Lanetta J. Sprott

It’s the Friday night before NaNo begins… 

          The trip into town today provided an opportunity for quiet time. While on the twenty mile stretch of curving country road, I listened carefully to the characters dialogue. They spoke of their interests, their sacrifices, their loves. Morgan and Blake both dropped large chunks of “stuff” in my lap and I didn’t have a tape recorder! I hope I have retained everything they shared.

          Once in the store, I recalled over and over what they told me, then I was bombarded again. As I pushed the grocery cart, I turned and walked along a specific aisle and saw much more than the Wal-Mart products flanking both sides… an overwhelming sense of what Morgan is really like flooded my mind.

          She’s in my heart totally now. And, now it’s up to me to get her on paper, to capture the heart of everyone who reads her story.

Morgan’s story begins 12:01 a.m., Sunday, November 1st.

The Next Time Around

NaNoWriMo preparation….

 

To-do’s other than forming character descriptions & plotting:

  1. Explain, again, then again, to friends and family why you will have limited borrowed time to visit while meeting the challenge!
  2. Print out a November calendar. Annotate things such as:
    1. doctor appointments
    2. other commitments
    3. birthdays (schedule e-mail Happy Birthday’s by 10/31), and
    4. a *menu for each day
  3. Plan *menus
  4. Grocery shop
  5. Cook & freeze dinners
  6. Finish reading any and all non-fiction/fiction books you can muster!
  7. Select/ready “mood” music
  8. Select/ready candle fragrances
  9. Select/ready scented hand soap (we all are washing hands often, correct?)
  10. Select/ready special coffee/tea cup, maybe designated specifically for NaNo!
  11. Find the perfect glass for drinking that water!
  12. Locate isotonic fingerless theraputic gloves… don’t want hands to cramp at the wrong time!
  13. Find a timer to use: one hour max typing, then 15 minute break, then back to creating the story!
  14. Repeat over and over: I will do NO editing. I will do NO editing. I will do NO editing.

What do you do to prep for NaNoWriMo?

Things to do before 12:01 a.m. November 1st!

Create one MS Excel that contains:

  • Worksheet for each main character (pictures, vitals)
  • Worksheet for major scene locations (pictures)
  • Worksheet listing major secondary characters (pictures, too!)
  •  Back up Excel!

Complete character profiles:

  • Morgan
  • Alice (and her twin girls)
  • Blake
  • Gordon
  • Flush out secondary characters and develop mini bio on each.
  • Back up profiles!

Finish briefly plotting storyline

  • Back up plot!

Explain, again, then again, to friends and family why I will be on limited borrowed time to visit while meeting the challenge!

Print out a November calendar and annotate:

  • Doctor appointments
  • Other commitments
  • Birthdays (schedule e-mail Happy Birthday’s by 10/31)
  • *Menu for each day

*Plan menus

Grocery shop

Cook & freeze dinners

Finish reading:

  • Marc McCutcheon’s The Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters
  • Linda Edelstein’s Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, in addition to all the wonderful blog articles others are posting!

Select/ready “mood” music: at least 3 different CD’s: celtic harp, classic (some Bach, Beethoven, Massenet, Gluck, and Mozart), Mason William’s classical guitar, and Yanni (as a standby). IMHO, nothing with lyrics as it will distract from what characters are talking about!

Select/ready candle fragrances:  maybe rosemary, white linen, and the soy lavender sounds good.

Ready different scented soaps and hand lotions, to fit the different moods during the writing process!

Locate isotonic fingerless theraputic gloves… don’t want hands to cramp at the wrong time!

Find a timer to use: one hour max typing, then 15 minute break, then back to creating the story!

 What else do I need to do?

Always, repeat over and over: I will do NO editing. I will do NO editing. I will do NO editing.

What do you do in prepping for NaNoWriMo?

What happens here when it rains?

Many times I lose Internet connection because of the satellite dish, as is the case this morning. It comes and goes. It usually goes about three minutes before the next downpour! I’m offline anywhere from five minutes to hours at a time.

The low-water crossing becomes impassable, as is, I’m almost certain, the case today. The creek will eventually recede, it always does. Sometimes it takes 2-3 hours, other times 14-16 hours. It’s not fun being caught on the other side of the raging high waters and can’t get home!

I’m not complaining. We are blessed to get this rain. Drought conditions have been with us all summer. The runoff is filling the stock tank nicely and we need this for the cattle!

It’s a good day to work on my NaNoWriMo novel–

I write this and hopefully will get to post during a break in the storms. In the meantime, I’m plotting (something I’ve never done before) the new project for the National Novel Writing Month competition. The competition begins 12:01 a.m. November 1st. Thirty days & nights, to write 50,000 words!

Barring any emergencies, my personal deadline is Tuesday, November 24th. I want to get it done before heading north to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. Doing the math, that’s 2083.33333 words a day!

While setting up my main & supporting characters (Morgan, Blake, Kyle, and Alice), dates fell into place… goosebumps went up my arms!

For example, I first picked the number 17 for 17 months when something will happen (while talking this out with DH, I told him I had no clue why I picked 17) then I put a pen/paper to it to add/subtract different things… magic happened! It worked out perfectly! How/why did this happen? My characters were already talking to me and I didn’t consciously hear them!!!

I will not share any more now, or as I go, anything about the story. Suffice it to say, it’s a contemporary romance and has a working title The Next Time Around. Beginning November 1st, you can follow my progress here.

If you are a member of NaNoWriMo, I would love to be a writing buddy!

On Saturday, I attended the Dallas Area Romance Authors (DARA) regular monthly meeting. DARA is a chapter of the Romance Writers of America. I happened to check DARA’s website a few weeks ago and made plans to attend based on the featured program: Creating Heroic, Believable Characters. The guest speaker was Victoria Chancellor

As a previous member of DARA (it’s been over four years since I allowed my membership to expire), I knew the high quality of speakers they have and expected an informative discussion on the subject of characters. I didn’t realize, however, just how informative it would be! I’m so glad I attended!

Although I won’t do her justice, using her invaluable handout, I’ll touch on some of the highlights:

Heroic does not necessarily mean “good” !!!

As a writer, it is your job to make the reader forget they are reading a novel, but that they are reading a story! Because fiction is not real, it is your job to make them suspend their belief and to make them care about the characters, and that the story could really happen, or has happened (as in the case of historical fiction).

What makes a character heroic?

  • Goal: Define a goal (not a wish) that they are pursuing at the beginning of your story. (Remember: a goal without a plan is only a wish)
  • Set of values: Characters must have guiding principles that are consistent throughout the story.
  • Challenge: Characters need/accept the challenge that will change their life.

What makes a character believable? Reminder given: Characters must be more vivid than people. This entire section was packed full of ideas. This is a brief taste of what she gave us:

  • Identification – the reader can identify with their situation or role;
  • Character Traits – archetypes defined; and,
  • Motivation – understandable to the reader when you reveal either up front or incrementally throughout story. What motivates a character will depend on such things as personality type, family history (birth order, happy, dysfunctional, etc.), society, personal history, and others such as religious or medical.

Why does a reader care about a character? Victoria explained four reasons: Empathy – Sympathy – Suspense – Justice

What must all heroic, believable characters possess?

  • Goal – character must actively pursue a defined, specific goal
  • Motivation – reader must understand the whys
  • Resolution – character must change to get what they deserve in the end. Know the difference between what they need versus what they want
  • Victoria also reminded us that interesting characters can also be atypical, especially in comedic situations.

Some books she highly recommended to read/study while developing/creating heroic, believable characters:

*The Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon

*Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Dr. Linda Edelstein

**The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, et al

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

 

*I’ve order via Amazon & they are on the way!!!

** On my Amazon’s wish list, in case any one wants to surprise me!

She also did a quick Character Study between two heroes with traditionally non-heroic traits comparing the books: Caleb Jones in Amanda Quick’s The Perfect Poison, Putman, 2009 and Shane in Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer’s Agnes and the Hitman, St. Martin’s, 2007. I don’t even know where to begin to describe the lessons learned from this study!

Concluding the workshop, Victoria gave us some tips and food-for-thoughts on “Naming Your Characters” – another post will follow to share what I learned!!!

 

I am so thrilled I attended this meeting! Thank you, Victoria, and DARA!

Knowing your audience is a must, to a point. Who else will buy and support your novels? If you write, however, strictly to please others, where is the passion, the purpose of telling your story the way it wants/needs to be told?

Not long ago a wise lady said, “Stay true to your self.” This is exactly what I needed to hear at a writing crossroad. A beta reader (BR), an avid fan and supporter of my two previous novels, basically threatened not to ever read any of my works again if I wrote of or implied a particular storyline in Ella.

This “threat” bothered me a great deal. I highly respect the opinion of this BR, but I also know and understand where she is coming from. It is not, however, the same place I am at now, or ever have been for that matter. And, neither has Ella.

It is the “right” and function of every reader to select novels according to their tastes and avoid those that they find of no interest or would find offensive if read. It is just as imperative for the author, the creator, to hold true to ones self.

Stay true to your own self, the truth will set you free!

Ella is still around, safely tucked away on the back burner. I’ve briefly explained what happened here. She will return, but with a new focus. Her developing love-life, and its potential, will continue as originally planned, that aspect is screaming to be told!

Writing this story, the new story, will be better than the original!

Native Texan living in the Hill Country writing and experiencing life one day at a time.

Novels by Lanetta J. Sprott:

Where Forever Begins Finding Closure

Where Forever Begins, A Simple Love Story and Finding Closure are available online at Lulu and Amazon.

~

Read a preview of both novels here.

Documents

New goal (to finish book): 95,000

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