What I learned from NaNoWriMo

For some crazy reason, my first attempt to pub this blog failed; guess WordPress is having their issues…

Anyway, I wanted to share what I learned from my introductory nano experience==2016 is my first year at this. I hesitated in past years because I either missed the start of the month or had more pressing things to attend to (I conduct bible studies and sometimes I do it in sprints of 30 days). So since my crit partner was doing nano for a ‘real’ project (she has an agent) and I had a story idea, I decided to try it.

One thing about me, I hate to fail. I am also a trained and certified project manager so I hate disorganization, too. Those two things helped me get to 50K in 19 days. But that wasn’t the main impetus. Let me explain…

I had been reading two books before nano: 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron and an article I found by Cheryl Klein. Rachel’s book helped me learn to do a lot of upfront work so that there was no question about where I was going in the story. Cheryl’s article showed me how to set up a matrix for each scene; an action/reaction approach.

Both of these were instrumental in easing my anxiety going into the challenge.

I also made sure I knew all my characters – names, background, motivation, role  – and wrote those down. I found my theme, story point, and even determined the ending. These also helped me create a manuscript ‘shell’ that I could fill in at will. I ‘d basically built the house and now I was ready to add the furniture and decorate.

I also used Scrivener for the first time. The scenes I created fit well into the tool and it helped me avoid frustration since I didn’t have to look at an entire ms at once. I could write each scene as a self-contained story and combined with Cheryl’s goal/obstacle>But>Therefore approach I was able to weave them all together.

The next thing I did was create a map of my world so that I knew where everyone would be and how they would get there (I am revising now to make sure I did that correctly and that I did not overwrite my descriptions of the scenery. I had fun with that part).

Last, I created a schedule I could maintain: I work full time so I had to write 30 min. in the morning, during my lunch, and after dinner. My goal was 2,000 a day but I ended up around 3200 because I knew my story and where it was going.

So there you have it. Now I’m off to work. Have a great one and keep on writing!


Are You A Passive Writer?

I’m not referring to your demeanor, I’m referring to your word choices. I was reading a blog about improving your scenes the other day and one thing it said was ‘did you notice the author didn’t use any passive verbs?’ Then I thought: “Hmm. Did I use any in my book?” So I hit my trusty Ctrl-F and searched for a few. One I used way too much is ‘looked’ or ‘looked like.’ So I cut them all out and found better ways to describe what something looked like or someone’s reaction. 

It made the passages a whole lot better! If you are getting passive (and now I do mean your demeanor) about using passive verbs. Go forth and annihilate them!

PB Project Takes Off!

OK as many of you who follow me on WriteAfterWork know, I have been working on moving into the genre of children’s literature. I am following in the footsteps of my cousin, the late Virginia Hamilton, whose books were an inspiration to millions of kids.

I am not professing to be as good as Virginia, but I intend to make the family proud! My first book genre is PB or picture books and I want you to be there as I embark on my quest to publish it next year.

So, I will be documenting the creation of my first PB book here on this blog. I start a program in August that is designed to help me flesh out my book idea and get it whipped into shape for publication. Where do you come in? Simple. You can help me by providing feedback on my characters and my approach as I go through this course.

I welcome your support! Let’s do this!!!!