National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, is soon to be upon us. Before NaNo, I had written at most 37k over three years on one whole project. I had many WIPs but never had I finished a single one. NaNo changed that. On my post about "Binge Writing" you can read more specifics on my history with NaNo, but the purpose of this post is to give you advice that I hope will help you cross the 50k mark!
1. Plan SOMETHING
My first novel was an absolute pantser dream. I had nothing. No plot ideas or characters, only a thought and a desire to write like I was playing a role-playing game such as World of Warcraft or was walking within the open world of the many Elder Scroll games.
To me, this was a canvas for my imagination where anything could and would happen. In hindsight, I still like this idea. But for fast writing, it is not very efficient or organized, at least for me. My strategy now is to write out something. Sometimes, I write out the entire plot beginning to end and other times much less planning goes into it and it consists of a beginning, some gush of plot for the middle, and a brief idea for an ending. Here you can also play with plot twists. (even if you don't understand them yet) Have fun with it!
If you deviate from this plan in small ways or it seems nothing makes sense, just keep writing. That is the point of a first draft. You must flush the story from the primeval birth canal of imagination. Then and only then, can you began the process of carving your novel from that first draft.
2. Do not stop.
I mean this. With the only exception being a misaligned keyboard mistake where your sentence looks like this:
"Kadja ad asdo jinm ad"
NaNo is about getting your draft down, not writing a manuscript worthy to be read. Remember that and free yourself from judgment!
3. Free Writing
This is for those annoying times when your muse takes a break after an overdose of caffeine and takes off walking. Do not allow it to escape! If you are stuck and nothing seems to be going right, your plot has stalled, and you are sure you are the worse writer in the history of bad writers, take a DEEP breath!
Then, pull out a blank sheet of paper to get your mind off the computer screen. (assuming you are not writing your book free hand) If you have to pace a bit or work on your next cup of coffee, that is fine, but at this point just write out as plainly as possible what your next step in the scene is.
Person A talks to Person B to tell them information
Person B Panics and stabs person A
Person B flees the house and is chased by town guards.
Person A is left on floor pondering life
Obviously, that is only a rough example but the idea is to get your creative juices flowing again. This is when I will also advise NOT checking email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and is a moment when deviating from writing can mean a roadblock to that goal of 50,000. Don't let this happen to you, free-write!
4. Keep The Writing Fire Burning
Somewhere I read a quote that for the life of me I cannot find to post here. (Such is life...) The idea is that as a writer your should not write until you cannot think of what to write next but should stop just short of that. This way, when you sit down to write the next day you are itching to get going and you get a running start to hopefully carry you until your goal for the day. This in a way ties in to tip #1 above of planning something ahead of time. You are much less likely to get stuck if you have a general direction you are heading towards!
5. Make A Plot "Grab bag"
So for this I love the corkboard function of Scrivener. (Which has to be the writer god's gift to us writers!) I make this "grab bag" during my plotting stage where I have an idea but lack a good way to incorporate it. This can be as simple as "bloody kitchen" or "Fred the Leper", it doesn't have to make sense, but it may help spur a new plot twist or dig you our of awkward conundrum. (I had a character drop unconscious in my book Winemaker of the North, I did not expect it but thankfully my "grab bag" gave me an answer for it.)
"What a cool plot twist!"
"Thank you, I liked it too and I wasn't expecting it!"
"But you're the writer!"
"Yeah... these characters do their own thing. I just record it."
Good luck to all of you attempting NaNoWriMo 2014! I will be there beside you and I hope some of my tips provide you with a bit of help to assist you in reaching your goal! Feel free to add me as a buddy on the NaNoWriMo website as well! My username is "ziok" and you can find my info here!
From snow capped peaks o'er valleys cold,
a whishing wind wails.
The polar lights shine above,
a hidden city nigh a summit veiled.
Come have Elves and too the Dwarves,
gypsies dance and sing.
Magic pools ripple and potions smoke,
starlight high is glimmering.
From northern Ichor road,
down to Tareh way.
Stroll down the Mirenor,
in Elinathrond you can stay.
Until the curse of magic's bane,
is no more and all are sane.
Upon this icy, frigid mount,
under Wura's grace we must remain.
Elinathrond is waiting for you in Winemaker of the North! Click this link!
All right, so coffee consumption is at an all time high and work production is not following as it should! I have a lot of work to be doing and am not completing it as I should! SO, here is the plan stated to the world to keep me on track for the coming 2 weeks:
I WILL complete the following prior to NaNoWriMo 2014 AKA November 1st 2014:
*All line editing for Saints of Wura Book 2
*Plotting for Nano novel: "Ascent"
*All editing for "Winemaker of the North" which I just received back fresh from my editor today!
Not too much I guess for roughly 15 days. Barring extreme unforeseen circumstance it is doable. I hoping to publish book 1 and book 2 of the Saints of Wura trilogy in early 2015 and December is going to be a busy month as it is, so this is how it must be. It WILL BE DONE!
Feel free to say hi in the comments and be ready for my next blog post: "5 tips for NaNoWriMo Success!"
At last, we return to the cold regions of the continent of North America and though I am sharing only a few of the many Inuit Legends, it is well worth to visit the sites where I cite these legends. I feel very few know of these traditional myths!
The Inuit came into North America from Siberia crossing into Alaska via the Bering Ice Strait and replacing the Thule Culture that inhabited most of the Artic regions of North America. They centered their myths around the natural world and in the instance below, what was the most important to them and their life, the sea.
Sedna: Inuit goddess of the Sea and the Underworld, which is coincidentally, the bottom of the sea.
Though there are variations in the story, seals supposedly were spawned from her own fingertips that were cut off by her father as she attempted to hold on to the side of his boat. Yes, at one time, she was actually a mortal. Though she was prideful, unhappy that her home was not as extravagant as she wishes. (Come on, who wants fish skin beds when reindeer beds are much more comfortable. Sedna was actually from another land but had married and came to North America.)
Her father had came to "rescue her" after she plead to him to take her from her lowly existence. But when a storm struck his boat, he tried to sacrifice her to end the storm. *father of the year award goes to: Sedna's Father!*
After he cut off her fingers, he felt bad and pulled her back into the boat. Taking her back to land and her lowly estate, Sedna attempted to punish her father by letting dogs tear off his hands and feet, he cursed her and the earth opened up swallowing him, her, and the hut she lived in.
It was from then on, she became a goddess, and ruler of the city of the underworld, Adlivun. I'm not sure how being prideful and cursing your father earns you the right to be a goddess, but this is their story not mine! If you happen to come across that reason or know it, let me know, I will change the info here!
The Northern Lights
It seems that the Northern Lights and their meaning varies greatly depending on which Inuit tribe spoke of them. The most common theme: dead ancestors.
A tribe in Greenland believed that they were the spirits of infants that died at birth.
Another tribe believed it was actually a game where spirits played "ball" with an animal head, and then those of Nunivak Island made it more morbid with the claim it was a human head.
At Point Barrow in Alaska, there was a tribe that believe it was an evil entity that needed to be hidden from. They went as far as to sleep with knives under their pillows. Though, I doubt this would've been enough if it was an entity of some kind. I actually have a similar belief in my book, Winemaker of the North!
My favorite summary is taken from an explorer named Ernest W. Hawkes, who wrote:
"The ends of the land and sea are bounded by an immense abyss,
over which a narrow and dangerous pathway leads to the
heavenly regions. The sky is a great dome of hard material
arched over the Earth. There is a hole in it through which the
spirits pass to the true heavens. Only the spirits of those who
have died a voluntary or violent death, and the Raven, have been
over this pathway. The spirits who live there light torches to
guide the feet of new arrivals. This is the light of the aurora.
They can be seen there feasting and playing football with a
The whistling crackling noise which sometimes accompanies the
aurora is the voices of these spirits trying to communicate
with the people of the Earth. They should always be answered
in a whispering voice. Youths dance to the aurora. The
heavenly spirits are called selamiut, "sky-dwellers," those who
live in the sky. "
If I had a single favorite aspect of Inuit myths, it would be those of Aurora Borealis, or its common name, the Northern Lights. There wonder inspired the original Winemaker of the North idea and is a consistent presence across all three books.
The Inuit myths, though only touched briefly upon here, have some of the very similar myths as the more southern native American tribes which such characters as the Raven, a common appearance in other myths. I have enjoyed exploring these myths and sharing a few tidbits of what I have found. I hope you too, have enjoyed it! Thank you for reading!
Click as appropriate if you are looking for either Finnish Myths or Hawaiian Myths!
For further reading, go to these sites:
All right, well now that the annoyance of having to push off my novel has worn off, not only am I charging into my NaNoWriMo plans, I have completed first round edits of the currently named Saints of Wura Book 2. With that complete, the plot is done, inconsistencies fixed, and I am preparing for my more detailed edit! WOO-HOO! Time to get moving!
I have written the prequel-ish to Winemaker of the North and am looking to release it sometime in early next year. I say prequel-ish because it involves characters that appear in Book 1 during the genocide of magical creatures and provides some interesting back story. (Yes, I do know prequel-ish is not a word, but it makes sense. :) )
Also on my mind, has been the question if any of you reading this might wish to support me in a crowd funding campaign for both book 1 and book 2 of my Saints of Wura series. All three books are written and my rewards for differing levels of support would range from complimentary ebook copies and signed paperbacks, to the chance to work with me to create a character within the Saints of Wura world. At this time, nothing is concrete as far as crowd funding sites or the full details on support rewards but I would like to know if anyone is interested! Leave me a comment below or if you like, use the contact page above!
I really wish I could've met my original date for release and I hope to still be able to deliver at least book 1 near my original release date. Life indeed happens but I hope that one way or the other, I can deliver you the book you deserve and give you an awesome entrance into the Saints of Wura world!
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