This article has some very good points about storytelling and examples from the immensely popular Stranger Things.
If you’re planning on watching Stranger Things, you might want to wait until you’ve finished before reading this article. It’s not spoiler heavy, but it’s better to know as little as possible before watching. Makes things more interesting…
7 storytelling lessons your can learn from Stranger Things. Reverse-engineer your stories to apply the best storytelling elements to your writing.
NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words during the month of November. This can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task and when you have work and house to run as well it can seem almost impossible. With some preparation, you can make November run more smoothly.
I’ve looked at a few prep lists for NaNo and noticed that mine was a little different. I decided to share it in hopes it helps someone else. I’m actually posting this in plenty of time this year!
Plan all meals for the month of November. Make sure to keep the next two in mind while making your November menu and consider doing a search for quick meal ideas. You can find what I did last year here: Freezer Meals.
If you search Google for printable menus and freezer inventory, you’ll find a plethora of templates that you can print or edit and print to help keep yourself organized. I’m hoping to have some custom printables for next year, but making something like that isn’t really my forte. I might have to enlist some help. wink, wink, nudge, nudge
Freeze leftovers for easy meals in November. My FoodSaver is one of my best friends all year round, but it’s particularly helpful for stocking up on meals for November. The bags are more compact than plastic containers, so you can fit more in your freezer. Freezing meals in plastic containers makes things handier, but make sure to cover the food with plastic wrap to help deter frost.
Detail clean the house. I have spring-cleaning and then NaNo cleaning. If the house is freshly detailed, those quick room cleanups go even faster. Besides, a super clean house can make you feel more comfortable with putting things off for a day or two so you have more time to write. 15-minute cleanups can help you feel more comfortable with leaving the deep cleaning until later.
These tips allow for a quick cleaning or maintenace cleaning inbetween more thorough cleanings. Find out how to clean any room in 15 minutes or less.
Schedule blog posts. If you have a blog, write a few blog posts in October and schedule them to post in November to squeeze out a little more writing time. Unless you’re doing NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) as well. I don’t know if scheduled posts are cheating, but it doesn’t seem sporting to me.
Learn your software. I made the mistake of installing new software to use while in the middle of NaNo. I spent more time trying to learn the new software than I did writing for several days. I use Scrivener when I write and while it’s pretty intuitive, I’d still hate to walk into it cold at any point during NaNo. I can’t recommend Scrivener highly enough, but I’ll save that for another post. Check it out, though. Just give yourself enough time to learn it if you decide to get it. You can always import your work into Scrivener later and in the last few years, there has been a discount coupon for Scrivener if you complete your 50,000. Doesn’t mean there will be this year, but there could be.
Jot down notes or make an outline. While there are many people who can sit down to a blank screen and just start typing, I’m not always one of them. Faced with a deadline, I feel more comfortable with some kind of direction in mind. Doesn’t mean that my characters don’t wander off script and I wind up with a different story than I planned, but it helps keep me from running into that brick wall called writer’s block.
Do any research needed ahead of time. Frantically researching while trying to finish NaNo can be a word count killer. I didn’t finish more than once because I didn’t get all my research done.
Fill out your calendar with appointments and obligations. Make note of these. What days are you not going to be able to write? If there are five days in November that you cannot see a way to fit writing in for whatever reason, adjust your daily word count accordingly and aim for that.
Let your friends and family know what you’re doing. They might scoff, but knowing ahead of time can ward off an explanation later. Listening to the scoffing while you’re doing NaNo not only takes time away from writing but could also damage your flow with negativity and drama you don’t need.
Make a playlist. A playlist of music that fits your genre or in some way fosters your creativity can help drown distraction and put you in the mood to write. Use headphones for best results.
I use music I own, Pandora and playlists on YouTube depending on my mood. YouTube less so. I’d be tempted to watch, but there are plenty of audio only playlists, too.
Here’s one of my favorite YouTube playlists when I need some creepy background music. Not audio only, but I hide it behind other windows until I forget there’s video.
For those of you participating this year, write like the wind! I’d love to hear/read how you’re doing so feel free to comment on a post, contact me or drop me an email. Feel free to add me as a friend on the NaNoWriMo website, too!
Sometimes there’s a better word or a more precise word for looks like or seems like. I know there are times I forget the subtleties of certain words or the word itself is hidden under mental whiteout for some reason. That’s when these types of lists come in handy for me.
Also, in an effort to increase my vocabulary, even if I know that a word means looks like or seems like I look it up to remind myself of the exact meaning of the word. A word with a closer meaning might be better than the word I used.
For instance, if I said something mirrors another I would be implying that they accurately resemble each other. Whereas if I said something mimics another I would be implying that they closely resemble each other. If I meant to say that they were close but not necessarily exact, mimic would be the better word choice.
This explains me. I forget so many things that I need to do, that I need to remember, ie appointments and chores and watering the garden, but I remember almost every story I’ve ever been told. I remember exact words of conversations from 20+ years ago, but forget what I just talked about with someone on the phone. I remember what my husband looked like and what he was wearing the first time we met, but I can’t remember what I wore yesterday. I forget to eat and forget to cook…
I’m lucky my husband understands and unlucky that he remembers less than I do. I keep telling him he’s a writer at heart.
On Writing by Stephen King is not just a book about writing, but also a memoir about the craft and the life of King. I agreed with him wholeheartedly at points, grudgingly at others, but King’s advice is still a source of inspiration for me. I’ve read it numerous times and I’m sure I’ll read it again.
If you don’t own the book, the article below has a few helpful bits of advice from the book. I’m still struggling with a few of the bits listed. #3 and #4 (Don’t waste time trying to please people and Write primarily for yourself) go together for me. It’s not that I have a hard time writing for myself, it’s the blasted editing that gets me. I’m hoping some day that others will read my work. I want them to be pleased, but the truth of the matter is, I write because I love it. I write what I want to write, not what I think others will want to read. It’s during the editing phase that I start worrying about pleasing people.
And remember, as King says “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” I’m still working on that one, too.
Check out the article, but if you get the chance, even if you’re not a writer, read the whole book. King has so much more to say about writing. And his memoir is an interesting and entertaining read.
Timeless advice from bestselling author Stephen King on how to be an excellent writer.
I’m terrible with names. I usually come up with main character names, but secondary characters are more difficult. I try to avoid using the names of people I know, but all other names just disappear from my brain.
Generators, especially those with name origins and meanings are one of the most valuable tools for me. I don’t usually care if my characters name means something specific, but searching for a specific character trait gives me a place to start.
So, if you have trouble coming up with character names, give these generators a try. Sometimes just looking at the names, especially the fantasy names, can even spark story ideas.
The Character Name Generator
Realistic character names. Writers: find an ethnically diverse character name and generate a character’s personality with the random character name generator.
Sometimes you just need a little push to get started or continue a work in progress. Generators can come in handy to give you some needed inspiration or just to challenge yourself with something random.
I’m often at a loss for topics to post on my blog. I pour myself into writing fiction and there’s little left over for the blog, so I use generators to come up with ideas. Sometimes. Sometimes I forget to post at all. Generators inspire story and character ideas as well even if I don’t use the exact prompt.
Here are a few generators I frequent…
Daily Writing/Blogging and Photo Prompts from The Daily Post – https://dailypost.wordpress.com/ Example – (Writing Prompt for May 28, 2016) Epitome – Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
Genre, Plot, Story, Character, Wardrobe, Name, Setting and more random generators from Springhole – http://www.springhole.net/writing_roleplaying_randomators/index.html Example from the Creepypasta & Supernatural Horror Story Prompt Generator – At midnight, a lost woman and an insane witch want to transform an eldritch abomination into a disturbing television set.
Someone write this please. I really want to read it!
Writing/Blogging Prompts from Daydreaming on Paper – http://www.daydreamingonpaper.com/random.html Example – What gives you the warm fuzzies? Could also be, “What gives your character the warm fuzzies?”
For me? Kittens. Definitely kittens.
Have a generator you use that isn’t on the list? Let me know!