Don’t Do That! – Five for Friday

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I’m running so late today.

It’s been a frantic week as we’ve had builders working on the house.

‘The noisy one’, was sent home from school with chronic earache and ‘The bitey one’, is teething and as a result, extra bitey. He has also become a fan of early wake up calls, the most recent being 3am.

So I apologise as this may well become Five for Saturday which really doesn’t have the same ring to it, but at least my intentions were good and my caffeine levels high  🙂

I’m currently knee-deep in editing my novel and really enjoying it, even if I am lacking a little in time and focus.

I began reading my draft I’d completed in November during NaNoWriMo. This brought me to the horrible conclusion that I’m a terrible writer and should probably take up woodworm breeding as I seem to have little talent for anything else.

Therefore, I decided I would make this week’s Five for Friday about,

5 Things to avoid when Writing a Novel.

1. He grinned, he shrugged, he smiled…

Apparently I seem to write first drafts full of these. Everyone is shrugging, grinning and smiling at each other so much that it’s a wonder they haven’t all been committed. All that’s missing is a little maniacal laughter a maybe a shopping trolley full of tins.

Don’t do it. It’s not clever. It’s repetitive and lazy writing. Instead hit yourself on the head with your keyboard twice and go lie down with a damp flannel over your face.

2. She decided to run as he would probably kill her. 

Okay, this one’s a little clunky, but you get the idea. I see this a lot and it’s just bad, bad, bad.

NEVER warn the reader what’s going to happen before it happens. It’s annoying and WILL result in me flinging the book across the room, or, if it’s my kindle, trying to close the page down, miss, and end up hitting the screen repeatedly like some kind of zombie typist.

3. Really, very, suddenly…etc,

…and a number of other weasel words.

If you ‘d like to see a list, that’s by no means exhaustive, take a look under ‘Writer’s Resources’ on my page.

My first drafts are littered with these and I pull out every single one unless they are absolutely necessary. Especially ‘Suddenly’. This word should be tied to a chair and left watching re-runs of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, until it’s very sorry.

4. Bad formatting. 

I have read so many kindle books where the words stop abruptly and begin again half way down the page, or they have large random spaces between words like the book suddenly forgot what it was talking about.

Go through your book again and again. Re-check when you add it onto kindle and then bore all your friends to death by making them check it too. It’s worth it.

5. I don’t know/I think you should/Why is that?

I hate wooden dialogue.

There’s nothing worse than wading through a page long conversation between Data from Star Trek and The Terminator, or worse, a book full of characters that ALL sound the same.

I have a wonderful acting friend who helps me with mine. She runs through it over the phone or highlights potentially hazardous wording via email and returns it to me, accompanied with a recent entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, to teach me a lesson.

Either way, read through all your dialogue out loud. Get a friend to read any opposing parts and it will become clear where needs work.

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That’s it for today. It’s now 1am and officially Saturday.

Thank you so much for reading, and good luck to anyone else on the long road to Editville.

Have a great day and Happy Writing!

 

 

Five for Friday – Things I’ve learned so far!

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Nope I haven’t left the country, fell down a well or been eaten by cats. I’m doing NaNoWriMo and am sooo behind I’ve taken to drinking more wine and walking round graveyards to prove to myself that things could be worse.

The first week was fantastic, I was full of energy and enthusiasm and flew along, each day creating more than I did the day before.

Then…

I slammed into the wall.

Some days I do above and beyond and others I do nothing at all which translates to me barely making the daily quota and me thinking I should have probably stayed in bed and watched Come Dine with Me.

I am terribly late in my Five for Friday today, but determined to do it anyway I thought I would write a note on Five Things I’ve Learned So Far!

  1. 1667 words are more difficult to write than I thought. Especially when you’re managing on three hours sleep, not brushed your hair in two days and forgotten where the children are.
  2. Some days the words just aren’t there. In which case, I make another cup of tea and write absolute rubbish till something manifests. And if it doesn’t at least I’ve added to my word count. Result!
  3. I love word sprints. It’s possible that I have become an addict and that will probably be the main thing that gets me to 50k.
  4. I need short term goals to keep me going. Just the act of going onto the NaNo site and updating my word count or adding a badge gives me a sense of satisfaction and helps when I’m really struggling to find the motivation.
  5. There’s lots of writers out there like me. You’re not all poised with quill in hand staring off into the distance with a look of the muse about you. Your in your pyjama’s, eating dry Coco Pops, possibly crying, just trying to get through the next 500 words.

So that’s my Five for Friday, rapidly written as I’m still behind and the wine’s running out.

Speak to you soon and Happy Writing 🙂

Five for Friday – Interview with Pleasant Street

Welcome to Five for Friday!

I’ve decided it’s time for a regular spot on my blog. So every Friday (or at least every other Friday) I will write a post.  It can be anything from 5 tips to sell your novel or 5 reasons you should eat as much cake as you can.

So to kick off my new spot I am beginning with an Interview from the lovely Pleasant Street. You can find her blog here – In My Parlour – which I love. Full of beautiful poetry and fantastic prose, take a look if you get chance, you won’t regret it.

Pleasant Street is undertaking NaNoWriMo for the third time and as you probably know, I am joining for the first time. So I asked her some questions on her experiences to help newbies like me get acquainted.

So here we go:

  1. Had you ever completed a novel before joining NaNoWriMo?

No I hadn’t.

In fact I never wrote anything longer than a poem prior to NaNoWriMo, not even a short story. I don’t think I considered it. I’ve written poetry since childhood. Much of my reading consisted of biographies and history. I usually missed the popular novels, opting to read classics.

The great thing about the classics is that many of them give you a good model for what a great novel is. I think the first year I tried it, 2013, it was more of a lark. It was a gimmick online that others were doing and it sounded fun.

Could I really do it? I had to try!

  1. Did you decide on a process before you started, i.e. a certain word count per day/write at the same time every day? Or did you develop this as you went along?

No way, I had no idea of any process at all. I had a title and a basic idea.

In 2012, I started NaNo but never even got half way. I lost that manuscript, so I started over in ’13 with the basic concept. I mean I had a goal, the goal that NaNo puts out- 50k words in 30 days, which amounts to 1667 words/day. But the writing just came naturally and organically. I had no plan other than keep the coffee pot full and write my ass off.

  1. You say that you’ve done NaNo a couple of times before. What are your reasons for coming back this year?

I’ve come back because even though now I’m writing every day, it offers an incentive to finish. There is a great feeling at the end finishing with your buddies, and of course, your own good feeling of accomplishment.

Speaking of buddies, I do visit the forums some and sometimes participate in discussions, especially the ones that involve sharing snippets of our work and getting/ giving feedback. This is enormously helpful, getting that kind of response, good or bad.

Also the folks at NaNoWriMo have v-logs on youtube, sometimes with a live feed and interaction with us, asking questions, etc. A big part of NaNo for some people are the word sprints, you can find these on twitter at @NaNoWriMo. Someone sets a time and everyone writes until the time is up and says how many words they wrote. This can be fun and exhilarating. It can also help you not to give up.

  1. Is there anything that didn’t work for you, being on such a tight schedule?

That’s a good question.  I’d say reaching back to the last question, though the social aspect of it is fun, I find too much social interaction is distracting.  If I interact with others on a daily basis, it is before I start writing, maybe a stroll through one of the discussions, reading and offering replies. Occasionally I’ll join in a word sprint on Twitter. I think the interaction is great but if I get too involved socially I don’t write as much and I lose my train of thought where I am going in the story.

  1. Finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone taking on NaNo for the first time?

This is a good one. My advice is this- ignore the constant criticism of NaNo and the people that want to drag it down. They have their reasons and they will tell you that it isn’t good for writing a good completed novel; it is too fast with no editing, etc.

They have some good points but even NaNo doesn’t claim that the manuscript you have after 30 days is going to be a finished novel. But you will have a first draft. Without the second-guessing and constant editing, your creativity really flows. Oh, there will be typos and you’ll want to delete some of the crap, but I find it very satisfying once a year to write like mad and form a first draft this way.

Do talk to others and see how they run it. Do they write an outline? Do they write by the seat of their pants and let the story unfold? But ultimately you should run it how it works for you, and you’ll pretty much know in the first week if it is working. Don’t worry about the naysayers. It is 30 days of your life and you’ll have 50,000+ words that did not exist before, which I think is an astounding feeling. I love that accomplishment.

Thank you so much to Pleasant Street for giving up her time to answer my questions.

I’ve found them very helpful, especially the information about the social aspect, which I knew very little about. And I have to admit, I’ve heard a lot of negative things said too and I was starting to worry whether I’d made the right decision, so it was good to put my mind at rest about these issues.

To anyone looking at joining NaNo this year, I hope you  find this post helpful and I wish you the best of luck. Maybe we’ll see each other in the forums at some point.

Thank you so much for reading and Happy Writing!

If anyone would like more information on NaNoWriMo, visit their website here.