Tag Archives: story

Pep Talk Week 3: Friend or Foe?

Dan Wells helps you soldier on even when you feel like writing your book is a chore.

You made it to week three! Woot woot! You’re over the hump, and it’s all downhill from here, and ha ha ha ha I can’t even finish that sentence.

Real talk: this is where it sucks. Week three is the worst week of all, and I’m sorry. Don’t worry, though, we can get through this together.

Week one was about getting started, and everything was kind of new and intriguing. Week two was about finding your groove, and week four will about sprinting to the finish line. They’re all awesome, in their own way. Week three has nothing. Week three is about keeping your head down and getting the work done; it’s about pushing forward when all the novelty has disappeared, and the finish line is still too far away to see. There’s nothing sexy or easy or exciting. You’ll get to the end of the week and hate your entire book, along with maybe everything you’ve ever written.

Depressed now? Don’t be. Because here’s the good news: week three is my favorite one.

Week three is the work horse. It’s where the thing you started because it was fun turns into a thing you keep doing because it matters. It’s where the words you were writing because they were easy give way to the words you keep writing because they’re worth the effort. It’s where your investments start to pay off; where the threads you placed start coming together and the whole thing finally starts to look like “a story” instead of just “a bunch of stuff that happens.” The mid point is where, more often than not, your characters stop reacting to the plot and start acively driving it: they’re sick of this crap and it’s time to take matters into their own hands. Enough running from the Nazgul: let’s take this ring to Mordor and destroy it. Enough waiting around for Dumbledore: let’s break into the dungeon and protect the Sorcerer’s Stone ourselves. And the great thing about it is that we, as the authors, get to do the same thing. No more relying on the outline/the writing group/the inertia/the emails from random authors on the Internet. It’s time for you to pick up your sword and/or laptop and finally become the kind of hero your story needs.

Week three isn’t finished. It’s not the home stretch, and it’s not the polish, and it’s not a finished bicycle that you built yourself and can ride around on. It’s something better: it’s that beautiful moment where you’ve put together enough of the bike that the gears start to turn each other; you can push one part and another part spins, and you know in that moment that you’re not wasting your time. You really can do this, and it really can work, and it might not be done or pretty or even recognizable by doggonit but it WORKS. It’s a THING, and you made it YOURSELF, and it WORKS. And sure it’s going to need a lot of work before it’s done, but that’s okay because you can do it. You’ve gotten this far, haven’t you? Do you think that’s easy? Only amazing people can do what you just did, and that means you’re amazing, and the second half of the process is going to be…well, not easy. But doable. Reachable. Accomplishable. Those aren’t even real words, and they’re still true. That’s how amazing you are.

So write! Write until your fingers bleed and your eyes burn and your butt gets sore and your back curls into a permanent hunch. Write until you wish you’d never started this stupid book and no one’s going to want to read it anyway and why am I even doing this? Because you’re a hero, and that’s what heroes do, and even though you can’t see it yet, you’re going to win. You’re going to slay this dragon or save this world or solve this mystery or unite these lovers. You’re going to get to that home stretch and it’s going to be thrilling and you’re going to be victorious. And week three is the only thing that’s going to get you there. See? It’s not a monster. Week three is your best friend.

Let’s do this.

Dan Wells writes a little bit of everything, but he is best known for the Partials Sequence and the John Cleaver series, the first book of which is now a Major Motion Picture. He is a co-host of the educational podcast Writing Excuses, for which he won a Hugo and now helps run a yearly, week-long writing conference. In addition to novels, novellas, and shorts, he has also written and produced a stage play, called “A Night of Blacker Darkness,” and works as a staff writer on the TV show “Extinct.” He has lived in the US, Mexico, and Germany, and currently resides in Utah with his wife, six children, and 439 boardgames.

Twitter: @TheDanWells

Tumblr: @thedanwells

Pep Talk Week 2: The Dreaded Week Two Blues

This week, Becca Campbell gives you some tangible tricks to beating the monster of Resistance, the big bad boss of week two.

Congratulations You made it to Week Two. Yay! Now, can I rain on your parade? No? Well, here I go anyway…

The Monster

I’m going to be bluntly honest with you. Week two is the worst week of this challenge. It’s the week your story hits its halfway point—that slogging, muddy middle where you have no idea how you’ll make it to the end.

Week two is when you lose your buffer of surplus words (if you even had a buffer). It’s when you run out of ideas. It’s the point where you realize that everything you’ve written is total garbage. It’s where your story suddenly derails because your plot-train jumped the tracks and ended up at the edge of a cliff, barreling ahead over nothing but thin air at a hundred miles an hour.

And should I even mention the outside forces trying to pummel you off track? Your boyfriend starts asking why you’re too busy to answer his texts. Your friends remark that you’ve gone AWOL. Your neighbors complain that the grass in your yard is a foot high. Your wife asks when you’re going to get groceries because the fridge is empty, and oh, by the way, have you fed the kids today?

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield calls these forces “Resistance.” Week two is when all these forces of Resistance come to a head. Suddenly, it feels like every living creature in your world does not want you to write that book.

Week two is when most writers quit.

There’s only one way to make it through week two. Continue reading

Pep Talk Week 1: Exuberant Imperfection

Becca Campbell offers sage advice on perfection…and the importance of letting it go.

I’ve been a serious writer for eight years now. I have a dozen novels under my belt. You’d think I have this WriMo thing down.

But coming up with an outline has been more difficult this year than normal. I wasn’t quite sure why until I picked up No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, and a simple truth made itself clear:

I had slipped into the mindset of aiming for perfection.

This is a very, very bad thing for a writer. It’s not healthy for anyone, but when you’re sitting down to begin a novel, that blank page can be crippling.

You aren’t good enough, it says. You haven’t figured out all the details. You don’t even know how the story will end! And how are you going to write that one scene—the one that terrifies you to even think about?

Even when you start writing, this fear doesn’t go away. Look, you spelled that word wrong. Your grammar’s atrocious. And those lines of dialog don’t make any sense!

For me, this year the self-doubt began before I even started writing. I’ve written four stories in my current series and have four more to write. I stand on this precipice in the very middle, plagued with fear that I will take a wrong move. That I’ll write myself into a corner. That I’ll break the entire plot and won’t be able to pull off a satisfying ending. That I’ll finish the series and discover I need to completely rewrite the first four books. Continue reading

#JuNoWriMo Featured Author: Brittany Tenpenny

Meet some of your fellow June WriMo’s in our Featured Author series each Saturday and Thursday through June.

My name is Brittany Tenpenny and I’ve been a New York Brittany TenpennyYankees fan for as long as I could remember. About a year ago, I had an epiphany after leaving Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won every home game I attended. And I mean every game, even the ones where the odds were stacked against them. It was then, as I descended the swirling concrete steps of the stadium, that my imagination concocted a story of a girl who became the good luck charm for her favorite team. What started out as a simple idea swelled into the first novel of a New Adult trilogy, The Wild Card.

Since the day she was born, Bobbie Jean Lewis has been lucky. She was blessed with a loving father and a baseball-obsessed mother who taught her everything about the New York Emperors, the greatest team in MLB. But what Bobbie never learned was that life–just like baseball–can hit back hard and luck is as fleeting as a two run lead. Stuck in a perpetual slump, Bobbie spends her teenage years riding the bench. Just when she is about to give up, the ghost of Emperors’ legend, Bobby Knight, recruits Bobbie and her friends to save a historic stadium and reverse the curse of the Emperors. Suddenly, Bobbie finds herself, and her team, on the fast track to the World Series–and into the arms of the man who could ruin it all.

I am hoping to spend JuNoWriMo hammering out a first draft. Writing a novel is, in a lot of ways, like playing baseball. Crafting a first draft is the training phase, revision is practice and the finished product is stepping up to the plate. I’m hoping that, for JuNoWriMo, I can knock it out of the park!

Connect with Brittany:

Blog | Twitter | Goodreads 

#JuNoWriMo Featured Author – Shan Jeniah Burton

Meet some of your fellow June WriMo’s in our Featured Author series each Saturday and Thursday through June.

Shan Jeniah Burton: The Far Shore (Kifo Island Chroincles #5)

Photo by Sylvia Woodman

Hi, I’m Shan!

My life overflows with lovely chaos. It’s a crazy quilt I share with my chef husband, two endlessly fascinating homeschooled children who gobsmack me on a daily basis, and a cast of furry companions. I’ve lived and worked at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the Everglades, and driven across the country three times. Now I’m settled on the same sleepy road in upstate New York where I grew up.

I’m particularly fond of language, dreams, photography, nature, history, music,storytelling, and fictional people with green blood and pointed ears. Combining several of these loves in my writing delights me.

For JuNoWriMo, I’ll be drafting The Far Shore, the fifth novel in my Kifo Island Chronicles an alternate near-future fantasy series in development.  Each volume explores the interwoven lives of three main characters on the island-wide, no-cost, private hospice resort.

I’m excited about completing this novel draft during JuNoWriMo , and seeing what it adds to the emerging tapestry of this series.

In this volume, a young girl with a secret; a young woman with an eating disorder; and a young woman who’s seen far more than her years suggest will attempt to find purpose and healing. Will they succeed, or will their demons destroy them?

Several real life story threads coalesced to create the basic premise for this novel including:

  • Several friends who’ve dealt with/are dealing with eating disorders.
  • Reading a novel about the child sex trade.
  • Personal experience with a volatile, abusive home environment.
  • A child of the 70s, I was intrigued by the anything-can-happen nature of Fantasy Island.
  • A passion for the ocean.

My goal is to explore the strength, adaptability, and grace of the human soul – its capacity for healing, for kindness, for selflessness, and for moments of transcendent beauty even in the midst of ugliness.

I don’t believe in happy endings, because that’s not how life really works. I’m a strong believer in growth, change, and better choices, and those will be major focuses of this novel. I tend to leave my characters in a better place than they began from, but it’s seldom a perfect place.

I’m excited to get writing, and see what will happen…

You can find me here:

Facebook: Shan Jeniah Burton, Writer https://www.facebook.com/Shan-Jeniah-Burton-Writer-120792371340651/

Twitter: @shanjeniah https://twitter.com/ShanJeniah

Blog: https://shanjeniah.com/my-prime-directives/

And, on my brand-new website:http://shanjeniahslovelychaos.com/