Sunday, 31 October 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010: It's Here, It's Everywhere and This Is How You'll Survive It

I have about 10 hours left at the time of writing this, until NaNoWriMo 2010 starts. I can't wait, I'm mortally afraid and I'm having problems sitting still. The only thing left on my To Do list is to clean, and then I'll be ready. I've been cooking like crazy all week, and now my freezer is about to burst with leftovers and microwave meals. My pantry is filled with potato chips and chocolates. I've dug up a candle to set the ambience in my otherwise rather dull writing area (i.e. my desk), and I've printed and organised my notes into a folder to have them readily available. I'm ready. Let's go.

Well, I can't start yet, can I? There is no cheating, and I don't plan on starting at midnight anyway (I'll be asleep...), but early on Monday morning there will be no stopping me! Or will there?

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Word of the Week #13

Fruitcake (noun)
This is slang for a crazy or eccentric person, a nutter. E.g. "He's a complete fruitcake. Ignore him."


Thursday, 28 October 2010

To Do Before NaNoWriMo and How to Stay Motivated for a Month

We're only a few days away now, and it's time to get your affairs in order and prepare for a month of doing nothing but writing. So, write up a to do list and make sure to finish it before Sunday 23.59 (11.59) in order to have time to enjoy NaNo as much as possible. Things that can be on a list might be to clean (because you won't be cleaning for all of November), cook food for the freezer (because you won't be cooking for all of November either), and buy copious amounts of snacks and microwave meals (see previous parentheses). My list is more specific though, and contains posts such as (apart from the aforementioned) blogging (which I'll soon be able to cross of my list), backing up my harddrive and cleaning out my storage room.

A to do list is important in the preparation for NaNo, so don't skip this step. It's essential to be prepared both concerning what to write, but also in your private life. There will be no room for chores - finally, an excuse not to clean without feeling guilty about it!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Word of the Week #12

Inaugural (adj)
This word originates in the late 1600's. It is something that begins something, e.g. a series. It's for example possible to have the inaugural edition of a TV-series, meaning the first season. Make sense?


Planning for NaNoWriMo - It's Only (Almost) One Week Away!

I'm panicking. I am, personally, the definition of panic. NaNoWriMo is only about one week away and I still don't have a clear idea in my head of what I'm going to write. I spent the entire (yup, from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, with the exception of when I ate and showered...) day yesterday working on my characters and plot. It took me hours just to work through my two main characters (MCs). I had thought I would have plenty of time to gather all the loose ends and plan out the details, but all I've got is the broad strokes of the main plot, and the two MCs, and one minor character. And that took me all day! It's insane.

NaNoWriMo has truly eaten my soul. It's all I think about. Except when I have to think about school, which freaks me out even more. I just want to get the planning over with so I can be confident that I have enough to write about come Nov 1st. In the hopes of simplifying the processes I went out a few days ago and bought a whiteboard. It's come into handy, but more with school work than with NaNo (whiteboards are excellent for planning databases and the structures of adventure games!). I still love it, however. It feels good to erase everything and have a clean slate to write on each time you've filled the board, and you can still doodle on it - a function MS Word unfortunately lacks. Aaaand that's the end of the sales pitch for whiteboards...

I thought I would show you some of the steps I went through yesterday when planning, and perhaps help someone else out there with the same problem as mine. First I popped in a good CD with music I could plan to - i.e. nothing I might be tempted to sing along with. I started with my MCs and began by writing random facts that I knew about them. I set as a goal to always fill the board before erasing. Note that I took a picture of the board each time I had filled it - the things I write weren't lost forever. It seemed the easiest way to do it.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Word of the Week #11

Gobbledygook (noun)
Has its origin in the 1940's, from the word gobble. It means something unintelligible, gibberish, a complicated language that cannot be understood.


Friday, 15 October 2010

Writing Exercise #2 - Building Characters and Preparing for NaNoWriMo

As I've already pointed out, NaNoWriMo is just about two weeks away and it's high time to prepare a story worthy of a month's sweat, blood and tears. I have to admit that I've thought more about what kind of snacks I'm going to buy for NaNo than what I'm going to write, but I intend to remedy that this weekend. I've got a basic plot, which is in dire need of fleshing out. I'm going to start with the characters. In order to build strong, three-dimensional characters, you need to think about more than what they look like and how they act - you have to figure out their motivation for what they do and how they react in situations that you haven't met with yourself (unless you're writing about yourself, then it's much easier, I should imagine).

However, it's not the easiest thing in the world to know why your characters do what they do. Your own motivation and that of the person you're creating isn't the same. This means that just because you want your character to go to a bar one night in order to meet her hero, you can't just tell yourself that she feels like going to a bar. Perhaps she's been persuaded by a friend - but then you have to know why that friend is so insistent on inviting your character. On the other hand, if she has had a particularly awful day at work and she wants to drown her sorrows just like her father used to do after a day's work, her motivation is much more obvious to the reader. It has to be deeper than simply you knowing that your character wants to do something; it has to be a reason apparent to the reader as well.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

NaNoWriMo: What it Is and Basic Survival Training

Rule number one: Don't make any plans for November.

Rule number two: Don't make any plans for November.

If you follow the above stated rules, you will have plenty of opportunity to participate in NaNoWriMo. If you don't already know what NaNo is, check it out here.

In short, anyone willing to sacrifice health and sanity promise to write 50 000 words in one month. If you do, you get a wonderful prize  (a diploma) to print and frame. I didn't find out about it until September last year, and I went crazy enthusiastic. In one month I prepared and planned a short novel, and finished it in 10 days. It was one of the most fun experiences of my life - sitting hauled up every day before and after school (and late into the nights), eating junkfood and candy that I never get to eat otherwise. The "worst" day, a Saturday, I wrote 10 000 words in one day. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was painful.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Word of the Week #10

(In) Cahoots (plural noun)
Dates back to 1929, meaning to be in a partnership or conpiracy with someone. Most commonly a secret or illegal partnership. E.g. "The tall man and the scary woman were in cahoots."


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Those Darn Idioms! #1

Probably the most difficult for a non-native speaker of English are all it's idioms and expressions that make very little sense when directly translated. A few years ago I found a lovely book, The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms, in a bookstore, which has ever since been resting peacefully in by bookcase. I decided to pop it out for a bit of an exercise for this blog however, and intend to, at very irregular intervals, to write posts with some interesting idioms found in my lovely book. Also, I have some other interesting finds in my bookcase that I will write more about later, for those of you who, like me, adore the English language and all it's nuances. Now, however, I will focus solely on idioms. The definitions are all taken from the aforementioned book. Enjoy!

Make a mountain out of a molehill
"to exaggerate the importance of a problem"
E.g.  "Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. I'm sure one mistake will not lose you your job."

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Word of the Week #9

Dupe (verb)
Originates somewhere in the late 17th and early 18th century, possibly from a word for the hoopoe, a bird that is believed to be quite stupid. The transitive verb means to trick someone, to make a dupe out of someone. The noun dupe means a person that is easily fooled, or is used by someone more dominant. E.g. "I feel so duped!"