Showing posts from November, 2012

I Won #NaNoWriMo! Now What?

It's the end of the month, I've met my NaNoWriMo quota and I have the rough bones of a novel complete. Now it's time for me to step back and evaluate the novel I wrote as well as the way I wrote it. Here's my evaluation about the novel itself: State of the Draft: I have about half-scriptment and half draft. I would have been fine with just a scriptment, but that would have been only 20,000 words (about one third of the final word-count), so I drafted some of the scenes more fully. The first third and some of the second two thirds are done, pockmarked with scenes in between that are still just outline plus dialogue. About four scenes are outline only. My Feelings About the Novel: During the month, I read three types of books to help me write the novel. I read books on How To Write Mysteries, books on How To Write Comedy and autobiographies by heroin addicts because of the heroin subplot in my book. I also spent a night staying up late watching both Trainspot

Update on #NaNoWriMo 30: What To Do After #NaNoWriMo

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I pulled an all-nighter to finish my 50,000 words. The question is what do you do after NaNoWriMo? Of course, that depends on the state of your novel. If you did not finish: 1. Do not stop cold. Let's say that it's midnight on Nov 30, or dawn on Dec. 1 and you have just one or two chapters left... or maybe even the last third of the book. But NaNoWriMo ends, and you think, "Damn, I didn't win," so you give up, stop cold. Or perhaps you "won" ... you passed 50,000 words... but on an 80,000 word book, that means you're still 30,000 words short of finishing. Do not stop writing! Here's Robert Chazz Chute shares his experience with this and warns others not to make the same mistake: It’s okay to paste in the broad strokes to fill in later (e.g. “insert awesome sex scene here” or “this is the chapter where little Bobby discovers he can crush badger skulls with the power of his mind.”) However, as I reach

NaNoWriMo Tip #30: Wrapping Up and Revision

"I just can't face editing my novel!" Do you hate editing? Me too. Or I used to. That’s because editing usually involved the mental equivalent of ripping open my chest with a rusty knife and tearing out my internal organs. It doesn’t have to be that way. When I first used the Rich Outline method – and it was hard for me, not coming naturally at all – I discovered that if I wasn’t trying to rearrange the major plot organs of my novel to force it to make sense, Revision was actually the most enjoyable stage of the work. That’s because I had raced through the draft, writing crudely and sloppily, but now I could relax and polish my prose to my heart’s content. I was easier to focus on writing beautifully when I wasn’t also trying to figure out what was going on at the same time. I’m hoping that if these Tips helped you (or me) at all, you’re in the same position now. You have a solid but ugly draft, which is akin to the steel scaff

Update on #NaNoWriMo 29: What Kind of Draft Do You Have?

By now, whether you've been doing NaNoWriMo the whole month, or only in the last few days, or only sporadically in between downloading your consciousness into a metal scorpion for the gladiatorial robot jousts your Overlords demand every day at Tea Time, you should have some sort of drafty novely thingy. The question is, what kind of draft is it? Do you have a neat draft...? Do you have a messy draft...? Or do you have a scriptment that still needs some unpacking? It's going to make a difference in revisions. Let's go over the possible States of the Draft. 1. Neat and Complete You make all of us sick. Not only did you finish NaNoWriMo with a day (or more) to spare, but your draft is neat, complete and ready to send to an editor and proofreader. Of course, this is what we all wish we had, but for many reasons, we might not yet be at this stage. Major Strengths: You finished a novel. Major Weaknesses: None. Unless you might decide it needs m

New Uncut Version of Star Trek episode, "The Measure of a Man."

Lt. Commander Data There will be a new release of the famous episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Measure of a Man." That's the episode where there's a trial to determine if Data deserves to be treated with right equal to humans and Vulcans and other sentient species, or if he should be treated as property because he's an android. I heard the news from  Out of the Darkroom: Horse Keeping : My friend Melinda Snodgrass arrived yesterday from New Mexico because there's a nation-wide showing of her famous episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation tonight (at theatres near you all, actually) and we're going to the screening in Century City with her. "The Measure of a Man" is based on the Dred Scott decision, but it has a happier ending. The screening will be of a restored version--the original screenplay was too long for a one-hour slot, but the editors gave her a video tape without the cuts that were made. Because she had this v

NaNoWriMo Tip #29: Seven Questions to Ask About Your Manuscript

If you’re still racing to the end, or slogging to the end, keep going. If you’ve finished, then take a breath and re-read your manuscript (or at least skim it), looking for loose ends. 1. Are names, places and logistical details consistent? Decide the correct name and spelling and keep the list in a Story Bible. These, you can correct as you go along. 2. Are the major plot questions and each of the subplot questions answered by the end? 3. Are all major characters accounted for at the end? 4. Are all the red herrings deflected and the true revelations revealed? 5. Are villainous characters given their just desserts? 6. Is the ending clear, not ambiguous? (Unless you’ve made it ambiguous on purpose, in which case, THAT should be clear.) 7. Are there any “plot promises” which you’ve forgotten to redeem? (Say the hero promised a minor character something and you meant him to keep that promise but forgot to mention it again.) If you’re still racing

Update on #NaNoWriMo 28: A Novel Scriptment

A screenplay goes through many stages, from storyboard to treatment to draft script to shooting script. Not all these terms are useful for novel writers. (Obviously a "shooting script" is not relevant, although it has its equivalent perhaps in the "gallies.") I think some screenwriting terms and traditions are useful for novelists... the storyboard and the beat sheet, for instance. Another useful term is scriptment. A scriptment is a halfway between a treatment (a summary without dialogue) and a full script draft. What would a novel scriptment be? It would be half-way between an Outline and a Draft. I like this term because to me "draft" implies a novel that is complete but inelegant. It needs editing and polishing, maybe even cutting scenes or adding or moving scenes, but it's a readable novel. An outline is just a skeleton. But if you have your novel blocked out scene by scene, with a lot of the dialogue included, in the correct tense and

NaNoWriMo Tip #28: No Fail Formula to Write Any Scene

Cut hard scenes down to size. Some scenes are daunting. Especially endings. The final showdown? The shocking reveal? The declaration of love? The dawning insight into the Meaning Of It All? What might cause you to stumble on a hard scene? 1. Perfectionism.  Maybe this is a pivotal scene, or the climax of the story, and you want it to be PERFECT. After all, if the pivot isn't clear the whole rest of the story will fail... if the ending sucks, the book will be ruined... Ahhggggg!  The pressure! 2. Flow.  You've dreamed of this scene but now that you sit down to write it, you realize it's not working. For some reason it's not flowing from the previous scene or into the following scene. 3. Ignorance.  You've never written this kind of scene before. Maybe it's suppose to be romance, and you're used to action, or it's supposed to be a chase scene but you're used to writing witty repartee at garden parties. 4. Emotion.  This scene is

How To Sell Your Books On Nook UK

Great news!  NOOK is now available in the United Kingdom and that means you can reach even more readers when you publish your eBooks through PubIt! We have added new features to PubIt! so that your eBooks will be available for sale in the UK on  (if you have indicated that you have Worldwide Rights to your titles). Our new UK functionality will automatically convert your US pricing to an equivalent UK pricing in GBP (£). If you prefer to set your own UK list price, follow these quick steps: Select Actions>Edit next to your titles in the My Titles tab in the  PubIt!  dashboard. In section 1, you will see a new field called "List Price (UK)" Uncheck the box next to “auto calculate UK price based on US price”, and then enter your desired UK pricing in GBP (£). Click "Calculate My Royalty" to see your royalty for each UK sale Scroll down to Section 6, check the checkbox next to "I confirm that I have all legal rights...", and click &quo

Help! I'm Just Starting #NaNoWriMo! (Emergency Tip Day 4)

Help! I'm Just Starting #NaNoWriMo! (Emergency Tip Day 4) Planning Day One:   Refine Your  Idea  - Brainstorm a Log Line and create a Beat Sheet Day Two: Expand Your Idea  - Deepen Your Characters and Spice up Your Plot Day Three:    Outline Your Novel  - Create a Scene by Scene Outline Day Four:   Outline Your Scenes  - Scene Helper Writing Day Five:   Draft Your Scenes  - From Scene to Draft - First Third of Your Novel Day Six:  Keep Going on that Draft - Second Third of Your Novel  Day Seven:  Wow, you have a whole extra day to write, plenty of time - Third Third. Day 4: Outline Your Scenes Tip #20:  Scene Helper Tip #25:  Quick and Dirty Guide to Scene vs Summary Here's some other steps to do on Day Four: Tip #21:  Never Forget to Do This One Thing Before You Write Tip #22:  When You Can't Write...How To Deal with Real Life Tip #23:  Writing Order Tip #24:  Signs Your Novel is Waving Red Flags

NaNoWriMo Tip #27: Get Back The Mood, Push to Finish!

 With any luck, you know that wonderful pressure at the back of the head that comes when you are almost finished with a book and you HAVE TO FINISH IT NOW! I’ve experienced that. (So has my family, poor schmoes.) However, I’ve also had to reverse problem, rather more often. In fact, I’m having it right now. I’m almost done writing out my Tips, and because I’m ALMOST done, some whacked part of my mind feels as if I AM done. Imagine a marathon runner who comes within sight of the Finish Line and says, “Ok, I see the end. I’m done here.” And stops running before he crosses the line. That’s me. I see the end in sight and something deep inside says, “Right, then, let’s get on to the next project.” Then Something Shiny distracts me and I’m off. Forcing myself to finish those last three chapters, or that last 5,000 words or the final showdown between the white hat and black hat…. Holy Gamoly, Batman! We’re doomed! 7 Tricks to Beat Fear of Completion To entice

Update on #NaNoWriMo 26: Shiny Attack!!!

Thing are going well with my NaNoWriMo novel, but if you were paying close attention you may have noticed me slobbering after a Shiny New idea.... another novel earlier in the series, September Knight. I have the best of reasons to think about September Knight. It comes before October Knight. (Obviously.) And one should really know the events of the prequel first...riiiiiiight? Anyway, when attempting to ward off an attack of the Killer Shiny, it's best to throw it some meat. So I've gone ahead and written down the beat sheet, and some of the outline. Then I returned to my novel.

Work-in-Progress: "Thinking and Writing Are Different" and More Grea...

Work-in-Progress: "Thinking and Writing Are Different" and More Grea... : Some great advice from the Writer’s Digest Conference, via writers Anna Leahy and Douglas Dechow: "Thinking and writing are different," Bender said. You may have great ideas in your mind, but "the only book that exists is the one on the page." The process of writing is not one of translating your thoughts onto the page. No, it's the other way around. "Writing gives us access to our own minds."

How To Make Your Own Sticky-Note Outlining Kit

Sticky-Notes I prefer the 1.5"x 2" sticky-notes in bright colors , but there are many sizes and tints to choose. Paper Any paper will do. I prefer pastels , with which I can differentiate the different acts of the book. (Say: four sheets of marigold paper for the chapters of Act I, five sheet of lilac for Act II, etc.) Three-Ring Binder Punch holes in the paper, stick the paper in a three ring binder and use one sheet per chapter (or per scene) and label your sticky-notes with the beats.  Voila!

Help! I'm Just Starting #NaNoWriMo! (Emergency Tip Day 3)

"The Witcher" by A.Sapkowski For those of you on the Gonzo NaNoWriMo, here's Day Three. Day Three: Outline Your Novel.  You outline your novel quickly the same way you outline your novel slowly: One step at a time. Use index cards or sticky-notes to brainstorm plot points you'd like to include, play with them, and expand each beat in your Beat Sheet until the outlines starts to fill out. Example: Yesterday, I worked on characters for my September Knight story. I need this story blocked out before I can proceed on my other book October Knight (which has some recurring characters and occurs the next month). I don't necessarily need to write out the whole story, but I do need to have a solid outline, to make sure the two books are compatible. I know this book will have a mystery. I know it will have a romance... but if I want Clare to also have a romance in October Knight (uh oh, these books were supposed to be self-contained!) I have to make it

NaNoWriMo Tip #26: Keeping On Track

Shiny idea is trying to hook you! Don't bite! (Or at least don't get reeled in...) These are my personal tips for NaNoWriMo. You know the drill. Take only what works. As you write, no matter how detailed your outline, new ideas will occur to you. This is a good thing. The new ideas are often an improvement or refinement, and you should go with your gut. Mostly. Sometimes, you need to reign in that impulse and keep on track. So how do you know? Look for these danger signs: Lure of The Shiny You find yourself off on a tangent, chasing a new idea that radically changes the direction of the book… not because your original premise was worse, but because the new thing is Shiny. It’s distracted you, like a will-o-the-wisp leading you to your doom in a forest of never finished manuscripts. Subplot Coup By A Supporting Character One of your characters, often armed with a subplot, has monopolized your interest, to the peril of the main character a