Friday, October 25, 2013


Are you a pants-er?  Do you sit down and make it work no matter what happens? Then you might be a great Nano writer!

Last week I covered the way that I do Nano, but that isn't the only way, no sir, you could Pants it!  I tried the technique a few years ago and failed miserable so it doesn't work for me, but it might for you.  As far as I can tell you don't do much planning at all, accept maybe a concept and a title, the latter less important than the first.  Then when November 1st rolls around you just start pounding it out.

I can see the appeal in this method. A great idea can flow better then something plotted down to its last breath, and you have all the creative liberty in the world not being married to an idea.  I have on occasion Panted parts of my manuscript, and it can be quite liberating. The reason it doesn't work for me all the time, is because I tend to clam up when I can't come up with the next idea. I like some sort of idea as to where I am going, so if I get stuck I can refer back to my notes and pick up the pieces and move on. 

Still if you choose to Pants I wish you all the luck in the world. Technically, spontaneity and free flow really are the purpose of Nano in the first place.  It helps you to put away the annoying personal editor that talks to us all the time, and have a great time doing what we love, writing!  No matter how you plan on approaching this feat of writing craziness I wish you all the luck in the world, and may the Pants be with you!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Meet Mortianna DeWinters, the villain for my upcoming Nano book.  She looks harmless enough until you know just what is going on with her.  Fueled by jealousy for her dead half sister, she is determined to ruin the reputation of the newest young Opera Star, her niece.  When the girl is married to a wealthy Count Mortianna did what every other crazy woman would do, she murdered him!

There you go, how do her open arms look now? Hehe!

One of the things I have done in the past for Nano books, that has stuck throughout all of my writing is assigning a picture to my characters.  After my character interviews I start looking for someone who fits the bill.  In Mortianna's case I knew I wanted a woman who was still beautiful even thought she was older.  I wanted a red head of sorts, mostly because I think red heads are very clever and have a whole lot of common sense, even if they are on this side of crazy like Mortianna.  (Let me preface this by saying I have a number of red headed friends and family members and they are all great!) I also like this picture because she has very innocent quality about her until you find out that she is a murderer.  I wanted her to be eccentric enough that she could pull off her character traits but also have the qualities of a normal human.  Also Julianna' Moores performance in "An Ideal Husband," played largely into my choice. 

Having a visual also helps me to refer back to some of my characters traits without having to scroll through the bio's.  I can clearly see their features and the look on the faces that help me to write a more believable character. 
This is Paige Orr the niece in my new book.  She is beautiful and innocent looking as well. But the look on her face is also determination.  We can get that she is young with dark hair and eyes.  She looks rather petite and quiet but again the look on her face says a whole lot more.  She may have been beaten once but she isn't going to put up with it anymore, and if you don't believe her, just try something. 

Sometimes when I write I get characters mixed up with other, especially if they have a lot of the same characteristics. It is easy for me to look at this picture of Paige and remember many of her traits that is important to her character.  In this case I choose an actress I know nothing about so I haven't been influenced by her acting so I can't make her anything I want as long as she fits my character. 

Sometimes I browse pictures of actors and actresses online until I find what I am looking for. Take this talented man for example. If you know who he is you know exactly how he can be cast as a book character.  Not only his appearance but his amazing presence can lend itself to a character. 

Nano tip of the day.  Use visuals when you write.  This isn't limited to characters. Landscapes, buildings, maps, flowers, etc. can help make your story more down to earth and bring it closer to home for your readers. 

Happy planning!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Nano Planning!

So my writing friends, the time is again upon us to plan for Nano! For weeks I had no idea what I wanted to write about, but a grand idea has come to me and now I am excited about the upcoming Nano month.  Today I wanted to talk about planning.  How do you get ready for your writing?  Some years I have just gone into the month without much planning at all, other times I have done quite a bit of writing before hand in an effort to get to know my characters.  This year was a planning year so I am excited to share some ideas. If you do something different, or find something that works really good for you feel free to share it.Today I am going to cover just one of my techniques, and hopefully we can cover others through out the rest of the week.

1. First off you need to have a good idea of what you want to write about, what you wanted my plot to be like and picking characters that fit with your ideas. Also a time period, setting, and lesser characters all need to be decided.  In my case I needed a hero and a heroin, but there are a lot of players in this new book and I wanted to be able to keep them all straight, but how?

2. Character interviews, or reviews.  Sometimes it is helpful to ask your characters questions about what they want from the story. What is their end goal? What do they want to succeed?  This is a good way to get to know your characters.  I read somewhere that even our villains think they have good intentions.  Not every one is purely evil, most good bad guys have very human, understandable traits. Make sure that you know what everyone wants from the story so that you can understand why they do the things that they do. Things like age, birth, childhood memories, and physical characteristics are helpful in this stage so you know what their proper reaction to things will be.  A twenty year old woman is going to react differently than a thirty five year old woman. Maturity or perceived maturity is a big thing in writing to make it believable. Rich, poor, strong, weak, all of these characteristics will lend life to your character.

Also background checks are incredibly important. There isn't a lot of time to fill your manuscripts full of background, but that doesn't mean that your characters don't have one.  The things that happen in our lives make us who we are, influence what we do from here on out.  We can't just assume that a person is a villain because we want them to be, there has to be a real reason for the story to be valid.  The same goes for our hero's, they are human but something about their past has caused them to be heroic, what was it?  These are good questions to ask your character so you know them before you start writing their lives. 

I find if I know my characters and what motivates them I don't spend time trying to figure out what they would do in a certain situation. It would be completely natural to write what happens next because I know them better than I know myself. Don't be afraid to do this because you think there will be no spontaneity in your writing because that just isn't the case.  Sometimes, more often then not, I still manage to surprise myself with what I do.  Just because you know someone doesn't mean they can't surprise you. 

Those are two of my preparations for writing Nano.  I should really take a lesson from myself and be better at doing this for my other manuscripts.  If you do something similar let us know it, comparing notes is the best way to improve our writing.