Moments Like These Make It Worth It

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trading writing prompts with a friend (who shall remain nameless until such a time as she lets me know she’d like to be revealed). Every other week, we exchange a prompt as a challenge and write a short story. We then trade the stories for critique. I have to say that I really think the whole thing has been working out quite well overall.

There have been a couple of weeks, though, where I’ve kind of just stared at the page until a day or two before the deadline and then banged something out quickly, with little thought to craft or plot. I’m not too lofty to admit it. But there have also been two prompts that stand out in my mind like a torch readied to spark the bonfire.

That’s what they were, too. The first prompt lead to what I call my “Amazonian wild west murder mystery”. I haven’t even opened the critique on this yet, because it would hurt my heart if my writing partner hated it. One day soon, when I’m ready to revisit Deadtown (as the story is called), I’ll open the critique and take a look at it. Until then, I’m a little bit too in love with the idea to take constructive criticism. Yet. Every writer needs to take it eventually, but I see no harm in realizing when you’re not ready for it yet.

The second prompt I received this week, and while the story isn’t written yet, I have the beginning, middle, and end all laid out in my mind. I’m a little bit in love with this idea, too. You see, Sunday evening I had only the vaguest idea of what story this prompt had, well, prompted in my mind.

Then I went to sleep and dreamed the whole thing. I love it when my subconscious reaches out and gives me a helping hand. I watched from a little floaty corner of the room as a teenage girl, a thin coward of a man, and a voluptuous priestess drank cold bottles of ale in a dirty stone tavern and discussed their history together. I then observed what happened next, and had my ending.

And in the morning, I woke up and scribbled the whole thing down as fast as my fingers could fly.

It was all there for the taking: compelling characters, the taste and smells and sounds of the setting, and the action-packed climax, followed by an ending that could break a heart. *happy sigh*

It’s days like these that make the whole thing worthwhile.

Writer's Resources for November 4th through November 11th

These are writers’ resource links I’ve found helpful and/or interesting for November 4th through November 11th:

Writer’s Resources for November 4th through November 11th

These are writers’ resource links I’ve found helpful and/or interesting for November 4th through November 11th:

NaNoWriMo: Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

So pretty soon it will be October 1st, which is the day that the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) forums reset for the 2010 challenge. That means it’s time now to start thinking about this year’s NaNovel. Once the forums reset, we’ll all have 1 month to brace ourselves for the writing whirlwind.

What is NaNoWriMo?

To recap, for those who’ve never heard of it: National Novel Writing Month, widely known as NaNoWriMo, is a yearly writer’s contest in which you are given 30 days in which to pen a 50,000 word novel. NaNoWriMo begins at midnight your local time on November 1st and ends at the same time on November 30th.

There are no prizes, other than a certificate and bragging rights. There is nothing to stop you from copying other text and reporting  yourself as a winner. Except for the sheer ridiculousness of cheating in a contest for which you win absolutely nothing.

The point of the contest is to get into the habit of writing every day, as well as to use time constraints to shut down the voice of that evil inner critic every writer seems to have. I’ve participated every year since 2004.

So Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

Everything I write tends to have a different method. My current work in progress (WiP) has been pretty thoroughly plotted. You should see all the post-its on my wall. This was a very different method for me as I’d usually not done much more than a vague outline before. I’ve also been a complete pantser in the past.

I recently discovered something called ‘phase drafting’, however, and I’m kind of interested in giving it a try. (Find out more about phase drafting here.) On the other hand, I don’t have much more than a couple of scene fragments to build from. That’s if I choose to use one of the two more developed ideas I’ve got on hold.

Yet it’s also a nice idea to be able to weave in whatever comes to mind. I find it exciting to think about writing in all the purple bunnies and ice-skating penguins that show up in the middle of the story. A completely whimsical, nonsensical story sounds enormously appealing after all the work that’s gone into plotting my current novel.

I haven’t decided on anything yet, though, and I still have a little while to make up my mind. So please join in. Are you planning to plot your NaNovel this year or write by the seat of your pants? Please leave a comment and let me know!

Note: I’m not asking for details of your plot and it’s probably best to keep that to yourself. Just tell me if you’re going to be a plotter or pantser this year! Thanks!