November 2011 Preview

The blog was a little slower in September while I was off in Africa, but October continued its ongoing upward trend thanks to many exciting developments for Star Wars fans and geek girls especially. November is National Novel Writing Month, and I’ll be writing right alongside everyone else with that 50,000 word count in my sights. Good luck, writers! . . . → Read More: November 2011 Preview

Looking Ahead to NaNoWriMo 2011

Today we’re just under two weeks until National Novel Writing Month in November. . . . → Read More: Looking Ahead to NaNoWriMo 2011

The finishline is in sight

NaNoWriMo participants, have you, hidden away in your writing den for over two weeks now, lost contact with your friends? Have you cursed out your muse yet? Sighed at the woeful word count because it’s not rising fast enough? Have you been tempted to hurl your computer because it seizes up? Mine likes to back itself up right in the middle of my flow. Doesn’t matter if it’s morning, noon, night, off it goes. Stop everything! The computer’s got to BACK UP!

When it happened the other day, my hopping mad display of utter frustration looked a lot like Cinderella’s stepsister in the movie Ever After. You know, the one who thrashes wildly at invisible bees. My rage dance was a cheaper alternative to chucking the laptop out the window, though, and I did feel better. After returning to a calm state, I simply told my husband I was figuring out the movements for my character. Works every time.

The poor guy’s getting used to my glassy-eyed stare that generally comes over me at dinner time, when my hands are occupied. That’s when the most brilliant story ideas come flitting into my mind. My muse, she’s fickle, though. If I don’t stop everything and write it down RIGHT THEN, sometimes she won’t bring that brilliant idea back around. They’re like one-time offerings. Now you see it, now you don’t.

I’ve resorted to keeping a little journal with me at all times. Usually, I just have to jot a few . . . → Read More: The finishline is in sight

Change Your Vision

Ten days into NaNoWriMo and I see a variety of emotions. I saw one person who was over halfway to their goal of 50,000 words. Many more are already struggling with dastardly computers, illnesses, blasted work – or in other words, Darth Real Life. But whether it’s looking like they’ll make the lofty goal or not, I think all the participants are winners right now simply because creativity is alive and kicking in November.

If you’re someone who’s struggling, here’s a simple exercise to feed the muse. It works every time for me.

Pick a moment that will fit into your schedule today or tomorrow. It might be a pre-dawn sunrise down by the pond at the local park or the exuberant early minutes of the football game on Friday night. Then, while you’re in that moment, at that football game say, take fifteen minutes and pretend there is nothing else. Make yourself a vessel. Don’t be; just observe.

They say blind people have better hearing. Shut your eyes and give it a little test run. It’s incredible what happens to your other senses. I bet you can still tell what’s happening on the football field – the fans are screaming on your side of the stadium, the team is shouting for Waldo, cheers erupt, Waldo just scored! Funny, though, that amid all this you notice the hint of jasmine and citrus touching your nostril. That’s your pal, Kim. She just shoved past wearing that soft, warm peacoat she . . . → Read More: Change Your Vision

Simplifying Dialogue

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, you’ve got three days under your belt and hopefully a healthy head start on that word count. Since you’re in the thrall of writing, I thought I’d give you some things to think about that may make your storytelling easier. Today’s advice concerns dialogue.

Through trial and error, struggling with setting and beats, I’ve come up with an informal rule that’s made my life as a writer a lot easier. It’s really simple – Stick to two characters as much as possible.

Two characters in a scene maintains a much easier dynamic for the reader to follow. The dialogue is naturally going to shift back and forth between the two characters, and the reader knows and understands this intuitively, without the need for beats and other dialogue clues. Character A speaks; Character B responds; Character A speaks, and so on. A third character in the scene constantly demands more attention, specifying who’s doing the talking and how each character is reacting and responding in turn. A fourth character makes the scene even more challenging for the reader, and so on down the line.

Each additional character beyond two compounds the daunting task before the author, who has to create a fluid exchange that imparts what she wants while not confusing the readers. Remember, we always have to assume the reader won’t know who’s going to be speaking next – unless, of course, there are just two characters talking.

As you set up your scenes this . . . → Read More: Simplifying Dialogue

November 2010 Preview

TCW Assassin Padme Ahsoka

At the beginning of every month, I’ll post a brief preview of what’s to come. Here’s my first glimpse of topics I plan to address in the month of November.

Heiress to the Throne? – The most recent episode of TCW centered around three female characters – Senator Padmé Amidala, Jedi Ahsoka Tano, and bounty hunter Aurra Sing. “Assassins” was written by The Maker’s daughter, Katie Lucas, and is a must-see episode. The wonderfully crafted story offers a new hope that the Star Wars universe has found an inspired champion with a fangirl’s heart.

Does Star Wars give Yaddle? – Current trends in the book and movie industry have been slow to adjust to the needs of fangirls in particular. FANgirl will explore the problem with the status quo.

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writer’s Month kicks off today. You can turn here to look for encouragement or just to shout at your lazy, uninspired muse. FANgirl blog will offer some quick exercises that work to spur on the creative flow.

Why do fangirls love the Imperial Knights? – They’re Force-users and Imperials, and exactly what some fangirls have been looking for. In a recent discussion with Jan Duursema at Celebration V, it became apparent to me that those in charge may not even realize why fangirls love Imperial Knights so much.

. . . → Read More: November 2010 Preview

NaNoWriMo starts in 1 week!

So with one week left, let’s see what our preliminary work has accomplished. Ideally, you’ve defined your setting, profiled your characters, determined an end, and now are hard at work dreaming up all that comes in between. It’s pretty much the equivalent of burning rubber: the brake is still on — no writing as of yet — but the engine is firing on all cylinders. Story ideas are clouding your head, filling it to the brim so that your thoughts are getting bogged down by clusters of words and ideas. So what’s a gal to do?

The enginerd in me can’t help but apply the law of physics to the situation. You’re not going to blast off the starting line from zero to sixteen-hundred words instantaneously. The energy of dreaming doesn’t directly translate to forward momentum; like a racecar (or a starship) it’s got to accelerate. So if you want to reach a steady writing pace of 1,600 words a day (and preferably more, just in case turkeys and shopping get in your way), go ahead and let off the brake. Today.

Can you feel it? The momentum starting to build. Today 100 words, then 300, 750, 1,200… You’ll be at the desired pace before you know it, but it’ll take a few days to get there — to remind the fingers how to type that much, to allow the brain to focus its energy on creating words on a page. Acceleration will decrease the closer you get to your . . . → Read More: NaNoWriMo starts in 1 week!

NaNoWriMo starts in 2 weeks

start dreaming

As the days count down, two weeks now until NaNoWriMo, there’s a growing excitement among the participants. I’m certainly planning to attempt to get my 50,000 words written. This time around it’ll be some parts blog, some parts fiction, so I won’t be producing a body of work that will ultimately be something that stands on its own as an identifiable whole. But that’s okay – the story I’m writing is much larger than 50,000 words, so there’s no way I could complete it in a month, anyway, and what I do write will have to be locked away until some time after November when all the cleanup shall begin. But the blog posts will definitely be something to show for my efforts. At least after they’ve been edited, lovingly – and at times not so lovingly – rearranged, smushed, expanded and molded into a string of thoughts I feel worthy of presentation for public consumption.

As a person who’s written more than my fair share, it’s taken a while for me to work out a system that keeps the muse flowing. In hopes that you too can achieve that lofty word count goal, I’m going to share a couple of my secrets.

We’ve talked about defining the setting of your story – the where – and then visualizing your end – the where to. So once you’ve got the map of the right locale, and you know where on the map you want to end up, the last . . . → Read More: NaNoWriMo starts in 2 weeks

NaNoWriMo starts in 3 Weeks

21 days and counting until NaNoWriMo kicks off on November 1st. At this point everyone is enthusiastic, and I’ve had fun discussing some of the issues facing individual writers who are preparing to participate this month. Even if you can’t write 50,000 words, the program is a good way to share the joys and frustrations of etching out a new story.

In my last blog my enginerd brain sorted this process down to words per day – roughly 1,600 or so, even if you hit every day. Well, don’t forget that Thanksgiving sits right there at the end of November, and it’ll probably gobble up a day or two of your writing. And if I know one thing about writing, it’s that starting is always the easy part. So in order to avoid the inevitable pre-holiday time crunch compounding with the I-must-finish-this-ginormous-writing-assignment dread, I’ve got just the potion to cure the depressed-writer blues.

Are you ready?

Here it is:

Know THE END!

Yep, that’s it.

I already talked about setting your scene, knowing your world. Now it’s time to truly decide what story you’re going to tell. I don’t mean Space Princess Angst-Ridden Beauty meets Cyber-Cowboy Stud. (Actually, I’m pretty sure you already had that part.) What I’m talking about is the actual end. See it, taste it, smell it. If you have to, write out that scene and put those two words magic words on the page. Then you can say, “I see THE END. That’s where . . . → Read More: NaNoWriMo starts in 3 Weeks

NaNoWriMo starts in 4 weeks

On November 1st, National Novel Writing Month kicks off. This is a month aspiring writers buckle down and share the fun and heartache of putting imaginations’ journeys on to the page. Mission accomplished is 50,000 words – in 31 days or less.

The first time I saw NaNoWriMo’s concept the writer in me was intrigued. The engineer side, though, did a little quick mental math – 50,000 divided by 31 days equals 1,612.903 words a day. That’s a LOT of writing for someone strapped with other responsibilities besides writing. What student, mother, or person with a full-time job has a couple extra hours to spare every day of the month to indulge in writing? Skip one day a week and you’ve got 200 more words on your plate on each of those other days…

And that’s exactly the point of this program. There are always going to be distractions, but sometimes we just need a reason to buckle down and write. If the goal of 50,000 words is reached, NaNoWriMo awards the writer with the prize of… being recognized for it. (This is just a shared journey, after all, not a contest!)

Ultimately, the point of the exercise is more about quantity than quality. For many participants, just putting words on the page is what they need as a start. So why bring up NaNoWriMo now?

If quantity is the ultimate aim, then a little planning will really help ease the struggle of producing words in the month to come. . . . → Read More: NaNoWriMo starts in 4 weeks