Wednesday, 14 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 14: The Art Of Description

It's true that I'm mostly focussing on getting the words down this month, but because I've been writing every day, and I'm pretty much on track (hit my word count yesterday!), I've also been trying to pay a little attention to my "craft"—the art of writing, so to speak.

Yesterday, I wrote some pretty good description—which isn't always the easiest to do. Struggling? Don't worry, that's natural.

I researched a couple of tips to help you out. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to describe everything. You just want to paint a picture of the scene using a few key words. There are a couple of tricks to this.

DETAIL: Try and be specific, where possible. That’s what will bring the scene to life. Don’t just say the ground was littered with garbage. Tell the reader what the garbage is. For example: Crumpled paper, faded candy wrappers, and rusted tin cans littered the ground. I bet you get a good sense of what the scene looks like just from that, right?

USE THE FIVE SENSES. Taste, smell, touch, sound, and sight—they're all important. You don’t have to use ALL of them in one scene, but it’s a good idea to use at least two. Don’t always rely on sight, though. That one’s easy.

Here's an example:

Chase and Amelia crept through the dark forest behind the house. Their feet crackled on the dry leaves, noisy as fire crackers in the otherwise quiet. Amelia rubbed her arms and shivered, but she couldn’t decide if it was from the cool breeze that blew through the trees or the fear lodged in her throat.

What senses did I use? Can you pick out the specific details that make the paragraph come to life? Don't worry, you've got this!

Gotta jet! May the words be with you today as we close in on the halfway mark!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 13: Choose Kindness

Good morning!

We're almost at the halfway mark of NaNoWriMo—can you believe it?—and since today is World Kindness Day, I thought it an appropriate time to remind you (and me) kind. To everyone else around you, yes, but also to yourself.

Writing isn't easy, and working to deadline—any deadline—can be stressful. I realized yesterday, as I was stretching for those last 20 words to meet my word count goals, that my palms started to sweat. My heart was beating faster (and it wasn't even a scary part) and no matter how fast I typed, the words just wouldn't come...

I realized, I wasn't being kind to myself.

So I took a deep breath, stepped away from the computer, and gave myself a pep talk. I reminded myself that if I don't meet my word count for the day, the week, or even the challenge, I am not a failure. I am writing—every day. And if my words aren't perfect, that's okay. They're not meant to be. That's not what this is about.

After taking a break to be kind to myself, I was able to settle back into routine. Twenty words might not sound like much, but when you're not being kind to yourself, it was daunting. Most things are if you're putting too much pressure on yourself.

So today, and everyday, be kind...not just to those around you. But to yourself, too.

Gotta jet! May the words be with you.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Monday, 12 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 11: Celebrate The Milestones

Good morning, fellow scribes!

How was your weekend? I broke 2,000 words yesterday, which puts me right on track to hit my 5,000-word goal by the end of the month. To maybe "win" NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row. That alone worth celebrating.

But so is this: I didn't give up.

Writing doesn't come naturally to me. Telling stories does, but sometimes getting the words from my brain to the page is a...challenge. So yesterday, when I stuck it out to write almost 250 words (even though I had so many fun things I wanted to be doing), I breathed a sigh of relief.

And then, I celebrated. How? Well, I'll get to that in a minute...but let me start with WHY.

Sure, NaNoWriMo is a challenge accepted by hundreds of thousands of writers across North America (and maybe the world!) but the only person I'm truly accountable to is myself. And yesterday, I hit a major milestone—2,000 words on the same day as last year's milestone. That's important to me because I'm showing progress.

So yes, I celebrated. By watching football with my dad. The Edmonton Eskimos aren't in the CFL playoffs this year, but we cheered for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (who won) and the Saskatchewan Roughriders (who didn't win), while eating potato chips and popcorn, and drinking cream soda, my favourite pop.

It was the perfect way to spend the day after working hard to not only meet my word count goal, but exceed it.

Celebrating milestones is important, whether you're doing a NaNoWriMo challenge, or simply pushing yourself to do something different, something out of your comfort zone. How have you celebrated lately?

Gotta jet! I've got more writing to do. If that's how you're spending some of your day, may the words be in your favour...

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Sunday, 11 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 11: Pausing To Remember

I'm sure you'll all take a moment today to remember the soldiers who fought for Canada's freedoms. I certainly will—my great grandfather was among those brave men, and even though I never met him, I'm grateful for his sacrifice.

My mom always takes out pictures of him on this day, and shares some of her memories. I love listening to her tell stories about her grandfather. I guess he was a bit of a joker, someone who laughed at silly jokes. I've heard some of those jokes before, and they're kind of cheesy...but I still laugh every time.

Going back to those memories got me thinking about my NaNoWriMo project. In a previous post,  I talked about creating characters—and if you used my template, you may have discovered something new about the stars of your story. But one thing that's missing from that template is a place to record some of your character's memories.

Things that happen in our past are what make us who we are today. They don't define us—I do believe that everyone can change—but they remain a part of us. Those memories, good or bad, happened...and I think it's important to capture a few to really bring our characters to life.

I'm settling in to write some words today—before Dad and I settle in with some popcorn to watch football!—but I'm also going back to my character sheet to fill in a couple of memories for my two main characters.

Gotta jet! May the words be in your favour today.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Saturday, 10 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 10: To Cliche, Or Not To Cliche

Okay, that’s not actually a serious question.

In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time on this NaNoWriMo story—and all of my stories!—being sure to avoid cliches altogether. You know, those familiar phrases that are used over and over and…

They’re the bane of every writer’s existence.

So today, I thought I’d give you a Top 10 list of the clichés you should avoid like the plague. (ha! See what I did there?) Just in case you're taking a break this chilly Saturday morning to review the words you've written so far...

How many of these clichés have you used in your manuscript?

  1. Dead as a door nail
  2. Low hanging fruit
  3. Faster than a speeding bullet
  4. The pot calling the kettle black
  5. Think outside the box
  6. Thick as thieves
  7. Plenty of fish in the sea
  8. Like a kid in a candy store
  9. Fish out of water
  10. Take a tiger by the tail

I've definitely used #1, #6, and #3... What’s your least favourite cliché? (Or favourite, if you prefer.) Comment below—I’m waiting on pins and needles to hear your answer. (Ha!)

Gotta jet! It's back to the writing cave for me! Happy scribing, fellow scribes!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 9 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 9: Prepare To Get Inspired!

Happy Friday, fellow scribes!

Since it's the last school day of the week, and I'm settling in this long weekend to crank out a bunch of words on my NaNoWriMo story, I thought we could all use a bit of inspiration.

So who better to give advice than some of the best writers in the world? Scroll down for one enlightening words of wisdom. Who knows, some of these pictures might be worth printing off and pinning above your desk!

Which piece of advice resonates most with you? No surprise here, but I like what Stephen King has to say! In fact, I plan to do a little reading and writing this week.

Gotta jet! Stay warm and happy—and may the words be ever in your favour!

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Thursday, 8 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 8: Let There Be Conflict! is NaNoWriMo going for you? Getting those words in?

After spending time fleshing out my characters yesterday, I carved out 230 words, getting me back on track—but it wasn't easy. I couldn't figure out WHAT was going to happen next, even though this story is quite well plotted out. Then I realized what it was missing: conflict.

Conflict, conflict, conflict. That's the crux of any story, regardless if it's 5,000 words, 50,000 words, or yes, even 5. (Hey, don't laugh, a very famous story by Ernest Hemingway was written using just 6 words!)

Conflict is the story's problem. It's what prevents—or delays—the character from reaching his or her goal. And the more conflict in the story, the more exciting it is for the reader. (And, if I'm being honest, the more exciting it is for the writer, too.)

But what kind of conflict? Turns out, there are a couple of types:

Person-versus-person: This is the most popular, because conflicts between people are most fascinating to readers. For example, Superman versus Lex Luther. Or, in the case of my story, my protagonist versus the zombie.

Person-versus-himself: This is when a character has internal strengths and weaknesses, or a fight within themselves over good and bad. The Grinch from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is a good example of this—he hates Christmas, but he's not evil at heart. He's like that because someone hurt him. (Hey, anyone else excited to go see this new Grinch movie coming out this week???)

Person-versus-nature: This usually involves natural disasters or survival skills, like in Lord of The Flies or Jurassic Park. In my story, I'm thinking about introducing a spooky graveyard, which would put some obstacles in the way of my character's survival (not for real, of course, but it will seem that way at first.)

You can absolutely combine conflict types—such as I'm doing in my story now. But just remember, you want to include obstacles, but you should also understand how the conflict will be resolved. Conflict resolution...hmmm, maybe I should do a post about that?

Do you have enough conflict in your story? Gotta jet—but keep writing. See you tomorrow!

~ Chase Superman Duffy