Category: Writing

It is the first day of November and so… NaNoWriMo begins

Posted November 1, 2017 by Jennifer Ellision in blog, Writing / 0 Comments

Happy November, and happy first day of NaNoWriMo to those of you who are participating!

I have fond memories of the madness of NaNoWriMo (also known as National Novel Writing Month). I’ve participated many a time, and won a couple of times– one of those times was working on the book that would become my debut novel, Threats of Sky and Sea. Although, in those days, I was still referring to it by its working title, Apparent.

I’ve used the energy of NaNoWriMo in the past as a revision month–what I called NaNoReMo. This year, I’m not participating directly, but I do have some lofty goals.

Namely, this one: I plan to finish this draft of Over Raging Tides (Lady Pirates #1) before Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.

I’m shooting for this draft to be about 50,000 words, so I have approximately 20,000 to go.

Over Raging Tides will be released in March 2018, and as, I’ve booked some promotion and a slot with my editor, I am sticking to these hard and fast deadlines.

To that end, I’m kicking off November 1st with a goal of 3,000 words today. And I thought that I would share some tips I’ve found helpful, as well as wisdom I’ve earned from my time in the NaNoWriMo trenches.

  • One of the most common pieces of NaNoWriMo advices that you’ll see floating around, is also one of the most helpful: “Get the words down. You can fix it later.” Even when it isn’t NaNoWriMo, I find myself repeating these wise words. “Get the words down. You can fix it later.” That, my friends, is what revisions are for. But you can’t edit a blank page.
  • Turn off the internet and eliminate the distraction of social media. I like to use the Freedom app so that I can still google a piece of research, but sometimes shutting off your wifi will work just as well.
  • Write or Die is your best friend. Or, at least, it’s mine. When I’m stuck, there’s nothing like the threat of a screaming baby, screeching violin, or wailing alarm that gets me to put down some words, even if they’re terrible. See also, Written? Kitten! if you prefer positive reinforcement.
  • Similarly, part of the fun of NaNoWriMo is finding the community in it. In years past, I often met my word-count through word sprints that people on Twitter were taking part in. Even if your Twitter follow list isn’t participating in NaNoWriMo, try following @NaNoWordSprints and playing along there.
  • You know that saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy?” I’ve found it to be true. Celebrate your friends’ word counts as you celebrate your own, but don’t worry about how many more or less words they’ve written than you.
  • Take advantage of some of the special offers that NaNoWriMo offers to its participants. I started writing in Scrivener during the free trial offered to NaNo-ers (or Wrimos, if you prefer) and liked it so much that I used the coupon code I was offered when NaNoWriMo was over to buy the full version. I rarely draft in anything else now. In my opinion, its planning features and functionality for writers are unmatched, but if you’re interested in trying out other software, there are other offers available.
  • Finally…

It is OKAY if you don’t “win” NaNoWriMo. Any words you get down this month are words that you didn’t have before. You made progress! And that should be celebrated. No matter what.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo, or do you have other goals this month? What advice do you find helpful in meeting those goals?

NaNoWriMo 2016

Posted November 1, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in blog, Writing / 0 Comments

nanowrimo-2016

Hey, friends!

Here’s a very quick post to let you know that I’m going to be participating in NaNoWriMo 2016– also known as National Novel Writing Month again! I’m planning to write a total of the usual 50,000 words, but I plan to do that between drafting two short stories and starting the first draft of my next novel.

You can follow along with me by being my NaNoWriMo 2016 buddy! My profile is here.

Good luck, fellow Wrimos! I’ll see you on the other side~

Reflections on writing prose vs. an audio script

Posted October 19, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in Writing / 0 Comments

audio-script

Pretty much all of the writing I’ve done has been prose– that’s how most of you know me, right? Former fanfiction writer turned novelist (with a couple of short stories thrown in for good measure).

the-bridge

But recently, I tried something new. You see, one of my critique partners, Alex Brown, co-created an audio drama podcast called The Bridge that I am O B S E S S E D with. And The Bridge has a few mini episodes that stand apart from the main story arc.

Alex invited me to write one.

I was intrigued– because hey, this was sort of an opportunity to write canon fanfiction for a thing I love! But I was also nervous. I’d never written any sort of a script before.

Still…

challenge

I’m rather happy with how it turned out! You can listen to the result of my efforts here.

But anyway, the endeavor led me to reflect on the unique challenges of writing a script– in my case, basically a monologue– when compared with novels and short stories. And, it led me to think a little of how they’re alike as well:

  • Voice is always important, but when your medium is literally a person’s voice, it’s possibly even more important that you nail the character’s voice.
  • In prose, you can have paragraphs upon paragraphs setting the scene and action. In an audio script, you have to leave the listener’s imagination to do a lot of the heavy lifting. But you can help them along a little bit with sound effects of shuffled papers, footsteps, and the like.
  • Similarly, all that fun internal dialogue we’re used to creating? Yeah, that’s out the window. A lot depends on your dialogue, stage directions, and the voice actor’s delivery. You have to trust that listeners can glean shades of emotion from what they hear. They need to give weight to their pauses. (Thankfully, my first experiment in this medium was with an actor who totally got this)
  • You know that old writing tip that suggests you read your work out loud to check for rhythms and redundancy? To be honest, I’ve only done that when I’m workshopping specific passages in my books, but dude. I can not stress the importance of that enough for the audio drama medium.
  • If you’re a metaphor fan (like me), there’s not a whooooole lot of room to get that out of your system. I mostly used the stage directions for mine. But we do use metaphor in our day-to-day dialogue when trying to describe things to others, so there’s still some room for it.

I’d imagine the challenges present themselves as even greater when you’re writing an episode with a fuller cast, but as I wrote a mini-episode for a single character, things were a little different for me.

Questions to ask when you’re world-building.

Posted October 12, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in blog, Writing / 0 Comments
Questions to ask when you’re world-building.

Once upon a time, I was a baby author, daunted by the task of world-building for my fantasy novel. The majority of my writing had been fanfiction. The stories I created were set in worlds other people had established. I had to think deeply about the world I presented in my Threats of Sky and Sea series if I wanted readers to believe my world-building; to truly immerse themselves in the world and story. As my friend Angel said, after reading an early draft of Threats: Do all of these world-building details need to be included in the book? Not necessarily. But should I, as the writer and world-builder, know them? Absolutely. A version of this post originally appeared on my old blog, Almost Grown-up, but with a completed series under my belt now and gazing off into the horizon at my next upcoming […]

Write Magic Episode 4 – Six Word Stories with Megan Rutell

Posted June 30, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in Write Magic, Writing / 0 Comments
Write Magic Episode 4 – Six Word Stories with Megan Rutell

In Episode 4, Jen chats with blogger Megan Rutell of pageflutter.com about her Instagram challenge, #pfsixwordchallenge for six word stories. Show Notes: Megan’s blog, Page Flutter | #pfsixwordchallenge Sewwhatalicia.com The (Urban) Legend of Ernest Hemingway and Six Word Stories: “For sale, Baby shoes, Never worn.” “The Bullet Journal: What It Is and Why You Need It” on Page Flutter Bydawnnicole.com Bullet Journal bloggers who posted about the challenge: Tiny Ray of Sunshine | Decade Thirty Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert Examples of six word stories: Shari Slade, romance author’s, response to the #pfsixwordchallenge prompt “Dream come true:” “Bleeding and broken, still she danced” Cherri Porter’s response to the #pfsixwordchallenge prompt “Mix-up:”  “Confirm wetnurse babies. Human next time.” G.Thomasmartin’s response to the #pfsixwordchallenge prompt “The Gift:” “Their grief. Their joy. Organ donor.” Megan Rutell is the blogger behind pageflutter.com and the creator of the Instagram challenge #pfsixwordchallenge. She’s […]

Write Magic Episode 3 – Writing for Online Media with Angel Cruz

Posted June 15, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in Write Magic, Writing / 0 Comments
Write Magic Episode 3 – Writing for Online Media with Angel Cruz

In Episode 3, Jen chats with writer Angel Cruz about how the writing and editorial process works in online media, how she began writing for online media outlets to begin with, and comparing/contrasting those processes with how she writes fiction. Show Notes: Angel Cruz’s former book blog was Mermaid Vision Books Angel Cruz is a contributor for Women Write About Comics, Book Riot, and YA Books Central. She is the non-fiction diaspora editor for Rambutan Literary. Some of her pieces have also appeared on The Learned Fangirl, Chicago Review of Books, and The Tempest “Boy band scholar,” a phrase describing Angel, coined by Women Write About Comics editor, Claire Napier Angel’s Women Write About Comics colleague, Ardo Omer Last week’s “Thursday Book Beat,” the column Angel writes for Women Write About Comics: “The Thursday Book Beat: Cursed Child, Criticism, and Community” “The Music of Hamilton: WWAC Shares the Songs […]

Write Magic Episode 2 – Alter Egos with Sarah Nicolas

Posted June 8, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in Write Magic, Writing / 2 Comments
Write Magic Episode 2 – Alter Egos with Sarah Nicolas

In Episode 2, Jen talks to YA author, Sarah Nicolas about maintaining two pen names in different genres and Sarah’s alter ego, romance author, Aria Kane. Subscribe, rate, or review on iTunes | Write Magic community | Write Magic Newsletter | Write Magic Facebook Show Notes: Dragons Are People, Too by Sarah Nicolas Sarah Nicolas’s piece on Book Riot: Why I’m a Romance Evangelist Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheets: From his book, Save the Cat Jessica Brody on applying Save the Cat beat sheets (which originated as a screenplay technique) to a novel Sarah Nicolas’s piece on Book Riot: Why I Sacrificed 45% of My Salary to Work in a Library Keeping Her Secret by Sarah Nicolas will now be out August 15, 2016. Hotel Paranormal series – Lucky Break by Aria Kane Sarah Nicolas Sarah Nicolas is a 31-year-old YA author […]

10 Writing Lessons from Friends

Posted June 3, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in Lists, Writing / 0 Comments
10 Writing Lessons from Friends

So, no one told you life was gonna be this way. *clap, clap, clap, clap, clap* Your job’s a joke. You’re broke. Your love life’s DOA. Is it possible the Friends theme song secretly describes writers? Today, I want to revisit a post from my old blog, Almost Grown-up, to talk about some basic writing rules-of-thumb… with the cast of Friends. Because I think its proper home is here and, to be honest, any post with Friends references is a better post, in my humble opinion. 1. If you’re a pantser, like me, beginning a new draft can feel like this: And that’s okay. 2. That can sometimes lead to a little of this: But that’s what revisions are for. 3. The thesaurus is a wonderful tool! But be sure not to overdo it. 4. PACING matters 5. Get into […]

Announcing a new podcast! Write Magic Episode 1 – Why (Not)?

Posted June 1, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in Write Magic, Writing / 0 Comments
Announcing a new podcast! Write Magic Episode 1 – Why (Not)?

I’ve been listening to podcasts like crazy lately. The podcasts that I subscribe to are my constant companions in the car, on runs, while I get ready, while I cook. And then, I thought, man, it would be really great if I could talk to a bunch of different writers about their processes and mediums and all of the cool things they’re doing. And then, I thought… I totally can do that. And it could be a podcast. So! Introducing the Write Magic podcast. Write Magic is “a podcast about writing in all of its forms.” This first brief episode is an intro as I talk about what I want the podcast to be. It outlines a little more how I decided to go for this idea and where I hope this goes. Write Magic Episode 1 Show Notes: Podcasts I mentioned: Elise Gets […]

Bust the Rut: A Fun and Easy Craft to Break Out of a Writing Rut

Posted May 30, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in blog, Writing / 0 Comments
Bust the Rut: A Fun and Easy Craft to Break Out of a Writing Rut

Sometimes, as a writer, you find yourself stuck in a writing rut. Hey, there’s no shame in that. We’ve all been there. But when you’re in a writing rut, it can be tough to break out of it. Especially if you’re feeling uninspired when it comes to the project you’ve been staring at, day in and day out, for God only knows how long. Lucky for you, my dear writer friend, I have an idea on how you can bust out of that writing rut and even get a cute little decoration for your desk out of the deal. You will need: 1. a container of some sort I used a mason jar, because it’s what I had handy. But you can use a small bucket, a decorative bowl, a vase… Don’t be afraid to get creative with it! 2. […]