Evapouration

I quit science as soon as I finished the compulsory exams, but evapouration occurs when something reaches its boiling point (correct me if I’m wrong, but I really hope that A* in Chemistry wasn’t lying). After NaNoWriMo, you can feel all hot and excited (um… all those dirty minded people (including me, I guess) go and wash your mind out with soap! (mm soapy water (maybe just take a bath))) and then it evapourates into nothing and you feel rather deflated.

This happens after most writing projects. What to do, though? Especially if, like me, you’re burnt out from NaNo but still have a novel to finish.

  • Have a cry (or, in Greek, pathos (that technically means suffering, but y’know)). Crying helps, believe me! I had a little weep after I finished my first novella, and after I finished NaNoWriMo, because I worked so hard. You can be happy and cry, believe me! It’ll leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the next hurdle.
  • Have a (little or large) break. I’m having today and tomorrow and yesterday and possibly the day after off from writing my novel. Mainly because I have a script I need to do, but also because it’ll make me really want to go back because I’m so close to the climax oh my gosh. 
  • Write something else for a while – and then go back to the main thing. Pretty self-explanatory. If you want to keep it related to your novel, write a short story about your current set of characters!
  • Do something completely unwriting related like, shock-horror, go outsideThe nature of it all will make you want to scurry back to your writing retreat ASAP.

Remember, writing’s meant to be fun, and after that little evapouration, when you feel like you’ve pulled the plug on your blowhole, it takes a while to heat up again. Just keep the gas on, and you’ll be fine!

Poof.

The Last Hurrah

Let's change this into 'winner', eh?
Let’s change this into ‘winner’, eh?

It’s the last week of NaNoWriMo. Well, seeing as this is characteristically late, it’s the last four days.

How many words do you have left? None? 100? 1000? 10000? 50000?!

Never fear. As people have proved it’s possible, you know it’s possible. Perhaps you just need some encouragement.

  • Your characters need you. They will bug you until you finish.
  • Your novel needs you. Do you think you could bear the pain of never writing ‘THE END’ in big bold letters before bragging to your friends that you have, yes, really, written a novel.
  • Related to this: um, hello, bragging rights! I’m going to claim mine when I hit that 50k.
  • You can move on up! Now the revisions start, but, after this, you can venture into the big wide world of published. *gasps*

If you need some more words to be written, why not create a Twitter account and settle over to the NaNoWriMo word sprints page? Another I can recommend is Get Wordies, who are fantastic encouragers too!

If you really dislike Twitter, set a timer and write, write, write! You’ll be amazed at what you can do.

Good luck Wrimos; I believe in you!

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Looking Forward

There comes a time, especially during NaNoWriMo, where you dread sitting down to write each night. Your characters are driving you bananas, the plot is going nowhere, and you just can’t be bothered.

Writing isn’t just the act of putting words on a page, or typing them on a screen. Like a film, so much more happens behind the big screen than on it.

When you’re feeling low and you hate your characters so much you want to kill every single one, it’s hard to get back into it. Stop. Right there, stop. Even if you’re enjoying your novel, stop!

Sometimes, you need to slow the pace to avoid this happening as well, whilst other times it’s already begun. Don’t worry; you can reverse this effect and love your book again.

Whilst in NaNo the ideas below aren’t possible most of the time if you’re really busy, you can still try these things if only for a minute or two; and if you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, these can still help. All can be done before, during or after your novel/novella/epic/script are in the works!

  • Draw your characters. Can’t draw? Eh, skip this step. Got a friend who can draw? Oh, look, I just enticed you back! Even if you can’t draw yourself, try asking a buddy if they’ll draw your characters (perhaps they’ll do it for cookies). If you can draw, then yay, you can do it yourself. If you do have a buddy, sit with them as they draw; make sure they’re all right with you telling them exactly how you want it to be. Bonding, and character development!
  • Write back ground stories/AUs/just extra stories. Background stories are something that the reader often doesn’t get to see (such as JKR with Umbridge…although she published that). AU’s stand for Alternate Universes – if you’re writing in the past, set your characters up in the present day and see how they react!
  • Chat to someone about your novel. Look, it doesn’t matter if it’s the dog, but you might be able to find out so much more about your characters, plot and setting. Make sure you have a notebook on hand! It helps if they’re a writer; they might be able to toss ideas back at you.
  • Read. What is more relaxing? …and, of course, it tells you how the pros craft their work. Obviously. (Seriously though, wouldn’t you like to be holding a paperback copy of your own book in your hands?!)
  • Watch a film. Now, this is technically procrastinating, but this time grab a film that you’ve already watched and a notebook. Make a note of any time it changes setting, character, what happens; all ideas for your novel, or if it’s a script you’re writing, equally as helpful!
  • Write a letter to your characters – or even your novel! This can help with understanding your characters needs and wants, and your needs and wants. It might make you feel stupid writing to a book, but it can help you gain confidence, you’re still writing, and you can understand your work better. Besides, you might realise that you don’t, in fact, hate your work; just a strong dislike that will pass over in the near future.

I hope these ideas have given you some fuel for your fire. It’s week three of NaNoWriMo, so if you have a spare moment, jot down some thoughts to your characters, or have a chat whilst with your next door neighbour over the fence. You don’t have to constantly breathe your novel, but thinking about it as you go about your day-to-day business – providing it’s in a positive light! – might help you to look forward to writing when you get home.

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀
PS – How’s NaNoWriMo going for you?

Keep The Steam Hot

It’s week two. You’re about 6 or 7 chapters in, and you can feel yourself lagging a bit. It’s getting dull, you’re tired, work’s a nightmare, the weather’s abominable and the thought of sitting down and writing for an hour makes you want to tear your hair out.

When you’re running out of steam, in any project, not just NaNoWriMo (although due to the sheer workload of NaNoWriMo, it’s most likely because of it), it’s hard to keep your chin up, the pot hot and to keep on writing. I’m feeling the same way, don’t worry – the only thing keeping me going is that I’m finally getting into the meaty bit of my book even though I accidentally added in an extra chapter.

Here’s some tips to keep going:

  • Bribe yourself. Hey, it works, it’s not deceitful because you know it’s there, and you get a nice treat at the end of it! One thing could be a nice bath every 20,000 words (which would be three this month, theoretically), or watching a film, or a bar of chocolate. I’m using a square of chocolate for when I hit 19,000 tonight (thanks, Classical Civilisations teacher!).
  • Add in a subplot/new character/kill a character/add in something. Adding in something will keep your water boiling. My next chapter (hopefully) incorporates a new subplot, which I am very excited about. It’s keeping me writing. Besides, adding in something gives you more to write about if you’re just running out of things as opposed to steam.
  • Music. Make a playlist for your novel. I find music really helps me to keep writing.
  • Participate in word wars or just time yourself. Word wars are where you ‘compete’ with other people to find out who can write the most in a set amount of time (eg 5 minutes). NaNoWriMo have their own Twitter feed – @NaNoWordSprints – where that’s all they post! I sometimes just time myself, too, and try to do what I can; it adds on the pressure, as when the timer goes off, you stop.
  • Warm up before you start. Just write 200 words of drabble before you begin your novel – it’ll get your fingers hot and your brain warmed up, just in time for your characters to pop in and say hello.
  • Have an end goal. My personal end goal is a marathon of Agents of SHIELD season 2 if I hit 50,000. If I don’t, I only get to watch one or two a week. Man it’s spurring me on! Create a big goal that you actually really want to hit – maybe a trip to the cinema, or a new dress. If you have a reminder about it around you, as well (better make it your computer background!) then you’ll really want to hit it.
  • Get people to make you write. When all else fails, get someone behind prodding you with a big stick when your fingers stop moving.

How’s NaNoWriMo going for you? Or, if you’re not doing it this year, how’s life in general? Good, I hope.

Keep going guys, I believe you can do it!

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀 

Keep that kettle steamin’ and you can have TEA! Who doesn’t love tea? Even the Daleks do, guys.

How To Craftily Increase Your Wordcount

It’s Day 4 of NaNoWriMo. I am (for once) well ahead of my word count. But I know some are just starting, or falling behind (and that’s okay too, there’s still 4 weekends between here and the 30th! Don’t panic!).

Some call it cheating, some call it intelligence if you find a way around it. I don’t really know what to call it, but if you’re falling behind on your NaNoWriMo word count, here are my three tips for getting it up.

  1. Don’t use conjunctions. These are things like ‘don’t’, ‘shouldn’t’, ‘I’m’ etc. If you use ‘don’t’, it’s one word. If you use ‘do not’, it’s two. Sneaky, yes. But it works.
  2. Description is your best buddy – especially if you’re stuck. Picture the scene (heheh). You know where you’re starting from. You know where you want to go. But… you don’t know how to get there. If you’re stuck on the route from A to B, try adding in some description. If it’s unnecessary, it doesn’t matter – you can cut it later. If it adds to the novel, wow, you’ve discovered something you never had before!
  3. Add in a subplot – however small. Maybe the character makes friends with a lizard who lives on their windowsill. Or maybe they discover their mother isn’t actually their birth mother. It can be as big or as small as you like.
    A subplot is a plot that runs alongside the main one, but isn’t the main one. For example, Harry and Ginny’s relationship in Harry Potter. Use these to your advantage – I have at least three in my plan, and it’s really boosted a) my chapter count, b) the interest in the novel and c) my interest in the novel – subplots can also really help if you’re getting bored already!

I hope your NaNoWriMo is going swimmingly. If you have any questions, comments or thoughts, shoot! 😀

PS – if you are doing NaNoWriMo, what’s your word count? Mine currently stands at 7743! 

Like I said. Every time. ;D
Like I said. Every time. ;D

So It Ends…

First lines are probably the most important thing you have under your belt. Sure, good characterisation and a conflicted plot are great too, but it’s the first lines that are the best thing for it.

I have written about first lines before, but this time I want to talk about something different which is in the first line league: the end of the chapter. Or, the dictionary of mystery and suspense. 

Everyone knows that the end of a chapter has to be good. It has to keep the reader reading. You have to do this on the next chapter, and the one after that, and after that etc. Personally, it’s the first chapter that is the cincher. Readers can put the book down after the first chapter and not feel cheated: but after the second, or third, they’re less likely to (in my opinion, anyway. Especially once you get halfway, ’cause then you think ‘hmm, I might as well…). But you still have to keep them reading – or, more precisely, wanting to read.

I’ve got three books I’ve just picked up. Here’s their first last lines:

  1. ‘And so Maddy Phillips and I met, and so we went to the dance, and so…everything.’ – That Summer by Andrew Greig
  2. ‘The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.’ – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. ‘”Your heart swears you will,” Halfdan’s daughter told him. “But not your eyes.”‘ – Bracelet of Bones by Kevin Crossley-Holland

All of these three have something in common: they make you want to find out more. You want to find out if Maddy Phillips and this person keep going out together; you want to know if Mrs Bennet’s daughters get married; you want to know why Halfdan’s eyes are not swearing that he will do something.

The endings of the second chapters are equally gripping. But how do you make them so? Here’s some ideas:

  1. Ask a question. Make sure it’s a question that the readers want to know the answer too. They might not want to know what type of shoes the MC is wearing, but they might want to know how the victim died. This can be a cliché method, so perhaps it’s better for a later chapter; and don’t make the questions have an obvious answer. Your readers have to keep going to find out, they can’t just guess and get it right, otherwise they might shut the book and (shock, horror!) never open it again.
  2. End on a dramatic statement. ‘It was Uncle Bob’s last ounce of butter’ probably isn’t going to have much of an impact (unless butter is the pivotal plot point in your novel) but something like ‘I accidentally pulled the trigger’ will probably make your readers scramble to turn the page.
  3. End on speech. “Mum, I got the carrots!” No. “Mum, it’s [antagonist]!” Yes. Speech can be valuable – especially because characters can lie. If your readers know something about your MC that the other characters don’t know, and then the MC lies about it, they’re going to want to know a) what happens and b) why did they lie (unless this has already been spelled out).
  4. Cliffhangers are your new best friends. Especially if you’re ending a novel and already have the next instalment up your sleeves. Cliffhangers can be good for chapters in the middle of the novel (*cough*the climax*cough*) but don’t use them too constantly, otherwise readers will be bored and they won’t be as dramatic as you’d like them to be. Cliffhangers aren’t necessarily the last line – don’t read the rest of this paragrap if you haven’t read The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan and want to. Basically, Annabeth and Percy fall into Tartarus, and the final chapter is the team deciding what to do. And that’s where it ends. But, it’s still a cliffhanger, because we don’t know what happened and want to.

I wouldn’t necessarily end on description unless it’s unusual. For example, if the MC is describing someone new they just met, you wouldn’t say ‘They had brown hair, brown eyes and freckles.’ You would say ‘They had brown hair, freckles over their nose, and piercing brown eyes with pupils that narrowed once they caught sight of me.’ That is the thing that makes the readers what to read on: mystery and suspense. 

Basically, you want the readers to be doing this after every chapter/book, wanting to know the next bit:

Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuun

Good luck in writing your last lines. You’ll do great! 😀

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀

PS, it’s the first day of NaNoWriMo. What’s your word count?

The Final Countdown

If you don’t include today, there are three more sets of 24 hours (or 72 hours to you brainiacs out there) until NaNoWriMo hits.

Yes, you read correctly. Three days.

Are you ready? Here’s my personal NaNo checklist:

  • Plan. I’ve got a story plan this year (if I’m writing to a deadline, it makes it so much easier for me).
  • Character profiles. I think they’ll probably be on Charahub.
  • Tea. Coffee isn’t the tastiest thing in the world, so I’m stocking up on it’s slightly-less-caffinated-but-still-high-enough cousin.
  • A ‘Go Away: I’m Writing’ doorsign…and a memo to listen to it. I actually have one of these on my door, but no one really pays attention. It’s annoying.
  • Word Count Dragons. Have a look on this forum and find one for yourself. Mine this year are Apollo, Rhiudus and Sprite. Here’s hoping they’ll keep me in check…
  • Equally insane buddies. Have you got any NaNo buddies so you can help each other on the quest to madness? For the first time I actually have people who I haven’t just persuaded into doing it. I have people who want to write a novel! 😀
  • A place to back up. Be in OneDrive, Google Docs, emailing it to yourself, printing it, a memory stick or making the paper fireproof, you need to back up and do it AT LEAST every couple of days!
  • A will and a way. You have the will; you have the way. What’s stopping you?

Seeing as this is the last post before NaNoWriMo hits, I’ll wish you good luck now (but stay tuned for Friday when there’ll be a post on great last lines! – with a link to great first lines).

What’s on your NaNoWriMo checklist? Are you ready for the craziness to begin? Comment below, I always love to hear from you! 😀

Finally:

I’m /so/ gonna post this every week.

Why ClassTools.net Is SO COOL For a [Sad] Writer

Okay. I’m not a completely child (unless you listen to the law in which case I am) but I’m not a complete adult. I’m at that usual in the middle phase, which means that it’s still socially acceptable for me to play on kids sites, as long as I find something educational. Ha.

When playing about on the computer one day (I think it was at school?) I stumbled upon this site: ClassTools. ClassTools is a website dedicated to teachers, for, unsurprisingly, tools to use in the classroom. Amongst these are gems such as ‘Fakebook’, an SMS creator, and ‘Twister’. No guesses for what these are parodies of…

Why are these so cool for writers? Because it lets you bring your fictional characters to life! Even if you’re writing from the middle ages or the dystopia future where computers enslave the world, just pause and have a go at it for a moment. Turn your characters into living breathing people, who moan about their jobs on Facebook, spam their friends on SMS and upload a subtly hinted Tweet right around Christmas.

You can even save your Fakebooks and Twisters and come back to them later if you’re stuck on something. Perhaps having a Fakebook during a writing project to keep up with it could help you? Post from a different character every day! (Oh, that’s actually a good idea, I might try that.)

It’s just a quick idea about something that could be pretty awesome.

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀

And I’d love to hear if you use ClassTools! There’s also other cool things, like a fruit machine – if you’re stuck between character names, plug them in and let the machine decide for you! 

Just a little fun. Emily Watson is apparently a real person, which is why a picture came up (don't worry, you can change it!).
Just a little fun. Emily Watson is apparently a real person, which is why a picture came up (don’t worry, you can change it!).
Convo between my FMC for NaNo and her best friend.
Convo between my FMC for NaNo and her best friend.
Eheheehehe
Ehehehehe

How To Write A Blurb

First of all, what’s the difference between a synopsis and a blurb?

A synopsis covers the entire plot. A blurb catches the reader onto the hook and reels them in. The point is, an author writes a blurb, and the reader a synopsis (well, technically they could anyway). I write blurbs for NaNoWriMo, even though it says synopsis on the site; you can write synopses if you want to, but I don’t know where my plot is going yet, so I am not. 🙂 (Don’t worry: I’ll do a post on synopses after NaNoWriMo).

Writing a blurb is hard, especially when, I have found, you have no idea what the plot actually is. So this is a post for all you pantsers out there (or, indeed, if you’re not). You can’t write what you don’t know – yet.

Here are some of my tips to write a blurb:

  1. Know the plot – the first few chapters at least. Pick up the closest book next to you. Does it tell you the ending? The climax? Even the first climax? No. Because you only need enough to hook the reader. If you’re NaNo-ing and barely know the idea, just make a bit up. If it changes, it’s no biggie.
  2. Either use a question or a brash statement. For example, the blurb of Slated by Teri Terry finishes with: “Who can she trust in her search for the truth?” The blurb of Harry Potter ends in a typical ‘dot dot dot’ (not ‘S’ in Morse code). You can read my July blurb to see how I did it. You just want to hook the readers on, really.
  3. Imagine you don’t know anything. What is the first turn in your story that will make you want to read your book? Use this in your blurb. For July NaNoWriMo, I had James moving down South, and him meeting the ABC group. Alrighty, this is two turns, but moving house doesn’t really explain how you’d get a love story out of it. If your first turn is huge, though, perhaps you could only use that.
  4. Don’t go too heavy on the facts. Sure, the first name of your MC is always good, and maybe the names of a side character or two can help. A key term now and again won’t hurt. But your reader will look at the blurb as an indicator for how the book sounds. If you give them an information overload, guess what? They probably won’t read it!
  5. Give them a piece of the picture. Ever heard the phrase ‘A picture paints a thousand words’? Well, you have about 5% of that amount. Imagine you’re cutting a little square from the bottom of the canvas and giving it to the reader. That little square has to be really good for them to want to see the whole thing.

You have <100 words to write your blurb (yes, that really is less than one hundred). You’ve gotta make it good. Choose your words carefully, my friend. It could be the difference to a reader and a leaver.

Good luck, you’ll do great. Remember, if you don’t think you’d read it, don’t write it!

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀 

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Write your story’s blurb below! 😀 

Articles Farticles – Dos and Don’ts of Article Writing

Like with anything in life, there is a lot you can get wrong in article writing. However, there is also a lot you can get right. Here’s a just a few ways to make that submission tippy too and (hopefully) it’ll be accepted!

Do:

– Include what the submission wants. If they’re looking for articles between 800-1000 words, don’t send them a 700 piece! Likewise, a 2000 word essay won’t go down well, either.
– Send your work to the right place. There’s no point in sending something to the national newspaper when it’s more fit for the monthly Parish newsletter. Likewise, if you’re submitting sex advice, don’t send it to The People’s Friend!
– Be patient. It can take hours, days, weeks, even months for a reply as to whether you’ve been successful or not. If it’s a letter you’re sending in, you may not even get notification about it! Don’t harass the editor – it might just make them annoyed. I know I would be.

Don’t:

– Make it inappropriate. It’ll just be binned.
– Send something into two places at once, unless you have confirmation it hasn’t been accepted at the first place. It could affect your rights.
– Break the rules. This is much like the first point. If 800-900 words is asked for, don’t give them less or more. Don’t think you’re being quirky or individual, because they will just see it as someone who can’t be bothered to adhere to the rules other people would have worked hard to reach. It’ll just be binned and you might not be thought of again for that corporation.

Good luck when sending in your articles. If you don’t get accepted, don’t fret. Remember when I wasn’t? See it as a learning curve. A chance to try something else out, or even send the same article to a different place.

And that brings us to the end of our article escapade. I hope you enjoyed it. Now go out and write an article! *yay!*

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀