NaNoWriMo Prep: Step One, The Plot
Uncategorized / October 12, 2016

Alright, you’re set for the realities of NaNo. It’s hard. You should be ready. But you still don’t have a story. I’ve known some writers to say that any writer who doesn’t have a plot isn’t a writer, but sometimes they’re just not trained in what they need to know to find plots. Because, you see, the plots are out there. They’re evil little bunnies with vicious teeth and sharp claws, and they… ahem. Sorry. Anyway, you just have to learn to look for the plot bunnies. Because they’re everywhere. Everywhere. Okay, took a few minutes to get out of the hug-me jacket, but I’m back. Let’s get to specifics. You can start with story prompts, but that’s so… generic. So if you want story prompts, you might want to go look at another blog. I’m going to try to teach you how to find plot ideas yourself. Go watch people. Every person has a story.  No, you shouldn’t go up to total strangers and pepper them with questions. You’ll get some interesting responses, but it’s hard to promote your novel from jail. Instead, make up their stories. Who are they? How did they get here? Listen to music. The tune,…

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: 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…

LiveWriting #NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 24, 2015

I think I have decided to live write (liveblog) part of NaNoWriMo. It shows a distinct lack of sanity, which only makes it more appealing. My Tumblr liveblog will be here: http://zanzibar7writer.tumblr.com/ More to follow… maybe a schedule.

Publishing a NaNoWriMo Book: It’s All About Networking
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 16, 2015

I’ve been blathering on about all the things you’re supposed to do in order to publish your book. I was going to jump into Writer platforms (which are neither train stops nor shoes which make you taller). I forgot something very important: networking. There’s a lot of negativity around the term “networking” in the artistic world. (Don’t even think about bringing it up in Figmentland.) It brings up high-powered executives jostling with each other to get the best end of a deal. That’s not how it should be, especially in the creative world. Networking is, at its very best, making friends who do the same thing you do (or something in the same realm) and then working together to support each other. It means taking steps to help others instead of viewing them as your competition. The best thing about networking is that it levels the playing ground for independent writers. If you network, you have as strong a reach as any traditionally published author. There’s a lot said about building a platform. I’m going to say some of it, in fact, next week. That’s important. But far more important is building your network. I belong to an online writer’s…