C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Tips for Better Blogs a la Problogger

Elephant trunk tips

Image via Wikipedia

Are you reading Problogger yet? You know, if you blog, you really should. Try this for a start:

 How to Blog: 10 MORE Great Blog Tips from Our Readers‏

(Like the elephant trunks? Yeah, I was stuck for a graphic, but interesting, yes?)


Filed under: blogs & blogging, , ,

10 Tips for NaNoWriMo

240/365 National Novel Writing Month begins
Image by owlbookdreams via Flickr

NaNoWriMo begins November 1. A few suggestions:

1. If you can do more than 1700+ words per day, try to do so. It takes the panic out of the equation when you miss a day. And you will miss a day. You aren’t a machine. You may miss several. Do more when you are able so there’s a cushion.

2. Stay calm. You’re not actually writing with a gun to your head. Remember this is supposed to be fun.

3. It’s probably best to have an outline. Yes, you can explore instead, but when you’re against the clock, it’s good to plan out what the major scenes are going to be ahead of time. If you find yourself pulled in another direction, there’s still no gun to your head. You can veer off as necessary and discover an entirely different ending than you had pictured. It happens all the time.

4. Remember, this is just a first draft. Don’t worry about heavy research. That’s for later. You can always fill in gaps and correct niggling details in your next draft.

5. Remember, this is just a first draft. Every year agents and editors get some submissions which are obviously the raw feed. Novels are not ready for submission just because a writer takes the time to hit spell check once.

6. Write with a buddy. Write against a buddy. Make a bet. Get some stakes in this game.

7. Know why you’re writing. Maybe this is the one way you will get a first draft done…or a good start on a first draft.

8. Try to get to the end of you story. Even if you have to stick in pages that summarize scenes, this tip will help you complete your draft later. (e.g. X happens here, write that. Y happens here, write this.) That strategy will help you harness the momentum NaNoWriMo gives and protect you from frustration and disappointment. 

9. Know why you’re doing NaNoWriMo. Some writers have acted like poo heads (not Winnie the) about National Novel Writing Month. They dislike it because they figure it’s for people who aren’t very serious about their writing. Well, d’uh! They’re right! A lot of participants aren’t very serious about it. Some people participate just so they can scratch “Write a novel” off their bucket list. If you’ve read No Plot? No Problem! you know that the spirit of this thing is fun.

10. For others, it’s deadly serious and provides the motivation they feel they need to get started. What’s wrong with that? They know it’s their first draft. Maybe they haven’t written anything and been paid for it. Yet. So what? Every professional writer started out from that same place. The hotheads must be awfully threatened and snobby. Or worse, they receive awful first draft manuscripts from naïve people who don’t know the word revision.


Filed under: NanNoWriMo, , , , , ,

Cool Phrases of the Day

A copy of the 18th edition of Brewer's Diction...

Image via Wikipedia

A dab hand = one who is adept.

The Fraternity = a term highwaymen used to apply to themselves as  a group

A gay dog = said of one who gets around and enjoys himself, esp. with the ladies (ironic, no?)

A dog in a manger = A mean-spirited person who will not use what is wanted by another, not let another have it to use.

~ from the Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (1959, Centenary edition)

Note: You may think these phrases outdated, but perhaps not as far out of date as one might think. I never heard the term “gay dog” in Nova Scotia, but if you know old people in the Maritimes, you’ve probably heard the others. I’m not that ancient. It’s just that I have a good memory for the words of elders back home.

Filed under: Cool Phrases of the Day,

Still sick. Here’s some publishing links for your Thursday.

Comparison between the iPad and iPod Touch's K...

Image via Wikipedia

Kindle vs. iPad: A False Choice | Lance Ulanoff | PCMag.com‏

This Futurebook survey says publishers should set e-book pricing (even though it’s not a long term adaptive strategy!)

There Are No Rules – Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 10/22/10)‏

Filed under: publishing, web reviews, ,

Daniel Handler Interview: On Writing A Series of Unfortunate Events

Filed under: publishing, Writers, , ,

Wednesday Publishing Links

Here’s some useful links for you. I’m still under the weather. Looking forward to getting out from under gray skies. In the meantime, enjoy some publishing wisdom from these useful sites:

The Millions : The Sorry State of the Rejection Letter‏

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent: Utterly Original‏

How to Sell Books : Tips and Tricks: Creating a Book Marketing Plan Budget‏

10 Writers that WILL probably Haunt You « The Curse of the Drinking Class

Filed under: agents, Books, publishing, Rejection, writing tips,

Hilarious video on getting script notes…from morons.

Go check out this great video!

Filed under: agents, movies, Rejection, scriptwriting, web reviews

NaNoWriMo Prep: Brainstorming Your Way to Surprising Stories

Pie chart of Wikipedia content by subject as o...

Image via Wikipedia

One of the dangers in writing a novel is that halfway through, you run out of steam. It happens a lot. Everybody is eager and can’t type fast enough as they begin their story. As the pages pile up, it’s easy to lose the plot’s thread. Enthusiasm wanes. We wonder, What did I think was so great about this idea? I can’t remember. You might not necessarily get writer’s block, though running out of ideas in the middle is common, especially if you’re discovery writer (meaning you find out what the story is going to be as you write it instead of outlining.)

If your middle is a muddle, there are a few common tricks. Knowing the final scene is helpful. Outlining helps. Writing out the major plot points. (And if you haven’t read No Plot? No Problem! yet, you should grab a copy before you begin your National Novel Writing Month adventure.)

I propose a fun exercise to get your mind going, and do this before you start outlining (or before you sketch out the major scenes and beats.) An outline is a map that will carry you through to the end, but I’m going to suggest an innovative strategy I use to open my mind up to possibilities I would not have ordinarily discovered. Try this:

1. Get out a legal pad.

2. Write the numbers 1 – 40.*

3. Get out a dictionary, hit random on Wikipedia, drag out your Goth Bible and any books on myths and legends. Use what resources you have. (I have The Book of Tells. That may prove very useful for the story I have in mind. I want the villains to be formidable, so they’ll be sensitive to body language that gives the hero away.) Atlases, trivia or histories can give you some clues, too.

4. On each of the lines, 1 – 40, write three words from your resources in #3. (Choose words with which you are unfamiliar. Don’t slow down to do research. That’s for later. Now is for writing 120 words or phrases as fast as you can. Anything that strikes you as interesting will do. Geographical names might end up as a character name, for instance. Don’t worry about that now. Write quickly.

5. When you’re done, look at your list. Your plot will develop in the next stage when you construct your actual outline. However, you’ll find those 40 trios may influence the development of your plot.

Here’s an example of a few trios:

A. peroxide, absinthe, firebomb

B. picayune, letters to the editor, Bond movie

C. Malta, the actress Pam Grier, ecstasy

D. Blue Mountains, security scan, divinity school

So, from Trio A, I see an interesting image. How about this?:  

The protester pushed past him, breaking through the line. Dressed in rags, her face was covered with a camouflage veil—a poor defense against tear gas. Her shock of peroxide blonde hair made her an easy target for police, but they shrank behind their riot shields as she menaced them with the molotov cocktail. Defiant, she stood her ground and held the green bottle high in one hand, its rag fuse alight. Green, he thought. The bottle’s contents were bright green! Who would use a $100 bottle of absinthe for a molotov cocktail?

Will I use this passage? I don’t know yet. I know I wouldn’t have come up with it had I not built my trio list, though. I’ll find out as I build my beats and scenes timeline. If I choose to deviate later, that’s okay. First drafts are supposed to be a journey of discovery, free and easy. Write the first draft for you.

You may choose to use each of your trios or you may opt out.  The point is to stir your imagination. If you find yourself stuck, going back to your trios. Find ways to incorporate them into your text (without trying too hard) to get you writing again. Try it and you may be surprised what new ideas occur to you and what spins and reels your story will take.

*Are you wondering why I chose 40 trios? Math is involved, but it’s easy. For my own fiction, I prefer short chapters that skip along. You’re going to need to write over 1,600 words per day to complete NaNoWriMo successfully. I shoot for 2,000 words a day so if I miss a day in the process, I’m still ahead of the game overall. Two-thousand words each day for 30 days over 40 chapters is 80,000 words.

You actually only have to get to 50,000 to get a pass from NaNoWriMo. Me? I want a book at the end that I can revise and 80,000 words is a good length for what I have in mind. I am not interested in participating as a writing exercise. I write plenty as it is, so I want the time spent to be productive. When I’m done the sprint, I want a first draft I can doctor. Construct as many trios as you like. Planning ahead will give you a proper blueprint for your story. You do not want to hit November 15, sit in front of your keyboard and ask that terrible question, “Now what?” Using this technique, I developed two trio sheets and two outlines for two different books yesterday. By November 1, I’ll have to choose down which rabbit hole I intend to throw myself.

Filed under: NanNoWriMo, Writing exercise, writing tips, , , , ,

Tuesday Publishing Links for You

Free twitter badge

Image via Wikipedia

5 Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Outstanding | Social Media Examiner‏

The Slush Pile: Enter at Your Own Risk | Steve Laube‏

Writer Unboxed » Blog Archive » What NOT to do at a Bookstore Signing‏

What does self-publishing cost?

How to Get an Agent for Your Book‏

InDigital | Twitter and the Publishing Industry‏

 Related Articles

Filed under: agents, ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, queries, self-publishing, Useful writing links, web reviews, writing tips, , , , , , ,

Is Your Writing Fresh?

Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

Image by illuminaut via Flickr


After listening to an interview with Charlie Kaufman, it struck me how formulaic art often is. Kaufman, an iconoclastic screenwriter whose work sometimes gets meta, bucks that trend and makes memorable art that challenges its audience. Think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Can you say you had seen a film much like that before he came along? Remember watching Adaptation and wondering, “Where the hell is this going?”

I thought a lot about what sets his work apart from so many other movies. My answer? He writes about themes that are important to him.

Are you writing about things that matter to you, or is your plot more like a checklist? As you touch all the bases as you run through your story’s acts, will you have a home run at the end or will you have a story that looks, sounds and feels like dozens of other stories? It’s okay to have a plot that’s similar to other work. In fact, that’s common. But is your take fresh? Are you saying something in a new way?  If not, try rewriting until you do.

I know it’s hard, but that’s how you’re going to stand out from the crowd. Writing isn’t easy. On the plus side, it can (and should) be a lot of fun.

Filed under: movies, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

For my author site and the Chazz network, click the blood spatter below.

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10,388 other followers

Brain Spasms a la Twitter

%d bloggers like this: