Writing
A Novel is Not Just for November
Category: Writing
Tags: writers abroad online writing community nanowrimo novel writing first drafts

If you've been around the writing circuit for some time, you'll know all about the annual writing challenge known as NaNoWriMo. Short for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place in the month of November and the idea is to write 50,000 words within the month. It started way back in 1999 with 21 participants and last year, in 2017, the challenge attracted over 400,000 participants.

Now there are some who are sceptical of the challenge; 50,000 words for instance does not necessarily make a novel but that's not the point. Well, not for me anyway. As with most writing advice and suggestions, it's all about what suits the individual. I have taken part 7 times and achieved the goal five years out of those. And from those words I've produced at least three (and a bit) full length, self-published novels and working on a fourth. So, I guess it works for me.

The challenge is getting that dirty first draft onto paper with the notion that it will not be the polished article­ – it will be the beginning of something.

The month of October has been deemed as the preparation month; put some thought in now and during November all you have to do is write the words. Here are some of the tasks you could be thinking about to make sure that your NaNoWriMo goes as smoothly as it can.

For Your Story:

  • Ideas – well at least one would be a start!
  • Character Development - get to know your major players at least
  • Plot - at the very basic a Beginning, Middle and End
  • Scene list - as brief or as detailed as you like
  • Timeline - rough sketch or detailed
  • Research – especially if you write in a genre which demands realistic facts or world building if you prefer the stuff you can make up

For Your Life:

  • Menu Planner – for main meals; have a cook and freeze fest so you don’t have to think about it
  • Other Work Must Do's – lots of us have other commitments, how can you clear your desk for the month ahead?
  • Play List – Like to listen to music as you write? Put together some inspiring music to help you along
  • Friends and Family – tell them what you are up to and how they can support you
  • Goodies – Chocolates, wine, a good film; whatever floats your boat and will serve as a treat when you hit that word count

For me, it's about motivation over a concentrated period of time. And having proved to myself that I can do it during November, well then I can achieve it any month of the year. If I put my mind to it.

Remember: A Novel is not just for November.

Road Trips
Category: Writing
Tags: plot planning character control

ROAD TRIPS

I am, at present, on a two-week road trip in the US, digging up my ancestors, first in Western New York and now in Massachusetts. The planning phase before departure was long as I tried to decide which towns to head for, where to stay, and exactly what to do when we arrived. Fortunately, nowadays you can do a good deal of the research online and have the aid of GPS navigation when you actually start out on the road.

It many ways, the planning is not unlike writing fiction, and for that matter, non-fiction as well. You really should have an idea of where your piece is going and how you intend to arrive there. Writers usually have their own modus operandi as to how much outlining or planning they do before setting out on their journey. Some plan in detail, others prefer winging it. Here, too, online research can take you places you would otherwise never access.

I recently read one bit of “advice” from a writing guru who maintained that knowing the ending of your story destroyed your creativity, and he advised setting out more or less with blind faith that your characters would lead you to their destination.

Although I am not an outliner, that’s a bit too risky for me. On the road trip I am on, we have been flexible; we have taken detours to visit sites not in the original planning, and left out some places that were initially on the itinerary. But I always knew where we would end up at the end of the day. Otherwise we would be in danger of going around in circles and never completing the journey, not to mention not having a bed to lay our heads as night fell.

It is very true that characters do often have minds of their own and hijack a writer to places she/he didn’t intend to go. That can be great fun and stimulate irresistible new thoughts and plot threads that enrich a story. A writer should give characters a chance to take her down those unexplored paths. And if a new final destination presents itself, a writer should at least check it out. It may be a better ending than the planned one.

How do you see the question of planning your stories? Do you control your characters or give them free rein?

Being Creative
Category: Writing

Enjoying lunch al fresco earlier today with a writer friend, I mentioned I had the blog to write for WA. She asked what I was going to pen to which I replied 'not sure - only remembered it was down to me just before you arrived!'

A this juncture, and you may think I've lost the plot, an army of tiny honey ants surrounded a dead wasp and began the long haul to their nest. What's this got to do with the blog? Well, we were both struck by the amazing action plan and subsequent productiveness of this mini army which led me to comment on my own lack of productivity. My friend said, 'there's your blog', referring to the remarkable feat of the creatures at our feet.

Now I could get a creative story out of that but… for the blog?

We began chatting about writing generally and what constitutes creative writing. Later, I took a look online and found some interesting articles on the subject.

In brief, Wikipedia defines creative writing as any writing that goes outside the bounds of professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature, typically identified by an emphasis on narrative craft, character development. Both fictional and non-fictional works fall into this category. Creative writing can technically be considered any writing of original composition.

Witty and LaBrant determine:

creative writing is a composition of any type of writing at any time primarily in the service of such needs as

1. the need for keeping records of significant experience.

2. the need for sharing experience with an interested group, and

3. the need for free individual expression which contributes to mental and physical health.

The following factions are generally cited as elements of creative writing - suspense and conflict, figures of speech and points of view, rhyme and rhythm, setting and scene, form and structure, diction and dialogue, exposition and narration, plot and theme, assonance and consonance, induction and deduction, line breaks and stanzas.

See also the Seven Elements of Fiction

A piece of creative writing can be achieved in any of the following forms:

  • Poetry.
  • Plays.
  • Movie and television scripts.
  • Fiction (novels, novellas, and short stories)
  • Songs.
  • Speeches.
  • Memoirs.
  • Personal essays.

By chance the Authority Publishing Academy came up on my screen and I loved its blurb:

I believe there’s a writer inside of all of us.

Even if you don’t think you write well, you do have something to say.

You have a story to tell, knowledge to impart, and experiences to share.

You’ve lived a full life that’s packed with observations and adventures, and you shouldn’t exit this Earth without chronicling them in some way. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, your life is the laboratory for creating a great book or story.

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