November is the month for writers! Hot chocolate, notebooks and window seats, the change of leaves, and pumpkin spice everything (am I right, ladies?)! Time to lock the chilly weather outside and hunker down for lengthy evenings of prose. It’s picture perfect, right? The only thing left to do is to stop dreaming of writing and actually write!
And that’s where NaNoWriMo has got your back!
With thousands of other writers gearing up, it’s a lot harder to make excuses or miss out on the excitement. Fifty thousand words in 30 days. That’s nearly a novel in a month. To some, that sounds impossible. Others have no idea what they’re in for. No matter where you stand, November is the perfect time to amp up your writing game. Do that thing you always say you’re going to do. Write the book. Show your family and friends you’re not just another starving artist!
But NaNoWriMo is notoriously difficult, posing challenges even experienced writers struggle with. So UVW is here to step in and start things off right. Come learn methods, tips and tricks on the important stuff, like:
Pulling a plot together (even if you didn’t have one until just this very moment!)
Quick characterization that will keep the reader – and the writer – from getting bored.
How to keep going even when you want to huck your laptop out the window! (note: Don’t do that)
How to stop yourself from burning it all once it’s done!
And the prizes! (because sometimes self satisfaction isn’t enough)
It’s a 30 day race to success and the writers who have gone before you are living proof that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Join their ranks, get that book written, and be the next success story. So don’t miss the UVW’s mini-educational on October 19 at the Orem Public Library.
Even for those who have no idea what NaNoWriMo is, or have no desire to participate in it, this workshop will be full of helpful writing exercises.
Live to write another day!
Imagine a Civil War tale where the women of the house greeted all male visitors with a warm hug at the door? Or a story about a modern day girl who makes a friend in North Korea through Facebook? Some writers might try to claim creative license, but how long would you keep reading either of these stories with their cringe-worthy mistakes? The devil is in the details, so don’t let a lack of research ruin your story.
But what’s the best way to do research? What kind of details do you need to look for? And when is enough, enough? Jennifer Moore has got your bases covered and will be presenting to the UVW to expand on research of all types including language, setting, culture, and time period.
Jennifer Moore is a passionate reader and writer of all things romance due to the need to balance the rest of her world that includes a perpetually traveling husband and four active sons, who create heaps of laundry that are anything but romantic. She suffers from an acute addiction to 18th and 19th century military history and literature. Jennifer has a B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Utah and is a Guitar Hero champion. She lives in northern Utah with her family, but most of the time wishes she was on board a frigate during the Age of Sail. Check out her website here!
Come listen and learn on Thursday, September 14th at 7 p.m. in the Orem Public Library Storytelling Wing!
By Michelle Stoddard, UVW Treasurer
Mystery is kind of like romance: no matter the genre you’re writing, it always seems to make an appearance. That’s why when Nikki Trionfo presented to Utah Valley Writers on “Creating a Sense of Mystery in Any Genre” the audience was full of writers from across the genre spectrum, all speedily jotting down notes.
Missed it? Well, you’re in luck. Here were my top five takeaways:
While it can be tempting to want to create drama in a particular scene by loading it with reveals, this actually does the opposite and can be difficult for the reader to follow. By limiting your reveals to one per scene, you’re making it easier for the reader to remember and giving your characters a chance to react. Also, if you must put more than one reveal in a scene, group them together.
The farther you get through a story, the more your list of solutions or suspects should narrow, not widen. Adding more possibilities to the list creates a feeling that the story is still ramping up. Obviously this isn’t bad if you ARE getting things started, but if by mid-book the process of elimination hasn’t started it will feel like the story isn’t going anywhere. Eliminating possibilities creates a feeling of progression that funnels your readers into your finale.
When we hear “red herring” we tend to think “dead end,” but that doesn’t mean red herrings have to be a complete waste of time. You can use red herrings to touch on issues related to the theme of your story, develop your main character’s inner conflict, or even sprinkle “plants” (see the next section).
A “plant” is a clue that is not immediately recognized as a clue. They can lead to some great twists, but handling them can be tricky. You need your reader to remember the clue without realizing that it’s significant to the story. A good way to do this is to associate the clue with something unrelated to the plot (a funny occurrence, the romantic interest, etc.), but then quickly distract from it before readers can think it’s important.
Not all clues need to be physical. A clue can be anything: a hand gesture, turn of phrase, or scent. This creates interest and breaks up the pattern of finding “things.” Non-physical clues work as great plants; drop them in carefully and no one will suspect they’re clues!
As you can see, tricks of the mystery-writing trade can be useful to any writer. By implementing these lessons, you can keep your reader turning pages until the very end.