NaNoWriMo is now in full swing. Are you taking part? If so, how are you doing?
I’ve taken the NaNoWriMo challenge a couple of times and happy to say I reached my goal…well, sort of and here’s a tip for you.
Don’t feel compelled to write all 50,000 words for the same story. One year I wrote a good chunk of three stories in my Western trilogy, Big Sky Cowboys. When I got stuck and couldn’t figure out what I wanted to write next in the storyline, I switched to another book and so on and back and forth.
By the time December 1st rolled around I had almost three stories in various stages of completion. One was almost 100 percent done, one about 75 percent and the other about 25% completed.
No, it’s not technically cheating because the goal is to reach 50,000 words and to teach you about keeping to a writing schedule and hopefully writing every day.
Yes, bottom line is that’s the one and only way you’re ever going to get a book finished and published.
Published writers aren’t any better writers they just stuck with it and crossed the finish line and you can do the same.
I’d love to help you along during this NaNoWriMo so drop me a line or leave a comment with anything you’re struggling with. If it’s a common problem I’ll even write a post about it.
And shameless self promoting plug here…I have a class on the topic over at Skillshare so I hope you’ll check it out.
NaNoWriMo is fast approaching and many of us will be sitting down to attempt no small feat. We’ll be writing a first draft for a story that will eventually become a perfect manuscript.
And note I’ve placed the word eventually in italics.
First drafts are rough drafts, sometimes very rough drafts. Many of mine have no resemblance to the stories they became. Plots got changed, characters who didn’t have a POV got granted a voice, and locations even changed.
What can stop you from writing and meeting your writing goals is trying to write a perfect first draft. There’s no such thing (well only for the lucky few).
When you tackle NaNoWriMo or sit down to write any day of the year, don’t be a perfectionist, be a writer and accept the only way to get a story written, finished, and maybe even published, is to get those words on the screen or paper.
Don’t worry about finding the perfect names for your characters, coming up with natural sounding dialogue. Don’t obsess over your spelling or grammar.
Write your story and then use your second, third or even fourth draft to make it perfect and ready to submit.
I know lots of you enter contests so you can get critiques of your work and a few people have told me they’ve been crushed by the feedback they’ve received.
My response done that, had that happen to me. At one point it got so bad I thought about quitting.
If you feel that way, please don’t.
Not only is this just one or two people’s view of your story, remember fiction is very person specific. What one person loves another person might hate.
One other thing you should take into consideration is just who is the person doing the critiquing? Are they published? If so, in what genre? I know lots of contests let unpublished authors read and critique entries which I’m not saying is wrong but it’s something you should be aware of before you decide to send out your work. They judging you on something they haven’t been able to achieve themselves.
Also, what was the tone of the feedback? It’s one thing to tell a writer what’s wrong with their story or what they didn’t like, it’s another thing to show them how to correct the problems they’ve seen.
I had lots of judges tell me what I wasn’t wrong but no suggestions on how to put it right. Bottom line was the feedback from destructive and not constructive and it’s one of the reasons I decided to start my own critiquing and mentoring service.
So if you’ve recently received a stinging critique of your work, don’t cry, not give up, but be even more determined to get that story published because remember it’s just one person’s opinion.
2017 is just around the corner and that means workshop time again. I have a full schedule of teaching and things kick off on Tuesday January 3rd with You’ve Written A Manuscript, Now What?
If you’ve finished writing a book but not sure if it needs some more work or if you just want to give it a final polish, then this workshop is for you. It’s eight lessons which offer you a series of checklists to use to evaluate your book to make it stronger and better.
As well as the lessons, and like all my other workshops taught through Romance Writers of America, you’ll be able to interact with me and your fellow students. I’ll be there to answer questions and help you with any issues you’re having with your story.
This one is offered through the Low Country Chapter and I hope to see you in class.
If you keep getting rejections it might not be your plot that’s the problem but flat and boring characters.
Remember the last good book you read? I’m guessing you enjoyed it because there was at least one character that captured and held your interest. Creating great characters is one of the keys to good fiction and with that in mind I’ve created a short guide titled Write Characters-Creating People Readers Will Love.
It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords and just 99 cents. I hope you find it useful.
The dreaded rejection letter. The writer’s equivalent of a dear john letter.
They’re a necessary evil that goes hand in hand with being an author who’s continually writing and submitting their work.
I’ve had my share of them and once I even received two in one day. Ouch! Another time I received someone else’s rejection.
Then you get published and you think they’ll stop, but they don’t. Even when you’ve got a couple of published books under your belt, you get rejected again.
The thing I hated most about opening up an envelope and seeing dear author, this story isn’t right for us, blah, blah, blah, was not knowing what was wrong with it. Was it the plot, the characters, and was I repeating the same mistakes with each story I wrote?
When I was asked to come up with some new workshop ideas I thought back to these times. I remembered my frustration and how I wanted to know what I could do to make my story better so that rejection letters didn’t come sailing through the letterbox again.
I came up with an idea for a boot camp style workshop with a limited number of students so I can give each of them more of my time and we’ll work one on one rather than in a group setting. The My Story’s Been Rejected Now What? was born. It launches next month and the kind people at Outreach Chapter made this flyer for me to share with everyone.
If you’ve had a story recently rejected and what some help to rework it and figure out what’s wrong, this is the workshop for you.
Hope to see you in class.
Feel free to pass this along to other writers and groups!