End of National Novel Writing Month –A New Beginning

Nano Logo

In honor of the last weekend of National Novel Writing Month, this week’s post offers an exclusive first look at the requested Pep Talk I will be submitting on NANOWRIMO’s last day, tomorrow, November 30, 2014.

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You have successfully completed NANOWRIMO. By success, I mean you finished a month of writing. Didn’t hit the 50,000 words? Don’t beat yourself up. The fact you stuck with it, created a story line by transforming ideas from inside your head to words on a page defines success. Good Job!

My genre, heroic fantasy, tends to be considerably longer than 50,000 words, so even if I had reached the goal (which I did not), I would still be in the throes of first draft (which I am). The challenge, from the beginning, was to write everyday, to turn the daily keyboard time into a habit, like showering; doing that guarantees you will finish the first draft of your novel.

Writing the first draft of a novel is like building a house: NANOWRIMO inspired you to establish the foundation of your dwelling (characters and plot), erect walls and doors (character obstacles), add windows and fixtures (scenes), and cover with a roof (theme). After finishing the first draft, it is time to decorate your new home. Welcome as your first guest, the internal editor–often referred to as the critic–you banished to the outer cold the last 30 days. He brings with him a suitcase of revision. Embrace him.

The internal editor will help choose the color of the walls and carpets, and while you are at it, he will remind you to put grandma’s antique vase on the mantel–it will add to the color of your world, he explains. Further, the editor will point out the crack in grandma’s vase (and the story behind it), will help you smell grandma’s perfume still clinging to the glass after all these years, and how the iodine caused a scream when grandma applied the liquid fire on a scraped knee.

The editor will reacquaint you with the people living in your world, their quirks, the way they fashion a phrase, their involvement with others populating your novel. The editor will encourage you to add the little “beats” to flesh out your characters as real people, the trials–both emotional and physical–they endure to reach The End. The editor will likewise caution to add the “beats” sparingly lest the writing become tedious.

Together, you and your internal editor will breathe life into your story, adding flesh and blood to your characters, texture to your world, turning dreams into reality. Now go write that dream, complete your house, and may creation strike like lightning.

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This week’s notes and links

Market for Flash Fiction here. Familiarize yourself with the requirements–Flash Fiction is not another name for vignette.

Dec 7-8: A place to pitch your finished novel to multiple agents and editors. Read more about it here. Be warned–pitching an entire novel in 35 words can be taxing.

Here is the pitch I will be offering for The Returning: A reluctant immortal craves release from life into final death; instead, he is cast into Prince Syjer, thrust into battle against a brother–likewise cursed–poised to destroy him, a people, and an entire culture.

Fade into Seque: Looking for 3 more to read and critique the opening of my fantasy novel, The Returning. If you wish, send me an email at knightsofwrit@yahoo.com and put “Request” in the subject line. The Prologue and first two chapters will be sent in a Word attachment. Thank you in advance.

For the ones involved–having either sent the critique or are now reading–my deepest gratitude; your comments are welcome and appreciated.

Until next time, keep writing every day!

Best Wishes,

Rick

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Horn of Plenty

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In the U.S., Thanksgiving is fast approaching. A time of family gatherings, great food, and a few days of well-deserved leisure–wishing the best to you and yours from me and mine, regardless of where you are in the world.

With the season in full swing, I chose The Horn of Plenty picture because it is so appropriate for writers. The message is keep writing, keep creating, and your Horn of Plenty will fill to overflowing.

I believe your horn can overflow only when you share your writing with others; typically, writers scream, “Yes, get me those readers.” A fan base is something desired by seriously minded creators. But I am not talking about that here. In keeping with the theme this month of writers needing other writers to help maneuver the pitfalls of the craft, I want to share my experience with finding a Mentor.

Events in life happen for a reason and at the appropriate time. Despite wishes to speed things along–finish the story or novel, find an agent or publisher, meet the person that can help you climb over the hurdles–timing is not of our own making. (There are, however, things that help when opportunity appears: the most obvious is writing every day to hone one’s skills.)

Case in Point: A friend of my wife mentioned that her mother is a retired English teacher. This topic only came up because Linda told her that I am a writer–she’s my steadfast supporter.

One thing led to another and I met Jeany, a diminutive woman who understands the great power of words. We met and liked each other. The relationship is a perfect match: she loves to teach, I love to talk and learn about writing.

She agreed to read and copy edit my completed fantasy novel, The Returning, which had undergone a “few” rewrites. Over the last three months, we have read, torn apart, and corrected flaws. Many flaws were amateurish (Blush). At times heart-wrenching, Jeany’s instruction was nevertheless vital to my growth. She has given me new eyes garnered from a different point of view, helping me to sharpen my critical thinking.

My Point:

Writers need each other. Creating is a lonely pastime, but one so rich in reward. All writers face nagging questions, not only about their craft, but also–and more importantly–about themselves. Your experiences, viewpoints, perceptions; they all make you who you are, the writer you want to be.

Working with Jeany reminded me of the reason I started this blog in the first place: to serve, in part, the need for writers to discuss the craft and the myriad of issues pertaining to writing in general. Writing is all about growth, all about improvement.

Do not be shy. Post your thoughts and observations about writing, your troubles–there are others that will relate, be assured.

As promised last week, here is my list of favorite books about writing. I will be adding to this list as time moves forward. Please suggest books that you have found useful.

Until next week, KEEP WRITING!

P. S. Still looking for readers to read and critique the opening of my fantasy novel, The Returning. If you wish, send me an email at knightsofwrit@yahoo.com and put “Request” in the subject line. The Prologue and first two chapters will be sent in a Word attachment. Thank you in advance.

Fall is in the Air

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Half way through NANOWRIMO. Hope your novel is progressing well. Again, the most important thing is to write everyday–750 words, 2,000 words; it is all progress.

Like most writers, I read a great deal about writing. Next week I will be posting a list of my favorite “How to Write Books.” You will no doubt be familiar with many of them, but there may appear a new one that will help improve your craft.

The Iowa University online class, How Writers Write, slipped into its last week; scuttlebutt is that they will offer it again next year, before summer. I will keep you updated–it is a program worth researching.

Speaking of researching, I am currently test driving a new Writing Tool, a new Word Processor that, I am told, will make me forever give up Microsoft Word. The new tool is called Scrivener. First look at the program shows promise, but I tend to be a stuck-in-my-ways type of person, so we will see. Updates will follow. Being National Novel Writing Month, I will not be able to take a closer look until next month.

On a more personal note, I have completed my fantasy novel, The Returning, and would appreciate honest feedback. If you would like to receive the Prologue and first two chapters, email me at Knightsofwrit@yahoo.com. Please put the word, Request, in the subject line. I will send by Word document attachment. Any constructive criticism (or praise) is eagerly desired.

For now, keep writing and don’t forget to leave comments, ideas, suggestions–all are encouraged.

No Writer is an Island

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No Writer Is An Island

Writing is a lonely endeavor. Hours at the keyboard may give you the delusion that you are alone in the venture–you are not. Instances and memories you draw from include other people, and from those people and those experiences, you develop characters, plots, scenes, conflicts, philosophies, even themes for your writing. No Writer is an Island–it just seems so.

Over the last month I have been participating in the University of Iowa‘s How Writers Write Program. The lessons are geared toward stretching out, trying different things as a writer–creating in first person viewpoint when you normally write in third person, attempting mystery rather than fantasy. Critiquing and having your work critiqued is a course staple, though not required.

It is a place where writers gather and share their thoughts, fears, and hopes with other like-minded creators. It is a great learning experience, and I will miss it when it completes in the next couple of weeks.

A week into NANOWRIMO reminded me once again that writers need other writers. The pains and pitfalls of writing is something we all share, and it is comforting to know that you are not alone despite being sequestered in front of the keyboard.

Creating is a lonely pastime, but one so rich in reward. All writers face nagging questions, not only about their craft, but also–and more importantly–about themselves. Your experiences, your viewpoints, and your perceptions make you who you are, and the writer you want to be.

I started this blog as a place where writers can meet and share, where one writer’s experience will help another facing a similar dilemma. Writing is all about growth and improvement on a daily basis.

 Join us a Knights of Writ as we do battle against the many topics that plague writers. Don’t stay on your island, alone; share your own writing experiences, either a subject that is nagging at you, or an experience that may assist others. Your unique viewpoint is valuable, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts and insights.

Novel Writing Month

Today begins National Novel Writing Month, NANOWRIMO for short. If you are not familiar with this worldwide writing community that last year included over 300,000 participants, you are not alone; though I heard whispers of it in the past (the non-profit began in 1999), this is the first year I am participating.

What is it?

The goal is to write 50,000 words during the month of November, thereby finishing a novel, albeit a short one. The main thrust is to write everyday, to finish a first draft during November. A First Draft. To do so, writers must refrain from wearing the critic’s hat, acknowledge that the first draft is mostly going to be garbage (revision is the key to writing, after all), and write everyday. Let me repeat the last part because it is the most important facet–WRITE EVERY DAY.

Writing every day is crucial, not only during the National Novel Writing Month, but every month, every year, every decade–it is how one improves.

NANOWRIMO inspires writers to write every day. It is not essential that you complete 50,000 words–writers do not normally have a manager peering over their shoulder at their progress like other professions–only that you get in the habit of writing everyday. I preach it, other writers preach it–those in the pews awaiting the “muse” to strike grow old wondering why their dreams of writing lay in tattered waste.

Learn more about National Novel Writing Month here.

Now go write.