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: Step Two, Developing the Plot
Uncategorized / October 13, 2016

You can go into NaNoWriMo cold, with nothing. You can. I can’t. I break out in a cold sweat thinking about staring at that screen, knowing I have to write a minimum of 1,667 words that day, hoping something will come to me. No, thanks. I’m going into NaNo prepped. Those of you hardy souls who do not, I salute you. From far away. With a full CDC virus-protection suit on, just in case the insanity is contagious. Instead, I’ll be doing some exercises over the next few weeks to get my stories into a rough sort of shape. Note that I’m not a hardcore planner. I only get the map set up. I let the story determine where I travel on that map. Yesterday, if you did your homework, you came up with a number of potential plots. Now you need to spend some time developing them into a working thesis, so to speak. Or type. Or… whatever. Let’s move along. There are lots of ways to do this. One is just to take the general idea and plug it into various genres and see what it gives you. Idea: Husband and wife are traveling 2000 miles to get…

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…

WorkIt Wednesday: Get Up and DO Something
WorkIt Wednesday / June 1, 2016

I’m deep in the guts of revising my publishing schedule, so my WorkIt Wednesday is going to be simple. I don’t want to get stuck in this chair all day; it’s not healthy. But I do want to get this done. So here is the challenge: Movement For every hour, do five minutes of movement. Stretch, go for a walk, do a quick tidy about the office, or throw in a fast bout of yoga. Do not sit for more than an hour at a time. Use a timer to accomplish this. Writing Remember that book we’ve been working on together? Let’s plot our schedule from plot to finish. Need a guideline to help you get there? Here’s roughly what I use: Day 1: Idea, outline, researching, rough cover idea Day 45: finish rough draft Day 65: finish first pass edit/ rewrite & send to beta readers Day 95: do second rewrite/ edit Day 115: send to editor Day 135: do third rewrite/ edit Day 145: proofread, finish cover, format Day 166: submit books, pre-release, ARC copies Day 180: (yep, six months later) release book Your turn! If you’re feeling really brave, share your timeline here. I’d love to see it….

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Mapping It Out
A to Z Blog Challenge / April 15, 2016

Do you map things out? I’m not referring to making a map like a Tolkien book (and please don’t get me started on how geologically impossible Tolkien’s maps are in the first place). I mean, do you map out your writing journey? First, do you map out your book? Of course not, you say. I’m a pantser. You can be a pantser (or at least a plantser) and still have a map. Depending on the genre and style you’re writing in, your book needs certain checkpoints. Some people manage to get them automatically, but I find having the little checkpoints means I don’t have to stop to think about it (which means I spend more time writing). For my current WIP, I’m using “The Hero’s Journey“. It’s can also be called the three-act character arc, although I see it as four acts. Here are the main checkpoints: The starting point/ real world/ normal world: introduce things as they currently are and always have been The inciting moment/ call to adventure: something happens that gives the protagonist a kick in the pants (but he’ll refuse the call) Major plot point/ personal test/ baddie #1: the protagonist gets another kick in the…

Setting Big Goals (or Big Goalposts)
Uncategorized / February 2, 2016

Lately I’ve been hearing about this event Reeyal Peeple go to called The Super Bowl. To my disappointment, most don’t attend in person and it has nothing to do with large bowls of ice cream. However, it does have something to do with today’s post: Big Goalposts. I have been told that this is a game in the Reeyal World and that it sometimes hangs in the balance on kicking a ball through these rather large goalposts. I’ve also been told by my Social Reality Person that if I mention “Wide Right”, I will be looking for a new Social Reality Person. Those goalposts are important. I don’t have goalposts, but I do have big goals: I’m planning on putting out five books this year.  Book one is out. The Annals of Bobian is a YA humor book about the importance of ice cream in life. There are probably some life lessons, too, but read it for the time-changing aliens. I digress. I have four more books planned for this year and my Social Reality Person insists she is putting out a book as well and I may have to deal with Reality on my own for a bit. So…

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: Achieving Your Goals
NaNoWriMo Prep / October 14, 2015

So, now that you’ve set your goals… you did set your goals, right? Back in this post, I walked you through how to set goals. Hopefully you did your homework, because I’m going to blather on about how to achieve them. For those who are wondering how I’m qualified to talk on goal-setting and achieving, I read a lot of books. I’m a Figment; we don’t need to eat or sleep much, so I read. I also set a really daunting goal with my last book and achieved it. So… mostly qualified. My guidance for this section about goal-setting is from Goals! by Brian Tracy. He believes there are twelve steps to set and achieve any goal. Our goal is to publish our NaNo book. Let’s walk through it: Desire. I know a lot of people say “I want to win at NaNo this year”, but then fail. I’ve failed. Why? Most likely it wasn’t the thing we wanted most. (Occasionally outside stuff interferes, but that still means that outside stuff is what you want most). There’s nothing wrong with wanting other things more; you just have to be aware of it so you can work around it. Priorities. If…