Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Some Housekeeping

I Like that Old Time Blog Template

I'm going back to the old look for awhile. My experiment with Dynamic Views was fun and I learned a lot. I'll be posting about that soon.

We are the Champions of NaNoWriMo

I crossed the 50K word goal, so I WON! Hooray! I'll be posting about that soon too. Now that I have time to get back onto a normal blogging schedule.

Who Wrote the Book of Paranormal?

I have at least one book I'm going to review. Maybe two.

Y'all Ready for This?

Wow, there's a lot to catch up on, and the holidays are sneaking up on me like an elephant on a Harley. I'm sure you all feel the same way.

If you're still working on NaNo—KEEP WRITING!

If you're not working on Nano—KEEP WRITING or READING or RUNNING or WOOD WORKING or whatever you do for personal fulfillment.

See you soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Sad

Don't worry about me. I'm sad for a good reason.

I've reached the point in my story where the MC is at the lowest. He and his friends are in the hospital. Despite his best efforts, he's lost Thor's hammer, gloves, and belt. Some people who were on his side turned out to be traitors. He's failed in his quest and has no hope of succeeding. I feel so bad for him.

I've been at this point in stories before. It's always hard emotionally, but this story seems to be even more acute. Since I haven't planned anything ahead of time, I don't have any idea how he's going to succeed either.

I'm interested to see what the next 15K words have in store, both for my MC and for me.

Keeping Track of NaNoWriMo IRL (In Real Life)

I bet you're wondering why I have a picture of pretty fingernails on my blog today.

My friend and fellow writer, Marta Smith has an awesome way she keeps her NaNoWriMo status. She paints her fingernails blue, and I mean Blue. That's to remind her to write. Then she adds silver crackle to one nail for every 5,000 words she finishes. So her fingernails become a visible progress bar. Isn't that awesome!

I just have one problem: I'm a guy, and as much as I would totally paint my fingernails as a joke or for Halloween, I'm not going to go to work all month with painted fingernails.

So, here are a few ideas for my fellow dudes to track our NaNo status IRL. (Dudettes, you can use them too if you want.)

Public Shaming Option
Go ahead and paint your fingernails just like Marta. Choose a bright, bold color. Then for every 5K words you can remove the paint from one nail.

I predict that the guys who use this option will be finished with their 50K before the first work day of the month (or they'll take a couple sick days).

Discomfort Option #1
While this one is not as effective as the first, it hits a little closer to the wallet.

Go get 10 credit-card-sized cards. These can be from your stash of store rewards cards you barely use, or credit cards, old calling cards, empty gift cards, whatever. You just need 10. Cram them into your wallet. You've got to sit on that uncomfortable beast until you hit your word count goals. For every 5K words take one out.

Discomfort Option #2
This one is similar to the other discomfort option. This time get 10 extra keys and put them on your primary key ring. Not the one you keep in your bag or on your nightstand. I'm talking about the keys you carry with you in your pocket everywhere you go. Painful, I know. But for every 5K words you get to take a key off.

Reverse Progress Bar
Go buy 10 of your favorite candy. Go ahead and get the good stuff, king-sized if you want. When you get home, hot glue all of it to some poster board. For every 5K words, take one off and enjoy. Bonus: If hot glue and poster board isn't manly enough for you feel free to epoxy those suckers to a 2x4.

Discomfort Option #3
This one takes a bit more setup. Get an old T-shirt you don't wear anymore. I know you've got dozens of them. Then buy some Velcro (the kind that already has glue on the back) and 10 bean bags (you can usually pick these up for cheap at your local Goodwill). Attach the bean bags to the shirt with the Velcro. Make sure you use the soft side of the Velcro on the T-shirt.

Throw that lumpy mass of cloth and beans into your favorite recliner or your spot on the couch. You have to sit on it while watching TV, but for every 5K words you finish you can take one bean bag off the shirt.

I hope these ideas inspire some of my fellow writers to keep typing...Keep Typing...KEEP TYPING. We're halfway through. Huzzah!

If you have other creative ways to motivate you through Nano let me know in the comments.

* The photo is a real picture of Marta's nails near the beginning of the month. I think it was taken by Ali Cross. If you want to use it you'll have to get a hold of them. Thanks Ali and Marta for sharing this cool idea.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My NaNoWriMo Groove

The other day Heather Justesen blogged about how she was able to win NaNoWriMo in 5 days. 5 days! She talked about her strategies and process for churning out 10K words a day.

I've been writing for NaNoWriMo, too. My current word count is 28,126. Which means I'm on track to winning. Hooray!

My goal for this NaNoWriMo challenge was to practice some new things. One of those things was to write without an outline.


I admit, I'm a hard-nosed planner. Just ask my writers group. All through October I wanted to make an outline or at least some notes, but I resisted. I don't know if that was the best decision, but I wanted to try writing completely by the seat of my pants at least once.

Seriously, how can you know if your way is best if you don't try other ways?

I started strong. Even though I resisted planning, I'd had the beginning scenes bouncing around in my head. But by day 4 I felt like I was on the edge of washing out. I didn't know where my story was going. I didn't know who the bad guy was, or even all the good guys. Did I mention this was scary for me?

It's been 12 days now, and it's not bad. I have quite the groove going. Here's how it breaks down.

Each day, I grab a voice recorder and record the next couple scenes as they come to me. I usually do this while I'm driving somewhere or when I'm out for a walk. I just let the story flow. Sometimes I'm talking in first person, sometimes third, sometimes I end up recording stuff that sounds more like stage directions than a novel. I jump back and forth in time. In short, it's a cobbled together skeleton of a scene.

I tried doing this without the recorder (just talking to myself), but it didn't feel right. Having the recorder makes the process work. I don't know why.

Later in the day, I sit down and type what I recorded. I end up making a lot of tweaks and changes, but it follows the same basic flow.

I've been surprised to find that as soon as a scene is recorded, I can move on to the next one. If I don't record a scene it stays in my head like a road block keeping me from thinking of the next ones.

So far it's been a fun journey. I've learned that my imagination won't fail me. I don't know if pantsing is for me. I'm not done with the month yet, so it might grow on me.

What works best for you during the drafting process?

* I've always been fascinated by these slot canyons. Sadly, I never visited them while I lived in Utah, but I don't let my guilt keep me from enjoying awesome photographs like this one by Damian Michalski on Flickr.

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update

As you know, I'm writing a story for NaNoWriMo that is tentatively titled "I Can Finish This Story in a Month".

It's a small thing, but since I double click on that file hundreds of times it's nice to get the little cheerleader in the back of my mind saying, "I Can Finish This Story in a Month".

So far things are going well. I've written over 9,000 words. Hooray!

Here are few decent quotes.
"We're going to have to run for it." It was a long way around the school. We didn't have much time left, but we could still make it.
I ran to the right, but when I looked back Terry ran to the left. "This way. It's shorter."
"Yes, but this way is faster because you can go faster on the playground."
"Shorter is shorter."
"Faster is faster."
"Fine. You go your way and I'll go mine."
The bell was about the ring, I could feel it. We were going to be late. I didn't wait for him to say anything, I just ran. I didn't even look to see if Terry had come to his senses and followed me. I pounded my feet into the ground and swung my arms hard. I took the first corner and cut across the lawn. My heart started to beat faster and I breathed harder. Sucking air in and out. I weaved between a tree and the flower garden out front where they have the sign that shows all the important dates. Pizza day was coming up soon. I rounded the front of the school. My legs started to get tired, but I kept going. 
There were no cars parked on the curb and all the busses were gone. This was a bad sign. I couldn't see Terry yet, but he'd be coming around his corner soon. We could still make it.
Or not.
Poor Arthur, he was late for school. Then later that night:
I dreamed I was leading an army of ninjas disguised as guitar playing rock stars against Scott's army of paper sailboats, when someone turned on the lights in my room. It was a good thing too because, surprisingly, Scott was winning. I squinted my eyes shut even harder and brought the blankets over my head. "Not yet, Mom. I'm still tired."
The blankets didn't help. The light shone right through. Ugh. School always came too early. I slipped my head under my pillow then I remembered, today was Saturday. Were we going on a trip? I lifted up one side of the sheets to look at my clock. "It's two in the morning. I want to sleep."
Mom still didn't say anything. That wasn't like her. I felt a strange flicker in my head and along my back. It was like a little bit of electricity going up and down my body. I shivered and slowly pulled back my sheets. The whole room was so bright I couldn't see anything. I covered my eyes with both hands and tried to look through a little crack in one side.
Mom wasn't standing in her normal spot by the lightswitch. Maybe she was getting out clothes.
I spun my head and had to wait even longer for my eyes to adjust. I had one eye mostly uncovered when I saw the body builder. He was huge. His head almost touched the ceiling, his hair and beard was bright red, and he had muscles everywhere. I know because he was only wearing a pair of swim trunks with bright blue flowers printed on them. I pulled the covers over my head again.
To be honest, I don't know how well these quotes will read. I usually like to let things settle in my mind for a few days, but during Nano that's not an option. So, you get what you get.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, WHY AREN'T YOU WRITING? (Just giving a little helpful encouragement, that's all.)
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* Background image based on Night Sky theme by Ray Creations