Challenge : Deadlines

NANOWRIMO, the National Novel Writing Month, is the internationally infamous writing challenge to churn out 50,000 words in a month, and writers do it with deadlines.

This yearly challenge is the opportunity to create a new life for ourselves, a writing life.  NANOWRIMO is a time to stop thinking of writing as a hobby and resolve to turn it into a profession, to create a New Advent.

WHO Needs to Participate?

The challenge provides a great exercise for all writers.  We should participate at least once in our writing life.  If we feel burned out, the white-hot drive of creativity will recharge us—after it drains us.  For the total newbies, NANOWRIMO forces us to work past what we think is our stopping point and teaches us how to do that.

This opportunity is especially helpful to writers stuck between hobby and job.  It’s not limited to fiction;  bloggers can benefit.  Through constant deadlines we must push to achieve, we learn self-discipline.  NANOWRIMO also touches on the many areas needed when writing stories.

WHERE to Start?

Consider these 4.

  1. Characters :: get to know the primaries. How are they going to collide?
  2. Situation :: understand the remote and near causes and effects of major events.
  3. Plot :: How will you pace the story? Many writers talk about scenes and segues or the III-Act structure.  Basically, you should know the start and the end and 5 twists between (Plot 7).  These will get you going.
  4. Research :: Special settings. Special elements (steam machines, zeppelins, etc).  Know how the things work.

If you haven’t done any of this, if you don’t even have a story prepped, just start writing and go.  As scenes develop, put them where they need to be in the sequence.  This sounds like the free-est possibility of all.  Make yourself have a deadline of the Plot 7 by the tenth of the month.

WHAT to Do?

The continuation of this original blog post from  10 November 2016 can be found in the publication Think Like a Writer: 7 Tips to Change a Hobby to a Profession, by M. A. Lee.

Clear Pronoun Reference

A Backwards Approach

The true key to any communication is awareness of what interferes with the message.

Communication depends on clarity.

Approaching any message, word-based or graphic image, from the stance of “What can go wrong?” seems backwards.  However, any longtime writer will confess that is the question constantly in mind as they prepare to write.

From Business to Athletics to the Arts

“Begin with the End in Mind” is the mantra of any endeavor:  business, sports, arts, religion :: the customer,
the win, the performance, Heaven . . . or Hell.

Once the idea is in place, all impediments are then removed.  As the idea progresses to reality, impediments are continually removed until the idea becomes tangible reality.

If businesses don’t start by creating smooth pathways for customers, then customers will leave.  So they should begin by identifying the blocks that will impede or frustrate their customers.

Few inventions begin with someone saying, “Great idea.”  Most inventors want to devise a better method.

Athletes create regimens by removing what interferes.

Artists don’t start painting their visions on blank canvasses.  They prep their canvas to remove any imperfections.  Then they begin.

Writing begins with idea.  Removal of impediments begins next by determining characters and GMC, plot situation and structure, and setting.  We refine as we process, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.

The End is Not the End

When we all come to the end of our goal, we haven’t reached the end of our task.  We’re still putting on final touches.  And we’re thinking of the next goal that we want to communicate to our audience—even if that audience is just ourselves.

And we constantly look—beginning, middle, end—for impediments to our message.  We want those impediments gone!

Especially when those impediments are glaringly obvious.

Avoid glaring errors with Clear Pronoun Reference
Mistakes so Bright We’ve Got to Wear Shades

Grammar Mistakes so Bright

Throughout this series of blogs since January, we’ve talked about grammar checkers and readability stats, mis-used words (“Vial Trolls”) and sentence subjects being lost (“Pesky Trolls”).  We’ve covered fossilized verbs and MisMods & DangMods (Sept. 15 and Oct. 15).

We’ve offered ways to create emphasis (June 15 and Aug. 1) and ways to add interest (July 1 and 15).

We’ve had side excursion to baseball (May 1) and book trailers (Sept. 1 and Oct. 1).

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these trips.

Clear Pronoun Reference, part 3 of 3

Pronouns cause problems when our audience cannot quickly determine the nouns they refer to.

  1. Oscar waved to his coach as he came down the escalator. >> Who is on the escalator?
  2. Oscar met up with Mike after he saw Julio yesterday and said that he had the gear. >> Who has the gear? We have 3 choices.  Who exactly saw Julio yesterday?  2 choices.
  3. Before the gate could fit the opening in the fence, it has to be made smaller. >> What needs to be smaller: gate or fence opening?

Awareness of the problem helps us avoid it, just as we noted above:  Begin with the End in Mind.  If you know you make certain errors, you will learn to spot those errors more quickly.

CPR for CPR

When proofreading, touch every pronoun back to the noun immediately preceding it.  If too many nouns have inserted themselves between your pronoun and its antecedent, divide the sentence to conquer the problem. (btw: ¶ = paragraph)

  • Oscar met up with Mike. ¶ “I saw Julio,” Mike said. “He said he’s got our gear.  We just need to pack it up.”  ¶ “When can we do that?” ¶ “Well, yesterday.” (grin)

As a rule of thumb, nouns should be in the same ¶ with the pronoun.  Repeat the noun when entering a new ¶.

FICTION follows a slightly different rule:  In training through a situation, several ¶s will occur.  Restate the noun occasionally and in different positions within the different types of  ¶s.

¶ types vary greatly:  some narration, some dialogue, some exposition, some action.

Read aloud for flow and continuity and pronoun reference.

Take Off the Shades

This is our last Grammar Blog for the year.  We’re launching into a New Advent in November, coinciding with the NaNoWriMo.  Check back November 1st for our “royal we” take on the internationally infamous writing challenge: 50,000 words in one month.

  • Where to start?
  • What to do?
  • When to resort to tools?
  • Why to abandon those tools?
  • How to succeed?

Happy Writing.

~~ Emily