A Monday Moment: The Kidnapping

When I started doing these Monday Moment posts, I vowed to post something I’d written in the last week, and that if I hadn’t written anything new by Sunday or Monday, well, I’d just have to get to writing.

However, I’ve written a fair bit over the last week…it’s just all too spoiler-filled, or too confusing if you don’t know a lot of backstory. Since I’ve been sick, I had no desire to push myself to write something else. It’s all I can do to keep moving forward on NaNoPrep.

I wrote this about 2 years ago. I did already post it on my blog back then, in a regular daily check-in post, because I liked it. (This was before I started my Monday series.) So I’m sharing it again now as an official Monday Moment. Prompt used is at the bottom.


Why should they get to have such an extravagant life while I have to wait until I’m 21 to see any of their money? I can’t believe they cut me off, just because I lost a little of their money. I mean, what’s $10,000 to people who have millions?

This will show them. I can’t believe how easy this is going to be. I know they’re not happy with me right now, but they still love me. They’ll pay anything we ask to make sure I’m safe.

I didn’t think those guys were really going to hit me. I thought we’d use some kind of make-up or something. Or fake blood like they use in movies. Man, that really hurt. But it’s okay. Once we get the million from my parents, I can get myself fixed up. The pain is so going to be worth it.

Why am I tied up? Why did I agree to this? Who said this was supposed to be uncomfortable? I just wanted to take some pictures and go stay in a motel. That girl they brought in really knows how to convince me to do things. Stupid things. First they beat me up, and then they left me here, tied up. Man, I’m hungry.

I’m starting to think that the guys I hired to fake this with me aren’t faking. Who would have thought that finding some guys in an alley would have led to this? I figured they’d be so happy to make so much money without having to do much, they’d go along with whatever I said. I’m so hungry, I would eat a rat right now. Hey…what’s that moving over in the corner?

I’m pretty sure…I’m going to die here. I haven’t seen anyone since they took the picture they were supposed to use as proof of life. The girl said she’d be back with food and left. I’ve been tied to this chair for two days now. I…I think I’ll just sleep now. Maybe it’ll make the end easier…

…hunh? What’s that bright light? Where am I going? Is this the end? Oh, there’s my mom. She looks mad. Why is she mad at me? I’m the one who was tied to a chair and left to starve to death. Wait, there’s that girl…what’s she doing here? Is she handcuffed? Oh, my wrists are finally free. Now I can get out of this chair and–

Well, moving didn’t really work. I seem to be at the mercy of these people who are lifting me onto a bed. I suppose I’ll have to go to the hospital and be checked out before I can go home. I wonder where my dad is, why he’s not here with Mom. Maybe he was too busy to come. Or he’s even angrier than Mom is. They must know what I did.

Oh, there’s Dad. Wait, why is he in handcuffs? What’s going on?


Prompt used: Staging a fake kidnapping to get money out of your rich parents

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Tips for NaNoWriMo, Part 5

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In 2015, I wrote a series of posts about NaNoWriMo, covering things like tips for prep time, help in the actual prep work, tips for November, and even some of my favorite writing tools.

Earlier this month, I picked out some of my favorite NaNoPrep tips and boiled them down into a single post, and then I promised a post with tips about the actual writing. However, this time, I don’t want to re-hash my old tips, since I do actually have a few more to add to the list.

I will at least list the headers from 2 posts with tips about how to survive–and thrive–during NaNoWriMo, and suggest that if you want to read the details about any of them, you click the links that will take you to the two posts in which I first gave these tips:

Post 1
Break up the words.
Write in sprints.
Reward yourself.
Stay hydrated.
Back up your work.
Limit your time on the forums (and other online activities).
Don’t expect too much.

Post 2
DO NOT EDIT. (I can never stress this one enough)
Don’t go back and read.
Use placeholder words.
Take notes of things to fix later.
Stop in the middle of a scene.
Don’t be afraid to go off-script.
Dirty tricks to pad your word count (are not always a good idea).

Now to add a few more to those:

1. Don’t stop at 1667.
Sometimes my tips are a little hypocritical, but hear me out. If you reach the daily goal (1667 if you’re going the traditional route), but you still have some time left during whatever writing time you’ve carved out for yourself, don’t stop. Keep going until you have to make supper, go to bed, go to work, or whatever your end cap is. Those extra words will most likely be needed later in the month, and even if they’re not, hitting 50k early can be a lot of fun! Or who knows, maybe you’ll writing more than 50k this month!

In a similar vein, if you do write extra one day, don’t let that cause you to stop short the next day. I try to take each day as its own word count. No matter what my total is, I try to write 1667 each day (unless I’m behind, then I try to write more). Again, if you can build up a buffer, it will very likely come in handy later.

2. Plan your writing days & daily word counts.
Your daily goal does not have to be 1667 words. You don’t have to write every single day. Yes, that’s part of the benefit–using NaNo to build a daily writing habit. But for some people, despite all of the “rules” out there stating to write every day (yes, I have a series with that title, but I definitely don’t call it a rule, and…I definitely can’t always do that myself), it’s just not an option. So before November starts, figure out what days you don’t think you’ll be able to write. Are Saturdays always full of family time? Does a full work week always leave you drained, so you know you won’t write on Fridays? Do you want to try to write more on weekends, and less during the week?

Whatever your days off need to be, or even your overall pattern of writing, do the math and alter your daily word count. Print out a calendar and have those daily goals where you can see them. Make the month work for you.

3. Don’t panic if you get behind.
If you get off-track, don’t panic and think that means you have to write double for a few days to catch up. Figure out how many total words you have left, and divide that out by how many days there are left. That will up your daily amount by a little every day, rather than a lot for a few days. (If you keep your word count updated on the NaNo site, it will do this math for you.)

4. Check your official word count.
You can update your word count on the NaNo site by typing the number into the field at the top of the page. I would suggest that every so often, you actually go ahead and check your official word count. I do this at the end of every day, because if I’m 100 words lower than I’d thought, I want to know as soon as possible. The reason for this is that different word processors count words differently, and the NaNo site counts them differently than some of those word processors. By the end of the month, you could be even up to a thousand or more words off, and if you’re just barely getting to 50k, you don’t want to suddenly find out at 11:50 pm on Nov. 30 that you’re 1000 words shy. So just copy & paste your whole novel into the field that comes up when you click on “Check my official word count” under the “update” button.

5. Find helpful ways to procrastinate.
Is there such a thing? My favorite example is the NaNoMusical. Created by WETangent in 2012, it is a brilliant 6-part video series with themes and situations familiar to any Wrimo. The music is catchy and fun, and…well, you should watch it. Watch the first episode, and if you enjoy it, use the rest of the episodes as rewards for a certain amount of words written.

By the end, you'll either want to punch Rick or love him to pieces!

“It’s November 1st, thousands of people madly writing….I hope you’re up for crazy, ’cause NaNoWriMo has begun!”

There are many other helpful ways to procrastinate though. Go for a walk, read something pointless, take a nap (because odds are you could use the sleep)…you probably have your own ideas. The point is something that is light-hearted and gets your mind off of that novel that might be stressing you out.

6. Don’t give up.
That is probably the most important thing I can tell you. Whether you’re writing for fun, a creative outlet, to relieve stress, or to have a finished project to do more with, NaNoWriMo is a wonderful event and can be a lot of fun. It doesn’t have to be stressful, but I know it can be to some. The stakes aren’t exactly high, and losing is not the end of the world. You shouldn’t dread your writing time, or worry about how badly your writing is going.

If you find your story is going a completely different route than you’d expect, just follow it and see what happens. Maybe a side character is becoming more interesting to you. Give them all the time they need. Your main story will still be there later. If your words are lagging so badly, you don’t see how you could get back on track, make a new track! Set a personal goal of less words, or plan to keep going after November (though frankly, that is easier said than done). Come back in April or July for Camp NaNoWriMo.  Just don’t quit.

I had more new tips than I thought! And there are more out there floating around on the internet! In fact, here’s one just on NaNo Etiquette! The most important tip, though, is that when November 1st comes…just write.

We’re in the last week of NaNoPrep now, and this pretty much sums up how I’m feeling:

Jen

If you don’t know about NaNoToons, you’re missing out!

What about you? Are you ready for November 1st? Are you new to NaNoWriMo, or do you have tips of your own you can share?

A Monday Moment: Vin & Missy

Normally I put any prompts involved with a Monday Moment writing at the bottom, but I thought it was important to state it at the beginning this time.

From my Writer’s Emergency Pack, #9, question 1: Picture your hero on a date with each of the major characters in the story.
Vin and Missy are both major characters in my NaNoNovel, “Vin.”
The following gets a little meta.


They stared across the table at each other awkwardly.

“So…which one of us is the hero in this scenario?” Vin asked with a smirk.

Missy rolled her eyes.

“Hey, it’s a legitimate question. We don’t even know how much you’ll be in the book.”

“Oh, please,” Missy said, straightening up in her chair. “Every time a new book is written, I manage to push my way in to a near-main-character role.”

“Not the ones about Alexander.”

“Alexander is on his own quest so much, he is fine as the lead. You, on the other hand…”

“What about me?”

“We’re all still getting used to the idea of you not being a sociopath. It was all a lot easier when you…”

“When I was just plain evil?”

“Well, yeah…”

“So why am I not anymore?”

“That’s a better question for someone else, but I’d say it’s because you weren’t interesting enough to drive a story that way.”

“And now I am?”

“You’re complex. You have real motivation, as skewed as it may be.”

He opened his mouth to protest, but she silenced him with a raised hand.

“You garner sympathy–that’s the important thing. You saw a need and tried to help. Your somewhat broken past may have led you to a dark place during your quest, but your underlying intentions were good.”

He didn’t even try to say anything. What she was saying reminded him of Pastor Lede. Considering how he had always treated Missy, she was giving him more kindness than he deserved.

“This is supposed to be a date, you know,” he said.

“I know.”

“But how do you leave him out of it?”

Missy shook her head. “I think we’ve already ruined the premise. I’ll try to do better with Alexander.”

“There you go again, presuming you’re the hero,” he said, stopping short of sighing.

She stared across the table at him intently. “Vin, you may be the main protagonist, but do you really expect anyone to buy you as the hero?”

“Maybe it depends on who you ask.”

 

Daily Writing Check-in: October 22, 2017

Words/Time: 319 words & 45 minutes NaNoPrep

I did some writing practice with a prompt, which is where the words came from. It was completely unrelated to my NaNoNovel (well, that’s not true, because it was still in that world, just nothing that really relates to the NaNoNovel).

Then I worked for 45 minutes, starting from scratch on an outline. After realizing I was going completely the wrong direction with my outline, I started over. That led me to my timeline of events, and trying to figure out what on earth Vin is thinking, and why he does some of what he does. I was starting at yet another gaping plot hole, so I stopped outlining and started asking questions to try to fix this hole. That’s where I left off.

There’s a big part of me that wonders if the only way this novel will work is to alter a lot of “givens” that have happened in other stories I’ve drafted. It’s not a pleasant thought.

 


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 19, 2017

Words/Time: 137 words written, and 34 minutes of work done

The words were a short bit of free writing using another word from the list I’ve been using. The work was ACTUAL OUTLINING for my NaNoNovel! After several attempts and only an empty Scrivener file to show for it, I finally realized that I just needed to outline by hand first. I was trying to outline in Scrivener so I could just put the scenes right into there as I wrote them in November, but I realized that I don’t know where scenes will be separated yet. The way I normally outline is just plot point after plot point, and sometimes one line is an entire scene, but sometimes one scene comes out in 8 lines. I need to get the outline going before I can put scenes into Scrivener (if I even do that in advance). So I have almost a full page’s worth of outline, and barely got far in the story. But it did show me one thing.

I have this tendency to want to obfuscate as much as I can in a story. If I can fool the reader into thinking something else is happening than what is, even if just for a sentence or two, I do. If I can take two somewhat separate storylines and merge them together, but not give the reader any clue as to how they connect until 2/3 of the way through the story…oh, I love it!

I had it in mind to do something like that for this book, but since this book (I think) should be released after a few others, the things that I’m trying to keep secret are going to be pretty obvious to anyone who’s read the other books. So now I have to decide if I can salvage that obfuscation, or if I should just write it more normally.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 18, 2017

Words/Time: 755 words

I continued where I left off yesterday, free writing using a card in my Writer Emergency Pack. I finally finished the first question, and this last date my “hero” went on turned out really revealing. I almost don’t want to answer the other 2 questions on the card, partly because the first one took so long already, and partly because it’s now the 18th, and I need to get going on an outline. The other two questions don’t intrigue me at all either, but I have learned that it’s good to not ignore writing prompts just because I don’t see anything amazing coming out of them. Some of the ones that started with me thinking, “Meh, this will be boring,” have produced results that I’ve quite liked.

At this point, I’m just glad I’ve been able to do some free writing this week, because I’ve been a little crazy with work-related activities this week. I’ve also been free writing in a notebook, which I missed.

Oh, and I almost forgot that some of those words were a short amount of free writing using the 3rd prompt on this list. There’s a character that I killed off in my first novel, but have recently questioned if he really needed to die, and am strongly considering letting him live. And if he lives, he will be in many other novels (albeit in a side role). And he will be a leader. And he will be awesome. So I wrote about him.

I can’t believe I let myself go a year and a half without writing. Somehow I forgot how much fun it can be! I really can’t wait for NaNoWriMo right now; I almost don’t care how little planning I end up with at the end of the month.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 17, 2017

Words/Time: 647 words

I continued where I left off yesterday, freewriting using a card in my Writer Emergency Pack. I’m still on the first question (out of 3), but at least I’m onto the final character that I felt was main enough to send my “hero” on a date with. This one is interesting, because it’s her own husband. But I get to explore the beginning of their relationship, which so far has not been put into story form. I keep thinking it’s not helping me plan my NaNoNovel, but these characters will be in “Vin,” so it’s all prep work!


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 16, 2017

Words/Time: 1002 words

I started freewriting using a card in my Writer Emergency Pack, and it went on a while. In fact, out of the 3 questions the card asked, I didn’t even get through #1 in 45 minutes and 1002 words. The card discussed relationships between characters, even characters who are strangers, and set forth the challenge of picturing your hero on a date with each of the major characters in the story. While I’m not sure my story has an easily defined “hero,” I made do. That required 4 date scenarios. I got partway through #3. It was fun, though, so I’ll finish it tomorrow. I suppose it may not be helping me outline my NaNoNovel, but it’s nice to just write again.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

A Monday Moment: Vin Begins

I had just started this series of “Monday Moment” posts a few months before I disappeared for a while, and I want to start doing them again. Because revision work (or in my case right now, planning work) isn’t usually as fun for me as the actual writing, I want to try to do writing practice more often too. So then every Monday, I will post a piece of writing practice from the previous week (or a little further back if necessary).

I won’t revise any of this, except for a spell-check. They’ll probably rarely be longer than 500 words. The prompt, if I used one and if I choose to include it, will be at the bottom. And I can’t even call them all stories, because there’s not always a beginning and end. Usually it’s just a moment in time.

This first one is very related to my NaNoPrep. This is a bit of writing I did with no prompt, as I first tried to delve into the mind of the protagonist of my possible NaNoNovel. It’s very short, but so much about Vin and the plot of his book came out from this writing:


My dad was a hard man. He expected perfection from both me and my mom. The older I got, the more I realized that he was anything but perfect, but my mom always said he was embarrassed by his mistakes, and that’s why he wanted more from me. He was doing me a favor.

I thought Cleric would be the only path that would allow me to be what I thought he wanted—good, righteous, perfect. I had already enrolled at the Academy when my dad died during a Madness run. I felt so much relief at his death that it flooded me with guilt. What kind of monster was I?

I turned to my mom for…not comfort, exactly. Absolution? Reciprocity? She was almost a shell of her former self. She acted like nothing was different—never grieved, barely even talked about his death. At one time I wondered if she was fully aware he had died. She went on with normal life, except something was just different about her. Any spark my dad had left her with was gone.

Tips for NaNoPrep

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In 2015, I wrote a series of posts about NaNoWriMo, covering things like tips for prep time, tips for November, help in the actual prep work, and even some of my favorite writing tools.

The problem now is that, though those things are all still helpful and relevant, there’s not a lot to add to them. I have picked up a few extra tips since then, sure, but those things I wrote about 2 years ago are still some of the most helpful advice I could give.

I could just reblog those posts throughout the month, but I don’t like that idea. Instead, I’m going to pick some of my favorite tips and share them in a few, boiled-down posts, while also suggesting that anyone who is interested in learning more visit the page where I’ve listed all of those posts from 2015.

1. Start writing now.
Take the next 2 1/2 weeks to learn what works best for you, so that by November, you know how to make the most of your writing time. Do you require absolute silence? If yes, when can you find that? Is your ideal time late at night when others are asleep? During your lunch break? First thing in the morning?

It doesn’t have to be the amount of time you will need to write 1667 words each day in November, but find maybe 15-20 minutes when you can sit down and write. For planners, work on the plot, characters, outline, or whatever you’re doing. For pantsers who are doing absolutely no planning before November 1, you can still make time every day to free write in anticipation of daily writing in November. In fact, free writing can be a great use of your time whether you’re a planner, a pantser, or somewhere in between.

Try to write every day, which is a good habit to have even outside of NaNo, but also keep in mind that if you can’t get to it one day, it’s not the end of the world. Just remember that if you’re like most of us, the longer you let yourself stay away, the less likely it is that you’ll keep the habit you’ve developed.

2. Find your space.
In a similar vein as figuring what when you work best, it can also be good to know in advance where and how you work best. Do you need a comfy spot? Maybe you work better at a desk or table with a straight-backed chair.  Where can you go to have the solitude you need? Or do you prefer some noise? Give coffitivity.com a try for a steady coffee shop background noise available anywhere you happen to be. Sometimes a little noise is good, but too much (people in the room, or even music with lyrics) can be bad.

Use your planning time to try out different locations and environments and see what works best. Do some work with pen/pencil and paper and some with a computer. Do you enjoy the tactile feel of writing by hand? Do you prefer the speed that typing can provide? This is the time to find out!

3. Gather your NaNo necessities.
Whether this includes consumables, physical tools, or making sure your laptop is set up and ready to use, make sure you know what you want to have handy for NaNoWriMo now, and procure as much of it as you can. When November starts, you don’t want to find yourself lacking.

4. Involve other senses.
I touched on sound above, so we’ll start there. Some people create a playlist for every story. I’ve read about people who will find music that matches the theme of their story, make a playlist from it (even if just on YouTube), and listen to it all month. Then, when November is over and they want to go back later and either finish the novel or revise it, they can listen to that music again, and it will put them right back in the mood.

Whatever your taste in music is, an alternative to creating an audio scene for your story is creating an olfactory scene. Scent memory is said to be very powerful. Go to the store and smell all the candles or all the scented wax (if you have or are willing to buy the wax melter to go with it). Think of your story, what it’s about, where it’s set, who the main character(s) is/are. Is it a romance? Maybe something flowery or sensual. Is it set in a tropical location? Something with coconut or tropical fruit, perhaps. There are outdoor scents if your story involves a lot of forest or other outdoor scenes. Not every story lends itself easily to a scent, but pick something that smells right and have it burning/melting near you while you write all month. Then later, you may just be able to immerse yourself back into the book by activating that scent again.

Check out this post for some NaNo-related music, comic strips, and even a musical!

5. The midnight sprint.
NaNoWriMo begins at midnight on November 1. That falls in the middle of the week this year, but if you’re the kind who stays up late, or can make an exception for one night, you can start writing right at midnight and get some words under your belt before going to bed. It’s purely a mental trick, getting a jump start on the day’s word count, but many people love to do the midnight sprint.

When November looms closer, I will post tips about the writing itself, and how to survive–and even thrive–during NaNoWriMo. If you’re don’t want to wait, by all means, here’s the link again to the series of posts I made 2 years ago, from which I’ll probably be stealing some those tips.

What about you? How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo? If you’ve done this all before, do you have any tips on how to get ready?