The Last, Definitive Word On Word Count

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! For some reason, I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of talk lately about word counts. Perhaps it’s to do with NaNoWriMo approaching and everyone focusing on that crazy 50K-words-in-one-month goal? I’m not sure. Whatever the reason for the sudden hype, I think discussing the subject of word count is important.

word-countNow, do I think watching your word count every second of every draft is necessary? No. In fact, I strongly urge you against it. The more you focus on your word count, the less you focus on your story. However, watching your word count at certain points during the writing process–particularly editing–is important. Why? Because you don’t want to try and pitch your 140K YA novel to an agent. That’s just begging for rejection.

So what should a YA novel’s word count be? Or a thriller’s? Or another genre’s? Find out in today’s gem, courtesy of literary agent, Janet Reid. She gives us a quick, general breakdown of word count expectations, and what you should aim for when finalizing your manuscript.

The Last, Definitive Word On Word Count

Here’s the rundown:
Sweeping, epic fantasy: 150K at a minimum. You can’t do it right in less.
Sweeping, epic, historical fiction: 120 at a minimum. More is better.

Science fiction novels: 75-125K

Romance novels:65-100K
Womens’ fiction: 100K and up

To read the entire article and see all the genres, click here!

For more useful advice, follow Janet Reid on Twitter!

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 7.54.59 AM

Photo credits: 

http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/2013/10/organization-why-word-count-matters/ 

Jen’s Top 10 NaNoWriMo Tips

Lately, a lot of people have been asking me if I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. The answer, unfortunately, is no. Since I’m in the middle of editing my current WIP, I don’t have the time to join in. However, I wanted to offer up some advice to those of you who have accepted the daunting task of writing 50K words in one month.

Jen’s Top 10 NaNoWriMo Tips

1. Decide why you are participating

“I signed up just because.”

No, no, no! Don’t say this when people ask you why you’re doing NaNoWriMo. Give a valid, reliable, motivating reason to participate:

“I’ve been slacking lately and need a kick in the butt.”

“I have a great idea for a novel.”

“People say NaNo’s impossible. I’m gonna prove them wrong!”

Whatever your personal motive, make sure you have one. Don’t sign up for NaNoWriMo just to sign up. If you do, I can almost guarantee failure. You’ll inevitably hit a rough patch and and think, “Ugh, why am I even doing this? Forget it. I’m done.”

2. Just write! 

NaNoWriMo is a great way to start or finish the first draft of a novel, or to completely rewrite an old one. It’s not a great way to revise or edit a novel. And it’s definitely not a way to write a masterpiece that’s ready to be published on December 1st. Nope, sorry.

So stop stressing about making things perfect. Resist the temptation to edit or revise, and don’t get upset about your watered down plot or 2D characters. Just write. Close your eyes, and tap, tap, tap away at that keyboard. And remember this is a rough draft. You won’t be showing it off to many (if any) people. So let the words flow and don’t stop to question them too much. If you do, you’ll never make it to 50K words by November 30th.

3. Don’t skip days and fall behind schedule

Last November, I missed the first three days of NaNoWriMo because I was in a writing contest. And after that, I missed a few more days because, well, I missed them. Life happened. I didn’t feel like writing. I was tired. I had better things to do. Etc., etc.

Bad idea.

Missing one day is okay. Not good, but not horrible. But after one day, the word count deficit starts to pile up fast. Within the first week of NaNo last year, I was behind schedule by 10,000 words. And the only way I was going to catch back up was to increase my daily word count–blerg! So, do yourself a favor and spit out those words every day, even if you don’t feel like it.

4. Be proactive. Get ahead!

Don’t live on the edge if you don’t have to. Give yourself a word count cushion.

After I climbed out of the deep dark word count hole last year, I decided to take the bull by the horns and get ahead of schedule. On days I had extra time, energy, and motivation, I blasted past my daily goal and kept writing. Why not? Who knew how I’d feel the next day, or if my life would blow up and I wouldn’t be able to sit down a write?

Because of this “get ahead” strategy, I was able to finish almost a week early last year.

5. Find an idea you love

When you hit those “ugh” moments, or you’re just flat out tired, it’ll be your passion and excitement for a story that gets you through. So make sure choose one you love. Find a plot you want to explore and a cast of characters you want to know better. They should have the power to enthrall and entice you, and keep you motivated on a daily basis.

I promise, if you feel “meh” about your story before you start it, you’ll feel “meh” about it the whole time. And sooner or later, you’ll throw in the towel.

6. Evolve with your idea

There is a very good chance the story you set out to write won’t be the story you end up writing. This is especially true for those of us who are “pantsters” rather than “plotters”. We assume we’re going to take a left turn at the fork in the road, but then we take a right instead.

That’s okay.

Remember: Just write!

Don’t add constraints or limit yourself just because the story “was supposed to go this way”. Go with the flow and see where things take you, even if they aren’t where you planned to go. After all, this isn’t a final draft. It’s an exploration of the story you will–hopefully–continue pursuing long on after the November 30th deadline.

7. Embrace a love-hate relationship

Even if you’re infatuated with your story, you’ll probably become infuriated with it at some point. You’ll have moments when you question your concept, or realize you despise a certain character, or fear you chose the wrong path back in chapter 5. It’s okay! First drafts aren’t meant to be perfect or 100% lovable. They’re ugly, troublesome, and, more often than not, a total nightmare.

So accept the inevitable love-hate relationship you’ll have with your story, remind yourself you’ll be able to revise those despicable spots in the future, and keep chugging along.

8. Lean on other writers for support

I often tell people, “Writers have their own language.” We naturally understand each other and can relate to each other’s writing woes. So why not invite some into your life, especially during the stress of NaNoWriMo?

The support you’ll get from other writers isn’t the same as the support you’ll get from the people in your everyday life. God bless them, but your friends and family just can’t relate to your roller coaster emotions, endless anxiety, and, well, general craziness. But other writers can.

Where do I find these so-called writing buddies, you ask? Well, obviously NaNoWriMo’s site allows you to network and make solid connections. Another place is Twitter. I can’t tell you how many writers I’ve met on there and have created genuine, supportive friendships with.

9. Have fun! 

I mean it. Enjoy the experience. That’s what NaNoWriMo is all about: the experience. Yes, it’s stressful, insane, and a lot–a lot–of work. But nobody is forcing you to do it (well, I hope not). So why not have fun with it?

Last year, whenever I’d hit a low point, I’d sit back in my chair and laugh at the absurdity of writing 50K words in one month. Who does that? Seriously? Or I’d take a deep breath and embrace my accomplishments. I figured every word I wrote deserved a round of applause, even if it wasn’t the best word in the world.

10. Worst Case Scenario

The worst thing that can happen? You don’t reach the 50K goal by November 30th.

Big deal.

Okay, maybe it is a big deal and you want to focus on that goal to keep you motivated. But, in my opinion, the point of NaNoWriMo isn’t to barf out 50,000 words for the sake of barfing out 50,000 words. It’s to help writers focus and to kickstart a steady writing routine that carries them past the November 30th deadline…And to hopefully collect the ingredients for a novel they will want to fully develop.

So, even if you’re approaching the deadline, and you’re nowhere near the 50K word finish line, who cares? Keep. Going. Keep. Writing! The only true failure in NaNoWriMo is giving up completely.

Well, there you go. I hope you found at least one of my tips for NaNoWriMo useful. I have a few more (okay, many more), but I’ll save those for next time.

Good luck, everyone!

And remember: Just write!

Related articles:

NaNoWriMo Tips – How To Deal With Deadlines

My NaNoWriMo 2014 Survival Kit

A Writer’s Guide to NaNoWriMo Part 1

A GREAT QUOTE FOR NANOWRIMO

Photo Credits: giphy

 

Jen’s Top 10 NaNoWriMo Tips

Lately, a lot of people have been asking me if I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. The answer, unfortunately, is no. Since I’m in the middle of editing my current WIP, I don’t have the time to join in. However, I wanted to offer up some advice to those of you who have accepted the daunting task of writing 50K words in one month.

Jen’s Top 10 NaNoWriMo Tips

1. Decide Why You’re Participating

“I dunno, I signed up just because.”

No, no, no! Don’t say this when people ask you why you’re doing NaNoWriMo. Give a valid, reliable, motivating reason to participate:

“I’ve been slacking lately and need a kick in the butt.”

“I have a great idea for a novel.”

“People say NaNo’s impossible. I’m gonna prove them wrong!”

Whatever your personal motive, make sure you have one. Don’t sign up for NaNoWriMo “just because.” If you do, you’ll likely fail. You’ll inevitably hit a rough patch and think, “Ugh, why am I even doing this? Forget it. I’m done.”

2. Just Write! 

 NaNoWriMo is a great way to start or finish the first draft of a novel, or to completely rewrite an old one. It’s not a great way to revise or edit a novel. And it’s definitely not a great way to write a masterpiece that’s ready to be published on December 1st. Nope, sorry!

So, stop stressing about making things perfect, resist the temptation to edit or revise along the way, and don’t get upset about a watered down plot or 2D characters.

JUST WRITE!

Close your eyes, open your mind, and tap, tap, tap your fingers against your keyboard. And, remember, this is a rough draft. You won’t be showing it off to many (if any) people. So, let the words flow and don’t stop to question them. If you do, you’ll never make it to 50K by November 30th.

3. Don’t Skip Days

The first time I participated in NaNo, I missed the first three days because I was in a writing contest. And after that, I missed a few more days because, well, I missed them. Life happened. I didn’t feel like writing. I was tired. I had better things to do. Etc., etc.

Bad idea.

Missing one day is okay. Not good, but not horrible. But after one day, the word count deficit starts to pile up–fast! Within one week of my first NaNo, I was behind schedule by 10,000 words, and the only way I was going to catch back up was to increase my daily word count–ack!

Do yourself a favor and spit out those words every day, even if you don’t feel like it.

4. Be Proactive

Don’t live on the edge if you don’t have to. Give yourself a word count cushion.

After I climbed out of the deep, dark word count abyss I’d fallen into, I decided to take the bull by the horns and get ahead of schedule. On days I had extra time, energy, and motivation, I blasted past my daily goal and kept writing. Why not? Who knew how I’d feel the next day, or if my life would blow up and I wouldn’t be able to sit down and write?

Because of this “get ahead” strategy, I was able to finish almost a week early.

5. Find an Idea You Love

When you hit those “ugh” moments, or you’re just flat out tired, it’ll be your passion and excitement for a story that gets you through. So, make sure choose one you love. Find a plot you want to explore and a cast of characters you want to know better. They should have the power to enthrall and entice you, and keep you motivated on a daily basis.

I promise, if you feel “meh” about your story before you start it, you’ll feel “meh” about it the whole time. And, sooner or later, you’ll throw in the towel.

6. Evolve With Your Idea

There is a very good chance the story you set out to write won’t be the story you end up writing. This is especially true for those of us who are “pantsters” rather than “plotters.” We assume we’re going to take a left at the fork, but end up taking a right instead. That’s okay.

Remember: JUST WRITE!

Don’t add constraints or limit yourself because the story “was supposed to go this way.” Go with the flow and see where things take you. After all, this isn’t a final draft. It’s an exploration of the story you will–hopefully–continue pursuing long after the November 30th deadline.

7. Embrace a Love-Hate Relationship

 Even if you’re infatuated with your story, you’ll probably become infuriated with it at some point. You’ll have moments when you question your concept, or realize you despise a certain character, or fear you chose the wrong path back in chapter five.

It’s okay! First drafts aren’t meant to be perfect or 100% lovable. They’re ugly, troublesome, and, more often than not, a total nightmare.

So, accept the inevitable love-hate relationship you’ll have with your story, remind yourself you’ll be able to revise those despicable spots in the future, and keep chugging along.

8. Lean On Other Writers for Support

I often tell people, “Writers have their own language.” And, it’s true. We do. We naturally understand each other and are able to relate to each other’s woes. So, why not befriend a few? Trust me, you’ll need their cheers, pep talks, and internet hugs to survive the NaNoWriMo roller coaster.

If you aren’t sure where to find potential writing pals, here are a few suggestions:

  1. NaNoWriMo’s website. It allows you to network and make solid connections. If you’d like to add me as a buddy, my username is jenspenden.
  2. Twitter. I can’t tell you how many writers I’ve met there and have created genuine, supportive friendships with. Be sure to check out hashtags like #NaNoWriMo, #NaNoWriMo2016, #NaNoPrep. And, of course, feel free to follow me (@jenspenden). I’ll happily follow you in return!
  3. Writing Blogs. Follow them, read them, and leave genuine comments on posts. If you do, you’ll naturally connect with other writers.
  4. Writing Contests. This one might sound strange, but some of my best writing friends have come from participating in writing contests, especially those that allow you to interact with other competitors (ex: NYC Midnight).

Whatever your method, I highly recommend you befriend other writers. Life becomes so much better once you do.

9. Have Fun! 


I mean it. Enjoy the experience. Yes, NaNo is stressful, insane, and a lot–a lot–of work. But nobody is forcing you to do it (well, I hope not). So, why not have fun with it?

Whenever I hit a low point during NaNo, I like to sit back in my chair and laugh at the absurdity of writing 50K words in one month. Who does that? Seriously? Or I like to take a deep breath and embrace my accomplishments. I figure every word I write deserves a round of applause, even if it wasn’t the best word in the world.

10. Worst Case Scenario

The worst thing that can happen? You don’t reach the 50K goal by November 30th.

Big. Deal.

Okay, maybe it is a big deal and you want to focus on that goal to keep you motivated. Great! However, in my opinion, the point of NaNoWriMo isn’t to barf out 50,000 words for the sake of barfing out 50,000 words. It’s to help writers focus and kick-start a steady writing routine that carries them past the November 30th deadline.

So, if you’re approaching the deadline, and you’re nowhere near the 50K word finish line, who cares? Keep going. Keep writing! The only true failure in NaNoWriMo is giving up completely.

Well, there you go! I hope you found at least one of my tips for NaNoWriMo useful. Good luck, everyone! And remember:

JUST WRITE!

Related articles:

NaNoWriMo Tips – How To Deal With Deadlines

My NaNoWriMo 2014 Survival Kit

A Writer’s Guide to NaNoWriMo Part 1

A GREAT QUOTE FOR NANOWRIMO

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Photo Credits: giphy

 

Friday Funny with Writing and a Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

It’s Fridayyyyyyyy!

So, is it just me, or did every day this week feel like Friday? Seriously, each morning my alarm clock went off, I thought, “Yippee! It’s Friday–No, wait. It’s not. Not even close. Beepity-beep!”

I was very happy when I woke up this morning and realized it was Friday–for real. Woo-hoo!

Anyway, it was a busy week for me, but a productive one. I’m proud of myself for not getting too caught up in the mad dash of life and focusing hard on my manuscript. Since last weekend, I’ve knocked out four new chapters, each one approved by my beta reader.

If I keep up this pace, I might finish my second draft by November 1st. Which means I’ll have two months to edit a third draft. Which means I just might have a presentable draft done by my deadline of January 1st.

*fingers crossed*

Besides writing my booty off this week, I had some fun too. I celebrated my dad and sister’s birthdays (back-to-back days), and then put together my costume for my family’s Disney-themed Halloween party this weekend. I had wanted to go as Ursula from The Little Mermaid (you know, do my hair all crazy like octopus tentacles), but my nephews demanded I go as Elsa from Frozen.

Okay, my costume won’t be nearly as glamorous as Elsa’s, but people will get the general gist–er, hopefully.

I also spent some time this week shooting photos and video clips for my friend’s latest film for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. These films are silly, but I love contributing to them. They’re a great way to bring the NYC Midnight writing community together, build friendships, and have fun. Oh, and laugh at myself.

A lot.

JennaDisney1Like the last round, I needed to use the story I wrote for round 2 as my inspiration. Since Operation Disney revolved around the recent debacles of the Secret Service Agency and Julia Pierson’s absurd Disney quote (“We need to be more like Disney World. We need to be more friendly, inviting…”), I decided to dress up like Mickie Mouse and wave around a toy gun while singing/dancing to “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”.

Here are just a couple of the clips I took:

(And, yes, feel free to laugh/shake your head/mock me. I don’t care–ha!)

I know I look ridiculous, but I actually had a blast while filming. Sometimes it’s therapeutic to let go, act like an idiot, and laugh at yourself, you know? And I laughed at myself a lot. There were many blooper moments, one of which included me accidentally hitting the trigger on the toy gun and dropping it in surprise when it made that motor-like sound. I wasn’t ready for it!

Anyway, here is today’s Friday Funny. I thought it was fitting after taking those pictures and video clips for my political satire piece. The day I wrote Operation Disney, I did quite a bit of research and Googled a variety of things, including Secret Service Agency, Air Force One, Obama, attack, guns, Russia…By the end of the day, I said, “Well, that probably put me on the NSA’s watch list.” 😉

Enjoy!

10671284_10152514271928432_1697126134585438931_nHow was your week? Busy? Calm? Do anything goofy and silly? I know many of you are preparing for NaNoWriMo. How’s it going? Are you ready for it?

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – Explosions – Ellie Goulding

You Know You’re a Writer When…Awkward Introductions

Yes, Agents Google Writers

Photo credits: 

http://giphy.com/gifs/DImeco37S0Fl6

http://ynaija.com/teen/these-are-the-problems-of-todays-social-media-girl-her-facial-expressions-are-just-too-funny-look/

https://www.tumblr.com/search/self+five

http://tatara94.deviantart.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ericjodomfb/photos/pb.195590938431.-2207520000.1414167501./10152514271928432/?type=3&theater

Friday Funny with Goals, NaNoEdMo, and Spiders

When I got out of bed this morning, I felt like doing this:

Yay for Friday! I say we all take a moment to celebrate and dance it up…Come on, dance! Shake that booty, wriggle those hips, and stomp those feet!

…Are you doing it?

Are you?

Well, hopefully you’re at least tapping your feet or bobbing your head.

Okay, okay. Enough dancing…for now. 😉

Overall, my week was calm and productive. On Monday, I received an email that lit a fire under my dragging feet and prompted me to promise someone I’d have a final draft of my manuscript done by January 1st.

Yeah, trying not to panic too much.

It’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of focus, and A LOT of hermit days to meet my self-imposed deadline for a final draft by January 1st. I’ve already started telling people in my life, “I’m sorry, but I need to be selfish the next couple of months to finish my book, so if you don’t hear from me or I have to bail on you, that’s why. Again, sorry.”

I feel horrible, but chopping out all distractions is going to be a necessity if I’m going to do this.

Hey, a writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do, right?

Strangely, right after I made the decision to finish my manuscript by January 1st, one of my best friends text me and said she wants to do NaNoEdMo in November to edit the story she wrote during Camp NaNoWriMo in July. After I finished chuckling, I told her I’d join her. I’m still chewing over what my exact goal for the month will be. I can’t really base edits off a word count, so I’m thinking a certain number of chapters.

Whatever I decide, I need to buckle down and get to work!

I did take a break last night to decorate my house for Halloween–finally. I’ve been putting it off because 1) I’ve been so busy, and 2) I really, really, really did not want to go into my crawl space to get my bins of decorations. You guys, it’s ca-reepy down there! Dark, dirty, spidery.

*shudder*

I despise spiders. Give me snakes or mice any day of the week. Just not spiders. Anything but those vindictive eight-legged monsters!

But, alas, I had to face my fears. So last night I put on my big girl pants, sucked it up, and journeyed into the dreaded crawl space. I saw one spider dangling from a web, but it was dead, so I didn’t panic too much. But then I backed up and got jabbed in the butt by my Christmas tree and freaked out, lol. I swore Shelob had crawled out of the darkness to gobble me up. I know, I know. I’m ridiculous. No need to tell me. I’m fully aware of it, haha.

Anyway, in honor of my focused week and my goal of finishing my manuscript by January 1st, here is today’s Friday funny. Enjoy!

1798100_875822442428382_3463484613586654032_nHow was your week? Have you set any goals for your own work? How many of you are participating in NaNoWriMo?

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – Mornay’s Dream – Braveheart

You Know You’re A Writer When…Favorite Mug

How to Write a Novel Synopsis: 5 Tips

Photo credits: 

http://www.nolanfans.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=17&p=547915

http://getoffmyinternets.net/thats-quirky-is-a-steaming-pile-of-no/comment-page-3/

http://orbitags.com/the-53-thoughts-every-college-grad-has-immediately-after-moving-home/

http://forums.superherohype.com/showthread.php?t=481237

http://www.tumblr.com/search/disney%20grumpy

http://www.nolanfans.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=17&p=547915

My Writing: The What, How, and Why

I know I’ve already participated in the popular writer’s blog hop going around–twice–but when Amanda from Amanda’s Nose in a Book invited me to join in again, I decided, why not? So here we go!

1) What am I working on? 

As most of you know, I’ve been elbow deep in revisions for my YA manuscript the past three or so months. This is an old project I optioned in 2010 to a production studio on the Paramount Studio lot. It’d been sitting on my shelf for over a year untouched until last fall, during NaNoWriMo, I realized it was time revamp it. COMPLETELY! I kept the basic concept and incinerated the rest.

My original goal was to have a polished manuscript ready to send off to agents this fall. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening. I’ve been working hard, but meticulous, so things are coming together a lot slower than I planned. But, it’s okay. I’d rather take my time and make sure things are solid, than rush  for the sake of finishing. That’s just silly.

At this point, my new goal is to have everything completed by January 1st–query letter, synopses, and all…We’ll see if that pans out.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, that pretty much sums it up!

When I write, I have one main goal: to think way outside the box…which can be tough in the category I like to write for: Young Adult. However, no matter how tempting it might be, I refuse to hop on trends (vampires, dystopia, angels, etc.). When a genre/topic becomes hot, I avoid it like the plague. Why? Because by the time I write a book about it, it’ll be old news. Agents won’t want it, publishers won’t want it, and a lot of readers won’t want it. And that equals wasted time and–basically–a worthless manuscript.

So, if an idea isn’t fresh, different, and “Oooh, that’s cool!”, then I won’t pursue it.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Easy. A story demands me to tell it.

Okay, I’ll explain. My main focus is young adult (suspense, horror, drama). However, I don’t let that focus constrict me. If a story wants me to tell it, I will. In fact, I rarely sit around and brainstorm ideas. They come to me at the most random of times (on a jog, in the shower, at the grocery store, while working on a different project). Some ideas I explore immediately; others I write down for a later time. All of them, however, haunt me. They’re like little whispers begging me to pay attention to them and translate them onto paper. Unfortunately, I’m not a machine, so I’m only able to address one at a time.

So, why do I choose the one I do? Well, let’s just say that story’s “whisper” becomes a “SCREAM!”.

No matter what project I take on, I have to love it. If I don’t have the passion and drive to tell it, then I won’t. I can’t! Books take a ton of time, a ridiculous amount of effort, and a wide range of emotions. If I don’t have the heart for it, then I’ll pass and find one I do.

4) How does my writing process work?

Recently, I’ve figured out an easy way to explain my writing process. In a nutshell, writing a story is like baking a cake:

  • Draft 1: Throwing all the ingredients into a bowl. AKA, just write! There’s no real plotting or outlining or planning. I sit down at my computer, press play on the “movie” inside my head, and write. As I work, I take notes in an “Edit” document. This is where I scribble down plot holes as I discover them, mark down major character flaws, and ask myself “Why is this happening?” types of questions.
  • Draft 2: Bake the cake. AKA, build the story’s foundation. I use all those ingredients from my sloppy first draft and start baking them into a solid story. I analyze the plot, I mold my characters, and I constantly ask, “Why is this happening?” and “What is the purpose of this?” and “Is this important?” If there’s no answer, then I chop it out. Why do I need a line/scene/character if it doesn’t move the story forward?
  • Draft 3 (and so on): Frost the cake: This is when I go back and start making things “pretty”. I juice up my descriptives, deepen my characters, add an extra punch to my action scenes, zero in on repetitive words/phrases, etc. Basically, I search and search for every and any flaw, and then I find ways to add in a bunch of “WTH just happened?” moments for the reader. I like to make them think they’re out of the woods and then–bam! I twist the story one last time to knock them off their feet…Well, I try, lol!

Here are a few other do’s and don’ts about my writing process:

Do’s:

  • Pitch my concept/idea before I begin: Why work on a project if people aren’t fans of the idea from the get-go? So, before I type one sentence, I ask a handful of trusted individuals (writers, family, friends) what they think of it. If too many of them lack an “Oooh!” response, then I’ll toss it out and try another.
  • Listen to music for inspiration: I spend quite a bit of time commuting each day, and almost every minute of that commute is spent listening to music compilations I’ve created for whatever project I’m currently working on. They help me think/rethink scenes, come up with new ideas, or simply add fuel to my writing fire.
  • Find photos of my characters: Similar to music, I thrive off imagery, especially when it comes to my characters. As I write, I always have photos of my main leads nearby (aka, famous actors, models, or just random photos via Pinterest). These visuals help me imagine what my characters’ expressions might look like, or what they might say or do in a certain situation.
  • Use beta readers: Showing off your hard work is both exhilarating and terrifying. However, it’s an absolute necessity if you wish to query or publish it. Just because you think your book is shiny and pretty and perfect, doesn’t mean it is. So, I always send my rough drafts to a few people I know and trust, and who I know will be brutally honest with me. They won’t say, “Oh, it was so good! I loved everything about it!” They’ll say, “I liked these parts, but this scene didn’t make sense, this character was annoying, this relationship was shallow, this chapter was useless…etc.”

Don’ts:

  • Outline/pre-plot: I’ve attempted to sit down and outline a story before I start writing it, but it doesn’t work. When I write, I like to sit down and go! When people ask me how I can do this, I tell them it’s like a movie playing inside my head. I hit the “play button” and “watch” the events unfold. As a story progresses, I may pre-plot the next chapter in my head while listening to music, but, overall, a story evolves as I type it out.
  • Write with music/noise: Turn it off! Turn it off! Silence is golden when I write. I wish I could listen to the music that inspires me while I work, but it’s too distracting. In fact, I’ve been wanting to invest in a pair of noise canceling headphones.
  • Show first drafts: First drafts suck. They do! And mine are horrible because I don’t outline/pre-plot, so they’re crammed with loopholes, discrepancies, 2-D characters, repetitive words, stilted dialogue, needless scenes, lukewarm action, cheesy romance, confusing twists…I’ll just stop there 😉

So there you go! Hope you enjoyed some insight into my writing. If you’re interested in reading any of my work, click on Jen’s Pen up above!

Up next on this round of the writing blog hop are some of my favorite bloggers/writers! Be sure to check them out. 

Paul Draper 

PD Booth

Blog: The Bitumen Carnival

Twitter: @TheBlackGate

Darla G. Denton

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Blog: Darla G. Denton: Musings From a Curvy Romance Writer

Twitter: @DarlaGDenton

Facebook: Darla G. Denton

Jonathan 

Blog: 40 Stories for my 40th Year

Friday Funny with Paint, Chocolate, and Wallow

There isn’t much to say except:

Well everyone, this week was a doozy on the writing front. In a nutshell, I felt like this:

So, last weekend I sent my beta reader my latest two chapters. She liked them, but she wasn’t crazy about their setting. “I wasn’t wowed,” she explained. “This is a big moment, and you nailed the emotions and the action, but the actual location wasn’t thrilling. I wanted…more.”

Always more, Mrs. Beta Reader. That’s all you ever want. More, more, more

Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re all thinking: “It’s good your beta reader pushes you to do better–to give a reader more. That’s their job.” I know, I know. But, still. Grrrrr.

The problem is–and I know you’ll find this bizarre considering I’m passionate about novel writing–I’m not a fan of painting a setting. The sky, the clouds, the house, the trees…blah, blah, blah. If I could, I’d literally say, “There’s an old house that’s creepy and scary. Get it? Got it? Good. Let’s move on.”

Horrible, I know. But, unfortunately, true.

And these chapters my beta reader wanted “more” from are all about painting a setting. So, rewriting them this week has. Been. Pure. Torture! Compared to writing dialogue and action sequences, describing a location is hell for me. Going from blank page to vivid scene is a rough and frustrating process. There’s lots of writing, deleting, crying, screaming, writing, deleting, groaning, kicking, writing, deleting…

…punching my computer in the face. Apologizing to my computer for punching it in the face. Punching it again. Apologizing again…

Seriously, by the time I finished revising these chapters last night, I felt like this:

Okay, Okay, I wasn’t that bad. But I really wanted to curl up with a big bag of peanut M&M’s and wallow. Maybe chow down on some cookie dough ice cream, a slab of fudge, and an entire chocolate cake.

What? Every writer is allowed to gorge on chocolate once in awhile, right?

Right?

Fingers crossed my beta reader gives me the thumbs up on the new location I painted for her. If she doesn’t, then I will be buying a GIANT bag of peanut M&M’s and I will be wallowing….And then, after my pity-poor-me party, I will roll up my sleeves, gnash my teeth, and try again. Because, as the saying goes, “You fail only if you stop writing”.

Right?

Anyway, in honor of my rough writing week, here is today’s Friday Funny. Enjoy!

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How was your week? Wallow worthy? Or full of rainbows and glitter and blah blah blah? 😉

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – Love The Way You Lie – Eminem and Rihanna

You Know You’re a Writer When…Alter Ego

8 Words to Seek and Destroy in Your Writing

Photo credits:

http://stevencee.com/author/stevencee/

http://giphy.com/gifs/b55x0VFpFKm7S

http://www.gifwave.com/3kSL/reaction-cameron-diaz-the-holiday-grrrr-gif

http://giphy.com/gifs/obG1fKl754GZ2

http://fivefootattack.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/the-five-foots-top-five-christmas-movies/

http://itsbetterblonde.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/hey-guys-learn-your-manners/

http://rebloggy.com/post/funny-humor-book-write-epic-fail-writting-distractions-to-write-writing-humor-st/32599840340