Author Topic: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.  (Read 13683 times)

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2011, 08:59:27 PM »
Tip 11

Remember it's supposed to be fun, no matter how serious the subject matter.  Especially the first draft.  That smug do-gooder Mary Poppins, although I hate to admit it, was right.  'In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.  Find that fun and snap, the job's a game.'

Yes, there can be a copyright problem with using quotes from songs in a novel.  Even just a few lines can be a sizeable chunk from a short song.  You are supposed to ask for permission.  But don't worry too much at first draft stage.  The rules apply to publication, so as long as what's on your computer stays on your computer you're not breaking any laws about copyright.  That's something else to be dealt with at the editing stage.

In my experience a song which seems terribly important to the plot whilst you're writing the book, for example something a couple see as 'their tune', can be reduced to nothing more than the title when you come to tidying up the tale, and there's no copyright on titles ;-)

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Offline Gyppo

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2011, 07:12:11 AM »
Tip 12

Q:  Do you need a title before you start?

A:  It all depends.  Some people can cheerfully write a whole book and wait for the title to emerge from  some incident or phrase within the story.  Others find a title springs to mind in a flash and the story to go with it unfolds a little more slowly.

I have a short list of 'orphan' titles which as yet have no story.  But mine generally spring from the telling.

However...  I do like a working title because - yes, it's writers psychology again -  it makes the book seem more real in the early stages at least before it becomes a sizeable wad of words.  It gives you a handle on what can initially be a slippery and tenuous beast to pin down.

So how do you get a working title?  It's nothing more than a short description of what the book is about.  For example, How the crazy bastard down the road finally flipped one night, shot his neighbours, and was hunted by the police.

It won't be long before it becomes a more convenient shorter version, crazy bastard, in your mind.

The final title may draw on this and become One Crazy Night.  It still encapsulates the main thrust of the story and hopefully will entice a bookshop browser to pick it up and read the blurb on the back.

Publishers will often suggest changing a title, so don't get too attached.

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More later...

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My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Spell Chick

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2011, 07:03:50 AM »
May I suggest saving it to the cloud as well?

I use Dropbox for cloud storage, but Google documents works as well.

It is ALWAYS better to store your stuff in more than one place. Since I have three different computers, for me it is essential to be able to access a current document from any or all of them. Storing a document in the cloud means you can get it from your laptop while at Starbucks or from your desktop while at home. Just always remember to CLOSE the document when you finish at that particular computer.
Little Bits of History A short essay on something that happened on any day.

Imperfect Reason My thoughts, such as they are.

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2011, 07:56:09 AM »
Thanks, SC.

Some useful extra input there.  I do nearly all my work on one machine so have never bothered to pursue the concept of 'cloud storage'.  But for those of you who dash around from one machine to another this sounds like excellent advice.

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2011, 06:55:10 PM »

Tip 13

Q:  Does it matter if I just write any old rubbish in order to make the 50,000 word total?

A:  Matter to whom?  If you're just filling pages with utter nonsense then you will meet the total, but you won't have done much more than exercise your fingers.

You could cheat and just cut and paste 'I'm doing Nano this year' ten thousand times.  I'm sure a computer nerd could write a short programme to automate this.  The verification process won't detect your self-cheating.  But it won't do you any real good.

However...  If you write nonsense for the first hundred words each day rather than sitting there looking at a blank screen  and telling yourself you can't write, or can't think of anything to write, you will find that something rather wonderful happens. 

Often your subconscious will rebel against the mindless nonsense and you'll find useful stuff pouring from your fingertips.  It may take a few sessions like this before you learn to trust the subconscious, but it will deliver.  Experienced writers learn to trust this.  They know from practical experience that a few minutes of finger exercise at the keyboard summons the brain.

I sometimes feel there is a pressure switch in my bum which makes contact and turns on the full works as soon as I settle on the chair in front of my machine.  It also tends to turn off outside worries, but that may be the fruit of many years at the keyboard.

When writing by hand I definitely think more clearly with a pen or pencil in my hand.  A quick twiddle or perhaps a doodle on the pad seems to unlock extra circuits in my brain.

Rubbish?  As long as the rubbish leads to better stuff don't be afraid to write it.  See it as clearing/preparing the workspace before starting a job.  Just as manure fertilises gardens so a little helping of written crap may fertilise your imagination.

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More later...

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My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

thatollie

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2011, 07:09:04 PM »
That's essentially what I've been doing here for the last five years.

thatollie

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2011, 09:56:39 AM »
Oliver's Tip #2

When you turn on your computer for a writing session, write the session before you do anything else. It is very easy to get lost in the labyrinth of the internet. Don't even come here, someone will post something interesting and in your writerly enthusiasm you'll head off to wikipedia to find out more, and then you'll search youtube for videos about it, and then you'll click a few linked videos and half an hour later you'll be watching random humour videos.

Seriously, here's a real example . . .

I started here: http://living-planit.com/default.htm

and ended here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtN1YnoL46Q

At the end of the day you'll have about half as much written as you could have, and that won't be too bad . . . 'til the very next day.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2011, 12:40:51 PM by thatollie »

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2011, 11:35:33 AM »
Tip 14

Ollie raises an excellent point...  Let's enlarge on it a little.

Go offline before you start.  I know, scary, isn't it?  You don't need a minute by minute or even an hourly update on your emails, personal messages, whatever.  Honestly.  The world won't come to a grinding halt if you're not connected to it.  Try it, even if you can't stand more than half an hour 'unplugged' at first.  You have a week to break yourself of this pernicious habit.

Twice a day is enough.  Midday and evening works quite well.  If anyone really, really, desperately, needs to get hold of you they'll phone, or in a busy office get off their fat arse and visit you at your desk.

Remember, the latest update for World Of ...... isn't a matter of life or death.  But...

Nano is only thirty days.   A mere 720 hours.  Doesn't sound so much when you think of it in hours, does it?  So why waste any of them looking at scam e-mails saying you've won contests you never even entered.

'Dear Gullible, you have won first prize in El Gordo, the Spanish National Lottery and have 37 million dead bulls waiting to flood into your bank account...'

Even an email from your boss saying you've been fired won't get any worse for being ignored for a few hours.  But it could spoil your 'flow' when you're writing well.

The Internet is an addiction , but rather than ask you to just give it up I'm suggesting you can change it for another addiction for November.

Fire up your word processing programme first thing and leave it on all day, with your Nano document open but minimised, so that whenever the spirit moves you all you need to do is click and get writing again.   Even the slowest of computers will handle this easily with all the 'webby stuff' turned off.

When you truly need to go online for research purposes set your timer for fifteen minutes.  If you can't find what your looking for in quarter of an hour either you're search parameters are naff, or you're being sidetracked too easily.  Probably the latter.  Web wandering is fun, but it's not writing, is it?

If there's a lot of reading which needs doing see if you can cut and paste a copy into that spare document you have open - you have remembered that trick, haven't you? - so you can read it later off-line and not be tempted into following spurious links.

To semi-quote Rudyard Kipling's If...

"If you can fill the unforgiving minute,
 with sixty second's worth of distance run.
 Yours is the world and everything that's in it,
 and Nano will be a piece of cake, Old Son."

(43,200 seconds to play with.)

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More later...

=====
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

thatollie

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #23 on: October 24, 2011, 08:47:01 PM »
Oliver's Tip #3

Remember that there's more to nanowrimo than winning.

First, let's get something straight. Every time you write, you are gaining valuable experience whether you can use the piece or not. This is as true during Nano as it is during the rest of the year. But Nano has some other advantages as well . . .

It's fun, there I said it. National Novel Writing Month is fun, I've lost five consecutive times; not only have I gained valuable experience each time but I also had a heck of a lot of fun each time. That's why I go for it again and again and again . . .

It's also a chance to experiment, I'm trying out different planning methods this year. In the past I've tried out new genres, and ideas that don't seem to suit me, and techniques that are ouotside my comfort zone. It's really helped me become a better writer.

Offline Jane2011

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2011, 08:59:46 PM »
Have you participated in Nano while you were working on a project already? Is there an upside to this?

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2011, 09:06:42 PM »
Sometimes the hyper-'buzz' of Nano will fuel your other writing as well.  Sometimes the opposite happens and you find yourself having to choose rather than burning out and doing both badly.  It's one of those judgement calls.  One thing Nano does teach most people is just how much they can do.

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

thatollie

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #26 on: October 24, 2011, 09:14:44 PM »
Have you participated in Nano while you were working on a project already? Is there an upside to this?

No, I always clear my schedule in October. I don't have any experience of this situation, so I don't have any advice.

thatollie

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2011, 12:48:06 AM »
Oliver's Tip #4: Gambits

This is something to do if you get stuck, have the characters become proactive. Stories often get bogged down because characters are merely reacting to the last event rather than trying to make things happen. Your characters (all of them) should try to make things happen and resolve the plot in their favour.

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2011, 08:38:25 AM »
Cheers, Ollie.

Some stories rely too heavily on 'The Hand Of God', which is the lucky coincidence.  Now, we all know that bizarre coincidences really do happen in real life, but in fiction these things seem too good to be true.  You can use them, but sparingly.  Very sparingly.

So yes, make your characters earn their luck.  If they're fighting for their life then they should damned well fight, not just stumble over a handy weapon.  They should not only seize opportunity but make it.  For example, in one of Lee Childs 'Reacher' novels the female character is locked away in a secure room within a room, but she breaks the tiles in the shower and ends up with two triangular ceramic 'weapons', small enough to be held in the hand but with a sharp edge protruding.

Some writers would stop there, but Lee has her carefully chipping away at the softer back of the tile fragments to further expose the hardened ceramic surface and make more of a 'blade'.

That's proactive plus ;-)

She improvises a few other things as well, but the extra step with the tile weapons impressed me and also boosted her character a few more notches.

Oh yes, she was crippled as well, with a damaged leg, which gave her an extra problem to overcome. On the other hand the crutch became an essential tool in aiding her escape.  But not in an obvious way.

Make your characters work.  If they have a set of built in advantages, either strip them away, or better still turn these against them so they have to think and improvise.  In another of the 'Reacher' books  Reacher, who is six five and built like the proverbial brick outhouse has to fight a much shorter man in a tunnel.  All his advantages of height and weight are taken away, but the dwarf, a powerful little chap also fighting for his life, can stand upright, dance around, and kick as well as punch with no problem.

Apart from 'Hand of God' solutions there is always the ever present risk of the 'Hand of Author' solution.  If you have created a character with too many aces in his hand you'll be tempted to always use them.  Sometimes, in fact more often than not,  your characters need to play a losing hand, in order to later rise above the consequences.

Let them have their advantages sometimes, but don't rely on them.  For example, I have a wealthy man in one of my stories who solves the Bank Holiday gridlock problem by simply pulling off the road and phoning for a helicopter air taxi.  I wanted to show that a man with money, who was prepared to use it, could sometimes turn problems into minor irritations.  But later in the book he faces problems which money can't solve.

The main mark of a storybook hero/heroine is they never give up .  A main character who is willing to roll over and die will kill the whole book.  They may even die, sometimes they have to.  But they die trying and achieve in the process.

Make them earn every word you devote to them.

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More later - maybe.  But time is running out.

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« Last Edit: October 30, 2011, 02:07:35 PM by Gyppo »
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Sticky: Pre NANO advice for those who who will be competing this year.
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2011, 07:05:09 PM »
Final thoughts.
 
Just a few obvious things to round off.

Nano Food.  We all know we shouldn't sit there and eat at the keyboard.  We also know that sooner or later we will.  Partly because we don't want to be away from our creations and lose the thread.  So...

If your crumbly biscuits, or cream crackers and cheese suddenly explode and shower the keyboard there are two steps you need to take.  The first is to turn away and finish eating whatever it is.

The second is to turn the keyboard upside down, or the whole laptop if you use one of those abominations, and tap it gently against something solid so all the debris falls out.

This is far better than just brushing it off, which will inevitably drive some bits down between the keys.  Some of these bits will then find their way under the keys and cause problems later.

Drink:  A drink spilled all over the keyboard can cause problems.  If possible keep your drink to one side and below the keyboard, so if you knock it over it causes less damage.

If it's just water, or non-sugary tea or coffee turn the keyboard upside down over something absorbent and let the liquid drain back out.  Then wipe it over.

Sugary drinks will make the keys feel sticky, which is quite disconcerting, and may dry inside and gum up the works.  So quickly mop off the worst, and then allow it to drain upside down.  You may need to give them another wipe over later to clear any residual stickiness.

All of this can be a pain when your story is on full flow, but prompt action can save you a heap of trouble later.

If your keyboard is already sticky and crumby then give it a damn good clean up before starting Nano.  It will feel all the better for it and so will you.

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Are you sitting comfortably.  If not, why not?  Would you drive your car for hour after hour in an uncomfortable position?  Probably not.

Even if your position feels perfectly comfortable you still ought to get up and stretch a bit every hour or so.  You don't have to stop thinking about your story.  Your muse can still be in full cry as you stretch out your arms, roll your shoulders, or bend and straighten your back a few times.  If your joints crack and pop then you should probably be doing it more often.

While you're doing this look away from the screen and focus your eyes on something in the distance for a while.  If it feels as if your eyeballs are un-cramping themselves then don't leave it so long next time.  The muscles which change the focus by thinning or expanding the lenses of your eyes do get cramped if they stay in one position too long.

Blink:  Blink a bit as well, which helps to moisten your eyeballs.  People normally blink quite regularly, but will stare unblinkingly at a screen for hours.  If your eyes are starting to burn or feel gritty you need to blink more often.

Clothing:  Be comfortable.  If your work space is a bit chilly  then sometimes slipping a jumper on makes more sense than fiddling with heaters.  When the only thing which is really moving, possibly for hours on end,  is your fingers the rest of you can get quite chilly.  Especially down the middle of your back, which will eventually stiffen your shoulders, your arms, and your fingers.  A good compromise here is a jumper draped down your back, the sleeves just hanging down your front to keep it in place.

My ex used to say this was how she knew I was in 'serious writer' mode ;-)

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Clean your screen.  Thoroughly, and once you've got it looking clear keep it that way.  It gives you something to do during those blank times when you don't really want to stop but the ideas slow down to a trickle for while.  It can take a few minutes to do this thoroughly, rather than just a quick wipe which moves the dust around and leaves streaks.

Glasses:  Same for your glasses if you wear them.  Starting the day with clean glasses and a clean screen means you can go a lot longer before you find yourself peering through a fog.

Take them off when you stop to drink something hot and steamy.  That way you won't be looking through a mist when you start typing again.

I know, this is all small stuff, but it adds up over the course of a day.  The difference to ease and comfort over the whole month is really noticeable.

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If I don't get to add any more, which is quite possible, I hope some of the previous posts have been helpful to you.

Finally...

Have a good Nano.  Better still, have a great one.

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1