Posted in recaps

November 2020 Recap

There are thirty-two days remaining in the year. With November now finished and out of the way, it’s time to start looking at the very end of the year. It’s been an intense and unpredictable year, but there’s still a little time left.

For those who participated in NaNoWriMo, congratulations! Even if you didn’t reach fifty-thousand, you still took a chance and gave your story and work a chance. Hopefully you at least have a chunk of a story for a start.

This year I chose to focus on my incomplete projects. I hit fifty-thousand only a few days ago. In total I finished the rough drafts of a novel and two novellas. I’d been hoping to get more done, but overall I’m happy with where things are standing now—and I’ve finally moved those projects out of the continuously unfinished pile and into the much smaller pile of things that needs editing.

December starts tomorrow, and with it, the last stretch of the year. I’m planning on getting back into edits, starting with another fairy-tale novella. It’ll also be time to revisit my yearly goals and set new ones for next year.

I’d love to hear about your November. Let me know how it went in the comments!

Posted in Exercises

Character Description Crawl

Describing characters isn’t always easy, so to help out, I present the Character Description Crawl.

Name. Count the letters in your character’s first name and multiply by ten. Write that many words.

Hair Color.

  • If your character has black hair write 50 words.
  • If they have brown hair write 75 words.
  • If they have blond hair write 100 words.
  • If they have gray or white hair write 125 words.
  • If they have an unusual hair color (pink, green, vines instead of hair, etc.) write 150 words.
  • If they’re bald sprint for 5 minutes.

Eye Color.

  • If your character has blue eyes write 50 words.
  • If they have brown eyes write 75 words.
  • If they have green eyes write 100 words.
  • If they have grey eyes, write 125 words.
  • If they’re blind or are missing eyes, sprint for 5 minutes.
  • If they have mismatched eyes, complete both challenges for their eye colors.

Height

  • If they’re shorter than average, sprint for 5 minutes.
  • If they’re average height, write 10 minutes.
  • If they’re taller than average, sprint for 15 minutes.

Notable Features

  • If they have notable scars or injuries, write 25 words for each one.
  • If they have piercings or jewelry, write 50 words for each piece. (Earrings only count as 1 piece if they are matched pair).
  • If they have additional features (horns, wings, robot characters, animal characters, etc.) sprint for 5 minutes for each feature.
  • If they have tattoos, write 75 words for each tattoo they have.

Personality

Rate their traits on a scale from 1-5 with 1 being the lowest. Complete each assignment that number of times. For example, if a character is a 3 on the honesty scale, complete the sprint 3 separate times.

  • Honesty: Sprint for 5 minutes.
  • Calmness: Write 50 words.
  • Generosity: Write 25 words.
  • Responsibility: Sprint for 10 minutes.
  • Respectful: Sprint for 5 minutes.
  • Aggressiveness: Write 100 words.
  • Clumsiness: Write 25 words.
  • Timidity: Write 50 words.
  • Gullibility: Sprint for 5 minutes.
  • Sloppiness: Sprint for 10 minutes.

Protagonist or Antagonist

If your character is a protagonist or supports a protagonist, sprint for 15 minutes.

If your character is an antagonist or supports an antagonist, write 250 words.

 

Finished? Let me know how many words you ended up with!

Posted in Exercises, writing

NaNoWriMo Survival Tips

Whether you’ve done NaNoWriMo for years or you’re giving the madness a try for the first time, the challenge of writing fifty-thousand words in thirty days can seem a little daunting. If you’ve heard about it at all beforehand, you’ve might have heard about things like Plotober, meal plans and everything else to make a successful NaNo.

For writers, NaNoWriMo represents a real opportunity and a challenge, but the biggest benefit is getting words down. That being said, there’s a few survival tips that even veterans wrimos can use.

Plan. You don’t need a detailed plan, and you may not even need a story-related plan at all, but you do need a plan. This might just be a plan of when and where you’ll write. If you’re more comfortable with having a plan for the story, this counts too. Don’t get discouraged if you see or hear others talking about having their meals prepped or pages of outlines. What works for them may not work for you.

Be Flexible. In order to win at NaNo, you need to write 1,667 words a day. For some writers, it’s incredibly easy to reach that sixteen-hundred odd words. For others, you might be worried about making even half of that. One of the best ways to hit your goal aside from sitting down and writing is to be flexible. If you get the chance, go passed sixteen hundred odd word goal, or even set up a couple of days early in the month to frontload your word count so when you have a bad writing day, you’re not stressed out and struggling to catch up. If necessary, break that goal down into smaller chunks you can work on throughout the day. Three hundred words is a lot easier to handle at one time than sixteen hundred.

Try New Techniques. The goal is fifty-thousand words. That being said, there’s nothing to say that they have to be handwritten or typed. Try using dictation. Or, give writing sprints and word crawls a try! These can be fun ways to add to your word count. Swapping pages with a buddy can also help for accountability and is a nice way to help support other writers and inspire new ideas.

Remember to Breathe. It’s nice to think about how much you can do if you just write without pause, but realistically it’s the worst thing you can do for both your story and your health. Unless you’re a writing robot, you need to take a little bit of time to recharge. Remember to get up every so often and take five or ten minutes to stretch and get some water. Just as if you were working an eight-hour shift, take a break every couple of hours.

Don’t Stress! Scene not working? Goals not being met? Impossible-to-bridge plot holes? Ignore them. Don’t stress about what’s going wrong, instead focus on what’s going right: You’re making progress on a story. You can fix the problems later, what’s important right now is one word after the other.

Write. Above all else, the only way you’re going to survive NaNoWriMo is if you actually sit down and write. If necessary, block out and schedule time specifically to write.

What’s your favorite NaNo survival tip? Let me know in the comments below! If you want, you can also add me as a NaNoWriMo buddy under WrittenVixen.

Header image courtesy of NaNoWriMo

Posted in General

On NaNo Prep

If you’re feeling like November is breathing down your neck already, you’re not alone. There’s two weeks left before November first arrives, and with it, NaNoWriMo. That’s something I didn’t realize until sitting down to write this post. Time to complete any necessary NaNo Prep is running out.

Much as I like to write without a plan, it’s important to remember that NaNo is a marathon, not a print. Doing it without any sort of plan is possible, but not recommended. Doing it with zero preparation is absolutely inadvisable.

That leaves only a few options.

Option A, rush through and try to get outlines, character arcs and research done in two weeks. While doable, unloading a ton of energy into just preparing may not leave you enough energy to pour into the actual writing. Secondly, a rush job might leave holes later that need closing up, potentially dragging out the editing portion.

Option B is to hodgepodge things together. A vague outline or a couple of free writes might be enough. In the spirt of Rebel Wrimos, this is also a good place to decide once and for all that you’re going to do That project you keep putting off or finish This novel that you’ve been creeping through. It might mean you spend these last days making notes on what’s happened so far, and ideas of what’s coming up. It’s good for those who can flex well or have works-in-progress they want to put fifty-thousand words towards.

Option C is to dive into the story without a plan. That’s not necessarily an easy thing to do, and it will make your NaNo harder. It’s not something I’d recommend if this is a first attempt at NaNo. If however, you know your personal process well enough and if you’re already brimming with ideas, this is more than possible. It means rather than plotting or developing characters, your focus on the next two weeks is in filling your creative well with as many ideas as possible. Building playlists or creating mood boards is a good way to help with that for the hardcore pantsers.

Regardless of how detailed your plan is, you need to be prepared to put in a lot of work over the next thirty days. That includes making sure you have time dedicated to writing. If you haven’t told your family or friends about it, do it now! Today!

This is also a good time to clean out your space if you need to. Having a clean and fresh space to work from can help you focus on the task ahead, rather than getting distracted.

Finally, make sure you are taken care of. If that means setting up a reminder on your phone to get up and get some water, do so. Get a writing buddy that will also challenge you to stand up and stretch every thirty minutes or so.

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo? What’s your plan for November? Let me know in the comments!

 

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?