and a happy CampNaNoWriMo to you

A merry CampNaNoWriMo to you! We have arrived at the Summer edition of the customizable version of November’s National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, and I couldn’t be happier.

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One of the things I adore about CampNaNoWriMo is that the rules aren’t cut and dry. You don’t need to write 50,000 words in 30 days like NaNoWriMo to win! CampNaNo can be customized to fit with your needs, whether that be page counts, word counts, or hours logged writing.

I have arrived at the last 10,000 words of my novel. Therefore, my CampNaNo goals were easy to decide. At five days in, I have written 4,000 words, so there’s only 6000 words left for me. Of course, that is all approximate because I may end up going over, but it feels good to be well on my way to completing the first draft. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point.

Yesterday, I managed to write on and off for around six hours. I ended up writing over 3,000 words. That was simply because I had uninterrupted time. While I adore #5amwritersclub, it has a time limit. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I am always thinking about how I have one hour until I need to head out to my day job. Having a few days off to dedicate uninterrupted time to writing has been my saving grace. The scenes that I’m currently working on are scenes that need extra attention. They are difficult to walk away from because of how focused I need to be when writing them.

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Don’t get me wrong, writing always requires focus, but there are certain types of intense scenes that benefit from big chunks of immersion. Don’t you agree? The next few days will consist of extra cups of coffee and lots of time in front of my computer screen as I celebrate CampNaNo with many hours of writing. I hope that this month brings you high levels of inspiration and that your CampNaNo experience is extra special.

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

discovering “the end”

As of this very moment, I have crossed over the 45k mark of my novel. I have a target goal of between 60k-65k words to end my first draft with. So, for the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about the words, “The End.” Truth be told, I only have the slightest idea of how my first draft will end. My entire journey writing this novel has been one built on discovery with my main character. Sure, some things have been very clear to me from the start, but most has been a cloudy mess. I’ve been marching right along beside her through the fog. Now, the end is in sight and I want it to be just right.

I can’t help but think about this quote from The Fellowship of the Ring: 

““Have you thought of an ending?”
“Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant.”

–J.R.R. Tolkien

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Perhaps it is because I know this is the first of three books. I already have discovered several things that are meant to happen in the second book and only one thing that I know will happen in the third. So, the big question is…how do you discover “the end”?

Whether that means “the end” to a first book, a series, etc. I have decided that the only thing I can really do at this point is this:

-Rely on my instincts. They’ve gotten me this far. There’s no point in doubting them now.

-Make a list of every plot point I want to cover before the finish line.

-Drink coffee.

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Because this is my first draft, I am very comfortable in the fact that I will be going back and fleshing out many scenes and making major edits. However, I would like to nail down the end of this novel with a sledgehammer. I am filled with exhausted emotion for my main character. I want her to get some relief, but my instincts are telling me that it all isn’t going to be quite that simple. All in all, it’s an exciting process.

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How do you discover “the end” in your projects?

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

5 writing books I love

It’s safe to assume that if you are a writer you are going to purchase books about writing. I don’t think I know a writer that doesn’t have at least one! Sure, some writers may take it a bit too far and stop reading other genre books, but for the most part I think certain books on writing can be a helpful resource to turn to. I do believe that if you really want to strengthen your writing, it’s a good idea to dive into a big pile of books written in the genre of your project. However, there needs to be balance and we just love reading everything anyway, right?

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For today’s post I thought it would be fun to show you five writing books that I absolutely love and give you some reasons why. Take a look!

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Reading Like a Writer 

by Francine Prose

This is a book that I bought many years ago after taking a fiction writing workshop. Since then, I’ve read it a few times. Prose draws on the writing and experience of many familiar authors you may know like Austen, Dickens, and Wolff. It’s a great book to keep on your nightstand or in your purse to flip through from time to time.

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The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression 

by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

Oh, I can’t say enough about this series of books. Yes, it is a series and there are all types of emotions covered. This is the first one out of the series that I bought and I think that’s why it’s my favorite. You know when you’re writing and you keep using lame adjectives? This is a great book to turn to. Pick a feeling and there are tons of ways to express it right there in front of you.

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First Draft in 30 Days 

by Karen S. Wiesner

Ever tried NaNoWriMo? I guess it was about five years ago when I tried it for the first time. Faced with the task of writing 50,000 words in one month, a friend of mine told me to buy this book. I would describe it as a very helpful, detailed guide on how to write an amazing outline. I remember utilizing parts of the book (which I still use today) and it helped my novel flow.

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What Would Your Character Do? 

by Eric Maisel and Ann Maisel

This is my oldest book on writing for sure. It was one of the first writing books I ever purchased when I was just daydreaming about what it would be like to call myself a writer. What’s so cool about this book is, it forces you to take your characters out of their comfort zone. It has tons of different scenarios to put your characters in, questions to ask, and what it all might mean.

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Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft 

by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French

This is my most expensive and recent writing book purchase. After completing the Frost Place Poetry Seminar workshop, this book was recommended to me based on my interest in novel writing. The reason it was so expensive was because it is technically a textbook that is used in many current MFA programs and I felt compelled to buy a brand new one. So far, I’m not sorry. It’s proven to be worth the money. Sometimes you need to feel like a student again and turning to a textbook forces you to think that way. Each chapter has exercises at the end to reinforce the content you just read. I highly recommend it.

So, there they are…in no particular order…5 writing books I love. You can follow the links attached to each title to grab a copy. I hope that at least one of these books has peaked your interest. What are some of your favorite books on writing?

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

 

 

 

 

is an outline right for your novel?

There are so many different ways to be a writer. Each one of us is unique in our processes. Sometimes the things that you’ve been doing forever work well, and other times everything falls flat. Today I found myself pressured by my upcoming deadline. I have a self-made goal of finishing the first draft of my novel by July 15th. With that, comes a word count goal of 60,000 words. Normally, I attempt to not get bogged down by word count goals, but they exist and are necessary.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been making very little progress on my novel. While I love to say the phrase “progress is progress,” and move on with my life, it’s not going to work with my current goal. As of today, I have 42 days left to achieve my goal if I take weekends off. (I’m a firm believer in having days off to recharge.) That leaves me with a daily word count goal of approx. 670 words. Manageable? Yes. However, I need a plan of attack.

That brings me to my topic today: to outline or to not outline? I will admit that a rough outline of the first half of my novel already exists, but what lies ahead is mostly a mystery to me. For a lot of people, it’s nice to sit down to the page and just go with it.

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That wonderful feeling of unveiling points in your novel right along with the characters can be thrilling. However, sometimes we hit walls. I think with a lot of fantasy novels, it is important to do a certain amount of planning. Now I am faced with the question of whether or not an outline is right for me. For some writers it works really well and other writers despise them. I land somewhere in the middle of it all. I am not a fan of super detailed outlines.

I like general points, organized. If you keep it simple, it will work. If you don’t, it turns into an additional project. Something like this:

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method to my madness:

-The setting of my novel changes a lot. It’s good to keep track.

-Having 2-3 plot points helps me to keep the flow going when my mind wanders.

-I don’t always use the note section, but if I introduce a new character to the story or something happens that I absolutely must remember to go back to, I put it there.

So, there you have it. Starting tomorrow I will be working on the outline for the rest of my novel. Hopefully it will help!

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How do you feel about outlines? To outline? To not outline?

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

how to track character emotions

Many years ago, I finished a young adult, paranormal-romance novel. It was my first completed manuscript and I was pretty new to that level of the writing world. When it came time to start editing, I felt a little lost. Unsure of how to tackle such a task, I turned to some writing books. In doing so, I found many instances where the importance of character development was brought up. I thought, “Duh. Of course there is character development in my story.” How could there not be?

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Just to be safe, I decided I would map out some details about my character chapter by chapter. Boy, was I surprised. Suddenly, it dawned on me. While my character made changes and evolved, there were certain details that weren’t quite consistent. Now, before I continue I will admit that the novel I speak of wasn’t very good and I did ultimately end up shelving it after many rejections. My personal life got in the way of the book and now it’s in a drawer somewhere. Since then, I’ve worked on many other projects and I’ve taken my experience with tracking character development with me.

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I’m currently working on a young adult fantasy novel and I absolutely adore my main character. Last week, I took a moment to consider my progress with her. As I contemplated a blog topic to cover for this week, I realized that my character development exercise is one that comes at a perfect time. What I’d like to share with you today is my emotion tracker for the characters in your W.I.P.!

Character emotions are an important part of character development. As you read a novel, you want a character who is progressing in one way or another. You definitely don’t want one who is happy one second and miserable the next for no good reason. Emotions can be unstable, but need to be monitored. For some writers, this may come naturally. Let’s just put it this way…it doesn’t hurt to check. I would rather double and triple check my manuscript before I find out that’s the reason an agent rejected me.

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Here is my simple method for tracking character’s emotions chapter by chapter:

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For each chapter, write one emotion that your character is feeling at the beginning, middle, and end. See what that progression looks like. Is your character consistently flat? Is your character too happy in dire situations?

This is a great exercise to build into your outlines too. I am currently finding it to be very helpful as I navigate my main character through a very tricky situation. I have found that I often make her overly anxious. She’s constantly in a state of panic or heartache. While it is fitting, now that I’ve tracked his pattern, I can expand her scope of emotions and play around with her inner thoughts in a different way.

Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay.

Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

the art of brainstorming

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”

-Neil Gaiman

I’ve been pondering how often I allow myself to contemplate as a writer. Day to day life gets so hectic that it can sometimes feel impossible to spare time for actual writing let alone brainstorming. At this point in my writing career, I’ve worn a few different hats. I started out writing poetry, moved to novels, back to poetry, worked my way into the freelance writing world of pop culture news, and came back to novels about a year and a half ago.

My current passion project is a young adult fantasy novel, and thanks to social media groups like #5amWritersClub, I have been able to get on a really nice regimen with my writing. With that said, I’ve also been considering how much more productive I am when I sit down with the blank page after allowing myself time to brainstorm.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Christine, how? Why? I don’t have time.”

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I understand. When I first started dating my boyfriend, who is also a writer, about two and a half years ago, I was perplexed when he would tell me about how important brainstorming is. As a writer who always scrambled to the page, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best, I couldn’t imagine setting aside time for that.

After a while, I realized the difference between my writing methods and the way my boyfriend did things. As an expert ponderer, he always approached his writing sessions with ease and not a lot of anxiety. I figured, I had to give it a shot! I would make time for brainstorming and see if it helped.

Well, there’s a reason this post is called “the art of brainstorming.” People, it works. The more I ponder, the more prepared I am when I get to the page. Sure, it’s not always butterflies and rainbows, but the difference is clear. When I allow time for brainstorming, the writing flows.

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If it sounds like a daunting task, start small:

  1. Put on a song that inspires you and brainstorm what your next scene will be about for the length of that song.
  2. Write down three plot points that you know you want to conquer in your next chapter.
  3. Take a walk and think about what your characters are feeling at the present moment in your W.I.P.

If you already fancy yourself a brainstorming expert, cheers! Pour yourself a hot cup of coffee and stare at the ceiling while the scenes come to life in your imagination. Don’t let anyone tell you that brainstorming isn’t productive. It absolutely is a necessary part of creation and it should be practiced.

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Next week will be about breaking bad writing habits.

Until next time,

Christine

Shoot for Neverland: Spread Some Writing Magic

Does anyone else feel like February just flew by?

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Yep, we are already five days into March! I hope your month is off to a fantastic start!

I’m happy to report that I’m filled with a lovely amount of inspiration these days. Shhh…we don’t want to scare it away.

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I did end up slashing and cutting some of my story, but at the end of February I felt positive about what I changed. Thanks to #5amwritersclub my writing routine finally has structure. What is that, you ask? Basically, you work on your current project at 5am every morning before you head to work, your daily responsibilities, etc.

Now, let me tell you what happens when you work on your passion before you walk out the front door…

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You know that place in your chest that fills up with fresh air whenever you write? That super satisfying feeling that resonates down to the very core of your creative spirit? It’s full when you write first thing in the morning. I never thought it would be possible to wake up at 5 a.m. and write before I headed to my day job, but it is!

It’s safe to say that March is off to a wonderful start for me AND my writing. With that said, I’m embarking on a quest! I decided to spread some more positive energy to the writing world by creating a giveaway. Introducing my Magical March Giveaway!

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Want a cute tote bag, a colorful journal, pretty pencils, and a copy of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (which has changed my life.) ?? All you have to do is head on over to my Twitter and do one of the two things above. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #MagicalMarchGiveaway.

[If Twitter isn’t your thing, don’t fret. This won’t be my last giveaway! If you’d be interested in a blog giveaway, send me a message.]

All in all, I hope that you unlock new doors in your imagination this month and that you embrace whatever your creative spirit has to offer. Shoot for the stars, the moon, or perhaps…Neverland.

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I’ll be back with a post about breaking bad writing habits later this week.

Until next time,

Christine