1. They don’t matter. NaNo novels aren’t finished products. They’re hideous messes. Yet, it’s a popular activity that many published authors engage in (probably). Why? Because they prove something to you. The social aspect of having a website and hashtag and, well, Interweb just obscure the fact that NaNo is as personal a venture as anything can be. It doesn’t take a village to write fifty thousand words.
2. Remember that “writing” thing? There’s no reason to write nothing until November. If anything, now is a perfect time to figure out your voice and practice with sketches or exercises so you don’t fizzle out and spend the rest of your month whining or looking for prompts on the forums. Plus, speaking from experience, you need a certain amount of detail in mind to reach novel length.
3. Performance anxiety. NaNo is about quantity, not quality. If you get everyone and their mom hyped up about your idea, how easy will you find crapping out the first draft of that story?
4. You need to be excited through November. Okay, maybe you are self absorbed enough (or… fine, have a long enough attention span) to still be excited and fresh on November 29. But for the rest of humanity…. Make yourself anticipate. Rev up the engine, don’t burn half your fuel half a month out.
5. No, seriously. I don’t care. Finished products are where it’s at. If you can’t deliver, don’t make the promise… and it’s not deliverable until it’s done.
As much as I think a list of things writers should do is useless, I think a list of things writers shouldn’t do is great. It’s a lost less constricting, you see.
The biggest one, personally, is the one about taking criticism. The truth is, I have plenty of opinions on how you can make your work better, but I don’t want to share them when I think I’ll get yelled at. a) it’s a waste of my time, and b) it’s not really encouraging.
Anyway, I see so many of these things online, I just want to repost this everywhere. (A friend on one of those sites showed it to me first, so we’re actually mostly covered…oh well.)
Lots of good tips. The one that hits me about every six months, though: Looking back, you understand why your work was rejected, and see that it deserved rejection. You probably even feel embarrassed by earlier work.
A followup to a followup. If I nest these any more I’ll have to start looking for twigs.
Obviously there’s a lot of these (I desperately hope that’s obvious…), so I’m not going to cover everything. Just the ones that crop up most often for me and have nothing to do with science which actually annoys me enough to be its own massive rant…maybe someday.
Dialogue in stories is nothing like realistic dialogue: people have a tendency to stretch out letters and use more colloquialisms, plus all those ‘ums,’ ‘ehs,’ ‘likes,’ and other consequences of not having the ability to edit out the random bits. Writing dialogue has to be approached like anything else with a story: it has to have a purpose. It’s contrived as hell, but make it look natural by having people do stuff in between. Also, not overusing either ‘said’ or one of its myriad alternatives.
I believe I’ve mentioned this before–I see fictional characters as opportunities to distill a particular aspect of humanity and exaggerated it (within limits, of course, but still). Then, of course, I pit them against each other because conflict is way more interesting to read about.
This goes for nonfiction as well: no one wants to read a story that ends ‘And then tomorrow came.’ Life keeps going, it’s not very well timed. People want some kind of climax and catharsis in varying doses, but they don’t want mundanity.
Well, in comparison to what we learn in English class…it’s better to write books like you’re talking (yes, the preview of my own work posted is how I talk), for the simple reason of ‘narrative.’
That’s all I can think of for now. Feel free to make suggestions.