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!

 

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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!

5 Ways To Prep For NaNo Without Worrying About Your Novel [NaNoWriMo Prep]

NaNoWriMo begins in less than two weeks. Everyone has been talking about novel prep all month long, myself included.

But when it comes to prepping for NaNo, it doesn’t have to be all about your novel. That sounds weird, I know. But there are plenty of other things to think about for the month of November.

5 Ways to prep for NaNo without writing

Writing Space

Where are you going to spend the majority of your time writing? In your office? Your bedroom? Maybe sitting in your living room or porch? Maybe, depending on where you are in the world, you’ll lounge outside.

If you’re going to be sitting somewhere like your desk, make sure that it’s cleared off. Give yourself plenty of room for your laptop, a notebook, a few pens, your mug filled with your drink of choice, etc.

Time

Clear your calendar or at least organize it. Plan our your social obligations, let everyone know you’ll be busy each day between this time and that time. You can get your writing time in and you can also continue to be social so people know you’re alive.

Food

Stock up on your food supplies. Coffee or tea, chocolate, dinner, everything. You may or may not forget to go food shopping.

Clothes

Wash any comfortable clothing you have now. Get that out of the way so you can kick back with your laptop and lounge in your pajamas while writing.

Blog Posts/Work/School

If you have any work to do now, get it done. Any school assignments that you know will be due during the month? Get it done.

Plan, write and schedule your blog posts for November as well. This will leave one less thing for you to do. Because, let’s face it… after writing your novel, you’re not going to want to look at words anymore much less the computer screen.

What else have you been doing to prep for NaNo? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

5 Fun And Useful Books Of Writing Prompts [NaNoWriMo Prep]

How do you prep for NaNo?

Most of the time, when I talk about outlining on this blog, pretty much everyone who comments tells me that they don’t outline at all.

So, how do you exactly prep for NaNo, if you prep at all?

I find that writing prompts are a great way to get your creative juices flowing.

5 useful books of writing prompts

3am Epiphany 

This book by Brian Kiteley is filled with various writing prompts and exercises. Prompts that have to do with point of view, characters, emotions, time, and much more. It’s really a great read and great practice.

4am Breakthrough 

Like the previous book, this one, also by Brian Kiteley has more great prompts and exercises. The themes around the prompts are a little different. These exercises have to do with various themes in writing such as love or death. It also goes deeper into friends and family as well as school and the like.

The Amazing Story Generator

This writing prompt book by Jay Sacher is unique as each page is broken into three pieces. It’s spiral bound on the inside and you can move the pages around as you wish. This means endless prompt possibilities for you.

The Write-Brain Workbook

Written by Bonnie Neubauer, this is a big book of prompts. It ranges from scene prompts, scenerio prompts, first lines, pictures, and more.

The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts

This is a great one by Martha Alderson. These prompts cater to where you are in your book: the beginning, halfway point, climax, and end. These prompts are pretty in depth, but they’re helpful.

Have you used any of these books? What other books of writing prompts do you use? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

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How Will You Be Writing Your NaNo Novel? [NaNoWriMo Prep]

I first joined NaNoWriMo in 2008, though I didn’t participate until 2009. NaNo is a website online, so I thought the only way to write NaNo was to write it on the computer, especially since you have to copy and paste your novel onto the website to “validate” the word count.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized not everyone wrote their novels on the computer. Not everyone used Word Document.

Kris was the one who told me that some people handwrote their novels.

Who in their right mind handwrites 50,000 words…? But people do it. And it’s a challenge I wouldn’t mind taking up, though maybe for Camp NaNo with a lower word count. Depending on how big I write, I can write about 250 words a page. I don’t even know how long that takes me, but I do know it takes me an hour to type 2,000 words. So, naturally, I’d rather type for NaNo than handwrite.

But it can be and has been done before.

How do you write during NaNoWriMo?

Word Document

I always type it on the computer because it’s easier for me. I’m able to keep up with my train of thought and I can write more in less time. Word has always been my go-to because that’s just what I grew up with.

Notebook

Like I said before, I’ve never handwritten a novel for NaNo before. I think it would be a fun challenge that I do plan on trying out some day, but it most likely won’t be anytime soon.

When I used to write fan fiction years ago, I used to write it all in a notebook first. So I’ve certainly filled up my fair share of notebooks with stories and books long before I knew about NaNo. However, I never wrote those stories within 30 days.

Storyist

I’ve heard good things about Storyist, though I’ve never used it. This is another way to write your novel and I know some people use this for NaNo as well. Not only can you write your novel, but you can take notes, outline, and keep your story organized.

Scrivener

Similar to Storyist, I’ve heard people write their novels this way as well. I’ve never used it, but I believe it’s more or less the same thing as Storyist, except it can be for PC too.

I’ve always wanted to try this (or Storyist), but just never have. I’m too old-fashioned outlining and taking notes in a notebook while I write on Word.

How do you typically write your NaNo novels? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

Give Yourself A Nudge During NaNo [NaNoWriMo Prep]

November is the official “NaNoWriMo” month. There’s no flexibility of choosing your word count like the Camp NaNo months. If you’re in it, you’re into write 50,000 words. No more, no less. (Well, technically you can write more or less, but that’s beside the point…)

During Camp NaNo you can write 10,000 words if you choose. Then you have to write about 334 words a day. That’s a pretty big difference compared to writing 1,667 words a day for a 50,000-word goal.

That difference can make it easy to get behind in your word count.

November is a busy month. We just get over Halloween, then there’s Thanksgiving (where I am), then begins the various Winter holidays. Everyone has either work or school (or both) during November. It’s just an all-around busy time of the year.

That’s why I’m here to tell you to write more than your daily goal.

Do A Little Extra During NaNoWriMo

I try to write 2,000 words a day for three reasons: One, because I like even numbers and two, because I think 2,000 words is a good length for one chapter.

The third reason is that I like to get a little ahead of the game. 2,000 words compared to 1,667 is an extra 333 words. It’s not much, but it’s something.

There will be days when you feel like you can’t write anymore. There will be days when you’re so busy that you write less than 1,667 words or you don’t write at all.

Allow yourself to write that little bit extra each day, even if it’s only 50 or 100 words. If you write a little extra each day, it’ll add up. You’ll finish earlier and you’ll be able to allow yourself some cheat days here and there if you need it.

It’s easier said than done, but if you get yourself into the mentality of writing 1,800 words as opposed to 1,667, it should come easier with each day. Even if you add an extra 50 words one day and then able to add an extra 75 words the next day.

Giving yourself that extra nudge will really pay off in the long run, especially if you’re on a roll with your writing.

This may not make sense to everyone, but it works for me and I think it’s a great way to get a little ahead, especially in the first week. Because we all know that second week of NaNo is the hardest.

Do you typically write the standard 1,667 words? Or do you try to go a little above and beyond when you can? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

WordKeeperAlpha: Write Without NaNoWriMo [NaNoWriMo Prep]

Has anyone heard of WordKeeperAlpha? I may be the last to hop on this train, but I just recently heard of it thanks to Skye Hegyes on her blog. (Go check out her blog if you don’t follow her already. She’s a great person and a wonderful writer.)

I’ve always wanted to add those “progress bars” to my blog. I thought it’d be great to hold myself accountable for my projects. Also, seeing the progress go up is really satisfying and motivating. It’s one of the reasons I love NaNoWriMo so much.

But then I was reading Skye’s blog post one day and she mentioned WordKeeperAlpha. I looked it up and it’s really cool.

WordKeeper Alpha

It’s basically what the title suggests. You keep track of your word goal through that website.

It tracks your writing history from the time you officially start writing on there. You can add projects and goals and a start and an end date for them. In a way, it’s similar to how you’d keep track of your NaNo novel. The difference is that you can keep track of multiple projects at once and it’s all year round.

I think I’m going to get great use out of this because, as I said earlier, I like seeing my progress and that motivates me to keep going.

My only complaint is that it tracks words only. I would love it if it had an editing system or even an outlining system. I set up my NaNo project for November, but I plan on outlining it in October. I try to outline a couple of chapters a day. I’d love to set a 3-chapter a day goal, but I can only count the words. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to track that just yet.

Still, I think this will be a great website to keep track of my writing projects in and out of NaNoWriMo. I always miss the charts and updating my word count whenever I write outside of April, July, or November.

So, I think this is definitely a site I will be using to track my progress in and out of NaNo.

Do you use WordKeeperAlpha? Do you think you’ll check it out and use it now that you know about it? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!