Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Writing Tips I'll Be Using During Julnowrimo

Only one day to go. One. Bloody. Day. I am wondering what possessed me to sign up to this julnowrimo thing but I'm hoping it will be like school parties; you dread going but once you're there it's not so bad. By complete accident I've just finished reading a book about writing and a lot of the advice has stuck and is going to be written on notes and stuck on my cork board. The book is called "Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey" by Chuck Wendig. If you have yet to experience the unique charm of Wendig head over to his site Terrible Minds - it is full to the brim with writing tips, advice, swearing and much mention of how pants (in the American sense) are not necessary when you're a freelance writer working from home. Oh, and the joys of alcohol. I like it as it imparts genuinely sound advice in a non-pushy, passive-aggressive way. That and it makes me laugh. Reading his book on the London underground I got funny looks at times as I had to stand there and try not to guffaw into the armpits of my fellow passengers while waiting to get a seat.

Some of my favourite parts were the really practical stuff that tends to be taken for granted, like avoiding coincidence in your story to act as a solution to the problem, or the basic structure of every story ("Something Gets Fucked up, and Somebody Fixes The Thing That Got Fucked Up"). He even talks about what makes up an act, how to take criticism and how to rewrite. The rewrite bit was particularly useful as it's help me see how to do that once the first draft is finished. Which is also acting as an incentive to finish the first draft. And lastly, but definitely not least, I now have a way to work out what the hell the theme is of the story I'm writing. I've always known you should have a theme, and I've read Stephen King's "On Writing", but it isn't until "Confessions" that I understood how to work it out. Also, I have to say, if you have read King's take on the craft of writing then you must read Wendig's. His insights are very useful and much more based on the whole working hard principle, rather than things just coming together by magic (which King seems to suffer from a bit. He might be able to write without an outline, I've found it's practically impossible to stay on track without one).

So here I am, prepping for the biggest writing challenge I've ever taken part in. Next week I'll update you how it's going. I figure as long as the words keep coming then at least I'm making progress. And I wish luck to all my fellow julnowrimo masochists. I'm going to have a stiff drink (or ten) when it's done.


If you too would like to learn the secrets of the Penmonkey you can buy Chuck Wendig's book here. AND as if that wasn't tempting enough he has an offer on at the moment (as of 04.07.11) so that you might get free stuff if you buy it. Full details are here.

Go on, you know you want to. He talks about murdering Unicorns and everything (only figuratively though - I don't think even he could bring himself to murder a Unicorn).

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