Thursday, June 30, 2011

Organic vs. Outlined

I attended a wonderful writing seminar last week which was taught by Steven James. He told the attendees that he prefers to write "organically" -- without an outline. He pointed out that by outlining your entire novel, you will try to force your characters to follow through with your outline even if it does not end up matching up with their personality. In other words, when an author begins writing their novel, they don't know their characters well enough yet to predict how they will react to every situation. So, just go with the flow of what seems natural to your characters.

As much as I like his idea, it makes me nervous to try to write a novel without an outline (and without knowing the ending!). For Neighborhood Watch, I have done little outlining up to this point. So, I'll go ahead and continue planning a bit more today but as I write my novel next month I will be open to trashing the outline and just writing what seems natural. Thanks for the advice, Steven James!

Do you prefer writing organically over outlining? Vice versa? A little of both?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Two days to go...

In two days I will begin my third full-hearted attempt at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This year I want to exceed the 50,000 word goal by at least 100 words. 100 words is nothing but the past two times that I did NaNoWriMo I only went 50-something words over the goal in 2009 and only 4 words over the goal in 2010. So this year, I don't just want to make it to 50k but I want to exceed the past two years of my NaNoWriMo word counts.

I have done a little more planning this week on Neighborhood Watch and received some input from my sisters on the plot and characters. I also learned lots of writing info from the seminar I went to last weekend. I'm pretty excited about NaNo this year!

Here's a cover for Neighborhood Watch (No, I do not own the picture) (No, I did not cut her torso off. Blogger took the liberty of adding a boarder to the picture):

Thursday, June 23, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Prep

I finally began prepping for NaNoWriMo 2011 today!

The reason I waited until now is because I was trying to decide between four novel ideas. I finally picked one I currently have titled as Neighborhood Watch. I went with this one for two reasons: 1) I have little planning on any of the four ideas so this one had the simplest plot to outline in one week and 2) This novels target age group is 10-14 which means that the plot is not going to be heavy. Last year with Shiloh's Children (a novel with plenty of sadness) I had trouble getting the words out as quickly as NaNoWriMo requires. I think (I hope!) it will be easier this year.

While babysitting this morning my 10-year-old neighbor helped me with a few plot devices. Honestly, his ideas were wonderful and I can't wait to incorporate them into my novel. He seemed pretty excited about the book as well which means he will probably bug me about reading it until I show it to him. That means that I will have to not only write Neighborhood Watch but I also might have to *gasp* edit it.

I am going to a writing seminar tomorrow and Saturday which I'm excited about! Maybe I will get a few tips about first drafts before I start on Neighborhood Watch on July 1.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lyrics Contest

I entered my fourth writing contest this year! Someone introduced me to a website called and the site has many writing contests each month. One contest,The Lyrics Contest, closes in a few days. I wrote a song and posted it today. There are about 85 entrants right now and I am sure there will be many more before the contest closes on June 18. The winners receive a few goodies from the site. The first place winner is also published in their blog and newsletter.

The song I posted is about God and that may decrease my chances of winning. Also, I am not sure if my song is mysterious enough for them... I'll just wait and see. Hopefully my lyrics will speak to someone who reads it even if it does not win.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Since my last post...

I read at the Awaken the Sleeping Poet Festival. This was a lot of fun! I am so happy that I ended up entering that contest. It was not only a great experience but it has also got me connected with the San Antonio Poet's Association. They have regular meetings and read-ins which I hope to be attending more often.

I sent in two poems for publication. I sent in two poems that I wrote  into Starsongs Magazine (the magazine that published my tritina). I know I said in my 2011 goals that I wanted to enter 10 writing contests this year but I think I will also count regular submissions. In a way, it is a contest. I am competing with every other writer who submitted work to that same magazine. This submission brings my total up to 3 submissions this year. And it's June. Yes, I am happy I turned this in, but I need to get a move on if I am going to accomplish this goal. It has been four weeks since my submission. I should hear the verdict of this submission in the next two to four weeks.

I really got started editing Shiloh's Children. That's right! I have been thinking about what I would edit in Shiloh's Children for a while now but I actually read through it, made an outline, made notes, etc. My next step actually involves using the computer -- yay! Another 2011 goal at work.

I have decided when I am doing NaNoWriMo 2011. I am doing NaNoWriMo in less than a month! On July 1, I will begin my third full-hearted attempt at National Novel Writing Month. I have four different plot lines that I might write next month (I can't decide) and none of them have a whole lot of planning thus far so I have a lot of work to do before then but I am excited about it. Is anyone else doing NaNo this summer?

I'll post a lot more as I continue to submit work, edit Shiloh's Children, and do NaNoWriMo next month.