a book, while your idea is just an idle fancy. My dog used to dream about chasing rabbits; she didn’t write a novel about chasing rabbits. There is a difference.”

Oly Nanos icon for fb 2That completely describes what NaNoWriMo is all about–getting that novel out of your head and on to paper. If you don’t write it, you will never see what a wonderful idea it really was–and even if it doesn’t go as well as you planned, who cares? This is about the journey, more than it is about the destination.

It will be a month of dirty dishes, dirty house, piled up laundry…oh wait, that’s normal for around here. But anyway, I will do nothing but attend as many write ins here in the local area as I can and find as many ways to encourage secret authors to get that book out of their head and on to paper as is humanly possible.

I can hardly wait to get started!

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