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NaNoProMo Day 1: 5 Ways to Break the Writing Rules by @barbaradelinsky

NaNoProMo by BadRedHeadMedia is once again upon us! Every year, we like to share this amazing evergreen content with our readers.

Ever wanted to break the writing rules? Barbara Delinsky offers you a great way to do this in NaNoProMo Day 1: “Ways to Break the Writing Rules.”

Below is an excerpt of what you’ll find when you read this amazing post!

Write about what you know. This has always been Rule #1 in novel writing. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard it, I’d be rich without having to write in the first place. And following this rule makes sense. Writing about what you know brings authenticity to one’s work. Lord knows, it’s certainly easier to write about what you know than what you don’t.

Barbara Delinsky via BadReadHeadMedia.com/nanopromo

But what if you can’t? What if, like me, you’ve already written about everything you know? Or if what you know is so painful that you can’t bear to write about it? Or if what you know is your family, but its members will never speak to you again if you write about them? Of if you’re just plain bored living in your own skin day after day? What to do then?

Barbara Delinsky via BadRedHeadMedia.com

Find the full post right here!

Find More About Barbara Delinsky at her social media:

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This One Tool Can Make Novel Plotting So Much Easier

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Hello everyone! Long time no see! We deeply regret that!

With Camp NaNo on the horizon, many of us are preparing projects to land a win in a less strenuous child of NaNoWriMo.

Planners everywhere know that planning can either drive you absolutely insane or it can be as easy as your grandma’s homemade pie.

Now, to begin, I want everyone to know, I am by no means, a plotter. Not by any means. If given the chance to Write in the Dark (Dean Wesley Smith term) or plotting, I’d write in the dark every time.

However, sometimes I do have to have some general info before diving off into the wild blue yonder. This being the case, I want to introduce a tool that made this so much easier: Trello.

What Is Trello?

Simply put, Trello is the digital version of writing on index cards. It was founded in 2011 by Fog Creek Software but was later sold to the New York based company, Atlassian in 2017.

It makes working with teams incredibly easy when involving large projects with multiple steps.

How Authors Can Use It:

For an author, it can be used in any number of ways:

  1. Front/ Back Matter Layout
  2. Amazon Keywords
  3. Potential Publishers/Agents
  4. Outlining
  5. Characters
  6. Setting
  7. Scene set up
  8. Blurb creation
  9. Alpha Readers
  10. Query Letter Writing
  11. And much more….

Each “card” and “board” can be moved around according to the needs of the author. Meaning, you don’t have to write tons of scenes and work on the floor of your bedroom (unless that’s your thing). More on this a little later.

It also has a mobile app so you can work on any device! How nifty is that?

For more information, Mackenzie Kinkaid made an amazing resource for authors to see how she uses Trello. You can find it here: Trello for Writers.

A Set-Up Example:

When you first sign up and log into Trello, you’re met with a screen that looks like this:

(c) Blaise Ramsay via Trello.com

This is basically how Blaise uses the program. Each board is used for things like characters (which may or may not include photos), Settings (which isn’t included with this one) and some sort of noting system.

Here, you can see an example of the 3- Act layout, which is actually less of an outline and more of a “beat sheet.” There are still crucial details needing to be filled out. I’ll do a post on this later.

Important stuff — like story premise, theme, Synopsis, blurbs, keywords, target word and chapter count, and back matter — are included here.

Then you have characters — including ARC developments — followed closely by settings (which isn’t included here) and whatever “beat sheet” (if any) you use. Notes are in the form of comments below each Act and character.

Other things (not in this case), you might include are potential publishers, agents, Dedication, Acknowledgements, etc in the boards following the beat sheet.

Every novel is different. Depending on the needs of the story, you might switch up my beat sheets. If you’re a panster like we at FyreSyde are, you might not go into too much detail prior to writing.

We hope this helps! Let me know if you use Trello in your upcoming endeavors. We’d love to see what you think in the comments!

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Surviving Camp NaNo Part 1: Camp vs. NaNo

Camp NaNo is around the corner. Though it’s not as strenuous as NaNoWriMo, it can still seem overwhelming to those who are thinking of undertaking the challenge.

In this short series, we hope to debunk some of the confusion revolving around Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo (which takes place in November). We hope to help you stay motivated, whatever your goals are, and to win Camp NaNo during the month of July.

What’s The Difference?

To begin, answering the question “what’s the difference?” can go a long way. The difference between Camp NaNo and regular NaNoWriMo is that Camp NaNo is much more laid back. You can set your own goals based on Word Count, hours, minutes, pages, lines, etc. It does not demand a definite 50K word count to win. You still must accomplish the goal you set for yourself to win but it is your goal.

Camp NaNo can also be used for revision on a project you are already working on.

What Are Cabins?

Cabins are spaces where authors can actively engage, must like online chat rooms. Authors can meet future critique partners and arrange manuscript swaps when they complete their goals.

While NaNoWriMo doesn’t have cabins, it does offer help through forums. However, Camp NaNo’s cabin system can help authors on a more “live” basis for the reasons listed above. Many authors do this in the form of word sprints, write-ins and more during regular NaNo but it can become hard when trying to sprint to meet that winning goal.

There’s No Month Ahead Planning (at least not yet)

Because the goals are primarily set by the author, Camp NaNo doesn’t have a month ahead of time for the authors to prepare their stories (Preptober). Preptober is when authors use the entire month of October to outline, prepare their writing projects and organize a calendar with word count goals.

Don’t Get Us Wrong, Camp NaNo Requires Discipline and CareFul Planning

Just because Camp NaNo isn’t as demanding as NaNo, it doesn’t mean an author shouldn’t devote to starting it and not working towards a finish line. It is laid back but it still requires a level of devotion and discipline.

One must still plan carefully in order to reach the intended goal. Procrastination still can seep in and cause lethargy no matter what an author wants or plans to do.

Next week, we will cover what you can do to help stick to your goals during July’s edition of Camp NaNoWriMo. Until then, Happy Writing!!!

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Info-Dumping: How You Can Avoid It

Nothing slows down a story worse than paragraphs of description. It becomes even more problematic when an author chooses to open a novel with too much backstory. This ruins the hook and can often result in the loss of the reader.

Here’s the thing, as authors, we seem to have fallen into the trap of thinking we have to explain every little thing that goes on in our novel. The truth (and the beauty of this) is, we don’t.

Jerry Jenkins, author of the international best-selling Left Behind series, is quoted to say:

“Less detail is often better”

Jerry Jenkins, https://jerryjenkins.com/blog/

This has never been more true in today’s publishing industry.

The fact is, “info-dumping” does not help your story. You don’t have to explain every little thing.

So what is “info-dumping?” Why do authors think they need it? Most importantly, what are some good ways to get rid of it?

Let’s begin.

What is Info-Dumping?

Ellen Brock gives a great description of what an info-dump is:

For those who don’t know what an info dump is, it’s an extended form of telling (rather than showing). An info dump is a big chunk of information that is “dumped” in the reader’s lap all at once. These info dumps are usually done through narration but can be found in dialogue as well.

Ellen Brock, NOVEL BOOT CAMP – LECTURE #3: HOW TO AVOID INFO DUMPING

The fact is, relying on info-dumping is shifting attention from the plot which is the more vital part of the story you’re trying to tell. It slows things down (as previously mentioned) and can often come off as “alright already” moments.

Some of the most common cases of info-dumping can include:

  • Backstory
  • How things work (government, magic, etc)
  • Different creatures or races
  • Landscape or houses (living quarters)
  • How someone looks (really bad in romance)
  • Weather
  • Technology (prevalent in science fiction)
  • And many more…

Why Do Authors Think They Need It?

As previously mentioned, authors think they need to paint the picture for their readers rather than letting the reader do it themselves. The beauty of reading is it allows the reader to develop their own pictures in their mind.

Info-Dumping is “telling” not “showing.” It is always better to do as much showing as possible. Let your reader paint the picture of Mr.Wonderful from your romance novel or the wicked beast in your horror novel.

It keeps them engaged, develop theories and at times, leads them to contact you (the author) to ask questions and spread word of your novels.

Rule of thumb: If you choose to use an info-dump, keep it brief! A few sentences max.

How Can You Avoid or Get Rid of It?

The easiest way to avoid and eliminate info-dumping is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the reader really need to know this? If so, can I split it up via dialogue and narrative?
  • Is it prudent to the story? Meaning does it contribute to the plot? If not, get rid of it.
  • Can I replace the dump with conflict (a scene) capable of delivering the same information? For example, if the dump is backstory, maybe the villain and the hero have history. Can you give a hint of backstory through brief banter?
  • Can the info be delivered in an already existing scene?

Further tips:

  • Do not be afraid of re-writing. Info-dumps are a very common problem in first drafts. Often an author can slip into writing them and not recognize what they’re doing.
  • Scenes can become info-dumps. For example, an office scene where two characters are talking can easily become cumbersome to the reader. Keep it short, keep it brief.
  • Show! Don’t tell as much as possible. Readers like to create an image in their minds.
  • Make it creative!
  • Have beta readers look over your novel prior to send it publishers. Many require manuscripts to at least have two rounds of rough editing. Nothing burdens an editor worse than having to re-write large amounts of info-dumping.

For further reading: