How to Tackle NaNoWriMo: My Advice To You (Day 5 of Countdown) #NaNoWriMo #Writing

There are now less than 24 hours left before the worldwide writing frenzy of NaNoWriMo begins! Before you begin, I would like to give you my last token of creative advice.

Create a Soundtrack for your novel.

Now, I imagine that this may have you thinking of soundtrack in the same way one thinks of a movie soundtrack. Well, that is not exactly what I am referring to here.

Movie soundtracks are designed to emotionally lead the audience in a specific emotional direction while watching the movie unfold. If a romantic scene is on the horizon, cue the sexy music. If suspense, then in comes the music that gets your pulse racing.

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With the soundtrack for your novel,  collect tracks that get you into the head of your characters and reminds you of the spirit of your story as a whole.

Now there are songs that you can gather that help you to build certain scenes, similar to the way movies do, and those are helpful as well.

For me, I generally have specific songs for each of my characters. This helps me to keep every one authentic. Writing a novel in 30 days can cause a bit of character confusion if you are not careful. Soundtracks per person can help eliminate that.

HOW TO USE THE SOUNDTRACK:

Remember music is a muse. When I need to let my mind rest and my fingers stretch from a long stint of typing, I use this time to sit back, close my eyes, and listen to the songs that I’ve gathered that reminded me of my characters and my plot line.

This way, even while resting, I am still allowing my imagination to keep working on the story.

Think of it as an imaginative interlude and meditation. And trust me, it helps a lot.

A COUPLE OF BONUSES!

If you have time, check out my blog posting on this very subject, created while I was doing a form of NaNoWriMo while writing my blog novel, Ascension Graveyard (REVISIONS AND CHAPTERS COMING SOON!)

For The Muse in the Music, posting follow this LINK.

Should music not be the muse and medicine that you need to keep in tune with your characters (pun not intended) then try this writing prompt that I created, Coffee With Character…or Tea. The exercise is all about getting to know each individual character in your story on a more personal level.

For instance knowing your character likes to wear red socks on Monday may not be something you add to the story itself but it is something that helps you, the writer, build the world of their personality. It’s an intimate nuance that sheds greater light on their behaviors.

As laughable as it may seem, a person that specific with something as trivial as sock color will be less prone to certain behaviors, while more apt in yielding to others.

FINAL 5-DAY CREATIVE ADVICE RECAP

TIP 1. Write anything. Let your imagination take control. (Click HERE for full article)

TIP 2. Have a reader who will look over your daily progress with an honest reader’s eye, and give you feedback. (Click HERE for full article)

TIP 3. Set a daily word count goal that you can manage. (Click HERE for full article

TIP 4. Keep a “SPICE RACK”  of ideas  and scenes in a separate word document (Click HERE for full article)

TIP 5. Create a playlist that reminds you of your characters and plot, that you can meditate on during downtime.

BONUS: Need a creative Springboard? Try this Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt to help get your NaNoWriMo Story going. Click HERE for the opening line! *REMEMBER TO OMIT THE OPENING LINE WORD COUNT FROM YOUR TOTAL WORDCOUNT*

Most importantly, just have fun. Write because you can. Write because you want to, and write because your imagination is worth the time to share!

Cheers! and Happy NaNoWriMo!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

 

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3 Curious Ways to Build Character: Wisdom from the Writer’s Journal #writingtips #amwriting

When you build a character, you are really fueled by curiosity not answers. ~Andre Dubus III

I believe Andre Dubus III put the art of building characters in perfect perspective. We as writers are indeed driven by curiosity. It is our ‘watching’ of the world, and those around us, that constructs who our characters are and ultimately become. Even in our minds, we watch them, the characters who live in our imaginations.

WatchingWhen we allow the stories in our heads to tell themselves with an organic voice, we become witnesses, and thus stenographers if you will. We find our characters behaving naturally in their environments, shocking us with the choices they make, the thoughts they have, the people they connect with, their mannerisms.

Curiously, we keep our eyes on them, jotting down every detail. We watch. We build. It becomes like a game of Jeopardy. We have the answers to who and why. The story that we write around these ‘answers’ is where the questions come from.

The stories themselves are actually the questions.

HERE ARE 3 PRACTICES TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN BUILDING CHARACTERS

  1. WATCH: Take the time to watch your characters perform within your imagination. This doesn’t require actual writing but focused observation. Feel free to jot down notes from what you see but not so much to work your story (unless it is a scene that belongs in the story). What you are witnessing is getting you familiar with the nuances of each character’s personality.
  2. LISTEN: Pay close attention to what your characters are saying during these moments of focused concentration. The tone they use with the server at a restaurant does give you a clue as to how they would or would not respond to their ex if they called out of the blue.
  3. BUILD: Take what you’ve seen and heard during these moments and use them as tools for while you are writing. You build with knowledge. You gain knowledge from learning to understand, and understanding comes from watching and listening.

For some more tips on character building, and character watching,  read my article and writing exercise titled, Coffee with Character…or Tea.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Don’t Insult My Intelligence: The Cardinal Sin That Writer’s Inflict Upon Readers

Writing. Word weaving. Storytelling. It is an art form, one that is not easily mastered nor is it for the faint of heart. Words hold power that is far greater than any other creating medium in all creation. If you are a fellow Believer in Christ then you know all creation was born from Words and words alone.argument-238529_960_720

So when we as creative beings take up the mantle of weaving words like a glassblower before a fiery furnace we must act with the same depth of care that said artisan takes when handling the molten medium. One wrong move and not only is the piece they are working on ruined but they just might burn a hole through themselves in the process…neither are good outcomes.

It only makes me wonder, as an aspiring author myself, why so many published authors act so carelessly when handling the wordy flames as if we, the reader, are just not going to notice.

News flash…WE DO! And it’s infuriating!

And yet, even with this knowledge, some authors still choose to insult our intelligence with sloppy character behaviors and plot “twist”. Truth is they twist something far beyond their plots, they twist our last nerve!

Here are a few examples of this sinful, insulting behavior:

  • Example 1: A young woman with a wounded past, one that involves the abuse of men and a fear of being abused again would not, and I mean NOT, seek to use the toilet in a seedy strip club filled to the brim with drunk men. She’s just not going to do it.
  • Example 2: A knight who is the lead of a large regiment of men, who knows that there is a price on his head and a handful of his men have gone missing while out on their own, is not, I repeat, NOT GOING TO GO OUT ALONE JUST BECAUSE HE IS ‘THE GUY!!!’ Thinking that he, by himself can capture his foe. He knows better.
  • Example 3: A seasoned detective who is known for having an uncanny sixth sense will not ignore the nagging itch that something might be wrong at home but because he needs eggs for breakfast in the morning he heads to the corner store for a quick stop.

What happens with this scenarios?

  • Example 1: Girl gets attacked and just barely gets away, but her boyfriend whose trust she is trying to win sees her and becomes suspicious of her secretive life and ways.
  • Example 2: The knight is attacked but though wounded he manages to get away but not before grabbing a clue of who his enemy is.
  • Example 3: While waiting in the line at Walgreens (or Boots if you are in Europe…I love me some Boots) our discerning detective’s wife is being attacked by the very person he is tracking.

Someone PLEASE insert eye-roll!!!! All three of these “tension building plot twist” have not done the story any favors. In fact its made us either chuck the book across the room while we rant about the ridiculousness that just took place; made us erase the offensive tome from our tablet while we rant about the ridiculousness that just took place, or makes us write blogs ranting about the ridiculousness that just took place. Or maybe we just cry about the betrayal to our friends…all of them…on Facebook and WordPress and beyond.

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Hey, I get it. You need to create a scene. You need to get from plot point A to plot point C, but don’t do so at  your readers expense by creating a rickety bridge called  B, and then think we are going to be okay with it. If we’ve dedicated time to your written piece then you, the writer, should dedicate thrice as much in making sure that we won’t feel betrayed 100 or so pages in.

We’ve gotten to know the characters. We are invested. If we recognize that what you are making this person do is just not believable to the point we are grinding our teeth, then the odds are that you felt that itch of shame while you were writing it, because you knew better!

Just as the glassblower has a final vision for his work, so too do writers, but it seems to me that writers tend to lack the same level of patience to work through their creative piece insuring that it is indeed at the pinnacle of quality it deserves.

Some works are so carelessly thrown together that it leaves the reader with a throbbing headache and a poor attitude. Almost as if they’d gone on a date with someone who held promise who only turned out to be a complete turd in the end. And this, only because they simple didn’t care.

All stories need tension. There is always the pause that takes place when a writer must figure out how to carry their plot from point A to point C while B remains a mystery.

What happens when B is a mystery and the writer refuses to take their time? We the reader find the characters doing things that not only DON’T make any logical sense, but is so incredibly ridiculous that the story-even a great one- becomes infuriating.

Why? Because we the reader are left as witness of a writer’s crime scene that never should have happened.

It’s tough bridging one’s story into literary perfection. There are always going to be issues with word count, rambling, in excess of unnecessary scenes, grammar issues and so on. (Gosh, I am sure there are several in this blog post alone.) These things are expected and mostly forgivable. But ludicrous, inexplicable behaviors that are beyond out of character with your characters is absolutely not.

What it is is insulting to your readers. It breaks down our trust and willingness to give you another chance in the future.

Moral of the story? If you are an aspiring author, take time with your stories, don’t insult your reader’s intelligence by making a joke of once respectable characters. It just ain’t right, ya hear.

Til we meet again…

Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Asaph Timby: A Drawing

Original Colored Pencil Drawing done with Prismacolor 2015
Original Colored Pencil Drawing done with Prismacolor 2015

Asaph Timby is a fictional character who I have been thinking about for at least two years. I have yet to write his story, but I have thought about him often, his four children and his love interest.

For me, a big part of my writing process is to have a face to go with each character. I generally look for images of people who resemble the characters that I am imaging. Asaph unfortunately has such a hard lined masculine face (I mean he just looks like “man” for lack of a better description.) so it was kind of hard to place him until the other day.

Although Asaph is a Black man, the closest face to his is that of model, David Gandy. I would say he has charisma but he is not pretty. Ruggedly handsome, definitely.

This is my interpretation of the character yet to fully be born. I plan to do a face forward illustration soon.

Cheers!

Things might get a little weird: Ascension Graveyard Update

Piggy-backing off of my recent post “complaining” about the leisurely movements of Ascension Graveyard, I have to come back and give all you readers a heads-up.

I mentioned in the other post that Etta has finally shown me her face. Let me digress for just a moment.

I realized that part of my struggle with pushing this storyline ahead had to do with the fact that I could clearly see all of the other characters, but I could not see the face of the one character upon whom the plot truly rest: Etta Castle Teague. I mean I had a vague outline of her, but that just wasn’t cutting it…obviously with 6 months behind us and the novel still not completed. Etta Stick Figures

Now that I have this elusive woman’s physical stats in my mind it is as if more of her character, the intimate fleshing out of who she is as a person, has allowed the rest of the plot to be oiled down and  run its motors without a hitch or a squeak.

I see Etta, I understand her better, therefore the plot is more cohesive. She is coming off (to me) as more real and authentic. ( Let’s hope it continues this way because Etta can be kind of a snot and hold things back.)

But now seeing her, I can better envision her expressions, her ticks, her nuances, her overall body language which actually tells more about who she is than her words alone could ever do.

Its as if I invited her for tea months ago and she is just now showing up. (Check out my Blog Coffee with Character…or Tea to help you better get to know your own characters.)

Now that Etta has shown up and is no longer telling me her story through a peep hole, I am beginning to notice more of her flaws.  I say all of this because within the last few hours her mother, Frances Castle has popped up during my story imagining, and to be honest it appears Etta doesn’t quite manage the care of her well, and it is only about to get worse. (Spoilers? Kind of. I really don’t know yet.)

So as for the title of this post, things are about to get a little weird because I am going to throw Frances into the mix with everyone else, write her subplot and interactions with Etta as if she has been there all this time, and then go back and work her into the prior chapters during revisions and editing.

So, yes, it may come off very weird to those of you who have been reading since the beginning, but rest assured it is Etta who has made things awkward, not any of us. 😉

Cheers!