:: Advice for NaNoWriMos & Other Answers ::

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Here are some of the questions that were asked overnight (well, it was overnight where I am). If you have a question to ask me, click here and ask it. I'll do my best to answer.

Now, on the eve of NaNoWriMo, here we have some NaNo questions, for which I will provide advice I am not qualified to give.

Hi, Steph. Hey, this is pretty neat. Anyway, when you did your NaNoWriMo last year, did you plot out every teeny bit of your story or did you "go with the flow"? This is my first NaNo and I barely have anything of my plot, so I'm wondering whether I should actually spend the time to plot things out or just wing it.

Hi stranger! Glad you think it's neat.

My super-annoying answer to your question, though it's the truth: It's really up to you. Some people can't write without a tight outline, others can't stand to plot. You need to figure out what works for you.

However, if you're planning on going with the flow, before you start writing, know how your novel is going to end. Have a couple of complications in mind. If you know what you're working towards it'll be easier to stay committed to finishing the story. Otherwise, it'll just meander off into nothingness...

I go with the flow for everything I write, but I have a clear idea of four or five major plot points in my head before I begin. You need to write a bit and figure out what works best for you. If you do outline, don't make yourself stick to it if it doesn't work for the story. You might discover more things about your characters and their struggles that you previously hadn't incorporated into the plot. Good luck!

Hi Steph!

My question for you is: have you particapated in NaNoWriMo before? If so, how do you survive working on one story for 30 days? (I have a bad tendancy to work on several stories at once, so I'm desperate to figure out how to give my undivided attention to just one novel this year!)

I did NaNowriMo in 2008. When I started writing seriously, I found it incredibly difficult to stick to one story and finish it. what I'd recommend to you is to figure out how your novel will end and if you really love the story and the characters, it'll be easier for you to stay committed towards that goal of reaching the conclusion. Don't think in terms of word count; think in terms of the story.

That's just what works for me. The best thing for you to do is if another story is really calling to you, work on that one. Hey, why not complete 25,000 words of two stories? If you love them both, you'll be able to revisit them after NaNo and finish them both. Many, many authors have several novels on the go at once - the important bit is that you finish them! The world won't end on November 30th, you can keep working on it.

And also remember - all of the writing you do is practice, and improving your craft (don't you love how I say craft? It makes me think we're casting spells on people, not just writing down a whole bunch of words). Don't punish yourself for wanting to work on multiple things at once! Good luck!

Do you want to ask me something about NaNo, writing, etc? Click here and ask it.

Another writing-related question:

Do you have a routine for when you write?

Usually at night before bed. If I know I'll be going out at night, I'll write first thing in the morning. Mainly, I try and write a specific amount each week, but don't really concern myself whether I do it all in one go on a Saturday, or between 10 and 11 every day through the week. The exact number of words depend on what I'm doing that week, but I aim for between 5,000 and 15,000 (except when I'm revising, when I work chapter-by-chapter).

Now, some miscellaneous Q & A...

What is the longest book you've read and how long was it?
I read the first three Harry Potter books, and the first three Twilight books. Then I lost interest in both series (at the respective ages of 11 and 14). To be entire honest, I don't read many long books. They have to be really phenomenal to keep my attention. There are plenty of short books that are amazing and far less time-consuming.

Why do you use a small dog as your avatar on Twitter?
The picture I had of me disappeared for some reason. I had a picture of a dog saved to my desktop. So I uploaded that. I find it curious that you ask this question. Please note that this dog (also my twitter avatar) is not my dog:

This is my dog (she's been shaved since this photo was taken. This is her in the winter):

Why do you like Zombies so much?
Because brain-munching is so much cooler than blood-sucking.

Do you believe in Aliens?
Yes! I have quite a number of theories. I also have The X-Files series on DVD.

Do you believe in God?

Are you scared of Spongebob?
Oh yes. Petrified.

One more!

Ooh, this really isn't writer related, but we have an Australian guy in our WIP. Any good slang that we can work in?

Is he an Australian living overseas? Does he come from the city or the country? It really depends. An Australian might play down their accent and slang overseas, and a lot more Australianisms are used by people who come from the bush (a rural place, the US equivalent being 'the woods' which is not an equivalent at all). If you state the character is Australian, people will imagine an Australian accent, and you don't really need for him to greet everyone with "g'day", but if you feel particularly inclined (or want an especially ocker Australian) these words would be used:
  • Queenslanders (Queensland being a Northern Australian state) tend to add 'eh' to the end of their sentences. Like a Canadian, but less Canadian and more Queenslander.
  • People really do greet each other with "G'day, mate" where I live. It's a very casual greeting. We also might greet someone with "How's it goin', mate?"
  • Instead of ketchup, we have tomato sauce. A slang name some Australians use for tomato sauce is 'dead horse'. Because it rhymes.
  • 'Fair dinkum' may be used to mean 'true' or 'genuine'.
  • 'Arvo' instead of 'afternoon'.
  • We have 'milk bars' and 'op-shops' instead of 'convenience stores' and 'thrift stores'.
  • We hold barbies. As in, barbecue.
  • Sport is central to Australian culture. Any fair dinkum Aussie grew up playing backyard criket and kick-to-kick with a footy (our football is called Aussie Rules. Collingwood is the best team).
  • A lot of people still call cookies 'biscuits' here or 'bikkies'.
  • Less-cultured people like myself tend to say 'I reckon' instead of 'I think'.
  • We have 'take-away' instead of 'take-out' and 'nappies' instead of 'diapers' (in case they eat-out or have a baby or something, and you need to use the right terminology).
  • We say 'no worries' as in no problem! It can also be used in the place of 'you're welcome'.
  • In Australia, an American is called a 'yank' and an english person a 'pom' or 'pommy'. Also, we tend to call the US 'America' rather than 'the US'. Or maybe that's just me?
  • We 'wag' school, we don't cut.
  • A good-looking person is a 'spunk' or 'a bit of all right'. As in 'she's a bit of all right' or 'what a spunk'. It's like saying, 'I find that person sexually attractive'. Because a part of being Australian is having a bit of good-hearted sexism.
  • Also, we say 'Good on you' a lot, except it's all one word - gudonya, mate!
Okay, I'll stop now. I could go on forever.
More questions? Click here and ask 'em, mate.
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