The Epicness that is NaNoWriMo

If you look up the word “Epic,” in Beth’s Dictionary (a little different than Webster’s), there will be this picture next to it:

The LOGO

Because NaNoWriMo is the pinnacle of all things epic.  At least in the writing world.  At least in Beth’s world.

It’s been two days so far.

Notable Moments of Day 1:

  • “Attending” the Live Write-In online and seeing the comments just flood the video and the writing just HAPPENING.
  • Sitting at my bea-u-ti-ful desk and eating twizzlers.
  • THE VOICE.  OH. MY. GOSH. I love this story’s voice.
  • Hitting 2,000 words.
  • I should have plotted the plot a little more…

Notable Moments of Day 2:

  • Writing in those 20 minutes before I had to leave for school and thinking that I might switch to present tense
  • Attending a Write-In at my community college (where I take classes) and WRITING with REAL LIVE people
  • Word sprint at said Write-In.  15 minutes.  650 words.  Wowzer.  (I got second place; the lady in charge pulled of 700+)
  • Chatting about characters and Plot Ninjas and killing characters and favorite sentences and wordcounts and all things NaNoWriMo
  • Hitting, you know, 3000 words
  • Hitting 4000 words!!!!!
  • Getting a button that says “I Novel,” a sticker that says “Contents Extremely Imaginative.”  I love them both dearly.

button nanowrimo-extremely-imaginative-sticker

  • Finally being home and doing some more editing on TSOC.  Because I’m still putting those nifty line edits back into my MS text document.  Yeah I didn’t quite finish before November.  Oooopsy.
  • I now have a blister on the side of my right ring finger.  ‘Cause apparently I type on the side of that finger.  Greaaaat.

If y’all are doing NaNo, what’s your wordcount?  Mine is currently 4,542.  And that number feels amazing.

And if you’re not doing NaNo, who cares!  Write like your chair is on fire this week anyways.  Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best simile I’ve ever written…  But NaNo is all about quantity over quality, so who cares.

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NaNoWriMo explained in terms of LOTR gifs

NaNoWriMo is coming soon.  And for those of you who still aren’t quite sure what it is, let me explain.  But a picture is worth 1,000 words, so… have some gifs.

Getting ready to start on October 31st:

gif (2)

Word sprints with friends like:

final count 42

I myself sitting pretty on 43

Drinking coffee like:

this, my friend, is a pint

Trying to meet your daily word count goal like:

Leggy county kills on oliphont

Sleeping like-

Oh wait.  I forgot.

one does not simple sleep during nanowrimo

Your friends who drop out half way through November are like:

I would have gone with you to the end

When you realize you’re behind on your word count:

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Finally typing the words “The End.”

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You on December 1st like:

it's over it's done

Your friends/ family on December 1st like:

yes Mr Frodo

Your writer friends see that you’ve won:

you bow to no one

Reading some of what you’ve written:

gif (6)

Realizing that you’ve written an ENTIRE BOOK:

gif (8)

My NaNo Survival Kit / Tour of my Desk

Well, folks.  One week of sanity remaining.

Since NaNoWriMo is only seven days away, I thought it was high time that I gave y’all a desk tour.  Most people would call this their “Survival Kit,” but mine happens to all be at a desk, so….

THE DESK TOUR! (With photos)

The desk itself:

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Unicorns on the top!  Because… fantasy story.  With unicorns.

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The “Inspiration Box.”  If I wake up one day and have no idea what to write, then I will open this beautiful box, reach in, and grab two items.  The idea is that I MUST use one or the other in my story.  So say I pull out a candle and an ipod.  Then I could either light something on fire (in the story), or play some music (in the story).  Or have the character smell something, or hear some music, or something.  Basically, it’s the box for Unsticking the Plot.

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The Emotion Thesaurus.  (Don’t tell anyone that I couldn’t spell Thesaurus.)  I blogged all about this nifty book here, but I’ll just sum it up real quick: it tells you how to show emotion by giving physical actions for each emotion.  Wanna show Eagerness? Have your characters be leaning forward, licking lips, smiling, bouncing on toes, rushing one’s words, etc.  It gives you amazing lists of reactions to each emotion.  It is wonderful.

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This next book has nothing to do with writing.  It’s just there in case I need to give my brain a few minutes off.  I’ve heard it said that sometimes it’s helpful to have a book to read just to remember how words are supposed to go together.  This is one of my all-time favorites (It’s Sundancer by Shelly Peterson) and I’ve read it so many times that I can just jump in and read a few pages without being sucked in too much.

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Lights.  Lighty orb balls of happiness.  So that I can have some lovely light-filled inspiration or something.  (Five dollars at Target, people!  Definitely worth it.)

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Slippers of fuzziness and a blanket.  Because my basement is cold.

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Random flashcards stuck everywhere!

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My personal favorites: when all else fails, blow something up, and Philippians 4:13 for goodness sake!


Then we have the Reward Graph to encourage the word count to keep going up.

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NOT PICTURED: Kleenex, hand lotion, lip balm, note cards, markers, a character binder, a notebook, my laptop, a large music playlist, a NaNo calendar, and a box of assorted candy.


Finally, we have the great NaNoWriMo mug, for lots and lots of caffeine.

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I hope this tour has inspired you in some way, or maybe given you a new idea about your work space.  Is there anything I’ve left out?

Diving In(to the World of Publishing)

… or more like just getting my feet wet.

When I brought my gorgeous, newly-printed MS with me to my Teen Writer’s Club meeting, I immediately got asked the ultimate question: “Do you think you’re going to publish it?”

My honest response was “Maybe. I don’t really know.”

But I’ve been thinking… and I at least want to see how hard it would be.

So.  Yesterday I did something radical.  I Googled “Literary Agents.”

For those of you who aren’t savvy with Publishing-World Lingo… An Agent is someone who agrees to represent your book to publishers.  They will get your book “published” for you and will take a cut from the royalties if it sells.  They basically guide you through the process, so a lot of people start their publishing journey by finding an agent. An alternative method is to submit queries directly to a publisher, but there’s some downsides to this.

So, I hit “Search” and was instantly overwhelmed.  Today, however, I found a cool site called AgentQuery.  I then opened a Google Spreadsheet and started filling in some info.  After about two hours of work, I have ten agents listed, complete with their full name, agency, email, and what they require when you send in a query.  Some only want a query.  Some also want a synopsis.  Some want the first ten pages, or the first three chapters.  It varies from agency to agency or even agent to agent, so now I have this nifty spreadsheet with the first ten agents I will query to.

Now.

I can hear the objections forming in your minds.  They’re practically bursting out your ears.

BETH!  I don’t understand!  Have you even written a query or synopsis yet?  I thought you were still editing your MS?  I thought you hadn’t even submitted to Beta Readers yet?  I thought you were writing another book in November?   I thought – ?

You thought correctly.

So, perhaps I have the cart before the horse a bit.  HOWEVER.  Part of me just wanted to know how hard it would be to find some agents that would be query-worthy.

And it turns out that it’s not super easy.  But it’s not super hard either.  Two hours for ten agents is do-able, right?

In that case, why not try to get published?  What do I have to lose?  (Okay, a lot of time and effort, but we won’t talk about that.)

Here’s some random lessons I’ve learned so far:

Terms –

Magical Realism: where reality is infused with magic in such a way that it is normal.  According to the Goodreads definition, “The story explains these magical elements as normal occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the “real” and the “fantastic” in the same stream of thought. ”  This would be different from books like Harry Potter, where the magic happens in this world but is hidden from most people.

Urban Fantasy: where the magic happens in this world.  I always assumed the opposite of High Fantasy was Low Fantasy.  Acutually, guys, it’s Urban Fantasy.  Ooops.  (Harry Potter would be Urban Fantasy; LOTR, Narnia, and Eragon are all High Fantasy.)

Boutique Agency.  Also, in typing out those words, I learned that Boutique has two u‘s in it.  Who knew?  Anyways, while I couldn’t find a proper definition, I kindof gathered that it is a fancy way of saying a “small agency.”  Let’s just say that the agencies who claimed to be “Boutique” tended to have three agents or less.

Important Stuffs –

The first 10 pages need to be really, really good.  I found that a lot of agents request the first 10 pages with the query.  (Others ask for the first 3 chapters, or sometimes even the first 50 pages.  But the first “10 pages” seemed to be the most popular.

Don’t expect a response to emailed queries.  It’s just not gonna happen.

Expect a lot of silence.  And maybe some rejection.  But mostly just crickets chirping in the background.  And also lots of waiting.  Most agents’ websites say that the wait time is anything from four weeks to about two months.  So lots and lots and lots of waiting.  Oh, and if they come back and request a partial, then you wait another few weeks/months.  And if they request a full MS, then it’s a few more weeks.  And then if they agree to represent you, it’s more months before they find you a publisher.  And more waiting after that.  Waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.

I’m not sure there was really a point to all of this.

Okay, here we go… THE POINT TO ALL OF THIS:

Yes, it’s a lot of work to try to get something published.  It’s a long road with a lot of steps and a ton of time and effort.  But it’s NOT impossible, and it’s not too hard to get started.  So if you’ve got a great MS, all it takes to get yourself started is a simple Google search.

Line Edits

Well, folks, I’ve really enjoyed my week off of writing/editing.  I did a project for my Graphic Design class, worked on a college application, and watched some Harry Potter movies.

But yesterday, it was time.  With NaNoWriMo looming just two weeks away, I decided I’d better hunker down and get to work.  Therefore, Chapter 1 has now been line-edited.  It’s a really awesome feeling just being able to mark up a piece of paper.  I like it.  A lot.

The photographic proof:

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So far, I’ve noticed a few things:

  1. I’m making a lot more notes/ corrections than I was expecting to.
  2. I actually really like this story
  3. Sometimes I just didn’t convey things well.  Having a definitive knowledge of where the story is going really helps me sort out characters and plot points and such.
  4. It’s actually really fun to edit.
  5. I’m gonna have to work really, really hard to get it done and corrected by November 1st.

But hey, NaNoWriMo is all about crazy deadlines, so why not get some practice with ’em?

That’s all for now, folks.  I’ve gotta run – teen writer’s club at my library tonight!

Happy Writing!

The Great Printout

This was quite the momentous weekend for me.

On Saturday, I sat down at the computer in our kitchen, opened my MS, and edited.  Got some coffee and edited some more.  Refilled my coffee and edited some more.

For about two and a half hours.

All the way

To the end

Of the story.

Which means that I’m done.  Done with the big plot-edits.  Done with the trying to figure out where my plot was going.  Done with the first round of edits!

And ready for the next step.

On Sunday, I went to Kinkos with my MS on a flashdrive.

Twenty dollars, ten minutes, and one smiling employee later, I walked out with 135 pages of my soul printed out and hidden inside a little brown box.

I’m so excited that I’ve been able to get my MS this far.  So grateful to God for allowing me to have this amazing experience, to meet so many amazing people, to fall so deeply in love with a hobby.

I mean, look.  Just over two years ago, I had this:  Handwritten Six hand-written pages, the very poor start to a story that I didn’t know the ending to.  I never dreamed the journey it would take me on.  I never dreamed that I’d pour two and a half years into turning them into this:

CollageA hundred and thirty-five polished, proof-read, exciting pages that make up a complete book.

Now, I did have a purpose behind those twenty dollars I spent.  My plan is to go through my MS and mark it up with pen, paying closer attention to pacing, paragraph style, transitions, and even sentence structure.  But first, I’m taking a week off.  I’m letting my brain rest for a week and letting my mom read it.  Then I’ll spend the next two weeks reading through and giving it the second round of edits.  And then, on October 31st, I will share it with some of my friends via dropbox.  I will let my brother and father read it.  I will send it to my aunt.  And then I will write my NaNoNovel in November while my MS is out being read by my friends.

I think it’s crucial to print out one’s work at some point in the process.  Our minds see things differently on paper than they do on the screen.  Plus, it allows me to read it more as a reader than as a writer.  That’s what I’m going for.

I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me – especially if I pursue getting it published – but this is just a really cool milestone.

To see one’s work in print for the first time.  It’s a cool feeling.

Words & The End

Some Late Night Ramblings on Character Development.

It’s October 1st.IMAG1488

The leaves on the trees are turning red brown.

There’s a chill in the air.

Fuzzy slippers and hot cocoa are calling my name.

Oh, and NaNoWriMo is a month away.

But that’s just a side note.

What I really want to talk about today is character development.

My characters for my NaNoNovel are all coming together in bits and pieces.

Here’s five things I’m focusing on for each one right now:

  1. Their name.  Okay, yes, it’s sad: I don’t have a name for any of my characters yet.  Okay, I have ONE name.  But the rest are just “the MC” or “The MC’s Friend #1.”  I have a feeling I will spend some time prowling around the Appellation Station forum.
  2. Their backstory.  Obviously, it’s important to know where my characters are coming from.  How their parents act.  Who their friends are.  What their life experience is.  Who they are before page 1.
  3. What they’d wear.  This may seem a bit strange, but I’m really having fun with this.  When we meet someone for the first time in real life, we judge them by what they wear.  And even after that, the way they dress says a lot about someone.  Obviously, I care a lot more about who my friends are on the INSIDE, but how they present themselves on the outside sometimes reflects a part of their personality.  I’ve gone online and printed out some pictures of clothing different people would wear.  So that when I go to write them, I can visualize.
  4. How they talk.  I’ve had issues in the past with wanting to introduce a character but just not being sure how they should sound.  Not every character needs to have a specific “dialect” or “accent” (wher ye’ write all da werds like dis ta convey how dey’s tawking).  However, I do find it helpful to be able to hear a character’s voice in my head.  Is his voice deep?  Does she giggle a lot?  Does he curse?  Does she babble?  Does he say “Aw, man!” all the time?  Knowing how my characters are going to sound ahead of time lets me write dialogue without even thinking.
  5. Their place in the story.  I’ve developed three main supporting characters already (not to mention the antag and another side character).  What is each character there for?  How do they meet the protag?  How do they get along with each other?  Does this character add tension?  Will they surprise the reader?

What are you guys up to this next month?