9 Ways To Craft The Perfect Opening Line

That Pesky Opening Line

When I started writing my weekly Writing Tips posts last year, I posted a piece called Five Ways To Start Your Story. While it does still read as nearly 2,000 words of me crying about how much I loved the new Power Rangers movie (for nostalgia reasons, among other things, and now as I write THIS post, Hasbro has announced that more Power Rangers movies will be in the works in the near future, so I’m basically freaking out about it all over again), I also talked about the types of scenes writers can use to start off their stories on the right foot, as a way to really draw your readers in and make them want to keep turning the page. More on that here.

That’s the macro piece.

Welcome to the micro edition!

Recently, and I don’t even know how it came up, I started thinking about a conversation I had on Facebook in 2009 with two of my closest friends from high school. Back in the 2000s, one of the most popular things for people to do with their Facebooks was “vague book”, also known as posting vague Facebook statuses, with the goal (whether conscious or subconscious) to encourage people to ask what’s going on with you. (I got to college and was harassed so much by my roommates—let’s just say it was in a nice way—and that broke me of the habit. But that is neither here nor there).

This conversation started when my friend M changed her profile picture (to something I can’t even remember, though it was definitely not a picture of her face). And then she added a status that said, “No, my profile picture isn’t random, there’s a story behind it.”

I chimed in with, “If you insist.” And our friend J added, “Whatever you say, M.”

And then I added the comment that would start off a three-hour back-and-forth-and-back again volley of some of the most well-known (and some not so well-known) opening lines from some of the most popular books and movie and television shows when I said: “Okay, I’ll get you started…Once upon a time…”

Why not start off with a classic, am I right?

Throughout the hours-long conversation, lines we tossed in included:

“…in a galaxy far, far away…” (can’t go wrong with Star Wars)

“It was a dark and stormy night…” (another oldie, but goodie)

“The Cylons were created by man. They rebelled. They evolved. They look…human. There are many copies. And they have a plan…” (Like I was going to miss out on bringing up BSG, even if, as it turns out, the Cylons DIDN’T actually have a plan ¯\_()_/¯)

“Hey, I’m just trying to live my life as a regular kid, but people still think of me as THE FAMOUS JETT JACKSON.” (Best show ever, or best show ever? Don’t even get me started on how the TV movie inspired one of the very first novels I wrote back in college)

“LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!!!”

“Here it comes! From the Bob Barker Studio at CBS in Hollywood, it’s The Price is Right!”

“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It’s continuing mission: to explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before.” (Did you know that you can be both a Trekkie AND a Star Wars fan? What a world.)

“Here’s a story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls…”

“Are ya ready kids? Aye, Aye captain! I can’t heeeaaar yooouuu! AYE, AYE CAPTAIN! oooooooooooo………Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?”

“Now this is a story all about how my life got twisted upside down and I’d like to take a minute so just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air.”

“EARTH!” “FIRE!” “WIND!” “WATER!” “HEART!” “Go Planet!” “By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!”

The moral of the story is that when I was thinking about this conversation, it led me to think about how J, M and I volleyed opening lines for stories and movies and shows at the drop of a hat. We didn’t have to think about it, we just typed what came to mind off the tops of our heads. All the lines, the ones above and the ones from the rest of the conversation, were lines that stuck with us for one reason or another.

Some are catching jingles, some are lines from literary classics, and some are from shows with cult-like followings that we watched over and over and over, and when you do something like that, a show’s opening title cards are really going to stick with you, no matter how hard you try to knock them from your mind. I can hear the Battlestar Galactica intro score in my head as I type this post.

As for your novel, your goal (other than finishing it) is to craft an opening line that sticks, one that resonates with your readers and one that will stand out, one that will potentially end up being tattooed to the bodies of your biggest fans (that’s always the dream, isn’t it?)

So, click the Continue Reading button to read the nine tips and tricks to craft the best opening sentence for your story.

Continue reading “9 Ways To Craft The Perfect Opening Line”

3 Reasons Why It’s Not About Winning @NaNoWriMo

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Happy Halloween!

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why Part Five of the Writing Tips NaNoWriMo 2017 Countdown series sounds like something that’s a bit of a downer, but as great as NaNoWriMo is, it’s really NOT all about ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo. So, welcome to:

Part Five: 3 Reasons Why It’s Not About Winning @NaNoWriMo

And the rest of the series

Part One: 4 Reasons Why You Should Participate In @NaNoWriMo

Part Two: 6 Tips For A Successful @NaNoWriMo

Part Three: 5 Ways To Focus During @NaNoWriMo

Part Four: Pre-@NaNoWriMo #MondayMotivation

Part Six: Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 For 99 Cents!

NaNoWriMo is great, because not only is it a community of like-minded writers who are all crazy enough to dedicate a month to writing an entire novel, but it’s also an epic learning experience. And sure, the bonuses for winners (those who validate their word count, which I believe you can start doing during the last days of the event), are awesome, but they’re not everything.

You Learn Your Limits

Part of what makes NaNoWriMo, well, NaNoWriMo, is the concept of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, which breaks down to 1,667 words per day. I touched on this in one of the earlier countdown posts, but one of the greatest parts of this event is that you can figure out what a realistic daily world count goal is. It doesn’t have to be 1,667 words a day when you’re not NaNo-ing (hell, it doesn’t have to be 1,667 words a day when you ARE NaNo-ing, just write, and it’ll all work out in the end, even if that end takes longer than you hope.

Not everyone has the time to bang out 5,000 words a day. Not everyone can write 500 (though, that’s a really great starting point type goal to hit, because it’s just about two pages in a standard sized Word document. Some writers are slower (for a lot of reasons, including perfectionism, and more on that in a minute), some writers are faster, some writers have to drag the words out of their heads, some writers have more days where the words flow, compared to when they don’t.

NaNoWriMo is diving head-first into the unknown, and you learn a lot along the way. I learned that I could finish a novel for the first time in six years, that I COULD spend days at a time not checking my Tumblr account, that fight scenes aren’t impossible, and that, if I try, I can come up with something really freaking cool. It’s up to you to figure out what you’re going to take away from NaNoWriMo, but I don’t doubt that you WILL take at least one thing away from this event.

You Learn To Break Through Writer’s Block

Writer’s block comes in many forms. My first Writing Tips post was about the 6 Ways To Transition Out Of Writer’s Block, and I think that was important that it was my first post, because writers need to know that it’s inconvenient, not permanent. Many writers, including the full-time novelists we aspire to be, literally can’t afford to just succumb to writer’s block. And during NaNoWriMo, Wrimos who have dedicated themselves to finishing a novel in 30 days get a taste of that.

Because it doesn’t matter how the words get on the page, as long as they do. If there’s a scene you’re stuck on (for me in the #WhoIsTalyaNightingale novel, it was fight scenes, including the one at the end, which I didn’t actually finish to my standards for about a year), or you don’t know where to go, then you just need to write through the pain.

You must keep writing in order to finish your story. Just write.

You Realize That It’s Not About Getting It Perfect On The First Try

What you write during NaNoWriMo is called a novel, but here’s what it really is:

A draft.

This is a draft of a novel. And I’ll repeat: this is a draft of a novel.

That said, it doesn’t matter what words you put down, just as long as there are words that you put down. For me, as a writer, my second passes over my story are always my better passes over my story. That’s where I breathe life into it, so to speak. Why? Because your first draft is just a matter of getting the bones of the story out there, the framework. Without a framework of the universe you’re writing in, then you’re not going to be able to pull out the specifics and the little intricacies that make your world yours. Because it is yours.

In the email I got this morning from NaNoWriMo, it included a pep talk from writer Roxanne Gay, which was titled, “This is your novel and only you know how to write it.”

NaNoWriMo will teach you about yourself as a writer, how you write, what works for you, what doesn’t, what scenes you hate to write, even though you know you have to write them (see: fight scenes), what scenes you love to write, and how to move past things like sticky characterizations, characters you don’t like because they’re unlikeable, but you have to write them anyway (for more on that, take a read of 3 Ways To Write A Character You Hate, which is one of my most popular Writing Tips posts), and more.

If you don’t finish, don’t win, it’s okay. You win in a million other ways by just STARTING your novel during NaNoWriMo. No one says you have to finish it or reach 50,000 words. You might reach November 30 with only 40,000 words, or less. But that’s still thousands more words than you started with, and it won’t take much more pushing before those words become a novel-length story that you can go back into and edit into an amazing novel that you wrote, because you’re the only one who can.

No one can write the story that’s in your head. You can. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, but you can use NaNoWriMo to learn and grow as a writer, and get better at your craft, which is the most important part of this entire exercise.

So, have a safe and happy Halloween, and when November 1 rolls around tomorrow, get to writing. I’ll be there too. Find me on NaNoWriMo at KathrynR47, or check in on Twitter for rants about writing, and maybe a peak into what I’m writing for #GroundhogOne.

Good luck, and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for a special NaNoWriMo treat!

 Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 

Do you have a question about writing that you want me to answer? Leave a comment below! (I’m also answering questions in the Facebook group. Hop on over and say hi!)

#MondayMotivation – Two Days To @NaNoWriMo

Writing Tips

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. – Mark Twain

So, this #MondayMotivation quote (which I will get to unpacking following a bit of ramble, as I do), did not actually come from my Inspirational Quotes About Writing board on Pinterest. A friend, who actually took over my position at my old job picked it out for a #MondayMotivation graphic he’s using for this week, and I thought it was fitting in the days leading up to NaNoWriMo. Welcome to:

Part Four: Pre-@NaNoWriMo #MondayMotivation

And the rest of the series

Part One: 4 Reasons Why You Should Participate In @NaNoWriMo

Part Two: 6 Tips For A Successful @NaNoWriMo

Part Three: 5 Ways To Focus During @NaNoWriMo

Part Five: 3 Reasons Why It’s Not About Winning @NaNoWriMo

Part Six: Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 For Only 99 Cents!

Let’s talk about getting started.

Blank pages are incredibly intimidating. Like, so incredibly intimidating it’s not even funny. How are you supposed to just…start? Especially if you’ve already written a novel before, it’s easy to forget how you got from blank page to thousands of words in a document you’ve backed up 82 times and saved to 45 different places (seriously, save your work religiously, you guys. I’ve been burned before and it is NOOOOOOOOOOOT fun).

But here’s a little trick I like to use to get around that apprehension you may feel about starting something as intimidating as your first of 50,000 words in 30 days:

Don’t start with a blank document.

What do I mean? Well, I’m the type of person who is constantly writing (or thinking about it) and prepping and noting down plot ideas and little pieces of dialogue for the stories I’m going to write (I wouldn’t say it’s an outline, but it’s a general idea of what events are going to be included. I’m much more a Pantser than I am a Planner). So, I already have a little bit of content that I can work off of when November 1 rolls around and I get serious about getting the words out for #GroundhogOne. It’s not much, it’s not even 1,000 words, and they’re not remotely in order, but it’s something I take take to get started, and that’s the point of NaNoWriMo. It’s starting something that, if you work at it and persevere through moments of writer’s block or distraction, will eventually become a complete story that, if you get lucky, will become an actual novel.

The very first novel I wrote (the one I mentioned in Part Three about finding a writing space and using the study room in my dorm my freshman year of college), started with me imagining an argument between two people. I didn’t have names, I didn’t have details about what they were arguing about, other than one person being really angry with the other. But I turned that into a novel that had about seven planned sequels, and a prequel, and even almost a decade later, I know basically everything that’s going to happen with that story. I haven’t touched that story in years, it’s not great, and one day I may go back to it and do something with it, but it started with dreaming up an argument and ended with a story.

But it became a story with seven planned sequels and a prequel because I started writing book one.

And I dabbled in storyline after storyline in the years after finishing that story, and eventually stumbled on the idea for the #WhoIsTalyaNightingale novel, which was inspired by my annoyance at how queer characters are treated in the media (if I see one more incident of burying your gays, I’m going to be pissed), the lack of female superheroes who don’t need rescuing by a Strong!Male!Hero!, and an episode of CS!: New York. Among other things. But it works, and somehow I went from Point A, in which Talya Nightingale wasn’t even called Talya Nightingale, and she was hiding out on a farm in Montana with a PR guru I created for another story, to Point B, where Talya Nightingale is Talya Nightingale, has no idea why she’s Talya Nightingale or what she did to be stranded on Earth without her memories, and buys a house in a weird town that has a giant lake shaped like a bird.

So, if starting with a blank word document is too intimidating for you, don’t. Start writing somewhere else, like a note on your phone or a couple pages of notebook paper by hand, and THEN start.

But you have start before you can finish. So, come Wednesday, join me in starting whatever project you’ve been waiting for the so-called perfect moment to start. There never going to be a perfectly perfect moment to start, so you must take advantage of ANY moment, and write.

Do you have a question about writing that you want me to answer? Leave a comment below! (I’m also answering questions in the Facebook group. Hop on over and say hi!)

5 Ways To Focus During @NaNoWriMo

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Writing is full of distractions, both internal and external. Here’s some ways to get through it.

Welcome to Part Three of the Writing Tips NaNoWriMo 2017 Countdown, where I talk about the dark side of NaNoWriMo (I mean, we’re two days away from Halloween, so I might as well get spooky for a minute). So, welcome to:

Part Three: 5 Ways To Focus During @NaNoWriMo

And the rest of the series

Part One: 4 Reasons Why You Should Participate In @NaNoWriMo

Part Two: 6 Tips For A Successful @NaNoWriMo

Part Four: Pre-@NaNoWriMo #MondayMotivation

Part Five: 3 Reasons Why It’s Not About Winning @NaNoWriMo

Part Six: Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 For Only 99 Cents!

Not to alarm you, but writing is difficult and words are hard. The other day, I was inspired to write this piece when I saw something retweeted into my Twitter timeline. It’s linked here, is a picture called of a PowerPoint slide titled: Why You Think You Don’t Have Time To Write.

And the reasons are:

– You’re letting other people tell you what you should do with your time.

– You’re not treating your writing seriously and so no one else does, either.

– You need a dedicated writing space.

– You’re doing what’s urgent rather than what’s necessary.

– You don’t let other people solve their own problems.

– You think you’ll have more time later to write.

– You’re spending time doing things you don’t care about.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve either turned to or away from writing, depending on what needed to be done and how easily the words are flowing. Now, what works for me may not work for you, but I still encourage you to read on for five ways to focus during your NaNoWriMo session, especially if you’re fully committing yourself and want to make a concerted effort to make it to 50,000 words by the end of November. Some of these tips will harken to the points I mentioned from that tweet, while others will reflect advice I’ve already posted in the Writing Tips posts, but there’s no reason to not repeat myself for extra emphasis.

Commit To Your Writing Time

In the first point of Part Two, I wrote about committing to completing your NaNoWriMo project, and part of committing to the project as a whole is committing to your time to actually sit down and write. It doesn’t matter if you pull out your planner (either hard copy or on your smart phone) and schedule out 30 to 60 blocks of time where all you’re going to do is write, or if you know that in the morning you’re going to write a bit before class or work, or you’re dedicating the next month’s lunch hours to the NaNo cause, just commit to taking the time to reach whatever daily milestone you’ve chose.

And part of committing is taking your writing time seriously. In the tweet I mentioned, the second point stated, ‘You’re not treating your writing seriously and so no one else does, either.’, and that’s extremely important. If you’re going to commit to your writing time, then you must commit to it and make it clear to everyone around you that you’re committing to it. If you’re not the type of person who likes to talk about the specifics of your writing project, then just tell your friends and family that you’re working on a new project and you’ve set goals you’ve committed to reaching, and you need your space to accomplish that. If you take it seriously, then so will they.

Don’t Get Distracted By That New Shiny

Sometimes, it feels like every time I sneeze (which is both often and weird), I come up with a new plot idea. But if you’re committing yourself to your NaNoWriMo project, you can’t let yourself get distracted by starting to write another story. If you do, you’ll never finish either your NaNoWriMo project or that new plot bunny or any of the other plot bunnies you come up with. What I recommend is either taking some space in a notebook or a note on your phone and name it something like, Potential Future Story Plots. Take some time to jot down as many notes as you need (but not like, an entire outline), and then go back to work. Whatever it is, it’s probably a cool idea, but it’ll keep. There’s nothing saying that you MUST write every thing you think of at the same time. I know that there are stories that I come up with that I may not be ready to write right now.

Earlier this year, author V.E. Schwab, who you should TOTALLY follow on Twitter because she’s brilliant and hilarious and realistic about writing, posted a video on her YouTube Channel on Shiny New Ideas, which I highly recommend you watch.

For the specifics of #GroundhogOne, which is my project for this year’s NaNoWriMo (more on what it’s about in my announcement post), those of you who have signed up for the #MondayMotivation Newsletter (sign up for it here), know that #GroundhogOne is one of two stories, and it’s not the first I thought of. The first I thought of was actually something that I’m nicknaming #OneVendetta, which is something along the lines of the movies Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (with a little bit of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, but only the good part, I swear) and V for Vendetta. But when I was thinking about HOW to write #OneVendetta, I realized that I need to introduce the cast first, and that can’t be done in one book. Thus, after a little bit more pondering, #GroundhogOne was born. When I work on writing projects that are within a larger series, I tend to have this habit where I think don’t restrict myself to writing scenes for just one book, but when it comes to NaNoWriMo, I do my best to restrict myself to the project I’m working on. Now, that’s not going to stop me from writing notes toward the plot of #OneVendetta as I work on #GroundhogOne and flesh out the universe that #OneVendetta exists in, and it’s impossible for me to stop myself from coming up with snippets of dialogue to work off of (Prompt Library, anyone?), but my focus is going to be on getting #GroundhogOne off the ground and that alone. Especially because I know that I won’t be able to do justice to #OneVendetta until #GroundhogOne is set.

And Speaking Of Distractions, Get Off Twitter

In my very first Writing Tips post, I wrote about 6 Ways To Transition Out Of Writer’s Block, and the second tip was to get off Twitter. So, do that. And minimize your time on other websites that distract you (like how in Part Two, I mentioned how I went cold turkey on Tumblr and never turned back).

Because it’s SO easy to be distracted. Does anyone remember when the news about the Handbook for Mortals mess? I was glued.to.twitter for HOURS. I mean, part of it was because I was feeding updates to my friend, who is a YA librarian, and therefore NEEDED TO KNOW, but also, like, holy crap it was insane how it all went down. For those of you who don’t know what I mean, check out this comprehensive rundown from one of the websites that broke the news.

But like I said, I spent HOURS following that, and had I been trying to do that during NaNoWriMo, I would probably not reach that day’s writing goal.

You know what your weaknesses are, so know what websites you need to minimize your time in so you can take those writing sessions seriously.

Find A Writing Space

I wrote most of my first novel in a study room in my dorm during my freshman year of college. I wrote the #WhoIsTalyaNightingale novel in a bunch of places, including at work (when I had time to spare, promise), a hotel in Illinois, and my apartment. I’m not a fan of coffee shops, because I can’t help but people watch, but I do remember knocking out some of that story at a Starbucks next to the Galen Center on the campus of USC.

Find a space that works for you. It can be in your bedroom at home, in wherever you want in your apartment if you live alone (or if your roommate doesn’t mind your weird habit of writing on the toilet), an office, a library, a study room, or a cafe. If it works, it works. If you need background noise, make sure it’s productive (and no, that’s not hours and hours of reruns of Property Brothers on HGTV). For more on my thoughts on PRODUCTIVE background noise, check out 6 Sources of Productive Background Noise, which includes one of my favorite online background noise generators, Noisli.

And Something To Remember

The time to write is NOW.

You’re never going to find the ‘perfect’ time to write, and you’re never going to be in ‘perfect’ writing conditions, and you’re never going to be ‘perfectly’ inspired. But you must write anyway. If you don’t try, the words aren’t going to come at all. It doesn’t matter if they’re good, they just have to be there so you can start.

If you need to turn off your phone and disconnect your wireless router to get things done, then turn off your phone and disconnect your wireless router. Download one of those apps that limits your access to certain corners of the Internet for however long your writing session is.

Just do what you need to do, and write.

Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 

Do you have a question about writing that you want me to answer? Leave a comment below! (I’m also answering questions in the Facebook group. Hop on over and say hi!)

6 Tips For A Successful @NaNoWriMo

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It’s not just about saying, “Hey, I’m NaNo-ing!”

It would be nice if it were, but writing 50,000 words in a month? That’s not something you can do in your sleep. Unless you can, in which, tell me your secrets. You can get SO much done during the nighttime hours (but y’all, sleep is super important, so also do that. Don’t sacrifice sleep for anything. Especially not a writing challenge). Either way, it’s important to know what makes a good writing environment for you, but also to know that you’re never going to have “perfect” writing conditions all the time. You have to write no matter what.

So, welcome to Part Two of this Writing Tips NaNoWriMo 2017 Countdown, where I’m I’m going to talk about some ways to have a successful NaNoWriMo session. Also known as:

Part Two: 6 Tips For A Successful @NaNoWriMo

And the rest of the series:

Part One: 4 Reasons Why You Should Participate In NaNoWriMo

Part Three: 5 Ways To Focus During @NaNoWriMo

Part Four: Pre-@NaNoWriMo #MondayMotivation

Part Five: 3 Reasons Why It’s Not About Winning @NaNoWriMo

Part Six: Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 For Only 99 Cents!

Some of these tips might ring in the general direction of the Writing Tips post I released earlier this year, like 4 Reasons Why Breaks Are Good For Your Productivity, but there will also be tips that are unique to a challenge like this.

Commit

The first step you must take to have a successful NaNoWriMo is to COMMIT to NaNoWriMo. While it works for some people to just say, “Hey, it’s November, I’m going to write 50,000 words this month.” For others, it’s not so easy. Sometimes you need a reminder of what you’re doing and why you’re doing, which means signing up for NaNoWriMo (it’s not difficult), setting up an author profile, announcing your novel, joining your local community (your Region, and there’s more on that in Part One), find a writing buddy or two (I’m KathrynR47), read and contribute to the forums, and if you can, contribute to the cause.

I add contribute to the cause (if you can), because I can’t be the only person who’s more willing to try to finish a project if there’s some cash at stake. That doesn’t mean you have to, or that you have to fork over your hard-earned millions (yeah, yeah, right), but NaNoWriMo is a great organization that spreads literacy, which lord knows we need more of in this world. In 2016, NaNoWriMo brought free writing programs to thousands and thousands of people around the world. More on donating to NaNoWriMo HERE.

If you signed up early, you probably got the same email I did, with NaNoWriMo’s three ways to commit to your novel, which includes preordering your (awesome!) 2017 winners shirt, downloading the 30 November Writing Prompts (and don’t forget my Prompt Library for hundreds more pieces of inspiration), become a fearless fundraiser (see above), and a bonus link to a prep book written by one of the NaNoWriMo executives.

Keep An Eye On Those Badges

Another way actually committing to NaNoWriMo is useful is the badges system. I can’t be the only person who feels a sense of accomplishment when I see those badges turn from gray to color. And NaNoWriMo features a BUNCH of badges, so it’s not difficult to keep the accomplishments rolling all month long.

There are badges you get just for participating and doing all the things I mentioned above in the Commit section, badges you’ll earn through the month as you hit your first writing goal and the rest of the writing milestones on your way to 50,000 words, check in daily (more on that next), and a whole section of personal achievement badges, which include announcing yourself as a Planner or Pantser (Hi, fellow Pantsers!), if you’re a NaNo Rebel, a Word Sprinter, a Camper, and so much more.

Check In Daily

As I said above, there are some badges that you earn only if you check in to the NaNoWriMo website daily. And with the advent of the Internet and smartphones, it’s not difficult to pop on the website for a minute or two a day to check in, update your word count, and see what’s going on in the forums or in your Region. I highly recommend the above and to check your inbox, see what messages you have from your fellow writing buddies or from the Municipal Liaisons in your Region.

And daily check-ins mean that it’s not possible to forget that you committed to writing 50,000 words through NaNoWriMo. It’s a helpful reminder that you are doing something awesome and great and not that easy, but if you persevere and push through, good things are going to happen to the novel or other writing project you’re working on.

Find Your Support System

Everyone needs a support system. You know, the person or people you can whine at when the words aren’t working, or to share a writing win, like breaking through that scene that drove you nuts for days, or doubling your writing goal in one session, or figuring out a major plot twist that’ll take your story to that next level or awesome.

It doesn’t have to be another writer, it doesn’t have to be through NaNoWriMo, but it also CAN be. I’ve mentioned the Regions many times through this post and Part One, and Regions are awesome because they’re made up of people who live relatively close to where you’re doing your writing. Not only that, but NaNoWriMo’s Night of Writing Dangerously Write-a-thon isn’t the only place where you can connect with your fellow NaNos (More on that event here), but your Municipal Liaisons in your Region do plan local writing events, like meet ups and coffee shops and libraries.

Your support system can be on social media, like by sharing pieces of your writing or your struggles in Facebook groups (I’m sure they’re out there) or on Twitter (there are plenty of NaNoWriMo-related hashtags you can search through to find your fellow writers), or anywhere else where you write either online or offline.

Write For 30 Minutes A Day

Now, I’m not saying you’re going to get all 1,667 words written in 30 minutes, but it’s a start, and I can’t be the only writer who can’t easily stop once they’re on a roll. 30 minutes is really not a long time, and you can break that into shorter sprints, and even if you’re a literary perfectionist, try to let it go. NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing the perfect novel, it’s about creating a DRAFT of a novel.

That’s something that not a lot of people talk about, in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. To do so much in so little time, you’re not going to write a perfect story. You’re going to have plot holes, missing scenes, unnecessary scenes, characters that need fleshing out, and more. The point of NaNoWriMo is to get something to START with (and definitely DO NOT try to get a literary agent based off your NaNoWriMo project. More on that toward the end of NaNoWriMo, and when we get to the Now What? Part of the even). You start with the draft you wrote during NaNoWriMo, and THEN you go back to it and you make it great. And making it great means looking at your work with a critical eye (also, more on that toward the end of the month).

But I digress. In order to have a successful NaNoWriMo, you must carve out time to actually write. And that may mean cutting down on some other Internet-based ventures. When I NaNo’d in 2015, I went cold turkey on my Tumblr browsing. And since doing that, I haven’t been nearly as glued to that website, which is a load off. If you know Tumblr, you know the pros and cons to it, and you know that it’s a great place…in small doses (and no, the TheFakeRedheadWrites Tumblr account is not the account I’m talking about. If you’re on Tumblr and you’re interested in writing prompts, that’s another great resource of mine.)

Don’t Forget To Hydrate

I’m a really big fan of my Writing Tips post, 4 Reasons Why Breaks Are Good For Your Productivity, because you have to remember that as a human, you have needs and limits. Sure, there might be some days where you know you’re NOT going to be able to write as much as you want (I see you, Thanksgiving), but loading up one day or two days with writing sessions can be tough. Remember to take regular breaks, remember to eat, remember to stay hydrated, and remember to stand up for a few minutes. Regularly.

I’ve made it clear that I believe that writing 50,000 words in 30 days is a massive undertaking, and it’s super important to remember to take care of yourself, even as you lose yourself by falling down the writing rabbit hole.

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Do you have a question about writing that you want me to answer? Leave a comment below! (I’m also answering questions in the Facebook group. Hop on over and say hi!)

4 Reasons To Participate In @NaNoWriMo

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I’m NaNo-ing, and you should too!

In case you missed it, yesterday I announced that I will be participating in the 2017 NaNoWriMo writing challenge, which starts on Wednesday, November 1. In that post, I also mentioned that I was going to post a Writing Tips NaNoWriMo Countdown, so welcome to it:

Part One: 4 Reasons Why You Should Participate In NaNoWriMo.

And the rest of the series:

 

Part Two: 6 Tips For A Successful NaNoWriMo

Part Three: 5 Ways To Focus During @NaNoWriMo

Part Four: Pre-@NaNoWriMo #MondayMotivation

Part Five: 3 Reasons Why It’s Not About Winning @NaNoWriMo

Part Six: Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 For Only 99 Cents!

In this post, I will discuss some of the many reasons (because there are many, and these are just mine) why I think it’s important for writers of all skill levels to participate in NaNoWriMo.

The Accountability

In my announcement post, I mentioned how I need something that will hold me accountable and get me off my backside and back to writing, because I personally haven’t done it consistently in the last year, and I really want to get back to that. NaNoWriMo is fantastic for that.

Not only do they send email reminders throughout the month with tips and tricks and reminders to report your daily word metrics, but I’m the type of person who strives for any goal that I set, so I know that I, and others who follow me as I write, will combine to remind me of the importance of the goals I set.

The Consistency

I also mentioned in my announcement post (and a couple sentences ago, it’s that important) how I need to get back into writing on a daily basis, because I think consistency is key for writerly success. Now, I know that it’s not entirely feasible to write every.single.day. 365 days a year—sometimes you need a break, but that’s why it’s great to do something like NaNoWriMo.

In NaNoWriMo, writers haul ass for 30 days to write 50,000 words. That is absolutely insane, you guys. That’s about 1,667 words a day, and yeah, sometimes you can write that much or more in a writing session. But that doesn’t mean you HAVE to write 1,667 words a day for 365 days. That WILL burn you out. You must find your balance, and with NaNoWriMo, you can discover what your balance is. It could be more, it could be less, it could be WAY less. Whatever works for you.

Did you know that if you wrote 500 words a day for 365 days, you can write 182,500 words? That’s a lot. That’s like, three and a half NaNoWriMo’s. Three first drafts of a novel. Two drafts of a 91,000-ish word novel. That’s a lot of words to write consistently, and writing doesn’t always work like that. But you can still, as I said, find a routine that works for you. And NaNoWriMo can help.

The Community

Since NaNoWriMo is so massive, with participants competing from all around the world, so in order to narrow it down and find writers nearby—especially for those of you who do well with writing with other people—there’s a Regions option (you can find it up in the main menu page), where you can connect with writers who live in your city. Not only can you interact with Municipal Liaisons, but you can also follow your Region on Twitter or Facebook, see blog posts and helpful links, and so much more.

Not only that, but NaNoWriMo has a massive forum. And while massive may sound intimidating, the categories are broken down so well that it’s difficult to be overwhelmed. There are prep threads over in NaNo Prep, the Reference Desk for research help, and even Writing 101. Not only that, but you can find forums of people in your age group, Word Wars, Prompts, & Sprints (which includes a couple threads with some picks from my Prompt Library), you can connect with others on Social Media, and it even narrows down to lounges categorized by genre. Need help finding an editor or are looking to purchase something a fellow NaNo-er is selling, then there’s even a Marketing, Self-promotion, & Stuff For Sale thread.

Live in San Francisco or can travel there? Don’t forget to check out The Night Of Writing Dangerously Write-a-thon on November 19. It’s six hours of writing and dinner and drinks in a ballroom overlooking downtown San Francisco. How cool is that? You can attend by raising $300 dollars for the nonprofit behind NaNoWriMo, more details on it here.

The Bonuses

Participating in NaNoWriMo means getting access to a lot of cool bonuses. Not only do you have access to the stunningly massive forum that I talked about in the above section on the community, but they have recommendations from NaNoWriMo experts, blog posts from guests like published authors who either got their start in NaNoWriMo or have written some of their more recent works during a NaNoWriMo challenge.

It also has a store, where you can buy exclusive merchandise that’s based on each NaNo’s theme, and they have a MASS of awesome sponsors who offer awesome discounts and freebies to those who win NaNo and validate their word counts. One of the highlights I remember from the 2015 NaNoWriMo, where I successfully completed my first draft of the #WhoIsTalyaNightingale novel, was a company that offered a free, printed copy of your NaNoWriMo manuscript. Free. Book printing is expensive, y’all.

NaNoWriMo also offers a Young Writers Program, and Camp NaNo, which is basically NaNoWriMo in the summer, and while it’s also about writing, it’s a lot more collaborative, with participants matched into groups or ‘cabins’, with other authors of your same age, genre, or any other specification you choose.

Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 

Do you have a question about writing that you want me to answer? Leave a comment below! (I’m also answering questions in the Facebook group. Hop on over and say hi!)

TFR’s 2017 @NaNoWriMo Announcement

All NaNoWriMo Long, Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 For Only 99 Cents!

It’s an Announcement!

A NaNonouncement, if you will.*

Instead of this morning’s usual Pinterest Picks post (fear not, those posts shall return in December), I’m taking today to announce that I am committing myself to the 30-day NaNoWriMo writing challenge. It is entirely possible that I am committing myself to a month of insanity as well, but that is neither here nor there, and is probably going to happen either way, seeing that this is NOVEMBER we’re talking about, and November means HOLIDAYS.

It’s fine. I’ve done it once, so I can do it again.

But this time, I’m basically starting from scratch (okay, scratch and some random bits of dialogue). So, that adds a new wrinkle to this year’s challenge.

What am I writing, you may ask?

Well, if you’ve signed up for my #MondayMotivation Newsletter (if you haven’t you can do that HERE. The next newsletter comes out on November 6) or follow me on Twitter, you already know that I’m dabbling in a Groundhog Day meets Rogue One: A Star Wars Story type plot that I am tentatively calling #GroundhogOne. Very creative, I know. I’m great at hashtags, y’all.

What is #GroundhogOne about? Well, the short of it is an impossible prison break. The long of it is a lot more complicated and full of both spoilers and plot bits I haven’t thought of yet. What I do know is that it features Glory, she’s the one trapped in a time loop, her partner Rex (who was named something else until about 20 minutes before I wrote the first draft of this announcement, because #writing), a pair of married cyborg assassins named Echo and Meera, and a robot spider designated CZ (for anyone following me on Twitter who were wondering what possessed me to do research on spiders, this is why).

Why am I NaNo-ing?

Well, it’s for accountability reasons. If other people know that I’m doing something, I’m more likely to get it done. Same thing went for when I NaNo’d in 2015 (I assume. November 2015 was a ridiculously busy month for me and a lot of things happened, so I don’t remember much of it). Also, I know that if I say: I’m going to spend an hour a day on writing and have a REASON to do that thing, it’s more likely to happen. It’s not going to be easy, I may not get to 1,667 words every day, but the point is that I used to write every day, and I don’t do that anymore, and I don’t like that.

Because here’s the thing, I need to get back into writing on a daily basis.

In fact, that I am still in the process of finding an agent to represent the #WhoIsTalyaNightingale novel (which wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for NaNoWriMo 2015) makes it even MORE important that I keep writing. And also, I REALLY like the story I’ve come up with an I want to put the words to paper. There isn’t anything actually STOPPING me from writing it (I first got the inspiration for this story all the way back in JUNE), so I need something that’ll get me to START.

And I’ve decided that that thing is going to be NaNoWriMo.

Wondering what NaNoWriMo is all about and how to survive it? Well there is a glut of information available on NaNoWriMo.org, and I will also be posting a NaNo-Countdown series of Writing Tips posts starting tomorrow and ending on Wednesday, November 1, with a special announcement.

Want to be my Writing Buddy (NaNoWRiMo says that writers have a higher likelihood of winning NaNoWrMo with one)? I’m KathrynR47. I’ll be checking in on an as-daily-as-I-can-basis, offering advice and encouragement. Want to keep up on my progress while not diving all the way in? Well I will be sharing snippets of scenes and ranting about my writing adventures on Twitter, and I plan to revive last year’s What I Wrote Today posts each Thursday to keep you all apprised of how things are (or are not, which does unfortunately happen) progressing.

Wish me luck!

All NaNoWriMo Long, Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 For Only 99 Cents!

Do you have a question about writing that you want me to answer? Leave a comment below! (I’m also answering questions in the Facebook group. Hop on over and say hi!)

5 Ways To Use Prompts In Your Writing

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Prompts-The Best Ways To Expand Your Writing

It should probably go without saying that I’m kind of a really big fan of writing prompts. I mean, come on. There are more than 300 prompts in the library and hundreds more scheduled through spring of next year. They’re too fun NOT to create.

Over the last few months, I’ve gotten a couple questions and comments from readers, blog visitors, etc., asking for permission to use the prompts on TheFakeRedhead.com. Well, here’s your no-longer-implied-yes. Yes. Absolutely yes. I write these dialogue prompts in the hopes that YOU will be inspired to both write and keep writing. You have all the permission in the world to use my prompts to inspire your writing.

Now, some of you may be asking, “If everyone’s using the same writing prompt, won’t they basically be writing the same story?”

Nope!

That’s the best part of writing prompts. A few months ago in the writing group I’m part of, the woman who runs it made a really good point about prompts. If you hand the same prompt out to a room of 30 people, you’re going to find yourself with 30 completely different stories. That’s just how it works. No one has the same brain, so no one knows your story better than you do.

So, click the Continue Reading button for five ways to use prompts in your writing, and then KEEP reading for an exciting announcement!

Continue reading “5 Ways To Use Prompts In Your Writing”

Writing Tips Roundup No. 5

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Catch up on the last four writing tips posts

5 Cliches To Avoid In Your Story
It’s my birthday, so I’m going to spend 2,000 words talking about cliches in literature that need to stop.

2 Things NOT To Do When Sharing Your Work
These things might feel instinctual, but they won’t serve you well in the long run.

4 Reasons Why You MUST Wait Before Moving On Your Manuscript
I am one of the least patient people on the planet, but if I can understand how crucial it is to take time away from your work, anyone can.

1 Way To Add Depth To Your Story
Circling around back to ‘show, not tell’, because I still think it’s super important.

Click HERE for the complete library of writing tips.

Need some inspiration? Check out the Writing Prompts library HERE

Looking for prompts NOT seen on TheFakeRedhead.com?

Click To Claim Your 10 FREE Writing Prompts

Do you have a question about writing that you want me to answer? Leave a comment below! (I’m also answering questions in the Facebook group. Hop on over and say hi!)

1 Way To Add Depth To Your Story

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Write What You FEEL

Because of reasons, I’m going to dive back into the importance of “show, not tell”.

What are the reasons? Well, I’m not going to talk about it because I don’t want to traumatize my readership, but if you hop on to my Twitter and scroll back a few days, you’ll see some nooooooooooo gifs with the hashtag #AllTheBoats.

That’s my vague reaction to what I was suffering through, and what inspired me to draft this post.

Ugh.

Moving on.

Showing, not telling is CRUCIAL for your story.

Why?

Well for me, I’m incredibly stubborn.

You can’t just TELL me to do something or TELL me to feel a certain way. Especially if I don’t respect you (and as an author our job is to build respect with our readers), I’m probably either going to NOT listen to you or very vocally demand that I get a viable explanation about why you think whatever it is is important for me to do or think.

When it comes to writing, it is your job as an author to make your readers BELIEVE in what you’re showing them.

And to make your readers believe what you believe, you have to SHOW them. You can’t just tell them what to do or to feel. If you do, then they’re not going to get very far in your story.

So, click the Continue Reading button for some tips on how to infuse more SHOW into your story so you can take your readers on a ride in a way that encourages them to keep turning the page.

Continue reading “1 Way To Add Depth To Your Story”

4 Reasons Why You MUST Wait Before Moving On Your Manuscript

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The Waiting Game

Rome wasn’t built in a day, you guys, and the plans weren’t drawn up that quickly either.

Note how the header to this post says that you “must” wait before making any moves on your manuscript.

Noted?

Awesome.

Because I used “must” for a reason.

I didn’t say “should” or “it’s recommended” or anything along those lines where you have an option.

You DON’T have an option. You MUST wait.

Now, who am I to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do with your work, especially since I’ve spent the last, what, five and a half months giving you recommendations with the caveat of, “but also, you do you.”?

Well, I am a writer.

Says who? Says me.

And as a writer, I am brutally aware that I am too close to the #WhoIsTalyaNightingale manuscript. That’s a fact, and it’s normal. When you spend as long as I have writing a book (while also planning…a large number of other novels that fit into a shared universe), I have no choice but to get close to what I’m working on.

If you’re not close to your work, you don’t love it with a fiery passion of a thousand and a half suns, then maybe you should take some time to reconsider what you don’t love and…fix it. (You should always want to love your work, and if you don’t, then you’re probably not going to finish it to your satisfaction).

But with loving your work and wanting it to potentially get it published someday, you have to measure your expectation and with that means finding ways to step back from your manuscript when you’re done with the first draft.

And also, if you’re thinking about reaching out to agents after finishing one draft,  then STOP. NO. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS.

What agents want presented to them is a manuscript that is COMPLETED (beginning, middle, and ending with all the scenes and transitions and fight scenes that apply) and POLISHED.

And what does ‘polished’ mean?

Polished means edited.

Want to know how many drafts the #WhoIsTalyaNightingale manuscript underwent before I deemed it ready for querying?

Five.

I completed FIVE. FULL. DRAFTS of just ONE story. A story that is probably going to undergo MORE revisions before it becomes an actual book.

Sounds insane?

While I AM a perfectionist, it’s really not.

But in order to get from Draft One to Draft Five, I took breaks.

And you should too.

So, click the Continue Reading button for four reasons why taking breaks between edits of your manuscript is CRUCIAL to your success as a writer.

Continue reading “4 Reasons Why You MUST Wait Before Moving On Your Manuscript”

2 Things NOT To Do When Sharing Your Work

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Sharing Your Work Doesn’t Have To Be Scary

I’m going to talk about a bunch of different things today, including taking a small dive into fandom. If you’re not so familiar with that, just bear with me. I have a point, I promise. This post also features a story about my sixth-grade science teacher, aka the first person to realize that 11-year-old Kathryn needed glasses.

Aren’t I just full of stories today?

So, here you are. You’ve spent for-freaking-ever writing your story, it’s awesome, you’re super proud of it, and now it’s time to share it with the world.

Daunting, right?

Well here’s the thing: sure, it is daunting, but you can’t let it drive you crazy. Far and away, no matter what you do and what you write, you are going to hear more positive things about your work than you will the negative.

But yes, you WILL also hear negative things. That’s just a fact of life.

You have to remember that you wrote your story for you, and while you will undoubtedly find others who will also enjoy your work, it’s NOT going to be for everyone. It’s just not.

And even though you can make your work as appealing to as many audiences as possible, you’re still going to get people that just aren’t interested. There are people out there who don’t love Harry Potter, but you don’t see J.K. Rowling crying into her diamond-encrusted iPhone over it.

Or, you know, the Divergent books. Not my cup of tea. It’s the cup of tea for a LOT of people (hence why it ended up being a movie series, though let’s not talk about how that ended, because that’s another story entirely and has very little to being an author and sharing your work.), but it’s just not up my alley.

Hmm, how many metaphors can I make about liking things in this post? Hint: probably a lot.

So yes, sharing your work can be scary, but click the Continue Reading button for the two most important things that you should NOT do when you share your work. These things can almost feel like the instinctually CORRECT response, but they’re really not and it won’t serve your overall confidence in the long run.

Continue reading “2 Things NOT To Do When Sharing Your Work”