Random nano tips

It’s still Nano time, my writerly kinfolk, so here come some more word count tips!

Sex scenes and fight scenes take up a lot of room. I say, never gloss over them when doing Nano. If you don’t want such long scenes later, you can always trim them. I’ve got plenty of scenes tucked in random folders that I’m too embarrassed to show anyone.

If a particular scene isn’t lighting your fire, don’t skip it. For me, skipping around in a book makes it ten times harder to edit later. I also lose a sense of continuity. Instead of jumping over a scene that just won’t come to you, try writing it briefly, more as narrative notes than just [EXPOSITION GOES HERE]. Though I will admit, I have done that. We all have. I keep scenes that I’m not feeling simple, just including a summary of the information I want to convey plus a bit of dialogue and description so I can remember the tone I want later. And if you reach the end of your novel and haven’t gotten the words you wanted, you can always come back and flesh these out, an easier task if there’s something there.

Random characters need lines, too. Got a palace guard stuck in a corner in the middle of a scene? Got a rookie cop waiting two desks over? Give these people a few lines, even if you have to cut them later. Random people can quickly turn into interesting minor characters. And reading about Cristine, the sarcastic serving girl who’s saving up to go to military school is much more interesting than Bar Wench 3.

Just remember, everything that doesn’t work can be cut. Later. And it might not work where you originally put it, but it can always work somewhere else!

Anymore random tips anyone wants to share? How’s it going for you?

Nano tips to boost your word count

I’m a word count warrior when it comes to Nano. It helps that writing is my full time job. It also helps that I type really fast, but I don’t think that’s the only reason behind my sometimes epic word counts. I think what helps is that I write EVERYTHING I’m thinking.

So, I had a character involved in a fight scene. It was going well, and then I realized that said character needs to have an epiphany either at the beginning of this fight or maybe a tiny epiphany as she’s fighting. Since I didn’t know which I’d ultimately choose, and since I didn’t want to slow down and really think about where to put it and how long it should be, I just injected this really long epiphany right there in the middle of the fight.

Will I leave it? Hell no! Once I edit, it’s either going to get moved or cut down (probably both), but that’s the work of editing, something I don’t even think of during the rough draft/nano stage of writing.

And that’s the secret. Suddenly, I have more words for my daily word count, but I also have tons of notes written in narrative form. I have lots of choices when I go back to edit. I do the same thing when I decide I want a character to have an intense emotional reaction. I’ll think, I want sadness here, so I’ll write, “She was sad.” But that’s deadly dull, so I’ll expand on it and expand on it and decide if I want her to be the saddest she’s ever been. Then I’ll expand on that, add in a few physical reactions, way too many.

Words, words, words! And choices! This is what I love the most about writing first drafts, all the wonderful choices I give myself. I overwrite, and then I can do another of my favorite things, which is cutting huge chunks out of my work, really streamlining it and making it all fight tightly together. The rough draft is like piling huge amounts of clay onto my worktable, and then editing is sloughing off large bits before all the real sculpting and polishing.

Maybe I’m a little crazy for liking that so much, but I guarantee you’ll buff your word count if you try it, and then you’ll have a lot of raw material to play with. And those parts that I cut? I don’t throw them away. I keep them in a separate folder to use at another time or maybe on another project if I just like them. You don’t always have to murder your darlings. Sometimes, you just lock them in a cupboard. Nano-er or serial killer, you decide.

Do you do the same when you write a rough draft, or do you edit as you go? Any nano tips you’d like to share?

Now, just for your pleasure, here are my dogs in a Halloween costume I bought on sale:





The eyes light up. We’re totally trick or treating next year. “What? This is my child dressed as a dog dressed as a dinosaur. Give us candy.”

Nano time! And a handy editing tool.

It’s almost NaNoWriMo, my dear little ice cream sundaes! And you know what that means. November is going to get crazy. And I’ll need some ice cream sundaes by the time it’s done.

For those of you just joining the party, Nano is when people all around the world endeavor to write 50,000 words during the month of November. This year, I’ll be participating in the madness as a final push in order to finish my current work in progress. I like to get in on all the writing energy, especially from the face-to-face write ins. Nothing increases my productivity like being surrounded by people who are doing the same thing I am. It also keeps me from surfing the internet. Mostly.

If you sign up, make sure you pick a home region. That way, you can find out what’s going on around you. If you’re an introvert, don’t worry. You don’t have to interact much at a write in. You just have to write. I like to talk a little during breaks, but if you’d rather be in your own world, that’s perfectly acceptable. Anyway, if you’d like to be my Nano buddy, my Nano handle is zendra. I’m kind of a racer, tho, so be warned. 😉

And after you finish and edit your Nano (December is edit your Nano month), I have the perfect polishing tool. I don’t know how many times I’ve read my manuscript and just glided over typos, like my brain fixes them so my eye can’t see them. I had a sentence that had “she was she” in the middle, and my brain just deleted that second she even though it was still in the manuscript. Reading aloud didn’t help because I just deleted it again. So, I needed someone to read to me, someone who wouldn’t automatically correct while they did so.

And I discovered Windows Narrator. It’s one of the accessibility tools, but anyone can use it. It’s a robotic monotone that reads exactly what you have. You can change the voice and the speed, and it helped me find so many errors. Here’s a link on how to find it from the Start menu, and here’s a link to find it with Windows 8. I found it the first time by searching for accessibility and then finding it through the accessibility menu.

A bit of a warning, the voice makes me sleepy because it has no inflection. I also wouldn’t use it except as a polishing tool (unless you need it for other reasons!), or you’ll be stopping and restarting it all the time. Also, since it’s for those with impaired vision, it will read everything to you, not only highlighted text in a Word document. So you can’t let it read and then do other things on your desktop, or it will start reading whatever you’re doing. It’s good for focusing in that way.

Who’s doing Nano? Who already uses the narrator? Talk to me, ice cream sundaes.

Ups and downs

Wow, what a couple of weeks!

First off, my computer died. Not so much my entire laptop, but my hard drive decided it’s time had come. Luckily, Ross predicted this, so he had a new one waiting. It is now replaced, and life can finally go on.

I could access the internet briefly with the kindness of strangers, but I couldn’t write except for longhand, and that gives me horrible cramps. It was madness, I tell you, madness. Several people told me to think of it as a vacation. Strangely, forced vacation = not fun. I’ve written two short stories since I got my dear laptop back, just because I missed writing that much.

More post-hard drive good news, I got to write the acknowledgments and dedication for The Pyramid Waltz. That was a lot of fun and a lot of trying to remember everyone to thank! I felt like those people at awards shows who just start shouting names and then have to end with, “If I forgot you, I’m sorry.” Luckily, no one was playing me off the stage.

Today I’m going to look at a book launch venue. Soooo exciting. I’ll give you a full report once I’ve finally FINALLY nailed down my location.

Is anyone else doing Nano summer camp this year? I’m gonna try to do it this June, though I have a lot of non-writing tasks to complete. Who’s with me?

Did you have any tragedies these past weeks? Any near misses?

Nano? Done. ^_^

I hit 50K in 11 days this year. Even I hate me, just a little.

My physical therapist thinks my back pain is because a bulge on one of vertebral discs. Good news is that he thinks it can be corrected with some back exercises. Wish me luck. Agonizing, tiresome luck.

So, now that I’ve finished my sequel, I have to begin the editing process. This is also pretty tedious in the beginning, but it does let me use a shitload of pens and sparkly notebooks to get my thoughts and plot points in order. That’s always a cause for celebration. My current fave notebooks have “University of Style: Glitter” on them. You don’t know how much I want to go to the University of Style and major in Glitter with a minor in Sequins. I could go all the way to PhD.

My horde of cool pens (and cool pens ARE measured in hordes…or shitloads) are also good for drawing maps, something else I need to do to get my made-up fantasy world in order. I’m probably more excited to be using all my pens and markers than I should be. *happy sigh* Maybe I’ll even get out the construction paper, the artiest of the papers. Craft night at my house!

What are you working on? Does it involve hordes (or shitloads) of pens? Glitter? I want to know about all of it, especially the glitter. Marilou, do you ever work with sequined fabric? Someday, I’m going to make a sequined something for my lab, Polly, since she’s so goodhearted about wearing clothes. It will be the cutest thing ever.

Nano broke me

Well, not literally, but maybe. I threw my back out last week after doing absolutely nothing. I woke up with a hurt back that hasn’t gone away in a week. That’s how energetic I am. I pull muscles more muscles in my sleep than most people do in a decathlon.

So all the pain and then the pain pills and then the cramps from the pain pills have given my nano word count a big ol’ hickey. I’m still ahead of the curve, but I want to be done, friends. If I don’t sprint ahead at the very beginning of nano, I lose momentum quickly. I know, I know. Poor little old me. ^_^

My back has been hurting night and day, and just when I had my kidney stone a few years ago, I wonder how people with chronic pain get anything done, like ever. I really just wanna lie in bed and whine. Well, part of me does; another part wants to yell at me for being a whiner, and what’s left over just wants cake.

How do you deal with pain? Push through? Collapse into a ball? Drown your sorrow in cake? Sometimes I get so angry because there are things I want to do, and not only does the pain stop me, but I know that if I push myself, I can make my injury worse. Then I’d have no one to blame but myself, and no one would be sympathetic enough to bring me cake.

Sing it with me, kids…

Nano ate my brain!

It’s day two of nano, and I am taking a break to tell you I’m at 11,837 words. I hope to break 15K by the time the day is over. That’s midnight over, not the end of daylight. No one’s that fast.

If you’re following me on twitter (and why aren’t you if you’re not?!?!!?) you know that I wrote to the point of pudding-brain yesterday. That’s why I’m blogging now and not later. If I waited until after I’d nano’ed some more, all you would see here would be the word “blanket” over and over or me droning on about how much I love corn.

Instead of that, I’m going to give you what you want…

…pictures of dogs. I’m a sucker for a gimmicky set of dog toys, so I bought this over the weekend:


Yep, that’s a Hillshire Farms-esque set of squeaky toys complete with plastic pear and cheese wedge, fuzzy cheesy ball, squeaky sausage, crunchy cashews (full of crinkly paper) and a plush jar of squeaky mustard. So…freakin…cute…




The dogs thought they were mighty tasty.

When we handed them out, all you could hear was muted squeaking. It reminded me of after the teacher handed out the crayons in first grade: complete silence for a few precious moments.

Daisy was in heaven.

Polly got her squeak on upside down.

She didn’t even notice when we set the plastic cheese on her belly.

Except when she tried to eat it a few moments later.

Because they are such big dogs, toys like this don’t last long and we had to pick them up after a little bit to save them. They’ll get destroyed soon enough, but I like to be there when they play with soft toys because they’ll actually eat them if left unsupervised.

Vet: “Do you see this large white spot on your dog’s x-ray, Mrs. Wright? We’re still trying to determine what–”

Me: *sigh* “It’s a squeaky pear.”

Vet: “That’ll be all your money to remove it, please.”

Yeah, supervised.

What’s goin on in the real world?

Nano is fast approaching….

I’m so glad it’s nano season again. Crazy, insane nano season. (It needs two words for all the crazy.)

As usual, I’m going to be writing my ass off with the rest of the world for 30 days. No stunts this year, though, no hijinks. No novel in two weeks, no two novels at the same time, no writing while skydiving. I’m just going to use the nano time and energy to kick my writing into high gear.

I plan to post about it often, probably in slobbery, incomprehensible sentences. If my November posts begin to sound a bit drunk, that’s the nano. Or the vodka. Maybe both.

Who are my nano buddies this year, eh? If you want someone to race, I’m your girl. ^_^ My username is zendra. Bring it on!