Posted in blog post, Thoughts, Writing tips

Almost time for Prep-tober!

Whew, September is almost over, and October is scratching at the window. I am enjoying the cooler weather and the change of the décor to autumnal colors. Fall is my favorite time of year. It is a time for bon fires, family, NaNoWriMo and holidays.

For those of you who want to write, November is a great time to get started. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and people from all over the world come together to support each other and write. I have won a couple of NaNoWriMos completing a fifty-thousand-word manuscript in less than 30 days. It takes discipline and determination. Are you up to it? Well, if you want to write 50 in 30 days, then you need to start planning in October. Here’s how I plan to use October to plan my writing for November.

As a pantser or discovery writer I don’t do outlines. So how do I plan?

Each book is different, but I start by fast drafting. Now some people would say this is the same as an outline and maybe it is, but my brain thinks of it in a different way. I quickly tell myself the story from beginning to end without any details or POV just a vague of idea of where I want to go with the story.

Then I start layering in details. I start with POV, I might write everything from one person’s point of view but then decide I need another perspective, another person’s insight into what is happening that the main character doesn’t know about. I have one lead character, but one or two, sometimes three supporting point of view characters. You can do more but the more you do, the more planning it requires.

A stand-alone story doesn’t require as much planning as a series in some ways, continuity is a factor in series. I need to make sure that what I said about a character in book one, is still relevant in book two, etc. unless there is a reason for the change.

If you have more than one genre in the story like my historical romantic mystery, I have a layer for the history (I usually do this last with lots of fact checking), romance is a layer as is the mystery portion. In my Applegate mystery there is also the family dynamics so that is another layer. For Winnie and Harry, their romance is still just a yearning unfulfilled so while I will bring them together and pull them apart, another layer, I also want to keep their emotions charged.

The purpose of planning ahead isn’t to take away the spontaneity of being a discovery writer but to have an idea of where to go next. Another idea that was given to me by my mentor, cozy mystery author M K Graff, was to make a note at the end of the writing day of where you want to go the next time you write. This is a great to help you get started especially if it’s going to be a couple of days before you have the chance to return to your manuscript.

Mystery author Kate Parker suggested putting ideas on a whiteboard (or other, I used a corkboard or wall) write down a list of ideas you want to go into the story as you use those ideas take them off the board. (I put mine on sticky notes so I could move them to the used pile but also remember to plan for the event or show the results of it.)

You don’t have to be really structured with your planning. You can brainstorm ideas and put them on notecards, shuffle them around and see what comes up. Find a planning method that fits your personality and the personality of your book. Each book is different, and some require more planning than others. Don’t be afraid to try something new or return to an old idea. For some authors, outlining, planning character sheets, knowing everything that is going to happen in their book before they write it is a necessary part of their process and then there are others who sit down at the computer and just pull something from the ether and write. Whatever method you choose, I have found that for me personally, having a little bit of a plan helps but too much structure takes all the joy out of discovering the story.

I hope this helps. What are some of the ways you get ready for NaNoWriMo?

cork board covered with sticky notes
Posted in blog post, Thoughts, writing inspiration, Writing tips

Connections & Information

As a writer we spend a lot of time alone with our keyboards. I recently had the chance to attend a festival and while my goal was to sell books, what I received was even more valuable. First, the connections I made prior to the festival by doing promotions for myself and other participants by reposting and engaging with the other attendees helped me to be seen on other Facebook pages while sharing my page with others. Part of promoting ourselves requires us to reach out to others and share our space. In my case, the Fish and Farm Festival was a local event which I wanted to promote not just because I was going to be there, but because of the work these folks have been doing to help restore our town.

The second thing I received was the chance to get to know my fellow Pamlico Writers’ group member, friend, and the lady who has taken on the task of event programming, Mandy Monath. When we’re at a meeting or event there are the demands and expectations of other people and as leaders of PWG it is up to us to made sure everything is done, having a few minutes to talk candidly and get to know each other was a real boon. We were able to share personal information as well as make plans for upcoming events. Taking a few minutes to really get to know your fellow authors, group members, and even readers is a luxury few of us take time to enjoy.

Thirdly, meeting readers and writers and being able to help them discover something they need or would enjoy even if it’s not your book. Having a writer-friend come out just to buy your book and be able to introduce her to your other writer-friend. Sharing information and learning from each other, taking the time to listen as well as impart.

Over the years of engaging with other writers I’ve discovered that everyone has something to share and no matter where we are on the scale we need to stop and listen because things are changing too quickly to believe that even as an experienced author we have all the answers. I have learned as much from a new writers as I have from a seasoned author.

My advice, such as it is, if you have the opportunity to attend an event make the most of it and remember selling books is only a small part of what it’s about. Being an author, especially an indie author is about building a strong foundation–make connections and friends, get your name out there–these are all important parts of the process. Like building a house, we first have to dig down and place footers, pour a foundation, we need to start strong in order to build a viable author career.