Fun Lines from NaNoWriMo

When you’re trying to reach 50,000 words, it stands to reason that you’d have some very, very strange phrases that will later be edited out or replaced with “real” writing when you go about doing a “real” draft of your NaNo novel.

Here are some of the strange lines and phrases from “Victorious” I wrote this November.

  • “With the caution of a terrified bunny rabbit…”
  • ” ‘I didn’t say “Bridget,” I said “Bridges,”‘ Victoria said impatiently.  ‘You know.  A bridge just sort of sits there stupidly while everything useful either passes over it or under it.’ “
  • “ ‘So you’re saying all people in your United States get one vote?’ she asked eagerly.  ‘It’s not one vote for the working class, two votes for the merchant class, three for the academic class, and four for the noble class?’ “
  • ” Without moving from her nestled, protected spot, Mina suggested Duke Ammon do something that really wasn’t fit for discussion in mixed company.”
  • “As the session broke up, he could at least console himself with the thought of resting in peace, finally, without any sort of royal humdiggery.”
  • “Everyone with at least half a brain knew the Duchess of Leicester was, to put it politely, a total control freak; to put it less politely, she was a territorial dictator when it came to social functions and her own household.”
  • “An explosion of artery-clogging goodness burst into his mouth.”

What are your best and funniest lines from this year’s NaNo draft?  The more ridiculous, the better!  (Especially jokes that look weird out of context.  I love those.)

[Guest Post] Writing as an Endurance Sport

“You’re doing WHAT?”

That’s the typical response when you tell someone you’re participating in an event to write 50,000 words in 30 days. The second response is “What do you get if you win?” For most people the idea of writing a novel in a month is, at best, a foolish waste of time. After all, don’t you know how few people actually manage to get published? The world of writing is a mysterious world indeed, and one that seems crazy to outsiders.

So what do we get out of it? Well, for some it is an endurance sport. Some people choose to test their boundaries by running marathons, or climbing mountains. And to these people the same questions could be asked. “You’re running 25k? Why? What do you get if you win?” The knowledge that you’ve won. It doesn’t seem like much, but humans thrive on competition. The act of winning is enough to spur us on towards greater heights.

But there’s more to it. You see, we’re not just in competition – we’re in community. There’s something about the experience of shared hardship that brings people together. Nobody runs a marathon by themselves, you run it with other people. Those other people give you competition (I’m ahead of two thirds of the other runners!) and they give you community (we’re in this together!) Both are necessary to reach your goals.

But why do we do this? Surely writing a novel in a year is the same outcome as writing a novel in a month? Why push ourselves? Because we have to. You see, there’s a vicious and evil monster that plagues writers worldwide. It’s called the inner editor. It’s that voice that says “That sentence sucks.” It’s a useful tool, in some settings, but in novel writing it is crippling. Such a high word count in such a low amount of time allows you to force the inner editor into a closet and lock it away. it means you don’t have time to spend three hours agonizing whether that comma sound be a comma, a semi-colon or a new sentence. You just don’t have the time.

So you write, and you write, and you write. And of course that first draft is rubbish. It’s ok. That is the most important thing that NaNoWriMo teaches. That it’s OK to write rubbish. You have a whole community of people, writing rubbish alongside you. And so you press on, desperate to get to that word count. And you finish the story. And yes, it’s crap. But that’s OK. it’s easy to edit something into shape once it’s written. But editing it before you even have it on paper is novelist suicide.

And so at the end of the month, if you have the dedication and the ambition, you have a novel. A crappy, un-edited novel. A crappy, un-edited novel you can then take your time the rest of the year and shape into the story you actually wanted to tell. You can polish it, and make it actually make sense.

But not in November. November is for the writing. At about 10,000 words, your inner editor comes screaming out of whatever hole you’ve buried it in and begins picking your novel apart. This is normal, and it’s funny to watch the NaNowriMo forums at this time. Everyone goes from “this is the best novel ever!’ to “I suck as a writer and am going to go be a fry cook now, that’s all I’m good for!”

But the people who have done NaNo for a few years come in and assure everyone that this too shall pass. And we all keep writing. Because it’s what we do. We’re writers. Even if you’ve only ever written school assignments, or fan fiction. You’re a writer. And writers keep on writing.

So if you’re thinking of doing NaNoWriMo, be prepared. It’s hard. You will curse the decision to join. But you will find companionship, support, and sympathy. A whole bunch of people crazy enough to take on the challenge with you.

Ki Vick is a freelance ghostwriter and novel writer. She is halfway through her first NaNoWriMo novel and is hoping to polish it up in time for publication early next year. She has been a writer for 6 years and lives with her husband in a tiny apartment in Dayton, Ohio.

[Guest Post] Micro-Goals; or How Word Sprints Save Your Sanity

NaNoWriMo is a beast: a 50,000-word minimum juggernaut that’s defeated far more seasoned writers than myself… and if, like me,  you’re  trying to tackle the dragon for the first time, it might be beginning to seem rather like an epic quest in nature. The daily climb to 1,667 begins to look like a repetitive trek up a literary Mount Everest—but there are ways to make the journey easier. Heck, there are ways to make NaNoWriMo look like a walk in the park.

The best tip that I’ve discovered so far? Micro-goals. Forget 50,000, forget 1,667; just concentrate on writing as many words as you can 1 hour, 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 15 minutes, even 10 minutes at a time. It doesn’t only help your word count, it may also save your sanity.

There are hundreds, even thousands of writers who are tackling the challenge and triumphing over the world-wide writing marathon one quarter hour at a time. Don’t have a stop watch? Doesn’t matter. Don’t have friends willing to take the plunge with you? You will soon.

If you haven’t already, go to NaNoWriMo.org, sign up, then look under the Tab ‘NaNo Near You’ and Find Your Region. Select the city nearest you, then scan the forum for write-ins, meet-ups, and other events for the chance to join up with other local writers write, celebrate, write, lend each other support, keep each other sane—and participate in the face-to-face version of the motivational micro-miracle ‘word sprints’.

Don’t feel like heading out? No problem, you can also participate online. Go to Twitter, follow @NaNoWordSprints (the official NaNoWriMo profile for word sprints) and get ready to rock your NaNovel like a hurricane. @NaNoWordSprints is run in shifts by different volunteers worldwide, so no matter where in the world you are, you’re never very far from a wordsprint — and if you don’t feel like going through official channels, trying searching for #NaNoWriMo or #wordsprint to see when random users worldwide are gearing up for a sprint—or add those hashtags to your own tweets along with an invitation to join a wordsprint at :00, :15, :20, :30, ect…

Once a sprint starts, write like the wind for its duration, then take stock & add up the words you’ve set down. Chances are you’ll be surprised. Only a handful of sprints and you’ll reach your daily quota. If you’re inspired to keep writing beyond that, you could well surpass it.

For example, I participated in a 20-minute word sprint on Twitter. I wrote 604 words. I didn’t come in first in the sprint, but I won something else: inspiration. I kept writing. Reached 1,364 words, took a break to eat dinner, then participated in another word sprint — this one was 30min long.

By the end of it, I was up to 2,017 words. I really felt like I was hitting my stride. By the time I was done, I’d cranked out 4,746 words in one sitting—and before you think I’m some sort of NaNo rockstar or ringer, I’m a noob.

This is my first shot at NaNoWriMo and I still hunt & peck because I never learned to keyboard. My daily word count on for the three days prior to the wordsprint was 342, 0, and 564 respectively. I’ll be the first to admit that staring a screen, wondering how I’m going to crank out 1,667 words much less 50,000, makes me cringe. But writing my heart out for 20 minutes? Now that I can handle. Heck, it’s painless, it’s fun, and there’s no masochism involved in going back for more.

Word sprints, or micro-goals, are fantastic ways to tame the beast, to take NaNoWriMo and break it into something much easier to handle, to find your way to the finish line with some semblance of sanity, and create your NaNovel one quarter hour at a time. They are awesome at giving you a running start before NaNoWriMo runs you over; try them and see!

Eryn Lockhart is an independent romance author whose debut novel, After Midnight, was released earlier this year. She’s also an unrepentant chocoholic, bookworm, Rockband addict, and movie-hound.  You can find her online at her blog, on Goodreads, on Facebook, and at her homepage.

NaNoWriMo 2011: We’re Halfway There!

It’s November 15, and you know what that means?  We’re half-finished with the annual National Novel Writing Month challenge.  It’s my first year participating since 2008, and it’s time for me to take a step back and evaluate my progress so far.

So what is your progress so far?

Word Count: 25,016

Chapter Count: 12 completed, 13 in progress

And your progress as a writer?

This is the big question.  I’m convinced this year’s NaNoWriMo project – while not my first – has massively affected my style of writing, at least in terms of how I look at a plot.  While I do like having a base to build on – my outline – I’ve really learned about just letting things happen.  I do have a tendency to overplan, especially when it comes to the conflict portion, and that leaves little space for character development.

This novel has done plenty to improve my character development, although that’s mostly taken the form of Victoria doing a lot of cooking.

How stressed out are you feeling?

I don’t think anybody wants to know the answer to that.  If you know anyone participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I think you already know the answer.  If you don’t, congratulations.

Check back soon to get more guest posts, information, and more.  If you just can’t wait, read or re-read this awesome post by Mike Martinez or my own post about word padding.  People like them.  Check it out and comment.

UTWG Winter Writing Contest

This winter, I’m sponsoring a winter-themed writing contest as vice president of the University of Toledo Writer’s Guild.

All types of writing fewer than 17,000 words or 100 pages (screenplay) will be accepted and judged during this competition.  Submissions of poetry and short stories are encouraged, but novel or novella excerpts of fewer than 17,000 words that fit the theme will also be taken into consideration.

The winner will receive a gift certificate to a surprise location.  Runners-up may receive an additional surprise.

The theme for this contest is “Winter.”  (Big surprise, right?)  Your submissions should evoke the atmosphere and/or emotions related to the winter season.  Holiday-themed submissions of all types will also be accepted.

A few tips for your submissions:

  1. Always turn in your best work!  Make sure you workshop a piece or have a friend give you a solid critique before submitting anything anywhere.
  2. I’m a bit of a grammar nazi, and since I’ll be judging, you may want to give your piece a once-over for spelling and grammatical errors before e-mailing or hitting “Print.”  The exception to this rule is poetry intentionally written as grammatically incorrect.  And trust me on this: I can tell.
  3. Adhere to the theme.  This theme isn’t as narrow as the theme of the last contest, so it’s nice and flexible!

Submissions will be accepted in print form delivered during a UT Writer’s Guild general meeting on or before December 9.  Digital submissions in PDF form to feliza.casano@rockets.utoledo.edu will be accepted until Sunday, December 11 at midnight.

Please include a cover letter with information about you, your writing, and how you heard about this contest.