Posted in Exercises, Stories

30 Day Shorts I

We’re on day three of my 30 Day Shorts challenge, so it felt like a good place to check in and see how it’s gone so far.

Day 1
I started a little piece, which ended up being an unseen scene from my current serial work. I ended up not using the day’s prompt. Title is still out on it.

Day 2 
What started as a ten-minute flash piece morphed into a longer piece connected to a longer story (not my current big project). It also let me take a look at some minor characters and some background relations. Currently I have it titled as ‘Children’.

Day 3
Started another exploration titled ‘Bloom’. It’s focused back on my serial, but also clears up some things about a character who’s been giving me development troubles. I ended up not using the day’s prompt.

How are you doing on the 30 Day Shorts challenge?

As a reminder I have both Aurarin’s Song and Crimson and Gold available for free on the 4th. Aurarin’s Song will remain free until April 6th. I also have all of my available and posted short stories on my short stories page.

Posted in Exercises, Stories

Setting Up a Challenge

With the last few days of March approaching, I’ve been looking towards things I want to do for April. Because I have a tendency to get distracted by new ideas, I’m trying to limit myself to three new project months a year. That should be April, July and November. These nicely sync up with the usual NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo events. Over the last couple of months however, I noticed that while I have a several ideas for larger works, I don’t have too many for shorter ones.

So, for April, I decided I wanted to challenge myself (of course, you are more than welcome and heartily invited to participate as well). For April, I want to try and write thirty short stories.

‘Short story’ tends to be a broad spectrum. From hundred words drabbles to a ten thousand word exploration, there’s a lot of ground to cover in ‘short story’. That’s part of why I find the idea so appealing. It’s a good way to explore new characters and ideas and to get other ideas moving and working.

On the other hand, that broad of an interpretation leaves me open to falling behind if I end up stuck on a short story that does end up being ten thousand words.

To keep myself from getting mired in a pit of a longer story, I’ve decided on two requirements:

  1. Write a total of 30 short stories by April 30th
  2. Shorts should not exceed 5,000.

That still leaves plenty of space to get everything done, if say I have a bad writing day and don’t manage to get anything written. I have a chance to catch up on the next good day if I can instead write two flash pieces or a couple of drabbles.

Just in case I get stuck, I’ve also come up with thirty lists of between three and seven words to help spark something should I need to. The idea is that if I don’t have any ideas already, I should challenge myself to write a story including all of the words on that day’s list. If you want to check out the list of words, you can do so here: 30DayShortsApril2020.

Are you up for a challenge?

Posted in Exercises

Reading Challenges

I mentioned when I posted about the goals I was setting for 2020 that one of the places I’d taken the hardest hit on was my reading. I had several months after May where I didn’t read anything outside of nonfiction articles, and only a couple of short fiction stories for the most part of the end of the year.

To fix that, I want to give myself a reading challenge this year. Normally I don’t track how much or what I’m reading, but I’m hoping that tracking it will let me get back on track and reading more.

Because I know part of the trouble has been on having time to read, I’m keeping it fairly low. The aim for this year is to read a total of 24 books.

  • 12 newly published books
  • 3 in genres I don’t normally read
  • 6 from indie authors
  • 3 digital books

I’m planning on keeping track of this in my planner, though I know a lot of people use places like Goodreads. I may also check out some of the book subscription boxes as a sort of blind date with a book.

What are you challenging yourself to read this year?

Posted in Exercises, writing

The Great NaNo Kickoff

NaNoWriMo is officially here! I’m excited to dive in and start writing. One thing I’ve learned from previous years however, is that getting started can be the hardest thing to do, especially for the beginning scenes. That might be because you’re not sure what to put down to start, or because you’re not sure where your beginning scene is. My advice:

Forget about getting it ‘right’. It would be very unlikely that at the end of thirty days of writing you have a perfect draft. This does not have to be ‘right’ it just has to be written.

So, start with a reminder that it’s okay to be wrong. If you’re anything like I am, I know that seems like a horrifying thought, especially for the starting scene. It’s the most important scene in the book, it has to start the plot, intro the characters, build the setting—

Which, by the way, all of your scenes should be doing. They should be moving characters and plot, and solidifying setting. The only reason so much extra importance gets put on your starting scene is because that’s the one readers will see first. Here’s the thing: this only a draft. You are the only reader. You don’t have to impress yourself. You already know this is a good story, that’s why you’re writing it.

If you have to, put up a sticky note with some of your favorite quotes on first drafts from writers you admire. Or, write yourself a note. I set my computer background up as a reminder that the most important thing is getting the words down.

Another way you can help get yourself started is to try freewriting for five minutes, and build based off your freewrite. I’ve found this especially helpful as a pantser because in those five minutes of sheer writing, anything goes. Want a character to wear a clown costume for that five minutes? Stick them in a clown costume. Don’t have a name for the Important Plot Device, then call it the Important Plot Device. Five minutes will give you at least a couple of sentences, which is all you need to get started.

Finally, if you’re still not sure, then don’t worry about writing the ‘starting’ scene. Just write the scene you know the best. Writing doesn’t have to be linear. You can skip around. Write this scene, write the one near the end, come back to write the scene before the climax.

Regardless of what you do to start, even a few words is a step in the right direction. Here’s to hoping your month of writing goes well and you find the words easily. Happy NaNo!

Posted in writing

Final Stages of NaNoPrep

Next Friday is the official start of NaNoWriMo. That leaves just under a week for the last bits of NaNoPrep.

For me, now that I have my notes and ideas organized and laid out in one convenient place, that means spending a lot of time doing exploratory exercises. Most of these are aimed at working out characters and character relations. A few of those have spawned new ideas as well.

I’m hoping I get a chance to explore and play with all of the ideas I have for now, but I also know that realistically, thirty days is not a lot of time to write. One of the last things I need to do for NaNoPrep is decide which idea to work on and which ones I’ll have to set aside for now.

On the non-writing side however, NaNoPrep also means getting my space and schedule ready to devote the necessary time to sitting and writing. My desk is cleared off and I’m hoping to prep a couple of light meals for lunches that can be easily reheated during the first week so I can hopefully get a good headstart for when other things inevitably get in the way later this month.

What are your last items for NaNoPrep?