Monday, November 24, 2008

ENDING WELL : Inspiration Station # 4 (and Contest!)

Today I sat at the library and finished the draft of my current novel -- by hand!

Yes, I know my word count on the Nano site doesn’t show that I’ve been making progress, but I’ll update it as soon as I type a few more words into the computer. Hooray!

Finishing this novel was my goal for the month. So I was exhuberant today to put that final sentence down on paper.

For those who haven’t yet had that “finishing” experience, it is really hard to describe!
Suffice to say, I had a great desire to go dancing around the library stacks. But that sort of behavior is just not appropriate in a library, alas! So, I took myself out for a Cinnabon cinnamon roll with a friend. It was glorious!

The whole “wrapping up the novel”process that so many nano-ers have already completed, and many others will be completing over this last week of November, involves a lot of tying things together. Here are some questions that I tried to keep in mind when wrapping up my novel. Perhaps they will be helpful to you as well.

Novel Wrap-Up Questions:

1.) Are all of the major characters who I started with at the beginning (and who are still alive now) accounted for in the end of the book? And has each of their individual stories come to a close?

2.) Have the sub-plots and the main plot all melded together in the final pages, in a way that makes sense and creates a high-interest climax, then resolution?

3.) Have I answered all of the questions that readers will ask at the end of the book? Like: What happened to the bad guys? What does the hero feel in the ending of this book? Was the hero successful? What will come after the final page of this book, for these characters who we love and hate – ie. Is there a future life for the hero, the other main characters, the nemesis…and do they have plans for how they hope that life will go?

I tried to make sure I answered the first two questions for myself, and the final one for the readers, in the last chapter of my book. Did I do it well? The critiquers that I am sending it to will have to answer that one for me, I’m sure. :)

But how are things going with your ending? Is everything pulling together like it should?

And whether you win Nano this year or not,

Submit your 40,000 word count or higher, along with your name, here on the site on December 1st, and you’ll be entered in the contest for Chris Baty’s new book, and another very helpful writerly surprise! You don’t have to win at Nano to win in this competition. Here, 40,000 words worth of sweat and sleeplessness IS enough. See you on the 1st!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Think Outside the Book: Inspiration Station # 3

Is your plot getting boring; your character unispired?

Sometimes a great way to spice up a story is by sticking in something unexpected or unplanned.

Here are some photos to get you thinking. What would happen if you threw one of these types of places into your story right now?

Or how about an item that can have unexpected great meaning to someone in your story? Here are a few to get you thinking:

1.) A ringing phone
2.) A necklace
3.) A dagger
4.) Mushrooms (whether it's the 60s or a fantasy novel in the woods!)

5.) A map
6.) A cake for a special occassion
7.) A bag full of...

Or situations
1.) An unexpected gift
2.) A fall
3.) An unplanned or unwanted meeting
4.) A death
5.) A gathering
6.) A landslide
7.) A hunt or chase
I love the adventure of an airport...

Sometimes it's the random stuff that gets us thinking.
Let your muse take you...
Write on!"

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Hurt the Bunnies"- Inspiration Station 2

So here we are, almost half-way through Nano! And some of us are half-way through our nano novels too! Hooray!

But one thing that happens around this half-way point in any novel is that the author hits that nebulous place called "the middle."

The middle is what happens between the beginning and the end of a book.

And the middle is where we authors often get stuck. Our characters begin to flounder. They may start having lots of unimportant conversations, or wandering around doing lots of activities that may seem important when we write them, but that aren't always moving our characters forward toward where we want them to be in the end. It can be very frustrating!

So, for inspiration this week, here are some suggestions shared by speaker Pam Zollman at the recent SCBWI Carolina's Conference.

Pam said:

1.) When you get stuck in the middle, it may be because you have used up all of the information you know about your character. It's important to know what makes them tick.

2.) Readers don't want to read about cute little bunnies that are doing just fine. We want to read about bunnies that have problems. "So, hurt the bunnies."

3.) Know what your character is afraid of, and throw it at him.

4.) Don't make the ending simple. Make it hard for your characters to get there. Make them struggle hard throughout the middle.

5.) Getting bored? Something not working? Try a change of scenery - time, location or character attributes.

And last but not least...

6. Just keep writing. The only reason you're stuck is because you stopped writing.

Thanks Pam!

Best of luck to all as we press on throughout the second half of Nano 2008!

See you next Monday for another "Inspiration Station" post.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Competition and Cameraderie: Inspiration Station # 1

Last night I sent an e-mail. It’s an email I’ve sent repeatedly to a certain group of people every month, and in November, every week, for the past 4 years. It says something to the effect of “Hey guys, are we all still planning to meet for our regular gathering tomorrow – same bat time, same bat cave?”

And the responses came in this morning. “I’ll be there…. I’ll be there… Yep, count me in…”

It's my nano crit group – now in it’s approximately 37th month -- assembling again.

You see, many of us out here in blogland have taken on the challenge of Nanowrimo this year. We’ve signed on to write 50,000 words in 30 days. We know that Nano will get our inspiration flowing, our novels written, those words in our heads onto paper… and we’re excited. But nano success (and success in writing in general) hinges greatly on perseverance and not quitting half-way through.

Writing a novel is a daunting task.

So where do we find the courage to keep going? We find it in each other.

The writing community provides the encouragement to make progress in our novels.
Other writers offer the two things that prevent us from giving up: Cameraderie AND Competition.

For all novelers, and especially for those writing a novel draft in 30 days, it’s important to have other writers egging you on and providing encouragement. This is why critique groups are so essential to every author. And why I am now encouraging YOU to set up your own little group to provide Cameraderie and Competition this nano season.

This is now my 4th year participating in NANO, and I have a group of friends who I met the first year at Nano, who formed a little group. During November we meet every Monday online (for ½-1 hour), and send e-mails thoughout the week providing:

Cameraderie: “You know, my children have forgotten that they have a mother because I’ve been noveling so much.” “Aw, they still know you love them… but I personally love that clip from chapter 6 that you posted. I really want to hear what happens next!”

Competition: “Woo Hoo! I’m 2000 words ahead of you! You’ll NEVER catch me! I dare you to try…”

My little group also meets monthly throughout the year, discussing our progress on revisions, submissions to editors and agents, conferences we’ve attended (because we live all over the country), and even critiquing each other’s writing via e-mail and mail. And so I suggest a similar strategy to you.
Find people who will provide both Cameraderie and Competition for you this Nano season and all year round. And let that competition and cameraderie work its magic!

How to do it?
1.) Groups can meet online at or -- for those who don’t live near each other. Or, you can reply to each other here on writermorphosis.
2.) Crit groups that already exist and live near each other (like my Goalies’ crit group, where at least 5 of us are nanoing,) can communicate more locally.
3.) You can also attend the local nano write-ins, or find 5 or 6 “friends” on the nano site itself, link to them as your “buddies” on the site, and try to beat each other’s word counts. That’s really the best place to start.

Cameraderie and Competition are essential for all novelers, I think.

So for my crit group buddies out there, and for all others reading this blog. Let’s get a move on; let’s win this nano! I DARE YOU!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Happy November 1st to all!
Good luck to all on our NANO Novels!

New "Inspiration Station" posts will go up every Monday night here during NANOWRIMO
to keep us all motivated and writing large quantities of great fiction.
See you Monday. Until then...happy typing!