As I gear up for NaNoWriMo in the morning, I want to clarify
for myself (as well as for anyone who decides to keep tabs on me) exactly what
my purpose entails. I am aiming for a total of 50,000 words during the 30 days
of November, but I am not “writing a book,” nor will I have written a novel by
I’ve already expounded on my feeling that 50,000
words is much too short to be considered a novel.
2. All I hope to end up with are some pieces of a
story that can be expanded, elaborated upon, and stitched together with
eloquent transitions that turn them into parts of a novel.
3. As such, there will be days when I write part or
most of a distinct chapter. For example, the passage I plan to start with
tomorrow is part of the Prologue to the rest of my proposed book.
4. But there will also be times when I need to
write about the writing – to discuss the history behind an event, perhaps. That’s also going to happen tomorrow, I hope,
since the Prologue is based on a real natural disaster that turned the
Grenville legacy upside down. I’ll be
putting the story “behind this story” into the form of a blog post on my
5. My ultimate word count for the day will include
both the words of the prologue and the words of the blog.
6. And what appears in the blog will inform and
enrich what appears in the prologue (I hope!)
I figure that how I count up my words is my choice. As long
as they are new, and creative, and not just blathering drivel, they count. And
since I’m accountable only to myself, there should be no accusations of “cheating”
We're home after several hours of driving in blinding rainstorms, one good supper, a night in a so-so hotel, two so-so meetings, more driving rain, a great auction, a superb dinner, a night in a grand hotel (marshmallow beds), and an over-the-top buffet breakfast, featuring oat-nut french toast, sausage gravy and biscuits, bacon and eggs, and topped with fresh blackberries and blueberries. After all that, I feel surprisingly perky and ready to take on the world, particularly since my calendar is practically empty. (Don't expect the same report next Sunday, when I'll be looking ahead to a week of jury duty!)
I'm hoping to make a start this week on the next book, tentatively entitled "Yankee Reconstructed." As I started thinking about story arcs, I ran across this set of guidelines from a reviewer. Hope I can keep them firmly in mind for the next five days.
• Keep it simple.
• Give me one character with a strong point of view.
• Show me that character’s attitude about one thing.
• Don’t give me blah.
• Or ordinary.
• Give me edge; risk.
• Convince me that the story starts on this day.
• Rivet me with a colorful detail. Or two.
• Decide why I want to spend a few hundred pages with your main character and give me one reason to engage in the first few pages.
• Help me see, taste, smell, touch. Make it sensory.
• Avoid using dialogue that is only designed to fill readers in on the background lives of the characters. (Just don’t!) This is dialogue as “info dump.” It’s deadly.
• But, mostly, keep it simple.
• Really simple.
• No, really.
The internet is full of helpful articles recently, and many of them offer simple checklists to guide you.
*The Writing Game: A Collection of Advice and Clever Tips for Writers of all Genres
Every writer has a set of tricks to help navigate through thorny spots in the writing process. Maybe some of them will help you, too. Today's article deals with creating the back cover copy for your book. The back cover is what most readers see first, and sometimes they never look further. Here are seven secrets to doing it right.
Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-writing-game
*Self-Publisher: How To Be Your Own Publisher without Going Bankrupt
Current views and helpful tips from authors who have switched to self-publishing. Today I have fifteen questions to ask yourself if you are considering self-publishing. It's not for everyone, and certainly not for someone who just wants to do it cheaply and quickly.
Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/self-publisher
*The Historian's Point of View: The Experiences of the Past, Seen through Current Events
this site, I'll be gathering articles about the craft of history -- new
discoveries, new methods, new controversies. Today I posted a new use
of x-rays to penetrate ancient documents that are too fragile to open.
Great news for those whose evidence is recorded on papyrus.
Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-historian-s-point-of-view
I've been noticing that some very new writers are posing some old questions on the various writer discussion venues. There's nothing wrong with that, understand. When each new batch of writers asks the same questions, I take it as a sign that these are important issues.
So maybe it's time to re-circulate some of the answers.This checklist comes from Shelley Hitz at self-publishing-coach.com. She says:
is a comprehensive task. Actually there are several steps involved:
writing, pre-publication tasks, formatting, publishing and book
marketing. To help you visualize the process, I've put together a "Self Publishing Checklist" report and mindmap. I'm a very visual person and a checklist like this really helps me wrap my mind around the process."
happy to pass it along. Later this week, I'll be posting a series of
comments on each of the sections for those of you who need more than a
mindmap. Stay tuned.
NATURAL PAUSE INDICATES A COMMA.
Listen for the pauses. Add commas.
As an aside,
academics sometimes argue over what is called the Oxford comma. That’s the one
that appears before the ﬁnal “and” in a series. When I read a series of terms
(like pens, notebooks, pencils, and erasers), I hear a pause after pencils, so
I always use the Oxford comma. In other words, I follow my own rule about
hearing commas. You may, however, encounter an editor who thinks that extra
comma is not only unnecessary but adds an extra expense--one likely to drag the
publisher into instant bankruptcy. She will tell you that a comma takes the
place of an “and”, so you never need both. My advice? Don’t waste your breath
on an argument in which both sides are right. Gracefully bow out, taking your
Oxford commas with you. (Because editors always win.)
Just today, I found this Infographic that offers an even better explanation: