Dramaquill's All Things Writing

November 26, 2008

How to write a novel – web resources

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Not everyone can afford to enroll in creative writing classes, but that doesn’t mean a new writer is doomed to remain looking like an amateur.  There are a lot of “free” resources online with advice, methods, and guidelines to writing that first novel and I’d like to share some of them with my readers.  Enjoy!

The Snowflake Method

A WikiHow article

Lots of links etc. from About.com

author Simon Haynes shares info. on many aspects of novel writing

Advice from published author Justine Larbalestier

A humorous article on how not to write a novel

Check out this wordpress blog on novel writing

Also check out http://www.amazon.com and type “how to write a novel” into the search box for thousands of books related to this subject.

Okay, I’ve done a bit of the groundwork for you.  But don’t spend all your time reading the “how tos” and the “how not tos”.  Get out that pad and paper or your laptop and get writing. 

That’s the only real way anyone ever wrote a novel.  You have to write!

Good luck with your book

November 23, 2008

Nano’s not working out the way I thought

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As writers around the globe continue to scribble out page after page of their novels for the Nanowrimo challenge, I sit here, looking at the verbiage I’ve accumulated and wonder how any of it will ever become a book.

I have to question whether or not my decision to abandon my first idea and jump into a different one was wise after all.  I could feel the adrenaline rush as I planned out my suspense novel ideas, but I’ve spent the first three weeks of Nanowrimo doing character sketches, plots and sub-plots and starting the first chapter over several times.  I had already done this pre-nano work on my chicklit nove.

I’m definitely not going to end up with a huge word count.  In fact, I’ll be nowhere near the 50,000 word goal set out by the contest.  But I’m okay with that…I think.

I have spent a lot of time working out this new book.  I think I’ve come up with some neat twists in my plot and I also think my protagonist will appeal to today’s readers.

So I’m not going to look at my Nanowrimo participation this year as a complete failure.  Yes, I would have liked to accomplish the 50,000 word goal. Yes, I would like to have the better half of a first draft of a novel under my belt. 

But I have to be realistic.  It’s just not going to happen.

So, with the last week of Nanowrimo reving up, I’m just going to continue immersing myself in what I have so far and see if I can build my momentum until I end up with at least a good chunk of work. 

I’m not posting my word count until the final day.  I haven’t even checked it, to tell you the honest truth.  I want to be surprised.

I hope everyone’s Nano experience is leaving them with something positive. 

Any writing is better than no writing at all…right?

November 13, 2008

Kids putting on Musicals

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Whether you’re a school teacher looking for a great musical for your class (or entire school) or a small children’s theatre or even a drama school, I found a great resource.  The musicals are basically “junior” versions of the full length musicals. 

So what am I talking about?

Broadway Junior.  It’s a great website and a great concept for adults who work with kids who want to put on musicals.  They carry a good selection of titles, all in the “junior” format, including:

 “Beauty and the Beast” “Aladdin”, “Annie”, “Seussical”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Godspell”, “Guys and Dolls”, “Mulan”, “Pirates of the Penzance”, “Schoolhouse Rock”, “Bugsy Malone”, “Dear Edwina”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Honk”, “Into the Woods”, “The Music Man”, “Once on this Island”, “Willie Wonka” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie”.

I had the priviledge of seeing “Aladdin Junior” done with school kids from grades 4-6 last year and the production was terrific.  There were lead parts and smaller parts for those who don’t like memorizing and lots of room for chorus.  Even though this was a shortened version of the original, this “junior” production kept the integrity of the story and the characters and included the songs audiences would recognize and want to hear. The CD accompaniment tracks made the whole production sound professional from start to finish.

The showkit contains everything you need to stage your own musical.  Can’t dance?  There’s even a choreography video to help you stage dance numbers.  A piano score makes learning each new song easy. Check it all out at:


November 11, 2008

Serious Nano doubts?

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So, it’s November 11th and I finally did some character sketches and plot lines to kind of map out where I’d like to go with my new suspense novel.

But it’s November 11th and I haven’t written one word yet…yikes!  Now, I’m not making excuses but I’m moving my business to a new location and unfortunately that’s taking priority over my time at the moment.  So, instead of keeping my butt glued to my chair and my eyes riveted to my computer screen, I’ve been painting, packing, moving things, cleaning etc. etc.

I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who signed up for the big event and for whatever reasons just haven’t been able to actually get cracking on that book.  Life definitely can get in the way, can’t it!

So, am I giving up for this year?

Not on your life.

But it’s going to take some real dedication now to get myself anywhere near the 50,000 words.  Last year I only made about 36,000 so I’ve decided that first of all, I need to set a realistic goal.  I may not make the 50,000 and I’m okay with that.  (Well, not really – I’m very competitive).  So, I’m going to shoot for exceeding my 36,0000 words from last year by at least another thousand.  If I write 2100 words/day from now until the end of the month, I can conceivably do this.

So, here’s what I’m going to have to do to achieve my goals:

1.    Omit 1 hr. of wasted time every day (like TV or surfing or emails)

2.    Stay up an extra 30 minutes (I work well later at night)

3.    Bring my writing to work so that I can do it on unexpected breaks

4.    Get ready faster in the morning and snatch 30 minutes before I leave

5.    Focus…focus…focus

You can do it!

If you’re having serious Nano doubts, don’t give up.  Even some writing on your book manuscript will be better than none at all.  So go for it!  Let’s see what we can all accomplish by November 30th.

November 6, 2008

Screenwriters’ and Playwrights’ Market

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Writer’s Digest books has been publishing market guides for as long as I can remember.  There’s the giant volume, “Writer’s Market”, that lists a little bit of everything for all genres.  Then, there are the specific volumes for novelists, children’s writers, poets, songwriters and photographers.

To my delight, Writer’s Digest is introducing a new market book, coming out sometime in December and available through pre-order at Amazon.com and other online stores now.

As a playwright, I’m always looking for avenues for my material.  I have been lucky enough to have sold a few scripts to middle school drama departments in the USA and also to the Little Tomato Children’s Theatre’s summer program.  I’ve managed to find some online links to play publishers and their guidelines.  And I’m excited to be able to have even more information at my fingertips once this new book comes out.

But that’s not all!

Editor, Chuck Sambuchino, approached me in July about including an article of mine in the first edition of this new market book.  So, “The Business of Playwriting”, by Jacqueline McMahon, will be one of the offerings in this first edition.

I have my copy pre-ordered.  Do you?

November 4, 2008

A Nano 360

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So, Nanowrimo started November 1st.  I made sure I was all signed up and had my book ideas gathered together.  I’d even made some preliminary character sketches for a YA chicklit novel.

So we’re on day four of Nanowrimo and guess what?  I can’t get into this book at all.  Nope – not even a little. 

What’s a writer to do?

I never seem to have a lack of ideas so I’m making a complete 360 today and deciding to work on a second suspense novel called Dear Aunt Jane.  It began as an attempt at a short story years ago but I truly believe that to properly tell the tale, it should be a book so that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m already feeling that adrenaline rush of excitement as I search through old files and folders for my background notes.  I’m already plotting for the long haul of a book and chopping up the short story version.  I can feel my protagonist pushing me to get writing her story.

Will I make the 50,000 words by the 30th?  Who knows.  I realize I’m not about 6,000 behind schedule but it doesn’t matter.  My creative juices are over flowing with this switch so “thank-you” Nanowrimo for pushing me down this path.

Am I worried about the YA chicklit book never getting finished?


I know, when the time is right, I’ll tackle that one.

I just really feel drawn to the suspense genre right now and maybe that’s because of the months of revisions I’ve been doing or maybe it’s because I just ordered a new Mary Higgins Clark/Carol Higgins Clark book.

Whatever the case, Nano, here I come.

November 1, 2008

NANOWRIMO – today’s the day

Filed under: Creative writing,nanowrimo,Novels,publishing,Writing — dramaquill @ 7:01 PM

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So I see the WordPress site has an abundance of blogs about Nanowrimo.  And I’m one of those who have opted to try to finish 50,000 on my new book in the month of November.

I haven’t checked the stats on the number of participants doing the “nano” event this year but my guess is that it’s extremely high – at least that’s how it feels as I try to log onto the site again and go to my area’s forum and see how the meet up went this afternoon.  (sadly, I was unable to attend due to work).

It’s an exciting day for a lot of writers, that’s for sure.  I’ve seen posts on numerous listserves, all exuding energy and the adrenaline of the starting line up in some sort of race.  I can hear the words, “and they’re off” echo in my head as I read post after post boasting word counts or ideas about books to come.

Is anyone else having trouble navigating the site like I am?

I would like to go and post my word count, but I can definitely wait until things die down.  The whole point is to write anyway, isn’t it?

So to all of you who are participating and keeping your eye on the 50,000 word prize, good luck, break a leg and happy writing.

Now, where’s my coffee?  It’s going to be a long night!

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