NaNoWriMo 2013: The End

Its finally over! Thirty days of writing fury: of non-stop plot-weaving, of unrelenting creativity and of a brave foray into the unknown. Well, that’s what NaNo is supposed to be about. As it turned out, my experience wasn’t quite like that…

I started NaNo reasonably well, managing to rack up close to a thousand words every day, for a few days. Not bang on target, but a decent effort nonetheless. It was then, about four days into NaNo that things started to fall apart. I think it was probably a mixture of not enough plotting (you know, actually knowing what happens beyond the first third of the book), too much time spent making planning spreadsheets in Excel and not having a clear enough vision for my story.

Let’s talk about that last point. I am easily influenced by the stuff I read, the games I read and the movies I watch. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but mostly it’s not. It’s fine to be inspired by great stories and worlds, but I really have to learn not to grab those elements and throw them into my stories like some overfull fondue pot. I start out having a clear idea of what my story is and what it’s about, but then I begin to work in other elements which only serve to confuse the whole project. It’s like making a nice spaghetti bolognese and then adding curry powder. You may love curry powder, but in a bolognese it clashes and confuses the dish. It’s unnecessary, so it shouldn’t be there. Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Midpoint Update

Firstly, let me apologise for the distinct lack of activity here over the last few weeks. I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo this month and let’s just say every ounce of my will to write has gone into the endeavour. That’s not to say I’m doing great (because I’m not), but I am at least consistently writing something each and every day. I’ll share my word counts and progress with you. I was hoping to be 25K words down at this point, but there’s no reason why I can’t make up that time during the last 2 weeks.

I started NaNo on day one reasonably well with just over 900 words. My target was about 2,500… yeah…

The following days were mixed with counts of 700 and 800, before plummeting to 450 and then a good block of six days in which I wrote a grand total of 300 words. Hey, it was my son’s first birthday somewhere in there!

This week, I have come back stronger and more determined than ever. 400 words on Tuesday, followed by just over 1,000 yesterday and so far today I have managed 471 words. I’m aiming for about 1,500 today, though more would always be welcome. Now that I’m well into the meat of my story, things seem to flow much more easily.

So, it’s safe to say NaNo Part 1 kicked my butt round the playground, downtown and into Chinatown. NaNo Part Deux? Bring it on.

NaNoWriMo 2012 Approaches!

As you may know, National Novel Writing Month 2012 is fast approaching. If you don’t know what this momentous occasion is all about, I’ll tell you. It’s about writing a novel in a month.

There. Easy, right? Well, maybe.

Any other time of year, it would certainly be a seemingly impossible task. But during the month of November, during NaNoWriMo, the ball is in your court. There are a few reasons why it’s so much easier to write during this event and here they are:

  1. There are loads of other people around the world writing away, just like you.
  2. Everyone’s progress and goals are tracked and put into a leaderboard.
  3. You get regular pep talks from the organisers and also support from your fellow writers.
  4. If you reach your goal, you have a full novel written by the end of the month! What could be a better reward?

So, the reason I’m telling you all this is because during November we here at Fantasy In Motion are going to go NaNoWriMo crazy! That’s excited-crazy, not crazy-crazy.

Among other things we’ll have:

  • A weekly catchup where you can all come to the blog and share your progress and see my own.
  • Regular advice and handy tips from myself and published authors.
  • Maybe a guest post or two.

If that all sounds like fun to you, make sure you pay us a visit during the next few weeks and during November and we’ll help one another get into NaNoWriMo mode!

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The Importance of Being Competitive

Do you like what I did with the title there?

Nah, I didn’t think it was that good either…

Today I want to talk about writing competitions and how important they are to a fledgling writer. It’s sometimes as easy as Googling “writing competitions”, but other times you’ll only hear about them by word of mouth.

I’ll start by giving you a list of current competitions that you can enter:

  • Fish Publishing – These guys run four competitions annually, including a Short Story and Flash Fiction competition. It’s judged by renowned poets and authors and the prize is pretty good.
  • Writers’ Forum – This site runs a monthly short story contest. It’s a reputable site and well worth a look.
  • Whidbey Writing Competition – A contest based in the USA, but open worldwide. You can write about anything and for any audience.
  • Cazart – You can enter short stories or flash fiction, you can swear and it’s £5 to enter. It’s open throughout 2012 each month, so get over and have a look!
  • Flash 500 – A humorous verse contest. The prizes are pretty decent, for the length of your piece (30 lines).
  • Cinnamon Press – These guys run a range of writing competitions, which change regularly. It’s a good idea to bookmark their competition page.
  • Fantasy Writing Contest – This is a yearly contest, run by Fantasy Faction, for fantasy writers. If your story wins, it gets entered into an anthology with a host of other well authors’ work. They start taking submissions from 1st January 2013.

You might be thinking, ‘Yeah, so what? I might win a small amount of money, but I might not win anything at all.’

Well that’s not the attitude to have. If you’re serious about your writing and you want it to lead somewhere one day, it’s a really good idea to enter some competitions. Here are the benefits that I see from taking part:

  1. You’re committed to finishing a piece of writing (especially if there’s an entry fee).
  2. You’re focused on an end goal and possibly a prize.
  3. You’re usually confined to a particular genre/theme.
  4. In some cases, you make connections with other writers and it’s great for networking.
  5. It maintains your “edge”.

That’s right – like the knives in your kitchen drawer, there’s always one that’s sharper than all the rest. If you want to be successful, you need to make sure that’s you. Writing contests are great for honing your skills, expanding your toolset and exercising your “writer’s brain”.

If there’s one thing you do today, why not commit to entering a competition and start planning out your story?

I’m also going to do a special series of posts during the approach to NaNoWriMo in November, to help you get prepared and learn all about this annual tournament.

If you’ve got any questions about entering competitions or need some advice on writing, drop us a comment below!

~ James

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