In celebration of National Novel Writing Month, or NANOWRIMO for short, I’d like to welcome multipublished author Susan A. Wall today as my guest blogger. I was lucky to meet Susan at a meeting of my local NHRWA chapter last year and I was immediately drawn to her. Her sense of humor ( bawdy and quick) coupled with her writing talent ( visit her website for a complete list of her extensive publications) and the fact that she loves purple and Bon Jovi ( sigh!), made her someone I wanted to know. And I’m so glad I do. She’s blogging today about – what else?- NANOWRIMO. Her advice about, and insights into, the challenge are a worthwhile read. So without further ado…..here’s Susan!
No, that’s not some crazy alien greeting! It means us writers are in the midst of National Novel Writing Month, 30 days and night of literary abandon!
Every November, millions of writers put butts in chairs, fingers to keyboards, and ignore all other responsibility in an effort to write 50,000 words of a first draft novel.
Sound crazy? Maybe a little bit, but when you break down the numbers, it’s not so daunting.
I’m not a math whiz, but doing some simple calculations makes the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days seem doable. Let’s do some simple division.
50,000 words divided by 30 days equals 1667 words a day. 1667. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? But what does that look like on the page?
In MS Word, using the default ‘normal’ setting which is Times New Roman, 11 point, one inch margins and 1.15 line spacing, 1667 words is less than 3 pages.
Less than 3 pages! That doesn’t sound so daunting, does it? Can you write 3 pages a day? The only answer is, YES, you absolutely can.
Let’s be clear on what these 3 pages are.
Yes, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, but the goal isn’t to write a beautifully polished, ready for publication novel in 30 days. If you can do that, Kudos to you, and I now worship the ground you walk on. For us mere mortals, no one, absolutely no one who matters, is expecting you to write a perfectly polished novel in 30 days. The point of NaNoWriMo is to write a first draft of a novel.
It’s okay to write garbage or complete and total crap. You’ll have time later to correct your grammar and spelling, to find all those redundant words, to put in the appropriate dialogue tags or hair color or weather or fragrance. If you can’t remember whether Sergei has green eyes or blue eyes, don’t worry about it. Fix it later. The goal now is to write. Write like the crazy person you are.
So you may be wondering whether I’m a plotter or pantser? By nature, I’m a pantser. I tried plotting once and my characters didn’t like the path I planned for them, so from day 1, they forged their own. I went with it. This is my 4th year participating in NaNoWriMo and I’m writing my very first romantic suspense titled Broken Strings. Since romantic suspense is a genre I’ve never written before, I’ve done a lot of planning. I’ve drafted the backstory for the hero, heroine, villain, and detective and come up with the premise and a list of horrible things that happen. I found myself wanting to outline, so I did and I’ve got the outline all plotted out in Scrivener. But (there’s always a big ole but) if once I start writing the story goes in a different direction, I’m okay with that. The plot is just Plan B.
Best friends since college, witty and guarded Colleen Cooper and misguided playboy Jake Donovan have both sold out to propel Jake’s music career, but now they are trying to find success on their own terms. As a radio station DJ, Colleen has finally made a name for herself, but when Jake offers her the opportunity of a lifetime her own self-doubt and the anonymous threats she can’t escape have her second-guessing her qualifications and ability. Jake will do anything to prove to Colleen that he’s worth taking a chance on, but when the women around him start turning up dead, his reputation makes him the prime person of interest in the investigation, threatening his career and his future with Colleen.
I’ve had a successful history with NaNoWriMo. My first year, I wrote Too Many Daughters, a women’s fiction novel about three women who are all dealing with the loss of their fathers in very different but equally self-destructive ways and it is through their newly forged friendship that they finally start to heal. I wrote this story in just 20 days and I am hoping it finally goes to print next year.
My second year, I wrote The Sound of Circumstance, the 5th novel in my Puget Sound ~ Alive With Love contemporary romance series. This is the novel I plotted but the characters would have nothing to do with that plot and it went in an unexpected direction. I achieved 50,000 words in just 12 days. I swear that book wrote itself! In this story, Owen and Stacie must finally conquer the demons of their past in order to find the happily ever after they both so desperately want with each other. This book will be released in just a couple of months.
Last year, my third year, I opted not to plot and wrote The Sound of Reluctance, which will be the 6th book in my Puget Sound ~ Alive With Love series. I had major surgery mid-month, so it took me all 30 days to finish, but finish I did. In this story, lawyer Keith Nightingale visits Seattle to check up on his little sister. He doesn’t plan on meeting Holly Dion, a nursing student with a harsh past. He’s reluctant to get involved with a client, but can’t deny the way she makes his heart race. The emotional scars from Holly’s abusive ex-boyfriend have her worried that her attraction to Keith is more knight in shining armor than true love.
So that’s my NaNoWriMo experience in a nutshell. My life is crazy, but I was able to write these drafts by setting goals and making writing my priority. Do that and you’ll have a successful writing month!!
If you are participating in NaNoWriMo, I invite you to be one of my buddy’s (search for sawall) and I wish you the best of luck in writing with literary abandon!
Here’s a little treat, a snippet of the opening scene of my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel Broken Strings (you can read the opening lines that precede this part at Delilah Devlin’s blog):
Devon spun the gun around in his hand before offering it to her grip first. Colleen snagged the small weapon from his large hand and shoved it back into the holster clipped to her spandex shorts.
“Let me give you a ride home before you wreak more havoc in the park.”
Colleen turned away. “I ran here, I can run home.”
“Don’t argue with me. You terrified that couple when you pulled your gun and you’re lucky they aren’t pressing charges.”
“I’m lucky?” Colleen argued, turning back to him. “That woman ought to be thanking me for coming along when I did. Who knows what her boyfriend might have done to her if I hadn’t.”
“Couples argue. It doesn’t mean it will escalate to assault.”
She knew that, but her past made her a little … paranoid? Skiddish?
Yeah, that was a good descriptor and made her seem less crazy.
She stepped away, focusing on keeping her steps at a moderate pace, only to realize she was heading in the opposite direction from her apartment.
“Get in the damn car, Colleen.” The commanding tone of Devon’s voice was all cop, making her feel as if she was some criminal being detained. The couple she’d pulled the gun on stared at her, fear tightening the woman’s expression, annoyance the man’s. The woman still stood with her arms crossed and Colleen wondered what the source of the fear was. Intuition – maybe experience – told her the man was the source, but now that the adrenaline wasn’t assaulting Colleen any longer, she acknowledged pulling the gun on the couple could be what had scared the woman.
Colleen didn’t have a murderous bone in her body. Carrying the gun was a tool for self-preservation. It was loaded, but she doubted she could fire it at a person even if the situation called for such a thing. She turned away from the couple, surrendering to Devon’s command.
Holding the door, he gave Colleen space as she climbed into his badass black SUV. Everything about the man screamed cop, from the cropped haircut to the stiff posture beneath his department store suit, to the pimped out Tahoe.
As he put the cop-mobile in gear, the adrenaline plummeted and Colleen’s worst fears claimed her. She’d held it all at bay until now, knowing the panic attack was inevitable. Having it in Devon’s car was beyond humiliating.
“Just breathe through it,” he said, the commanding voice gone, replaced with something so much worse. The cop was easy to hate. The empathetic guy she’d once cared about, not so much.
“I don’t … need … your help,” she managed between gasps.
You can read more of this scene over at Susan’s blog on November 4th!
Big dreamer and certifiable overachiever Susan Ann Wall embraces life at full speed and volume. She’s a beer and tea snob, can be bribed with dark chocolate, and the #1 thing on her bucket list is to be the center of a Bon Jovi flash mob.
Susan is a multi-genre author of racy, rule-breaking romance, women’s fiction, and erotic fiction (her erotic titles are published as Ann Victor). Her bragging rights include nine books in three different series, three perfect children, and a happily ever after with her Hero Husband that started while serving in the U.S. Army and has spanned nearly two decades (which is crazy since she’s not a day over 29).
In her next life, Susan plans to be a 5 foot 10, size 8 rock star married to a chiropractor and will not be terrified of large bridges, spiders, or quiet people (shiver). She’s a member of NHRWA, RWA-WF, RomVets, NHWP, NEIW, and WREN.
Her latest releases include The Sound of Deception (4th novel in her Puget Sound ~ Alive With Love contemporary romance series) and Quitting the Boss (3rd novella in Ann Victor’s Behind Office Doors erotic series), available in paperback and all ebook formats.