Posted in General, writing

Camp NaNoWriMo

Three months a year, NaNoWriMo hosts a writing event. For the regularly scheduled NaNoWriMo in November, the goal is set at a solid fifty-thousand words within thirty-days. For the two Camp events in April and July, you have the option of setting your own goal.

Because I have such a bad habit of start ten million projects and simply never finishing them, I’ve opted to only work on new projects during the three NaNoWriMo events. Technically, this is something I started last year, by trying to finish at least a few of the continuously unfinished projects I have on the list.

So far it’s worked out decently. Although we’re only a few days into April, I’ve found a lot of the ideas I’ve had on hold are better fleshed out even though I haven’t been working on them. I’m aiming to get two novellas written this month.  

Are you doing Camp NaNo? What project are you working on for the month?   

Posted in General

Starting in the Middle

Beginnings are under a lot of pressure. They’re incredibly important because that’s where readers start. In general, you have about eight seconds to capture a reader’s attention. That means you have maybe a page to not only catch your reader’s attention, but to keep them invested in your story. For that to happen, your beginning needs to do a lot in those first couple of pages.

Which is why when you first start writing, it might help to take that pressure off the story and just start in the middle. Drop your characters right into the first big crisis and take it from there.

The point of doing this is that you have to start somewhere, but rather than bogging yourself down with setting up the scenes and character descriptions, you’re getting right into the meat of the story. It takes pressure off by ignoring all the things a beginning has to do and focusing instead on the story.

The other benefit of doing this is that when you’ve made it to ‘the end’ you can come back to the beginning with a clearer purpose. You’ll already know what the end is, which makes it easier to decide which details are the most important for the beginning pages.

Jumping into the middle of the story usually works best for earlier drafts and rewrites. It might also help if as your drafts progress you find your beginnings are still lacking—it can help you cut through and realize which parts of exposition can be completely skipped, or help highlight when you’ve started a story too early.  Even if you’re in the later stages of editing, give it a try! It might just be the kick your story needs.

Posted in General, writing

Book in a Week Challenge Update

Although I still technically have until tomorrow to write a complete book in one week, I have to admit defeat. While I was able to knock out a good chunk of it, coming in at just over twenty-one thousand words, I also hit a massive plot hole, which took a little extra research and time to sort out.

Ultimately, that resulted in an entire day of no writing as well as the loss of about three thousand words.  Alone, either one of these might have been recoverable, but compounded together it was admittedly disheartening to realize there was too much I’d have to recover.

That being said, although I didn’t successfully complete a book in a week challenge this time around, I’m definitely earmarking opportunities to try it again. It’s been a while since I’ve found a challenge that pushes my limits the way this one does.

In case you’re curious, I’m calling it quits with a total of eleven hours, thirty-one minutes of writing time to reach a grand total of twenty-one thousand, four-hundred and ninety-one words.

I’m looking forward to finding more challenges as well. If you know of any, leave me a comment below!

Posted in General

Book in a Week

A couple of years back I heard passing mention of a unique writing challenge. The idea was simple: write an entire draft in a week.

At the time there was absolutely no way I could even conceive of taking on a challenge like that. I had neither the time nor the skills needed for it. Since I last heard about it, my situation has changed and as a result I’m back to take a look at it.

Although I found a few remnants of what looks to have once been an official backed site, I couldn’t find anything concrete when I went looking. The idea of the challenge still appealed though, which left me to figure things out on my own.

Based solely on plausibility, writing a book in a week is more than possible. If we pull in the NaNoWriMo standard of fifty-thousand words to a draft, that breaks down to seven thousand, one hundred and forty-three words daily. Difficult? Absolutely. Impossible? Not quite so much.

Looking again at NaNoWriMo’s forums and participants, there are forums for Overachievers—people who go well over the fifty-thousand goal in a single month. There’s also another challenge: MilWordy. That is, the challenge to write a million words in a single year. Asking around any writing community  and you’ll likely hear at least a few stories from someone who knows someone who wrote their rough draft in seven days or less.

So while writing an entire book in a week sounds incredibly difficult, it might be possible, given the right tools.

The first tool, clearly, is time. I don’t know it could be done around a forty-hour work week, plus family or school commitments. I did all of the following math based on my average typing speed of roughly fifty-five words per minute.

Reaching seven-thousand, one hundred and forty-three words would take roughly two and a quarter hours. It sounds impressive, but remember that’s fifty-five words per minute, for a hundred and thirty minutes without dropping speed or pausing for some reason. Since that’s not likely to happen, it’s rounded up to three hours daily. Times seven days, that’s a minimum of twenty-one hours.

If twenty-one hours sounds doable, the next thing is a solid plan, especially if there’s no possibility of taking a week off to focus solely on writing. While I’m a huge advocate for planning for bad days during NaNo, writing an entire book in a single week doesn’t leave room for zero days. If making seven thousand words a day isn’t an option, you’d need to figure out which days on chosen week you can frontload the words onto—and stick to it.

As far as plans go, the math breaks down nicely and makes it more than possible, which is where we take the hard-left turn out of math and into the biggest obstacle of writing, inside or outside of a challenge:

Inspiration and motivation.

I’ve noted a few times over a couple dozen different posts that I’m much more of a pantser or discovery writer. I prefer to write the story first and then make an outline once I start editing. That said, it’s not a challenge I want to try without an outline.

Not for the first attempt at least.

As it stands however, after a rough February and looking back over my project list, one of the projects I have on there is a major rewrite. A rewrite that does have an outline.

And this week, oddly enough, lined up to give me plenty of free time with relatively few outside obligations.

Since I’ve been wanting to try this particular challenge for a while and things have lined up so well, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. In the worst case scenario, I end up not having a complete draft at the end of the week (March 6th, if you’re wondering).

I’ll post an update on how things are going (or have gone) on Friday. In the mean time, I’m curious: would you ever try to write a book in a week?

Posted in blogging, General

Upcoming in February

Admittedly, January did not see a huge amount of things actually getting ‘done’ owing to the fact I took on a lot more than I really had time for. However, I’ve taken a little bit of time and hopefully gotten myself reorganized.

February’s main writing project is the second draft of a paranomal novel I’ve had sitting on the list for ages. I last opened the silly thing all the way back in 2019. It’s still incredibly rough, and at this point the plan is to polish it up and begin querying it for traditional publication. That’s still a long ways off however.

On the blog side of things, I’d like to get my short stories page reorganized. Ideally I want to turn it from a list of links into a gallery, showcasing the header images for each story. Because not all of these stories have header images, the first part of getting this accomplished is to update all the ones currently missing images.

If you’re supporting me over on Patreon you’ll get early access to this month’s short story, plus an exclusive behind-the-scenes video for an upcoming project. Patrons will also get a couple of other treats this month, so if you’re interested in finding out more about that, check out my page here.

Although last month wasn’t fantastic for reading, I’m all set for February’s challenges. February’s challenge plot is Obstacles to Romance. Location is Seoul, South Korea (I’ve chosen Wicked Fox by Kat Cho for this one!). The title word is breath and the cover image is a heart.

What’s on your calendar for February?