Featured Author of the Week: Melinda McGuire

Melinda McGuire

Hello fellow JuNoWriMos!

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and won, so I’m familiar with the set up of the WriMo concept, which is exactly why I signed up for JuNoWriMo. Honestly, I wish we had a WriMo every third month. I’d be a prolific writer then!

Nelson and Cora – The Journey is my planned JuNoWriMo story. This is the second book in a trilogy. The first book, Nelson and Cora – The Beginning, was my NaNoWriMo novel. If all goes according to plan (cue the maniacal laughter), the last book in the trilogy will be my NaNoWriMo novel for this year. Continue reading “Featured Author of the Week: Melinda McGuire”

Pep Talk Week 2: When Your Novel Talks Back

Author pic bwBefore I won my first novel-in-a-month challenge, I had been writing novels for at least 10 years.  Or, perhaps, almost writing them would be a better way to put it.  I would start them and somewhere between the 1/3 and the 1/2 way mark, I would suddenly become gripped with the conviction that this was a terrible story.  No one would want to read it, I should delete it and burn all my notes so that no one could every associate such a sophomoric, poorly written story with me.

And then one year, I won a novel-in-a-month challenge by doing one simple thing.

Okay, two simple things really.

  1. I refused to read anything I’d written except for perhaps a paragraph or two to get me going again.
  2. I refused to stop.

Both are easier said than done. The temptation to peek is insane! But don’t.  Nothing will kill your story faster than reading it right now.  So don’t do it!

And then, refuse to stop.  Because chances are sometime this week, your story is going to get all self-conscious and it’s going to start talking to you.

In the middle of week two that fateful November when I finally wrote a novel I could finish, I distinctly remember having this conversation multiple times with my novel.

Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 2: When Your Novel Talks Back”

Featured Author of the Week: Jessie Sanders

Jessie Sanders

My name is Jessie Sanders, and I have one published novel so far, Into the Flames. Into the Flames is a young adult urban fantasy about Rahab Carmichael, a new girl at a boarding school in Boston, and her attempts to find normalcy. What she finds instead is a group of friends that are just as freaky as she is. For JuNoWriMo I’ll be working on the direct sequel to this novel. I’ve already written two other (unpublished) books in the world of Grover Cleveland Academy, and I’m excited to be starting this fourth book in the series. Continue reading “Featured Author of the Week: Jessie Sanders”

Pep Talk Week 1: Getting Started with a Bang

Author pic bwIt’s week one,  and our collective adrenaline is probably enough to light a small city right now.
Welcome to JuNoWriMo Week 1!
I’m sure we’ve all started our novels with at least two thousand words at the kick-off party after weeks and weeks of careful plotting and pre-writing, with pages of notes and plot points hung carefully by our computers.

Right?

Or maybe not.

For those of you who’ve done that, congrats! Way to go! Keep it up 🙂

If you’re like me though, you’ve got maybe a decent word count from the past few days and a handful of notes scribbled down somewhere.

Then what’s in the picture you ask?

Oh, that.  Well, that’s the timeline and plot sheets from my LAST novel, you know the one that’s almost done.

I confess that while I have the general idea of where this novel is going, I don’t have it concretely sketched out.  At all.  I didn’t the last time either.

Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 1: Getting Started with a Bang”

Featured Author of the Week: Greg Welch

Background

Greg Welch

I’ve been writing seriously for about 4 years now. It started out in response to my quarter life crisis I guess, but the truth is, I’ve always been working on stories, even before I knew what they were.

I like to think of myself as a horror writer, but mostly I evoke disturbance, trouble, and tragedy. I like the darker stuff. I don’t think I went through anything as a child that screwed me up, but then again maybe it’s just a repressed memory?

Currently I’m in college working on an English major, bettering my craft, and settling into my identity, role, and responsibility as a writer. I’m finally coming into my own and finding my place. I’m feeling more sure of myself and all around happier with who I am as a writer and what I have to offer. Continue reading “Featured Author of the Week: Greg Welch”

Come to the JuNoWriMo Virtual Kick-off Party!

June is almost here!

Let the Insanity Begin

Are you trembling with anticipation? With excitement? With frayed nerves about what you’ve about to  do?

Writing fifty thousand words in thirty days is a big deal. It’s quite a commitment, but it’s also an attainable goal. And you’re not alone in this. We’re all here with you. You can do it! Together we are going to ROCK this thing!

We’ve already had a great number of people sign up for JuNoWriMo. If you haven’t yet, now’s the time (it’s also your last chance to bug your writer friends who need to write that novel)! Click on the “sign up” link at the top of the page.

Something to Celebrate Continue reading “Come to the JuNoWriMo Virtual Kick-off Party!”

On Scene Lists: What Your Story Needs

***This post is one of several in our prewriting series. To read the first post, click here.***

Only a few days left until June! Are you ready? Here’s Aaron Pogue’s last post in the prewriting series. Complete all the steps and you’ll be set to have a great JuNoWriMo writing experience. Good luck!

Aaron Pogue

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We’ve been talking about long synopses and scene lists this week. Yesterday I went into some detail on what scene lists are for.

Today I want to tell you how to write one. It shouldn’t be hard, but it’s definitely going to take some time and thought. So let’s get started!

Meat on the Bones

By this point in your prewriting process, you have everything you need to make a story. You’ve got a beginning and an end. You’ve got characters, you’ve got conflict, you’ve got an overview of the plot. Making the novel requires you to flesh out that skeleton, though. Continue reading “On Scene Lists: What Your Story Needs”

On Scene Lists: Building a Novel

***This post is one of several in our prewriting series. To read the first post, click here.***

Hopefully you’ve been making great progress on your prewriting and are almost all ready for June. If you’ve been following the steps in this series by Aaron Pogue, you will go into JuNoWriMo prepared. It’s the best way to start!

Today Aaron talks about writing a long synopsis, the biggest weapon in your prewriting arsenal.

Aaron Pogue

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This week, your big JuNoWriMo prewriting assignment is to develop a long synopsis, or scene list.  Here is a brief description of a scene list:

A scene list is primarily useful as a prewriting or editing tool. It forces you to map out the actual structure of your story, down to the very building blocks, and then gives you an easy place to spot errors or weak points, to tinker and rearrange.

To make a scene list, you start at the very beginning of your story, and write one to two paragraphs describing what happens in every scene. When you’re finished, you’ll have your entire plot down on paper — every twist and every turn — without all that messy set design, characterization, and description.

That’s certainly how we’re using it this week. Today I want to go into a little more detail than those two short paragraphs give. Continue reading “On Scene Lists: Building a Novel”

On Narrative Scenes: Writing a Scene

***This post is one of several in our prewriting series. To read the first post, click here.***

Have you been dreaming up ideas for your JuNoWriMo novel? Better yet, why not do some real, tangible prewriting you can lean on during June? Writer’s block will have no chance!

Here’s the next in our series on prewriting by Aaron Pogue.

Aaron Pogue

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This week we’re talking about narrative scenes — the storytelling elements that clarify your characters and progress your plot.

How Scenes Work

As I said yesterday, every scene in your story must move your story forward. That can consistent of character-building, occasionally, and really only in the first act, but in most genres you want to move the plot forward in virtually every scene. Continue reading “On Narrative Scenes: Writing a Scene”

On Narrative Scenes: Choosing Your Scenes

***This post is one of several in our prewriting series. To read the first post, click here.***

Today in our series on prewriting for JuNoWriMo, Aaron Pogue talks about writing a scene.

Remember, you’re free to write as much of your novel as you’d like beforehand, but you can only count the words you write in June toward your 50,000 goal.

Aaron Pogue

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This month we’re reviewing all the parts and processes that go into developing a story. Our goal is to put together a complete prewriting package to do some of the heavy lifting for you when it comes time to write a novel in June.

So far, if you’ve been following along, you have Characters, you have the elements of a Plot, presumably you know your Setting, but we still have to discuss how you actually write the story. What do you do to convert that story idea we have so well documented into an actual story?

Thinking in Scenes

The answer is writing scenes. Scenes are the building blocks of any story. Whether it’s a poem, a bit of interpretive dance, a Great American Novel, or a major motion picture, a story is told in scenes. A story told without clearly defined scenes is, essentially, a synopsis. This is how we separate storytelling from summary.

No matter what time frame you’ve chosen for your story, it probably contains the potential for an infinite number of scenes. You could use flashbacks and flashfowards to give the story context, you could have a play-within-a-play, or dreams or hallucinations – you could write a thousand scenes into a narrative that only actually takes place within a single room, over a span of a couple minutes. It would probably be dreadful, but it could be done.

The point is, the story idea that you have already developed contains within it a boundless sea of scenes. A few of them are gripping, immersive. Some of them leap out at you, defining moments in the path from the Big Event to the stunning Climax. Most of them are irrelevant.

Choosing the Scenes

Your job, as the storyteller, is to choose which scenes you are going to include in your story. That’s it. Once you have a character list and a premise, most of the scenes can be extrapolated from there, but it’s up to you to choose which scenes to present to your audience.

For an excellent example of that, just consider the Harry Potter books. He’s in school the entire time, right? For the first five books, at least, he’s spending most of his time in classes, presumably, but how many scenes can you remember where he was in a classroom? They are far fewer than the scenes in the dining hall or the common room, scenes on the Quidditch field or (most common) skulking down shadowy corridors.

Of course, there are scenes that take place in the classroom – often highly dramatic scenes that jump immediately to mind – and that’s precisely the point. She could have included thousands of classroom scenes, but instead she chose just the ones that served the story best, and implied all the hours spent bent over a textbook or scribbling down notes.

When it comes time for you to convert your story idea into a story, there is just one rule you must remember: every single scene must move your story forward.

Believe me, you will write scenes that you absolutely fall in love with but that don’t measure up to that one rule. And, painful as it will be, you’ll have to cut them out of the story. That is the price writers pay. Apart from the rejection letters, it’s really the only one — having to remove something so beautifully crafted from your masterpiece. It’s necessary, though.

Writing the Scene

Before you can start cutting anything, though, you’ve got to get it written. We’ll start on that with this week’s big writing assignment.

Come back tomorrow, and we’ll move you a big step closer to your JuNoWriMo novel with a little bit of practice writing.

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