Hello dear readers, this Link Feast’s alive. It’s alive!
I’m sorry for neglecting you. Work has been crazy since I shifted departments. Excuses, schmexcuses but I will get bi-weekly steady again.
I’ve been sitting on these links for a while so it’s time to push this baby out into the world. Luckily the best writing advice and good blog posts in general don’t have an expiration date.
But if you want the freshest writing tips, I recommend you to check out the other link mash-ups in the Collected Wisdom section.
Next Link Feast coming up in two weeks on Sunday. Wrote that down to my calendar even. Or I will when I find it under all the crap 😛 House work hasn’t exactly been steady either.
Anyway, enjoy the links. And please leave a comment 🙂
If You Have Time For Only One Thing
How to Create a Three-Phase Writing Ritual by Debra Eve
Learning From the Masters by Gabriela Pereira (the 4 types of books writers should read)
168 Hours: Time and Productivity #1 by Gene Lempp
Time Managament Tip: “Yes Makes Less” by Jenny Hansen
What’s on Your “Why To Do It” List? by Carleen Brice
Dreaming Big by Sharon Bially
10 Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice by Jeff Goins
When Nothing Goes Right, Go Left by Robin LaFevers
Fear: The Uninvited Guest by Robin LaFevers
Writing Is Magic by Kristan Hoffman
How to Be an Author 24/7 by Bill Ferris
Fifty Lessons From Fifty Shades of Grey – Part I (Writer Unboxed)
Fifty Lessons From Fifty Shades of Grey – Part II (Writer Unboxed)
Fifty Lessons From Fifty Shades of Grey – Part III (Writer Unboxed)
Drive, Don’t Chase by Jael McHenry (On following writing trends)
Levels of Conflict by John Vorhaus
4 Big Pitfalls in Story Opening by K.M. Weiland
The First Ten Pages of a Sceenplay by Erik Bork (totally applicable to the first chapter of a novel)
Adapting Screenplay Structure to Genre Novels by James Preston
Avoiding Boring Character Biographies by David Corbett
5 Reasons Why Han Solo Is the Most Realistic Person in Star Wars by Ryan Britt and Emily Asher-Perrin
Clothing Your Characters by Liz Michalski
Letting Your Characters Go by Juliet Marillier
Baby Got Back…. Story by Tiffany Reisz
Doing Research by D.B. Jackson
4 Steps to Successful Revisions by Cathy Yardley
Self-Editing For Everyone, Part 4: The Weakeners by Bridget McKenna
Cliffhangers and Book Series by Kristi Cook
Book Marketing & Blogging
5 ways to write a blow-your-mind manifesto by Alexandra Franzen
What are you about? What’s the theme of your life? Make me care. Nay, inspire me.
Marketing: Finding and Selling to Non-Book Book Audiences by Peter McCarthy
The Importance of Knowing Our Audience by Elizabeth S. Craig
Release Activities For the Reluctant Promoter by Elizabeth S. Craig
Don’t know what to blog about? 88 pieces of fill-in-the-blank inspiration by Alexandra Franzen
The Shy Writer’s Cocktail Party Survival Guide by Anne Greenwood Brown
5 Reasons to Turn to Traditional Publishers Rather Than Self-Publish by Meg Waite Clayton
5 Essential Elements For Pitching Romance by Marcy Kennedy
How to Maintain a Healthy Author/Agent Relationship by Elizabeth Weed
Twitter: A Dangerous Sense of Entitlement by Annie Neugebauer
3 Tips on Cleaning Up Your Twitter Account by Jenny Hansen
What If You Hate Facebook? Are You DOOMED? by Lisa Hall-Wilson
Twitterific by Elizabeth S. Craig
Writing Resources by Gene Lempp
Must-Read Monday by Yesenia Vargas
100 Questions to Inspire Rapid Self-Discovery by Alexandra Franzen
I Did Not Marry My One True Love by Lisa Hall-Wilson
10 Funniest Lines in all of Star Wars (According to me) by Ryan Britt
He’s That Bad and That Likeable: Pitch Black by Theresa Delucci
Weird Reality: Reality TV Aimed At Your Inner Geek by Shoshana Kessock
What is the biggest amount of words you’ve typed during one month?
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenges us to write a 50K word novel in 30 days.
It is doable as thousands of challenge winners from past years show us.
This week’s Link Feast provides you with tips and tools to imagine, plot, write and finish your NaNo novel.
Yes, there are links too 😛 *coughs* I got a little carried away with my own tips.
Please leave a comment and share what kind of a story you’ll write this year. Or if you don’t participate NaNo, tell us what you’re working on right now.
And if you have advice on how to finish a novel, we’d love to hear it 🙂
Happy browsing. And have fun writing!
Ack, I don’t have a clue what to write about.
1. A story idea can start with a genre. What kind of books do you like reading? Are they mainly within one or two genres?
Have you every thought it would be cool to read a book that did something different? Say, about vampires who don’t drink blood but leech off emotions.
Horror movie 30 Days of Night showed us really monstrous vampires during a month in Alaska when the sun doesn’t rise at all. Dun dun dun. Not your average shiny vampire boyfriend story.
2. Take a trope or a cliche and twist it. For example in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series the Chosen One failed years ago and ushered the world into a dark era. And in Stephen King’s The Stand, the Chosen One is an old lady.
TV Tropes is a great resource for finding cliches to revamp.
3. Change an old plot and make something new out of it. George R.R. Martin set his War of the Roses to a fantasy world with his Game of Thrones series. You could set your war… in space.
Or how about Shakespeare in modern day high school? You get the movie She’s The Man, a Twelfth Night remake where a girl pretends she’s a guy.
Not to mention all those new Pride and Prejudice versions, like the one with zombies. Or the erotica edition. Basically, combine any old idea with a new angle and run with it.
4. Come up with a character concept, or a single scene and build up from there. I’ve gotten ideas from news titles. Visual prompts might also help. I use Pinterest to mine visual ideas.
Female Character Inspirations (A Pinterest board)
Male Character Inspirations (A Pinterest board)
Badass Villains (A Pinterest board)
5. Brainstorm a few dozen of awesome beginning lines/paragraphs that would hook you to read on. Pick the one that resonates the most with you and see where that seed leads you. Get ideas from your favorite novels.
Two of my favorites are:
“The last camel collapsed at noon.” – Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
(I can see a desert setting in my mind’s eye and the caravan in dire straits)
“Janice Capshaw liked to run at night.” – Midnight by Dean Koontz
(I instantly want to know more. I’m imaging a horrible scene where poor Janice is mauled to death)
6. Adopt a plot. Or a character or a quirk. Adoption Society board in NaNoWriMo forums has threads dedicated to various concepts to adopt.
Those are just some ideas. If you need more juice to kickstart your creative engine, see the links below.
But seriously, don’t go with the first idea that comes to your mind. Come up with at least a dozen and see which one has the most potential of becoming a full 50K (or more) words novel that you want to finish.
1. What is your story about? Try condensing it into a log-line that has the following elements:
1) your protagonist 2) active verb 3) active goal 4) antagonist 5) stakes
Like: Batman must stop Joker before he destroys Gotham City and kills the woman Batman loves.
2. Know your characters. At bare minimum you need the main character, the antagonist and a few side characters. Maybe a mentor, sidekick or a love interest. The Big Boss Troublemaker might need some minions too.
To get into the main character’s mind and to get their voice down, you could do some pre-writing excercises during October, like write letters or diary entries as the character would write it. Or write a short story about an event in their past.
3. Know yourself and your writing process. Do you like to plot every detail of your story before starting to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?
If you’re a plotter, you get stuck if you don’t know what the big picture is and what will happen next. If you’re a pantser, you get bored if you know too much about your story in advance. It feels like the story has already been told.
If you don’t know which you are, there are links to help you with identification.
4. A compromise between the two is figuring out just the major events of your story.
See more at the links below. They have great examples and explanations of what story structure is.
5. Every scene must have a purpose and conflict. Someone must oppose someone and something needs to change as a result.
In the best case scenario, you’re totally jazzed to write every single scene. If you’re not, think about why. What could you add to the scene or change so it would thrill you more? For example, if it’s a transition scene, like characters travel from one place to another, you can just scrap it.
Or spice it up somehow. For example, bandits could attack, or the characters have a fight of the decade that leads to one of them breaking off the party.
1. Organize your life for November so you can write. To reach 50K words, you need to write 1666 words per day, every day. Depending on your writing speed, that means at least an hour of writing every day, more likely 2 – 4 hours.
Free that time. Get your family and friends on the same page, and stress to them how important this project is to you. During November, cleaning is not necessary, writing is. During November, your kids can eat canned food. During November, you do fun stuff with pals only after you’ve written your daily quota.
It’s just one month. You can do it.
2. Develop pre-writing rituals. Athletes do warm ups before the real excercise. Musicians warm up their fingers. Writers need to get their mind on the creative mode too. How do you get into the zone in 5 -15 mins?
3. No editing while writing. When you release your inner Editor, your creative Muse runs away screaming.
4. Write crap. Lets face it, some of your writing will suck. Accept it and love it. Without the steaming pile of turd, you won’t get the pearls either. And you will polish the story to perfection when you edit it. Then it will shine. But first you need to get the words on paper. The good and the bad. It’s impossible to write only divine things.
5. Tip for a pantser: It’s OK to write the story in non-chronological order. If you don’t know anything else about your story except the bare bones, expand from there. What would logically happen next? What would be the most interesting consequence? What would be the nightmare scenario? Show us how your characters react to what just happened.
6. Tip for a plotter: It’s OK to revise the plan in the middle of a story. You might spot an inconsistency, come up with a brilliant alternative, or realize you just aren’t excited about your story. Take a break and realign your story. Then continue writing.
1. Show up. When you’ve decided when you will write, that time should be for writing only. Even if your mind is totally blank, don’t turn on the internet. Just sit there and wait. You can even close your eyes. Eventually your Muse will be so bored that you’ll get some words.
2. Stop writing in the middle of the scene. Even better, in the middle of a sentence. That way you know exactly what you need to write next.
3. Reward yourself. Every time you finish your daily word count, do something awesome, like read or eat chocolate. During November, don’t do those awesome things at any other times. Only after writing. Soon your brain will work like a well-trained Pavlovian dog, eager for the treat.
If you get stuck, here are some angles to unstick you:
4. Try writing in a different way. Write longhand. Or go somewhere else to write. Try a cafeteria or the library.
5. If you know the ending, or even one event that might happen further in the story, backtrack from there. What needs to happen for your characters to get there?
6. Sleep on it. Think your story while laying down and drifting to dreams. Maybe your unconsciousness will give you the answer.
7. Enter ninjas to your story. Or make something explode. Or write a sex scene. Just because. Anything that lights the fireworks for you and remotely fits your story.
More Scene Unstickers (NaNoWriMo Forums)
8. Ask a writing buddy for advice. If you don’t know any other writers, post your question to the NaNoWriMo forums or Tweet it with a hashtag #NaNoWriMo , #writing or #MyWANA
You might hit a moment when you seriously consider dropping your story and starting a new one. Stop. Reconsider.
9. Why did you start writing this story? What excited you about it? Was it a character, a scene, an idea? Does it still thrill you? Have you deviated away from that kernel of awesome? How can you steer the story back to it? Or can you add other kernels that jazz up the whole story?
The most important thing is: believe in your writing. You can do it. You will rock NaNoWriMo 2012.
There. Pep talk is done.
And now the links you’ve been waiting for.
First You Need an Idea by Alexandra Sokoloff
The Struggle For Ideas by Janice Hardy
Writing Ideas by Glen C. Strathy
How To Steal a Plot For Your Book and Get Away With It by Suzannah Windsor Freeman
Four Tips on Adding a New Twist to an Old Plot by Janice Hardy
How to decide which idea to go with?
Choosing the Right Idea for a Book by Tony Leville
9 Ways To Overcome the Too Many Ideas Syndrome by Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant
I Have an Idea For a Novel! Now What? by Janice Hardy
You Need a Compelling Premise to Finish 50K Words by Kara Lennox
If you write fantasy, urban fantasy or science fiction, your setting needs to be as detailed as your characters. A vibrant setting will inspire your plot and add depth and unique touches to your characters.
Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions by Patricia Wrede
World Building Part 1: Physical Setting by Fae Rowan
World Building Part 2: Social and Cultural Aspects by Fae Rowan
No Stress World Building by Lori Devoti
World Building on a Theme by Janice Hardy
Writing the Paranormal Novel: Techniques and Exercises for Weaving Supernatural Elements Into Your Story by Stephen Harper (Amazon link)
This book is the best resource I have ever seen on building cultures for your urban fantasy species (vampires, werewolves, faeries etc.) Works 100% for fantasy cultures and alien races too.
Under Development: Ways To Create Characters by Janice Hardy
How To Create a Character by Holly Lisle
Characters by Jim Butcher
What Makes a Female Character Strong by Jami Gold
The Three Dimensions of Character Development by Larry Brooks
Crafting Backstory by Larry Brooks
Like Me! How To Create Sympathetic Characters by Roni Loren
The Art of Creating Believable Characters: No Mr. Nice Guy by Karen Woodward
Black Swan: The Trick to Inner and Outer Demons by Kristen Lamb
5 Quick Fixes to Make Readers Love Your Villain by Shannon Donnelly
Crafting a Character Arc by Larry Brooks
And then something for romance writers:
Are You a Pantser? How To Overcome Plotting Envy by Roni Loren
Look at how you plan things in real life. If you plan just the main points but not every step, you’re likely not a Plotter
What Is Your Premise? by Alexandra Sokoloff
How To Write Your Story’s Logline (one sentence description of the story)
Structure Part 5: Keeping Focused – Understand Your “Seed Idea” by Kristen Lamb
Going Both Ways: Outlines For Plots, Pantser For Characters by Janice Hardy
To Finish Your Novel, Plan the Basics by Holly Lisle
How To Create a Plot Outline in 8 Simple Steps by Glen C.Strathy
The Three-Act Structure Review & Assignments by Alexandra Sokoloff
What Finding Nemo Can Teach Us About Story Action by Kristen Lamb
Structure Part 3: Introducing the Opposition by Kristen Lamb
(For Pantsers) Outlining Without Outlining by Janice Hardy
(For Pantsers) Writing Out of Order by Elana Johnson
How To Write a Novel: The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson
(For Plotters) The Three-Act, Eight Sequence Structure by Alexandra Sokoloff
(For Plotters) The Index Card Method and Structure Grid by Alexandra Sokoloff
(For Plotters) Story Elements Checklist For Brainstorming Index Cards by Alexandra Sokoloff
Putting It All Together by Jim Butcher
The Four Part Structure of the Character Arc by Larry Brooks
Beat Sheet for The Hunger Games Movie by Jessica Brody
Making Your Book Memorable: Creating Moments by Roni Loren (What are your favorite moments from the books you love?)
Scenes by Jim Butcher
Sequels by Jim Butcher (how characters react to events)
How To Make the Most of a Scene by Jami Gold
Every Scene Should Have At Least 3 Key Elements by Janice Hardy
The Scene Element Worksheet by Jami Gold
The Great Swampy Middle by Jim Butcher
Plot Fixer, Part 7: How To Pick Up the Pace in Your Story by Kara Lennox
5 Ways To Bring Your Descriptions To Life by Janice Hardy
Novel in 30 Days Worksheet Index (Writer’s Digest)
Writing Cheat Sheet (PDF crammed with writing advice)
Be part of the NaNoWriMo community. Find yourself accountability partners. Report them your results daily. Your husband, friend or mom will do too. Read the daily pep talks. Read and post to the NaNo forums. But only after you have finished that day’s word count.
25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo by Chuck Wendig (Set your expectations right)
Can’t Finish That Novel? Try Dopamine by Chuck Wendig (I mentioned rewards already but he says it so much better)
NaNoWriMo Tips From Veterans (About.com Fiction Writing)
NaNoWriMo Tips For Success by Michelle Schusterman
Finishing NaNoWriMo – One Writer’s Cautionary Experience (Plot To Punctuation)
All times of the day are not equal for writing. Whether you are an early bird or a night owl determine when you are on your most productive and creative mood. Try to write at those times.
How Heatmapping Your Productivity Can Make You More Productive by Charles Gilkey
Like there is an optimal time for writing, there is an optimal environment too. Some like the peace and quiet of their home, others need background music or the buzz of the crowds at a cafeteria to write. What do you need to be creative?
Why You Need To Write Every Day by Jeff Goins (To create an habit)
How To Write Every Day: Jerry Seinfeld and the Chain Method by Karen Woodward
The Only One Who Can Hold You Back Is You by Rachel Aaron
The #1 Reason You’ll Never Finish Writing Your Novel by Suzannah Windsor Freeman
Three Ways To Avoid Pantser Pitfalls by Roni Loren
The Danger of Writing All The Good Bits First by Aprilynne Pike
Unpredictable… That’s What You Are – Keeping the Plot Fresh by Janice Hardy
Finishing Your Novel – Resources by Timothy Hallinan (great links)
Yay, you made it to the end! 🙂 Take a perseverance point. You will totally ace NaNoWriMo this year. Thank you for reading.