11 Things I Wish I Knew Before Doing NaNoWriMo

Like all my posts about NaNoWriMo, this one also applies to Camp NaNo as well. My first NaNoWriMo session was 2010; I had stumbled across it being mentioned on some social media site at the time in October, about two weeks before November. Needless to say I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare anything – my plot, my characters, my sanity.

My novel was about something I had always wanted to write about: low-Earth orbit space colonies. I had taken a space exploration class in college and learned all about how these things could theoretically be built. Of course, it was all juncture. But for a writer like me, “theoretically” is enough of an invitation. I had my setting.

And that was it! I think I found out about my character (a girl from the colonies) and the beginning of a plot (sneaks onto a missionary trip to nuclear-wasted Earth to give the humans living underground aid) two days before November. Maybe a love interest in one of the cave humans on Halloween night. I strung together scenes and flew by the seat of my pants. It was exciting to not know what would happen each day (or, in my case, night) I sat down at the computer. That first year was magical.

Since then, I’ve participated through 2014. Consider this post (and The Elephant Technique) as the start of many NaNo posts coming from my experiences. Since today is the start of Camp NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d kick off the month with a quick list. The internet likes lists, right?

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Need a character name?

Character Name Kit: March 2016

The Game of the Name

On some level this is most likely a selfish series; I tend to hoard names over the course of day-to-day life. A credit at the end of a movie, customers at work, the author of an online article. They’ve accumulated in my phone saved in notes, seared in my memory, or completely random. But the goal of this series is to keep all the names together in one place. But what ultimately is an act of selfishness will also end up helping you.

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The Elephant Technique

The Elephant Technique

Or How Not To Lose Your Momentum During NaNoWriMo (And Beyond!)

I do not take credit for the technique I’m about to show you. That belongs to Chris Baty, creator of National Novel-Writing Month and author of No Plot? No Problem! In this book, he does a much better job of describing the following, but hey you’re here now so you might as well keep reading.

The Elephant Technique is what you use during a very specific type of writing, where you’re just writing to clear your head, to get all the words out. It’s not pretty, it’s not concise, and most of all it’ll probably make your skin crawl to re-read it. But afterwards, you can say you have it down on paper – that story, that scene, that chapter that had been stuck in your head. And probably, you used this technique.

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Results May Vary: Dialogue

I can’t think of a more subjective topic for a post than showing how I do dialogue. Not just writing it, but also the planning, what I’ve found to feel right when I’m reading it. And like most things you’ll find on this blog, please take it with a grain of salt. I believe there’s always something to take away from all advice, as well as something to discard. Let’s get started.

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Five F!@#ing Favorites: March 2016

An Introduction – And Train Rails?

I decided I wanted to devote whole posts to useful junk I found on the internet – infographics, websites, apps – basically anything I liked and would use in the near future, if not already. None of these are going to be sponsored (why would you ask a brand new blog to sponsor anything?), but I suppose if the wind changes one day and I’m asked to, best believe I will be completely transparent about my opinions!

But for now, these are my honest-to-goodness, bookmark-worthy, reblogging gold.

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Plot? Berry!

I am an amateur.

And I don’t say that to absolve myself of any effort in doing this blog. I don’t say that to fish for compliments that unwisely say otherwise. I don’t say it even just on the off-chance a little voice inside me gets a stubborn kick and says “Let’s not get carried away.” Because I am stubborn, and I am egotistical. But I’m also realistic.

Realistically, I’m an amateur at this.

This being the blog you chose to read. This, the product of my egotism rearing and fulfilling the need to talk about myself in yet another forum on the Internet. So take what you find here with a grain of salt. If you enjoy something you read, if anything insults you, if you find yourself thinking that you never thought about XYZ in quite that way, just remember: an amateur wrote it. But at least I’m self-aware.

John Steinbeck wrote: “And now that you don’t have to perfect, you can be good.” Does it hit you where it hit me? Do you see what he’s saying? It’s a poetic version of the first line of my post, but with the existential peace of mind that everyone likes. I am an amateur. I can make as many mistakes as I need to, in order to achieve my goal.

My goal is to help you write better, reader. The only way I know how to do this is by a proverbial shoulder-shrug, hands-up, I-don’t-know-but-this-is-how-I-do-it-though approach. And I will show you how I do it. I’ll oversaturate, so that the odds of you finding something helpful is higher. Here’s how:

Shameless Sundays. Let’s make my narcissism twice fold! I wrote a manuscript to a YA novel, and in the process of getting it published. This feels like a part time job, so every Sunday I’ll post about where I am with this strange journey.

Results May Vary. A series in which I talk at length about my technique for outlining, writing dialogue, the editing process, my approach to denouements, etc. All extremely subjective.

How-To. I’m going to put my foot down and show you what I think is the most effective way to do different things. Topics include starting your own writer’s group, how to query your manuscript, the best kind of critique to give, etc.

My Friends Are Smarter Than Me. They sure are, and you’ll see why when they guest post!

Resources. Hashtag recommendations, writing playlists on Spotify, character name lists, websites for writers, writing apps, and probably more! If I found it helpful, I’ll make sure the world knows.

I want to be good at helping people. There’s almost nothing that makes me happier than when I put pen to paper, but helping my fellow writer is a close second. Maybe we’ll never shake the amateur label we give ourselves, but is that really such a bad thing? I don’t think so.

Thanks for reading. Let’s write.