NaNoWriMo

Worst Female/Male Character Types

Characters.

You can’t have a story without them.

Well. I guess you could, but wow, what a boring story.  A story without characters would be like watching paint dry, or the leaves dance in the wind, or your nails grow.

But if you’ve been reading for any length of time, you will notice that cookie cutter characters DO appear in most of the stories that you read. Jenna does a really good job of summarizing the annoying stereotypes for you for both female and male characters.

One reason I really like this writer is because she doesn’t mince words – she calls it like she sees it.

And that’s how I tend to write my characters, too. They are gritty, nasty and generally assholes – with a heart of gold.

Now tell me that doesn’t sound like most of the people in your life.

Anyway, enjoy the videos. And avoid the characters Jenna talks about – unless I happen to write one of these characters into my story in which case, make an exception.

 

NaNoWriMo

Brace Yourself for Thirty Days of Hell

Hi. My name is Karen and I’ve been clean for six months.

To be honest, it really wasn’t that hard to go cold turkey – I think I had gotten so fed up with the inconsequential fluff and the fact that it was sucking all of my time into a black hole of mindless clicking, that I tripped a wire and a light bulb went off in my brain illuminating a dark corner I had forgotten existed.

My desire to actually WRITE something.

Hi. My name is Karen and it’s been six months since I quit Facebook.

I haven’t missed it.

Like. At all.

My original intent of quitting Facebook was to give myself more time to do two things I REALLY enjoy:

  1. Read
  2. Write

I’ve been successful on the reading part. My Goodreads goal was to read 100 books this year and I’m currently at 93. I’m ten books ahead of schedule – on purpose. BECAUSE, I want to now turn my attention to my second goal: writing.

And now that it’s November, we all know what that means – NANOWRIMO!!!!

The site has been updated and my old stats are no longer there, but I think I’ve actually “won” NaNoWriMo … three or four times. This was back in the days when I was a stay-at-home mom and had A LOT of time on my hands, very little stress and got copious amounts of sleep.

But since I went back to work full time eight years ago, I’ve had to use every single brain cell I owned just to keep my head above water and keep up with the highly intelligent (and younger) people I work with. (Hello Heather and Tiffany!)

But my writing itch has come back and I feel compelled to scratch it again. The itch started small, a rub here and there, a momentary, mindless scratch on my arms, neck. Then my itch was occurring over bigger parts of my body and happening more frequently. Now, it’s all I can do not to attack my body in front of people and embarrass myself by scratching parts of my body that should NEVER be touched in public.

*ahem* But I digress.

My point being, I’m ready to start writing crap again.

And this, of course, means subjecting you, my dear cyber friend, to the wonderfully dark, disturbed world I like to call my imagination.

Dust off your straight jackets.

I’ve decided to do something a little different this go around. I’m not really ready to write a novel, hell, who am I kidding, I will likely NEVER be ready to write a novel, but rather, I’m going to stick to what I enjoy doing the most – writing short stories. Only, I’m going to stick to nine characters. I won’t use all nine characters in every single story but rather, pluck a few ones out of the lineup and toss them into the gladiator ring and see how much I can abuse them. You can see these characters on my fiction blog.

I’m not going to publish these stories here, but on my fiction blog. (And the girls I work with only THOUGHT they knew all of my secrets – bwahaha – silly girls). If you wish to read along, you can visit https://fictionfix.wordpress.com/. If you’re playing along, you can find me here on the NaNoWrimo site.

In the meantime, I have stumbled onto a really witty, funny, sarcastic writer on YouTube who not only makes me laugh but who flips my creative switch every time I watch one of her videos. I will post one of her videos on my blog daily (?) or as often as I remember to during the month of November in the hopes that it will spark your creative fire as well.

I am purposefully putting my NaNoWriMo goals out there because I’m hoping the girls I work with, who now, to my complete and utter horror, know about this blog and now my fiction blog, will give me so much hell at work that I will have no CHOICE but to complete this damn project if only to shut them up.

(Love you girls!)

Okay, let’s have some fun. *rubbing hands*

NaNoWriMo

Are All NaNoWriMo People Crazy?

I don’t know. Would you call someone crazy if she ate a whole package of sugar cookies over the course of two days?

Oh hush you. It was a rhetorical question anyway.

Yes. To answer the title question – we’re all just a little crazy … about writing, that is. Myself included. But it’s a good crazy, I think. We want to write and when we have the chance to write, we don’t know what to write – it’s a never ending battle, trust me. I want to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I’m not sure I can take another year of FAILING at it.

You know what bugs me? Setting up my NaNoWriMo profile for this year and not being able to say that I participated, let alone won, the 2010 challenge.

I couldn’t tick 2010. Because even though I had PLANNED on participating, I didn’t. So of course, I didn’t WIN it.

That bugs me.

That space. That void. That FAILURE.

AAARGH.

You know what else bugs me?? I didn’t even ACCESS my NaNoWriMo profile until Saturday. In years past, I would haunt the site on September 30th, refreshing every few seconds so that when registration went live, I would be one of the first to sign up. What has happened to me?!?

I don’t know what was wrong with me last year – I just COULDN’T get motivated enough to write anything.

But this year. THIS YEAR, I will do better.

Maybe.

http://twitter.com/#!/writefromkaren/status/128183738470367234

I don’t know, man. I have a lot LESS time to do NaNoWriMo this year than I did last year. Last year, I wasn’t even freaking working. Now? I am. Full time. And it’s one of those jobs that SUCKS the life force right out of your body so that you get home, pale, shaking and desperately trying to control the tick in your left eye.

Fine. You caught me. I can make the time. I mean, how many posts have I written scolding whiny people complaining that they didn’t have the time for NaNoWriMo? Too many to mention here, that’s for sure. So yes. I can make time. I will get up earlier, or stay up later, or forego a blog post or two, or ignore my family … but yes, I can make the time.

My BIGGEST problem is finding the mental energy. Right now? I have just enough left over to formulate a sentence or two – but only a few. If anyone asks me anything deeper than “hey mom, what’s for dinner,” I may spontaneously combust from the sheer effort it takes my brain to fire what little synapses I have left.

In short? I will implode.

All of this to say, I still don’t know if I will attempt NaNoWriMo this year.

I guess I better decide something, the challenge starts in just seven short days!!

Listen to the audio version.

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Progress Report #3

Getting Started

https://twitter.com/#!/writefromkaren/status/1384697888247808

I’m shocked by what I’ve written. Not the actual content, but rather, the direction my story is taking me.

I never begin these challenges with an outline, or even a plot, in mind. (Actually, I never have any clue where I’m going with any of my writing). I have an initial idea, I throw some cardboard characters in there and I dive in, head first, into the shallow end.

Somehow, and I don’t know how this happens, I inevitably start figuring out who these characters are as I’m writing. They have lives, they have interests, they develop weaknesses they become … people.

And ideas? Start tickling the back of my imagination. I can feel it, like a stray hair sweeping over your arm – you know it’s there but damn if you can’t locate it and remove it.

It’s bothersome. And that’s how it feels when I start getting AN IDEA.

This is what happened the other day. The germ of an idea was born but I wasn’t sure where it was taking me. I had laid the foundation, but I couldn’t see how the entire floor plan was supposed to look.

And then, THEN, suddenly, the plot idea *POOFED* and appeared before me.

https://twitter.com/#!/writefromkaren/status/1406560949501952

This, THIS, is why I adore NaNoWriMo. Its a real high when the plot magically puts itself together and it’s better than my original idea.

My story is moving along. I have transformed my character’s main love interest into the villain and it looks like the best friend might end up the love interest. I’ve also tossed in a serial rapist in the mix – my heroine is now in danger.

I’m telling you, writers, if you’ve never given this “don’t have an outline to save my life” approach to writing, you should try it sometime; it’s really liberating. You have to be willing to just let go and follow your imagination around, but it’s amazing where the bugger leads you – I’m constantly surprised.

http://twitter.com/#!/writefromkaren/status/1984794363695104

I’m barely keeping my head above water here. I’d like to be a few thousand words ahead of the game just so I have the buffer. I have a feeling I won’t have a lot of time to write around Thanksgiving (we’re hosting dinner this year), so I really need that word cushion.

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Progress Report #2

Getting Started

I have discovered a secret weapon.

Write or Die.

It’s a writing program that pretty much MAKES you write. And if you stop? It will start deleting your words! So you really have no choice but to move forward.

I’ve been using the free, online version. They also have a desktop version you can pay $10 bucks for.

In the desktop version, you can disable the backspace, make it full screen, disable the save feature until you reach your goal (!!!), and make it so that you’re only seeing what you’re typing, that way, you’re not tempted to stop and re-read what you just wrote.

I’ve been using the Write or Die program on and off for the past two days and I’m quite convinced this is the reason I’m now over 11,000 words. When you use the program, you really have no choice but to write. I love it!! I will definitely be using it more and in fact, I think I might actually go ahead and buy the desktop version, just to give myself yet another kick in the pants.

The story is moving right along. I ended today’s session on the verge of a hot, steamy scene so it should be fairly easy for me to pick up when I start writing again.

I re-read a chapter and when I wrote it, I thought, “Geez, this really sucks.” But when I went back later and read it, it’s actually not too bad (if I say so myself). So take heart, Wrimos, chances are your work is not as bad as you think it is. But don’t read it yet! Save that for January … NaNoWriMo projects need a little time to “stew” before cooking any further. 😀

Kevin and I are getting ready to go grocery shopping. We’ve put it off long enough. Later, we’ll likely watch a movie and/or play a game with the boys. My birthday is coming up and I’ve been guilting the boys into playing Settlers of Catan with me. hehe I’m evil like that.

Hope your Saturday is going well!

NaNoWriMo, Writing Stuff

Writing is Never a Waste of Time

I have a Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing: I majored technical writing and minored creative writing.

I don’t tell you this to brag, but to tell you that I know a little something about writing. (Though am not an expert and have likely forgotten most of what I learned by now).

I learned how to translate technical language into user-friendly language.

I learned the fine art of story telling (this is not to say that I practice the fine art of story telling – I’m still pretty much a newb when it comes to writing fiction … but it’s not for lack of trying).

I also learned that some writers? Take themselves WAY too seriously.

Seriously.

My technical writing classes weren’t that bad – we were there to do a job, it was pretty cut and dried.

But my creative classes were a lot more subjective; creative writing is an art, a subjective art. Some people hate what you write, other people enjoy what you write. It’s the luck of the draw. The only thing writers can do is write from their heart; you can’t please everyone, it’s impossible.

That’s why it’s called subjective – arising out of or identified by means of one’s perception. Or in other words, what appeals to one person doesn’t necessarily appeal to the next person.

Art is funny like that.

I read a lot of different writing styles in those classes, and I always tried to keep an open mind about what I was reading. I tried to look past the grammatical errors, or the sloppy descriptions, or the plot holes and focus on the POTENTIAL so that when it came time for me to give my critique, I would be able to give the writers something helpful to either learn from, or try the next go around.

And I appreciated when they did the same for me. (As opposed to saying, “there probably should have been a comma here.”)

Most of the writers were a pleasure to work with. We joked around, we brainstormed, we bonded.

And then … there were the writers who stuck their noses in the air, who thought they were so much better than the rest of us “lowly” wannabes. They were the writers who felt like all writing should be GOOD writing – who agonized over every line until it was perfect, (it’s never perfect), who ultimately never wrote anything as a result, and who were more likely to drown their angst in alcohol because they felt not to do so somehow indicated they weren’t “true” writers.

The rest of us? Laughed at them because their self-importance was truly ridiculous.

I have since been very sensitive to overly-serious writers. I have never understood some writers’ attitudes when it came to writing. I especially don’t understand how some writers can get so bent out of shape over a very rewarding writing exercise … like National Novel Writing Month.

Quite frankly, I resent writers who have a holier-than-thou-this-is-a-waste-of-your-time-and-everyone-else’s-time attitude when it comes to the NaNoWriMo program. (And NaNoWriMo is the acronym. So it sounds like something Mork would have said from “Mork and Mindy“, get over it).

I have a serious problem with writers who try and convince us that this program is a waste of time.

For whom? You? Because any program that promotes writing, that fires people up about writing, that encourages people to follow their dreams of writing a book (and yes, I realize that 50,000 words isn’t exactly a book, but it’s a pretty damn good start), that encourages people to be more aware of the importance of writing is not ever, EVER, a waste of time.

As in NEVER.

The writers that criticize this program have every right to express their opinions. They have every right to refuse to participate. They do not, however, have the right to discourage other people from taking part or to somehow make people feel like they’re not “real” writers if they participate.

They’re not “real” writers? By whose definition? Yours? Who died and made you the end-all authority on such matters?

You might be wondering where this rant is coming from. I read a post today at Salon.com entitled, “Better yet, DON’T write that novel:
Why National Novel Writing Month is a waste of time and energy
.” That title alone is enough to start my blood boiling. You can imagine how fired up I got after reading the piece.

The gist of the article is this:

Rather than squandering our applause on writers — who, let’s face it, will keep on pounding the keyboards whether we support them or not — why not direct more attention, more pep talks, more nonprofit booster groups, more benefit galas and more huzzahs to readers? Why not celebrate them more heartily? They are the bedrock on which any literary culture must be built. After all, there’s not much glory in finally writing that novel if it turns out there’s no one left to read it.

Though I can appreciate Ms. Miller’s attempts to encourage more people to read, I’m all for that endeavor, I don’t think discouraging people from writing, or telling them that doing something they’ve always wanted to do is a waste of time and “hey, why don’t you read instead” is the way to get the message across.

(Here’s an idea Ms. Miller: if the thought of thousands of writers taking part in a personal challenge bothers you that much, then put your money where your mouth is and start a National Read as Much as You Can in a Month program).

True. Reading is an essential ingredient to writing – reading actually educates a potential writer and helps him/her to improve his/her own writing, but to use the argument that there are too many books out there already and there’s never any way anyone could ever read them all, is a pretty weak argument.

I’m pretty sure people don’t have any aspirations to read everything out there. And I’m pretty sure people have no desire to read the same things – our interests are different, hence the reason there are so many books out there, to accommodate those interests.

I can also appreciate Miller’s derision that writing is a business. Again, yes. People buy how-to write books by the bookshelves. But to me, that just demonstrates people’s desire to learn more about the art of writing so they can someday try their hand at it. That’s not to be frowned upon, but celebrated.

But this part, this is what caused my eyes to cross in irritation:

I am not the first person to point out that “writing a lot of crap” doesn’t sound like a particularly fruitful way to spend an entire month, even if it is November.

As someone who doesn’t write novels, but does read rather a lot of them, I share their trepidation. Why does giving yourself permission to write a lot of crap so often seem to segue into the insistence that other people read it? Nothing about NaNoWriMo suggests that it’s likely to produce more novels I’d want to read. (That said, it has generated one hit, and a big one: “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, who apparently took the part about revision to heart.) The last thing the world needs is more bad books. But even if every one of these 30-day novelists prudently slipped his or her manuscript into a drawer, all the time, energy and resources that go into the enterprise strike me as misplaced.

Wow. First of all, who’s to say that the writer is writing crap? Secondly, why does Ms. Miller feel like she’s the ultimate person to judge whether what someone writes is crap. Thirdly, again, why does Ms. Miller assume that participating in this challenge is a waste of time? To her, maybe. But not to the person who filled the drawer.

And lastly, who says the writer participating in NaNoWriMo wants anyone to read it? The reasons people participate in the challenge are varied and certainly personal.

NaNoWriMo is a challenge, Ms. Miller. It’s a chance for someone to do something spectacular. It’s a chance for people to stretch their creative muscles and see how much they can bench press. It’s a chance for people to feel like they’ve accomplished a seemingly impossible task.

NaNoWriMo is an event geared entirely toward writers, which means it’s largely unnecessary.

Again, because YOU say it’s unnecessary then it’s automatically deemed unnecessary? And using that same logic, I suppose you’re also implying that writing conferences, “an event geared entirely toward writers,” is also unnecessary?

As with any art, Ms. Miller, writing takes practice. It is a rare person indeed that can actually sit down and produce something worth printing in the very first draft. I daresay the writers you enjoy reading so much produced some pretty CRAPPY first drafts.

Granted, there are some inexperienced writers out there that think they can simply participate in NaNoWriMo and go on to get it published without revising, without editing, but should we punish their naivety by denying them the experience of challenges like these?

There’s really nothing more I can add, everything is pretty much covered in the comment section, but I felt compelled to throw my two cents into the opinion pool because I am so sick and tired of seeing snotty writers criticize a pretty awesome program all in the name of “well, it’s not REALLY writing after all.”

That’s such a load of crap. Writing is writing, no matter what form it takes. And I think it’s arrogant and foolish to discourage anyone from trying their hand at it. It’s even more condescending to imply that people that take the bull by the horns, that make time in their busy schedules, who dare to dream big, are wasting their time by participating.

Writers, ignore these naysayers and participate if you want. What you put into the program is what you take away from it. Have fun. Let loose. Give yourself permission to just write it out.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll prove Ms. Miller wrong and go on and get it published; you’ll never know if you don’t try.

I for one say, write your heart out.

(ADDED: I’m not really as upset by this article as my post implies, but I am irked. I also think that Miller’s piece was most likely deliberately condescending to generate controversy thereby giving Salon.com and Ms. Miller’s page clicks. But maybe I’m just being cynical).

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Progress Report #1

Getting Started

I’m tired. No really, I’m exhausted.

This does not bode well for the rest of the month.

In addition to staying up way too late last night to watch the zoo that is our political system, I think I’m coming down with a cold.

And monthly Myrtle has decided to pay me a visit. And she’s not only here, she’s banging pots and pans, scattering toilet paper all over my house and generally being a HUGE nuisance. My abdomen is quite displeased with her.

This is not helping my fatigue. (Sorry, TMI)

I am already bored with my story. Three days in and I’m already stuck as to where I’m going. THIS IS NOT GOOD. I like my characters, I think this story has potential, but I haven’t quite figured out what that might be at the moment.

There’s no conflict right now. I’ve set up the situation, semi-introduced my characters and though the reader has been thrown into the middle of Marsha’s life (my main character), I know they’re thinking, “who cares??”

I’m not discouraged though, this is pretty normal for me, it’s just that I don’t usually reach this stage until the third week.

Not the third DAY.

I have to get my driver’s license renewed and my oil changed tomorrow. I have to – my license expires in five days and I’m going on 5,000 miles since my last oil change. Since the place I take my car is usually slow, I’m going to ask Kevin if he will bring me home so I can at least get in about 30 minutes of writing as opposed to sitting around the smelly waiting room and watching day time talk shows. *shudder* (And no, I can’t take my laptop and try and write in the waiting room. I can’t concentrate and besides, I spend most of my time people watching in situations like that – it gives me a chance to steal some characteristics).

I’m taking Dude to get his haircut tomorrow after school. BUT, we’re doing something a little different this time around. He’s driving us up there and I’m staying in the car while he checks in, gets his cut, and pays. We go to Too Hotties, which is a salon specifically for men. This means that there are hot girls wearing skin-tight t-shirts and short skirts who wait on the guys. (So sexist, but whatever, they give good cuts … geez, that sounded dirty). This also means it’s a terribly uncomfortable place to sit around since I’m the only female in there and I’m not exactly Too Hottie material.

At any rate, I’ll take my laptop up with us and write a bit in the car while I wait on him. I did that yesterday when I took Jazz in for his dentist appointment and I actually got quite a bit done – it’s amazing how QUIET the car can be.

My goal is to break the 10,000 word mark before Saturday.

Tell me, fellow Wrimos, how is your writing going? What is your word count?

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Workshop – You Can Do It!

This article was originally published on October 24, 2008 at Write Anything, but it still applies today.

This is the last day you’ll hear me talk about NaNoWriMo

At least, until the challenge “officially” starts, which is what … just a few short hours away? 😀

NaNoWriMo has got to be one of my all-time favorite writing activities. It’s not just about the writing itself (though that’s very satisfying), but the fact that we all come together and share experiences, advice, motivation and support to get through the challenge. I love NaNoWriMo because I FEEL like a writer.

And I have an excuse to put off chores because I have “to write.” 😉

I think writers either get NaNoWriMo, or they don’t. For some, it’s a waste of time. Why write 50,000 words, and go through all of that stress and trouble just to write trash?

And others appreciate and embrace the challenge of actually being productive – we’re no longer TALKING about writing, we’re DOING it.

I know, for me, NaNoWriMo has been my writing springboard. I’ve gone to college and taken quite a few writing classes. Which were great, and I HIGHLY recommend anyone halfway serious about writing in general to do so, BUT, it can actually be counterproductive because there are so many rules and guidelines you must remember that it can sometimes be overpowering, and even intimidating – so much so, that it can squash your creativity.

I think that’s what happened to me. I had been conditioned into thinking if I didn’t write well, then there was really no reason to write at all. That everything I wrote, needed to be worthy of public consumption.

Hogwash.

If you don’t write, you won’t get better. If you don’t get better, then how can you write anything worth reading?

I began the NaNoWriMo challenge in 2005. My novel was called “No Sleep, No Talk” and yes, it was as bad as the title implies. In fact, it stank – royally. I really didn’t have a concrete plot idea, I just sort of allowed my characters to lead me around. It was like feeling my way in a pitch black room; I had no idea where I was going, or where I had been. But man, I had fun writing it.

I have never once thought it was a waste of time. The experience, the LICENSE to let go and simply write whatever I wanted to was thoroughly liberating. I needed permission to let go of my preconceived ideas about writing and simply write. After crossing that 50,000 word line, I felt free, truly free, to be open and honest with my writing, for the first time in my life. I’ll never forget the experience.

In 2006, I wrote “Reality Check.” I took a news article and built an entire story around it. After crossing that 50,000 word finish line, I realized that the premise, though interesting, was a bit far-fetched. Though I still think the idea is cool, I think it might work better for a short story as opposed to a novel-length work.

In 2007, I wrote a mystery/suspense story entitled “Broken Silence.” In essence, it was centered around a group of people who lived on a cul-de-sac and who found themselves stranded after a nasty ice storm raged through. The story was basically trying to survive the elements, each other and some unknown force that was causing people to just … disappear. I still think the idea is marketable. In fact, I will likely go back to my project and rewrite it because that’s how confident I am about this idea. I based this idea on my own real-life experience. In 2006, we had an ice storm dump five inches of ice on us. Our city shut down. Seventy-five percent of the city lost power and we went into survival mode. My family was without electricity for almost 12 days. It was a test of my character, and the characters of those around me.

In 2008 I wrote a romance story. I’d denied myself the genre I love the most for long enough. It has nothing to do with the sexy parts, though there is that, but I’ve always been fascinated with relationships in general – just WHY do men and women connect, anyway?

My story was based around a NASCAR driver, with two possible love interests to juggle, an old family stigma to overcome, and other jealous, spiteful rivals to dodge. I’s fun, dangerous, exciting and sexy all at once.

I thought I would experiment with my 2009 project and write a series of short stories. I took one character from one short story and wrote the next short story using him/her as the main character. It was really fun, but terribly frustrating. It was more of a stop-and-go sort of pace as opposed to a smooth (?) flow of working on one story. I found it increasingly harder and harder to start over again time and time again so that by the time the end of November rolled around, I could barely make myself care, let alone write anything. I probably won’t try that experiment again any time soon. But don’t hold me to that.

For now though, I’ve talked enough. I’m ready to sit back and listen to what ya’ll have to say about YOUR projects. So, here are some questions for you, please answer them in the comment section, or on your own blogs and post a link, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

1. Do you have an idea for your NaNoWriMo project?

2. What instrument will you be writing your novel on?

3. Where will you likely be writing most of your story?

4. When will you likely write your story?

5. What is your daily word count goal?

6. Have you participated in past NaNoWriMo’s? How many years have you won?

7. What do you think about NaNoWriMo in general? A waste of time? Or beneficial?

Thank you again for indulging me these NaNoWriMo posts. I sincerely hope these past posts have helped you prepare for this challenge, or for your writing in general.

NOW, get organized, get those fingers warmed up and …

GOOD LUCK!!!!

(Stick around. If I have time, I’ll post some videos of me reading excerpts from my project. The keywords being: If I have time. Also, you can keep track of my progress on my NaNoWriMo profile page as well as receive updates about my progress here via word count widgets [in side bar] or funny little cartoons).