You will see a significant about of advice out there about how much backstory and other information should be included in a story. These articles are intended for the editing phases of your writing. During that first draft, possibly even during that second draft, include it all. If it comes to your mind, get it on paper. Who cares if it’s irrelevant, just get it down. As a writer, you need to know everything, so info dump like crazy in those early drafts. You will edit this information out and bring it back to the bare essentials later.
As the clock clicks over into November 1st, writers around the world will embark on the NaNoWriMo challenge.
No doubt, some of you are wondering what NaNoWriMo is. Well, as a writer, you commit yourself to writing 50,000 words in one month — you commit to writing a complete first draft of a novel. For some, it is a daunting goal, but as someone who has taken part in every NaNoWriMo and CampNaNoWriMo event since 2014, I can tell you that it’s worth the challenge and effort.
Every year, without fail, there will be a few who work at insane rates, pumping out 50,000 words within the first few days. Some even achieve this within the first 24 hours. No, I’m not exaggerating. Within my home region, there is always at least one, frequently two or three, with another two or three who hit 50,000 words within the first week. However, I actually feel sad for the ones who rush to pump out those 50,000 words in such a short time, because in my opinion they have totally missed the point behind NaNoWriMo.
The real goal of NaNoWriMo is to spend an entire month writing your novel, aiming to complete it. If you finish early, you go back and flesh out some of the scenes. And if hit 50,000 words early but still haven’t finished the novel, you keep going until you’ve written the words The End. You write every day, forming a habit for writing that will carry you through into December and beyond.
If you are self-publishing, don’t be in a hurry to hit the publish button. Yes, the likes of Amazon’s KDP have made it easy to upload revisions should the need arise; however, if you edited correctly in the first place, it wouldn’t be necessary. Mistakes will still slip through — no book is completely error-free, but publishing is a business, so treat it as such. Traditional publishing houses don’t take a published work out of print to edit it, reposting a new version weeks later, so why should you?
When describing a character, don’t give just the visuals about their looks — give us habitual body-language, quirks in their speech patterns, attitudes toward doing the mundane tasks. The best characters in literature have vague descriptions of their actual looks but are so rich in detail on everything else.
If you are headed down the traditional path, don’t be in a rush to send that query out the door. Ensure that you have everything ready before you send that first query, including a completed, polished manuscript for fiction, or a full proposal for nonfiction. Do your research into the agents and publishing houses. Ensure that you are ready to send whatever materials requested at a moment’s notice.
Distraction is the worst enemy of any writer, but we all succumb to it. Set yourself a schedule, including breaks. Force yourself to stick to it for at least the first few days. If it doesn’t work, tweak the schedule and try again.
It’s that time of year again. November is almost here. For some, this means that the holiday silly season is about to begin, but for many writers, November is an extremely important time of the year. November is NaNoWriMo.
For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, although, it really should be international. Basically, writers commit the month of November to their writing, aiming to write a minimum of 50,000 words within one month. It may sound like a lot of words to some, but the first Harry Potter is 76,944 words.
NaNoWriMo is FREE to join, but the benefits of the program go beyond the prizes that winners get at the end of the month. The community of NaNoWriMo is huge — truly international. There are motivational posts from established writers (like Grant Faulkener, Neil Gaiman and Brandon Sanderson, just to name a few). You have access to the community forums, and there are events that are run within local regions.
To join, just go to the NaNoWriMo website and sign up. To get access to everything, you just join, but if you want to be in for the prizes at the end of November, don’t forget to specify a project.
When developing characters, it’s important to have the right name. Baby name books are a brilliant resource for characters names. So too are name generators. Programs like Scrivener have name generators built in that take advantage of multiple cultures.
Most writers are happy to write about sights and sounds, but what about taste, smell and tactile sensations? We have five senses at our disposal. Use them.