Short Story Sunday 188: Dear Diary, Writing Buddies [NaNoWriMo]

Short Story Sunday 188: Writing Buddies

            It’s no secret that Kris and I have a love for video games, especially since we have a second blog dedicated to gaming. We also love YouTube and there are a lot of gamers we follow and watch on there. They talk about games, new and old, do reviews, top lists, and most of them have Let’s Play channels where they play through a lot of their favorite games.

We’ve been watching these guys for a couple of years now and we love each and every one of them. They’re funny, informative, and pretty cute as well.

Kris and I sometimes send writing memes to each other through Pinterest and Tumblr, mostly because they’re funny, but we try to encourage each other to continue writing at the same time. Regardless, who doesn’t want a hot celebrity smirking at you while encouraging to do what you love the most?

Last year, for NaNoWriMo 2016, I decided to create a couple of writing memes for Kris. She always had a hard time sticking to one idea throughout the month and that often slowed down her word count. She had taken a couple days off from work because she was able to and our dog was having surgery. She was going to use those days to get ahead in her novel word count.

So, I decided to print out some writing memes for Kris. I figured once she left to drive our cousins to school, I would tape one of them up onto the bathroom mirror. I knew she would definitely see it there. But, I figured, why find her favorite celebrity on the Internet when I can just make my own?

I decided to create writing memes using our favorite YouTubers. I came up with three different ideas, which was perfect because she had three days off from work. I would tape one up on the bathroom mirror before leaving for work each more.

That first day, Kris sent me a text while I was work and I nearly burst out laughing once I read what she wrote. She wrote in all caps about how she just “found Jared in our bathroom” and how I was simply awesome. Of course, if you were reading over my shoulder and had no idea what we were talking about, that conversation very well could have been taken out of context completely—and probably not in a very good way.

I had three days off from work the following week due to the election, a professional day for the teachers, and then Veteran’s Day. So, on Kris’s third and final day off from work, we were admiring the three boys, who were now taped up against our closet door.

“You know, I expect a couple of memes from you when I have a few days off from work next week.” I told her.

Kris waved her hand dismissively and said, “I already have them printed out.”

She didn’t end up just giving me three based on my days off, but she gave me four. I made her an extra one because she also had Veteran’s Day off, but I had two different ideas so I ended up giving her two. We felt the need to give each other an even amount of writing memes so Kris made me another one as well.

But both of us kept coming up with more and more ideas for these memes. And, if we’re going to be honest here, there are about 20 or so YouTubers that we want. Part of the reason we kept coming up with new ideas and pictures was because we didn’t want to leave anyone out and we were trying to get a meme for each one of the guys. Then we would of course come up with various ideas for the same YouTuber.

We have issues when it comes to YouTubers. That’s all I’m going to say on that.

Our closet door is currently filled with various pictures of our favorite YouTubers reminding us to keep writing, that we’re great writers, and that we can do it and reach our dreams.

It’s amazing how encouraging Kris and I can be to one another when it comes to YouTube and video games and writing. Of course, we’re always like that to each other, but we had way too much fun with the writing memes. It got a little too far and if anyone comes up into our room and sees our closet door, I’m not exactly sure how we’re going to explain all that.

In fact, it’s hard to believe that I’m explaining it to everyone who follows my blog.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing, though. Kris and I love watching those YouTubers and they inspire us to do what we love each and every day, just like they did and now look where they are. Plus, Kris and I can have a lot of fun and get some good laughs out of it as well.

We still give each other a writing meme once in a while as new ideas pop up and we discover new YouTubers. I don’t think this joke between the two of us is ever going to end. But then again, I’m not sure I want to let it end.

If anything, it’s a great motivator for all the NaNo sessions to come in the future.

Words: 898

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you think in the comments below and we’ll chat!

WIP Wednesday 3 [NaNoWriMo 2017]

Another week has come and gone. That means we’re one week closer to the end of NaNoWriMo. It’s been an interesting week.

WIP Wednesday

What am I working on?

The Scribe. I changed the title again, which I think I’ve already mentioned. The story turned into something much more than I anticipated. When I say that I mean the plot has completely changed from what I originally thought it would be.

What’s the easiest part of writing this novel?

I’m going to cheat and say the same thing I said for my week two update. This first draft started strong and then turned into word vomit. It’s been easy to get the words down and try to figure out how the novel works, but there will be a lot of changes made down the road.

What’s the hardest part of writing this novel?

The fact that the plot has gone off the rails. I’ve started my research and I’ve been doing pretty well with it, but there’s still a lot of loose ends to tie up.

NaNo Stats

Day 15: 2,055
Day 16: 0
Day 17: 0
Day 18: 2,091
Day 19: 5,735
Day 20: 0
Day 21: 0
Total Week Three Words: 9,881
Total Words: 50,061

All done.

As you can see, my word count for this week was a bit all over the place. I skipped a few days, one of those days was for a legit reason. I don’t remember my excuse for the other days.

I reached 50k on Sunday, November 19. I was losing steam and knew if I didn’t sit myself down and write a big chunk, I’d be struggling to reach 50k before Thanksgiving… which is tomorrow. I even wrote two different endings because the story ended before I reached 50k.

So now we’ll see how the editing goes.

How is NaNo treating you so far? Did you reach your word goal yet? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

How To Write A Gut-Wrenching Climax [NaNoWriMo]

The climax of a novel is this big point in the story where everything either comes together in a way or comes apart. Big things happen and keep the readers wanting to read more and turning the pages.

The climax typically happens towards the end. It’s like the big finish before the grand wrap-up of the story.

Climaxes can be tricky. You want them to be exciting like fireworks to your readers. There are multiple ways to do this.

Climax

The climax can do a number of things, but here are four we’ll talk about today:

1. Showcase the internal conflict

There should always be something going on with your protagonist. Is there a reason they’re on this specific journey? What’s their motive for wanting to complete this story? What internal troubles are they having throughout the story?

During the climax is usually when the protagonist has some sort of epiphany or moment of truth about themselves. It’s a moment of clarity for them and most likely for the readers as well.

2. Showcase the external conflict

Similar to the internal conflict, this is sort of a moment of truth for a sub-plot or even for the major plot. Something can happen between two characters or something can happen between the protagonist and the antagonist.

3. Prepare for the falling action

The falling action is, basically, what happens after the climax. Something big happens and then what? Everything has a reaction to it, what happens next? When the protagonist defeats the antagonist, what happens? What about if someone dies during the climax? What are the consequences?

4. Allowing a surprise or twist

Anything I mentioned above can happen, of course, but what if you added something a little extra to it? Throw something from left field. You can either incorporate the surprise into the climax or you can build up to one final mystery and then throw in a twist in the falling action.

Overall, the beginning and most of the middle of the story is a build-up to the climax, so you want to make it a good one. After all, what else are your readers waiting for?

How do your climaxes typically go? Do you have any other ways you utilize the climax of your stories? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

8 Tips For Writing A Mystery Novel [NaNoWriMo 2017]

I’m not writing a mystery novel for NaNoWriMo this year, but I’m sure you know how much I love mystery and that I do write a lot of it.

I run a Mystery Month on this blog and 9 times out of 10, I write a mystery for NaNo. So, if you’re writing a mystery novel this month, here are some tips.

8 Tips for writing Mystery

1. Do your research.

It sounds a bit weird to research how to hide a body or how long it takes a body to start to smell if left out for too long. Still, you should fact-check. Despite it being fiction, you should always have that little bit of truth in there. Know what you’re talking about and when your characters are investigating a crime, do the real world some justice.

2. Know your genre and sub-genre.

There are so many different sub-genres of mystery. You’ve got your cozy mystery, you’re courtroom drama, whodunit stories, and much more. Which sub-genre does your mystery fall under? Sure, you can mix them up, but it always helps to define what kind of mystery you’re writing about.

3. Keep your readers always guessing.

Red herrings are a lot of fun, if they’re used in the right way. Red herrings are fake clues thrown in just to throw the detective and the readers off the hot trail. It’s great for a “wow” factor when the real clue is finally found and it certainly keeps the readers interested.

4. Know the crime inside and out.

Whether you like to outline or not, it never hurts to plan out the crime before you write. If you have  a basic idea, know the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the crime. It’ll help you keep track of what’s going on, keep a list of clues and evidence. The more you know and understand, the easier it will be to convey to your readers.

5. Should your readers be able to figure it out? Make it so, but not too easily.

I’ve read my fair share of mystery novels. Some are easy to figure out, some are hard. Some I don’t figure out at all. It’s up to you whether you want to make it so your readers can investigate and infer who the culprit is. You can let them be detectives or just keep them guessing throughout. Every reader has a preference. Either way, you should explain everything to a certain extent in the end.

6. Motive is key.

I’m sure everyone knows that motive is everything when you’re trying to charge someone for a crime. Why did they do what they did? Sometimes the motive isn’t always clear. Sometimes the motive can be a red herring for a suspect. However, there should always be some sort of connection, personal or otherwise, to the culprit and the crime.

7. Give unique and thorough backgrounds for your protagonist and antagonist.

This sort of goes along with the previous point. Why did your antagonist do what they did? And why is the case important to your protagonist? Usually, when a detective solves a crime, they have some sort of connection to it somehow, or it reminds them of something from the past. There are a lot of cliches to watch out for (such as the detective who lost his wife prematurely or something), though some of them can still work depending on how you weave it in.

8. Remember, good is not always good and bad is not always bad.

People do good things for bad reasons and bad things for good reasons. But is it really good or bad? Is your protagonist an anti-hero? Is revenge their motive? It’s up to your readers to decide.

Are you writing a mystery novel for NaNo? What other tips can you come up with? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

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Short Story Sunday 187: X-Amount [NaNoWriMo]

Short Story Sunday 188: X-Amount

            Nate knocked on my office door and poked his head through the crack. I didn’t bother to look up from my computer screen. I was in the middle of a sentence, so I continued to type. I was relieved that Nate knew I wasn’t ignoring him, I was just focusing. He quietly came into the room and placed another mug of coffee on the corner of my desk. To show my thanks I continued typing with one finger on my right hand and I took a sip of the freshly brewed coffee with my left hand. Then I continued to speed type with both hands again.

I heard Nate chuckle, but he remained where he was.

Okay, it was nice of him to bring me a coffee and all, but he could go now. NaNoWriMo was over in just three days and I had some serious catching up to do. I was only one day behind in my word count, but I wanted to get ahead as much as I could. I wanted to finish before November 30. I wanted to validate my word count, sit back and relax while everyone else in the world scrambled to get their own counts in at the last minute.

Nate knew this was the home stretch and he did a pretty good job just silently giving me more caffeine and sugar, but for some reason he was just standing next to my desk watching me a weird smile on his face.

When I finished the scene I was on, I allowed my fingers to rest. I took another sip of coffee and looked at my boyfriend.

“Thank you for the refill.” I said.

Nate nodded. He still smiled creepily at me.

I peered into the mug wondering what he did to my beverage. I shook my head placing it back down on my desk. Nate didn’t do anything, I was just tired. Though he was acting really suspicious.

“Can I help you with anything else?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” Nate shrugged shaking his head. “I’m here to help you, remember?”

“Sure,” I said.

Silence again.

I looked back to my computer screen. Maybe if he thought I was getting back to work then he would turn around and leave. I started typing the next paragraph and Nate remained staring at me.

“Okay, what are you doing?” I stopped typing in the middle of my sentence and stared at Nate exasperated.

“Are you almost done?” he asked eagerly.

“Almost,” I sighed.

“How many words do you have?”

“About 43,000,”

“Wow!”

“Is that all?” I asked, trying to keep a calm tone, but he was really annoying me.

“Are you on par for today?” he continued.

“No. I need about 45,000 words for today.” I replied.

“Don’t worry, you can do it!” Nate exclaimed fist-pumping the air.

I stared at him with a raised eyebrow, but didn’t say anything else. Yes, he had helped me when I went through my week two slump and he had encouraged me to catch up when family events got in the way and I had to skip a day or two of writing. I knew he was excited that the end was near, but I couldn’t be too sure why.

Was he happy that he would finally have my undivided attention again once this was all over? Or was he actually happy for me to accomplish something?

“Nate, do you mind?” I asked as politely as I could. Though not too polite so that he wouldn’t get that I was becoming frustrated with him.

Nate frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Do you mind if I keep working?”

Nate looked behind him and then back at me. What was that for?

“Uh, sure,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Thank you–” I smiled and then frowned as I watched him sit down on the couch. “—What are you doing?”

“You’re almost done, right?” Nate asked.

“Not really…” I muttered.

Nate pursed his lips together and then looked down at the ground.

I sighed. I knew this month was rough for me and Nate had been there for me to push me through every single obstacle and he was there to cheer me one with every small accomplishment. What have I done for him during the month? Not much, that’s all I can say.

“Nate, we can watch a movie or something tonight if you want. I just want to try to reach 46,000 words and then I’m all yours.” I said.

Nate grinned from ear to ear. “Great! But I think you meant 45,000 words.”

“No, 46,000 words. I want to try to get a little bit ahead for tomorrow.” I leaned back in my chair and pointed to my laptop. “That way, I’ll only need to write 4,000 words tomorrow and than I’ll win. I’ll be done for the month two days before the actual end.”

Nate cheered standing up and doing a little jig around the coffee table. I couldn’t help but laugh at him as I took another sip of my coffee. I got a small drop and then stared at the bottom of the mug with a frown.

I didn’t even realize that I was still drinking the coffee while talking to Nate.

Nate took the mug from me with a sweet smile. “I’ll get another refill for you. You get back to work.”

I grinned turning my attention back to my laptop. Nate walked out of the room and closed the door. I started typing as fast as I could go. I wanted another coffee, but I wanted to be quicker than Nate if I could. The last thing I needed was for him to be hanging around me again.

I woke up extra early the following morning. It was a Tuesday and both Nate and I had called out of work. I wanted to be sure to finish my word count and Nate wanted to celebrate with me once I reached 50,000 words.

It wasn’t until that morning that I realized just how much strain NaNo was for Nate as well, even though he wasn’t even participating in it. I had neglected him for the majority of the month, as well as the rest of the house and even work, and he had been giving me more attention that he normally did.

It was no wonder that he was bothering me the day before. He was probably eager for the month to end just as much as I was.

So, that was why I woke up at five o’clock in the morning. I knew Nate was going to end up sleeping in to at least seven, so that gave me two hours to write as much of 4,000 words as I could. The less Nate had to wait around for me to finish, the better.

I was a fast typist and if I focused hard enough I could potentially write 4,000 words in the two hours before Nate rolled out of bed. Of course, I was extremely tired. Nate and I had watched three movies the night before cuddling on the couch and we didn’t go to bed until late. I wasn’t sure how long I had before my eyes would start to cross over themselves.

I was determined, though. I was able to write about 1,500 words in the first hour. I accepted that. I wouldn’t finish before Nate woke up, but that was okay. He wouldn’t have to wait for me to write 4,000 words, which was the main thing.

I wrote for another 30 minutes. It was 6:30 in the morning and I only had 2,500 words. I took a sip of my coffee and drew in a deep breath. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to write 1,500 words in a half hour, but I was sure going to try.

But then a knock came at my door. I looked up and there was Nate.

“Hey, sorry to interrupt. Do you need a refill?” he asked sweetly.

I couldn’t help but smile. “Sure, that would be great.” I couldn’t believe he had dealt with me for this entire month waiting on me hand and foot while I sat at my computer all the time.

I knew it was going to take Nate all but five minute to refill my coffee, so I tried to type as quickly as I could before he came back into my office. I was making typos left and right, but I think that was also because I was tired, not just because I was rushing.

“How many words do you have?” Nate asked.

I jumped. I didn’t even hear him come back into the room. I took the mug with both hands brought it up to my lips. I smelled the coffee and smiled. The smell of coffee always brought me right into heaven. It was wonderful.

“I have about 1,500 words left.” I said.

“Oh, wow!” Nate exclaimed. He put his hands up as though he was surrendering and headed back towards the door. “I’ll leave you be while you finish up.”

“Thanks. I think I may only be another hour or so.” I said.

Nate gave me a thumbs-up and closed the door behind him. What I didn’t realize was that he was sitting just outside the door waiting.

Once an hour had come and gone, he asked, “Are you done, yet?” through the door every five minutes.

I wasn’t sure why, but that last 1,500 words was so hard to reach. It could have been because I was so close to the end that it was dragging on. Or it could have been that I had written so much in such a short amount of time that my brain was fried. It also didn’t help that Nate was interrupting me all the time, even though he wasn’t coming into the room anymore. I seriously regretted telling him that I may have been only another hour.

“I’m getting there…” I groaned through the door once he asked if I was finished for the fifth time.

I took me another 20 minutes, for whatever reason, but I did it. As soon as I saw my word count at the bottom of the screen say “50,000” I immediately stopped and cheered.

Nate barged into the room. “Did you do it?!”

“I did it!”

We both hugged and danced in circles in the middle of the room. If anyone happened to walk by they would think I had just won the lottery or something. I had a brand new novel to edit, though, so in a way, it was like winning the lottery.

“What do you get now?” Nate asked.

“Well, after I validate it I get a certificate!”

“That’s it?” Nate deadpanned.

I chuckled. “There are also special offers and discounts from sponsors. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but you have to remember that I now have a completed novel. That’s 50,000 more words I wouldn’t have had if this month wasn’t NaNo.”

“So the book is its own reward, pretty much.” Nate nodded.

“Yes,”

“Well, I have something for you.” Nate ran out into the hallway and then brought in a tray of cupcakes. Was he just sitting on the floor with cupcakes in the hallway this entire time?

He put the tray down on the coffee table and each frosted cupcake had a number on them.

“I’m confused.” I shook my head.

“There are 30 cupcakes here; each one has the word count you reached at the end of each day.” Nate said proudly. “I wanted to give you something special for winning and… Well, you obviously didn’t eat enough sugar during the month.”

“This is awesome!” I clapped. Then I pointed to a blank cupcake. “What about that one?”

Nate took blue icing out of his pocket. “50,000. Would you like to do the honors?”

I squealed excitedly. I took the icing and wrote “50,000” on the cupcake. You could barely read it as the cupcake was too small to fit it and my handwriting, especially on frosting, was horrendous, but both of us knew what it meant and that was all that mattered.

“Thank you for everything, Nate. You really have no idea how much I’ve appreciated all that you’ve done and put up with this month.” I said giving him a hug.

Nate laughed and picked up a cupcake. “I got cupcakes out of it. Let’s eat!”

I picked up the 50,000 cupcake and held it up. “Cheers!”

Words: 2,097

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you think in the comments below and we’ll chat!

WIP Wednesday 2 [NaNoWriMo 2017]

We have completed week two of NaNoWriMo! Time flies when you’re having fun… we’re having fun, right?

WIP Wednesday

What am I working on?

I’m still hanging onto The Librarian. The title is definitely going to change, but I’m keeping it as is for now.

What’s the easiest part of writing this novel?

The fact that this is the first draft. That may be a dumb reason to have this be “easy,” but I’m going without an outline here. Each scene I write I realize is going to end up getting cut… but I’m still writing. So there’s that.

What’s the hardest part of writing this novel?

The middle. I need a lot of research. I’m pretty much at the climax of my novel right now and I have to say that it’s pretty anti-climactic because I have no idea what I’m doing… editing this thing is going to be fun.

Also, I reached 10k words on November 10th. According to my NaNo stats, my wordiest day was 10,096 words on November 10, 2016. So I beat my record by getting 10,103 words on November 10, 2017. Yay!

The reason I’m saying this was the hardest because while the 10k was fine, it was the afterward that was hard. The following day I wrote 1,000 out of my 2,000-word goal. Then I skipped a day of writing and then barely made it to 2,000 words the day after. I’m not complaining, I’m happy with my word count. But I clearly burnt myself out after writing for 5+ hours of 10,000 words.

NaNoWriMo Stats

Day 8: 2,043
Day 9: 3,022
Day 10: 10,103
Day 11: 1,087
Day 12: 0
Day 13: 1,535
Day 14: 2,315
Total Week Two Words: 20,105
Total Words: 40,180

Still hanging in there.

I have 10,000 more words left to write to hit 50,000 words. I don’t know if my story is going to end before then or not. Still, I want to complete the story (not just hit the word count) by Thanksgiving. This means I have a week to complete this first draft, to write at least another 10,000 words.

Here’s to week three.

How is NaNo treating you so far? What are you currently working on? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

8 Tips For Writing A Fantasy Novel

I’m no expert on writing fantasy. But I have written my fair share of the fantasy genre. I’ve written a couple of (totally not flushed out) short stories and I have written a novel or two with a few other ideas.

And when I say fantasy I mean I’ve written about mages. I’ve written about wizards and elves. I’ve written about superheroes. I’m all over the place with it.

I’m giving these tips because this is what I’ve learned along the way (and we can pretend I’m some sort of expert on writing fantasy), but also because I’m writing fantasy for NaNoWriMo.

So, here we go!

8 Tips to writing Fantasy

1. Keep it “real”

Fiction is fake, fantasy is out of this world. Still, there’s a little bit of truth in everything we write. Sometimes we base characters off of ourselves or someone we know. Sometimes we take places and warp them just a little bit to fit in a fictional land or some stories are based on real-life places.

You can always create and base elements of your story on real-life people or places. Take a myth or lore into your hands and add a twist to it. Research is your friend.

2. Mythical creatures

Like I said in the above point, you can do a lot with real-life people or places or even creatures. Unicorns and dragons don’t exist, but they can in the fantasy world. Dragons especially usually have big parts in the fantasy world. However, while you can make them your own in your world, you can also do research on them.

It took me a long time to realize that mermaids are not in fact like Ariel in The Little Mermaid. They are, supposedly, not nice creatures. It shattered my childhood, but I used that information to my advantage in one of my fantasy novels.

3. Magic

J.K. Rowling created the spells in Harry Potter using the Latin language. It’s not Latin exactly, but she twisted it around so that the spells were her own and they could kind of be “translated.”

I’m not saying you have to create a magic system just like Rowling did, but it should still make a little bit of sense.

4. Know your world inside and out

If you’re writing the kind of fantasy where you need your own Middle Earth area, you have to know the world as though you’ve been there in real life… as though you’ve lived there all your life.

Create a map. Do they speak another language? Do they have a different currency? What kinds of food do they eat? What are the seasons like? You may not need to know all of that, but it’s helpful to know anyway.

5. Use a map

Maps are important. Your fantasy novel may not need a map necessarily, unless it’s Middle Earth, but creating a map for yourself won’t hurt. It’ll help you keep track of all the areas which in turn will help you write it and allow your readers to understand.

6. Create character names that can be easily read and pronounced

Yeah. I don’t know what Flbergsted is. There are plenty of fantasy name generators out there on the Internet. Use your vowels wisely.

Sometimes I take names of people I know and spell them backward. For example, Rachel would be Lehcar. Even then you still have to mix some letters around to make them comprehensible, but most names work backward.

7. Do your research

There’s no wrong way to write a book, but research never hurts. There are so many sub-genres of fantasy. Some are way more complicated than others.

There’s a lot on the Internet and there is so many fantasy writing craft books out there. Not to mention fantasy novels in general that you can read. Just brush up on your fantasy knowledge.

8. Know your fantasy genre and subgenre

This kind of goes along with the point above. Fantasy is a vast genre and there are so many sub-genres to it. Like I said earlier in the post I’ve written many different kinds of fantasy. I go from Lord of the Rings style to X-Men style. Both are fantasy, but that’s just about all they have in common.

Do you write fantasy? If so, what sub-genre of fantasy do you typically write in? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

 

7 Ways To Avoid A Boring Middle For You And Your Readers [NaNoWriMo 2017]

Ever hear of the sagging middle? It’s when you get to that point in your novel that just seems to go on and on and on… yet nothing seems to be happening.

I think everyone, at some point or another, has a problem with the sagging middle. Even I, as an outliner, have trouble with it at times. Sometimes you don’t know where to go next in your outline or the outline changes so much that the middle gets deformed somehow.

In a way, it’s kind of like week two of NaNoWriMo. You end up in some sort of slump.

Either way, here are some tips to avoid that sagging middle. Or, at the very least, you can throw something in to keep the story going. There’s always editing later.

7 Ways to Avoid Sagging Middle

1. Make it short and sweet

Quality over quantity, right? Listen, if you get stuck in your middle, skip it. Don’t worry about it. If that bothers you, write anything there. If you have any thoughts, write it out and see how it goes.

This is what editing is for. I know editing typically takes words out, but there’s nothing wrong with adding something in. After all, you usually have multiple drafts of novels. You can add something in, take it out, add something else in just to take that out as well. You have to play around with it.

First drafts are supposed to be all over the place.

2. Question your protagonist’s or your antagonist’s goals

Everyone has second doubts. Everyone worries. Everyone regrets something at some point in their life. What has happened in your novel before the middle? Is there anything that you can use to make any of your characters have an internal conflict? Or maybe they can have tension with other characters?

Bring the antagonist around, have them run into the protagonist. What happens? How do they handle the situation?

3. Play with your characters

Introduce someone new. Have someone leave the group due to a fight or they have something else to take care of. Kill someone off, whether it’s an important character or a side character.

Anything can happen, especially if tension is high.

4. Change location or POV

Where are your characters and what are they doing? Did they finish what they needed to do? Let them leave. Have something else happen and they need to move on as soon as possible.

Changing POV is harder, of course. Unless you’re writing in that kind of style where you switch POV characters for each chapter or some other way. Still, you might be able to make it work somehow. You just have to be careful with it.

5. Throw a curve ball at your characters

This is the point of novel writing. You’re supposed to constantly throw lemons at your characters, especially your protagonist.

Depending on the situation you put before your characters, anything can happen. Something as simple as changing the weather can throw your characters off.

6. Start writing in the middle

Are you nervous about your middle sagging before you even start? Start in the middle. Throw your characters into something that you think may help get your novel to the end and go with it. This may be easier to do if you have an outline in mind, but it’s doable either way.

At the very least, you may get to know your characters a little better. You’ll figure out what you want the plot to accomplish.

7. Throw in a red herring

Red herrings are fun. They’re fake clues handed out for the mere sake of throwing your characters (and your readers) off the trail. Send your characters on a wild goose chase. As long as it leads to something else that will advance the plot or bring tension, it’s a great way to keep those pages turning.

Do you typically have trouble with a sagging middle? What do you do to get out of that slump? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

Short Story Sunday 186: Write On [NaNoWriMo]

Short Story Sunday 186: Write On

            “Uh, Riley?” Nate poked his head into my office and looked directly over at my desk, but I wasn’t sitting there.

No, I was sitting on the couch by the door with a box of Cheez-Its on my chest still in my pajamas. I had a cat curled up beside me on my left and right and a water bottle beside one of the cats. I smacked the cheese crackers loudly while staring blankly at the TV in front of me.

When Nate looked away from my empty desk and saw me slumped on the couch, he jumped back shocked and gasped. “Oh, um… Hey. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I groaned tossing in a couple more crackers into my mouth. One of the cats arched his back and stretched all the way out before curling back into a ball. He accidentally kicked my water bottle off the couch.

“Crap,” I muttered staring at it, but not bothering to move to pick it up. “I was just about to take a sip…”

Nate slowly bent down to pick up the water. He placed it back onto the couch eying me nervously. It was almost as though he was sticking his hand inside a tiger cage and he was expecting to get it ripped off from his body.

“Oh, thanks,” I smiled taking the bottle of him. I wiped some crumbs on my pants and then opened the water bottle taking a sip.

“Riley, are you alright? What’s going on?” Nate asked.

I looked away from my show and stared up at Nate confused. “What are you talking about?”

“This is…” Nate pointed to me and looked me up and down. I could tell he was trying to think of a way to word whatever he wanted to say delicately. “This is certainly a side of you I have never seen before.”

I shrugged my shoulders and turned back to the TV. I wasn’t sure what he wanted me to do about that.

He looked over at my laptop. He put his hands on his hips looking back over at me. “Have you written anything at all today for NaNo?”

“Nope,”

“Why not?”

“Don’t wanna,”

“Why?”

“I suck. The novel sucks. The words aren’t flowing as well as they did when the challenge first began. It’s stupid. I’m stupid.” I grumbled still not taking my eyes off of the TV.

Nate wagged an index finger in the air a sly grin forming across his lips. “Ah, I see what this is.”

I turned to look at him with a raised eyebrow. What did he know? Nothing, probably.

“I read about this on that website I found the first day you started this challenge.” Nate explained. He took out his cell phone and looked at something. “According to my calendar, we’re two days into week two of November. You’re experiencing the NaNo Week Two Slump.”

I kept a steady gaze on his face. I had to admit that I was impressed by his research. So far, he had gone above and beyond to encourage me to continue writing. He brought me a coffee multiple times during the day, every day. He loaded me up with sugar like doughnuts and candy, and he had even cooked dinner most nights so I could continue writing or just take a break. He really was one of a kind.

“Apparently, this happens to pretty much everyone who participates in NaNo.” Nate explained as though I didn’t know. This wasn’t my first year participating in the challenge.

“You just need a little coaxing.” Nate bent down and picked up the remote. He turned off the TV, ignoring my protests, which startled the two cats.

He took away my snack and picked up the cats shooing them away. “No more cuddling, no more moping.” He grabbed my water bottle and put it on m desk turning on my laptop. “You can keep going.”

“But I have no idea where my novel is even going.” I groaned.

“So write a different scene.” Nate came back over to me and took my by the hands. He pulled me off the couch grunting as I let my body go limp. “Come on, Riley!”

“I don’t wanna…”

“I heard that if you write a different scene or just try to plan out different scenarios, your mind will get back on track.” Nate said and then took a deep breath. He was a lot stronger than me, but he was still out of breath as he pushed me, with my heels dug into the ground, towards my desk.

He sat me down at my desk and I glared at him.

“You’re stupid.” I said.

“The website also mentioned to not get offended if you spoke profanities at me.” Nate said cockily.

“I hate you.”

“Great,” Nate clapped his hands together. “I’m going to make you another cup of coffee, so finish that water and hydrate. Then you can get started on catching up.”

I took another sip of my water—because I was thirsty, not because he told me to—and then leaned back in my chair. I stared at my screen as my novel popped up on the screen. I had never exited out of it the day before. I just closed my laptop and walked away pouting.

“How many words do you need to write in order to be on par?” Nate asked.

I glanced down at the word count in the bottom left corner of the screen. “I need to write about 2,500 words…” I muttered.

“That doesn’t sound too bad.” Nate nodded his head. “I know you can do it.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. Why did he have to be so perky about it?

“Listen, if you write 2,500 words, I’ll make broccoli cheddar soup for dinner.” Nate said with a wink.

I softened my gaze at me. I certainly didn’t feel like cooking, so having Nate make dinner was good to hear. Plus, broccoli cheddar soup was my favorite. It was definitely a good incentive.

“If you write 2,500 words plus a little more,” Nate continued, “then we can go out for ice cream afterwards. I think you would use some sun and fresh air, so it will be a win-win for everybody.”

I perked up and smiled, but immediately frowned again. I didn’t want Nate to think that his bribery was working, but judging by his own grin he definitely noticed me get excited. I mean, who could say no to ice cream?

I started typing away on my novel that I didn’t even hear the door click closed as Nate left to give me privacy.

Words: 1,111

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you think in the comments below and we’ll chat!

WIP Wednesday 1 [NaNoWriMo 2017]

I’m adding a new feature to my blog! It’s just what the title suggests, WIP Wednesday – or Work In Progres Wednesday.

This will be something that will be posted on one Wednesday a month, most likely in the middle of the month. For November, though, I’ll be posting it every Wednesday to give an update on my NaNo novel for you guys.

With that said, here’s the first one.

WIP Wednesday

What am I working on?

The Librarian. I’m not sure if this will be a full novel or just a novella, but I plan on publishing it to Wattpad in January 2018.

What’s the easiest part of writing this novel?

The actual writing. Even though I don’t have an outline this time around, I haven’t written a novel in such a long time. It feels good!

What’s the hardest part of writing this novel?

The plot. While the words have been flowing well, I still don’t have an outline. As I write, I’ve been getting more and more ideas. And those ideas require research. A lot of research. I mean, this is a topic I never thought I would ever write about. So we’ll see how it goes.

NaNoWriMo Stats

Day 1: 4,094
Day 2: 2,017
Day 3: 4,573
Day 4: 2,052
Day 5: 2,384
Day 6: 2,034
Day 7: 2,921
Total Words: 20,075

So far so good.

I’m proud that I was able to reach 20k words, almost halfway there, in week one. On Friday, November 10th, Kris and I are going to be doing a 10k day! So I’m hoping that by the time the weekend officially begins, I’ll have 35k or so words.

How is NaNo treating you so far? What are you currently working on? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

How To Start That First Chapter The Right Way [NaNoWriMo]

What’s the hardest part about writing a novel? It’s different depending on who you are, how you write, and what you write.

Still, you may have all the ideas and you may even have a quick outline, but beginning a novel can be tricky. It is, after all, one of the most important parts of your novel.

There are plenty of readers out there who not only read the book’s blurb on the back, but they already read the first paragraph or so of the first chapter.

Why? Because they want to get a feel for the writing style. They want to see if they’ll be hooked into the story right away.

If they are, they’ll buy it. If they’re not… well, maybe the next reader who is enticed by the blurb will be into it.

How To Start The First Chapter

There are so many different ways to start a novel. There’s no certain way that will work for every novel. That would, of course, end up being boring and unoriginal.

Though while many books may start with a piece of dialogue or some ominous message, each one is different and unique because every book and idea is unique.

With that said, here are some ways you can start your first chapter.

Introduce A Voice

Begin with a piece of dialogue. I know there are some people out there who don’t agree with starting with dialogue, but I personally like it. It introduces a character (whether it’s clear who it is right away or not) and it also gives you a sense of what kind of character you’ll be following around.

You don’t even have to start with dialogue. If you’re writing in first-person, start with a thought from the main character. Or no matter what the point of view, start with some sort of point the character is noticing or thinking.

Get Right Into The Action

Throw your readers and your characters into the heart of the matter. Or, the heart of matter that may lead into the main plot. The action is always enticing, especially when it starts the book off. The readers don’t know what’s going on, but if done right, they’ll want to know. They’ll keep reading and reading and reading.

Start Slow, But Not Too Slow

Feel free to ease your readers into the story. You can start with a typical day in the life of your main character or have them do something they would normally do that ends up affecting the plot somehow.

Just be wary of opening with your character waking up. That one gets old pretty quickly.

Throw In A Little Background

You want to keep your readers guessing, yet you want to give them something to work with. I’m not telling you to info-dump because no one wants that. However, giving a little insight to your characters and the world around them isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The Prologue

We talked about this yesterday. Use at your own risk.

What are some ways you typically begin your novels? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

 

Short Story Sunday 185: Listen [NaNoWriMo]

Short Story Sunday 185: Listen

“You’re not listening to me.” Nate said. He was standing behind me as I sat at my desk typing away on my computer. I rolled my eyes at his comment. I was hearing him loud and clear and listening, too. I was just ignoring him.

“Riley?” he spoke again.

I hit “ctrl-s” on my keyboard and swiveled around in my chair. “You know, it’s really annoying to write when someone is standing directly over you reading over your shoulder and talking at the same time.”

“You know,” Nate mocked my tone, “it’s really annoying when you’re trying to talk to someone and they completely ignore you.”

“What do you want?” I groaned.

“Are you coming to bed anytime soon?” he asked.

I turned back around and looked at the time in the bottom right corner of my laptop screen. “It’s only 12:30.”

“In the morning,” Nate finished.

“Right,” I said nonchalantly. I didn’t understand what the problem was.

“So… It’s really late. You should come to bed and get some sleep.” Nate explained.

“I don’t need sleep right now. I need to keep working on this.” I said.

“Riley, tomorrow—well, today—is Wednesday. You have work.”

“Nope,”

“What do you mean no? You’re a teacher.”

“I called out sick for tomorrow… Or today?” I replied suddenly confused with the date.

Nate scratched the top of his head. “Why did you call out sick? You’re not sick, you’re just writing.”

I turned back around in my chair and stood up. I took him by the hand and brought him over to the couch on the other side of the room. “Nate, let’s sit down and have a chat.”

Nate and I had just moved in together after being in a relationship for two years. Neither one of us were quite ready to get married, but we wanted to take our relationship to the next level, so we rented a two-bedroom apartment together.

He was nice enough to allow me to turn the second bedroom into an office for myself where I would be able to grade papers and work on my writing in peace. Well, except in the middle of the night, apparently.

Nate knew that my passion was to become a published author someday in the, hopefully, near future and he respected and supported that. He knew November was always a tricky month for the two of us to see each other. He had a lot of family events during the month as did I, plus the holiday at the end of the month. But I also had NaNoWriMo, which he never really knew about. Now that he was living with me, he was going to have to realize that he still wasn’t going to see me during the month of November.

“There’s a writing challenge during the month of November called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.” I explained right after I pushed him down onto the couch.

He looked up at me standing before him. “NaNo-what?”

“You can just call it NaNo if you want. It’s a month-long writing challenge in November where people write 50,000 words of a brand new novel in the 30 days of the month.” I explained.

“Okay?” Nate agreed, but it came out as a question. I knew he was going to be confused regardless, but since it was going for one o’clock in the morning I didn’t expect him to fully comprehend what I was trying to explain to him.

“It’s a big deal and so many people all over the entire world participate in it. Some people take it seriously enough to start writing their novel right at midnight on November first. Hence, why I have a steaming cup of coffee on my desk next to my laptop in the middle of the night.” I said.

“And that’s why you called out for tomorrow? Because you knew you were going to be up most of the night?” Nate asked.

“I was planning on going to bed between one and two, but now I might be later because you interrupted me.” I sighed folded my arms across my chest.

“Sorry?”

I chuckled. “It’s okay. I don’t expect you to fully understand. Just know that it’s a writing thing and I need more support from you during this month than any of the other months I write.”

Nate nodded his head. “Okay.”

I smiled. He was the best guy ever, even though I could tell by his meek tone that he was still very much confused and had no idea what I was talking about or what I expected from him.

Nate stood up from the couch. “So, you’ll be in bed soon? Are you going to be doing this every night?”

I shook my head. “It’s just the kick-off for the month. I’ve never stayed up past midnight to begin writing early. I’ve always wanted to do it but never have because I’ve always had work the following morning. I just decided to throw caution to the wind and take the day off for tomorrow.” I grinned proud of what I was doing. I loved teaching, but writing was more serious to me. This was something I wanted to do all the time and I was glad I finally had the guts to put writing first, even though it was just calling out sick for one day.

“Okay, that sounds… uh, good, I guess.” Nate stood up from the couch and forced a smile. I smiled back at him. He was pretending to understand even though I knew that he had no idea. He was trying, though. And that was all I could ask from him.

“So I won’t wake you when I leave for work in the morning, then?” Nate asked.

I nodded. “Well, a goodbye kiss would still be nice. I don’t know if I’ll wake up from it, though.”

Nate kissed me on the cheek. “Goodnight, Riley.”

He left the room and I went back to my desk. I continued to write, my fingers flying across the keyboard. It was around two o’clock in the morning when I realized my eyes were beginning to droop, the screen became blurry with my sleepy eyes, and my fingers kept missing the correct letters and making typos all over my word document.

So, I went to bed.

I woke up around nine the following morning. I didn’t bother to get dressed or to even take a shower. I just went into my office and turned on my laptop to continue my new novel. While my computer booted up, I went into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. Our two cats rubbed up against my legs as I filled up their food bowls. By the time they started eating, my coffee was ready. I filled up the biggest mug we had in our kitchen cabinets and then brought it back to my office.

I wrote for most of the day getting a good chunk of the 50,000 words done.

Nate came home from work around lunch time. He usually didn’t come home on his lunch break, so I was surprised when he walked through the door.

He walked into my office holding a large coffee in one hand and a box of doughnuts in the other. He put them down on my desk and gave me a quick kiss on the top of my head.

“Hey, what are you doing?” I asked, but I couldn’t help smiling.

“I Googled ‘how to take care of your girlfriend participating in NaNo-what’s-it,” Nate explained. “it said to give you space, lots of caffeine and sugar, encourage you when you reach certain word goals, and encourage you when you get behind on your word count.”

I chuckled. “Slow day at the office?” I took a sip of the freshly brewed coffee he had brought for me.

“Oh, it’s the worst day there.” Nate sighed. He smiled again and gave me a wave. “I ducked out to check up on you. The website also said that you might forget to shower or feed yourself.”

I rolled my eyes, but the grin never faded from my lips.

As Nate left, I realized that he still didn’t get NaNo. But he understood enough.

Words: 1,376

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you think in the comments below and we’ll chat!

November 2017 Goals

November 2017 Goals

Reading

I’m ahead with my reading! I feel like I haven’t been ahead in a while. With that said, I’ll be reviewing books this month that I read last month.

1. Into The Light by Emily Stroia
2. Keepers by Sacha de Black
3. The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri
4. Eleanor and The Impossible by M. Miles

Here’s what I’ll be reading this month:

1. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
2. 13 Steps to Evil: How To Craft Super Bad Villains by Sacha Black
3. Things That Surprise You by Jennifer Maschari

Writing

It’s NaNoWriMo! My main focus is going to be on my NaNo novel, The Librarian. (I’ve been calling it Special on the blog so far, but it’s the same thing.) I plan on writing 50,000 words for that novel.

Time permitting, I would like to continue a short story that I’m handwriting. I think handwriting will allow me to not get burned out between the two stories. Still, NaNo will be the priority.

Blogging

October was super productive in which I was able to get pretty much all of my blogging done for the rest of the year. Yep, all through December is done! Except for some posts that I can’t write until the last minute such as updates on my NaNo novel, the Wrap-Ups, etc.

Still, this is going to allow me to focus on NaNo more, but also I’ll be able to work more on the updates to my blog. Which I am super excited about!

Overall

November will be busy. Blogging, writing, and then the holidays are coming up… but it’ll be good. I have big plans for the rest of the year leading into 2018 and then beyond. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all.

What are your plans for November? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

“Special” – A Summary [NaNoWriMo 2017]

I’m not good at writing summaries. Or blurbs. Or synopses. Whatever you want to call it.

I try to whip up a decent one for my blog and for my NaNo page every year. Obviously, I think it’s nice that other people know what I’m writing about. If anyone cares at all.

I usually come up with something good enough once I finish outlining. I wrote this summary before I finished outlining and I have to say that I don’t think it came out too bad. Of course, this is going to change once I finish writing the book anyway.

Still, I hope you think it sounds intriguing.

Paige Powers is just an average college student. She’s doing well in her classes, has a great friend in her dorm roommate, Meredith, and is graduating soon. All she has to do is survive one last semester and then she’s out in the real world.

It’s not until Meredith’s science teacher, Professor Hobbs, calls Paige to his office after hours one night. Curious, Paige meets his summons where she’s given a notebook. She’s told it’s special. She’s told she can do great things with the notebook. She’s told to use it wisely and to keep it a secret.

Paige keeps the notebook hidden, but not because Professor Hobbs told her to, but because she thinks he’s crazy.

She then discovers a hidden secret within the school’s library and sees magical quills writing on their own in various notebooks. Professor Hobbs explains they’re the quills of fate and Paige must help make sure everything is in order.

Does this have something to do with the notebook that was given to Paige? How is she supposed to tempt with fate? Because, as far as Paige knows, magic doesn’t exist… does it?

And that’s that. I hope it’ll turn out better than it sounds.

This will be a novella that I’m going to publish on my Wattpad page. This is expanding upon my Short Story Sunday series from August. If you haven’t read that, please go do so. If you like it, hopefully, you’ll want to read this once it’s on Wattpad!

What are you writing for NaNoWriMo next month? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

Do You Reward Yourself? [NaNoWriMo Prep]

It’s always important to reward yourself. No matter what you’re working on or what you’re doing. It doesn’t even have to be with writing, it can be anything. If you accomplish something, you should pat yourself on the back.

NaNo is a big feat. It’s not easy to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s not easy to discipline yourself to write 1,667 words each and every day. It’s not easy to focus and to put all your attention into that one project.

So, whether you win or not, why not reward yourself?

Do you reward yourself during nanowrimo?

A Daily Reward

I know some people who give themselves a daily reward. If they meet their word count, they’ll allow themselves something small, like a piece of Halloween candy.

If they get a little more than their daily word count, they may allow themselves to have two pieces of Halloween candy.

It’s nothing fancy, but it helps.

I’ll be honest, I don’t typically give myself a daily reward, but I do think it’s a good idea. If, at the very least, it’s an incentive to not skip any days.

A Weekly Reward

Something a little bigger than a piece of candy, if you reach your word goal for the week (or maybe you didn’t skip any days), get yourself a little something. Go to the bookstore and buy yourself a new book. Or get yourself a new notebook or something.

Because let’s face it, none of us have enough books or notebooks, right?

Winner

At the end of the month, if you reach your 50,000 words, get yourself something nice. Something that you would typically ask for your birthday or Christmas or something.

Me? I usually splurge and buy myself a new video game. Luckily for me, Nintendo usually has something coming out in the middle of November. This year, I plan on getting Pokemon Ultra Sun or Ultra Moon. It comes out in the middle of the month, but I won’t allow myself to play it until I reach 50,000 words.

You Tried

And what if you don’t reach 50,000 words by the end of the month? You should still get yourself a little something. Maybe nothing as big as if you won, but at least you wrote something. You accomplished more than you would have without NaNo.

Do you usually give yourself a reward throughout NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!