Tuesday, November 26, 2013

44 NaNoWriMo tips and tricks from 24 expert authors

National Novel Writing Month is that crazy time of year when writers drive themselves mad gunning for 50,000 words, a completed novel, and the glorious pride of writerly achievement, all by the end of November. Of course, it's also that time of year when agents become increasingly wary, concerned they'll receive NaNoWriMo manuscripts immediately on December 1...

After doling out revision tips last year, this year we wanted our JVNLA authors to weigh in with their own NaNoWriMo writing advice—whether it be related to revision, persistence, encouragement, or the craft of writing.

We didn't ask our authors to send advice in just any old, boring way, though. Instead, we took to Twitter!

Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, our authors flooded a portion of the Twitter-verse with #JVNLAauthors and #NaNoWriMo hashtags. They were responding to this tweet:

We've compiled the 44 tips and tricks they sent in below, with each tweet on its own line under the author's name.

Our expert authors write a variety of genres for a variety of ages, but their advice is perfect for anyone. Take a look!

From Victoria Strauss, author of Passion Blue (Skyscape, November 2012) @victoriastrauss

You're challenging yourself, not competing against others

Take breaks. Go for a walk. Savor a cup of tea. Take a hot shower. Creativity blooms when you let your mind wander.

From Morag Joss, author of Our Picnics in the Sun (Delacorte Press, November 2013) @moragjoss

Keep going to the end of #NaNoWriMo and be proud. Then re-write. And re-write.

From Selena Coppock, author of The New Rules for Blondes (It Books, April 2013) @SelenaCoppock

My advice 4 writers doing #NaNoWriMo? Straight-up disconnect the internet from your computer. And write to Arcade Fire :)

Courtesy of joylajaxx.tumblr.com via giphy.com

From Anne Mazer, author of Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook (Square Fish Books, March 2010) @Annemazer

Listen deeply to your characters.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes - you can always fix them later.

From Adrienne Kress, author of Outcast (Diversion Books, May 2013) and The Friday Society (Dial, December 2012) @AdrienneKress

Hmm, I'd advise authors doing #NaNoWriMo to not be too self critical. This is the vomit on the page stage, just get it written!

From Jillian Cantor, author of Margot (Riverhead, September 2013) @JillianCantor

Set small page/word goal per day and stick to it no matter what. I do 5 pgs/day

From Victoria Loustalot, author of This Is How You Say Goodbye (St. Martin's Press, September 2013) @VLoustalot

No outlines! Too much planning suffocates the chance for magic.

From Kristi Helvig, author of Burn Out (Egmont, April 2014) @KristiHelvig

Just get the first draft down no matter what...it's supposed to be a hot mess!

Just remember not to submit that hot mess on Dec. 1. Take your time with edits!

Regarding this, Jeffry Halverson, author of Searching for a King: Muslim Nonviolence and the Future of Islam (Potomac Books, September 2012) (@JeffryHalverson), asked...

Other authors chimed in with answers:

From Susan Schoenberger, author of A Watershed Year (Lake Union, November 2013) @schoenwriter

I second @KristiHelvig Get it all down, and then make December #NaDeEdMo

Except it should probably be NaNoEdMo, now that I think about it.

From Mark Ferguson, author of The Lost Boys Symphony (Little, Brown, forthcoming Summer 2015) @thefergusonian

I say write forward. Don't edit what's already written. Doubt will slow you down.

Obviously you'll edit later, to be clear. That's why we call Dec-Oct #NaNoEdMo

To this, Selena Coppock (see her advice above) responded...

From M.D. Waters, author of Archetype (Dutton, February 2014) @_MDWaters

Fun Fact: #ARCHETYPE was my 2011 #NaNoWriMo novel. Finished in 5 weeks. Queried: May 2012 Agented: Oct 2012 SOLD: Dec 2012 #TakeYourTime

Use December to EDIT rather than QUERY.

Every scene needs a goal, motivation, and conflict... How else are you going to keep them entertained?

Your goal has motivation, but does it have CONFLICT?

Scene isn't working? Move characters to a new setting.

It takes more words to show a scene, fewer to tell it.

Pinterest is NOT your WIP. Neither is this, so stop reading
(But, really, keep reading this post and THEN get back to work :) )

Lose your muse? Steal someone else's. It's fair game.

Your antag has a story. I bet they even have good intentions.

That emotion you want to share? Amplify by 10 and write THAT.

Dishes? What dishes? That's what minions are for. WRITE

THIS. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/153966880984883798/

From Robert Repino, author of Mort(e) (Soho Press, forthcoming Fall 2014) @Repino1

This year trade football and Friday morning shopping for writing.

From Ellen Potter, author of Otis Dooda: Strange but True (Feiwel and Friends, June 2013) and Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook (Square Fish Books, March 2010) @Ellenpotter

When you get stuck, take your dog for a walk. Seriously, it works wonders.

Pledge that if u don't finish the novel you'll give $ to least fave organization

From Ellis Avery, author of The Last Nude (Riverhead, December 2012) and Broken Rooms: Haiku and Sculpture (The Crumpled Press, February 2014) @EllisAveryNYC

Let your characters want something. What do I mean? http://online.wsj.com/news/articles...

Here's an excerpt from that Wall Street Journal article, written by Avery:

Many of us have read subtle, well-wrought stories in which a character's most secret soul is illuminated—and yet (yawn) nothing really happens. The writer tried too hard to Make the Reader Care. There are also pyrotechnically masterful stories in which cars explode and the world ends—and yet (ho-hum) nobody cares. The writer tried too hard to Make Something Happen. To avoid both problems, I've found it helpful to ask three questions: What does my character want? What keeps my character from getting what he or she wants? Does my character get what he or she wants in the end or not?

From Wendy Webb, author of The Vanishing (Hyperion, January 2014) and The Fate of Mercy Alban (Hyperion, February 2013) @wendykwebb

Write each day, very early or late, as your household sleeps. No distractions.

Also: Set a goal for number of words, and stick to it.

Also: No social media or email until you reach your word count goal.

From Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola (Riverhead, February 2014) and The Coffins of Little Hope (Unbridled Books, April 2011) @timschaffert

If a scene's not working, move characters onto a different set; one that's unexpected: rooftop, bottom of an empty pool.

Or the bottom of a...full pool.

Courtesy of cheezburger.com via giphy.com

From Susan Kelly, author of By Accident (Pegasus Books, May 2010) @susankellynovel

Go ahead and get up in the middle of the night to change "turn" to "pivot" and remove the exclamation marks.

From Alex C. Renwick (aka Camille Alexa), author of Push of the Sky (Untreed Reads, October 2012) @AlexCRenwick

Don't overthink it...At least, not until AFTER you have a draft.

From Dorothy Hearst, author of Secrets of the Wolves (Simon and Schuster, July 2012) @DorothyHearst

Make character influence action, and action change your characters

From J-Wunder, author of Wait...What?!: Life Advice from a Ghetto Genius (Diversion Books, July 2013) @MrJWunderful

drink until you feel the creative juices flow!

From Nancy Springer, author of Drawn into Darkness (NAL, November 2013) @NancySpringer

Talking about your novel-to-be depletes the energy you need to write it. Don't blow it away w your mouth. Write it.

"Show, don't tell" = the reader visualizes everything you say. So be careful. Eyes fall (onto the floor?), roll...

Most likely yr critique group will focus on the surface of yr novel. Dig deeper. Think structure, story logic.

Find out the goofy way I got started writing in my new Goodreads post:

From Patry Francis, author of The Orphans of Race Point (Harper Perennial, May 2014) and The Liar's Diary (Dutton, 2007) @patryf

"Don't confine truth to facts." 5 Writing Tips: Paul Harding publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/in… via @PublishersWkly

From Helen Maryles Shankman, author of The Color of Light (Stony Creek Press, October 2013) @hmshankman

What you write when you're inspired--and what you write when you're not inspired--by the time you're done editing...

...you won't know which was which. Just keep writing!

Courtesy of leahkonen.com via giphy.com

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