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November 5th, 2012 by alice
12,502 words down; 37,498 to go.
When I signed up for NaNoWriMo, I knew that the task would be daunting. You have to average 1,667 words a day to complete a 50,000-word manuscript in 30 days. But I also knew that I didn’t have 30 days.
Realistically, I have about 20 writing days this November, and that’s with the help and cooperation of my family (who rock, by the way). That means that if I’m going to make it to the finish line with my sanity intact, I have to use each writing day to the fullest: 2,500 words per day. So far, I’ve managed it.
It’s a new kind of writing for me.
Sure I’ve written 2,500 words in a day before. Every writer gets hot streaks–each one is wonderful and makes me feels as though I can accomplish anything. But my usual output is much lower than that. As I’ve mentioned, ad nauseam, I tend to write slowly. Forcing myself to get 2,500 words down each day has revealed some things about myself I didn’t realize.
First, there’s the quantity of revision I do while I’m composing. I’ll write a chapter, start on the next, and quickly realize that two plot strands I began in the previous chapter aren’t going to go anywhere and will just be distracting. So I go back, snip them out, rework the passages to make them make sense, and return to the new chapter.
When your goal is to increase the number of words in a novel by 2,500 per day, snipping out large sections of what you’ve previously written is out of the question. Onward!
Then, although I am loathe to outline and claim to be flexible when it comes to plotting, I appear to have a pretty set idea regarding the shape of my novel.
Back, who knows when, I decided that at some point my main character was going to meet someone who should have been his enemy but turns out to be his friend. They would survive some pretty harrowing experiences together and that would influence future events. I briefly toyed with the idea of making them lovers and decided, no, my main character already had a true love. Bonds of of friendship don’t need sex.
And so, I’m in the middle of this should-have-been-an-enemy-but-turns-out-to-be-a-friend plot point, and I’ve created a powerful bond, and bang! They’ve become lovers.
Wait a second. What about the true love? What about friendship without sex?
No time. Can’t cut a chapter now. I’ll work with it and see where it takes me.
It feels kind of breathless, overall. I am writing–or overwriting–with abandon. I don’t know how much this method will carry over come December, but for the time being, I confess, it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
October 25th, 2012 by debbie
Have you heard of NaNoWriMo, that time of year when oodles of fiction writers all over the globe each attempt to spit out a novel in a single month? Every November, this happens. These writing-addicts spew out thousands of words a day, and every day, every online stream I follow is filled with ”I wrote 1000 words today!” “I wrote 2500 words today!” “I wrote 123849812 words today!” And, tada… by the end of the month, they each have a crappy first draft of… something called a novel.
And I Laugh. I think, well, gee, I wrote two-hundred-and-fifty words four different ways today. That adds up to 1000, doesn’t it? And if I keep that up every day for thirty days, at the end of the month, I’ll have… a crappy draft of a picture book! Does that count?
No, dear, it does not.
Someone must have said that to Tara Lazar in 2008, because she decided then to make up her OWN crazy-writer-game. And only PICTURE BOOK writers are invited to play. And it’s called PiBoIDMo. SO THERE.
So there: Picture Book Idea Month. Thirty picture book ideas in thirty days.
If you want to know more, read about it here. There will be chatter, and prizes, and a different guest post every day by editors, agents, and authors (I’ll be there on November 6), and registration begins today.
If you are looking for a warm, funny, inspiring community of picture book writers, then don’t be shy—go on over to Tara’s house. She’s having a PARTY.
August 14th, 2012 by alice
I remember the feeling I got the first time I read E. L. Konigsburg’s The View from Saturday. It was a combination of pleasure, respect, and inspiration. “I want to do that,” I thought.
The book combines the stories of four sixth graders and their teacher, weaving each kid’s experiences with an Academic Bowl tournament—a version of Slumdog Millionaire set some 12 years earlier, in Upstate New York, among middle schoolers. It is heartwarming and brilliant.
After reading the book, I knew I wanted to be a novelist.
E. L. Konigsburg’s work has always been an inspiration to me. She’s not afraid to take risks. She’s written for all age groups; has focused on multiple genres; and is a true craftsman, willing to bend forms and try something new. Even if one of her stories does not grab me entirely, I still know that what I’m reading is well written.
The View from Saturday in particular was a revelation. It taught me that a children’s books can follow multiple view points, weave a complex plot, and adults can play a role. It can also be literate, intelligent, and sometimes pull at your heartstrings. And more than anything else, it can be wonderful.