Category Archives: Write a novel

5 Simple NaNoWriMo Writing Hacks You Can Use Today

5 Simple NaNoWriMo Writing Hacks You Can Use Today

It’s the first day of NaNoWriMo, and you’ve got some 1700 words of your novel to write today.

Firstly, kudos if you’re taking part. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, and with any luck at all, you’ll write and publish your novel.

NaNoWriMo hacks: easy tricks to survive November

Anytime I’ve got an important writing project, I take half an hour or so to plan the project, and to do a mini SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. So that’s our first hack.

Let’s look at some fun tricks to make NaNoWriMo easier.

1. SWOT it first: an analysis is fun, and often surprising

Grab a notepad, or an index card. Use a card if you’ll be writing in different locations; you can take the card with you.

Print SWOT vertically down the page, leaving some lines between the letters.

Now think about:

  • Your strengths, whatever they may be. Maybe you’ve got an amazing outline, and have scheduled each day’s writing carefully.
  • Any weaknesses. Are you terrified because it’s your first novel? Maybe you’re writing in a genre new to you.
  • Opportunities. Can you think of any opportunities which you might get as a result of doing NaNoWriMo? Perhaps you’ll write a bestseller… 😉
  • Threats? You know yourself — maybe you’re worried that you’ll procrastinate, or will get bored…

Here’s why a SWOT helps, even if you just take five minutes to do it very quickly. It gets the benefits and challenges out of your head, and onto the page. Your subconscious mind will begin working on solutions to threats, so that you can overcome them.

2. Do writing sprints with a countdown timer

The first four days of any novel are slow if you’ve done zero preparation — and even if you’ve done lots of preparation. You’re finding your voice for this novel.

However, often the idea that “the first days are slow” can merely be an excuse. When I catch myself getting too relaxed and lazy, I fire up the countdown timer in my phone. Then I write as quickly as I can while the timer ticks down.

Writing sprints of 20 minutes or half an hour are useful — you’ll increase your word count for the day relatively painlessly, particularly if you focus on dialogue. After the 20 minutes, you can go back and fill in the blanks of the scene you’re writing.

3. Create a BIG mind map, and update it daily

I work on several novels and short stories at any one time; my own, and others’. I have a “novel” mind map template, and have these branches from the central idea:

  • Characters;
  • Settings;
  • Story question;
  • Time line;
  • Open loops.

It’s easy to add to the mind map while you’re writing. For example, I might have these branches off “characters”: attributes; physical appearance; REMEMBER.

I have REMEMBER coming off each of the major branches, because there’s always something which I know I’ll forget, especially anything related to minor characters. In mysteries, there’s always red herrings; I need to remember where I planted them, and how I’ll resolve them.

The “open loops” branch is handy. Anytime you leave readers wondering about something, it’s essential you start closing your open loops at around the 60% done mark of the novel.

4. “Outline” at least two scenes ahead: just one sentence is fine

As I point out in Map It, my book on outlines for writers who hate outlines, I’m not huge on outlines. I like to work things out as I go.

One thing I’ve found however: I notice this in my students who prefer pantsing too… if you don’t write down at least a sentence about the upcoming scenes, you’ll block. Or you’ll head down a useless tangent.

Your brief notes for upcoming scenes kick your creative self into action. Those notes make writing easier.

5. Warm up with timed writing: five minutes each day

Speaking of easier writing.

When you sit down for that day’s writing session, do five minutes of free writing first. Just write as much as you can in five minutes.

It doesn’t matter what you write:

  • Ideas for upcoming scenes;
  • Character sketches;
  • Dialogue…

This brief warmup clears your mind, and gets you into a writing mindset. Words and ideas will come more easily.

OK — there you have it. I hope these simple hacks help you with NaNoWriMo — and with all your fiction, for that matter. 🙂

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99
Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters. More info →
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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.

NaNoWriMo Success: 3 Tips To Achieve Your Goals

NaNoWriMo Success: 3 Tips To Achieve Your Goals

I was chatting with a friend who’s entered NaNoWriMo several times, and has an excellent question. She asked how to achieve her goals this year. She’s never published any of the novels she wrote in November, even though that was always her goal.

Her challenge: “Every time I do NaNoWriMo, I tell myself that this year will be great. But even though I finish, I never do anything with my novels. What’s your advice?”

How to achieve your NaNoWriMo goals

Writing a NaNoWriMo novel is just like writing any other novel. Every novel you ever write will have irritating problems. Often those problems involve editing and revision. Or something else.

For example, I’m working on a novel right now, and am within 2000 words of finishing it — but I’m not happy.

I’d like to add more scenes. I won’t. I’ll just tell my inner editor to shut up. If I start adding more scenes this late stage, I’ll unbalance the structure of the novel, for no reason other than feelings.

So managing your feelings is our first tip.

1. Be aware that your feelings always change

If you’re feeling depressed about your NaNoWriMo novel at any time, take a moment (five minutes, no more) to review your goals for the novel, as well as what you’ve done so far.

In my “we need more scenes!” novel, I’ve written 60,500 words when I aimed for 55,000. I structured the novel for 55K words. Since I’m at the deadline for this novel, adding more scenes would be madness.

Any feeling that something’s wrong with your novel is just uncertainty. Like all feelings, it will change.

When you review your progress, your feelings won’t change immediately. But they will change. Tell your inner editor “thanks for sharing”, and keep writing.

My friend reported that she hadn’t reread any of her previous novels because she felt that they were a disaster — feelings, again.

We’ve created an editing schedule she can begin after NaNoWriMo so that she can knock all of her novels into shape, and get them published.

2. Edit as you go, to avoid depression on December 1

Most of my friend’s feelings about her novel stem from post-novel depression. It’s normal to feel bereft and disoriented when you’ve worked hard on something, and it’s done.

Editing as you write helps with that. Generally speaking, I’m against editing while writing because too many authors keep reworking chapter one until they stall on their novel completely. They’ve lost their inspiration and their vision. Editing is a completely different mind state from writing.

However, if you suspect that you might feel overwhelmed when your first draft is done, edit as you go. Wait until you’ve completed a chapter of three scenes (or however many scenes you choose) then edit that chapter.

By the way, I’m talking about editing as revision, not editing as tinkering with word choices. Macro editing, rather than micro twiddling, if you like.

3. Schedule revision and editing — and publication day, if self-publishing is your goal

Writing 50,000 words in November is a wonderful effort, and kudos to you when you finish. It’s a huge achievement.

If your goal is to self-publish your NaNoWriMo novel, there’s one important thing you need to do before you start writing — create a schedule for revision, editing, and publishing. Yes, create that schedule now, and stick to it.

Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

eBook: $5.99
You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell. More info →
Buy from Scribd
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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.

Start Writing Your Novel Today With Super-Fast Prep

Start Writing Your Novel Today With Super-Fast Prep

In our fiction authors’ class, we discussed when you should start writing your novel. How much preparation do you need? Prepping a novel can take forever. You need character bios, an outline, and research too.

If you spend too much time on preparation however, there’s a good chance that you’ll give up on your novel. You lose your inspiration, and tell yourself that you’ll develop a “better” idea.

Several of the authors admitted that they’ve done this. One author said that she’d spent two years researching a novel, and had given up on it. She couldn’t face writing the book.

Short-cut your preparation for writing your novel

Let’s look at how you can eliminate procrastination, and build your motivation, by starting your novel quickly. More and better ideas will come to you while you’re writing.

Here are some strategies you can try.

1. Start writing immediately: no prep necessary

If you wish, you can start writing your novel immediately, without any preparation at all. Just start writing.

Bestselling authors Stephen King and Dean Koontz both use this “just start” strategy. Yes, your first few chapters will go slowly, because you’re developing your characters, and your story question, but you’ll be writing.

2. “This novel is about…”

With this strategy, you write yourself a letter about your novel. Start with the phrase: “this novel is about…”

The benefit of this strategy is that it gives you the impetus you need to write your blurb.

Essentially, your blurb becomes a mini outline. The benefit of this strategy is that you can look at the bones of your story. It’s easy to see if you’re missing an essential element, such as an antagonist, for example.

3. Start with a genre trope

Every fiction genre has its tropes. That is, devices, or themes.

To see how this works, visit the Mystery, Thriller & Suspense genre on Amazon, and select the Mystery sub-genre. You’ll see that Amazon obligingly lists sub-genres of Mystery. They include: Cozy, Historical, Women Sleuths…

Scroll down the sidebar, and you’ll see Moods: Action-Packed, Fun, Romantic, and more. Further down in the sidebar, you’ll see Characters and Settings for the Mystery genre too.

In the Mystery genre, forensic investigation has become a trope.

The romance genre has dozens of tropes. Amazon lists them for you: Amnesia, Beaches, International, and so on.

When you start writing your novel with a trope, you save time. Not only do you use a device which is popular in your genre, you’ll find yourself with more ideas than you can handle.

4. Start with an image: day dream about it — “what if?”

This is my favorite method of writing your novel, FAST.

I start with an image — any image which captures my imagination. I look at the image, musing about the person, or people in the image. If the image is a setting: a gorgeous beach on a tropical island, or a high mountain pass in the Swiss Alps, I imagine someone walking, or running in the image.

Try this strategy yourself.

You can find images anywhere: in art galleries, in magazines, or even on Pinterest.

Have fun with writing your novel.

Starting your novel super-fast ensures that you’ll maintain your inspiration.

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →
Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99
I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly. More info →
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Amazon Kindle

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.