NaNoWriMo: Day 5 (45,036) DOUBLE-UP DAY

NaNoWriMo2016It’s #DoubleUpDay for #NaNoWriMo2016… but more on that in a moment. First, the important things.


It’s Day 5 of NaNoWriMo2016 and I still haven’t made what was my ambitious Day 1 goal: 50k. Not only does this mean I haven’t reached my goal, but it means NO PIE! Yes, I will get pie today, but I could have had pie yesterday, and that’s what really matters. Pie. And words, but mostly pie.

So, today is Double-Up Day in NaNoWriMo land. This is supposed to have a two-fold effect: one, you can get double the bling for donation efforts. If you donate $25, you get the $50 prizes. See? If you haven’t donated to NaNoWriMo yet (you don’t have a halo over you because you’re Alistair or Lilith, not Castiel), then this would be a great day to do so.

But it’s also Double Your Words Day. Because I didn’t have enough pressure on this frail “I want to be a real person” body already, NaNo wants me to hit 90,072 words by the end of the day.


No, really.

So, with that sobering thought, I have mainlined caffeine directly into my digestive system, nervous system, limbic system, and solar system. By the end of the day, I expect to be able to levitate near Mount Everest while simultaneously throwing snow balls at the sweaty people in the southern regions of the United States and creating an entire world with just my mind. Not a book world. A world. With physics and stuff.

Which means, as much as I’d like to keep having this charming, one-way exchange with you (why do none of you leave me comments? it’s like not getting a Valentine in class on Day Before Cheap Chocolate Day), I need to go write words that matter.

But you still matter.

Just less than pie. Words! I meant words.

Oh, go write and stop distracting me.

NaNoWriMo: Day 4 Pep Talk


I’ve had a few writers tell me that my word count intimidates them (although I know others who have even higher totals). That made me think: is trying to achieve a high word count actually hurting someone else’s journey?

No. I finally settled on no.

We’re not all running the same race here. Some of you are brand new writers, trying out this adventure for the first time. Some of you just do it for fun. And some of us, well, we write every single day and need to hit milestones in order to make deadlines.

Since I’m already using a running analogy, let’s take it a step further.

When kids are young, they to love to race just for the fun of it. We cheer for them even though we could beat them every time– walking. They are doing great for where they are at.

I don’t run competitively anymore, but I like to get out and run just for the fun of it. I still set myself a goal, like “under ten minute per mile” or something, but if I don’t hit it, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the run. I’m there for the exercise and the enjoyment.

On the other hand, I follow Sara Hall, an Olympic-level marathoner, on social media. When she goes out to run (every single day), she has a plan, a goal, and a reason for it. I will never hit her speeds or her miles…and that’s OK! Our reasons for running, our experience, and our talents… all different. We’re still both runners and we’re still hitting our goals.

So whether you’re a toddling runner taking your first jaunt around the block, a casual runner out for a chat and dash, or a marathoner trying for a PR (personal record), I’m here cheering for you on the sidelines. Or the track. Whatever. You know what I mean.

Now go write so I can cheer!

NaNoWriMo: Day 4 (34,315)

NaNoWriMo2016Well, snot slugs in a bucket. I did not make my word count goal yesterday. I didn’t even make my low-end word count goal, which is to always have a 10k day. Close (9,800), but no dice, cigars, or fruity drinks.

We’ll fix that today.

I slept well tonight (although the concept of needing sleep is still something I’m learning) and I had social time yesterday at a real-live write-in, so I’m ready to be focused. Focused, I say! Best of all, I’ve bribed myself. If I can finish 50k by tonight, I get PIE. (If you math, which I don’t out of self-preservation instincts, you may note that to reach 50k will take… a lot of words. Definitely more than a 10k day. But I don’t math, so I should be fine.)

Still on the same song on repeat, but I’m going to make up my own word crawl as I go. Debating counting the word crawl toward my total. I haven’t been counting my blog posts, but a word crawl is really a NaNo thing so– No? No cheating? Do this fair and square or go home?

With a side note that I am at home (although I’m due to be chased out by the construction ninjas later today), very well. I will play fair and not count my word crawl numbers. But, because you are a meanie, I may not share this pie with you if I reach 50k. When I reach 50k. Semantics.

For those who haven’t noticed, I am now on Facebook, in spite of my wiser thoughts. I have already wasted moments there that I should have spent writing. We will see if it continues, but feel free to follow or friend me until then. I cannot promise I will follow or friend back. I’m a Figment. We’re wispy bits of thought cloud. Trust me, remembering to do things like friend people is a tough commitment. Instead, I will promise to be as entertaining as possible at all times and to never post angry hate rage posts.

And now I’m off. 50k. Considering I planned to do this three days ago, it’s going to feel anti-climactic no matter what, but the pie drives me on.

Pie I’m not sharing.


NaNoWriMo: Day 3

NaNoWriMo2016I am just shy of halfway to finishing official NaNo: 24,718 words. I was going to try for the extra 300-ish words last night, but I was completely out of juice. I had managed a one-hour walk out in the cold and rain as well as attended my first write-in.  I’m working hard on my NaNoBingo card; as soon as I have a win, I’ll post a picture of it here. I’m going for a blackout, but we’ll see. Maybe one kind of over-achieving is enough. (Nah!)

Today, I’ll be starting out with this word crawl to get my blood flowing (as if situps, pull-backs, and toe taps weren’t enough) and this awesome music played on I may choose a different song from this CD for each day in this book.

Which reminds me (in an oblique way): I think I might put together my own Captain America: Civil War word crawl. I think it would be fun and I don’t see one out there (although maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough because I want to do one.

Also, the goal today is to beat yesterday’s word count, so at least 13k in the books by bedtime. There’s also a pesky Real Life day job interview in there, a *sniff* shower, more exercise, and another write-in.

Good luck to you today, WriMos! Don’t let my over-achieving stop you from getting out there and putting your words on paper. Remember, even if I’m just a Figment, I also do this all the time, so I have a muscle built up. I’m that annoying person in yoga class who does all the poses and asks for more. You may not be yet. But you can. Just keep writing. Build that habit and that muscle!

Ooh, look at that. A pep talk. Now that I’m all peppy, it’s time to take my sweet and spicy tea and my music and get a little groove going. See you on the other side!

NaNoWriMo: Day 2 (12k)

NaNoWriMo2016Yesterday I had the lofty dream of reaching a #50kDayOne day. Nahhhhh….

I’m pretty sure the Conductor saw fit to send me a crew of construction ninjas, who proceeded to make the most awful sound. I will have to find an appropriate book to memorialize the construction ninjas in; I’m not sure they fit in anything I currently have. Maybe… the Bobian could take them on.

Anyway, I made it to 12k. Exactly. It’s creepy when word counts stop on an exact number. I’m never sure if I just got lucky or some perfectionist is out there writing about me writing my story and they needed it to stop on 12k. Yeah. Creepy. Visit my head some time. There’s prime, empty real estate.

Anyway, I’m currently at 15,503 on Aquae or Aquaeus, or whatever I end up changing the name to. I’ve only changed it twelve times so far. Let’s go for lucky thirteen before the month is up.

What? You want a blurb? You want to wallow in my word vomit? (Gross. I mean, I’m not judgey, but… gross.) Alright. Get your Pitch Perfect on and make vomit angels, if you like:

Once, rare once, only every tun-tak’umunaq tun-tatlam pi tun, adventure comes to the Lummi. Adventure walks on the Earth, granted permission by the Great Bear, and seeks the One who will be kinslee, He Who Walks All the Domains.

Once such time, time hilu, came when the land was only somewhat younger than it is now. A boy was chosen of the Lummi to seek out the Elder gods.

There were great races and talkings, as many wanted the honor of kinslee. But one boy, one who was outside and within, did not want the honor. He did not seek kinslee, so kinslee  found him.

The Hearth Mother came to him and marked him with her kiss, choosing him above all others. When he turned aside, the Elder gods themselves put the elements to choosing him.

Reluctantly, the kinslee boy agreed to go. He first made his own boat, for he would travel the Waters of Samen and needed find safe passage. Then he chose his companions, for no adventure is true if it is taken alone. One for Water, one for Earth, and one for Air.

The Hearth Mother took him aside, after deep fasting, to tell him of his journey. While none is certain what she said, there are tales that come down through times of her words:

“Because the Lummi come from Water, you will first go to Samen, the great Salmon god, and you will ask for safe passage. Because the Lummi are made of Earth, you will then go to Bahr, the great Bear god, and you will ask for strength. Because the Lummi breathe the Air, you will then go to Haq, the great Hawk god, and ask for speed.”

The rest of her words are lost, even in time, and the kinslee must make his own journey.

So this boy, this kinslee boy, with his companions took his boat and the foods he had gathered and he bade farewell to his people who were not his people, for he was kinslee. Then he made the great passage to the Earth and the tales say he wandered with many adventures, learning magics that only the Elder gods could teach him, and he traveled so far as the great Fire, where his tale was lost.

But the Lummi continue, so it is thought that the boy, the kinslee, must make his goals with his companions and must bring the Lummi the blessing of the Elder gods, even if he never returns.

And so the kinslee will ever be the only Lummi with adventure and travel, the Lummi with magic, for he is the one Lummi who can see the Elder gods and return us to one with the Elements.

I’m basing my world around the Lummi, who lived on Orcas Island, Washington, but I need to go back and change things so I’m not just doing a culture grab. For now, this is NaNo and these are placeholders to remind me to come up with my own stuff. The tale, at least, is my own.

And back I go. I’m currently fueled by decaf chai tea (too early to start pumping the caffeine), leftover pizza, this word crawl, and this sound track. Working my way to 20k before my next break.

Sanity is for wimps.

NaNoWriMo Prep: Testing the Waters


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 the first place, but you can find some good tools for mind mapping in this Lifehacker post. It also gives a general idea how to do it. Very general.

There’s also something called the Snowflake Method. Again, I don’t have much familiarity with snowflakes, so I have to rely on someone else’s guidelines, found here.

Finally, I have a major writer’s crush on Joanna Penn, so she’s my go-to for most writing things. She has a great post here. (Note that it’s a writer’s crush. I’m not stalking her. That would be creepy.)

Now, why are you still here? Either you’re a pantser and you’re bored or you’ve got work to do. Either way, you shouldn’t be wasting time reading my words any longer. Go make your own.

NaNoWriMo Prep: Step Three, Plotting Characters


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 on you as possible at all times.

Okay, now that we’re past all that, let’s talk character stuff.

There are, largely, two types of people when it comes to characters: there are those who write plot-driven stories and the characters are revealed by how they interact with the plot or there are those who write character-driven stories and the plot is revealed by how the characters would naturally behave in a situation. My theory is that plotters tend to be the former and pantsers tend to be the latter, but it’s not a hard and fast line.

If you are the former, you may not need to do a lot of character set-up ahead of time (which amuses me, since these are the plotters). Names. Rough character sheet. The rest will come to you.

If you are the latter, you may have detailed character sheets for each person who shows up in your novel. You may know more about your MC than a good stalker, maybe more than a good diary.

I have to admit, I’m a plot-driven writer. I learn about characters as I write, rather than making them up ahead of time. So I can’t help much with character development. But here are some sheets for those of you who like to have a handle on your characters before you write the first word.

However you choose to get to know your characters, at least get a name list and rough description list ahead of time.

Really. You’ll thank me later. Or send chocolate. Or books. Money would be fine. But… I’ll settle for thanks.

NaNoWriMo Prep: Step Two, Developing the Plot


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 to ailing mother’s house

Yeah, it’s kind of vague. That’s okay. This is where the brainstorming comes in.

  • Romance: Husband and wife, marriage on the rocks, need to travel cross-country to get to ailing mother-of-wife’s house. Wife can’t fly due to some illness (do research). Husband begrudgingly drives. Fighting happens, which leads to talking about their problems, which leads to making up, which leads to romance repaired by the time they get to granny’s house. (Yeah, I’m not going to step into the romance field any time soon. Relax.)
  • Fantasy: Husband and wife start on the journey to mother-of-whoever’s house. They decide to drive for reasons (brainstorm). On the way there, they pass through a portal and find themselves in a fantasy land where they have to battle monsters and still travel (although via horseback) to get to the castle in order to complete the journey and head back home. Since I write humor/fantasy, I’d throw in a yellow knobold (check to verify name) to assist them and… well, something else. This isn’t my story, so I’m saving the plot energy for the real thing. You get the idea, though.
  • Horror: Husband and wife start on journey because mother-of needs a kidney/ liver/ blood transfusion and wife is a rare match (research blood typing and donations). Wife has fear of flying, so they drive. They stop one night at a hotel. Freaky scariness ensues. I can’t even write about writing about it, because horror is scary and I don’t have anyone here to hold me after I’m traumatized. But… horror.
  • SF: H & W start on a spaceship to mother-of. Spaceship has issues. AI systems go haywire. Must get there. Blah blah.

You get it, right?

Notice there’s no outlining. There’s really no plotting, you scaredy-cat pantsers. There’s just a little bit of a map of where the story could go.

Go. Take one of your ideas from yesterday (or all of them) and just plug them into various genres. Go mainstream and figure out something literary. One-up EL James and do erotica. Make it an action-adventure ala Romancing the Stone. Whatever you do… go make a story map.

NaNoWriMo Prep: Step One, The Plot


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.

  1. 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?
  2. Listen to music. The tune, the title, the lyrics– any of those can spawn a story. Don’t plagiarize, but do use inspiration.
  3. Read some good books. Again, totally not promoting plagiarizing, but good writing builds on other writing? Don’t believe me? Go check out Shakespeare.
  4. Watch television. You may even be able to publish fanfiction on Amazon Kindle Worlds. Just (again) don’t try to publish something that you’ve borrowed from elsewhere.
  5. Brainstorm with other writers (or just other people). Write down everything, however absurd. Then harvest what you can use. Except organs. We frown on organ harvesting. So does the law.
  6. Look at artwork. What’s the story behind the picture? Can you make it into more than a story? Is it an entire book?
  7. Go for a run/ exercise of your choice. Exercise produces the good hormones that stimulate creativity.
  8. Keep a journal, diary, or a stack of sticky notes (I’m a fan of the stack of sticky notes). Write down every creative idea you ever have. All of them. Ruffle through them occasionally and see if something inspires you.

Go. Get thee some paper and a writing instrument (or clay and stylus) and start sketching out ideas. Do not stop until you have at least five, however crazy you think they are.

We’ll get to developing ideas in the next post. For now, just get them.

Shoo! Go write.