I talked about Life in Slake Patch and it’s long history from initial draft through multiple revisions to it’s final publishing date and the redesign of the front cover. We discussed my writing journey and how I create my stories.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comment section here. I’m always happy to connect and chat.
As we enter the last week of NaNoWriMo, I thought I would share my experience of the challenge and share some tips.
National Novel Writing month is a crazy experience, whether it is your first attempt or one of many. We all tend to become rather manic as we write to our daily goal of 1667 words (or more if possible). I remember my first NaNoWriMo was back in 2009. At the time my writing experience was minimal, and my longest piece of writing was maybe three paragraphs long, substantially less than fifty thousand words.
The panic I felt at the mind-blowing word count and the deadline date made me completely obsessed. I would race home from work to write, threw the easiest meals together for my family and ignored household chores, for the most part. This was my focus. Now, after twelve years of the challenge, I have become more relaxed knowing I am capable of writing at least 1667 words in an evening. My average daily word count fluctuates between 1700 and 1900 words this year. That is not to say I do not experience some anxiety; I just know how to handle the challenge better now. As with everything – practice makes perfect, or in this case ‘bum in seat’ makes an achievable word count.
Here are a few tips I found worked for me:
Cultivate your story idea before NaNo starts. It may be a character, a location or even a whole scene that propels you into the story.
Jot down notes for plot, character names & personalities, anything that you see being included in your narrative.
Find a time and a quiet place to write that works for you and your family. Designate a time, if that helps.
Don’t make excuses – write first then watch TV or scroll social media.
Use unexpected spare/free time to write, even if it’s only a paragraph. Every word counts.
Try writing bursts – time yourself to write a certain number of words in an allocated amount of time.
Aim to write over the daily word count of 1667 this helps you stay ahead. So, any unforeseen circumstances are not so drastic to your end goal.
Let the words flow – leave editing and revision for later.
Use the word count tracker on the website, it helps you stay on goal.
Mark or highlight a sentence if fact checking is required. This stops you going down internet rabbit holes.
Believe in yourself, your story and your success.
Celebrate the smaller victories – hitting a sprint goal, writing a smashing paragraph, learning a new word.
Make sure you rest, exercise and eat.
Enjoy the process of immersing yourself into creating a world of your imagination.
Even if you don’t achieve 50,000 words you have managed to write a fair amount – that is success. Remember this challenge is only the beginning of your narrative’s journey. The editing and revisions come later.
It is always exciting, as an author, to announce a book launch, an event or a new narrative idea. Today, I can elude to upcoming changes to my current novels.
There will be a new cover for Life in Slake Patch – watch this space for the reveal or subscribe to my newsletter for a special early reveal.
Also, all my current novels will have (if not present already) BOOK CLUB questions added. If you need copies of the questions for your book club, please message me and I am happy to send them to you. I am also available for virtual book club interviews via Zoom or in person locally. I can organize a giveaway to coincide with the event too. Let’s connect – message me on the contact form.
My narratives include feisty heroine’s, as well as great world building, romance, mystery and adventure. Immerse yourself in a time and place of my imagination – you will love it.
This week’s question: Do you incorporate politics and/or religion into your stories? What is the reason?
I have used a matriarchal society in my novel, Life in Slake Patch as the background to a young man’s life in that regime. It was interesting to write about the influences and attitudes of a different society. In contrast my novel, The Twesome Loop, which covers two time periods, shows the patriarchal suppression in the 1800’s.
Last week’s question: How did you find your particular writing style? A creative writing class, a teacher, a format or something else? Do you write differently for different genres?
Well, your recent research is certainly more unique and interesting than mine. I think my writing style, whatever that may be,remains the same no matter what I write. However, my “voice” changes with each work, depending on the era, location, and age of my characters. The personality of my twenty-something Italian protagonist in my WW2 novel is a far cry from the thirty-something American artist in my current WIP.
I have researched medieval physician’s healing techniques, the circumstances of how a body can dry out and become a husk, natural substances that prevent pregnancy or induce sterility.
As writers we utilize our imaginations to make the unimaginable into reality in our narratives. There are no barriers, no limits to what we can create. Distant worlds, alternative realities and curious creatures are brought to life for our readers.
Our imaginations are a vital tool for our writing and we need to encourage it to flourish. We already ‘see’ things others may not even consider as story potential – such as a unique hairstyle, a particular speech pattern or even an outfit. Being able to incorporate things we see, hear and touch, no matter their original source, is how we create. Let your imagination free and enjoy the process of creation.
How do you ensure your imagination is not stifled?
It may seem rather ‘easy’ to create a whole new world, but in actual fact there are numerous hurdles we need to jump, metaphorically speaking. Fantasy readers, in particular, are extremely meticulous in their review and the consistency in fantasy works and the ‘laws’ of the land therein. This fact is obvious when you see the amount of sci-fi conventions and the followers of such programs as Star Trek.
This Q&A page is a great way to find out if your creation will stand up to scrutiny.
Of course world building is not restricted to fantasy. If you are setting your narrative in a particular time period you must ensure everything your characters use and interact with, are from that era. A 1940’s housewife will not have the luxury of a microwave oven, for example. However, when you have time travel within your story greater detail is required to ensure each era is true to its original. This not only gives the reader clues as to where and when your characters are but also gives your protagonist obstacles to overcome. Unless of course you have a time traveler visiting!
A friend of mine. J.E. McKnight, is an excellent time travel author and he is meticulous in ensuring the ‘time-line’ is correct as well as ensuring the ‘vehicle’ of travel is believable. You can purchase his book here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/264043
With attention to detail and solid back story, every narrative can be believable no matter how fantastical the characters, creatures or situations. Most of us ‘believe’ in Hobbits, Harry Potter and the like because the narratives are so strong in the basics of world building.
I have used reincarnation in my novel,The Twesome Loop, an alternative future in Life in Slake Patch and magical creatures in Ockleberries to the Rescue. If you can imagine the inconceivable – you can write it.
What worlds, characters or creatures have you created?