NaNoWriMo Prep: Testing the Waters
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 17, 2016

If you’re not flat-out pantsing NaNo this next year (and I’m a fan of not pantsing the first finish, but I know that everyone is different), how do you get the plot from point A (the beginning) to point Z (the end) without writing it all out? One way is linear. Use the old outlining method to just plug from beginning to the end with as much detail as you find necessary. It would look like this: I. Part I A. Chapter One 1. Kitty sees the mouse. 2. Mouse gets away. B. Chapter Two 1. Mouse taunts kitty 2. Kitty plots mouse’s death II. Part II Okay, yes, it sucks. Do you really think I’m going to waste my plotting powers on a blog post? I mean, I like you… no, that’s not true. I don’t know you. What are you doing on my site? I may need more sleep. The grump is gone. Back to plotting. Another way is notecards. Write each major plot point on a notecard and just move them around until they make sense to you. Another way is mind mapping. Now, I’m a Figment, so my mind is a bit of a nebulous construct in…

NaNoWriMo Prep: Step Three, Plotting Characters
NaNoWriMo Prep , Uncategorized / October 14, 2016

I’m going to get to the character part, but first I’m going to take a quick side step. What have you not prepped for that has nothing to do with writing in November? You have told family and friends that you will not be socializing unless it’s at a write-in You have told family and friends you can manage fifteen minutes of socializing at a time IF they bring food and caffeine You have stocked up on foodstuffs, either freezer meals, pre-made dinners, cash for eating out, or family/friends bribery You are prepared to do one very good, deep housecleaning on the week of November 1st and then to just to touch-ups during breaks for an entire month You have shunted laundry duty to the spousal unit, children, or paid person. Or parental unit. Barring that, you have figured out how to do laundry between sprints. You know how to ninja write at the table while socializing during Thanksgiving. You already purchased Christmas presents (or you can deal with the “after Thanksgiving” rush) You figured out how to write on your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, and (if necessary) regular paper and will be carrying as many items of mass wordage…

NaNoWriMo Prep: The Importance of Planning, Even for Pantsers
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 11, 2016

Dear Pantsers: I know every instinct is screaming for you to run for the hills. Stick with me. It’s worth it. -Z It is entirely possible to start NaNoWriMo on November 1st (or later) with no preparation. You can win with a late start. It’s also possible to scale Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen. If you’re a professional with the right physiology and a little luck, you can even survive it. That doesn’t make it a good idea if you have any other choice. And you, my little writers, do. But I’m a pantser! I don’t do prep! And you can choose not to. But why not make something that’s already an incredible feat a little bit easier? Today, let’s talk about the bare minimum of what you really should have to write a semi-coherent novel by the end of November: A very basic plot. This doesn’t mean: Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. This means: Boy meets girl at club when he’s with another girl. Boy is intrigued by girl and has a friend get in contact with her. Boy convinces girl to date him. Girl finds out boy is technically…

NaNoWriMo Prep: When Life Throws a Curve Ball in November
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 11, 2016

It invariably happens every single year in November: I see a frantic online post about how something urgent has come up that might interfere with finishing NaNo. First, let’s take a look at the big issue here: NaNoWriMo is a game, a challenge. It is not life. It should not be a substitute for life. Yes, take the challenge seriously. Follow the rules of the game as closely as you’re able and try to score a win. But it’s not life. When actual life things come up, give them precedence. Don’t mourn that you won’t finish NaNo because you had to run your neighbor to the hospital and ended up staying for three days. Rejoice that you were able to help out your neighbor. Priorities, people! Second, be prepared to roll with the punches. I unexpectedly got to leave my place of hiding for a new place of hiding this weekend. Unfortunately, there was nothing resembling internet, even if I’d had time, so I’m now three blog posts behind on my NaNo Prep series. But that’s okay because, as much as I love waxing philosophical about how to have a perfect NaNo, the trip was more important. (Please don’t get…

NaNoWriMo Prep: Prepping for THOSE Days
NaNoWriMo Prep , Uncategorized / October 7, 2016

I don’t feel like adulting today. In fact, I don’t feel like humaning. Maybe cat or dragoning. I could maybe deal with that. Here’s the thing: you will have a day like this during NaNo. Either the weather will be too nice and you’ll want to go out or the weather will be too bad and you’ll want to stay in (but curled up with a book) or the computer won’t work right or you won’t feel right or your characters won’t be talking to you or you’re just having a bad day… Yeah, it happens. One thing I do appreciate about NaNoWriMo is that it teaches you to write when you don’t feel like it. Getting behind on 1,667 words/day is a big deal if you do it a few times. Trust me. I have the 10k makeup days to prove it.  If you have depression, family events (Thanksgiving, anyone?), or other things come up, though, you may have to deal with making up for those days. Prep for them ahead of time and you’ll deal with them better. Know what you’re going to write about. Sometimes it helps to jot a note about where the story is going before you…

NaNoWriMo Prep: Routines
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 6, 2016

I promised you that today we would go over setting up routines (and we will!), but I just wanted to bring up one more thing related to priorities first. I’m a runner. I’ve watched Zombieland; cardio is important if you want to survive the end of the world. I’ve learned almost any healthy person can do a 5k (that’s 3.1 miles for the metrically-challenged). Yeah, you might walk a lot, but even if you walk, that’s, what, at most an hour out of your life? Bump it up to the half-marathon (13.1 miles), though, and you start weeding out the committed from the casual. Go all the way to the marathon (26.2 miles) and you find the true crazy people. Here’s the thing: NaNoWriMo is a marathon with a time limit. It’s one thing to do a marathon if you’ve been running every day. Yeah, it might hurt a bit if you have to do more than you’re used to, but at least you’ve been running. If you do a couch-to-marathon-in-a-month plan, though, you’re likely to follow that up with a marathon-to-hospital-in-a-day plan. The same thing happens with NaNo, and it’s one of those things no one talks about. If you…

NaNoWriMo Prep: Learning to Prioritize
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 5, 2016

I have let you down, dear Readers. I am late. But I’m not going to apologize because, as much as I adore my adoring public, I had my priorities straight this time. You see, I have a deadline that has to be met by tomorrow, so I was up late, burning the 2 am electricity, trying to get closer to that deadline while the inspiration was burning hot. I knew what my priority was, and that’s what I put first. And that’s what the prep post is about today: learning to prioritize. Any other time in the year, it makes perfect sense to squeeze writing in here and there (unless you are  Professional Writer ™, in which case you squeeze everything else in). During November, however, you have to learn to make writing your top priority. I am not saying to neglect Real Life. If you have small spawnage, a Day Job, or educational pursuits, those have to come first. It just means you have to work even harder to make sure that other pursuits are neglected during November. Here’s what I mean: apparently, Real People must eat and sleep regularly. Showering and other self-care is advised. But there are…

NaNoWriMo Prep: What You Need to Know
NaNoWriMo Prep , Uncategorized / October 4, 2016

Yesterday, I started my yearly discussion about NaNo Prep. But maybe you’re really new to all this, so I dropped you into a discussion where the wind-speed of a laden RPG was mixed in a MOOC with OMG results and everything was pretty FUBAR. (That’s “funnied up beyond all recognition”, for those who don’t humor.) So, baby steps. What is NaNoWriMo? NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, and it happens in November every year. It started back in 1999, in July. I guess they hadn’t capitalized on the fun of the “No” in both “novel” and “November” yet. They fixed that by the next year and threw in some “rules” (which people still break every year and call themselves “rebels”). If you haven’t read their history, you really should. It reminds me that big things start small, sometimes have a few really stinky poopy diapers, get a rebellious teenager phase, and then grow up (hopefully) into something we can be proud of. It also remind me why Figments shouldn’t be parents. NaNoWriMo is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which means they went from twelve people just having fun to being, you know, real. Sounds like a success story for a Figment. Why…

It’s Here. Again. NaNoWriMo Prep Time.
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 3, 2016

It’s here. Again. I don’t know why it surprises me when it comes around every year. Supposedly, this is my ninth NaNoWriMo. No, I haven’t contracted some strange disease and I do not have an alien in suspenders hiding out in my home. NaNoWriMo, the brain-child of The Office of Letters and Light, stands for “National Novel Writing Month”. In other translations, it stands for “Naturally, No Writer’s Motivated”. This is that time of year when, for 30 days, all writers, aspiring retires, supposedly-retired writers, and a hoard of eager children try to write 50k (that’s fifty thousand) words. In the same book. In, as closely as possible, novel format. Yes. It’s basically one month of group insanity. However, NaNoWriMo has turned out to be a boon to me. I first started in 2009. I merrily failed every year until 2013. Suddenly something clicked and I barreled through all fifty thousand words just under the wire. Well. That was easy. I can do this again. In 2014, I decided to take it a step further. I hadn’t really written much since 2013, so I committed myself to not only writing the book but, in my wisdom, to publishing it. By…

The Self-Publishing Furor
NaNoWriMo Prep / November 19, 2015

(This post originally appeared on the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook.) My social reality person was actually good for a post today:   Write, don’t write. Publish, don’t publish. The furor.   It happens every year. Someone reposts the articles about why people should not write. Every year, there is a big fuss because every year there are new writers.   Those of us who have been writing for years and who self-publish LOVE new writers. We don’t fear competition because we don’t compete with each other. My biggest writing support comes from other writers. People like Jeffrey Cook, Renee Fournier, Ronnie Virdi, Erin Blair Roberts, and Ellie Mack (and so many more; I know I left names off!) have encouraged my writing journey and I try to encourage theirs. So when I see posts that say “You’re just afraid of competition when you tell us not to self-publish”, please understand that I was never competing in the first place. Indie writers work with each other, not against.   When I beg you not to publish before you’re ready, it’s not because I’m afraid someone will download your book and like it better than mine. Hurrah! Someone is reading and indie…