The NaNo Beginneth

I know I’m a little late to the posting game, but what can I say, I’ve been busy. And part of that has been busy writing away. If the first day is any indication, I don’t think I’ll have trouble reaching 50,000 words in one month. Of course, I don’t necessarily have a complete plot either, so if I reach the end of what I’ve got and haven’t connected the dots trouble may then ensue.

Until then, I’m enjoying it.

It’s really, really hard not to go back and edit what I’ve written. I’ve been considering adding comments to the side of the document of things I need to fix later. I think that can satisfy the internal editor enough to keep it at bay.

But I’ve already made my goal for the day and I’ve still got some good juice left in me, so I’m going to keep going. I’ve noticed the little widget I have on the blog seems to update instantly, so it’s been fun to update my progress and know it’s being displayed. It’s a real sense of accomplishment. Hopefully all this motivation will hold through the 30th.

I have one chapter finished, and I’m thinking I’ll excerpt a little bit from this for WIPpet Wednesdays. Of course, it may be that I’m being too ambitious. We’ll see.

How are all you NaNoers doing? What are you doing reading? Go write, write, write! Let’s dominate this November!


One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

Last night I went bowling. But that’s not the whole story. The summer of 2012, the BFF and I had this summer pass we bought that let us play 2 free games every week. So we went and bowled and bowled and bowled. Sometimes our games were good, other times not so much.

In fact I used to tell people I bowled a two-seventy—two games, seventy each. 😉

It was soooo frustrating to practice so much and feel like we weren’t improving. We looked up techniques, asked other bowlers, but our scores didn’t seen to move.

It had been awhile since I’d last played when it came to last night, and it seemed like things were going as they usually did. Then this happened.


I’ve never gotten a turkey before. Ever. This was a personal best for me. Part of it was taking a step back, the other part was not over-thinking my techniques.


It’s good to study technique and practice and improve yourself. But there can be too much of a good thing. Sometimes a break is necessary to move forward.

But what you take a break from depends entirely upon your individual situations. Maybe you’ve been editing too long. Maybe it’s time to start editing. Maybe you’re reading too much. Maybe you’re not reading enough. It’s just as important to cut the wood as it is to sharpen the saw and vice versa.

A mentor of mine recommended after finishing Shade I write something completely different to freshen my writing. I switched from third POV to first and from fantasy to a bit more contemporary. That’s how Project Clemmings was born. And it seems like this has been much easier to write–not that it should be easier per se. I just feel like I’m finally bowling a 142. I have a wise mentor.

So whatever you’re doing, take a look at your projects and goals and ask yourself how you can take a step back. How can you rejuvenate yourself as a writer? Or how can you keep yourself rejuvenated?

Then bowl a turkey.

Have you ever had to take a break? Was it helpful? What do you do to rejuvenate yourself?

SMC: Writing YA Novels Kids Can’t Put Down

Storymaker notes continue, this time with Janette Rallison (who also writes as CJ Hill). A night of only 5 hours of sleep was catching up to me at this point, but I think I got the meat of what she was saying.


Remember that kids tend to read up. Write about issues that teens care about. Many of these include fitting in, growing up, and dating. But whatever the issue is, make it important to the teen. Keep the novel fast-moving. Don’t put in too much beautiful description or you’ll bore your audience. Often YA novels will end up being somewhere between 200 and 300 pages. Write it in a voice teens can relate to.


  1. Your MC should want something they don’t already have.
  2. Their goal should be something worthy.
  3. The best goals are important and urgent.
  4. Goals don’t always have to be achieved. (aka they realize something they want more along the way)
  5. All the main characters in your novel should have goals. (realistic support characters will be doing things for their own reasons and should)


  1. Don’t let your character wander around the story without motivation.
  2. Don’t make your character an idiot. (Seems obvious, but don’t have them doing things that your readers will scream is stupid at the book.)
  3. Characters should have both internal and external motivation and goals.

Revenge could have been a great motivation for Obi-wan in Eps 2 & 3. Too bad they killed off Darth Maul in the same scene…


  1. Conflict is two dogs & one bone. (They want something someone else wants just as badly).
  2. Conflict is not the same as arguing.
  3. Any conflict that can be cleared up with a 2 minute frank conversation between characters is not a conflict.
  4. Your characters should come to every scene with a goal and conflict.


Have a strong antagonist, but realize that the antagonist doesn’t always have to be a villain. And when it comes to YA novels, you can’t have an adult solve the teen’s problem. That’s often why you’ll find YA stories about orphans (Harry Potter) or who have useless parent(s) (Hunger Games).

The reader needs to know the dire consequences that will befall the main character if he/she does not reach his/her goal. Otherwise they won’t feel the tension in what they’re reading and may disengage.

And as Dwight Swain says each story should have a problem, character, goal, antagonist, and disaster. Write down each of these categories and make sure you can define each of these when it comes to your novel.

Any tips you would add? Have you found places where you were ruining motivation when you could have been using it? What do you do to make sure you give your characters motivation and conflict in every scene?

One more thing on ruining motivation. In earlier iterations of my novel, I had a main character who started as a great conflicting force for my MC that essentially disappeared for the rest of the book after being in the first few chapters. It took me several rewrites to realize I was killing some excellent motivation for my MC. Now that character doesn’t disappear and I think things are much improved. Scour your own novel and make sure you’re not killing off good conflict before it comes to grand fruition.

Monday’s Writerly Quote

Today’s quote I stumbled upon thanks to Phil’s post, linking to a bunch of William Faulkner quotes.

I’ve heard people say, “Well, if I were not married and had children, I would be a writer.” I’ve heard people say, “If I could just stop doing this, I would be a writer.” I don’t believe that. I think if you’re going to write you’re going to write, and nothing will stop you.

Some of you may find this a little discouraging, but here’s the thing. If you’re blogging, you’re already writing. And if you’re writing a story on top of that, gold stars all around.

You’re a writer as soon as you make up your mind to be. We do those things which are most important to us and make time for those things. In fact, look at what you spend your day on. Whether you like it or not, those are the things you find the most important.

My philosophy is all things in good measure. If you’re writing too much and not spending enough time filling your creative cup by reading, enjoying life and other activities, sooner or later you will hit a dry spot. There are some periods of my life where it just seems like I can’t get enough writing time in (well, in addition to blogging). I think it might be my subconscious saying time to revitalize.

What’s my point in that? You don’t have to spend every free moment of your life writing to be a writer. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to read some books—in fact, you should always make time for reading. You know yourself better than anyone. You know when it’s true procrastination and when it’s more likely break time.

But like I said, if you’re blogging, you’re already writing. If you haven’t, take time to celebrate in that success, even if you think it’s minor.

And then, for those working on other projects, do what you need to do to get it done. Set goals, participate in Row80, or find your own way to motivate yourself.

candy cane pen

The ink smells like peppermint. How’s that for motivation?

Make up your mind to be a writer, then write.

Do you agree with the quote? What gets in the way of your writing? How do you keep everything balanced? Any tips for others who need help staying motivated? Let us know below!