Advice: NaNoWriMo Events

Anonymous asked: I just found out about NaNoWriMo, and I was wondering if there’s anything else that they do other than the Camp in April and July and of course the stuff in November. P.S - your blog is the bomb!

The only other official NaNoWriMo event I’m aware of is their Young Writers Program for writers age 17 and under. They used to do Script Frenzy but had to let the program go due to declining participation and donations. :(

If you happen to live in California, they also do an in-person event in the middle of NaNoWriMo called The Night of Writing Dangerously. The details of that event are here.

There used to be a lot of NaNoWriMo spin-off events, but I don’t think any of them are still running.

P.S. Thanks! <3

Some advice for when you’re writing and find yourself stuck in the middle of a scene:

  • kill someone
  • ask this question: “What could go wrong?” and write exactly how it goes wrong
  • switch the POV from your current character to another - a minor character, the antagonist, anyone
  • stop writing whatever scene you’re struggling with and skip to the next one you want to write
  • write the ending
  • write a sex scene
  • use a scene prompt
  • use sentence starters
  • read someone else’s writing

Never delete. Never read what you’ve already written. Pass Go, collect your $200, and keep going.

The header used to be a lot more serious and cool before I realized that half of this post is actually about magic and the other half is plot bunny.

Hence the bunnies in top hats.


The first - and least addressed - question about magic is, “Where does it come from?” Fantasy books rarely address this question in depth. If it is, the answer usually sounds like Obi-Wan’s explanation of the Force in A New Hope: “{Magic} is what gives a {insert magic entity here} his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.

Let’s look at a few other options for the origin of magic, because it’s like a dragon hoard of technicolor plot bunnies with wings that also shoot lasers from their eyes. Just that awesome.

  • Magic could be a resource created by an event, entity/entities, natural occurrence (e.g. a meteor strike, tectonic plate movements), or landform. If you’re looking for a plot point, make the magic finite, like oil - one day, people will run out of magic and that fear drives the story.
  • Magic could be a gift granted exclusively by a higher power. The higher power doesn’t need to be benevolent or evil - it could have blue and orange morality - and could simply bestow magic randomly upon people for unknowable reasons.
  • Magic could be a species or living organism (possibly sentient) that makes its own decisions, allows only certain people (or no one) to use it, and generally makes magicians obey it rather than the other way around. I would love to see a magic system that granted magic only to crows or rocks or elves aged 23-59 - something weird like that.

Naturally, since this is magic and not real, the possibilities are endless. Those are just a few ideas to get your mind working.

On a larger scale, magic is easily divisible into two categories:

  1. External - really rare; the magic exists all over the place and anyone can access it, regardless (still waiting for some animals master basic magic to hunt better, ripen berries faster, etc.)
  2. Internal - really common; the magic is there, but can only be accessed by people who have a gift for it

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Reminders to Everyone Writing for Camp NaNo:
  1. Your book is going to suck. But…
  2. It’s perfectly okay that it’s gonna suck—that’s the point. Because… 
  3. It’s making progress on a story that matters, not the words. And… 
  4. You can edit and revise and polish to your heart’s content after July ends. Just… 
  5. Don’t edit during NaNo. Free those words. Let them come out however they want. They will be ugly. They will be uncertain. Many will be nonsensical. But… 
  6. Your story is not going to be perfect the first time around, no matter how you write it. And that’s okay. Hell, it’s more than okay. At the end of Camp NaNo, you’re going to have a complete draft of a story, and that’s fan-flipping-tastic, no matter how you look at it. Yes, it will need a shit-ton of editing. But that little idea in your head will be a real-true manuscript, and that’s amazing. 
  7. So when you start writing on July 1st, and your inner editor is sobbing and screeching like a banshee, just remember to tell all those editing urges to: 


Write an entire monologue with your main character if you have to. Spend a chapter just exploring the life story of an antagonist. They don’t have to be scenes in chronological order. They don’t even have to end up in your book. But they will help you to keep going.

Because you must keep going. Just a little more. You are stubborn. You are exhausted. You are determined. You are a Writer.
Watch on
“Because it’s scary” is one of my favorite reasons to do anything. It’s why this year will be Year 9 of NaNoWriMo, it’s why I have a YouTube channel at all, and it’s why cave hiking is one of my favorite new hobbies. Nothing helps you grow as a person quite like attempting something that terrifies you, and coming out the other side a victor. Or, alternately, failing miserably. Both are okay options! Both are good for you!
—  Kristina Horner, from her blog post 7/11/14:
Battling Clichés & Tired, Old Tropes: Hate-at-First-Sight Love Stories


It’s an age-old writers’ question: What do I do about clichés and well-worn tropes? This month, we’ve asked authors about the clichés and tropes they find themselves falling back on, and how they fix, invert, or embrace them. Today, Susan Dennard, author of the Something Strange and Deadly series, asks you to keep three things in mind when writing this type of romance:

CLICHÉ: Hate-at-first-sight-then-fall-in-love romances

Confession: I’m a huge fan of the hate-at-first-sight-then-fall-in-love romances, so it always saddens me to hear people calling them a trope or a cliché. I mean, as the saying goes: “There are no new stories, only new ways of telling them.”

And therein lies the problem—the reason why I think hate-at-first-sight romances can so easily annoy rather than excite: we aren’t finding new ways of telling that tried-and-true story. We’re falling back on an old formula without actually studying what’s underneath.

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that we aren’t telling real hate-at-first-sight love stories at all. Let me explain.

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