How do I do Nano

Anyway, this month I have decided to take part on Nanowrimo, you can find me here. For once, I have decided to do so because it just so happened to have coincided with an idea that I got on Oct 30, while I was writing a novel that was getting scrapped.

But after almost ten days of Nano, I have managed to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. Here are some of the tips which I have.

#1 Find Plenty Of Inspiration

When I was doing Nano, I spent a lot of time reading and watching anime. It certainly helped me, since it took me almost 2 hours to finish 2,500 words. Keeping inspiration or looking at new things helped to keep you inspired and enable you to create. Otherwise, you might just hit a dry spell. And when you do, you might find better ideas than the ones you did before.

#2 Set aside a large chunk of time just to write

Yes, I set aside a specific amount of time when there was no one bothering me or asking me to do things. It really helped in ensuring that I continued to write at the pace I did. Or at least in solitude. I need a quiet place to write. And the more I did, the easier it got to write even more. And hence, a large amount of time alone allows you to focus and concentrate.

#3 Turn Off Your Inner Editor

I have to say, that by the tenth day mark, my Nano novel is a hot mess and has plenty of inconsistency. I just went with whatever made sense and a lot of things changed within those ten days. I just resolved myself to shut down my inner editor otherwise, I will be editing and rewriting everything. And well, it is important when you have to write 50,000 words.

Advertisements

How Important Is Pacing?

Pacing needs to be just right, there is something that we cannot deny. I have read and dropped many books due to poor pacing, such as reveals happening too late in the story or something. Which tells me that pacing is important.

The right kind of pacing does depend on the story. Here are some questions which I think can help with deciding the pace you’re moving at. And to decide whether a story might need revision.

#1 Is There Breathing Space?

It is extremely important for many books, you cannot have too many reveals at one go. Have a moment where the reader can take a break from the non stop action. There are plenty of ways to make the breathing space seem less like fluff, but ensure that there is enough space so that it does not overwhelm the reader.

#2 Is something happening?

Usually this applies to a book around the first half, since I have read books that seemed to have zero plot movement for the first half or moves at a snail’s pace. And then, there are authors who save everything for the last book in a series, creating what everyone calls middle book syndrome where almost nothing happens but setting things up.

Pacing doesn’t need to be fast, but it must be able to move and reveal certain things about the character or perhaps a certain development. Something has to happen otherwise why is it even a book if the main characters do not go through a journey.

#3 Are all the characters still the same?

For me, character development need not always be good. And also, they need not to have grown, but something must be revealed about them and changes them. It doesn’t always have to be their personality, perhaps their attitude towards a certain issue. Or perhaps their perspective.

Or if you tend to write characters who don’t grow but have plenty of depth, and different aspects to his character that just need time to be revealed.

If your character at the beginning is still the same person, without anything that gives them more depth, then I will say that it may need some work.

So overall, this is how I judge pacing of a story. However, do tell if you have another opinion.

The Benefits Of Writing At Your Own Pace

I am a writer who does everything at my pace. I haven’t taken part in Nanowrimo, and nor will I think it is necessary to do so. By doing everything at my own pace, there are some benefits which I have found out too.

#1 A Better First Draft

If I write it all at once, my first draft may be littered with errors and most definitely plenty of plot holes that I need to clean up. But if I choose to take a slower time to think through all the details, or making rather major changes, I do end up with a better first draft. Or at least a draft where I know what I must do next, without me staring at the computer screen. No draft is perfect, but I do prefer having less work to clean up even if it means spreading the writing quite a bit. And well, Nanowrimo sounded a tad too stressful for me. And I probably didn’t want to write a book which I may have to rewrite all over again since I’m churning out words instead of thinking a little bit more before I write.

#2 It Allows You Space

Sometimes certain works just don’t work out, or you’re debating whether you should be continuing to write it. That happens from time to time, and sometimes you just need to have that space to ponder a little. And with my style, I tend to be writing more than one work at the same time. And when I do doubt my ideas a little bit, I listen to those thoughts and find out why.

Sometimes it can make me change several things or go to do research, since it has to be done sometimes. And when you’re not rushing frantically, it is likely to find loose holes in your story and start thinking of ways to fix it or make a really important note to remind yourself.

#3 More Discovery Can Be Done

This is especially so if you’re writing historical fiction or in fact any work that requires you to research a little bit into the world. Political situations, turmoil and various other issues. Sometimes you just cannot move on without knowing that little detail. And sometimes you can spend a day or two getting to really know a character. That always does wonders for me, where I end up researching semi-useless stuff which ends up becoming useful in the long run.

And during this long periods, it can be a good thing to really know your character better. And also develop the plot just that little better. Some of us plan better when we have something to start with. I’m one of those who might just jump into a story with a premise but end up planning a little bit on the way or keeping copious notes about the world.

Writing at a slower pace often means plenty of time to discover, perhaps something isn’t working out, or it feels off. Or when you realise you made a mistake in your ignorance(that happened to me too before). And that means time to really ponder all the other possible solutions instead or to gain better insight into the topic you’re researching.

I guess for a writer who has done this for almost two years and finds that it really works, which is why I prefer to write at my own pace. Do tell what you think about pace, whether you’re a writer who churns out thousands of words a day or one who struggles to even reach 500. I really want to hear from you what you think.

Developing A Character

For me, developing a character isn’t about using character sheets. It is neither about using spreadsheets. Both those methods never worked for me and for me, if you are a writer who finds yourself doing badly at it, then this is a post for you. 

When I write characters, to develop them, I usually use these three methods. Which I always find interesting, as it highlights and interesting aspect of a certain character. Or a certain reason why they carry around certain objects, chooses to dress in a certain way. 

To me, characters sometimes cannot be left to a structured street. It has to be organic, free of any influence at all. And here’s what I do. 

#1 Write Dialogue In Their Voice 

Sometimes you don’t need to go so deep into their heads, dialogue is enough. This works especially for characters who view the world in a completely different light, or are incredibly witty that the dialogue is more than enough to tell that. And this can be your eyes only, and can help to figure out some aspects which works so well for me. 

#2 Write Notes Like A Biography

Whenever I want to write a character, sometimes I do this. Sometimes the characters may only have a couple chapters, how do I show and outline their personality well enough. I write notes, like a biography except that it can be written hilariously, or in any way you want to. It can be like a journal, reflecting your character’s voice, perspective. Or it can be how you view them. It can be also about their personality. This isn’t just about listing down all facts, you can go into detail for some of them, and they can be quite fun. It all just depends on how you write them, and they can stay private and never see the light of day. 

#3 Try Writing Letters 

This is the best way for me to develop relationships, especially when I start chuckling at how it will be. These sort of things can reveal a lot of aspects of their relationships, and give it a deeper depth. And help you in characterization around certain characters, when they are around some others. 

Or perhaps whether it was strained at some point, another where one knew a lot more about. I would say that this depends a lot on how you write, how your characters are. 

This are basically all my tips to develop characters, this are really what works for me. I’m not a full planner, the way I plan is organic and free. Since I find myself finding that certain aspects of a character sheet are redundant and some are missing which I needed so desperately. Do tell if you have any other tips, or differing opinions. There are many ways to develop your characters, and this is just one of them. 

How I Do Foreshadowing?

On this topic, it has become a favourite of mine to write about. Why? Because I love to foreshadow, it seems as though certain aspects of a character being suggested from the very beginning was my favourite. Be it whether it was through a short one sentence description. But I prefer it to useless details which take up space. 

Foreshadowing can be about major plot points or developments, it also develops a character. Not every character shows their true self or feelings the first time we meet them, they always end up revealing more or hiding something. And this is why I like foreshadowing and symbolism, it makes some of the apparently useless description to becoming an important clue. 

Mannerisms, speech patterns, dressing. It tells a lot about the characters just from that one paragraph, and hence I prefer to use details to foreshadow. Or certain behaviours when they are put into an uncomfortable situation too. And it makes all those descriptions seem less like a waste of space, or the sagging middle to be nothing but filler. 

Esspecially when you are handling a mysterious main character, where I choose not to reveal some details of his life but keep it hidden. Because it isn’t relevant just yet, but will become relevant eventually. 

Foreshadowing can be used well, if it has a reason. Either a twist or a possible reveal, and the joy is that a reader can go back and say, I should have noticed it earlier. But how successful it is, it would depend on your skill or how unexpected your twist is. 

But generally, here are my tips for foreshadowing: 

#1 Be Subtle 

Can’t stress how this important this is, you do not want the reader to know am I right? Or make it too obvious? Make is subtle, hidden away but it’s there should there be any need. Just a little bit is enough, don’t hint too much or the chances of the reader figuring it out before it comes will be high.

#2 Using A Red Herring 

We all know what a red herring is, it is a seemingly important detail that isn’t important meant to throw the reader off. It can be employed when it calls for it, but at the same time hint it that it is also likely that the red herring isn’t all that important throughout and when it is revealed, it becomes possible and readers realise that from start to finish the hints of the most important clue were there but the ones which was in extremely important light was not. 

#3 Make everything relevant 

It is very important to know that all clues should serve a purpose, perhaps to push the protagonist and having them to find an even more important clue. Throwing the readers off, or even in fact being the bridge to how it would make sense. And this is important, as everything must have its place in a book and nothing should become utterly irrelevant. 

This is generally what I view foreshadowing must have. If you have anything to add, please tell me below if I haven’t covered everything.  

What is Originality?

Is originality in writing a completely new concept. Or a new view on an existing concept. I would say it is the latter. Nothing is new under the sun, every book has borrowed from somewhere. And so does your work too. 

So, where does creativity come in? In how we display the world, how we explore it. What do we think of it. That is originality, since no person would have the same viewpoint. And this is where we differ. Each writer looks at things differently, would approach certain subjects differently. Otherwise, there would be a lot of ripoffs as it is. Since almost every story has borrowed elements from here and there. 

As such, originality is all about you. Your opinion, your idea of a theme. Even for a retelling, every retelling has its differences. Every retelling examines a story differently. Just look at Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge and A Court Of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. Those are retellings of the exact same fairytale but they have a lot of differences too. And this is where creativity and originality comes in. 

So, don’t worry about your story idea not being original. Present it your own way, or tackle it at an angle no one else has thought of yet. Regardless of whether it’s original or not it will shine in its own way. 

Even for works that are inspired by many things, think of it this way. You are merely inspired, not extracting plotlines and exact sentences. You can make your own twist, you can change things. Because creativity is found when you insert something of your own and make it fit. 

So, don’t worry about it being original or purely you. It is all about your opinion, the way you see the story and the world. It is basically also an interpretation of a certain work, genre or theme. 

If you have a different view on originality, please leave it down below. Originality, is a rather difficult topic to discuss and I would like to hear your views. 

On Finishing A Novel 

I typed the last word of my first novel a few weeks ago. And I knew what came next. Editing. But I decide that it should be saved for another day. And I know it is the hardest thing to ever accomplish for a writer. 

Finishing a novel can be one of the greatest joys, I was so happy when I typed the last sentence of my first novel. After three failed tries, this was the charm. I made it to the end, after two years of struggling to finish a work. 

There isn’t a joy much like finishing your first novel, no matter how much you know needs to be revised again. Or edited again. But the joy cannot be shaked off, it’s not something everyone can do. Not something everyone can actually finish. And it takes an insane amount of determination to be writing and at the same time, not give in and try to edit the words. That can be done later.  

This is more of a personal experience, since I do count finishing a novel as a milestone. But I think that with my three failed tries and attempts before getting something, there are some tips I would give to those who are still in the midst of this. And what I feel is helpful advice. 

#1 If It Doesn’t Work, Don’t Push It 

This is the best advice I could give you, if you feel as though that work doesn’t work well together. Or you simply cannot find the inspiration to push on, forget about it. Just drop it and leave it at the side. Don’t push yourself, or the work. Chances are, you are going to stuff it down the drawer at the end. You aren’t going to flip it and look through. 

Just follow your heart when your Just tell you it’s time to stop. Trust me, you wouldn’t end up having too many wasted words and time.

#2 Take Your Time 

Take your time, don’t rush it. When you are writing your first work, you are simply testing the waters here. Don’t push yourself or you will burn out. I was writing at a slow pace for a long time, before it picked up last year and this year. My schedule was insane, and it was insane to push myself so much. But at the end of it, I found myself being able to meet it and finally finish a work. Now, I’m slowing things down for my exams and just taking a more leisure pace here. 

But just take your time, I barely survived that insane schedule I set myself too. And plan your work out, you wouldn’t want to end up forgetting an important detail or hit a wall you can never overcome. 

#3 Forget About The Past 

Don’t worry how bad your words at the beginning are. There are still a lot more things you need to cover, such as foreshadowing, plotting. All this also needs to be added in, and chances are, unless you have written it all. You probably wouldn’t know. And all those hard work with editing the sentences would once more go to naught, and starting from scratch all over again. It makes a lot more sense to focus on finishing a work, before focusing on all the smaller details. 

Overall, this are generally my input on finishing a novel. Through years of experience, failed attempts this are what I managed to gather. But if you feel differently, please tell me.