Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo: Building Good Habits by Andrea Dunlop

Posted by November 9th, 2015

Nano cloudsLast week we posted about the awesome sweepstakes Girl Friday Productions is running for NaNoWriMo participants. As we kick off week 2 of Nano, we check in with Book Country member Andrea Dunlop (social media and marketing director at GFP and author of LOSING THE LIGHT, coming from Atria Books in February 2016) for tips on making the writing habit sustainable over time.

What do you need to make it as a writer? Talent? Ambition? Discipline? An enormous trust fund that allows you to quit your day job?

Sure, you need those things (okay, not the last one, but it couldn’t hurt). But whether your version of “making it” is getting through your 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo this year, getting a six-figure book deal, or anything in between, you definitely need good habits, because without them, none of the rest of these things will matter.

What I love about NaNoWriMo is that its very concept dispenses with any precious notions of what it means to write a book. NaNo does not concern itself with airy-fairy visions of the muse alighting on your shoulder and inspiring greatness; the only goal is to reach the word count. Technically this means that you could write the sentence “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” five thousand times in a row and complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, though we all know that doesn’t end well for the author. (On a related note, if you ever find yourself saying, “You know, if only I could get somewhere really isolated and quiet where I didn’t have any other responsibilities, I could definitely get my novel done,” you should probably watch The Shining.) Continue reading

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Why NaNoWriMo?

Posted by November 4th, 2015

nano 2015 1Please welcome Kim Bridges, a writer who works with our friends at Girl Friday Productions in Seattle, to the blog this morning. Kim, like myself and others on Book Country, will be participating in NaNoWriMo. To celebrate, Girl Friday Productions is offering a really exciting giveaway: a grand prize of a free edit of your manuscript! Five additional prizewinners will receive a swag pack from Girl Friday Productions. Go here to learn more about the giveaway.

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With the changing of the seasons comes one of my favorite times of the year: National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. NaNoWriMo takes place in November, and the goal is to write 50,000 words by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. In addition to the word count, the ultimate goal of NaNo is to complete a draft. Parts of the draft will be bad (there’s no way to avoid it when you’re writing so much so quickly), however, you may surprise yourself with how much of it is good. But it doesn’t matter how much of it is good: what matters is that when you finish, you will have a completed draft of a novel.

I have participated in NaNo twice, and I took very different approaches both times. The first time, I used a plotline from a short story that I’d written. Having a solid outline helped me write a stronger draft, but I was unaccustomed to spending so much time writing every day; I fell behind on the word count and had to write 15,000 words over the final two days.

When I NaNo’d the following year, I didn’t really have any notes about the novel I was going to write; I had only a vague notion of characters and plot. I still fell behind on the word count, but instead of having to write 15,000 words in the last forty-eight hours, I only had to come up with 10,000. Part of the difference the second time around was that I didn’t care as much about what I was writing. My expectations were very, very low. Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo Prep: Plotting Your WIP with Index Cards

Posted by October 19th, 2015

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November, hundreds of thousands of writers from around the world get together to cheer each other on as they write 50,000 words in just 30 days.

As someone who’s attempted NaNoWriMo for the last two years, but never quite made it to that 50K finish line, I am learning that to succeed at Nano, you’ve got to do at least a little prep work.

Here’s an idea for NaNoWriMo prep, inspired by an outlining idea I saw on a Book Country discussion thread called “How do you break out of writer’s block?”

Member and screenwriter Bret Plate offered up a strategy for outlining scenes ahead of time, so that you won’t get stuck when you want (or need!) to keep writing: Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Andreé Robinson-Neal

Posted by December 3rd, 2014

Member Spotlight: Meet  Andreé Robinson-NealWelcome Andreé Robinson-Neal to the Book Country Member Spotlight! Andreé is currently workshopping FROM REALITY’S EDGE, which was featured in the Waiting to Be Discovered section in October. She recently published AFTER with Christine F. Anderson Publishing & MediaConnect with Andreé on Book Country.

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Janet Umenta: NaNoWriMo 2014 ended last week. When you finished NaNoWriMo 2013, what did you do afterwards?

Andreé Robinson-Neal: When November 2013 ended, I celebrated making my word count. By November 27th, I had passed the 50k word count and was thrilled. And then I panicked. After all, I was ‘finished’ — now what? I had a mess of words on a page that had made me bleary-eyed for the past month. I set them down and concentrated on a few other things before getting back to the business of editing it.

JU: How does being an editor influence your writing process?

AR: I know that editing has helped me in more ways than I can describe. I see things that make me think, Wow! That was a great image — I felt that character’s experience! and then there are things that make me think, Wow! I hope I never do that! Editing certainly keeps me on my mental toes because I have to research things to make sure I am offering the best advice to a writer. I don’t just write things like, ‘Consider revising this sentence — it is unclear.’ I like to offer support by saying why something is unclear or indicating what I think the writer meant so he or she can take that information into consideration during the after-edit review. Continue reading

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Character-Based Doodling Prompts By Lisa Currie

Posted by November 17th, 2014

Lisa Currie

Midway into NaNoWriMo 2014? Or, stuck on your novel-in-progress or novel-to-be and feeling like your characters need a little more oomph? Today we offer another set of fun doodling prompts for character development from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! 

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Welcome to the fourth installment of doodling prompts for writers, adapted from my books, ME, YOU, US and THE SCRIBBLE DIARY. And as the holidays get closer, a little hint: the books make great gifts for writer and non-writer friends alike! In the first doodle prompt installment post, we established how doodling can help develop your book. If you click on the link, you’ll be able to download four doodle prompts that you can use to start fleshing out your character(s). The second installment was an in-depth online profile prompt. The last doodle prompt focused on plot points and obstacles in the way of your protagonist’s goal(s). Continue reading

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Doodling Prompts for Character Development! By Lisa Currie

Posted by November 12th, 2014

Lisa Currie prompt Participating in NaNoWriMo 2014? Today we offer another set of fun doodling prompts for character development from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! 

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This is the third installment of doodling prompts for writers, adapted from my books, ME, YOU, US and THE SCRIBBLE DIARY. Both are excellent tools for writer’s groups, and a fun yet productive break from laboring over the story page. In the first doodle prompt installment post, we established the power and popularity of doodling, identifying famous politicians, businessmen, authors, and creative types who doodled. If you click on the link, you’ll be able to download four doodle prompts that you can use to start fleshing out your character(s). In the second installment, it was a more in-depth online profile prompt. Continue reading

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Book Country Editor’s Picks for November

Posted by November 6th, 2014

Book Country Editor's Picks for November 2014

We’ve selected 10 new manuscripts to be featured in the Editor’s Picks section on the Read and Review page. This November, we especially wanted to highlight the great selection of mystery, thriller, and NaNoWriMo titles on Book Country. We hope reading and leaving feedback will help you in your writing journey! Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo: 5 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

Posted by October 29th, 2014

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: 5 Tips for Overcoming Writer's Block

What happens when you’re in the middle of completing your daily word count for NaNoWriMo, and you hit a wall? Writer’s block is never fun, but it’s especially panic-inducing when you’re trying to write 50,000 words in one month. Waiting around for “inspiration” to come can be both time-consuming and frustrating. Here are 5 tips on how to get through writer’s block:

Do a Ten Minute Free Write Session

When trying to find the perfect words, you can get stuck and lose momentum in your writing. Remember, the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to just write the first draft. Doing a free write session, where you write non-stop for a set period of time, can help keep the words moving. Even if you end up writing something entirely different from your story during the free write, at least you’re still writing! You might even come up with a phrase or idea that you can use in your story later on.
Continue reading

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Doodling Prompts for Easy Character Development! By Lisa Currie

Posted by October 27th, 2014

ME, YOU, US by Lisa CurriePrepping for NaNoWriMo 2014? Fleshing out characters for your novel-in-progress or novel-to-be? Today we offer fun doodling prompts for character development from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! (And check out the examples I did for the MC in my NaNo project below!)

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U.S. Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, did it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did it. So did Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Bill Gates, Winston Churchill, Larry David, and Vidal Sassoon. Famous authors throughout the ages have done it, including Vladimir Nabokov, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Keats, Sylvia Plath, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. They were doodlers, all of them. Good thing, too, because recent studies* have shown that doodling unleashes the power of the creative mind. Think of it as creating off-road trails between neurons. Continue reading

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Preparing for NaNoWriMo – The Five-Line Outline by Julie Artz

Posted by October 21st, 2014

Preparing for NaNoWriMoNaNoWriMo doesn’t leave much room for preparation. Try the following five-line outline method to help you survive the insanity that is NaNoWriMo without completely flying by the seat of your pants. 
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Step One: Create your logline

The first line of the outline is the logline. It covers the main character, what s/he wants (goal), what stands in his or her way (obstacles), and what will happen if s/he doesn’t reach her goal (stakes). Two great articles to guide you are Writing a Killer Logline and Writing Killer Loglines.

Here’s the logline from my 2013 NaNoWriMo project:

When lightning fries the village well pumps, Elías must redeem himself in the eyes of both Elders and family by journeying through the ruins of Andalucía to find help before their water supply runs out.

Writing this summary of your story before you begin will help focus your idea enough to get started. Don’t worry if you tweak it as you work—this logline has been through multiple revisions in the past year! Continue reading

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