NaNoWriMo Survival Kit

Here is a collection of articles on various aspects of the art and craft of novel writing. Best of luck in the month of November!

NaNoWriMo: 5 Tips On How To Get Ready

It's NaNoWriMo time! Well, almost. What's NaNoWriMo? It's an annual writing event in which participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November. Here are 5 tips on how to gear up for November.

Here are three articles on outlining and using the MICE Quotient to help structure your story.

1. Orson Scott Card & The MICE Quotient: How To Structure Your Story

I heard about Orson Scott Card's MICE quotient before, but I never used it. I'm not sure why. Obviously I hadn't realized how powerful it was, or how to apply MICE to my writing. If you don't immediately understand its relevance either, hang in there. I need to describe MICE before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to apply it to your stories.

2. Mary Robinette Kowal and The Mysteries of Outlining

Mary stressed that outlines are fluid and meant to help you as a writer, not to lock you in, so just because something is in your outline doesn't mean you're committed. Mary compared an outline to a roadmap. If you have a roadmap you can see where you're going; it helps you stay on track and to reach your destination without unnecessary detours.

3. The Mysteries of Outlining and Nesting MICE: Creating Killer Stories

The power of structuring your story with MICE comes through when you start to nest story types. Let me give you an example. Let's say I'm writing a murder mystery. Usually murder mysteries are Idea Stories. They focus on the question: Who killed X and why? In an Idea Story the story is over when the problem--finding the murderer and explaining how the murder was done--is solved. But let's say I want to write my murder mystery as a Character Story rather than an Idea Story.

I can do this. How? By nesting story types.

4. Making A Scene: Using Conflicts And Setbacks To Create Narrative Drive

If your main character got everything she wanted right away then your story would be as entertaining as watching paint dry. The solution: be mean. Give your main character setbacks, lots of them.

More articles on the art and craft of writing.

Chapter Breaks: Where Should They Go?

A couple of days ago a friend mentioned she had trouble deciding where to insert chapter breaks. I said something blithe about breaking in the middle of tension, but it got me thinking. Where should we put chapter breaks? Are there rules of thumb?

NaNoWriMo: How To Reach Your Daily Word Count

If you're participating in the collective insanity known as NaNoWriMo (I say that affectionately as one swept up in the madness) here are some tips for reaching your daily wordcount--typically around 2,000 words--each and every day.

On the dark art of character creation.

On The Art Of Creating Believable Characters: No Mr. Nice Guy

Janice Hardy has written an excellent article on ways to force your characters to do things neither of you want them to do ("Forcing the Issue: Adding Conflict to Your Scenes"). Here are five questions you can ask yourself as an author that will help you grow horns (and perhaps a tail) so you can introduce internal conflict into your story and give your saintly protagonist a few regrets.

3 Ways To Create Incredible Characters

There ways to create incredible characters: First, create a detailed backstory for each of your main characters. Second, be mean to your characters in order to create change. Third, show who your characters are through action. Finally, learn from what you like.

Jim Butcher On Writing

Jim Butcher's posts on the art and craft of writing are the best I've read and have been of enormous help to me. I often recommend these posts but haven't found any one place where all the URLs are listed. True, most of them can be found on Jim's Livejournal blog but they appear (as one would expect) in reverse order and there's no index.

Jim Butcher: How To Write A Story

 I have a lot of respect for Jim Butcher. Not only because I love his stories, but because time again he demonstrates a level of skill in his writing I can only aspire to. Thankfully, Mr. Butcher has been generous, penning many articles about the writing process and giving folks just starting out--or perhaps even well on their way!--many useful tips.

How To Build A Villain By Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher writes: "One of the most critical skills an aspiring writer needs is the ability to build a solid villain. Even the greatest protagonist in the world cannot truly shine without an equally well-rendered opposition. The converse of that statement isn’t true, though—if your protagonist is a little shaky but your villain absolutely shines, you can still tell a very successful story."

For when you're stressed and need a time out:

Helping Writers De-stress: Meditation Apps

All these apps sound cool, but only two of them are either free or have a free version. Since I'm a fan of being able to try something out and getting a feel for it before I buy, I picked one of those two to try out.

For those "butt in chair" moments when you need to write:

Write or Die, the app 

 The famous, or should I say, infamous, writing app Write Or Die has transformed into an app for the iPad.

Aherk! Makes writing app "Write or Die" look tame

With the writing app, Write Or Die, if you stop typing for too long you can lose your writing, but with Aherk! you could lose your reputation.

The Postscript: Finding a home for your book

Query tracker: Keep track of your stories

 Robert Heinlein told writers to put their stories on the market and to keep them there until they sell, but he didn't tell us how to keep track of them.

Unfortunately it can take many, many, mailings before a story finds its home and it would be embarrassing, to say the least, if a writer sent his or her masterpiece to the same place twice!

This is where comes in.

10 reasons why stories get rejected

It's always nice to learn why a story was rejected and, although it hurts, the greater the detail the better. David Farland's latest article gives 10 reasons why he rejects stories.


Writing Resources

I thought I'd try something different and share a few links. Originally I was going to share 5 or 6 but I kept finding more!

Photo credit: "Zsa Zsa gets to work" by mpclemens under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

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