Dramaquill's All Things Writing

May 10, 2013

Writing a novel is like running a marathon.

Writing a novel can seem like a daunting task, especially to the first-time newbie.  A novel is long (according to Wikipedia, it’s 40,000 words or more)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_count#In_fiction

A novel needs a plot that can sustain all those chapters and keep the reader interested until the very end.

http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/Plot.html

http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/plot-outline.html

A novel requires characters that people will care about enough to keep reading.

http://thewritepractice.com/resources/characterization/

http://voices.yahoo.com/unique-tips-creating-memorable-characters-your-315059.html?cat=3

But most of all, you have to sit on your butt and write…and write…and write.  And here’s where I think it’s similar to training for a marathon.

At first, it’s very likely you won’t be able to just sit and write and everything will fall neatly into place.  You’ll need to develop stamina to keep you there for the long run.  Just as an athlete has to work up to the distance of a marathon (http://running.about.com/od/marathontrainingfaqs/f/What-Is-The-Distance-Of-A-Marathon.htm)
a novel will consist of a large number of chapters.  To me, writing each one is somewhat similar to running each mile (or kilometre) of a marathon.  It may sound and look daunting when you think about it as a whole, but tackling it one unit at a time will get you to your ultimate finish line.

Runners train for marathons.

How can a writer train?

* choose your genre
* start with an idea for a story
* build on that idea
* develop your main character(s) and secondary characters
* Start writing the rough draft
* Don’t worry about editing until you reached the end of the story you wish to tell

But whatever you do, keep going!  Push through when it gets hard.  Seek support from fellow writers.  Read blogs and articles to motivate you on days when you want to quit.

Like any big goal, getting started is the hard part.  Break it up into small, attainable goals and you’ll have that novel written before you know it!

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January 21, 2013

Genre Writing Blogs – Suspense

It’s great to share what others have to say and I’d like to do just that.

Here’s my call out to all those bloggers who write suspense/mystery/thriller novels, plays and/or short stories.

I’d love to feature a different blog each week with a short Q & A with the blogger.

Anyone interested?

Comment on this post, send me your blog url and let’s see what great information we can share with our followers and with each other.

January 10, 2012

Sometimes you need to Step Away to Recharge

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December can be a tricky month for anyone who celebrates the holidays.  There are gifts to buy, baking to do, cleaning for company and extra social events to attend.  When’s a writer supposed to find time to write?

I’ve been beating myself up about not getting any writing done since Nano ended on November 30th.  But as it turns out, it really wasn’t a bad thing after all.  I only wish I hadn’t allowed myself to stress out about it so much!

Now that the Christmas tree and decorations are all back in storage in the basement and the last remnants of holiday treats have been eaten, I find myself experiencing a new-found energy and creativity.  I’m reading writing blogs, ezines and books.  I’m plotting and planning.  But most of all – I’m writing again.

As it turns out, sometimes you need to step away to Recharge.

How did you fare as a writer celebrating the holidays?  Did you stay on track, or let things fall a bit by the wayside like I did?

January 10, 2012 – recharged and ready for writing!

December 6, 2011

Nanowrimo aftermath

 
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Well it’s been nearly a week since Nanowrimo (the national novel writing month) ended and participation in the event has given many writers a rough draft of a new book or at least several thousand words toward such a project.

Did I win by writing 50,000 words?  Nope!  But I still won by participating.

Nanowrimo forced me to get back to working on my sequel suspense novel and because of the discipline of having to write something every day in November, I now have some 17,000 more words added to my book and a much clearer understanding of not only my ending, but also the areas I will now revise and rewrite to make the book its best.

Did I participate in Nano this year in hopes of finally winning with 50,000?  A part of me would have liked to have achieved such a lofty goal.

Am I disappointed that I didn’t cross the perverbial finish line so to speak?  Absolutely not!

All writers know that writing is a solitary job.  Having the discipline to stick with a long project like a book manuscript requires isolation from others (both online and off) and a real commitment to sitting down and fleshing out the story.  With all of life’s distractions, getting ample time to finish such a project can be extremely difficult.  Nanowrimo provides just the push that I need, especially at a time of year when life is busier with the impending holiday celebrations.

Thanks Nanowrimo for another great year!  You kick-started my first novel which definitely helped me on the road to having it published.  Hopefully, my sequel won’t be far behind.

November 3, 2011

Kindlegraph – how to personalize your ebook

 
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My publisher posted this information a while back and I finally had the chance to check it out.

If you have an ebook and want to be able to autograph it for your readers, you can do just that if your book is offered on Amazon. It’s called a Kindlegraph.

Here’s the link to my book, “When Love Won’t Die”:
http://kindlegraph.com/authors/dramaquill

To find out more about Kindlegraph, check out this link:
http://kindlegraph.com/about

Note:  Right now, this autograph only works if you have a Kindle e-reader.

November 2, 2011

Nanowrimo…And we’re off

 
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November is Nanowrimo month – a time where published and aspiring novelists vow to write approximately 1600 words/day for the entire month of November.

What’s the payoff?

Fifty-thousand words in a month’s time. This can be a great start to a new novel or the chance to complete a book that’s already been started.

I fell a little short of my goals yesterday with 1,163 words on my suspense novel, Amorous Obsession, but I did a lot of planning/plotting so I’m still happy with my progress.

And…I also wrote a few more pages on my pirate musical (sadly they don’t count in my Nano total LOL)

To participate in all the action:
http://www.nanowrimo.org

Happy writing!

October 11, 2010

When Love Won’t Die – my suspense novel is published!

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As many of you know, I signed a contract back in February for my first suspense novel and after months of editing and revising, it’s finally available for purchase.

My novel, “When Love Won’t Die”, is currently in e-book form and available from Red Rose Publishing at this link: 
http://redrosepublishing.com/books/product_info.php?products_id=649

In a month or so, it will also be available from Amazon.com, on Kindle, Mobipocket and other e-reader formats.

For every writer out there who never thought it could happen to them I say, “Never Give Up”!

It took nearly three years of edits and revisions from critique groups, a professional author and finally, my amazing editors at RRP to see this project through to its completed form, but it was all worth it.

I’m currently working on two other suspense novels and hope to have them both published when the time is right.  First, I need to complete both of them and then get some critiques.

Never send anything out until you know it’s your very best writing.  Be tenacious and never give up.  Hard work truly does pay off.

I’ve also guest blogged about the entire process at Warwick Life Strategies:
http://www.warwicklifestrategies.com/long-haul

***If you need a jump-start to your novel, why not try Nanowrimo this November?
http://www.nanowrimo.org/

Become a fan of Jacqueline McMahon’s writing on Facebook at:
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=894970174&v=wall&ref=notif&notif_t=share_wall_create#!/pages/Jacqueline-McMahons-Writing/115755788486062

December 12, 2008

Do you actually achieve your writing goals?

My critique group moderator just posted our 2008 writing goals.  I’m always excited and hesitant to revisit them. 

Did I accomplish what I thought I would be able to do in 2008?

Did I do more?

So, here are my 2008 writing goals and my commentary for each one.  I didn’t do too badly.

But wait – there was a lot not on the list…

I have 2 children’s poems coming out in Hopscotch for Girls magazine in 2009.

I wrote 6 new plays for kids and teens last year.

I wrote an original song for our church’s 100th anniversary service.

My article, The Business of Playwriting, got purchased by Writer’s Digest books for 2 upcoming market books.

I’ve collected several agents and publishers for my adult suspense novel.

I think I’m happy with my progress.

Anyway, here’s what I originally posted to my critique group:

Jacqueline’s 2008 Goals:

So…for 2008

1. Get an agent or publisher interested in the adult thriller. THIS IS THE YEAR of the thriller…I can feel it.
Well, I’ve saved potential agents and publishers that I plan to sub this to but didn’t want to jump the gun until the final revision is at least nearly complete.  I AM doing this in January, though.

2. Back to square one on Thinkers(YA). I know so much more now about writing that I’m positive this time I’ll approach it so much better than the first draft. 

I think I’ll be subbing this to the group once the suspense novel is done.
3. Find a publisher for some of my playscripts AND/OR enter some of them in contests for productions. I did enter a couple contests – haven’t heard back so I guess I didn’t win LOL  Also did research publishers and have a couple in mind.  Just haven’t subbed anything yet.

4. Learn how to use 2 music software programs I own that I never seem to find the time to work with. 

This is hilarious – I actually used one of the programs when I wrote an original piece for our church’s 100th anniversary year service in June.  I just picked my way around until I figured it out, so I guess I did this somewhat.

5. Try getting into my chicklit YA called “Quick, pass the chips.”
This was book one of my nano disastrous attempt this year.  Couldn’t get into it no how…sigh.  I switched to a 2nd suspense novel and planned a lot of it out but never wrote much of anything.

 

6. Do Nanowrimo again next year and get past this year’s 33,000 words.  I think I did 1200 words.  Wow!!!

These all seem reasonable and doable.(I’m so naive-hahaa) We’ll see what happens when Sandy reminds us next December of what we wanted to do this year LOL
 

 

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!

http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php
The Snowflake Method

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Novel
A WikiHow article

http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/novelwriting/Writing_a_Novel.htm
Lots of links etc. from About.com

http://www.spacejock.com.au/WriteANovel.html
author Simon Haynes shares info. on many aspects of novel writing

http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/2006/09/06/how-to-write-a-novel/
Advice from published author Justine Larbalestier

http://www.secretgeek.net/NonWriter.asp
A humorous article on how not to write a novel

http://www.deepgenre.com/wordpress/admin/craft/how-to-write-a-novel-part-1
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 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 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?

Nope.

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
Tags:

 
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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!

October 22, 2008

Nanowrimo help

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Does the idea of writing a complete book (or at least 50,000 words) in one short seem unbelievable difficult?

I’m sure that’s the reason many writers do not participate in Nanowrimo during the month of November.  Some will argue that they don’t work that way – scratching out more than 1500 words/day.  They worry about the quality of the writing.  Remember folks, this is just a first draft.  Chris Baty, Nano organizer and originator, isn’t claiming that by writing 50,000 words in a month, you’ll have the final, polished manuscript needed to attract a publisher.

Other writers just don’t believe they have the time to discipline themselves to write every day for a month on the same manuscript.  After all, they probably have full-time jobs or freelance projects that must take priority over this indulgence.

Well for those of you deciding to take the plunge, here are some resources that might help you prepare.  Remember, you still have 10 days.

Obviously, having an idea for a book is a must.  Hopefully you have a basic plot scratched out and your main characters picked and named. 

This year, I decided to try a genre I’ve never worked in before:  Chicklit.  I think I have a story that could be appealing to YA readers or adults and Nanowrimo will give me the kick in the pants I need to see where I can take this one.

So now that you’ve picked your genre, plot and characters, let’s see what else can help you realize the goal of creating this new manuscript in the month of November…

Check out these books listed at amazon (most likely you can go to your local library to get them if they can’t be delivered in enough time to read them before Nano begins)
http://www.amazon.com/NaNoWriMo-Help/lm/R2Q9ZSHG5SH5KK

Here’s a great blog with some useful info:  Nandini’s Niche
http://wendelin.blogspot.com/2004/10/nanowrimo-help.html

This novel help document is from the Zokutou conference in the UK.  It’s an interesting chart, giving you lots of avenues to explore.
http://www.zokutou.co.uk/tools/novel_rescue_matrix.doc

Here’s a site that has some brainstorming ideas with Nanorwrimo writers in mind.
http://www.wrimos.net/

Here are the basics for a successful Nanowrimo.
http://webstuff4writers.com/five-must-have-resources-for-nanowrimo/

Check out this article on character.
http://writeanything.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/nanowrimo-workshop-character/
and this one on POV
http://writeanything.wordpress.com/2008/10/21/nanowrimo-workshop-point-of-view/

Use the next 10 days to get organized and most of all to get psyched into achieving your Nanowrimo goal for this year.

Good luck!

October 18, 2008

It’s NANO time again

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I guess I really must be a writer.  I can’t imagine a day without writing something.  It’s right up there with breathing, sleeping, and of course, coffee.

I just got an email from the Nanowrimo organizers, reminding me that Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Event) will begin November 1st.  For those of you who remember, I did my first Nano event last year and managed about 36,000 words (if I remember correctly).

Now considering that I’ve tried to immerse myself in the Muse free writing conference this week, and still have a full-time job, extra curricular groups and a life (sort of, LOL), I wondered whether or not I should just let Nanowrimo pass this year.

Nope – can’t do it!

I’ve been waffling on a book idea for a couple of years now, but never seem to sit down and do more than scribble a couple quick points into a notebook now and then.  But, if I were to do Nanowrimo, I could actually work on this new book and see where it goes.

Yep – that’s all the persuading it took.  I’m registered and anxiously awaiting the start of this year’s Nano experience.

If you’ve got a book in you that you’ve always wanted to write, and I think almost everybody does, then why not sign up and try the Nanowrimo challenge for the month of November.  Even if you only write a few thousand words, it’ll be more than you’d likely do if you didn’t participate in the Nano event at all.

So here’s my challenge to all of you who want to write a novel.  Get thee to the Nanowrimo site, create a username and password, and register yourself for a crazy ride as you try to complete 50,000 words by Nov. 30th.

http://www.nanowrimo.org/

Hope to see you there!

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