Weekly Musing: 2015 NaNoWriMo Update

Unlike the previous two years I decided not to do a weekly NaNoWriMo update. With monthly updates regarding revising a novel I didn’t think posting about a different WIP would be interesting. Instead I thought just one post would be sufficient.

As of when this hits, I should be close to that glorious 50,000 word mark or beyond it. However, this doesn’t mean the story itself is done. By my rough estimate I’ve got probably a couple more weeks left to finish it. Not sure how many words it will be in the end but it certainly won’t be anything close to the behemoth of a rough draft my historical fiction book was.

Going into NaNoWriMo this year, I had a vague idea story in my head. I wrote down a few key scenes on notecards and was prepared to wing it. Since my focus the last few months has been on historical fiction I wanted this book to be in a different genre. I like doing this because it gives my mind a break as well as allows me to play around in a completely different world.

Primarily inspired by Halloween I decided to the main character should be a witch. I wanted to stay away from some of the familiar tropes. For example, she’s not an ugly old hag yet she’s not overly pretty or beautiful. Also she’s not either purely good or purely evil and she’s not part of a coven. Definitely more of a loner type as she lives in the woods with her faithful dog until an old acquaintance appears on her doorstep. Adventure ensues. Not very well and probably not very coherent in many spots, but the story is for fun. I’m not sure at this point if I want to revise this or not.

A few differences I’ve noticed this year from the previous two years is I feel like I have a far better grasp on the concept of what makes a chapter. I also feel like I have a better idea of how to end a chapter on a note that makes a reader turn the page. Again, this is a very rough, terrible draft but as I’ve been writing, I can feel a natural rhythm dictating each chapter. This is most likely due in large part with working on a chapter a day for the other book so my mind has gotten into a grove.

Another difference is this hasn’t been as stressful as years past. In 2013 I was in the process of planning a cross country move. Last year I used NaNoWriMo as a jumping off point to write my historical fiction novel. Going into that I knew it was going to be vastly longer than 50,000 words. This year, with the exception of the last week or so, it hasn’t been that stressful. There’s no pressure I’m placing on myself and as I mentioned above, I’m not sure I’ll be revising this next year. I’m enjoying the story and the characters for what they are and trying something new.

The other big thing, and this is something that’s been developing more over the whole year rather than during this month, is I’m able to consistently able to write above the 1,667 words/day goal. I’ve always been one of those people able to write well over a 1,000 words/day just because I’m incredibly wordy to begin with. But this year I seem to have upped the ante a bit.

So for everyone out there who participated in NaNoWriMo, I hope the month went well for you. And even if you didn’t meet the 50,000 word goal or finish the story, that’s okay. Look at November as the month you began your novel. Use the momentum and routine you developed this month and carry that over into December and beyond.

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Weekly Musing: Schillin’ for the Holidays

Ahhh, yes Black Friday is in a few days in case you weren’t beaten over the head with that fact whilst watching TV, looking at anything on the internet, or perusing something in print. Apparently if you want a new car, this whole month is Black Friday so instead of being annoyed with ads for one specific day, you get 30 days of it.

This year though, instead of standing in line for hours upon hours for something that will probably be sold out, why not give the gift of a book or books? Lucky for you I know some people who have some books out there which might make some good Christmas gifts. Below are listed a variety of titles in a variety of genres. We have a few novels as well as some anthologies so go out and support these fine authors this holiday season.

 

Eden Royce

Nick Bowen

Lenora Rain-Lee Good

Darin Kennedy

Kierce Severn

Jay Requard

Gail Z. Martin

Bob Brown

Irene Radford

Mia Soul

Shaun O. McCoy

Jane Roop

John Hartness

Calandra Usher

J. Matthew Saunders

Jim Ryan

Traci L. Loudin

And of course, I’m in a couple of anthologies.

 

So as you think about what to get people in your circle this holiday season, consider a book. Not only will you be bringing another world to someone but also you’ll be supporting the hard-working authors behind them.

Weekly Musing: Look at This

I’m not sure how many people know what an infographic is yet I’m sure we’ve all seen them somewhere on the internet. Infographics are those images which present bite-size pieces of information on a variety of topics. Usually the images look like that would make a great poster and many are available for downloading and printing.

I recently found an interesting reading and writing related infographic. I thought it would be fun to write about my thoughts on the one shown below. One caution is the information presented doesn’t cite its sources so don’t take it or my reactions as 100% truth.

Infographic about reading and writing
Infographic about reading and writing

 

Let’s start the information about the brain. In what seems like a duh type of statement, the physical act of writing something down triggers something within the brain to remember what it better. Probably why many of us had teachers who yelled at us to take notes. Or why the older we get the more important it is to write information down. It’s interesting to learn that the connection our body makes from the mental to the physical is something that can’t be replicated any other way.

Also according to the infographic, when we engage our body and brain in the act of writing we pay more attention to what we are doing. Perhaps this is way one a piece of advice given to writers is to carry a notebook or notepad around in case a name, story idea, dialogue, anything pops up we can commit it down before it leaves our minds.

Moving down the graph let’s next look at the information presented about why telling a story is better than presenting just facts. I find this perhaps to be the most interesting because telling a story doesn’t have to be limited to a novel or short story. Thinking back to my school days I originally didn’t have an interest in history. In elementary school it was only about dates, people, and places. Just the facts, ma’am. I found this boring and dry. It wasn’t until 8th grade that I began to appreciate history and that was due to having a teacher who presented it not as simply a collection of fact but as a story. After all history is about people and events in history have several sides of a story to tell.

The same is true for storytelling. While a pared down reporting style can work to tell an effective story, Ernest Hemingway comes to mind, a reader is more engaged if it is beyond just the facts. Even non-fiction writers have realized this. Memoirists in particular must still tell a story even though everything is rooted in real life. Reading is its most pleasurable when the reader can feel an emotional connection to the story which is hard to do when the author just reports what’s going on.

What is also fascinating about the infographic is how our brains engage more when there is action in the story. That doesn’t necessarily mean a complicated action sequence reminiscent of James Bond, but even a little bit of action stimulates our brain. We respond well to what we can visualize if what the author includes well-written action.

Next we come down to why clich├ęs should be avoided. I’m not going to spend much time on this since yeah, makes sense. The first few times we hear a phrase, and it’s memorable, it sticks in our brains. After a while of reading or hearing it, it becomes white noise. Got it.

Finally we come to some miscellaneous facts about writing and reading. Nice mixtures of fun facts, like an overwhelming majority of us write our name when trying out a new pen. And more disturbing information like many UK teens only have the literacy level of a ten-year-old. Maybe if they read more books their vocabulary and reading comprehension would improve. Not really anything too earth-shattering there either.