November is coming. Are you prepared?
It may be the first of October, but let me assure you that November will hit you like a bag of bricks. To those wondering what's so special about November, let me inform you that November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for the initiated.That is why one or some of your friends and acquaintances seem to be busy all the time. It's sort of a big deal for some people.
NaNoWriMo will be coming in 31 days, and I'm already in a tizzy. Every time November comes around,I want to finish A Story. Maybe not a 50,000 page story, but a story nonetheless.Like an athlete pumping themselves up for the big game, I'm going through all of my writing resources to get myself pumped up for some hardcore writing.
But I thought" Why not share what I have? Maybe someone hasn't found a certain resource yet?". I may not be a published author, but I have tried so many things in the name of writing.
So here are some resources I have for writing. Feel free to comment with your own resources if you don't see them in the post.
Where To Write
I will be writing with my trusty Microsoft Word application on my laptop. I will also be writing things longhand like character profiles or facts to remember. treat yourself to a fancy journal or two, or a fountain pen. Disposable fountain pens are cheaper to buy than the refillable ones, and you can get it in different colors.If you really feel that writing longhand with a fancy pen to motivate you will work, then get a real fountain pen. You pay a lot for the pen, but the ink is relatively cheap, and it'll last you a long time with proper care. I own a simple Parker pen in a medium nib.It cost me around $100-150, and ink is a fraction of that price.For more information of pens, and to see what pen enthusiasts use, try out the fountain pen network.
For those who like a more high-tech writing, lifehacker has a list of distraction-free writing tools. My favorite is google docs (I can access my writing on any computer as long as I have an account), but pretty much everything listed is pretty good.
Since you have time, take a moment to see just what style of writing works best for you. It could be digital, it could be analog, or it could be both.
Let me tell you about the livejournal community called little_details. it is an amazing resource for historical facts and tidbits in one place. Need to know how long it takes for a broken arm to heal? BAM! Not sure what planes your World War II Flying Ace would fly? They've got you covered. Need to know just how your detective character can legally investigate? There's someone who can help you.
And now from a PSA: know your period fashion if your story is set in an earlier period. I'm not saying you need to keep your eyes on the hemlines and suit styles for every date and region, but please try and have your character dress appropriately for their time and personality.Fashion-Era is a great place to be familiar with the fashion of earlier years. it also talks about cultures influence on and influence by the fashion of the time.Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use pinterest to get an idea of fashion for a specific period. Some people do not know a dress from the 1940s from the 1950s, and they still post pictures of it labeled wrong. It actually does matter, because the silhouette of 1950s New Look patterns were a big deal because they used so much more fabric than used in the 40s, when wartime made fabric scarce. For more information, look it up. Google and Wikipedia is your friend.
Names got you stuck? I have this happen all the time where I know what the character is like, but I can't start their journey because they don't have a name. A name is an important thing to give your character, so do not tread lightly. I just happen to be a total name nerd, so I have a bunch of places where you can get info on a name.
If your story is set in a historic era in America, congratulations! The SSN has the list of the most popular names starting as early as 1880.When in doubt, pick a name from the top 20.
To get some modern perspective on names no matter what the era of your story, try nameberry. Mary, Linda, and Ruby might all have been in the 1920s census, but they all have sounds that harken back to different eras. There also are a lot of trend-speculation of names that will be popular in the future since so many expectant mothers use it for planning their family. This is helpful for those who want to write a futuristic story that is plausible. If you want to write hard sci fi, then throw the rules away and use whatever you'd like.
Appellation Mountain is a great place to learn more about historic names and their origins. I'm assuming that you put more effort into naming your main character than your supporting characters, so this is a great place to learn about symbolism and imagery of a name from a comprehensive view. Of course, you won't find every name under the sun, but it's a great way to further the use of symbolism in your writing if you also know a name's historic context.
Behind The Name is the best place to find a few archaic rarities. You'll find a bunch of names and it's variants at this site.
For those who like a bit of style and really want to choose a very unique name, the blog The Character Of Names has a nice, long list of very daring choices. You'll be sure to find a name for your character that sticks out.
Speaking of names that stick out, Bewitching Names is another good place to find unique names. The list on this site is from a wiccan perspective, and explain how a name as seemingly normal as Heather can have a witchy edge to it. I think of Bewitching names as the other side of The Character Of Names.
Writing Fundamentals: The Craft Of Story
I am serious. If you have money left over from anything, use it to get the opportunity to watch this video lecture. It changed the way I look at my story, and it helped me pinpoint just what is happening when I start to loose momentum. Or, if you can't afford to see the videos, read the transcript. It's got everything that's in the videos, but without visual aides and instructional video-level acting. Nonetheless, I encourage any writer to give this lesson a gander.
Chuck Wendig, Patron Saint Of Writers
Okay, I know it's a little extreme, but Chuck Wendig has written some amazing things about how to write on his blog, and for some he has guided them out of the darkness of frustrated procrastination into the light of enjoyable productivity. I was directed to a few helpful articles by user lovetheswedes after I wrote a post listing all of the problems I have with my writing.Reading these articles have given me insight into how I can start the process of getting over the various lumps and bumps blocking my way. I admit that I've become a bit of a believer, and am looking to buy as much of his novels on writing as my budget will allow. Have you accepted Chuck Wendig as your story's savior? I'll just leave these here:
Books, Glorious Books
You have to read a little to write a little, especially if you want to roll with the big boys and girls. I'm not suggesting you read every book on Wikipedia's 100 list of the greatest books of all time. I'm just saying that if you want to write a sci-fi story and you have never read a sci-fi story, you're gonna have a bad time. Before writing, try reading your favorite book in your genre of choice and take notes about what you like about it. Incorporate those features in your story, and you'll find yourself liking your story, too.
My favorite book on writing is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.Every time I read it, I feel like writing, so I keep it around with me in whatever place I'm writing as a recharger to my rechargeable writing batteries. This book sells for a pretty good price, and you're bound to find an old, dog-eared copy at a used bookstore if you look hard enough.
If you do not have a dictionary, get one. Preferably one small enough to carry around with you. Use it to make sure you are spelling a word right or using it correctly. A thesaurus is also helpful if you find yourself using a certain word too much.Of course, this is the year 2013, so there are also dictionary websites if a physical dictionary seems too cumbersome.Dictionary.com, and it's cousin thesaurus.com are solid places to bookmark and use when you need to.
A Few Words On Diversity
I've notice that some of you writers who have read this far might be white. This is especially for you, but other people of color can also learn from the links I'll be linking to.
Do not be afraid to write a person of color into your story. Heck, make them the protagonist! Writing is a creative process, and what's so creative of only imagining people who are just like you and come from your same background? If you do enough research and express them like you would a character of any other race, then you won't have a problem. This is a great place to start.
Description is another place to research, so try reading this list before you describe a black woman as being the color of chocolate. You can also try and search some of the POC (People/Person Of Color) and WOC (Women Of Color) themed blogs for pictures of people who could be a character in your novel. Here are a few of my favorites:
If you are still worried about writing in a POC into your story, try not to beat yourself up over it. Your story is not of lesser value for not having a very diverse cast, but simply having an open mind and an open heart can do wonders.No matter your own story, try to encourage braver people or even POCs themselves to write from this often-overlooked perspective.
The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry
The very act of doing something consistently is daunting. I know this because with every act of consistency I try, so many things get in the way. Sometimes it's events in my personal life, sometimes it's simply my own failings. There are few things that are worth doing that will be easy all the way through. I wish all the writers participating in NaNoWriMo the best of luck. You, I, everyone will need it.
If you find yourself unable to write anything you're happy with, maybe do what I do in this situation and give the story a break. Sometimes it takes stepping back from your work and recharging your batteries to get back into a groove.Try not to do what I do and take long, seemingly endless breaks. Give it a week, maybe two if you're completely blocked. Try and just focus on being inspired. If you are having emotional problems that make writing hard, then I would definitely encourage a break in writing to deal with your emotional problem. In that situation, you need to give yourself all the time in the world. Emotional problems can not be solved within a short deadline.You really should handle these problems as they come, and do whatever you feel is right. You are, after all, the leading expert on yourself.
Another method for getting through writer's block is powering your way through the whole thing. It's a bit extreme for my tastes, but I'm putting it out there for people who do better by just getting things done. Either way, the end result should make you feel satisfied. If you don't feel satisfied, remember that you've done something that lots of people have only dreamed of doing. You've written a book! That's worth celebration and pride.
Now that I've given as much advice as I can put together, I hope it helps you in preparing and executing the great and noble tradition of writing. Don't restrict all of your writerly aspirations to November, however. Any time is a good time to write. November is just an official starting point, and you won't be alone if you start at this time. Have a wonderful October, and may November treat you kindly.