Saturday, November 15, 2008

Serious case of Nano brain

I'm not referring to the Nano brain created by scientists.

I'm referring to the state of my brain while participating in Nanowrimo.

This week has been particularly laughable. Forgetting lots of stuff, buying the wrong stuff, and becoming extremely sleep-deprived. (Why oh why does my creativity really kick in near midnight?) But I think the highlight of the week was arriving at work to be informed politely by my podpal that my shirt was on inside out. LOL.

Another symptom of Nano brain is wanting to talk about what your characters are up to at any given moment. Now writers understand. Non-writers really do not get that your characters are as real to you as any other human in the room (and sometimes realer). And there's another symptom of Nano brain - making up words. Because at the moment, when you are aiming for 50ks in a month, a near-enough word will hold the place until November passes and you can go back and edit.

So, fellow writers, what symptoms of Nano brain are you displaying?

PS. Today is Day 15 of Nano. We're halfway through the challenge, though you may not be halfway through your wordage. But that's okay. There's still time to catch up. I will be out celebrating tonight with my writers group. We've celebrating our 20th anniversary and the launch of our anthology. Why don't you have a Nano celebration tonight as well?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Saggy Middle

Firstly, a big congrats to all of you for doing such a great job so far. The word counts are looking really impressive. Even if it isn't going as well as you would want (like me) hang in there because every word written is one more closer to completing your ms.

With the middle of the month (and hopefully the middle of your ms) looming, I thought it might be a good time to raise the issue of the saggy middle.

Following is an extract from an article titled "Avoiding the Saggy Middle" by Cathy Witlox, an editor at Harlequin:

The middle is where it can be hard to keep momentum going. You need to ask yourself these questions:
  1. Are your characters growing, or have they remained the same?
  2. Have you shown why heroine and hero would fall in love?
  3. Have you woven in subplots that you introduced earlier on or have you abandoned some, leaving questions?

You shouldn't work backwards to rectify anything you've missed - make notes on things you have to weave into your story and do it at the end of writing.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good Dialogue

I've been scrolling through all my bookmarked pages to find information on dialogue. It's something that's a work in progress for me. I find that at times my dialogue flows and other times it's sooo stilted. So I thought that maybe I'd find some experts to tell us how to do this.

Condensing Back Story

by Elizabeth Rose

Instead of using narration to tell tons of back story, let your characters do it for you through dialogue. It makes it much more interesting, plus it gives the characters a chance to develop.

For example, in her book Eden’s Garden, author Elizabeth Rose combined a bit of narration with the use of dialogue of Eden Ramirez, the heroine, and her dying father to tell of their relationship.

“Papa . . . don’t die,” Eden said in her native tongue.

She took his large hand in hers and rubbed it softly against her cheek. He was so unlike the hardened professor who had come from the States year after year to study the Incan ruins of Machu Pichhu, hoping to find some uncovered truth or hidden treasure of the ancient culture that was destroyed so many years ago.

“I wanted to marry your mother – really,” he whispered through his ragged breathing. “I’m sorry. I wish I could have been the father you needed.”

Even if you didn’t know Eden was half Peruvian and lived far from her American father, you could see the distance of their past in their words. Her words show us she has feelings for him and doesn’t want to lose him. His words show most the back story. We find out he has never married her mother, he’s sorry about, and obviously had feelings for the woman, but something didn’t work out. He knows he hasn’t been a good father or there for his daughter, and we see his guilt as well. So, in just a few sentences, we find out what may have taken a page to tell about the back story.

Dazzling Dialogue Tips
by Alicia Rasley

Keep it short: 3-4 lines between " ", then insert an action, change speakers, switch to a quick thought. This creates more white space, suggests more movement, forces you to be cogent and quick.

Keep it snappy: This is conversation, not a lecture. Go for demand-reply, stimulus-
response... aim for conflict within the conversation. SHOW the conflict by snapping
back and forth. They don't have to be vicious as long as they can interrupt each other.

Keep it active: Watch the static conflict, where they keep arguing about the same thing over and over in the conversation. Pick out the best exchange that shows that conflict, and then at the end of that exchange, start something new, open a new angle on the subject, bring up something they haven't yet considered, have a speaker change tactics.
"You never listen to me!"
She sighed. "Right. Then how come I know exactly what you're going to say next? If I never listen to you?"
"What? What am I going to say next?"
"You're going to say that no one listens to you. You say that every time."
He started to protest, then paused and regarded her balefully. "Okay. So sometimes
you listen to me. You never do anything about it! It's even worse! You listen to me,
hear what I'm saying, know what I mean, and then you do nothing! You don't even
"Oh, yeah! And no one cares!" She laughed. "And here's my cue, right? I'm supposed to assure you I care, and show you by doing whatever it is you insist that I do. Well, the hell with it. I'm tired of it. I quit. You're right. I don't care. No one cares. No one gives a tinker's damn about you. You've been right all along about that."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday's Writing Wrap-up!

Can you see that? Talk about castles in the sky! This is where I've been and why my Wednesday post is late. This is Genting in the Highlands of Malaysia. It's in the clouds, literally. This was taken on the drive up the mountain at about 2pm and yes, it was damn cold! I live in Singapore, I don't like the cold. I coped only because there are lots of indoor things to do. Like shopping! Sitting and having a hot chocolate, going to the indoor theme park, the outdoor theme park or the casino. It was a great get away and I even managed to get some words written.

I have no idea where my word count stands, I do know I'm over the halfway mark but I won't know my exact amount until I finish typing in all the longhand stuff I wrote while away. It was actually kind of nice to get away from the computer and write. At one point I was sitting in Starbucks with their computers not ten feet away and I could have easily gone over and gotten on one but I didn't. I sat with my pen and notepad and wrote. Hubby's laptop wouldn't let me open any of my file on the USB I'd brought with me so I'd started the longhand on the six hour bus ride from Singapore to Genting. It was actually quite liberating not looking at a word count every few seconds. I'm thinking of taking notepad and pen downstairs more often.

So how is everyone doing? Are your stories flowing or are you just hammering out words and hoping for the best? I'm writing out of order. I wrote a scene last night that comes at the end of DUC and one that comes somewhere in the middle of RHI. *sigh* I guess I'll be piecing them together. I'm not sure where these two stories will end up or what their word counts will be but because they cross over I'm classing them as one story for Nano. It's probably cheating but at this point I don't care because the words are coming and they're good.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday's Tip

Here we are part way through Week Two, and things begin to get interesting. For me, I normally start to wonder if the story is any good. Okay this year I’ve known from day one it was crap, but never the less I’ve continued to write.

That is the key for this week keep writing, it is so easy to think this is dribble, crap and why bother. The answer is, because it is the First Draft; call it ‘The Ugly Duckling’ effect. From this first ugly draft will bloom a beautiful story that everyone is going to want to read. (That’s what I’m telling myself. LOL.) Just keep telling yourself the Swan will be born. After November you’ll put this aside for a few months and go back with fresh eyes and craft your story into the Swan story.

Here is the tip for day 11 from ‘No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit.

Day 11:

Bathe Your Imagination.

Among the weird places where writers find inspiration, the shower is one of the more common. “Your body is totally relaxed and your mind is totally relaxed,” says Ray Bradbury of his trips to the steamy plot chamber, “then the little explosions, the little revelations come.’

Spend some time today investigating those places and situations that allow your mind plenty of room to wander -- a walk, a bike ride, standing in line at the bank – and soak in the literary results.

I’ve started to put each days quote up on my normal blog here if you want to read them.

Happy writing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The crazy lady has returned...

It sounds like there has been a lot going on since I've been away!

I really hate missing out on all the action. I'm an action kinda gal... well, not really. My fingers get all the action! Hang on, that doesn't sound good. I mean, I get ACTION, I just... oh, forget it! :-)

Anyway, what I want to say is that you are all powering along, and I'm very proud of you. It's great to see you are all reaching your targets.

I am going to spend the next week working hard to catchup and build my word count up to a respectable level. I will focus on my writing, and forget that there aren't many weeks left until CHRISTMAS. Heavens! I have to start shopping soon. Don't tell me there may be Christmas sales during November? Why did they make NaNoWriMo in November?!

By the way, had the pleasure of meeting Anita Mack whilst in QLD. We are living weird parallel lives! Hi EJ!

Don't have much to share NaNo wise. Pretty useless post, but I am the Monday person!

Off I go to work my ms into shape!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

When the world interferes with your work

November is always a busy time for me, writing-wise, which is why I always think long and hard about whether I should be doing NaNo.
This yeqar is no different. No sooner had I got stuck into things than other work came in.
Galleys for my upcoming book. Paid freelancing work. A pitch offer from a book packager. A revision request from an agent.
Suddenly, writing time was filled with all sorts of things and not my book. Agh!

But it doesn't matter. NaNo is all about the writing despite what's going on and thanks to the unexpected blessing/curse of no internet for four days, I manged to at least get over the 10k mark. Still way short of my goal, but hey, what can you do?

Whether you create your own distractions and procrastinations or whether they come at you from the outside, it's how you deal with them that matters. it's up to you to make time around life. There will never be the perfect novel-writing time.
So instead of fretting, I'll get my work out of the way and write when I can. After all, who can complain about living the life they chose? I wouldn't trade it for anything.

What's your biggest time killer? What good habits can you train yourself into during NaNo to minimise wasted time that could be used for writing? Do you want to? Or are you a happy little procrastinator and will gladly take teh lower word count?