Tuesday, November 4, 2008

NaNo, Not Going Anywhere Fast

Like the title says, my NaNo is not progressing very fast. I'm on 17,023 words at the moment and I should be on 30,006 because I wanted to write twice as much this year. You know move my novel along get to the 110,000 mark so I could edit during Feb and March. Anyway it's early days yet.

Over on the 50/30 blog I posted a one of my No Plot? No Problem! Novel Writing Kit cards. Diane suggested I share more cards with everyone so I thought I'd post them here, well the first four days anyway. So here goes. Yes I Know I'm a week late. LOL.

Day 1:

Green Lights, From Here to the Horizon.

The first day. A blank page. And a slight panic about starting the book off on the right foot. But you know what? There are no wrong feet. Take a tip from freewheeling graphic design guru Bruce Mau on the subject of beginnings:

"Not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. Begin anywhere."

Day 2:

Create Your Clay.

Writing a novel is like working with clay. You first create a rough shape, then massage that shape into something beautiful, such as an ashtray or a fearsome army of worms. Unlike potters, though, who can simply buy clay at the art supply store, novelists have to pull off the supernatural feat of creating their clay with their minds. It’s amazing accomplishment, really, and it’s also why postponing judgment of your work until the end of your first draft is so important. What you started producing yesterday is noveling clay – valuable, essential, and invariably lumpy. Its beauty will grow as you work it.

Day 3:

Aim Low.

One of my favorite books is called Rules of Thumb 2. The volume offers thousands of guidelines for any number of essential day-to-day activities, such as properly estimating a submerged crocodile's length and surviving a pistol duel. The dueling hint was submitted by historian Jim Barber, who writes: "When dueling with firearms, always aim lower than your opponent's vital area - to pierce the heart, aim at the knees." This is something you'd do well to keep in mind in these early days of Week One.

Abandon the stultifying notion of brilliance and aim instead for the low mark of completion. It'll take the pressure off you, which will allow your writing to become looser and more ambitious, paradoxically raising the quality of your book. It's Barber's law: Aiming low is the best way to succeed.

Day 4:

Let Your Fingers Do The Naming.

Demographers have been noting the decreasing size of families in industrialized nations for decades. They pin it on everything from rising education rates among women to the decrease in family farming. But I know the real culprit: With a skyrocketing number of baby names to pick from, would-be parents avoid having children because they can't decide what to name the things.

As you birth your cast of characters this week, you can reduce your naming stress by simply borrowing monikers from the Great Library of Character Names. It's published annually your by phone company: look for the large white book on your shelf next to the Yellow Pages.

Day 5:

Borrow Mercilessly.

One of the best ways to learn to do something is to emulate those whose work you admire.

The treat (and task) for today is to drop by the bookstore and pick up a novel by an author whose voice you've always loved. Read the first few pages of your purchase before you start writing, and pick out the methods the writer uses to create the mood you find so appealing.

Is it the folksy vocabulary and informal writing style? The electric buzz of clipped, declarative sentence? Or the poetic, lyrical style of flowing sentences and sensual adjectives? Whatever it is, borrow the elements you love and use them throughout today's writing season.

Day 6:

Go Wild.
Weird fact: Before Jerry Springer launched his brawling freak show on daytime TV, he was a serious progressive politician and highly respected mayor of Cincinnati. In his heyday, many Ohioans even saw him as a likely candidate for the U.S. presidency. As you begin worrying that you might be pushing the bounds of believability for some characters, remember Jerry and the countless other real-life stories you've heard that make the wildest fiction pale by comparison.

Don't be afraid to leverage the power of unlikely coincidence and unbelievable occurrence. Nothing could be more true to life.

Day 7:

Skeletons In The Closet.

So many of the things we take as a given in everyday life were actually the result of a bitter struggle between two opposing forces. Take, for example, the custom of saying "Hello?" when answering the phone. It seems like a natural extension of a face-to-face conversation, right?
If telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell had had his way, though, we'd be saying "Ahoy, ahoy" when our cell phone rings. He thought that the nautical salutation was more fitting, and he was disgruntled that the plainer "hello" suggested by inventor Thomas Alva Edison caught on instead.

Today, use part of your writing session to explore a given about protagonist's life or personality, and reveal one of the surprising struggles that brought him or her to their current state.

Okay that is week ones handy hits. Did you get anything out of them? I'll try to get the first part of week two up tomorrow and then add a hit each day after that. Right now I need to do some writing on my novel.

Happy writing.
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