Category: Life and Writing

Camp Tip #18 – Roads Not Taken

Plotter or Pantser?

We all started camps with a bit of excitement, a whole bunch of hope, and I think in most cases an idea of what we would be working on during camp. Some of us had pages long outlines detailing huge portions of our books. Others, had the idea and that’s it. I was firmly in the plotted region. I use note cards to summaries my chapters. I have every chapter in the book on its own note card. When I start writing for the day, I read the note card from the previous chapter, as well as the note card for the current and next chapter. However, sometimes things change. I recently started a chapter off differently than I planned and ended up not using my original plan for that chapter. Then in another chapter I used something from a future chapter. When I got to that future chapter, I had no idea what I was going to write. So I again stole something from a future chapter and the original thing that I ended up not using because the chapter had gone in a different direction, suddenly had a new place that it could appear. Basically I shuffle these cards up good, but it worked out. Whether we are pantsers or plotters,  its a good idea to follow paths less traveled.

Subplots. 

Following these paths is not always an easy thing to do. After all, some things have to happen in an order, or maybe you’d just prefer them to. But, what this works best for, are subplots, setting up character arcs, and side problems differently can add so many different dimensions to a story or character development. It’s worth trying if you are struggling with getting words. Think of alternative things that can be occurring. Even if you decide not to use what you think up in the part you are at, its nice to have a cache of potential scenes for that day when you’re staring down a blank page.

Little gems. 

One thing that’s really nice about taking unusual turns in you’re story, is that you give your characters a chance to live and reacted with your decisions. This gives you a chance to see them under pressure, or maybe see how they are when left in a room all alone. These little things can have a huge impact if you let your characters be free. Sometimes what you want your characters to do, and what they actually do, is not as similar as you would hope. So when you see a moment where maybe they say something they shouldn’t, and that you didn’t plan for them to say, let them speak and see where it takes you.

 

Progress as of this post:  16,711

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Camp Tip #17 – Visualize

May 1st. 

On of the hardest things about writing a book, script, or whatever your working on this month during camp, is the long journey you have from where you started to where you want to be. Sometimes when I think about the 30,000 more words I have to write to get to the halfway point in my book and the 75,000 words that I still need to write to get to finish the book, it seems daunting and frankly, impossible. But, sometimes I think about the day after camp, and in those daydreams I’ve worked hard, and came back from being terribly behind, and I’ve hit my goal. On May 1st I’m halfway done with my book, and that much closer to finishing my book, and getting it published. It’s that much closer to being in the hands of my readers.

 

Why this matters. 

When I started writing as a teen, I did it, because it was fun, and I loved stories, and I wanted to create my own story. To this day, coming up with stories and getting them down on paper(typing them up) is still my favorite thing to do.  However, now because I want more than to just have stories that I’ve made, I want to share them, there is a pressure that I didn’t always have. It’s good, because without that pressure, I would push myself and strive to be better day. I would bother to finish novels, and come up with new ideas. No matter how daunting thousands of words can be, and hundreds of thousands of word are if you’re thinking about all the books you may one day write, there is nothing like the feeling of sharing your stories with someone else. Holding on to that feeling is what will push you forward when you want a break. It will drive you when your lost. Best of all, it will be reality, if you just keep chasing that feeling. Its the only drug worth being addicted to.

 

Tomorrow. 

But, may, and next year, and years down the road are very far away. Instead, focus on tomorrow. Where could you be tomorrow? Where do you want to be? What can you do today, to help you achieve what you want for tomorrow. I know that I’m tired today, and I hadn’t planned to write anymore today, but you know what, maybe I’ll just write 100 more words. A paragraph or two. A page.  Because tomorrow, I want to be closer to my goal than I am right now, and I don’t have to wait until tomorrow to achieve that. I can do it today, right now, and then keep working on it tomorrow.

 

Progress as of this post:  16,711

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Camp Tip #19 – Candy Bars

The tasty stuff. 

In writing, there are parts that are just the most fun to write, or maybe not fun, but the most intense. These are the scenes or chapters where you get to do neat stuff. It can be anything depending on your genre and preferences. For me, I love moments were I can foreshadow something in a subtle way. Especially when I’m foreshadowing things that are going to be huge. Sometimes that’s a earth shattering revelation, or a tragedy to come. Let’s be real, that’s mostly ones I get excited about. These scenes break up the work from transitional scenes, or more quiet scenes. I also love to torture my characters or bring them joy. It depends on my mood. But I love taking them out of their norm. Those are my candy bar scene. The ones I just can’t wait to write. These are also, they ones that usually have readers gripping there books(e-readers) with white knuckles and bated breath. And this doesn’t have to be life or death, or a steamy scene between two lovers. It can be just about anything.

Moderation. 

These parts, while fun, do need to be spread out a bit though. You need to think of it like this, if every day is a great day, how is it any different from an ordinary day. Now, I’m not saying to make the rest of the book boring or bland, but not ever scene needs to be a battle, not every scene can have new crucial information. Some scenes need to deal with the fall out of those scenes. Some need to show the characters growth. A book should have an ebb and flow. Imagine riding a roller coaster. You get started with the ticking climb, it builds anticipation, and for a moment, you sit at the highest point, ready, but never prepared for the fall. You plummet and probably scream, I do, and at the end you laugh. But, if its all a gut wrenching, white knuckled ride, eventually all your going to want, is off the ride. You need the anticipation so that the pay off is nice release.

 

Progress as of this post:  16,711

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Camp Tip #16 – Keep Going

Fun stuff. 

I got to write a chapter that I’ve been excited about for some time now. There are parts of it I love, and part that I may have to tweak in revision, but overall I’m really happy that I got to that chapter. My characters are really starting to form, and it moments like these that make me love writing and make it so much easier to stay on task. Camp is still moving forward, and so am I. There have been some times that I’ve wanted to quit camp this month, but I’ve manage to stay with it, and I’m glad that I did. Each day I get a bit closer to my goal, and it makes me so happy. I’m hoping that all of you are having a good time writing, and for those of you who have struggled as I have this time around. Remember that the best thing you can do, is keep writing, and stay in this. It’s easy to stop. It’s easy to give up. It’s a lot harder to work on this, and get something done everyday. Don’t take the easy way out.

Hard stuff.

The one thing that can really make it a lot harder do well and stay in it during Nano, is when things run of the rails as they sometimes do. I’m currently writing a chapter that is somewhat of a transitional part, and I’m stalled out badly. I don’t know how I’m going to push forward with this chapter, so for tonight, I’m going to sleep on in, and while I’m working tomorrow, I’m going to try and figure out what I can do to spice up this chapter and make it more exciting to write.

Sticking with it. 

That’s one of the tricks I like to utilize when I’m blocked. If you have to go to bed and work, and do chores, use that time to take a trouble part of the book and dissect it. That way when you come back to the story, you’ll have an easier time trying to get into the flow of the story. It can make a huge difference also, just being somewhere else while you’re working on the problem. When you’re sitting at a desk, with the cursor blinking at you, there is a bunch of pressure for you to solve the problem right then and there, and move on. However, when you take the cursor out of the equation you can take your time with the problem, and find a solution more organically, and often times you can find a better solution than just trying to power through the problem. Hang in there. Camp is over in two more weeks, and then you can take a break, but for now,  keep getting words.

 

Progress as of this post:  16,025

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I Won NaNoWriMo!

It was much harder than I expected, and less impossible than I thought too. I’m glad I did it, and I plan to do Camp NaNoWriMo as well. I estimate that I’m actually half way through the novel, but it was a good ride, and I can’t wait to finish it.

There is something so amazing about pushing yourself. Especially when you can do that with a whole network of people also doing the same thing. If you’re a writer and you haven’t written during Nano, I recommend it, and not just for the prizes. It really is a great experience and a huge motivator.

 

 

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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Write

So many people say that they should write a book.

They say this because people have told them that they write well or because they feel like they’ve led an interesting life and that alone would make a good book, and so many more reasons. No one should write a book. If your writing a book, then you should be doing it because there’s nothing else you want to do more than that. Writing is a long, lonely pursuit, at least at times. And, while I love writing, that doesn’t mean that everyone does, and trying to do something for the wrong reasons, will almost certainly blow up in your face.

So here are my 5 reason why you shouldn’t write.

1) To get rich

The numbers are just not with you on this. Most writers, who love to write, struggle to sale any books let alone make a living off of writing books. While that doesn’t mean you can’t or that people haven’t made crazy amounts of money from writing, it should give you pause if you think that writing is going to get you out of debt, or out of your day job.

2) Because you’re good at it.

Some people just have talent. They have a captivating way of writing, but trying to force yourself to write, is just painful. The average book is around 90,000 words. That’s a lot of words, and a lot of time spent on doing something that you just don’t really enjoy. It’s okay to be good at something and not have to make it your profession.

3) Because you love reading.

Some books can be so inspiring. However, loving to read and loving to write are not always a given. I love to read and love to write, but there are some genres that I just could never write in, because, although I might enjoy reading them, I just don’t have any desire to write in that genre. This could be true for you too. You might love to read, but when it comes down to actually writing it  might not be for you, and that’s okay.

4) Because you have a story.

Whether that story is about your life, or the next best fairytale retelling, maybe it doesn’t need to be written in a book. Maybe it would be better as a blog, or a movie, or maybe not. We all have a story, and if you want to tell yours there are so many ways to do so, but again, sometimes the passion you have for one thing doesn’t transfer into a love for writing, and in most cases, if you’re going to write there needs to be passion for it.

5) To become famous.

Realistically, if you are already famous you can write a book, and you might not even have to write the book. Some people will have it ghost written and then slap their name on it. However, its very unlikely that a book will make you famous, because as I stated earlier its hard enough to make money that making money, and becoming known for your book is just unlikely.

Most of these I think are obvious, but they still need to be said. Some people may like the idea of writing, but when it comes to the practice of it, they learn that it’s just not for them. That’s okay. Not everyone is a writer. Not everyone is an artist. Not everyone is an athlete. But if you are, welcome to the club.

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