Friday, October 30, 2015

Character Voice - Part I

Greetings again, my fellow writers!

We are now only four days away from NaNoWriMo, so I thought we could spend a little time discussing Character Voice. (There is so much to cover with this, that there will most likely be multiple parts on this topic.)

Weak character voice is common, but having a strong one is crucial. CV is what draws readers in, what keeps them. Think about it: do all of your friends have the same vocabulary? Are they all equally articulate? What about their sense of humor, is it identical? I would say that  99.99% of the time, that is not the case. As well it should be, for who wants everyone to sound the same, think the same way, and, ultimately, act the exact same way?

This is especially important for your Main Character (MC). Say Mr. Protagonist Man walks out and bids someone good day; the someone he is speaking to may give a simple "Hello," in return, or may say something along the lines of:

This depends totally on your character's voice. I have recently gone on a reading splurge, and read seventeen books in a mere two weeks. I read some with great character voice, and some without. In fact, in this one book, I was not all that invested in the story, but it was the MC's snarky and sarcastic voice that kept me going. And now I am reading the second book of that series.                                     
So, how do you know when you've hit the nail on the head with your character voice? Think about your character; if they are darker, they probably won't be optimists. If they are always                         
happy-go-lucky, they probably won't be very sarcastic. Just think about your character and who they are and why they are who they are. Then write. And if it doesn't work, rewrite. Revise. Change. Fix it. Trial and error until it flows, until it's right.                                                                                          
This wraps up the first installment of Character Voice. Keep your eyes peeled for the next one. 

As always, Happy Writing! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

NaNoWriMo Survival Kit-

We are at five days away from NaNoWriMo!

That means it is time to put together our NaNoWriMo Survival Kits.

Here's what's in mine (in no particular order):

1. Chocolate
The Importance of Chocolate can not be understated. Not only is it delicious, but it also is full of inspiration-giving goodness that will help you along the NaNoWriMo path. Buy lots. Of chocolate.

2. Other Assorted Candies                                                                                                                          
As I said with chocolate, I will say with candy: you will need it to survive. It is what you will eat, breathe, and what will keep you from starving and/or going crazy. 

3. A Handy Idea Notebook                                                                                                                           
You never know when inspiration will strike. Keep one (or two, or six) of these on hand when you step out to the grocery store, or when you head up to bed for the evening. You don't want to lose those beautiful ideas do you?

4. Pencils (Mechanical or otherwise)                                                                                                           
What good would that notebook be without these bad boys? 

5. Water Bottle                                                                                                                                           
The chocolate and candy might kill you if you don't have a watter bottle on your desk. But be sure to use a coaster! Seriously, though, watter is essential to life, and life is essential to NaNoWriMo. On a somewhat related note, I have the third bottle pictured here! 

6. Post-it Notes                                                                                                                                           
Do you have a ball game to go to? A date night? Feed the fish? Whatever it is, use sticky notes to litter your desk with helpful reminders and to-do lists. Cheery and effective, these little papers will help pull you from the trenches of writing to the real world. But just remember not to push writing too far out of the way!

7. A good book                                                                                                                                          
You'll need to be reading a good book (either a new one or an old favorite) just so you can remember what a good sentence sounds like, so you can read some great words when you have none left in you. Books are necessary to NaNoWriMo, so read one, even in the process of writing. Especially in the process of writing. 

8. Laptop                                                                                                                                                    
Last, but certainly not least, you'll need your laptop. (Unless you're one of those weirdos who writes novels longhand *shoves longhand manuscripts under the desk*.) This one is kind of obvious, but it still deserves it's own place in the Survival Kit.

Well, that is all I have in my NaNoWriMo Survival Kit, but you can add anything you might want/need to yours for the month ahead. Comment if I left out something vital!

As always, Happy Writing!

The Planning Process-

It is not November, which is when NaNoWriMo officially begins. So what am I doing?

Planning, that's what. Oh, the planning process! So much to do, so little time. Let me tell you a little about my Planning Process.

Step One: Get a Vague Idea
It can be the vision of a certain scene, a character sketch, a picture in your head of some random but somewhat important object, and around that the story will bloom. It doesn't have to all come to you at once. In fact, one of the most fun parts about writing is discovering you plot. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Step Two: Discovering Your Plot
This step is one of my favorites. I get to sit down and think about a story that no one else in the world has ever told. I get to, in a way, discover it. Unearth it.
How do I do this? Two words: Plot Vomit. Excuse the graphic imagery, but that is really the only way to describe it. Sit down and either longhand or typed, write out everything that comes to mind in a big, sloppy synopsis. Just get it out as quickly as possible, without looking over what you have written, even to spell check. You can do that later, I promise. Just write. And write. Plot Vomit until you have nothing left. And that leads to:

Step Three: Plotting Your Plot
After you have gotten the horrible jumbled mess on paper (whether tangible or virtual), it is time to look over what you heaved up.

Clean it up.
Read it again.

Satisfied? Good.
Now do it again.

Step Four: Theme
I cannot stress enough how important theme is to a story. Theme is to a book what thesis is to an essay. You can't have one without the other and have something meaningful. You need a theme.
This one may be a little trickier to work out, but be patient and you'll get it. And you will benefit from it so so so much.

Theme should affect every aspect of your story, from overarching change to the smallest of details. (To learn more about Theme and how to develop it, go here. )

Step Five: Outline
The Outline is a step that I very often skip early on and always wish I hadn't later. It is a step-by-step, play-by-play telling of your story in brief snippets. I usually do mine in timeline form; i.e., I plan out everything that happens chronologically, even if they may not happen exactly that way in the storytelling. (For instance, if someone commits a murder, I put the crime in when it happens, rather than when the police find out about it. But I also add when the police find out about it, too. This makes for a longer outline, but also a clearer one.) I write my outlines out on 3x5 cards, one snippet at a time, but there are various ways to outline: on Post-Its on the wall, in a text document using either numbers or bullet points, or using Scrivener's outlining system. Whatever works for you.

Step Six: Outline Revisions
It is never too late to revise your outline (unless your book is already published; it may be a tad late then). Read over your outline. Did you find a sagging middle, plot hole, or something that was just a bit off? Well, now is the time to fix it. Better fix all of those problems now then when you elbow deep in your manuscript and wondering what went wrong?

Step Seven: Write! (Or, if you're ready, but it's still October, wait for November.)
Congratulations! You have planned a novel! Now all you have to do is change that outline from an outline into a novel. Hopefully, with all the planning under your belt, that will be more fun than difficult. But don't be fooled; writing is hard, no matter how much you plan. But don't give up! You can now move out of the majority of “writers” who want to write, to one who actually wrote. Have at it!

Or, if you're doing NaNoWriMo, just sit back for a minute a take a deep breath before the plunge; you have quite a challenge set before you. Have fun!

Want some extra help for writing a convincing character arc? Click here

And, Happy Writing! 

Welcome to Writerly!

Hello, readers and writers!

My name is Zara. Welcome to Writerly!

I am an avid reader and constant writer. I am always either noticing everything (because who knows what may become useful when writing?) or nothing (because not only my nose, but my entire face is so buried in a book it cannot possibly pick up on anything else). I have written a number of short stories and a handful of novels. This blog will be full of helpful hunts and tidbit tips. I'll be covering a lot of ground over the next thirty-odd days, so be sure to keep up.

This year I am attempting NaNoWriMo (Don't know what that is? Check it out here).

This is my journal of the journey, complete with tips, tricks, advice, and more.                                                                                                            
Will you join me?