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 Exercises

Exercise: Writing Sprints

If you’ve read a few of my previous posts, you probably already know that sprints are one of my absolute favorite tools. They’re especially useful when you don’t have a lot of time to sit and write.

Sprints are easy to set up. Get a timer and set it for however long you like. Five, ten and fifteen minute sprints are ideal, but you can set longer sprints between twenty and forty-five minutes if you want (you may see these longer sprints referred to as ‘marathons’). Then, just sit and write as fast as you can.

The best part of a sprint is that you don’t have time to sit and think about word choice, ro sentence structure. The idea isn’t to get a good paragraph down, it’s strictly to get something down for later.

As an option: If you choose to, you can track to see how many words you can write in a given time. Start by writing your current word count down, and then doing a sprint. Mark down how many words you end up with, and subtract how many words you started with. The end result is how many words you’ve written during your sprint.

Sprints are great for friendly competitions as well. If you have a group, set a timer and go. Who can get the highest count? Who can work in the most puns in?

Posted in General, writing

Stats and Tracking Progress

One of the things I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on as we roll over the start of 2020 is wrap-up posts, and that got me thinking. Although I do my monthly recaps, I’ve never really paid much attention to how much I’m writing throughout the year. I’m usually pretty good about keeping track of where I’m at and what I’m doing in my planner, but that doesn’t give me the option to review the year as a whole.

Out of curiosity, I’ve set up a tracker in Excel. I already keep track of my daily word count in my planner but I also wanted to keep track of where those words are being written. I already have project list set up to track what state each project is in and keep an eye on how large my WIP list is so I ended up adding a new page to that. Full Tracker

I don’t need to track much, mostly just the monthly totals. I’ll have to remember to update and add in the daily counts as I go. I’ve also included three categories of project: Completed, Started and Editing. I’ve also included rules for myself about what counts for each category. Although it’s basic, I’m happy. I can’t wait to see what it looks like at the end of the year.

How do you track your writing stats?

Posted in General

Measuring Progress

I’m one of those people that keeps almost obsessive track of my word count. I like seeing how much I’ve added at the end of the day. Some portions of the writing process take time, and that time often feels like it’s wasted when you’re plodding through something the size of a manuscript. Marking the progress helps curb some of that frustration by giving you a mark of how much you’ve accomplished. While writing something, keeping track of that is easy. It’s during editing that it gets a little harder to measure progress.

With editing word count does work to some extent if you’re tracking the number of words changed. It’s easy enough to note how much your word count changes from when you start editing and where it ends at the end of the day. One problem I’ve encountered while doing that is during early edits, when entire sections can be cut and rewritten resulting in a negative change. During later drafts when there’s mostly fine tuning to be done instead of big changes, the change coming up can be minimal.

Another option might be pages. They’re easy enough to number and counting the number of pages you’ve edited through today negates any inconsistencies incurred when dealing with word count. The problem is with formatting. A double-spaced manuscript will have a lot more pages than something single-spaced, and certain fonts and font sizes will get more words on one page than others. As long as your formatting is consistent during your editing, the problem is solved. If neither pages nor words works one final option is to measure the amount of time.

Counting the minutes and hours spent revising a piece makes it easier for you to set goals and deadlines for yourself. Keeping track does become an issue if you don’t have the option of setting down a given amount of time for editing.

Regardless of what option you use, selecting a measure can help if you find yourself frustrated with your writing process.