When I first started writing, I was a pantser--I had no plot in mind, I just sat down and started writing my NaNo. Over time, however, I've learned the value of plotting. Even the simplest outline can be useful. I think many of us cringe at the idea of an outline thanks to traumatic high school composition experiences where we were forced to outline boring research papers. These aren't those kind of outlines. You won't be graded. ;)
Today's guest is romantic suspense author Susan Rae. Chicago authors have a special place in my heart, so I'm excited to have her here today. I'm definitely going to check her DeLuca series out. (Hot Chicago police officers? Yes, please!) ;-)
1. What flavor is your writing? (Contemporary? Historical? Spicy? Action? Space odyssey? Ninjas? All of the above?)
Definitely Steamy Suspense!
2. Where do you get your inspiration?
Very often, the ideas for my suspense storylines come from the newspaper. I read the newspaper every morning and every so often an article will spark my imagination. I often combine one or two story ideas and work with them as I create the hero and heroine for a novel, and their love story.
You can't start writing your NaNoWriMo novel until November 1st, but you can do pre-writing exercises. Outlining, character profiles, and other prompts are fair game, so today I'm going to talk about ways to get muse into noveling shape with a few writing exercises.
They Fight Crime: Need some wacky inspiration? Try the They Fight Crime! Movie Idea Generator. (He's an unsexedmaster criminal whom everyone believes is mad. She's a patronizing opera singer prone to fits of blood-crazed rage. Together, They Fight Crime!) It's pretty hilarious, and writing a scene or two with the random suggestions is a great warm-up activity.
20 Questions: Character questionnaires can be a fun way to build your protagonist's background. I have an example of two question sets here. I like to use some of the basic questions to build a character profile. The profile is comprised of a little background info, the character's basic vital statistics, and a picture of the person I'd like to play him or her in a blockbuster movie. (Benedict Cumberbatch is often part of my dream cast. And Tom Hiddleston.)
What Has It Got in Its Pocketses?: In this exercise you list the items a character carries in her purse or his wallet, and why s/he has them, like an old family photo worn at the corners or a punch card for the local hipster coffee shop about to earn a free drink. You can always spot a romance author by the promotional pens in her purse. ;-)
OkCupid is Always So...Inspiring:This is your character's first date with someone
he/she met online. What happens?
What Characters Want: Your character acquires a magic or sciencey object that allows its user to read minds. What sort of shenanigans ensue?
I Do This to my Sims All the Time: Your character walks into her house and it’s
completely different — furniture, decor, all changed. And nobody’s home. What happens next?
Don't Blink: Your character has
a severe phobia. How does the character overcome this fear? How is the
character consumed by this fear? (OMG CLOWNS. WHY, AMERICAN HORROR STORY? WHY???!!!)
No, it's Not the U2 Album:Your
character’s iPod plays a song she didn't upload onto it. What song is it? Where
did it come from?
There are a million different prompts out there just a Google search away. Have a favorite one to share? Please leave it in the comments!
Next week I'll be talking about plotting and story mapping. NaNoWriMo is almost here! I'm excited. :-D
Want to win a copy of my 2011 NaNo Poison in the Blood? You can enter here:
Today's guest is fantasy and paranormal romance author Mary Jo Burke. She's talking about her fantasy romance Mother Nature's Man, and I'm glad to have her here. :) (How gorgeous is that cover? I love it.) (And I'm so picking up a copy of All Hours Trading.)
1. What flavor is your writing? (Contemporary? Paranormal? Spicy? Action? Space odyssey? Ninjas? All of the above?)
I write whatever pops into my head, I let the story find the genre later. My paranormal book, All Hours Trading, features a centuries old vampire and his financial advisor lady love. Camelot meets Wall Street. It started as a contemporary romance. My fantasy book, Mother Nature’s Man focuses on Mother Nature’s search for a mate. She gets blamed for so much misery in the world, I decided she be able to tell her side and fall in love. This one started as an historical romance. I like to add humor to my stories because being able to laugh together makes life sweeter.
2. Where do you get your inspiration?
I love to read and watch movies, and then rewrite them in my mind. I change endings and rearrange characters and settings.
My previous NaNo posts can be found here. I've covered topics from describing my past NaNo experiences to offering tips on plotting and using tropes in your novel, but today I'll be talking about hitting your daily word count. To achieve NaNoWriMo glory you must cross the 50k word finish line by November 30th. The simplest way to ensure this is to set a daily word count goal of 1,667 words. (Aside, Thanksgiving will almost always mess you up, so it's best to plan ahead and bank some extra words before the holiday hits.)
Word Count Slayage Tip 1: NaNoWriMo, meet HabitRPG
I love HabitRPG. It's a simple, free site that allows you to treat your life like a role-playing game. (This is an old pic of my character. Now I'm level 34!) Habit allows you to create your own customized daily tasks, habits, and to do lists. I use it both for writing and everyday tasks. If I write 1k words, I get xp. Do the dishes, get xp. Walk the dog, get xp. You get the idea.
For the gamer-minded author, HabitRPG is a great way to stay motivated to finish your work-in-progress. People often ask me, "What do you win with NaNoWriMo?" Satisfaction! But if you're a NaNoer and a HabitRPGer, then you get satisfaction and experience points. ;)
Word Count Slayage Tip 2: Word War!
If you have a competitive mindset, then word wars are a great way to increase your word count. You set a specific amount of time (like an hour), and the person who writes the most words within that time period wins the war. My BFF Diana and I used to bet sandwiches--the loser would have to pay for the winner's sandwich the next time we went to our favorite coffee shop.
Many authors on Twitter like to do 1k/1hr challenges, where they recruit other writers to join them in trying to write 1,000 words in one hour. Or you could follow @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter for crazy writing prompts and extra motivation.
Word Count Slayage Tip 3: Turn off the Internet
It's easy to fall down the research rabbit hole when working on a new novel. The temptation to stop and look up dates, place names, and other interesting tidbits can turn into hours of distraction. And the Internet will always try to lure you away with promises of adorable cat videos, important FB status updates, and emails that magically appear in your inbox when you're trying to write. If you're easily distracted, then turn your Internet connection off. All the way off. Hell, unplug your modem if you can. Set a timer, apply butt to chair, and write. When you're done you can reward yourself with lolcats. ;)
Before NaNo starts I'll post about writing exercises and story mapping, so please check back for more NaNo tips. Have some favorite tips to share? Please post them in the comments!
I'm super thrilled to have one of my favorite authors as today's guest--Sheryl Nantus! I love all of her series. (Like super heroes? You should read the Blaze of Glory books. A shapeshifter fan? Try Blood of the Pride. Sci-fi romance? Browncoat? Read Into the Black.)
Sheryl is here to promote her second Tales from the Edge book, which is awesome. Enjoy. :)
1. Congrats on your second Tales from the Edge book! What can readers look forward to in In the Void?
In The Void tells Sean's story and how he ended up as a Mercy man. Everyone may love a Mercy man or a Mercy woman but very few know how he or she arrived there – and Sean's got his own past.
When the Bonnie Belle rescues a ship's survivor he discovers that he still has the capacity for love – but he's got to fight for it. And I'm not just talking about mental battles – pirates want Catherine Rogers dead and they're willing to go to any extent to do it, including destroying the Bonnie Belle and everyone on her.
My guest today is fellow Samhain author Vivi Andrews. Her new sexy shapeshifter romance Taming the Lion is out now! And look at that gorgeous cover! Is it warm in here?
1. What flavor is your writing? (Contemporary? Spicy? Action? Space odyssey? Ninjas? All of the above?)
I write paranormal in a variety of flavors, but lately I’ve been focusing on my sexy shape-shifter romances at the Lone Pine Pride—a secret community full of lions and tigers and bears… among others.
2. Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. Is that a cop-out answer? I can say that I get my best ideas in the car, in the shower, or right before I fall asleep—essentially anytime I can’t write them down—but they just seem to come flying out of the ether and hit me upside the head. Darned if I know where they come from.