Thursday, December 2, 2010

What Beginner Writers Could Learn From Nanowrimo

As previously stated, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it is traditionally held in November each year. If you participate, you are required to write 50 000 words of fiction in a novel format and upload your efforts to be verified. (You may scramble your upload, but it is deleted in any case automatically after the computer verified the word count.)

Nanowrimo 2010 just came to an end and many writers proved to themselves and other participants that they are able to write 50 000 words in the space of a month.

I have read many arguments for and against participating in the Nano exercise, but here is what I found from personal experience:

1. Writing 50 000 words amounts to just under 1700 words per day for the whole month in order to finish comfortably. That is not an easy feat if you have a day job which pays the bills and a family to take care of.

2. Nobody knows if the word count you submit is true or if you submitted a lot of the same words or paragraphs. Nano is not a competition against someone else, it is a test of you own abilities. To cheat at Nano, you only cheat yourself out of a well-earned and morale boosting experience. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing better than seeing your word count climb and knowing that every single word was written by you in a story that you may someday be able to send to a publisher and be proud to do so.

3. If you procrastinate during the first two weeks, you will find yourself with a seemingly impossible word court to target every day just to finish on time.

Copy 1 of Y Pienaar Nano 2010 As you can see on the graph above, which I copied from the Nanowrimo website, on the 9th of November 2010 I had a meagre 1791 words written. By the 14th I had only 4000 words and started to panic. Real panic only set in around the 23rd when I only reached halfway with just over 25 000 words and the requirement to finish on time climbed to over 3500 words per day.

4. It is possible to write a lot of words, while still keeping to your plot and being true to your characters, in one day. All the writing may not be good and some will be positively horrible upon reading it again, but some parts will actually be pretty wonderful. The best part is that you won’t recognize the good parts until you get to the editing stage.

5. Participating in Nano without having your novel planned out beforehand – like with YWriter or Storybook, makes it much more difficult to stay within the confines of your plot. You don’t have time to go back and check if what you wrote now didn’t contradict something you wrote two days ago and by properly planning your novel in advance, the writing just comes easier. 

Would I recommend that beginner writers participate in Nano?

The answer is an absolute yes. If this is your first attempt at writing a novel, there is no better place to start writing it than during Nano month. What a feeling when you realise you just wrote the last word (although it is a first and very rough draft) of your first novel.  This is an excellent exercise to see if you have what it takes to one day realise your dream and become a full time fiction writer.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nanowrimo Time Again

November is National Novel Writing Month. Writing a novel of 50 000 words doesn’t seem so bad – that is until you try doing it. This year I am determined to finish it – I need a rough draft done of a romance novel I have waiting in the wings for some time.

So how does nanowrimo work?

Easy. You register on the website, do a little planning if you like and come November 1, you start writing your novel and update the word count on the website. From November 25 you upload your writing (which can be encoded) for verification and if you succeed in writing the 50 000 you get a badge for your website.

So, now to finish everything else I might need to do in November in order to get ready to write!

Writers Need to Diversify to Make Money

I came across a blog post on Rachelle Gardner's blog today - it was a guest post by Chuck Sambuchino, the author of How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack , Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript and 2010 Guide to Literary Agents advising writers to embark on a variety of writing in order to keep the wolf from the door.

This is sound advise and although fiction writers would like nothing more than to be able to concentrate on the characters in their stories, the reality is that we need to write in other genres, like non-fiction in order to supplement our income. I have numerous blogs and web sites that I write for and I'm writing articles for on travel. The point is, if you love writing, you should try to make a living from writing - no matter what type of writing it is.

Take a look at the post and please tell me what you think and do you write other stuff in order to make money?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How to Deal With Rejection of Your Novel or Book Proposal

Every writer who ever tried to publish a novel will at some point experience the receipt of the dreaded rejection letter. What matters is not the rejection in itself. The true value, yes there is value in a rejection letter, is what you do with it.

The scenario upon receipt of the rejection letter goes something like this:

You log into your mail server, open the e-mails and there it is ... a letter from the publisher! Your heart beats like a freight train on full throttle and your hands shake. A light film of sweat laces your forehead. Must you open it or are you going to wait? No choice, you open the e-mail and read with astonishment the first couple of lines...

"We regret to inform you blah blah blah"

You seldom get past those first few words on the first read. Astonished you sit back and try to calm your pulse racing and avert the imminent heart attack. All those months, maybe even years, of hard work and it is not good enough. You might experience anger, which is understandable, or burst into tears. Also good. Then the most important result of the rejection letter from the publisher sets in - SELF DOUBT.

For a couple of days, sometimes even weeks, you vow you will NEVER EVER  attempt to write anything again. But then, your mind starts throwing ideas at you and you realize there is no way in hell you will be able to refrain from sitting in front of your computer and not write again. Those pestly ideas just keep swirling and mulling around in your head without giving you a moment of peace.

Now - go back and read that e-mail again and try to find out what caused the rejection. Read it a couple of times, if it is not one of those generic rejection letters and try to understand the publisher's point of view.

The most common reasons for rejection of your novel are:

  1. Your novel does not fit in with the genre the specific publisher is interested in.
  2. You placed your novel in the wrong genre - romance where it should be suspense or true crime.
  3. Your manuscript did not adhere to the submission guidelines of the publisher.
  4. You failed to edit your manuscript properly and the first three chapters showed a lack of polish.
There might be a myriad of other reasons why the publisher rejected the novel, if you indeed sent in a partial and not just a query letter. Try to learn from it, get angry, but most of all - GET EVEN.

The best way to get even is to learn from your mistakes and write an even better novel. If you feel that your manuscript may still be publishable, re-think the plot and characters and find ways to improve the novel to re-submit to another publisher if you need to. If you are a true writer there is no way you will be able to stop writing. So, just do it better and with more vigor.

How did your experience of the rejection letter compare to the scenario above? And are you still writing?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Read Harlequin Romance Novels Online - Free

We all know that very few things in life are free. However, there are still some things you can find on the internet that are free - well free if you have uncapped internet access.

Harlequin Romance has for some time now allowed their readers to read stories online - even download complete free romance novels in e-book format. If you are an avid reader of Harlequin romances, you have to visit their web site.

Harlequin offers free online reads and free e-books for download in every series they offer. If you are an Intrigue fan, just go to the subheading for Harlequin Intrigue and either read the free online romance, which is posted on a chapter by chapter basis, or search to find the free romance e-books for download.

From time to time Harlequin has special events that they celebrate by providing their readers with several e-books for download at once. Readers may then download the free Harlequin romance novels to their hard drive to read at their their own pace. It therefore pays to visit the Harlequin web site frequently to check for specials and new books for download.

With Harlequins 60th birthday they released 17 complete e-books for download in various formats. These books can be downloaded from the Harlequin web site and contains works of popular authors like BJ Daniels and many more.

Readers now have no excuse for not reading their favorite romance novels. Just like Harlequin there are several other sites where free e-books may be downloaded. An article on where to find these sites is: Where to Find Free Romance Books Online

Monday, May 3, 2010

How to Fight Writer's Block - A Layman's Approach

Writer's Block - what does it mean and how do you get past it?

There can’t be any one method that is guaranteed to work every time, or can there? Thousands of books have been written and programs sold to cure the so-called writer's block.

But what is writers block?

Simply put, it means you stare at a blank page with the thoughts in your head being equally blank. It might be in the middle of a story and you are simply stuck and don’t know how to move forward, or you have this great idea for a story, but for the life of you, you can’t commit it to paper. That - in short - is writer's block.

How to "cure" writers block?

In spite of what the informed try to tell you, there is no external fix for writer's block. As the saying's all in the mind. Yep, no shortcuts, no quick fixes - nada. Only you can cure your writer's block. Different people use different methods to try to curb writers block. These include:-

  • Making a habit of writing every single day. Doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write some form of fiction.
  • Sticking to routine. This means your write at the same location and at the same time, everyday.
  • Write something completely different from that which you are stuck with. Focusing on an entirely different story, might give your mind time to compute and solve the problem you wrought with for the last couple of hours or days.
  • Using music like binary beats to enhance creativity in the brain while you write.

Looking at all of the above, it is abundantly clear that the only way to cure writers block is to put your butt in the chair and write.

So, whatever you do...keep writing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Showcase Your Fiction for Free and You Might Win a Prize

Fiction Writers Platform is a relatively new internet site where writers of fiction can showcase their writing skills and get feedback from readers and writers.

Although still in its baby shoes, Fiction Writers Platform promises to become an important site for aspiring and established writers to showcase their work and introduce themselves to the general public and other writers.

With feedback from published writers like Carol Rzadkiewicz and editors like Jerry Lopper and Brenda Layman, both established authors and aspiring authors will benefit from the site. Fiction Writers Platform recently introduced editors choice awards for the best contribution and plans to run contests in the near future with prizes galore.

Being a new site, the selection of fiction on the site is excellent, although limited. A writer could do much worse than to spend a few minutes contributing to the site. Besides the obvious exposure of your writing to the world, you might actually improve your writing by taking the comments to heart.

Don't take my word for it - go visit the site at Fiction Writers Platform and decide for yourself.