Write or Die: a new writing tool

Or new to me.

I was threatened by a fellow NaNoWriMo writer, and she sent me this link to help me fight procrastination. As you know, nearly every student of mine is ahead of me in word count—not that it MATTERS!–but it just looks soooo sooo bad.

Welcome to Write or Die, the website.  Below is a Youtube presentation on how it works.  I’m not gonna try it.  It scares me.  I’m a baby.  On kamikaze mode, if you stop writing, it ERASES YOUR WORDS….

So if you get desperate—or you are a spouse of a NaNoWriMo participant, you can switch them over to Write or Die and watch them put many many words on a page just to save themselves from the consequences….

(Actually there is a Gentle and Normal mode which merely prods you into writing….it’s the Kamikaze mode that scares me….)

Let me just say here that I am mucho impressed by the 14 writers in my Novel Writing Class and the 8 writers in my Fantasy and Science Fiction Novel Writing class at how they are SMOKIN’ along Waaaaaay past 10,000 words and we’re only into the second week.

Now that they’ve done it, I have to write 50,000 words!  Great.  Well, I gotta go write a novel…see ya.

Write a Novel With Us: National Novel Writing Month

So you might be bored this November and wonder what to do. You could shovel the walkway again. You could restack the wood. You could rent the Lord of the Rings trilogy or catch up on LOST episodes.

Or you could write a whole novel.

Yep, thousands of people are doing it. And it’s easy to do.

1. Go to www.nanowrimo.org and sign up for FREE.

2. You can write to your heart’s abandon for 30 days. Your aim is to write 50,000 words. But i’ve got two novel writing classes who are aiming this year for 10,000 words–or a novella.

3. Along the way, you get all this encouragement from NaNoWriMo–including well known authors–and me, as I will be sending daily notes.

4. You get to watch your word count rise and the word counts of everyone who is your Buddy.

5. You get to write whatever you want, good, bad, otherwise–and finally get that novel out of you.

6. You can upload your text in Scrambled form using Word. I’ll show you how in a later post. But no one gets to read your novel if you don’t want them to.

7. You have more than 20 people in Whitehorse writing with you! That’s a good company!

So, you have all the incentive, and no drawbacks. If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel—start now with us! You’ll be happy you did. We’ll hold a celebration party on Nov 30 or Dec 1st to congratulate all Whitehorse participants.

When you sign up, find me: Bearnabas–and we’ll be Writing buddies.  (Bearnabas is a variation of Barnabas which means Son of Encouragement.  So, now I’m the Bear of Encouragement.  I know, a bit corny, but it works!)  Happy Novel Writing!

Twenty Three Novels By Yukoners Being Written in November (at least!)

Yep, twenty three novels. Hard to imagine twenty three people all writing novels at the same moment, but that’s the glory of NaNoWriMo. You jump in and you have thousands of words when you get out. I have two classes right now who are participating in this month-long event: 14 in a novel-writing class, 8 in a science fiction/fantasy novel writing class and myself. I’m only requiring 10,000 words which is a novella, but they still count as non-short stories.

Wanna join us in November? Go to www.nanowrimo.org and register for National Novel Writing Month. We can encourage each other. I also encourage you to buy Chris Baty’s book No Plot? No Problem! or to download from the youth section of the nanowrimo website, the youth novel writing workbook which is actually good stuff. I’m using some of it for my high school group, Rocketfuel.

Can you write a novel in one month? Yes. Yeah, you might say, but will it be any good? Most first drafts are good to get out of you, but need some work later. But you can’t make a pot without putting some clay on the table first. Yukoner Ivan E. Coyote pushed out a novel during NaNoWriMo, called Bow Grip. It’s damn good. So, it’s both possible to push out a decent first draft of a novel and possible that this draft can be useful for later publication. Remember the first draft is the hardest.

But everything’s a bit easier if you have a whole crew doing it with you. So, join our CREW!!


World Building, Renewed Interest, 9 Novelists to write 9 Novels

If you were thinking about signing up for a class in
Science Fiction /Fantasy writing this fall, do it next

The class was officially canceled on Tuesday, as it had only five members, but will be re-instated next week on Wednesday because of renewed interest. We now have nine people–and room for many, many more. If you are a fantasy writer or a science fiction writer in town and want to be a part of a novel-writing push, this is your chance.

Sign up with Krista Mroz at Parks and Recreation (phone  633-8505) and join us for pushing out that novel. We’re now online too at Cold Fantasy, a google Group of the writers in the class. With nine other people churning out a novel–and they have day jobs–you can do it too!

World Building: Novel writing for SciFi/Fantasy Writers begins soon

The novel writing course for Fantasy and Science Fiction writers will begin on Tuesday, Sept 23. Come join us this year to learn to write novels. If you are part way working on one, join us anyway. (If you have a draft completed of your novel, you might want to wait till January to start with us in the Workshop phase. )

World Building will cover plot structure and character arc for the novel and then join up with NaNoWriMo in November to push out a first draft. It will be fun and exciting to do this with 15 people. Come join us on Tuesday nights! Registration is now open through the City of Whitehorse, so you can sign up today!

Come build a world, spin a plot, go on a journey.

[In conjunction with this class, the City of Whitehorse will be offering a lunchtime lecture series, free and open to the public, called We All Began With Fantasy, talking about the first great epics of many cultures and their fantasy elements. More details soon…]

CRWR 244: Intro to Novel Writing begins Monday

Jumping into the New Dimension by Fadzly Mubin, all rights reserved

Take the Plunge!

“I just need a kick in the pants!” —You might have said that about writing a novel. You have one in you, but you never had the time or the direction to push it out. Now you do.

If you’re thinking about signing up for the Novel Writing course–then sign up soon! It’s the first time a novel writing course has been offered at Yukon College. It all begins on Monday night, Sept 8, 7-10pm.

Writing can be a lonely business, and novel writing can be daunting–but this course aims to keep you encouraged through a group of people all writing their own novels. Read more about the class on the “Writing Classes” page, and through my posts, “The First Draft is the Hardest.” Write me if you have any questions at jstueart@yahoo.com

There are no prerequisites to the class and Andrew Richardson has agreed to sign off on any students who are interested. You just need to want to write and push out a novel–but with 15 people–it will be enjoyable and we will go through all the roadblocks to writing together! We need 15 people to make the class work at optimum level–there are 7 spaces left.

*All genres of writing are welcome–however, we have a separate class for Science fiction and Fantasy writers on Tuesday nights through the City of Whitehorse, called WorldBuilders, if you want to work with other SFF writers!

Come to Yukon College and take the plunge into a novel!

The First Draft is the Hardest, or my reasons for using NaNoWriMo

Hey Potential Participants of Introduction to Novel Writing,

We all know that we can research and plan a novel to death, but that the difference between a great idea and a great novel is writing it.

I should know.

While I pumped out a novel first draft when I was 19, and finished another first draft of another novel when I was 29, I had plenty of problems along the way–especially on the second one.

When I was 17, I had a teacher in Bledsoe, Texas who taught me creative writing for the first time. She was dedicated and I was her only student–outside of the two junior high students she taught Math, English, social studies, etc, the rest of the school day. We worked on my novel. I wrote like crazy every day one summer and every week we would meet and discuss two chapters and I would give her two chapters to review. I finished that novel. It was not a pretty novel: 6 main characters who meet their 6 adult selves–so 12 main characters in a convoluted plot that would have taken a team of cave rescue people to pull a reader out of. But that’s okay. It got a finished draft.

The second novel I worked on for three or four years. I returned again and again to the first few chapters, always tinkering with them. That is, until a good friend of mine set up a system where we each turned in chapters to each other, and through her, I nearly finished that novel—only to discover that I had some major problems.

The third novel–which I haven’t mentioned–has been a wonderful idea. I wrote 52 first chapters. I got as far as chapter three, but I did have it nearly completely plotted out. I felt like there was so much more research I needed to do before I finished it. Blah, blah, blah (the excuses, you’ve heard them, you may have made them. )

Barb Dunlop, a successful romance novelist with many, many books to her credit, told me and others that the main ingredient to writing was “getting your butt in the chair” and writing. I feel like this is the MAIN point to learning how to write. It is a skill. It is a craft. But it is not about knowledge, anymore than cooking is about reading a good cookbook and memorizing recipes. It is about cooking and screwing up and throwing away what you cooked, or eating what you cooked and realizing–hmmm, I forgot salt. It is developing a skill and craft, and that can only be accomplished by doing it.

National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) is a tool whereby people can push out of them a novel that’s been waiting to be finished, that you’ve piddled around on for years, that you’ve researched and researched, outlined and developed. It exists as a set of notes–not a novel. NaNoWriMo–if used well–can get that novel born. The “used well” part is what I’m adding in this course: instruction on how to write a novel, planning the novel, analyzing successful novels, and creating a supportive group.

My succesful writing experiences had three things in common: a supportive person waiting for the next chapter, reading it, ready for it; very little criticism in the first draft stages; deadlines.

The first semester of Introduction to Novel Writing is a semester where you are encouraged to write your novel, given everything you need to write–tool wise–and set in front of a computer and allowed to write. The first semester is low on criticism of your first draft, high on criticism of successful novels (and some stinkers–wait till I show you the Nazi Werewolf novel I once read), and focused on method and productivity.

NEXT semester, we’ll begin workshopping your novel, if you want, and continuing to hone your craft. But you can’t really critique much in the first draft…. the first draft you must self-critique AFTER it is out of you. Because before it comes out, you don’t know what you have. You just have to write and write.

So, I ask you to come to class excited that this will be the year that you finish a complete draft of your novel. It may be ugly, broken up, unruly and wild, but it will be a finished draft and then you can see what you have. I am so proud of my broken, ugly first drafts because–in the end–I know I completed an idea and got a product. I get to choose what happens now, but at least I know what I have.

Come join us this semester and come home with your “idea” on paper!

Novel Writing Course Texts for Fall 2008

In case you were wondering what we were reading for the Novel Writing course, here are a list of texts.

We have two “How to Write” books:

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty (to be used during the NaNoWriMo experience)

and one novel: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

and two texts available online:

“The Bear Went Over the Mountain”–Alice Munro, a novella that became Away from Her, the movie

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Don’t worry about Bell’s text being from a suspense/thriller author’s point of view.  A) his points are valid and tips useful for whatever you might be writing and B) I’ll be supplementing his tips with advice from a literary standpoint too.  This class is approachable then from both a popular and literary fiction standpoint.  Storytelling is basically the same in either camp–it’s just whether you want to take a canoe down the river or shoot the rapids in a kayak.

Most of the novel/novella reading we’ll do in September and October, leaving you November to write the first draft. If you want to read ahead, feel free. The Munro piece is small, and the Fitzgerald novel is thin. But they balance out the types of novels/novellas we’re looking at closely, so that students can choose the type of novel they want to write knowing that we’ve looked closely at several types.

Please contact me at jstueart@yahoo.com if you have any questions about the course.