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Day 28 - 3 days until the start of NNWM

FSN 111028

No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.

— James Joyce


So what’s a Nano Writer to do when the muse takes off and leaves us high and dry? Sometimes a pleasant, physical activity helps gives us some distance to work out the problem. So take a walk. Fold some laundry. Or instead, fold some really cute origami “plot bunnies” - design by Instructables web site member Alberta Leong

Step by step instructions can be found here. Fold a bunch and pass them out at your next write-in for good luck! Or write a short prompt or words of encouragement on the paper before you fold it and keep a stash nearby for inspiration.

Do you have a “lucky” token or mascot you keep nearby when you write, Nano Writer? I have a plush dragon to help keep me in the zone - not to mention the dozen or so ninja plot bunnies I’ve scattered around my keyboard and books to remind me to keep it fun.

Three more days Nano Writers! Keep writing!
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Day 27 - 4 days until the start of NNWM

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Like your premise, your back cover copy should focus on what your story is really about but…

You didn’t think that you got all those extra words without a catch right? This is your chance to really sell your story to your potential readers. That’s right. Almost all shoppers, after picking up a book (that’s the book cover’s job) will flip it over and read the back copy and sometimes that’s all that stands between the reader putting it back on the shelf (or virtual shelf) or actually taking the time to open the book and read a bit of the first chapter.

And yes, the back cover copy is usually written after the novel has been through many drafts and often by professional editorial staff but…

Why not take a few minutes to expand on your premise and add in your “hook” - the thing that makes your story different - at least what makes it interesting and dare I say fun? for you.

Questions? Comments? Copy to share? It’s all good! So keep writing!
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Day 26 - 5 days until the start of NNWM

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Try this one. Because even if you don’t necessarily need or want a cover, working through the process can help clarify what your story is really about. Is the focus of your cover image a character? A place? An intriguing object? Dark colors? Lots of sunlight?

And if you’re not feeling particularly right-brained, look up some of your favorite books and make a note or two if you feel they offer an insight to your own story idea. If the image produces the right “feeling,” make a copy and keep it next to the index card with your logline/premise - you have one right? Your “cover” image, logline and a great playlist (if you like to write to music) will do a lot to help keep you inspired and focused throughout November!

Questions or comments? Cool images to share? It’s all good, Nano Writer! So keep writing!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 25 - 6 days until the start of NNWM

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I also like to make up lists of character names appropriate for the setting of my story. Sure tags like “Bad Guy 2” work in a pinch but it can be fun picking out a name from my Go-To list, imagining the character behind a name like Peter Gunner and James Whitelock (culled from an actual list of constables recruited for London’s first Metropolitan Police Force).

And if you haven’t already: make a Cast of Characters list for your story and a list of your Settings. At some point during the writing process, you’ll be very happy you have them. Trust me on this.

Questions? Comments? Recommendations for favorite Baby Names web site? Keep writing, Nano Writer!
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Day 24 - 7 days until the start of NNWM

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With seven days left until the start of NaNoWriMo, it’s time for a little housekeeping - taking care of those chores and tasks that make writing easier during November. And speaking of which… why not take a few minutes to look through your personal calendar or organizer and mark off those days on your NaNoCalendar when it will be difficult to write. Dates like exam days, family time, holidays, big projects at work… Sure, there will always be those days when the unexpected pops up and rears its words-eating head but why not make plans for those days you already know about and adjust your writing schedule accordingly?

Questions? Comments? Time management advice to share? It’s all good! So keep writing!
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Day 21 - 10 days until the start of NNWM

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Today we embrace left-brain thinking and spend a little time looking at numbers as we assemble the skeletal pieces of our story based on our FSN lists for the opening, the catalyst (First Plot Point or inciting event), the midpoint, the events after the “all is lost moment” (Second Plot Point) and the ending.

Of course, the assembly of these key events for your story should be one of your own choosing but for simplicity and example, I have selected a popular outline/plotting method called the Save the Cat “beat sheet” by Blake Synder which itself is based upon the classic three-act structure for narrative fiction: set-up, conflict and resolution.

Yep, that’s right, Nano Writer, when it comes down to it, all you need to tell your story is a set-up, description of the inevitable conflict that comes out of your set-up, and how it all comes out in the end.

So, you ask, if that’s all you need, what’s with all the numbers? Wasn’t Friday suppose to fun? Well, for me numbers are fun… let me show you how… )

So do all stories follow this scheme? No, of course not. But many do.

And I imagine now what some of you are asking: what of creativity and spontaneity? Doesn’t following this plan lead to the worse kind of formulaic pulp fiction?

Why should it? It’s your story, your hero, your protagonist’s desires and abilities and character faults. Your antagonist too. And when the bad guys close in - it is your particular battles that will be fought and won or lost.

Still not convinced? Tell me then, gentle Nano Writer, what the movies Inception and The King’s Speech have in common besides nominations for Best Motion Picture? You guessed it if you said that the beats for both stories fit the “Save the Cat” Beat Sheet.

So get with the beat and try the “Save the Cat” Beat Sheet on for size. Questions? Comments? Favorite movie? It’s all good - so keep writing!
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FSN - Day 20 - Second Plot Point

Day 20 - 11 days until the start of NNWM

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While considering the framework for our story, we’ve looked at the beginning of the story and the event that entices the protagonist to take up the quest to win his or her heart’s desire (Plot Point 1). As the story unfolds, our hero discovers something startling or minimally, something is revealed to the reader that changes the context of the hero’s journey (the midpoint).

The midpoint often changes events for our hero such that s/he experiences setbacks and misfortune, believing later “all is lost.”

Today, spend fifteen minutes creating a list of events and opportunities (Plot Point 2) that will convince our dejected hero to try again and come back with a new plan and renewed vigor. After all, everyone loves to cheer for the underdog, right?

Tomorrow we’ll assemble all these lists: the beginning, the ending, Plot Point 1, Midpoint and Plot Point 2 into a kind of road map for our story for November. Until then, keep writing Nano Writer!

Thanks very much for the well wishes! Still under the weather but applying lots of tea and hot and sour soup ;-)
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 19 - 12 days until the start of NNWM

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Yesterday we made a list of possible situations or causes that would entice our hero from the comforts and safety of home and to begin his or her quest. Today, we’re going to make a new list of events that will completely change the game for both our characters and our readers, sometime by the middle of the story, by filling in the blanks for this sentence:

My hero thought that s/he wanted ( reason for leaving “home” ) but what s/he discovers by the middle of the story is that s/he needs to ( new goal or action ) because ( new, surprising information that changes/challenges everything ).

Remember, this is just a list of possible plot twists, Nano Writers - you may not hit on just the right one until you’re ready to write the actual scene next month. So be creative! Have fun! And keep writing!

A side note: unfortunately I am, as they say, a little under the weather - sporting a flashy fever of 102 F. and trying my best to cough up a lung so responses may be a little slow in coming but they will! So keep writing!
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Day 18 - 13 days until the start of NNWM

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This week we’re going to fashion a kind of very loose framework for our story Nano Writer - a guide that will lead our protagonist from the beginning built around our character’s background we worked on last week through to the ending we envisioned yesterday, all while pursuing his or her heart’s desire.

Got all that? Well, don’t worry. We’ll work on putting all the pieces together at the end of the week. For today, we’re going to spend fifteen minutes and make a list of things or events that will convince our hero of the necessity of leaving behind the comfort and safety of “home” to begin “the quest.” What will it take to persuade your character? True love? Gold? Survival?

Questions? Comments? Motivation? You’ve got the moves, Nano Writer! Let’s hear what you got! Keep writing!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 17 - 14 days until the start of NNWM

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An easy beginning for the week Nano Writers: give some thought as to how your story ends. This isn’t a trick question. It’s just a thought exercise about how you might like to see the end of your story go down and to shake up any preconceptions you might unconsciously harbor about story endings: the hero doesn’t always have_to_win… )

Questions? Thoughts? “Closing” arguments to share? It’s all good! Tomorrow we’ll look at another pivotal moment for our character, perhaps the most important as without it, there would be no story. Until then, keep writing!
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Day 14 - 17 days until the start of NNWM

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According to Wikipedia, a vision board is...

...a poster board on which people draw, paste or collage images that represent their desires, objectives, dreams and goals. The intent is that vision boards be reviewed regularly to maintain focus on the depicted goals.

Today’s exercise is a chance to get in touch with your "craftier" side and the part of your brain that works more with images and feelings than words and logical thought. Got_glue? )

I’ve done a small collage to illustrate my “Coffee and Coffins” premise from last Friday, arranging the images in a way I found appealing and evoked (for me anyway) a sense of the setting, characters and theme. Let’s see what you got!

Next week, we’ll look at how we can put together all that we’ve done so far to create a well told story. Until then Nano Writer, keep writing (and pasting)!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 13 - 18 days until the start of NNWM

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This week we’ve been taking a closer look at our story’s main characters: their back story, their mannerisms and disposition, and desires. We’ve also talked about how it is the protagonist’s great need for something or someone and the antagonist’s desire to prevent the protagonist’s from winning the prize that drives the story from start to finish.

Today, Nano Writer, we’re going to give our hero a little help and because we can (we’re The Writer, right?) we’re going to give our hero three_wishes… )

Tomorrow is right-brain Friday and we’re going to put our lists aside and do something crafty. Until then, keep writing Nano Writer!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 12 - 19 days until the start of NNWM

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Today Nano Writer, we come to the engine that powers your story and drives it from the first page to the last. Without it, your story will flounder about until it dies - most likely by the second week of NaNoWriMo. What is this magic elixir that can keep your story alive and kicking? Well step right this_way… )

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at how we can help our hero out with his quest by granting him three wishes and you know how that usually goes right? Until then, keep writing!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 11 - 20 days until the start of NNWM

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Today Nano Writer, we’re going to do something a little different: we’re going to write a tiny biography based on mannerisms and disposition before trying our hand at crafting a tagline for our main characters. A tagline, according to Wikipedia is…

…a variant of a branding slogan typically used in marketing materials and advertising. The idea behind the concept is to create a memorable phrase that will sum up the tone and premise of a brand or product (like a film), or to reinforce the audience's memory of a product.

So let’s put on our Ad Man suit and tie, pour ourselves a martini (mock or otherwise, your choice ;-) and create taglines for our protagonist and antagonist that will make our characters memorable… )

Think outside the box, Nano Writer and never let ‘em see you sweat. Tomorrow, we’ll dig a little deeper… Until then, keep writing!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 10 - 21 days until the start of NNWM

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Welcome back Nano Writers! Last week we played around with some ideas - ideas with personal meaning - and wrote a “proto” type premise for our story borrowing a convention or two from our favorite genre and asking “what if” and “how” questions.

This week, we’ll start to fine tune our premise by taking a closer look at the main_characters_of_our_story… )

So what do you say Nano Writers? Questions or comments? Ready to invite your protagonist to relax on your writer’s couch as you ready your notebook and ask “what can you tell me about your childhood?” Remember to keep writing!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 9 - 22 days until the start of NNWM


Instead of simply pondering on a question,
I will invent a story that encompasses the question
and try to see how it is answered by people’s
reactions and their emotions.


— Nadine Gordimer

FSN111009

There are 22 days until the start of NaNoWriMo, Nano Writers!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 8 - 23 days until the start of NNWM

They should be ones whose hearts are easily
broken and who have so many characters in their
heads they should charge them rent.


— Leslee Becker

FSN111008


There are 23 days until the start of NaNoWriMo, Nano Writers!


And so week one for FSN comes to a close. Take the weekend to fine tune those loglines Nano Writers because starting Monday we step things up by taking a closer at our story's main characters. Until then, keep writing!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 7 - 24 days until the start of NNWM

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So you’ve read through all the week’s post (you have haven’t you?) and tried all the exercises and you still haven’t come up with a promising premise that makes your girlfriend/boyfriend/mother/significant other sit up and say - without prompting - “I’d buy that book” then today’s exercise is for you!

Try an online Logline Generator! There are many but my favorite can be found on Brian Stokes’s Life Formz website:

Random Logline Generator!


Today’s index card shows one of the many humorous, thought-provoking and sometimes strange (which can be a very good thing) loglines/premises randomly generated during a recent visit. Give it a try! The suggestions might take you to fascinating places!

What logline did your spin of the wheel turn up?

On Monday, we’ll continue to develop our stories by taking a closer look at our characters to see what they have to say about it all. So until then Nano Writer, keep writing!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 6 - 25 days until the start of NNWM

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Perhaps today’s exercise would be better called “proto” premise as we’re only trying to put together our answers from the last couple of days and write out a scenario or two to try on our characters next week.

Think of your premise (also called a logline by scriptwriters) as the TV Guide description for your story, almost bare bones, just one or two lines with still a little something that shows off your special spin on the story.

So take ten or fifteen minutes and write down what your_story_is_about… )

Here’s the “proto” premise for my story idea (25 words):

A London detective, assigned a prostitute’s murder, discovers the victim was a changeling and must solve the case before the Fairy King exacts horrific retribution.

Questions or comments? How did you do Nano Writer? Keep Writing!
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[personal profile] ladyseishou
Day 5 - 26 days until the start of NNWM

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Easy one today, Nano Writer! What’s your favorite genre? Or walk on the wild side and mix it up by picking one from column A and one from column B! How about a sci-fi mystery? Or a horror adventure?

One thing to keep in mind here however is that each genre comes with its own particular set of reader expectations. A mystery demands a crime and a detective. A fantasy usually involves a system of magic and magical creatures.

And while there’s no rule that says that you must write your story using all the expected genre conventions, be prepared to explain why (within the context of your story) to avoid confusing or alienating your readers.

Me, I love mysteries and fantasies… What genre is your favorite?

Tomorrow, we’ll try to assemble all of our efforts together into a sentence or two and write our story premise! Questions? Comments? Keep writing!

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