Should You Try Out NaNoWriMo?

Happy NaNoWriMo, my friends!

Yes, it is that time of year again where writers of all ages are buckling down and knocking out 50,000 words of a novel draft. It’s a fantastic month full of creativity, feverish writing, and passion for a new project. I love interacting with other writers and updating my status with my friends as the month goes on. There’s truly nothing better.

This year, I wasn’t sure if I had the availability to take on NaNoWriMo again this year (click here for an account of last year’s experience). I’ve been working on research and interviews for my Book Creator project, academics have ben a whirlwind, and I just started having some free time to myself for the first time all semester. But at the same time, I was itching to get back to the world of the Three Realms and start my second book of the Chasing Fae¬†trilogy, Chasing War. Eventually, I decided to take November 1st as a trial run day, a test to see if I had enough inspiration to write this story from my outline. Friday was incredible; I wrote over 2000 words of fantasy, the most that I had written in the genre since I finished up my final edits of Chasing Fae in July. I couldn’t wait to write more. That’s how I knew I needed to do NaNoWriMo and make it another real time commitment in my life.

I want to encourage all young writers to undertake this challenge this month. Don’t be discouraged that NaNoWriMo has already started; there are plenty of days left to create something amazing.

Is NaNoWriMo Right For You?

Do you have a novel idea that you are burning to write?: If you’ve got an idea that is so perfect that you are just itching to get it down on paper, NaNoWriMo is the place to start.

Have you struggled with following through on an idea in your writing?: If you’re not great with being motivated enough to finish a novel, trust me, NaNoWriMo may be your savior. I wrote story after story throughout my middle and high school years, but the majority of my novels never got finished. I’d write six to eight chapters and then move on to the next new idea. Last year was the first time that I had completed an entire first draft since my first book written when I was 10 (still won’t see the light of day). This challenge really works as motivation. Use it!

Do you need to add another 50k to the project you’re already working on?: Guess what? NaNoWriMo is for you too! Some people choose not to start an entirely new draft in November; they pick one they’ve been meaning to work on and grind steadily along with that idea until it’s complete. There are no limits to what you can achieve.

Don’t let fear of what you can’t do stand in the way of what you could do. Even if you don’t reach your 50,000 word goal, you’ve still taken that first step towards getting your novel finished. Whether it’s 1000 words, 5000 words, or 50,000 words, there’s nothing more important than just starting.

Happy writing, everyone.

How To Turn A First Draft Into A Second Draft

Hey guys! Welcome back to Fluff About Fantasy on this fine Saturday. I’ve been up for hours volunteering at the local farmer’s market and finishing up some homework. I’m really looking forward to writing today; I’m on my second round of revisions moving towards a third completed draft.

So today, I want to talk about how to take the first draft of your novel and turn it into a second draft. Since I’ve just recently finished this process, I thought it would be a good idea to show you some of the steps of moving forward with your story. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to more first drafting and researching processes again!

The Second Draft: The Creation Stage

I read in an article somewhere, though I can’t remember which one right now, that the first draft is to get everything down on paper and the second draft is to make the story look like you knew what you were doing all along. I think that this is a very powerful and very useful way to approach drafting, especially in the early stages. Your second draft is a great time to fix all of those places, large and small, where you knew what you wanted to happen, but didn’t know what to say. This is where your story is really going to come to life.

Step Zero: Take Time Away.

Before you can even think about touching your first draft again, you have to put it away. The minimum time recommended is two weeks. Many authors like to have at least a month away from a draft before they come back. Others say it’s fine to come back whenever you start itching to write again. Regardless of your timeframe, time away from your novel will allow you to look at it with fresh eyes and catch mistakes much more comprehensively. Personally, I put mine aside for two weeks and distracted myself with Christmastime and spending time with family.

Step One: The Readthrough

The first step is to confront your first draft with a reader’s eyes. For this step, you’ll need a pen, a highlighter, your draft, and a comfy place to sit. Once you’ve settled in, it’s time to read! Read your entire draft start to finish with as little interruptions as possible. It helps if you’re a fast reader. If you read slowly, try to finish the book in as little time as possible. Don’t leave long gaps in between readings (i.e. a full day or more).

As you read, take notes. This isn’t really a place to fix typos, though if you’re a nitpicky reviser, it’s okay to make note of them. Mainly, you’re going to be focusing on big and small changes. Larger ones include items like a whole chapter needing to be reworked or you may find you need a whole new chapter! Smaller ones can be word choice, phrasing, or a new passage that would improve description or worldbuilding. Any and all questions you have about your own work or new ideas you want to incorporate should be noted down.

Leave no stone unturned. Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. If it doesn’t work, even if you love it, get rid of it.

Step Two: The Revision Phase

Once you’ve read through your draft and made all the notes you want to make, you should have a good indication of how much work is ahead of you. Now onto revising. There are many revision methods that authors take to complete their next drafts. I’m going to go over a few options.

1. Chronologically: This is the method that I used. I worked through my changes one chapter at a time, starting from the prologue and ending with the last chapter. Any changes that crossed multiple chapters, I made notes of and made sure to incorporate elements when I got there. I felt like I could see myself progressing much more clearly, and it made me feel closer to the end with each step.

2. Major vs. Minor: Many authors like to focus on making their largest changes first. Plot holes, weak characterization: issues like that are confronted first. These tend to span multiple chapters or even the entire novel. Once major changes are made, then writers confront the smaller issues. These changes usually include items on a chapter by chapter basis.

3. Rewriting: This method is the most time consuming, in my opinion, but some authors find this to be very useful. This method of revision is a conscious choice to start over from the beginning. This is an entire rewrite of your novel. Yes, I know it sounds crazy. But some people do find it easier to incorporate their changes through the natural writing process rather than inserting changes in here and there. Hey, once you’ve done it once, the next one is easier!

Once you’ve finished making all of your changes, big and small, you’ve got yourself a second draft! Isn’t that exciting?!

Tips for First Drafts

Hello friends! For today’s post, I would love to talk about first drafts. For many young authors, this can be a bit of a scary concept. Taking an idea, whether you just came up with it or have been toying with it for years, and turning it into a full fledged novel is a daunting task. When you look at the blinking cursor on the blank page, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But that’s what I’m here for!

I want to give you some helpful tips on writing first drafts based on what I have learned in my NaNoWriMo experience to get you from page 1 all the way to the end.

#1: Get prepared.

Now, depending on whether you’re an outliner or a pantser (see this article to figure out which one you are), this step may or may not apply to you. But in my personal experience, I think it is always a good idea to start out with at least some idea of where you’re going. At the very least, a basic idea of beginning, middle, and end is a good idea as well as knowledge about your main character(s). For fantasy novels, I would also highly, highly recommend having more than a basic knowledge of your universe. It will save you so much time in the long run than creating details out of thin air where you may forget to keep them consistent. If you prefer more detailed preparation, I like to use a plot outline that I have the option of sticking to or deviating from as new ideas come to light. These tactics will serve you well as you begin drafting.

#2: Just start.

The hardest part of drafting is starting.

No, really, it is.

Your head is often filled with doubts. Is this the right idea? Do I know enough about what I want to write to start writing? Am I a good enough writer to start a novel on a whim? What am I doing? It can be difficult to shut off those thoughts, especially if this is your first novel attempt.

But I promise you, you are good enough.

All you have to do is start. You don’t even have to start at the beginning if you don’t want to; you can start from any point in your story where you have inspiration. Just get words down on the page. Which brings me to my next point:

#3: Keep going.

Drafts often end up partially finished, whether due to lack of inspiration or lack of motivation. I have found that a good way to combat this is to just keep writing. Even if you know it’s terrible. These moments can be fixed in the second draft when revisions begin. I read a fantastic tip in an article by Marissa Meyer, the author of Cinder, right before I began Chasing Fae that really stuck with me as I started NaNoWriMo.

Write fast.

That’s all. Write fast. When taken at face value, it may seem a little confusing. But when explained, it becomes a fantastic concept. Essentially, Meyer sets herself a relatively short time frame to complete her first draft. A month is usually a good place to start. Then you stick to that time frame, whatever you have to do. You skip over sections that you can’t seem to connect to another at the moment to places where you have more inspiration. I wrote Chasing Fae from both ends before meeting up in the middle. It’s a lot easier than you would think, and the end result is very satisfying.

And there you have it! My best advice on first drafts. Feel free to comment with any other pieces of advice or stories about your own experience with first drafts!