This November Embrace Your Writing Style

pantserIf you’re a guy you might not be shaving this month, but I hope your hipster beard isn’t blocking your keyboard because it’s National Novel Writing Month. That’s right, in between Halloween and the start of the holiday season that we should all be embracing (instead of the start of the holiday season that the stores want us to embrace) is an important month for all of us who have voices in your heads. If you don’t have voices in your head, you’re not listening close enough and need to turn down your iPod.

As you have probably guessed, I’m participating in Nanowrimo. I look forward to this event every year, but this year I decided to try something new. In case you don’t now how Nanowrimo works, you’re supposed to write 50,000 original words from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30. In theory, these 50,000 words should be the beginning, middle, and hopefully end of one story, but no one is policing you, so I say, write whatever you want. Even though you can’t start writing until November 1, you can prepare to write. In October, you can outline your story, design some characters, and do research. I have done this in the past with mixed results.

This year, mostly because I am working on several other writing projects, I decided to do no preparing for Nanowrimo. I wouldn’t even think about what I wanted to write. I would start typing on November 1 and see where it goes. Around October 22, I came up with a great fantasy story, complete with setting, characters, and plot. I thought for a moment that it was going to be my Nanowrimo story. But I remembered my plan and shelved it.

I call myself a pantser (a cute word for a discovery writer), but I usually think I should outline a little bit. I don’t know anyone who is 100% pantser. Apparently I am, so I’m embracing that side of me this year. When I’m not writing I’m not thinking about my book. In fact, I feel like the ideas are flowing from the creative part of my brain directly to my fingertips. They’re not going to any other part of my brain, which is why when I’m not typing I’m not thinking about my story. The thinking portion of my brain has not been informed by the creative part of my brain that there is anything to think about. (This is probably not neurologically accurate, but it makes sense to me.)

The big question is, how am I doing? Are the words flowing like chocolate syrup, or am I sitting in front of a blank screen wishing I’d never signed up for Nano, and wondering if there’s any Halloween candy left (nope, it’s all gone.) The answer is… this is my best Nano ever. Today is day nine and I have already written 28,000 words. I hope to reach 50,000 words by Friday. And I won’t stop there. My story may be almost done, but I  am going to keep writing and discover if these characters want a second book. My daily average is 3,138 words and I feel like I could do more.

I hope you are enjoying Nano this month. If you are struggling, ask yourself a question. Are you a pantser or a plotter and are you fighting your natural writing style? If you are a pantser, toss the outline you thought you had to make and let your creative side take over. If you are a plotter, don’t worry about the rules that say every word should be part of your story. Use some of your word count to create an outline.

Writers sometimes treat pantser vs. plotter like Coke vs. Pepsi. There is only one right choice and the other is just gross. However, that is not true. Pantsers should be pantsers, and plotters should be plotters. It’s not my way or the highway. I can now say I’m a pantser and if being a pantser enables me to write 100,000 words in November I’m a happy pantser. Whatever type of writer you are, I hope you’re happy, too.

“There is in writing a constant joy of sudden discovery, of happy accident.” H. L. Mencken


Camp Nanowrimo is Half Over

Wally 2It used to be that National Novel Writing Month was a once a year event. It happened in November and everyone involved wrote 50,000 words. Now there are three events. Nanowrimo is still in November and is still 50,000 words. It is like the king of writing events. But now you can participate in two more low-key events known as Camp Nanowrimo. These events take place in April, and either July or August. Yes, Camp Nanowrimo is happening right now. Hooray!

I like Camp Nanowrimo because I get to pick my goal. I can choose to write a certain number of words or to edit something already written. I always choose to write something new because I like the satisfaction of reaching my word goal every day. So what is my goal for this Camp Nanowrimo?

I am working on the sequel to the book I wrote last November for Nanowrimo. This is book two in a trilogy. I will write book three at summer Camp Nanowrimo. Since I am going to be away from a computer for more than a week in April I decided to set my goal for 30,000 words. The book will be longer than that and I am hoping to finish this book before the end of the month, but I felt 30,000 words was a reasonable goal.

Book 2 takes place three years after book 1. My heroes are now 13 years old and are about to explore other outposts in my parallel universe. I am really excited to write this book because they are going to Tibet and are meeting an older Kim. Hooray! Kim from Kipling’s book will be in my book. He is always hopping into books that are not his. If you want to read a fantastic book featuring a search for Kim read The Game by Laurie R. King. And don’t stop there. Read every book she’s ever written. Her stories are amazing.

“No need to listen for the fall. This is the world’s end.”      Rudyard Kipling, Kim    

The title of book 2 is Listening for the Fall. I took it from a quote by Kim. Since the book takes place in Tibet and has to do with gravity decreasing I felt there were lots of ways to use the word “fall.”

The next Camp Nanowrimo is in July or August depending on when you want to sign up. Why not tie up your internal editor and unleash your inner storyteller and write the story you’ve been wanting to tell. Start with 10,000 words for the month. I bet you’ll never stop.

 “This is a brief life, but in its brevity it offers us some splendid moments, some meaningful adventures.” Rudyard Kipling, Kim

The Lure of a New Idea

IMG_3998One of the reasons I love National Novel Writing Month is because I get to start with a blank slate. I love typing those first words on an empty page. I love the potential of a story. I love the thrill of discovery. But once those words are on the page they need to be edited and rewritten until they are polished and ready for the world.

I was glancing at my goal list for 2014 and I noticed that all of my current projects are in the editing stage right now. With the exception of my blogs I am not writing many words each day. I am enjoying the research and enduring the editing needed to polish my current projects but I miss the thrill of writing a new story. So it is time to start again.

I thought long and hard about what project to start and as usual it quickly grew into a series. I have a first draft mystery from the 2009 Nanowrimo (I wrote 100,000 words that November) but I have not looked at it since then. I was considering mystery niches to write in and two came to mind. While one person could fill these niches I wanted to explore them separately. I then thought back to what I call my “wandering mystery” and realized I had a connection. Instead of writing one mystery series I will write three.

Three series about three sisters. One has had great tragedy in her life and prefers to wander by herself. One is an overbearing busybody who wants to mother everyone, but especially her loner sister. If it wasn’t for her running habit she’d drive everyone insane. And the third sister will be a fossil preparer. (Dinosaurs!) She is a widow and content to let everyone be who they want to be. She minds her own business until she is forced to get involved.

I know a lot about the wandering sister, a little about the mothering sister, and nothing about the content sister. But now that they exist in my mind I think about them a lot. Book one is obviously in the editing stage but I am eager to write book two and see who these women are. This is not a short term idea and has to be balanced with my editing and short story projects but with luck it will be something I can send to the big boys (I mean NY agents.) I can’t wait to find out.

“Murder mysteries are puzzles that are fun to resolve.” Kathy Reichs (creator of Bones)