NaNoWriMo November 2020: Are you participating?

It’s that time of the year again. Autumn is slowly showing signs of breaking through, which means NaNoWriMo is almost around the corner. Are you participating? Let me know!

What is NaNoWriMo?

The National Novel Writing Month is an international writing event where you write, in your own favorite writing place, 50.000 words of your novel. It starts November 1st, 12:00AM and ends November 30th, 11:59PM in your own timezone.

Why Participate?

NaNoWriMo offers you the possibility to just write, ignoring all mistakes you make (shut out that inner editor!), just keep on writing. It helps you to get  into a daily habit of writing.

Additionally, there are literally tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of people participating at the same time. You will get support through the forums, Facebook, Twitter and more!

HOW much do I have to write a day?

50k words translates to 1,667 words per day. I know, it’s a lot! I’ll give you tips on how to break this down and start a daily writing habit before November 1st. If you have any tips, share them here!

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2020

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo is an event where you can join a virtual cabin with 19 other writers and enjoy a month of writing frenzy, inspiration and much more.

What is camp all about?

The main thing, of course, is writing. You’ll set up a goal you want to reach this month and try to achieve it. And you meet up with several writers in an online cabin.

Your goal

Your goal can be set in words, hours, minutes, lines and pages, unlike in November, where the only goal is in words. You can chose a lesser amount than the normal 50.000 words NaNoWriMo November has. And of course, if you really wanna go for it, you can choose an even greater goal.

What will you write?

During camp, you’re free to write anything you want. While the goal for NaNoWriMo November is to write a novel, during camp you can edit your drafts, work on world building, plot your next novel, do research or basically anything else you’d like to write during Camp.

Cabins?

What are these cabins about? I’ve heard that question often. Basically it’s a virtual cabin where you group with 19 other writers. At Camp NaNo you enter your project details and you state if you’d like to be added to a cabin randomly or you can set up your own cabin. If you don’t want to start your own cabin and do not want to be entered to just some cabin, you can also look on the forums for a cabin to join.

Camp activities?

Are there any camp activities? Well, that all depends on the group. In the groups I’ve been in, we have regular chats in the weekends and we’re quite active during the week as well. Once camp’s over, we even have our own (closed) Slack group where keep in touch.

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo is an event where you can join a virtual cabin with 19 other writers and enjoy a month of writing frenzy, inspiration and much more.

What is camp all about?

The main thing, of course, is writing. You’ll set up a goal you want to reach this month and try to achieve it. And you meet up with several writers in an online cabin.

Your goal

Your goal can be set in words, hours, minutes, lines and pages, unlike in November, where the only goal is in words. You can chose a lesser amount than the normal 50.000 words NaNoWriMo November has. And of course, if you really wanna go for it, you can choose an even greater goal.

What will you write?

During camp, you’re free to write anything you want. While the goal for NaNoWriMo November is to write a novel, during camp you can edit your drafts, work on world building, plot your next novel, do research or basically anything else you’d like to write during Camp.

Cabins?

What are these cabins about? I’ve heard that question often. Basically it’s a virtual cabin where you group with 19 other writers. At Camp NaNo you enter your project details and you state if you’d like to be added to a cabin randomly or you can set up your own cabin. If you don’t want to start your own cabin and do not want to be entered to just some cabin, you can also look on the forums for a cabin to join.

Camp activities?

Are there any camp activities? Well, that all depends on the group. In the groups I’ve been in, we have regular chats in the weekends and we’re quite active during the week as well. Once camp’s over, we even have our own (closed) Discord group where we keep in touch.

Besides the online cabin activities I always host write-ins with a few friends during camps. If you live in the Netherlands (or happen to visit the Netherlands in April), you are very welcome to join us. Dates will be announced later!

World building Basic Module – an introduction

Adventures

World building can be a very fun and sometimes daunting task. Before we go into the specifics of world building, let’s see what makes world building so important in our book, tv series, games and movies.

The introduction & the course

In this lesson we look at why world building needs to be done in the first place. It will help you decide if you want to do world building for your project.

How does this lesson benefit YOU?

This lesson is important for you if you are not sure yet if you should do anything with world building. It will help you understand that you need to do world building, even if it’s just for small elements.

What are you going to decide in and after this lesson?

You will decide:

  • if you’re going to do world building at all for your project;
  • if you’re first going to build your world or first start writing/developing or do both in conjunction.

Why is world building important?

Every fictional book we read, means to give the reader a good time, maybe even transport them to another time and place. For that to happen, as a reader you need to be able to imagine where this place is, in what time period, what it looks like.

Let’s look at an example:
I’m walking to the bakery to get a loaf of bread before I go to work. I cross the plaza and arrive at the bakery where there is luckily a small line of customers.

What does this tell you about the world the character lives in? Nothing besides the fact that there’s a bakery in it. This scene could take place in any book. A fantasy, a contemporary romance, even a science fiction story.

Let’s see what an adjustment might tell us about the world the character lives in:
On my way to the bakery I walk carefully on the cobblestones while avoiding the horses, carriages and dog carts that cross my way. This early sunny morning the plaza is already filled with small stalls where vendors sell their goods. Through the smell of the hides, cured meat and cheese and nuts I can just make out the delicious fragrance of fresh baked bread from my favourite baker. I hurry across the plaza and I’m just in time at the bakery to avoid being in a long line. I’ll have my loaf of bread and be on time for my work.
 
In this adjusted scene we learn a lot more about the world the character lives in. You may not know the exact time frame, but this is not our modern-day western world. We learn that there are enough horses, dog carts and carriages that our character might be hindered by them. We see that some goods we don’t find on markets nowadays, are there for sale, like the hides.
As a reader you can now envision the world of the character. Maybe you don’t know yet if it’s a historical fiction or a fantasy story, but we have learned a lot more. And that is why we need world building. These are details you as a creative writer not only need to know, but you need to convey that to your audience as well. That way you can not only give them a story, but you give them a world to disappear in for a while, even if it’s only during their lunch break. For a moment they are out of their daily routine, away from the stress and they can relax. It has just become a believable world.

When do you need it?

It doesn’t matter what kind of story you write, be it a short story or an epic one of hundreds of pages or even the background of your game or TV series/movie, every story needs world building. Stories set in a contemporary romance genre need it just as much as a science fiction novel that plays on a made-up planet.
 
As a game designer you need to be able to describe your world to your artists, quest designers and marketeers.
A TV series or movie concept writer needs to be able to pitch her project to investors and needs to be able to convey to prop designers and shooting crew what the world looks like. After all, you cannot have a Styrofoam cup in a world where people drink from wooden, porcelain or iron cups, goblets or tankards. Yes, Game of Thrones TV series crew, I’m looking at you here.
The only difference is how much world building you need to do to make your world believable for your readers, players or viewers.
In a contemporary romance you can say for example, that a character lives in present day New York and your audience will often already have an idea of the world the character lives in. That doesn’t mean, however, that your readers don’t want to know if the character lives in a busy street in downtown Manhattan, or in a quiet street in the suburbs.

World building or writing first?

Some will tell you that you HAVE to start with world building or your story will be worthless. I am here to tell you this is not true. It can, however, be extremely helpful to have at least thought about a few basic things. and it can save you a lot of time in writing the next drafts and editing.
 
Before you have a final version of your story, you can adjust it after your first draft. Many authors and other creative writers often include more world building in their later drafts. So, there’s no harm in not starting with world building. Starting with world building (maybe at the same time as your writing) can, however, give you an advantage during your writing process, because oftentimes the world becomes more alive for yourself as well.
 
Deciding on how your process takes place depends on how your story came to you. Did you first get an idea for a storyline or for a character or a world? When the storyline came first, you’ve probably already started writing. World building elements can easily be included while you’re writing your first draft and in later drafts. Did you get the idea for a character or a world first, then you might have to work some more on your world building to get a better idea for a possible storyline, if you don’t have that yet.
From my experience world building and writing go hand in hand. For my current Work In Progress (WIP) I knew I wanted a world that had dragons, dragon riders and mages. And I didn’t want it to have guns and cannons. I like the medieval period, but I didn’t want to limit myself to Europe alone (where you’ll often find fantasy worlds have their origin).
That was all I knew before I started developing the outline and the characters. I began to include more world building when I noticed there were things I didn’t know. I knew I had to figure out these things before writing my story, cause otherwise I could never make the world believable to my readers.

A look into Tergaenae

There was one big question I had: how on earth am I going to make dragons work in our modern-day world (without the guns and cannons that is)? I had no idea. I tried it, but I failed spectacularly at it. When I tried to find locations where they would live, what they would eat and things like that, I was stuck without a way out.
Photo by Ryan Moulton on Unsplash
That is when I decided I needed another world. An older world. I looked at several options and, in the end, decided to go for a completely new world where I could do much more with not only the dragons, but also the mages.
This is how Tergaenae came into existence.
It is how the development of my storyline and character development partially influenced my world building.
 

Inspirational resources & the real world

I’ve also had moments where my world building influenced my storyline. When I looked at the places dragons could live, I found the Han Soon Doong caves in Vietnam.
That little yellow speck just on top of the stone just on the right of the middle is a human. Can you imagine how big this cave is? It is THE reason why I chose this particular cave as an inspiration for Dragon City.

These are giant caves that even have their own weather system! Photos of this cave inspired my layout of Dragon City, the place where the dragons would live and where the dragon riders would live. And where the palace of the Dragon Rider King would be.

It helped me solve the question how it was possible that the princes didn’t fully know about the physical health of their stepmother. They live with the rest of their squads in the Aeries, which are close to the entrance of the cave, whereas the palace is located deeper inside the cave. And thus, the princes don’t see their parents every day.

World as important as your characters and story

When we read a book, we are drawn to it for several reasons. For one reader it’s the characters, for another the storyline and for a third it’s the world. It doesn’t mean that the readers don’t care for the other things, they are just drawn to other elements. But in the end all three factors make up the entirety of the story. If you have amazing characters, but the world isn’t interesting and believable, readers will put your book away, stop watching the movie or playing the game eventually. They might finish it, but they won’t revisit it. They might not even remember any details of the story a few days after having finished it.

When a story hardly has any world building in it, it could literally play in any genre and time period, which will confuse your audience. It makes it not interesting and unbelievable. That is not what we want in our projects. We want our audience to come back to our projects and that is why we need world building.

When DO we remember things of a story?
When it touches our senses. When we can imagine what the streets smelled like, what colour of clothing our favourite character was wearing, when we can almost feel the icy wind on our skin, when we feel cold ourselves when our characters have ploughed through meters of snow to get from the house to the barn to milk the cows. Or when they are soaked to the bone because they had to walk miles through the rain without any means of getting home faster.
That is why world building is so important. It helps us to create a believable world, characters the reader can relate to and a storyline that both makes sense and is fascinating.

Your lesson for today

Today the lesson is the same for authors, movie developers, game designers and TV series developers. It has two parts:
A: now that you know all this, decide if you want to take on the job of world building for your project.
B: if your answer to A is “yes”, decide if you’re going to focus on world building first or if you’re going to combine both the world building and your writing/development.

Do you have any questions?

Let me know! You can contact me through Patreon, my site and, if you have the right tier, Discord.
In the next lesson we will look at the world you can choose for your project.

Happy 2020!

Happy New Year

2019 was a good year for me in which I learned a lot. 2020 will be my year where I take things to the next level! I will tell you more about that later on.  Right now I wish you a Happy New Year! May 2020 bring you lots of joy, laughter, happiness & love and may it make at least one of your dreams come true! 

Have fun writing & reading! May you get lost in  your favourite worlds and let us know about them once you manage to  get out! If you can’t get out, send us at least a message so that we can come and get lost with you 😁😁 

My year started quite good. With my newly acquired Netflix account I managed to binge watch the first season  of The Last Kingdom until 4:30AM of New Year’s day, so that was an excellent start 😁 I got  up 5 hours later and went for a walk. Starting the new year with a nice  physical activity is, I think, exactly what My Peak Challenge prescribed 😁😁 To continue getting healthier I decided to renew my membership with another year!

To get things going I’m participating with the #peakstreak. My activities will be
– 20 minutes of walking each day (besides what I already do at work) (Thank you, @WalkingPeakers, for the encouragement!)
– 20 minutes of writing (thank you @peakerwriters for the encouragement!)
I might add a secret activity of which I might show you more later this month 😁

Additionally I’ll participate in @foodiepeakers‘s water challenge starting tomorrow!

And  to start (a bit) healthy I’m currently making my own “appelstroop”.  It’s kinda like syrup made of apples but a bit thicker so that you can  apply it to your bread. So far the first attempt has failed, but I’ll keep trying.

Thank you Sam, John, Jordana & Alex for your continued enthusiasm and encouragement for us all!

In  the meantime this will be the first year I’ll live on my own again, now that my ex is moving out of our house (we part on good terms, btw, all  is good!) so I’ll probably have to get used to doing things all by  myself again in a few weeks time.

I’ve set a few goals for myself this year:
– Get healthier
– Loose one clothing size
– Finish my first book
– Create a querying package
– Participate in December 3rd #pitmad on Twitter with my first #amwritingfantasy novel #tergaenae #infinitysaga #chased – go on at least one of @walkingpeakers‘s walks

Let me know what your goals are!

#mypeakchallenge2020 #peakersisters 

NaNoWriMo November: Are you participating?

It’s that time of the year again. Autumn is slowly showing signs of breaking through, which means NaNoWriMo is almost around the corner. Are you participating? Let me know!

What is NaNoWriMo?

The National Novel Writing Month is an international writing event where you write, in your own favorite writing place, 50.000 words of your novel. It starts November 1st, 12:00AM and ends November 30th, 11:59PM in your own timezone.

Why Participate?

NaNoWriMo offers you the possibility to just write, ignoring all mistakes you make (shut out that inner editor!), just keep on writing. It helps you to get  into a daily habit of writing.

Additionally, there are literally tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of people participating at the same time. You will get support through the forums, Facebook, Twitter and more!

HOW much do I have to write a day?

50k words translates to 1,667 words per day. I know, it’s a lot! I’ll give you tips on how to break this down and start a daily writing habit before November 1st. If you have any tips, share them here!

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2019

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo is an event where you can join a virtual cabin with 19 other writers and enjoy a month of writing frenzy, inspiration and much more.

What is camp all about?

The main thing, of course, is writing. You’ll set up a goal you want to reach this month and try to achieve it. And you meet up with several writers in an online cabin.

Your goal

Your goal can be set in words, hours, minutes, lines and pages, unlike in November, where the only goal is in words. You can chose a lesser amount than the normal 50.000 words NaNoWriMo November has. And of course, if you really wanna go for it, you can choose an even greater goal.

What will you write?

During camp, you’re free to write anything you want. While the goal for NaNoWriMo November is to write a novel, during camp you can edit your drafts, work on world building, plot your next novel, do research or basically anything else you’d like to write during Camp.

Cabins?

What are these cabins about? I’ve heard that question often. Basically it’s a virtual cabin where you group with 19 other writers. At Camp NaNo you enter your project details and you state if you’d like to be added to a cabin randomly or you can set up your own cabin. If you don’t want to start your own cabin and do not want to be entered to just some cabin, you can also look on the forums for a cabin to join.

Camp activities?

Are there any camp activities? Well, that all depends on the group. In the groups I’ve been in, we have regular chats in the weekends and we’re quite active during the week as well. Once camp’s over, we even have our own (closed) Slack group where keep in touch.

NaNoWriMo newbie guide

With Camp NaNoWriMo a mere week away, I was asked to explain this event and I’m happy to oblige 🙂

Introduction

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is an event that takes place three times a year: April, July and November. April and July are called the Camp months. These are easier and nice to get into the habit of writing or to prepare yourself and/or your project for November.

Origin

NaNoWriMo originally started as a challenge in a small group of friends in the USA. Their goal was to write the first draft of a novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November. It didn’t have to be a finished product, but it would be a start from which you could move on to a complete finished product.

Current state

By now it has grown into an international phenomenon in which writers from all over the world participate. Several well-known authors have started at NaNoWriMo! And not only has it grown into an international event, it has also expanded with two more months: The Camp months. Let me start with those.

The Camps

The camps are in a virtual cabin at http://campnanowrimo.org. Each cabin can hold a maximum of 20 people and basically consists of a chat function that’s on the site.

Goals

Camps are easier than the main event, because you can set your own goals. You pick one of the following:

  • Words

  • Hours

  • Minutes

  • Lines

  • Pages

and set the goal for it that you want to achieve by the end of the month. Do you think you won’t be able to make the default 50k? Start with 25k or 10k even. You free to choose your goal 😀 And…… If, for example, halfway through the month, you discover you can’t reach your target, you can adjust it. Of course you can also up the target!

Each camp runs from the first of the month to the last day of the month. The start and end times are from your own time zone, so there’s no stress about checking the time in another zone.

The site has a counter which you can adjust to display your goal count. The counter helps to display a graph of your progress and the progress of your cabin.

How will you know you’ve won?

When the time comes to validate your project, there will be a validation tool to validate your project. It is a simple pop-up field in which you paste the text of your project, if your goal was to write a certain amount of words.

I don’t know how the other goals are validated, because I have never done those goals for camps, but I do know there are ways to validate those as well.

Mind you, Camp, nor the main event, stores your novel. The validation process will only check the amount of words and then delete the whole text again. The basic information of your project (the info you fill out in the project info, is kept)

What can you win?

You’ll get a certificate 😀

Besides that there are several offers from sponsors that might give you discounts or even free access depending on participating and winning. For example:
Scrivener gives you a 20% discount coupon for participating. But if you win, you’ll get a 50% discount coupon. If you haven’t worked with Scrivener before, there is a free 30-day trial which of course is handy to use during either one of the events.

How do you get into the cabin?

Once you have created a project, you have several options:

  • you can tell the system to sort you into a cabin

  • you can search the forums (http://nanowrimo.org/forums/finding-cabin-buddies) for a suitable cabin and ask for an invite

  • or you can start your own cabin and post about it on the forums to get fellow campers in your cabin

My experiences with camps

The first time I was in a camp, it was a rather quiet cabin where halfway down the line no one participated any more.

After that I set up my own cabin (NaNoEUFantasy), which I have now been successfully running since April 2017. We have a steady group of veteran camp members who are very active. And not only during the camp months, but also afterwards.

We stay in touch through Slack (We’re probably moving to Discord after Camp July) where we talk about everything writing related (and sometimes about things like GoT, the frustrating or worrying weather – which can be an excellent input for your world building! – or just rant because things don’t go the way we planned).

We intentionally do not invite people in the Slack/Discord channel who haven’t been with us in the cabin before, because we want to get to know each other first. We have build up a certain level of trust that gives us the freedom to say a lot of things we might otherwise not say. And we share a lot about our novels as well. That is the way it can grow when you’ve got an active cabin 😀

Our cabin always fills up very quickly, but it’s not suitable for everyone. When Camp is in full swing, the chat can be very active resulting in sometimes a couple a hundred of message you might have missed if you’re not there for a day or two. A few of my local writing friends, for example, found our cabin too active.

Cabin leaders & participants

A cabin during camp stands or falls with it’s leader and a few steady participants. When no activities have been organized (or you feel you don’t have the freedom to organize activities yourself), you might find a cabin is rather quiet. That is good if that is what you prefer, but if you’re looking for a bit more activity (or if for any other reason the cabin doesn’t seem to fit you), you’re free to leave the cabin and search for another.

In our cabin we start with a pre-camp chat, a kick off on the first day of camp, themed chats twice a week during camp and regular word sprints. So, those are a LOT of activities!

Most importantly a cabin should be a fun experience for you. If you don’t feel at home in the cabin of your choice (of the auto-selection the camp has done for you), feel free to leave the cabin and join another one. You’re not obligated to stay in that one cabin during the whole camp.

The main basics

November is a bit different from camps. This time you’re challenged to write 50.000 words. There are no other options available. If you want to be very strict:

  • it has to be a completely new project without any words written yet (besides the preparations like outline, world building, character development, etc).

  • You can’t include any new words written for world building, character development and everything else that is not the story

NaNo Rebels

But there are lots of people who are the so called rebels. They will continue with a novel they’ve already started before (or write the nth draft), they might include all their world building notes, or they might write articles for their blog instead. So there’s a different kind of freedom in November

Not for the faint of heart

Mind you, it’s not for the faint of heart. It can get tough at times. 50,000 words in a month means 1,667 words per day, every day. Usually the first week is pretty doable for everyone. The week after that is the hardest week. It is the week where doubt often sets in. This is the week where support from the forums, social media and loved ones comes in very handy! The third week is usually a bit easier than the second and the last week is really the week of getting that home run.

There is a way to make things a little easier on yourself and that’s reversed NaNoWriMo (https://www.wikiwrimo.org/wiki/Reverse_NaNo). This is where you start out strong with double the daily amount and starting halfway through the month you only need to write less and less than the daily amount, ending with 1 word on the last day!

Social life put on hold

The main event can be a strain on your social life. After all, often this is something people do besides their normal daytime job, the household, the care of children, etc. Staying in touch with friends and family can become hard if you also want to reach your target. A few things participants often do are:

  • prepare meals upfront and put them in the freezer (family only needs to warm them up!)

  • Buy/make a large supply of drinks and snacks that you can have during your writing (you’ll get less cranky!)

  • announce upfront to all and everyone what you’re going to do in November and apologize in advance for not being reachable

  • Get up half an hour earlier than normal to write. That way you already have some words under your belt before the day normally starts.

  • Take a holiday break from work for a few weeks (it’s what I always do. I always pick the last two weeks of November as a holiday.) That way you’ll have to time write and stay in touch with friends and family.

Local activities

Local ML’s (Municipal leaders) will often organize a kick-off a few days or a week or so before November. You won’t write that day/evening, but you’ll get in touch with others who will participate, maybe have dinner, exchange care-packages and more. In the Netherlands we always do this in Utrecht and we have a huge gathering!

Afterwards there may be the TGIO (Thank God It’s Over) parties. The turn up there might be small, because people are tired. I know in the Netherlands it’s not always easy, because for us it’s usually around Sinterklaas (December 5) and thus often enough weekends are already fully booked with dinners and something we call “Pakjesavond” where we exchange gifts (children of course think Sinterklaas has come to pay a visit!). But the meetings are fun nonetheless 😀

How will you know you’ve won?

It’s the same as with camp.

What will I win?

Like with camp there are several sponsors. Some may post something upfront while others will only be shown to you when you’ve won. Mostly it’s coupon for discount or free lessons, for example.

And of course, you’ll get a certificate as well.

In conclusion

Is NaNoWriMo something for everyone. No. At least not the main event. If you have never tried it before, my advice is to start with camp. See how that goes for you. If you like it, progress to November 😀

But… Every word written, whether you reach your goal or not, is more than what you had before, so you always have progress! Keep that in mind 😀 You have never lost!

Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know!