Ask An Author: "When planning a trilogy, is it necessary to have everything laid out?"

Each week, a new author will serve as your Camp Counselor, answering your writing questions. Kat Zhang, our final counselor, is author of the Young Adult series, The Hybrid Chronicles, and is a frequent participant of NaNoWriMo.

When planning a trilogy/series, is it necessary to have everything laid out? — Anonymous

Very few things about the writing process can really be called “necessary". Only “helpful” to varying degrees, based on your own process. That being said, having the basic plot of a trilogy/series laid out beforehand can be very helpful, and will probably save you a lot of heartache later when you realize while writing book three that you really need your hero to secretly talk with bees in order to defeat the Big Bad. Unfortunately, you never brought that up in books one and two and you either have to come up with a different ending (if books one and two are already published, and can’t be changed) or you have to go back and rip up a lot of stuff in order to make talking-to-bees a possibility.

Of course, this sort of goes back to to the whole “plotter versus pantser” thing. Some people outline meticulously before ever writing. Other people are much more go-with-the-flow. Both can work. Just know that a trilogy can be an unwieldy thing if there’s too little planning involved at the start!

If the question was meant more in the vein of “Will my agent and publisher expect a summary of books two and three when they sign me for the trilogy,” then the answer is “Yes, they will”, but generally, they won’t expect anything too detailed, and everyone will understand that things do change.

Official word-count validation has begun! Make sure to claim your win (and some awesome winner goodies) by following these steps.

anonymous asked:

Do you have any tips for nano? I tried last year.... and. failed. so spec.taculary.

um, well, this is actually my first nano ever! however, i don’t doubt my ability to write over 50,000 words in a month so let me see if i can give you anything useful:

- obviously, figure out how many words a day you need to write so that you can have a goal in mind. i recommend rounding up so like, if it’s 1,700 words, try to write 2000 a day, that way if you skip a day, you’re covered.

- carve out a time slot, if you can. for me, i write best between 6-11, so i’m going to set up a time, probably 8-11, where i leave friends to write 3,000 words. if you make it a responsibility and make time for it, you won’t have any excuse not to write

- if you can, make a thin outline. i know the spirit of nano is follow your impulses to create narrative gold but…..imo an outline can never hurt. not every detail. but just have an idea of where your character is going and what they’re doing. i don’t have a plot for mine (sweats) so im flying blind, but i have scenes i know i want to hit and an idea of how long it should take to get to those scenes

- allow yourself to take breaks. yeah, we’re all going to be social recluses in november, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out some nights with friends. sometimes your muse needs a break. again, by writing more than necessary per day, you give yourself some wiggle room to skip a few days.

- that being said, force yourself to write. idk how everyone else works but like. don’t worry about ‘wow it’s shit’ or ‘omg this is only 500 words.’ just. write. it’s boring? throw in dialogue. you’ve been writing dialogue for ages? focus on their body language. you want a break? take a shower, restock on snacks and tea, cry to your roommates, then get back into it. DO NOT let yourself fall behind.

- if you can, find writing buddies. i myself am stalking my twitter mutuals and following for nano writers bc 1) I LOVE HEARING ABOUT ORGIFIC and 2) I LOVE COMPLAINING. if you have writing friends or even just supporters you can whine about your story as much as you want and they will listen as long as you do the same for them. plus, there’s that whole ‘we’re all in this together’ feel which is nice

- okay it only recently was brought to my attention that not everyone listens to music when they write?? i literally have to or i can’t focus. if you’re like me, make oc/ship/novel/general writing playlists ahead of time so you can jam out and don’t have to waste hours fishing around for the perfect playlist

- don’t ever let your caffeine of choice run out

good luck nano buddies!!!


i made a meme for nanowrimo

1) your characters theme song 2) a song that always makes you think of them 3) a song that would make them think of home 4) a song that would make them dance 5) a song that would make them sing along 6) a song that would make them cry 7) a song that reminds them of their best friend 8) a song about their crew or supporting cast 9) their most favorite song 10) their most guilty pleasure song 11) a song everyone else hates but they love 12) a song that they would sing to someone they love 13) a song by their favorite artist 14) their favorite disney song 15) a song they would want at their wedding or another celebration 16) a song they sing only when they’re alone 17) a song your whole cast would sing together 18) a song that would play after the last page

Question for y'all...

Who here is NOT doing NaNoWriMo this year? Because, as a domestic goddess (oppressed servant to demandypants five year old and family-oriented hubby) November is probably the worst month for me to ever contemplate writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It ain’t happenin’! And I feel like I’m kind of a failure to the writing community by saying I’ve never participated but it’s nearly impossible for this nerd to take time to do the thing. Am I alone? Anyone else unable to do NaNo because of upcoming holidays and social obligations? I’m curious…

Ask An Author: "How do you juggle writing and editing with day-to-day activities?"

Each week, a new author will serve as your Camp Counselor, answering your writing questions. Heather Mackey, our third counselor, is author of the middle-grade fantasy Dreamwood:

Outside of Camp, how do you write and edit along with the rest of your day-to-day life activities? It’s a balancing act for everyone, but what works for you specifically? — awriterinspired

I’ve been struggling with how to be productive for a long time, and I feel miserable when I don’t get much done. So misery avoidance has led me to figure out what times of days and magic spells are necessary for each activity. It’s all about knowing your circadian rhythms and gaming your biology. I know I work creatively best in the morning before I eat lunch. I know dark chocolate will help me focus after 9 pm.

I have a day job and two kids. You might think this would mean I can’t get any noveling done, but it’s just forced me to be disciplined. I try to be really clear about what I’m trying to do with my time. I think ahead to my next block of time and set my intention: Tonight I’m going to work on this scene or revise this chapter. I find it’s hardest when I sit down and feel like there’s a bunch of different stuff I could do but I haven’t made a clear decision. That’s when I look up and realize I just spent the last hour reading through a hundred online comments about LeBron James’s decision to go back to Cleveland.

To get stuff done you want to figure out three things:

When you’re best at each activity: Drafting brand new scenes, editing, and social networking all take different parts of your brain and are all sensitive to time of day, food you eat, music you listen to, exposure to media, your emotional state, etc.

How much time you need: If I’ve got half an hour or less, I’ll try to spend that on business, networking, and social media. If I’ve got an hour or more I’ll try to write or edit (depending on what’s highest priority). Thinking in time blocks also helps you know when to step away and go do other parts of your life.

How to convince yourself you can get it done in the time you have: This is the hardest one. I have plenty of weekend days that go like this: Wake up at 6:30, realize son needs to leave for a soccer game at 8. But I wanted to get some writing done. Despair. It doesn’t have to be that way! If you look at the above schedule you see that really I have about 45 minutes to an hour of morning writing time. If I just go into it with the right attitude, I can get something done. Prove to yourself that you can do it, and this will get easier.

Good luck!

Next week, we have our final Camp Counselor, Kat Zhang, author of the Hybrid Chronicles, a young adult series. Ask her your questions here!

Send me a NaNo Ask :3
  1. Write 50 words
  2. Write 100 words
  3. Write 500 words
  4. Write >500 words (You pick!)
  5. Post an excerpt
  6. Favourite male character and why
  7. Favourite female character and why
  8. Favourite other character (pet, chair, alien, mystical creature)
  9. Write a sentence including _________
  10. Include __________ in the next chapter
  11. Post a picture of your Writing Space
  12. What are your realistic and stretch goals?
  13. What genre is your novel?
  14. Current Writing music?
  15. Favourite writing music?
  16. Favourite writing drink?
  17. Best time of day for you to write?
  18. Make a minor character based on me! (Tell me the traits you want me to include)
  19. I dare you to… ______________
  20. Make an allusion to __________________
  21. Include (trope)
  22. Handwrite or type?
  23. Are you including a big plot twist?  Want to tell me?
  24. Inspiration for your novel?
  25. Pantsing or Planning?
  26. How many times have you done NaNoWriMo?
  27. Who Beta’s for you?
  28. How do you edit?  Print it out, on the computer, some other way?
  29. I want to Beta your novel!
  30. Are you going to try to traditional publish, self publish, wattpad, etc?
Hey, Wrimos! Let's play a game!

Want to develop your character a bit more before November 1st? Then continue reading! Send me an ask with one (or more) of the character development questions below, and in return I’ll send you one (or more)! We can go back and forth, helping each other develop our characters! Sound like fun? I’ll be using my three main characters: Eliana, Jacob, and Kole.

  1. What do you know about this character that s/he doesn’t know?

  2. What is this character’s greatest flaw?

  3. What do you know about this character that s/he would never admit?

  4. What is this character’s greatest asset?

  5. If this character could choose a different identity, who would s/he be?

  6. What music does this character sing to when no one else is around?

  7. In what or whom does this character have the greatest faith?

  8. What is this character’s favorite movie?

  9. Does this character have a favorite article of clothing? Favorite shoes?

  10. Does this character have a vice? Name it.

  11. Name this character’s favorite person (living or dead).

  12. What is this character’s secret wish?

  13. What is this character’s proudest achievement?

  14. Describe this character’s most embarrassing moment.

  15. What is this character’s deepest regret?

  16. What is this character’s greatest fear?

  17. Describe this character’s most devastating moment.

  18. What is this character’s greatest achievement?

  19. What is this character’s greatest hope?

  20. Does this character have an obsession? Name it.

  21. What is this character’s greatest disappointment?

  22. What is this character’s worst nightmare?

  23. Whom does this character wish to please?

  24. Describe this character’s mother.

  25. Describe this character’s father.

  26. If s/he had to choose, with whom would this character prefer to live?

  27. Where does this character fall in birth order? What effect does this have?

  28. Describe this character’s siblings or other close relatives.

  29. Describe this character’s bedroom. Include three cherished items.

  30. What is this character’s birth date? How does this character manifest traits of his/her astrological sign?

  31. If this character had to live in seclusion for six months, what six items would s/he bring?

  32. Why is this character angry?

  33. What calms this character?

  34. Describe a recurring dream or nightmare this character might have.

  35. List the choices (not circumstances) that led this character to his/her current predicament.

  36. List the circumstances over which this character has no control.

  37. What wakes this character in the middle of the night?

  38. How would a stranger describe this character?

  39. What does this character resolve to do differently every morning?

  40. Who depends on this character? Why?

  41. If this character knew s/he had exactly on month to live, what would s/he do?

  42. How would a dear friend or relative describe this character?

  43. What is this character’s most noticeable physical attribute?

  44. What is this character hiding from him/herself?

  45. Write one additional thing about your character.


Me during NaNoWriMo

anonymous asked:

Hey so I'm working a novel for NaNoWriMo, and I want my main character to be asexual. I dont plan on making it necessarily about her being ace, and I don't really want that to even be super important to the story, so I don't think I'll ever flat-out mention asexuality. I do want to include a sex scene in which her lack of sexual attraction/libido is apparent-- do you have any suggestions for me, concerning this scene and the novel as a whole? I want to accurately represent the ace community 🙈

No worries. I can give you tons of links on asexual character writing:

Stereotypes to Avoid When Writing Asexual Characters

Character Development Questions

Words and Concepts Used in Asexual Communities

How To Show That A Character Is Asexual

Negative Responses Asexual Characters May Get When Coming Out

Plot Ideas

Potential Sources of Conflict For Asexual Characters

Sex Scenes With Asexual Characters

Stereotypes to Avoid

anonymous asked:

I'm considering doing nanowrimo this year and... How do I do it? Is there something I need to join or is it just that I start writing and don't stop? I see people talking about being past winners and it confuses me that it probably isn't so simple as I think.

it’s not that complicated, promise!

All you really have to do to ‘win’ is write 50,000 words within November. To be official you’ll need to make an account at, where you can log your wordcount, look for community and advice on the forums, and validate your novel toward the end to get neato discounts on writerly goods. You’ll also have a stat page for your novel where you can check your progress and post a summary and excerpts if you want to.

You’ll write and save the way you usually would, on Word, Google Drive, LibreOffice, whatever, and then report your wordcount on the site as you go. 

Near the end of Wrimo, the validation option will open up, which is when you copy/paste your entire novel into their counting bot and it’ll confirm that you’ve reached 50k (they don’t save your work anywhere, it just counts the number of words). Once you’re validated, you’ve won!

Generally I’ve found that joining a small group with a chatroom (on Skype, Slack, Facebook, wherever) is a huge help in getting that motivational push to write and keep writing. You can cheer each other on, brainstorm through sticky spots, and do sprints, wars, and all sorts of fun tactics. 

Here’s some more advice I wrote a couple years back.

Nanowrimo won’t magically give you a complete and well-written novel, but it’s not really about the writing itself, it’s what the experience teaches you. Even if you only do it once, you’ll learn invaluable things about your own writing style, self-discipline, communal writing, perseverance under pressure, and overcoming blocks and inhibitions. It stretches you in a way nothing else will. 

I hope this helps! Good luck, and happy writing! 

Ask An Author: "How do you write a character’s inner dialogue?"

Each week, a new author will serve as your Camp Counselor, answering your writing questions. Heather Mackey, our third counselor, is author of the middle-grade fantasy Dreamwood:

How can you write a character’s inner dialogue? How do you format it? — kiwithewitch

Drat, she thought tearfully, these NaNoWriMo questions are going to expose me as a fraud!

My book didn’t have a ton of interior dialogue, but I noticed when it came back from copyedit all such passages were in italic. When you’re directly transcribing the thoughts of a character, put those thoughts in italic. (Use quotes only for dialogue that’s spoken aloud.)

But formatting is the easy part. How should you best use it? I think the answer is: sparingly. Interior dialogue—at least of the direct sort in my example—can become a crutch. And italics are annoying. Really, if my character is worried about people thinking she’s a fraud, you, the reader, should be able to detect that simply from her body language, her actions, or something she says to someone else. Dramatize it, don’t think it.

Now, in first person point of view or in close third, you’re often in a character’s thoughts. So you may find yourself writing stuff like this:

She looked out the window. Would anyone take her advice?

This needs neither italics nor quotes. You’re so close to the character, you’re naturally reporting what’s going on in their head, and it’s a lot easier to read. In fact, with some writers, you’re reading mainly interior thought with very little action.

Still, I think as a general rule of thumb you want externalize inner thought and emotion as much as possible, particularly if you’re writing in an action-oriented genre.

Ask yourself:

  • Can I show this another way?
  • Is it necessary?
  • How does the passage read without it?

In the end, how much you use interior dialogue has to be a matter of personal style, genre, and what your aims are for your book. Look at the authors you admire in the genre you’re working in and study how they use this tool. 

Next week, we have our final Camp Counselor, Kat Zhang, author of the Hybrid Chronicles, a young adult series. Ask her your questions here!

anonymous asked:

Yay you're still alive! How are you if you don't mind me asking?

Incredibly tired. I’m working on college now, moved into a new apartment, so that’s fun (being a business student is SUFFERING). My pneumonia faded away uneventfully, basically at around the time I moved in for college, so there was no space to start doing Classpect work in between.

Anyway, now I’m writing some quests/adventures (y’know, like problem sleuth or early homestuck, with reader suggested actions and stuff) on this neat little website made just for stories like that called Anonkun (WARNING: site has LEWDS. Don’t look at lewds if you’re not old enough to look at lewds, please. If you’re under 18 don’t click the stories marked NSFW in big red letters). It’s great as hell and we have a little writhing community that could always use more writers and readers.

Just a warning though: Anonkun (like me) was originally from 4chan and the majority of its player base is from there. There WILL BE vitriol in the chat, and people with thin skin should try to just read the stories instead of paying attention to the chat. Also, obviously, I am just one of dozens of writers on Anonkun, so there are some that write about some deeply problematic subjects, or may use problematic slurs. This happens. It’s not against the site TOS, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so if that sort of thing is unpalatable to you, I would recommend either avoiding those authors and stories or perhaps not coming at all.

(I may have posted this already but I don’t think I have.)
Artist - aegisdea here on Tumblr -

So since I am SO SO CLOSE at completing the first draft of this novel I have been working on I thought the cover needed a bit of showing off  (again if I have already done it once)

I have been working on and fine tuning this novel for  YEARS, but only just got into writing the book in Nanowrimo last year because I said to myself it was about time I actually wrote the darn thing, so for Nanowrimo I asked my buddy Drei to make me this beautiful cover of the main character of my book “Corrie” with the green flame (which will be explained in the story)
I LOVE fiction, but there was a few things I wanted to address with this novel, some were just accidents (love interests include white boy, black girl) it seemed natural up until my friend pointed out there were few novels that put them together, and I don’t know tbh but I noticed only  after I had written them and others were done intentionally.
Themes include: Acceptance, Race, Religion, Gender equality and sexual Orientation, all in a mediaeval type fantasy era and setting. The only ones that came into my head I INTENSIONALLY wrote in was about religion and Gender equality, the others kinda happened on their own.

So to conclude I hope I can show this to a publisher sometime in 2015, here is the Bio I made for Nanowrimo for anyone curious about it, thanks for the support guys xxx

“Through the strength of our body we will endure the pain
Through the wisdom of our minds we will seek out the truth
Through the nature of our spirit we will see the void
Through the kindness of our hearts we will heal the world”

Magus have been the source of human magic for generations, the 12 guardians grant their powers to the humans in hopes of protecting the world.
For one boy this could mean life or death.
When his world comes crashing down at the discovery of his abilities, it is then he learns the simple life he has lead has been nothing more than a lie.
Now he wants the truth of his life and will do anything to get it, even if it means giving up everything he has ever held dear to search for it, it drives him right into more trouble, luckily he meets friends along the way to guide him and teach him more than just learning magic.
With his fiery tempered companion can he discover his true origins? or will it destroy him first?

Publishing: After NaNoWriMo

 asked: So I am planning on writing my first “50000 and over, technically novel” work in November for Nanowrimo, and I’m really excited/nervous. My question is, once I’m done with my rough draft, satisfied with it and my beta readers like it too, how would I start trying to get it published? Should I try? Like, is there an age limit on a book getting published? Or am I just not allowed it? How would I write to a publisher? Sorry for all the questions, and sorry if you get this a lot.

First, congratulations! NaNoWriMo is a lot of fun. :)

There’s no age limit for getting published, and whether or not you seek publication really depends on you and the end product. For one thing, most people have a lot of writing experience under their belts before they get a novel published. The more you write, the better you’ll get, and the more likely you’ll find a publisher. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. There are many young and first-time writers who’ve found success with a first novel. The NaNoWriMo web site has a long list of NaNoWriMo written novels that have been published. Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Stephenie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss were both NaNoWriMo debut novels. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes had her debut novel published at age 14, and Christopher Paolini was 19 when Eragon was published.

So, if you feel your writing is at a publishable level, and you feel confident that your story is really good, you should definitely consider publishing. Here are some resources for you:

Where to Begin
Contests, cover letters, and Query Letters
What Agents Do and Why They’re Necessary
Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing
Ask An Author: "Do supporting characters need to be developed?"

Each week, a new author will serve as your Camp Counselor, answering your writing questions. Liz Coley, our second counselor, has been a member of the NaNoWriMo community since 2006. In 2013, her 2009 NaNo-novel, Pretty Girl-13, was published by HarperCollins.

As opposed to the main character, do supporting characters need to be developed even when they don’t necessarily do as much? — Anonymous

One of my first writing conference teachers told a roomful of aspirants the “terrifying” tale of being informed by his editor, full and polished manuscript in hand, that two of his supporting characters were indistinguishable and played such similar roles that they must be combined into one. Tolkien could have had this problem with Pippin and Merry but didn’t. The hobbit cousins had personalities and story arcs that separated them.

On the page, your main character will have the deepest back story, the greatest stakes, the most prominent plot points. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of your fellowship should be mere “spear-holders,” as they say in opera. If you can figure out who they are off the page, minor characters will speak with distinct voices, act purposefully (as opposed to conveniently or randomly), and take on specific roles in scenes, which means to some extent they need to have their own back story, goals, and even challenges.

Especially in the NaNoWriMo process, minor characters can blossom under your fingertips to provide major subplots. Cameo appearance characters may live as few as a couple sentences, but if they aren’t more than window dressing, why bother with them? You may not know their eye and hair color, name, age, or mother’s maiden name, but they can serve as foils, provide parallels, add comedy, or create local color.

It’s not necessary to apply a character inventory questionnaire. I’ve got two tricks for drawing out minor characters.

1. Totally trippy sounding—interview them with a pad and paper in hand. Ask them specific questions out loud and all sorts of interesting stuff comes bubbling out of the back of your mind. Write down their answers.

2. Write a short “autobiography” of the six most important things that ever happened to them from first person perspective. That’s fodder for great vignettes as well as giving you more insight into their motivations, skills and talents, strengths and weaknesses, fears and hopes.

You may have heard it said that every person is the hero of his or her own story, even the villain. With minor characters, try to offer the reader a glimpse of this perspective.

Next week’s Camp Counselor is Heather Mackey, author of the upcoming middle-grade fantasy DreamwoodAsk her your questions here!

Ask a Published Author: What needs to be in a first chapter?

Jennifer Bosworth was born in Price, Utah. As a kid, her favorite thing to do was roam through the hills and tell herself stories. As an adult, she does the same thing, only now she’s roaming the streets of Los Angeles, her favorite city in the world. Struck is Jennifer’s first published novel.

I’m starting my novel today (Yay!!) But I have been avoiding the first chapter because it is a little intimidating. What are the essentials that need to be in a first chapter and how do you go about when you write them? — Ceileidh

I adore writing first chapters. That being said, the first chapter I write rarely ends up being the first chapter in the final draft.

In the case of my novel Struck, the first chapter ended up as the 22nd chapter. More often, writers tend to start their books too early, and that’s completely okay. I believe this tendency stems from the need to spend time getting to know your character before you plunge them too deep into the meat of the story. Yet another common tendency is to begin your story with a character waking up. This is actually how The Hunger Games commences, and it can work, but it’s still considered a rookie mistake by many. 

But enough about what not to do. Let’s talk about what to do with a first chapter.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. You basically write about 1,667 words per day in November and end up with a 50,000 word novel. But you submit it at the end and if your book is picked it gets published.

That sounds like I lot of fun, but I don’t think I’d be able to hit the word goal each day. (My fics are only around 500 words.) I also don’t think I’d be able to do a novel with a continued plot. I might try it one year when I have an idea for an actual story.

Ask An Author: "How can you be sure that your plot is actually compelling, and not just a pile of stuff that happens?"

Each week, a new author will serve as your Camp Counselor, answering your writing questions. Marivi Soliven, our second counselor, has taught writing workshops at the University of California, San Diego and at the University of the Philippines. Her most recent novel, The Mango Bride, is about two Filipina women, and the unexpected collision that reveals a life changing secret:

How can you be sure that your plot is actually compelling, and not just a pile of stuff that happens? — The Freelancer Society

Novelist Drusilla Campbell answers this question by comparing a novel and its parts to weaving cloth on a loom. Imagine your plot is a red weft—the thread that runs crosswise through that cloth. The events are all the vertical threads, called the warp, that your weft runs across. A compelling plot is a weft that intersects all the warps from one end of that cloth to the other: from the inciting incident that gets your novel on its way, to the many detours and adventures your protagonists take, all the way to the very last scene.  

If you build your plot correctly so that characters are reacting to events, even surprising scenes become logical.

At the end of the novel, you should be able to tug on that red thread and see each of the preceding scenes “pull” along with it. If that happens, chances are you’ve composed a compelling plot. If you pull and nothing happens, you’ll probably need to tighten or delete the irrelevant scenes. 

Additionally, I like to construct an “internal logic” which defines the way your imagined world functions. Your characters move according to the  rules you create so that their actions become logical or plausible to someone reading your story. When your story’s internal logic is strong, it enables readers to suspend their belief and go along for the ride, because what happens makes sense. Thus Bram Stoker’s vampire perishes in the sunlight, because that’s how his novel’s internal logic works. On the other hand, according to Stephanie Meyer’s internal logic, it makes it possible for her Twilight vampires to survive in the watery sunlight of the Pacific Northwest.

Next week’s Camp Counselor will be Patricia C. Wrede, author of fantasy novels such as the The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

Ask her your questions here!