NaNoWriMo Tips- How to finish your novel

Good Day Everyone,

Today I will be giving you a few tips on how to finish your book. It’s NaNoWriMo season and everyone is struggling to keep pace in this very timely race. So look for examples below and I hope you find an answer to the difficulty you are  facing.

1. I can’t seem to get past chapter 5 because I don’t know if the first few chapters are good enough.

Leave it up to the girl who changed her beginning 10 times before I perfected it. Listen carefully and closely, you must move on my friend. I never would have finished my book if I was only dwelling on the first few pages, because in reality you don’t actually know where your story is going at this point. Sure you might have a rough idea, and it may not be fitting into your image. But you have to move on. Writing takes on a life of its own, and stories make up their own minds as you write. If you don’t move on you won’t actually know the heart of your story. And remember, its easier to create a beginning once you already have a middle and end. You know everything about your book at this point and that will help you find the “perfect” beginning.

2. I have writer’s block. I don’t care what others say, it exists and I have it.

Well my dear friend I am in agreement with you, and trust me this is a very hard road to travel. For pointers it really just depends on your own style of getting back into it, and how you inspire yourself to continue. Here are a few pointers that I have learned work for me on occasions like this.

If I’m feeling uninspired and can’t think of what comes next, I will watch a movie that reminds me of my book. When the actors are playing out the scene that is the most dramatic, I feel my heart lifting and my hands are suddenly ready to type again. Its that surge of adrenaline that helps me find my writers focus again.

If I have no idea how to create the part that’s next there are two things you can do. You can either skip that part for now and hope it comes back to you or you can get out into the world and explore. Tell you friends and family about your book, and ask them for ideas. I’m sure they would be more then willing to help (but don’t go to a dramatic person that would say you stole their idea, or would rub it in your face 24/7 and humiliate you). If that doesn’t  work go out and just watch people, listen to their conversations, just feel the world around you. The only reason you may be missing a piece in your work is because you haven’t experienced it yourself. Like for my story I had no clue what to put in the middle of the book when a new character came in. Now, after meeting a boy (blush), I finally figured out he was the type of character I was missing. I had never been close with someone like him, and he really helped me see that character I’ve been secretly hoping for. So get out in the world, do things you never would do and experience.

3. Okay I’ll admit it. I’m scatter brained, but that’s the cost of being a wonderful author. Your mind is zooming and you can’t finish one work to another.

I have issues personally with finishing one book at a time. I start so many ideas and stories, but to be honest I never seem to be able to finish them. Yes I now have two books down my belt, but for how much I write I should have ten! My brain scatters and I can’t focus on one series. So I picked up a few tips that may help.

If you have an idea write it down. Yes even go a little further and imagine it. Suddenly, as if lightning hit you and gave you a wonderful idea, you keep finding yourself going along with the story unable to stop. This is good. Great even, but tell me, is this  the story you want to send out to publishers and agents? What book do you want to finish? You need to push yourself to finish one book at a time, just one. You need to force yourself to think about the book, and be apart of that book in order to stay focused. Becuase if you get a new idea every night that is just going to cause chaos in the mind and you won’t ever be able to be an author. So I want to tell you to respect the new ideas, and to fold them and put them in their designated drawers neatly, but don’t get carried away if you want to finish something else. You need to be able to think reasonably and make sacrifices if you want to finish a book this November.

Okay, I’ll admit it. All of these were issues I’ve had in the past. I don’t know what you are going through, and I don’t know if you need more help. So please leave a comment below if you need help with something and I can certainly leave you with a wonderful tip that can hope fully help you along your way.

A. Willow

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Moral Message: Is it Necessary?

Hello Everyone,

For me in a story everything has to have an outcome. Now that doesn’t mean it has resolution, but that the story gave you a certain moral or idea that you will possibly take with you for the rest of your life. Reading books is learning, and that means that every word you put on a page you are sending a message. This message on your blog could be “I hate my job” or it could be, “Cats are the best pets in the world”, but with books it might be slightly more difficult. They can send mixed messages and be contradictory at times,for example its like after reading the Grapes of Wrath where you learn that your life isn’t actually as stressful as you once thought, but you could also get from it that people will do really weird and somewhat horrific things in desperate times (if you’ve read the ending, or heard about it then you know the exact  part I am talking about).

So I’m here to tell you that I zone in on certain aspects of books, and in my own writings I try to really emphasize between light and dark.  At the beginning, stories tend to capture my attention by action, romance, or simply new ideas, but its the author’s message that will have me either stop or continue.

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Stories about ending the world and how humans are hopeless, now it’s those authors I cannot stand. All the author does is tell his/her readers that they don’t have any hope of improving and they should only look forward to going downhill.
Well excuse me if I am interrupting anyone’s fantasy bubble, but humans need growth in order to live. We can’t just sit on the couch playing Left for Dead five hours in a row and use the excuse, “Zombies are going to take over the world, so why should I try?”

That is ridiculous! Sure, whatever, play the games, I couldn’t care less. But its the attitude that goes with it. We see it in the media, TV, Movies, Magazines, and even on the radio that we humans are worthless and shouldn’t continue to try.

What have we as a society come to?

My solution to everything is this: We have to stop spreading around garbage and negative energy and start helping each other. We need to work together through our words and helping hands. That is why writing is so important. It’s because it gives future generations hope to look for a brighter future,and that darkness will not swallow us up as long as we keep trying and are working together.

So yes, when I read the hunger games, I really fell in love with it. Until the second book came out and it was likeable, but as soon as I finished the third book I got MAD! With all the fans, and how many people the author reached out to, THAT WAS HER ENDING!?! Her message was horrible, and to basically give up on civilization as we know it!

katniss-unleashes-her-arrow-mtv-vmas

How could someone with such power, downgrade the human worth and tell everyone that there is no hope for humanity?

I apologize because I know how many people loved it, but I can’t stand that we are limiting ourselves to such a low standard.

When you write, make sure you know what message you are sending out to everyone. That is my advice to you, because if you create a book just because you thought it would be a cool idea, well think again. Your sons, daughters, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and so forth are going to read this and what type of message do you want to be sending out to them? It doesn’t have to be filled with rainbows and ponies, but at least try to make it worth the lesson.

Do we really want to be telling our children, “Oh don’t worry about going to school today, we humans are worthless anyways.”

So yes, I do judge a book by its message, and I can’t stand that when someone has power that they waste it on negativity. So if you want to write out to the world, please, I am begging you, to think twice before you send your manuscript.

If you would like to tell me what you are thinking feel free to comment.  I would love to hear about anything: what your morals are, why you look for a message in books or don’t, what is your favorite book that has a message etc.

-A. Willow-

Having Dialogue Anxiety?

Hello fellow writers,

For some of us dialogue comes to us easily and it’s the first thing we think of. Others of us may struggle with certain words in a phrase but know the basic idea of what we want to write. Then there are the unfortunate who don’t have a clue what the characters are going to say.

I have experienced all three of these in the writing of my books, and I’m here to give you some helpful tips as well as advice on why it may not be working for you.

When it comes down to dialogue and getting it right really depends on how well you know your characters. So please take this into consideration as I give the examples below.

Scenario 1: You know exactly what your characters are going to say and can write out conversations easily-

Congratulations! This means you know your characters very well, but you still must be careful. When you start getting used to your characters word choices you can become redundant and continually say the same things over and over again. Don’t worry though, first write everything out: finish the book, chapter, or sentence that’s in your head. Although, to avoid a catastrophe of words you must go back after a long break, and reread everything. You may be surprised how many “Aha’s, So’s and But’s” you find consistently within a chapter.This is when you must reshape and mold the words so your dialogue can flourish.

Scenario 2: You kinda sort know what you want to say, but you kinda sorta need help.

All you need to do is write, write, write. Even if you don’t know what your characters are going to say exactly, the best way to figure it out is to write out the scene. Even if the dialogue doesn’t match your characters personalities you know what is going to happen. This action forces you to get everything off your chest and its the editing part that can get a little difficult. Look over the dialogue and just continue to edit until you get your characters voice. Although I must warn you, if you try editing ten minutes after you write it, all you are going to do is frustrate yourself and be thrown into a dark place you won’t want to be in. My advice to you is skip over this section if you want to continue writing, wait a few days (a week is best) and then go back and think as hard as you want to on the dialogue. It’s never good to get dialogue anxiety and the best way to avoid dialogue becoming your enemy is by leaving it alone for a while.

If that still doesn’t help, and you can’t even write out the scene then you my dear friend are having writers block. Its at the point where you know what you want to write, you know how you want the scene to go, but you just can’t think of how to write it out.

If you need more help on writers block please visit my other posts that will help you more thoroughly:  Writers Block and How to Handle it.

Scenario 3: Your characters are elusive and there is nowhere you can go without saying to yourself, “Dang, I know what he will do but how the hell does he respond to this?”

Dialogue is hard enough as it is, but when you don’t know your characters as well as you should dialogue nearly becomes an impossibility. Think of it this way, when you are talking with a friend or a family member, you always seem to know what they’re going to say . Are you psychic!?! Sadly, your probably not. You just know that person very well, and if you know your characters well you’ll know what they’ll say in any situation. Your characters need to become your best friends, your family, and the people you know best. If you don’t know them well enough then you NEED to.

My best advice for you is to go explore the world. If someone you know acts like your character go become their best friend for a week. If your character is like a TV show star then go stalk them for a month (the character on TV, NOT the actual star. I am not encouraging you to go lurk outside someones house!) If you don’t have a clue  on anyone who is like your character, then you have to go take risks and adventurous endeavors.

For example:photo

If your single go date people you never even thought you would be interested in. You don’t have to be into them, but I will tell you this. Dating someone is going to let a lot more doors open for you then just listening in on conversations. When you date someone you get very personal and hopefully honest with the other person. You begin to notice their little quirks on the third date and possibly even learn why they’re tormented by large dogs.

Here is why I know this can work.

For about a year I was stuck on my second novel in my series. I knew what I wanted the protagonist to be like, I knew what skills he would have, but I had no clue how he would react or what he would say, because to be honest I had never met a guy like this before. Then one day an opportunity arose and a guy asked me on a few dates. To be honest I wasn’t completely into him, but I thought why not give him a chance.

That chance turned into me finally being able to step out of my writers block and write-write-write until my book was finally complete.

Meeting new people gives you the chance to meet the character you never knew!

So whether you are stuck with what to say, or if it comes fluidly, you must look over every detail. Get out into the world, listen to conversations, and explore. Dialogue may not be your top priority but it’s very important to your book, short story, or novel.

Quenching Your Thirst: The Hunger Games Trilogy

Happy Thirst-day!

On this special edition, I will be critiquing the Hunger Games Trilogy all in one. With so many fans and public awareness, I will simply be stating more about my own thoughts on the series rather than on an individual book.hunger_games_trilogy (1)

Name:

      Book 1– The Hunger Games

      Book 2– Catching Fire

      Book 3– Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

YA Genre: Dystopian

Pages:  1163 Combined

Reading time:  1 week

Rating: 3 out of 5

Trilogy Overview:

Well if you haven’t heard about this book or series already, here is a quick overview. Katniss Everdeen lives in a dystopian world where people are being mistreated by the government. As punishment for a battle fought close to a century ago, the government forces 24 kids from the rebellion 

side and makes them enter a game for their life. Everyone has played by the rules the last 75 years, obeying the strict eye of the government.

 Until Katniss comes along.

catching fire

She defies the government by using her wit and “charm” to overcome the challenges the government poses on her. 

As almost everyone knows there are movies based on these books. The first one has already come out being a big hit and the second comes out in theaters on November 22, 2013.

So read the series before the movie premier and compare the two.

Trilogy Review:

I must say, for a trilogy that has been the in the hype of entertainment for the last few years, I was thoroughly disappointed. After watching the first movie about a year ago, I loved the entire idea of the hunger games,  but now after reading the series I was stunned into an agitated silence. This dystopian feel of the books only showed even deeper in the books. So deep that you began to see how helpless the entire cause was for the protagonist of the story.

When I read stories I don’t look for happy endings, or for a guy to save the girl like in the Disney fairytales. Instead I look for morals from the author. What message is the author trying to send to her readers is a huge part about why I love books, but the message throughout this trilogy was next to nothing but depressing. It gives no hope to our race as humans, basically saying that we are meant to suffer and continue suffering and shouldn’t look for a happier outcome.
Is this really what America wants to see in the next few decades?

Back in the great depression years, America used to fantasize about superheroes like superman and captain america, and now look at what we wish upon our nation and the world. All we can think about is a zombie apocalypse, Dystopian worlds for our future, and aliens massacring the world.

These books are no exception to this way of thinking, and without a message from the author telling us about how we can get past it I will never appreciate these books in the literary world.

Life should be about overcoming the darkness of our day to day lives and instead this trilogy leaves a sour taste in my mouth and words I wish I had never read.

Please let me know how you liked the books, because I did enjoy them while I was reading. It was just the message that crumpled my hopes for the story.

Struggling Through the Abyss of Time

Hello Fellow Writers,

Today I will share with you a problem I have been facing over the last six months. I have bashed myself down time and time again because I simply tell myself, “I don’t have any time to write.”

Is this statement true for me as well as for you? Do you feel that time is your enemy with your studies, work, family, and friends that you are unable to make time for your writing?

For some this is a daily struggle, others a few times a month, and a few that hardly have to worry about time. To those of you who don’t worry about timing Hurray to you! but for the rest of us time-crunchers, here are a few of my thoughts that may help you as well as me.

imageThe way we writers must view things no matter how busy we are is that time doesn’t stop just because you’ve stopped writing. You may want to be a big famous author or poet one day, but here’s the thing, if you aren’t writing you are stuck in time. The literary world isn’t going to stop the busy route it’s taking and slab you on the best sellers list.

You have to work for that all on your own.

You won’t be handed your accomplishments, instead you will have to work for what you want in life. We as writers must MAKE time everyday to write, we must make time to market ourselves every week, and we most certainly have to send out our works at least once a month. You need to start being that annoying writer who never takes no for an answer. Get your name out to the public, the publishers, and the literary agents. You need to imagine yourself as a persistent hornet, striking at every opportunity you are given.

Praying to God, talking to your friends, and writing when you simply feel like it isn’t going to be enough.

In america we have this sort of motto, that you can do anything you put your heart to, AS LONG AS YOU WORK YOUR TAIL OFF!

There are no tomorrows without the beginning of today, so start getting off the “another day” train and begin writing today!

Write, write, write.

Work, work, work.

And Advertise yourself.

I know that time might seem like it’s out to get you, but honestly only you can take time by the shirt collar and hold it down to go in the direction you want. Time is not completely our enemy, it just takes the courage to becomes friends with it and make it a frenemy.

Does Word Count Matter?

Does word count matter?

This is a question every author must face while writing their book. I wish it weren’t true, but I think that may be the case.  With my book reaching 100,000 words, it can be lengthy for someone who has never been published before. This truly isn’t very large, but when you look at the young adult genre they recommend around 60 or 80 thousand…not 10! Young readers like quick reads, and if they don’t know the author they may not pick up a large book.

Personally I love large books. The BIGGER they are the BETTER!!!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while writing your books. The things you should be thinking about before and after.

1. Focus on writing-

While writing your book, DO NOT think about the word count at all! Right now I am writing the first novel to a trilogy I am working on and I keep repeating to myself, “I need to keep it short, I only want 60,000 words.” But I’ve realized that while that is going through my head I am missing some very important conversations between my characters.

Sure I can try to slim my book down a little, but the truth is-  the less you write the more likely you will skip over a really important part.

So the moral is to FOCUS on your writing and not on how long it should be.

2. Editing the rough draft-

Your all done with your book! You feel great like you had just climbed Mount Everest or finished a Marathon. The problem is…now comes the hard part.

Writing your book was easier then editing.

When you go back and edit your book you may notice that some of the great ideas you had before didn’t work out so well. In the process of editing you need to first take out everything you don’t need, and add in the things you do need. After rereading through the book several times you should be getting a feel of how long your book is actually going to be.

3. Final Changes-

Now is the time to fully embrace the length of your book. Is it too long, too short? If your new to publishing you should really consider not having your word count stand out. Most agents don’t like unique lengths by unpublished authors. The more subtle the word count the better.

So if its too long, you need to say good bye to a few of your pages/chapters. You’ve already reduced the amount of things you absolutely don’t want in your story, but now you need to realize some parts need to be pulled for the sake of selling.

I hope this helps those thinking about word count. And remember,  if you don’t have a strong writer’s platform you might want to think of what your genre requires on length.

As Always,

A. Willow

A Scene’s Complexity

imageWhat makes your writing unique?

Is it the way you spill it onto a page or could it possibly be the types of things you focus on?

Everyone is unique in their own way, and when it comes to the image inside your head, nobody else is going to have the same thing.

The landscape falls with just enough sunlight to stretch across the grass. The flowers, blooming red, symbolize the new beginning to my life. Stress has overcome all the senses, but soon a tranquil breath will wash over and release me from this heavy burden. 

Seeing an image like this one in your head is all your own, and something you might want to share with the world. But how do we effectively put a strong image into words? No matter how hard you try, you probably won’t give every person the same exact picture that’s inside your own mind, but you can try to get close.

Here are the things you should be thinking about while writing a scene.

1. The mood-

You must insinuate the mood you are feeling while you see this image. Does it seem to lift your spirits when you do see that sunrise. Can you feel the taste of freedom in the soft flowing air?

OR- Is it a drastic change where darkness sets in and you feel lost. Its feels as though your trapped in a dark cave with no light around you. You can only feel the course dank walls of your tormented enclosure?

Try to make your audience feel the way you do. Once you’ve achieved that you are getting closer to showing your audience the essence of your scene.

2. Vivid Description-

Now the question is what do you want to focus on? Is the narrator focusing on one object?

The coffee cup was still dripping with condensation. Letting the water slide down the side, and drip off the edge of the table. It’s as if the cup knew he felt the stress of his job beginning already without even taking a sip of his black bitter coffee. The cup was white, like his pale face, and resembled the staleness of life he had possessed over his many years of greed. The cup was a symbol of his life, and he knew that eventually the cup would drain down his throat dry without any comfort from the outside world. 

Or

Is the narrator unable to focus strictly on one thing, where everything is in a blur?

I heard the phone ringing, but could only focus on the people around me. There was a girl talking so fast it was as though her red lips puffed out in a blur, the man next to her eyeing her goods on his way to his lower end table, the lady in purple drummed her fingernails against the counter impatiently, the man chomping on his gum so loudly it made my stomach twist in nausea …

“Excuse me, you gonna get that or what?” 

I heard the snarky comment from a flimsy girl, but my head grew fuzzy and everyone began turning into one big blur of solid movement. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, but instead of answering the bar’s phone like I was supposed to, I bolted out of the spinning room and coughed up my lunch from earlier. 

What was it with me and large impatient crowds?

By looking at these examples you can see a drastic difference when you focus on one main object or too many at one time.   Whether it be a really quick glance of a description, or a long enduring eye for everything in the room.

My last piece of advice on the matter is you should be able to feel the writing being soaked up by your story and not disturbing it. Even if the paragraph is phenomenally written, if it isn’t flowing with the story you might have to save it for a later date.

3. What Feels Right-

When writing out your scenes, don’t focus on anyone else’s opinion but your own. It’s hard enough to write everything by yourself, but when you have more than one voice in your head it can get stressful. All you need to do is close your eyes and visualize what you think you should focus on in your heart. If the writing is rough, and you don’t know how to fully describe whats in your head, just write down random words that make sense to you and the scene. Come back to it later, and fully edit in the sentences. Writing isn’t supposed to be perfect, its supposed to be an expression of thought.

If you want to share, I would love to see hear how it helped you and even share what you came up with.

Enjoy your scene writing,

A. Willow