Browsing "NaNoWriMo"
Dec 1, 2010 - NaNoWriMo    Comments Off on Wordle – Turn Your Novel Into A Picture

Wordle – Turn Your Novel Into A Picture

If you haven’t run across Wordle before, it’s a fun little site where you can paste in some text and it will create a picture based on how frequently you use particular words in the text. For example, the current draft of Gears of Wonderland (as at the end of NaNoWriMo) produces the following picture.

(James and Kara are the names of the main character and his companion). The site has a huge number of layouts that you can cycle through (at random), and is a good bit of fun.

Of course, it does have a useful side. It gives you a quick graphical way to see if you’re overusing any words. A quick look at the picture above suggests that I like to use asked, back, ship and looked quite a bit (Lahire and Torre are also used a lot, but they are also names). So those words will be ones I’ll have to be aware of when it comes to revising, to make sure I’m not overusing the words.

Nov 30, 2010 - NaNoWriMo    Comments Off on NaNoWriMo Success!

NaNoWriMo Success!

At mid-afternoon today, my story (working title Gears of Wonderland) officially passed the 50k words stage for NaNoWriMo. Huzzah!

There was a last minute scare. I was using OpenOffice to write the novel, and it reported that I was over 50k. So I went to the NaNo site to get the official stamp of approval – and discovered that the NaNo site thought I only had 48k words! Needless to say, that led to a scrambled 2k words to make up for the shortfall.

After doing a few tests, it seems that OpenOffice likes to count some punctuation (like the emdash) as a word. While I doubt I have 2,000 emdashes in the story (at least I hope I don’t!), there were obviously other things it was counting as words that the NaNo site doesn’t agree with. A nasty trap to be aware of.

Still, at least I discovered it early enough that I could correct it.

Now that I’ve managed to make it through NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d pass on my tips on what worked for me.

  1. Work out ahead of time if you need some sort of outline for your story. I sketched out general “way points” that I passed through in the story, but I certainly didn’t outline the story to any depth. This worked very well for me, but you may need more (or less) to succeed. I personally wouldn’t recommend going in without at least an idea in mind of what you want to write, but some people have succeeded doing exactly that so *shrug*.
  2. Try to have at least an idea of what your first sentence, and first paragraph, will be before you start. That way when you finally sit down in front of your computer, you can start typing straight away without having to think “how on earth do I start this?”
  3. If you can, start writing as soon as it passes midnight. If you then get up in the morning and just do the daily goal, you’ll be ahead by the amount you typed before you went to sleep.
  4. Do everything you can to get a big buffer on your first day. I managed 5k words on the first day because I had the day off work (a happy coincidence) – this buffer saved me quite a bit in the first two weeks!
  5. Try to write every day. Even if you don’t managed to reach the daily quota, it’s easier to make up 667 words than 1,667 words.
  6. As soon as the word count verification becomes available on the NaNo site, submit your story as it is to see if their word count matches yours – you may find (as I did) that your software is reporting a different number!
  7. If you aren’t sure about something in your story (you have several options you can follow, and you’re not sure which to use), just pick one and forge ahead. You can always change it later on a rewrite.
  8. In a similar fashion, don’t be afraid to skip ahead slightly in the story if you are getting too bogged down in a particular section (you can’t seem to find the words to describe it for example, or you’re just not sure how to handle a particular scene). You can always go back and add it once you pass your 50k goal, and have a bit more time to think about it. In my novel, I started off writing with two viewpoint characters. For the last half of the novel, I only wrote from the viewpoint of one of the characters, because I realised I hadn’t worked out a proper story for the second character to follow. I’ll work out the second characters story on the rewrite.
  9. Please, for the love of all that has been written, don’t treat your NaNo work as a finished document. At the very least let it sit a few weeks, then go back through and edit it before you try to do anything with it.

All in all I have to say I found NaNoWriMo to be a huge benefit, and I heartily recommend it to everyone thinking about trying their hand and writing a novel. It’s a great way to decide if you really want to write or not.

Oct 28, 2010 - NaNoWriMo    Comments Off on NaNoWriMo is almost here

NaNoWriMo is almost here

It’s just a few more days until NaNoWriMos is upon us. I’ve got to admit I’m both excited and a little scared by the idea . Excited because it could be a whole lot of fun. Scared because it’s going to be an awful lot of work!

One tool that I think will be handy to keep an eye on how I’m going is Svenja’s Word Tracker, a spreadsheet that helps you keep track of your word count and provides a lot of interesting information. For example it can give you your actual daily word average, what percentage complete you are, what percentage you wrote on a particular day, etc.

I hope it is useful to others as well.

Oct 15, 2010 - General, NaNoWriMo    Comments Off on The Dreaded First Post

The Dreaded First Post

It’s alive!

So the blog is finally up and running, after buying the domain several weeks ago. There wasn’t any technical reason why the blog wasn’t here – I was just lazy!

So who am I? Simply put, I’m just a regular guy who has dreams of one day becoming a successful writer, and has decided to actually start working towards that dream instead of admiring it from a distance.

Now there is a caveat to the word “published”. For the moment I don’t plan to try and be traditionally published. Not because I think the big publishers are evil and going to destroy the world, but simply because I’ve always been a DIY person when it comes to selling.

As a result, my plan is to self-publish what I write for Kindle (and probably offer paper versions via print-on-demand). Now to some, self publishing (or being an “indie” author) means the result is crap – unedited junk that should never have left the authors home.

While I can’t promise that my material won’t be crap (although I hope it won’t be 😉 ), I will be making sure that anything I release has been alpha and beta read by other people, and that it has also been edited by someone else.

Like many would-be authors, I’ve got several ideas floating around in my mind. To get the first one out of there, I’m planning on taking part in this years NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’ve got my story idea, the general plot is being sketched out, and I’ve got the basics of the main characters.

Now I’ve got two more weeks to finish fleshing things out to a useful stage 🙂