National Novel Writing Month 2015

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner!  Would-be novelists, jump on board.  

National Novel Writing Month is an annual event and nonprofit organisation that supports and motivates writers to start and finish a 50,000-word novel in November.  Committing to this scary deadline pushes you to achieve way more than you would have imagined possible!  TBH, who wouldn’t feel motivated by the kick-ass logo?

Sign up for free at www.nanowrimo.org.  Then when the clock starts ticking on November 1st, earn milestone badges by logging your word count as you go.

NaNoLogoNaNoWriMo offers loads of resources, including Pep Talks and forums where you can get inspired by like-minded people.  If you are tackling NaNoWriMo with a group of friends, add them as your Writing Buddies.

This is the first year that I’ve participated and I’m excited!  Luckily, NaNoWriMo coincides with the end of the uni semester.  I’m planning to go away for a few days after submitting my final assignment to detox from the internet and get cracking on my novel.    Expect some progress posts later in the month.

Feel free to add me as your Writing Buddy.  I would love to see you online!  Good luck!

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An Afternoon with R.A. Spratt at Brisbane Writer’s Festival

I went to the Brisbane Writer’s Festival for the first time ever today!  There were so many amazing events I would have loved to have gone to, but I managed to fit in one masterclass between uni and work.

rh3BWF is an annual event held in the State Library of Queensland.  Writers and publishing industry professionals flock from all over Australian to share their experiences and knowledge in panels, seminars, and workshops.  The festival also offers great volunteering opportunities that students and emerging writers can take advantage of to network and gain experience.  Check out the BWF website here to see what’s on offer.  It’s running until the 6th of September so you still have a few days left to get in on the action.

The masterclass I attended was led by bestselling Australian children’s author and television writer, R.A. Spratt.  She’s the adult responsible for the Friday Barnes and Nanny Piggins series.   She talked about how to plot a novel and come up with interesting characters through several interactive workshopping exercises.

My favourites of her advice for writing characters were:

  • Remember that everyone has something wrong with them

So make your characters flawed and interesting!  What might be a quick character hook?

  • Borrow qualities from people you know

Basing your character on a real person makes it easier to imagine what your character would say or do in a particular scenario.

  • Ask yourself how and why each of your characters think differently

All of your characters are unique, so figure out how their minds work and why.  This will decide what your character says and does, and how.

R.A. Spratt’s great sense of humour made the masterclass fun and comfortable.  Not to mention she brought chocolate to inspire us (getting a sugar rush is her version of putting on a thinking cap)!  She was bursting with hilarious anecdotes about how she finds ideas and runs writing classes in primary schools.  I’m now very excited to get my hands on one of her books.  Please check out her website here.  You can also follow her on Twitter!

I hope you have a great week, full of inspiration and exciting new learning.

How to Learn Writing Tips & Tricks from your Favourite Author

Ever wished you could write as well as your favourite author?  The best thing my writing course taught me was how to train myself to write better by reading great books.  The wisdom of your favourite author is right under your nose … literally.  

JK-rowling_2352316k

Guess what, you can even learn from the amazing JK Rowling herself!

Here are some steps you can follow.  I’ve added examples to show how I’ve used this process to improve my own writing.

1. Identify an area to improve on in your own writing

What specifically would you like to work on?  What areas do you struggle with or wish to do better?

My example: The dialogue between my twelve-year-old characters didn’t sound as natural as it should.

2. Choose an author who does this thing well

Can you name an author you love who does this particular thing well in their writing?

My example: I knew that JK Rowling writes well-paced and convincing children’s dialogue, so she’s my go-to girl.

3. Pay attention to stylistic choices when you read

Read your chosen author’s writing and pay attention to what he or she is doing on a sentence level.  If you look closely enough, you should be able to spot the techniques and language choices the author made in achieving their goal.  This is stuff we readers often don’t notice or imagine just happened effortlessly.  Tip: Ask yourself what patterns does your author have, and does he or she ever break them?

My example: After reading a scene from Harry Potter, I noticed that JK Rowling uses several techniques to write natural-sounding dialogue: 1. she varies the pattern of turn-taking, 2. the characters each have a unique-sounding voice, 3. she uses a vocabulary that matches the age of the characters, and 4. she breaks up chunks of dialogue with action and description to add flow and variety.

4. Apply this to your own writing

Now that you know what your favourite authors are actually doing, you can learn from them.  Play around with the techniques and see if they help you to solve your problem.

My example: I knew that my dialogue could be improved by using some of JK Rowling’s techniques.  I tried varying the turn-taking, making my characters sound more distinct and age-appropriate, and adding short descriptions to break up chunks of dialogue.  These techniques made my dialogue sound much more natural.  Problem solved!  Not to mention, I just took a writing lesson from the great JK Rowling herself!

Write to me in the comments if you would like more examples for using this process.  I’ll happily help if you get stuck trying!