Archive for October, 2007


Not Halloween — NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow!

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by with ideas for my story or encouragement. I hope all of you participating this year have fun with it.

It’s only 50,000 words, right?


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Out on a Limb

NaNoWriMo starts in just a few days.

I’ve tried writing on and off over the years; correction, I’ve tried writing down story ideas. I spend time brainstorming, creating character backgrounds, etc. I’ve always had this idea in my head that you have to know exactly where you’re going and how the story is going to end before you start writing. I’ve come up with some passable ideas, I think, but creating the story arc and the ending has always eluded me. So the ideas remain just little scraps of paper.

I just finished reading On Writing, by Stephen King. I picked it up pretty much on a whim at a used bookstore more than six months ago. And I’ve been hesitating to pick it up for some time — not sure why. I think it’s because reading about writing feels like cheating somehow; if you want to write, just write!

The “aha” moment for me from King’s book is the idea that you don’t have to have your story figured out before you start writing. All you need is the “What if?” question: What if vampires invaded a small New England town? The result is Salem’s Lot.

Now, it scares me to death to think about this approach. How can I write if I don’t know where I’m going? The analogy King uses is that your story is like a buried artifact. As you excavate, your story unfolds. He actually argues that there’s more creativity in writing this way than less. You may not know what’s going to happen, but that’s where the fun is for the writer.

I’m willing to give it a try. After all, this is advice coming from one of the world’s greatest modern storytellers. It’s a formula that has clearly worked for him. My method hasn’t exactly been working, so it’s time for something different. I have a story idea, a main character and a setting. The only thing left to do is start writing on November 1.

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I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job.

Thanks. I feel better now.

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Oh, no they didn’t.

Someone has written another sequel to Gone With the Wind.

I have to say that one of the worst reading mistakes I ever made was reading the sequel to Rebecca. Mrs. DeWinter was released while I was working in a bookstore. I don’t think it had been that long since I’d read Rebecca. I was still caught up in the story and wanted it to continue. Big. Mistake. It forever changed the way I see the characters (in a really bad way) and I have to consciously put it out of my mind whenever I re-read Rebecca.

The twist with this new “sequel” (which really isn’t a sequel) is that it takes place from Rhett Butler’s point of view. Rhett Butler’s People (you notice I’m not linking to it — stay away!) starts many years before the events of GWTW so that we can see how Rhett’s character formed. It also follows up after he and Scarlett part ways.

As tempting as this is for Civil War or GWTW fans, don’t do it! Find a really good non-fiction book about the Civil War and read that instead. Or actually read Gone With the Wind. I was surprised when I read it how much different — and better — it is than the movie.

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All you vocabulary buffs out there — take note of an interesting new site called Free Rice. Free Rice is a partnership with Poverty.com. By correctly guessing the definition of a word, ten grains of rice will be donated to help feed the hungry.

The beauty of this is you don’t have to feel guilty about not doing work. And you will learn while doing this. The more words you define correctly, the harder the words get. I consider myself pretty good on vocabulary and within about five words of starting, the site was throwing me words I’d never heard of before.

Over the course of the morning, taking “strategic” breaks from work, I had worked my way up to 1,000 grains of rice. You even get a visual representation of what you’ve accumulated. And trust me, 1,000 grains isn’t that much. So I want to do more.

Via bookshelves of doom

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All About the Gothic

So I’m still considering ideas for NaNoWriMo. As I mentioned in a previous post, I definitely want to do something gothic. It’s set in modern day, probably either in a museum, historic house or on a college campus.

I am shamelessly trolling for ideas. Anyone have a particular gothic element or idea that they’d like to see in a novel? I’m not looking for anything specific (because of course I’m going to get published and become rich and famous and then be subject to a copyright suit [kidding!]). But things like ancient curses, ghosts, a madwoman in an attic — what’s your favorite?

Throw me your ideas, people. I’m the type of writer who needs a clear outline so I know where I’m going. And there’s only two weeks left before writing starts on November 1.

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TV Roundup

What I’ve been watching this week:

America’s Next Top Model — I am LOVING that introverted Heather is doing so well. It must be pure hell for her living in a house with (now) 10 other extroverts. But she’s doing well. Hah! I scoff at all extroverts! (Well, not really. Some of my best friends are extroverts. Hi, sis!)

Survivor — Boring. Seriously. I think I’m going to skip the next several weeks and wait to tune in when there are only a few contestants left. I don’t like anyone in particular; and I rather actively hate several of them. Miss Alli’s posts on Television Without Pity are way funnier — and take up much less time.

Mad Men — I LOVE this show! I’ve said it before, many times, but it really is that good. Jon Hamm — someone I’ve never heard of before — is an incredible actor. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty damn sexy too. It’s too bad there’s only one episode left this season. But that means I can now tune in to new episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent on USA. I miss Bobby Goren!

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