Tag Archives: writing advice

NaNoWriMo is Here!

Hooray, it’s November! People all around the world will be working on writing a manuscript first draft for NaNoWriMo. Last month the Fictorians featured working on pre-writing, plotting, and other methods of preparing to crank out a novel. Now it’s time to put those ideas into action.

This month we will feature ideas to help you:

  • Avoid or overcome writer’s block.
  • Stay motivated.
  • Hit your goals.
  • Be productive.
  • Avoid burnout.
  • Add in twists to stir up your plot.
  • Find alternate methods to write, such as using dictation software.

I’ve hit the 50K mark every year since 2007. My best year was over 300K words in a month, and last year I hit 50K in three days — this time while using dictation software. Overall, I have over a million words written exclusively during NaNoWriMo.

I always plan out my works in advance, and I set up multiple projects. If I hit a roadblock on one, I can easily switch over to another one until I figure out what the issue is in the first. I’m looking forward to giving updates during NaNoWriMo, and I’m certain you’ll find our upcoming posts timely and useful.

With that said, here are my (admittedly insane) goals for the month of November:

  • Write 500 articles, each of which is around 300 words. That’s 150,000 words, and I will be writing around 17-20 per day. No pre-writing.
  • Write papers for my three graduate classes, plus post on the discussion boards. Not sure what is due during November yet.
  • I will spew out a rough draft for at least one novel @ 50K words, minimum, to keep my NaNo streak going.
  • Whatever short story invites fall from the sky.

Ready, steady…WRITE!


 

About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, MWG, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

Kristin’s 2016 Year in Review

Although the urge is strong to write a piece a la David Foster Wallace and title it, “2016: Consider the Dumpster Fire,” I’ll resist.

But also I can’t resist and here’s a picture of a dumpster fire.

It's small, it's compact, it's perfect.
It’s small, it’s compact, it’s perfect.

Oh c’mon, Kristin, it wasn’t so bad. (Pause to picture me straining to find really good things about 2016.) If I’m doing my math right, which is rare, all of the good things were canceled out with two bad things. I’m not saying this to garner any pity. Quite the opposite. I’d be happy if you joined me in watching it all burn in the dumpster fire above. Ah, bonding over warm flames. 2017 is looking better already!

In 2016, I finished editing a book I completely rewrote, hoping the huge improvements could snag an agent. Instead, the manuscript was declined by seven agents. I decided perhaps it’s time to table that book for now and move on to other things. I wrote two short stories, one of which has been declined four times so far.

via GIPHY

You know, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but sometimes this writing thing is hard. And I have never felt that more deeply than this year. And I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to take a good 15 minutes to feel sorry for myself, then get right back on that horse, nose to the grindstone, ass in seat.

Part of me thinks that’s a fine approach. But the other part of me thinks that’s just more of the same.

If you’ve started on the same crazy choice of careers, you know the one thing there is no shortage of: writing advice. Everyone from your aunt Carol to Stephen King has something to tell you about how to do this thing. The right way, the wrong way. Write, write, write! Write when you have something to say. Write your first three books then throw them away. Don’t let any time go to waste, be deliberate. All of it’s well intentioned. All of it has at least some merit.

But the second part to the advice that they don’t tell you is: now reflect on who you are, and if that advice can be applied to how you are.

I wish I had a greater epiphany this year, but perhaps this is just one of those sleeper-epiphanies that I’ll be thankful for when I’m 80. I learned I have only a few truly great ideas, and I have hundreds of good ideas. And I just want to write the truly great ones.

That means advice I followed before does not apply. Like: write, write, write! Get those million words in! Any writing work counts!

Instead, it means: slow down. Fully develop the story. Allow myself to think on the idea for however long I need to. Don’t write a good book. Only write the great ones. No matter how long that may take.

That’s not everyone’s road. But that’s what 2016 taught me personally. I don’t want to get merely paid for doing what I love. I want to be damn proud of every word in every book. I want it to mean something. I want it to be more than entertainment.

But first, I just gotta get out of this dumpster fire.

See you all in 2017! It might be better! What did this dumpst… I mean 2016 teach you?

 

 

Meet the Fictorians: Guy Anthony De Marco

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

We’d love for you, our wonderful readers, to get to know us better. That’s why, each month, Kristin Luna will interview a member of The Fictorians. We’ll learn more about each member, such as their writing processes, their work, where they live, and what they prefer to drink on a crisp winter day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Guy Anthony De Marco

Kristin Luna (KL): Hi Guy! How are you doing and what are you drinking today?

Guy Anthony De Marco (GADM): Coffee. Lots of coffee. Coffee with coffee on top. It’s a good thing I’m not a single-malt Scotch drinker because I’d be spilling my glass of Glenfiddich 40-year old single malt all over the carpet because of the caffeine jitters.

Sometimes I toss in an Irish Breakfast tea to mix things up, or I drink the really hard stuff — egg nog.

KL: Oo, Glenfiddich. I like Balvenie myself. Don’t even get me started on egg nog. Yum! Okay, back on subject… You’ve been a Fictorian for quite some time. When did you join, and could you tell the fine people what all do you do for us?

GADM: I was invited by Quincy J. Allen (link: http://www.quincyallen.com) to write a couple of articles a few years ago, and then I woke up months later and I was a member. Since then, I write the occasional article, post a comment or two, and poke around the back end of the website. I’m familiar and comfortable doing so because I have over three decades in the Information Technology field. I’m not the site admin, but I do keep a watch on things and install updates, plus the little things such as dumping the spam out of the comments. We get over 50 spam comments a day, so that’s a sign the site is spreading. If only the spammers purchased books, we’d all be millionaires. Or at least hundredaires.

I’m also the unofficial “I need a post by tonight” guy. If you see several posts with my byline, odds are there were spots that needed an article. I write fast, and I’m now even working with Dragon Dictate, which helped me to hit my NaNoWriMo 2016 goal in two days.

KL: Not only do you help us out with our website, you are downright prolific when it comes to how much writing you produce. When you’re working on a project, how many words do you average a day, and in a week?

GADM: I have a bunch of pseudonyms I write under, so they all need to be fed. I think my record was 48K words in 12 hours. My usual rate is 2.5K/day on a slow day to 6K/day on a “looming deadline” day. Dragon is boosting those numbers lately, but the first drafts are pretty horrific to look at. Between drafting and editing, it all balances out in the end.

KL: I’m in awe, really. So what’s some of the best advice you’ve received about being productive? What works for you that you could pass on to the rest of us?

GADM: I guess the best advice is just doing the basics. Place your buttocks in a comfy chair and write so it becomes a habit. Understand that your first draft is not a polished manuscript. Allow yourself to suck and tell the editor in your head that she will get her turn later after you’ve dumped the basics onto the digital page. That last piece worked the best for me as far as productivity.

KL: You’ve written short stories for anthologies along with long fiction. What’s your favorite short story you’ve written, what’s it about, and where can we buy it?

GADM: My favorite short story is “Sally the Baker” from the early 1980s. It’s long out of print, although I’m thinking about reworking the story. The original is about a group of adventurers who force a gent named Sally to join their quest to take on an evil wizard. Unfortunately, Sally is an amazing baker with no other skills. In the end, he does save the day when they burst into a high-level evil wizard conference and Sally tosses a handful of flour into the air and starts screaming “Death Dust!” at the top of his lungs. The wizards scatter, the adventurers recover the item they were looking for, and they all escape with their hides.

For a still-available short story, I’d recommend “Grubstake” from Supernatural Colorado or “The Fate Worse Than Death” in Unidentified Funny Objects 3, which I co-wrote with Kevin J. Anderson.

KL: You have a number of titles available on Amazon. Do you find that you like writing short fiction or long fiction better?

GADM: I like writing drabbles or flash fiction best because it takes a lot of work to hit the word count, especially the 100-word drabbles. It’s like writing poetry for me, which I dabble in. As far as prose, I like short and long fiction equally. I write novels like a collection of short stories. That’s how I outline long works…a series of short stories in a tight flying formation.

KL: What are you currently working on?

GADM: I’m in the midst of NaNoWriMo at the moment. I hit my 50K in a couple of days. My record is over 300K. I have a cyberpunk novel in work, plus two horror novels and a bunch of erotica novellas. I’m trying to get 20 erotica works done to launch a new pseudonym.

KL: Ambitious! Who are some authors that inspire you?

GADMTonya L. De Marco is always helping me by editing and finding more stories to write. Kevin J. Anderson inspires me to write more because he is almost at the point where he thinks of a story and it magically appears on paper. Sam Knight inspires me to treat others with respect and kindness. I also enjoy reading lots of classics from Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and the rest of the usual gang — plus digging up old pulps and enjoying forgotten speculative fiction authors.

KL: Yeah, that Sam Knight is good people! Other than advice on productivity, what advice have you received through your years of writing that has stuck with you?

GADMFind a group of like-minded individuals and work together, like a local writing collective. Seek out folks who know how to edit and are not afraid to tell you what works and what sucks. Find beta readers and treat them like gold. Always be nice to others, even if they’re not. Especially if they’re not…they need to see how a professional acts. Support everyone and never talk down or bad-mouth anyone. It’s easy to pick on authors, such as Stephenie Meyer, who wrote Twilight. I’ve been on several panels where they bash on her, but I always say she was laughing all the way to the bank. She wrote something that caught the attention of the reading public, and even though it’s not my cup of tea, it sold well and made her a household name. I’d like that to happen to me someday.

I would also recommend joining a professional writing organization. Some of them can help you on the way to greatness, sorta like Slytherin House. I’ve been impressed with what Cat Rambo has been doing with SFWA, so I’d suggest considering them first.

KL: And finally, what’s your favorite Fictorians post that you’ve written?

GADM: To be honest, I don’t particularly have a favorite. If I had to choose, I’d probably go with “Putting a Fresh Clip in My Revolver,” “My Muse is Dead,” or DMCA Tools. All of those generated some good feedback from Fictorians readers.

***

If you have any questions for Guy, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

Two Must-Knows About Your Inner Muse

Your inner muse is the voice of your experiences – both real and desired.

I think my muse went this way....
I think my muse went this way….

That inner muse can be elusive. It is who we blame for our writer’s block.

But there is a secret to keeping that muse away from the straight jacket of silence. That secret is understanding the two truths of the inner muse which no one talks about.

Those two truths, once realized, will forever unfetter your inner muse. This month’s theme is about how life’s experiences shape what we write. We know that our experiences shape our perception and hence what we write. Experience also shapes what our inner muse reveals. But, did you know that there is a way to tap into those experiences while letting the muse do its sorting and compiling to create those aha! moments?

Tapping into our experiences happens when we’re aware of the two truths about the inner muse that no one talks about:

1) Inspiration isn’t always obvious; and
2) You may not realize what you know.

It seems that I’m stating the obvious. But without conscious awareness of these two truths, your inner muse doesn’t have permission to stay away from the straight jacket of silence.

What these two truths mean is that what inspires you to create a world and to write the story can be hidden somewhere deep inside and you don’t even know it.

Can you dig it out? Find it? Use it? Of course you can. The best way to do that is to not go looking for it. Sometimes, you’ve just got to let it happen. Sometimes you just have to be literal about being inspired. Here’s what I mean:

To be inspired means to be in spirit. That means giving your muse permission to access all that information in your head, all those observations and the situations you’ve experienced. It means letting your muse make the associations it needs to and to draw from the library of your inner knowing.

All you have to do to succeed is to trust it. Yes, trust your muse, trust what you know even if you’re not aware of it. Why? Because:

1) Inspiration isn’t always obvious
Sometimes we have an aha! moment which inspires a scene, a story even or a moment in the book. More often it comes from somewhere deep within. How often have you read what you’ve written and wondered how you knew to write that, or to word it that way, or your character has surprised you? Those are the moments when inspiration isn’t obvious and you may never figure out what inspired you to write what you did, but aren’t you glad your inner muse was working for you?

Our brain likes to make associations, find familiar in the unfamiliar, and find patterns. It sees shapes in clouds, a face in a whorl of wood, that phone number is all primes and if I add the first two numbers together…

The trick is to trust the inner muse and to trust that it’s working for you. Forcing the writing, forcing a scene, rarely works. It has to come from the characters and the situations we created and from the inner muse which understands those creations at a much more profound level than what we are sometimes aware of.

2) You may not realize what you know
I’m a kid from the farm. It took a little while for me to realize that most of my stories happen in rural settings in whichever genre I’m writing. I have detail which I take for granted and other people have to research. I understand the relationship people have with the land and animals. I have planted, harvested and marketed, I have prepared and stored food for the winter and have experienced limited access to store bought foods,.

It’s the same thing with the characters we create. We tend toward the familiar, especially when it comes to relationships. That’s when patterns in our writing occur. Strong female, weak male characters or vice versa. Female characters who hate their fathers. Male characters who are emotionally deprived heroes. There are countless patterns and stereotypes we fall into because it’s subconsciously familiar in some way. It’s the material the muse has to work with.

Whether it’s settings or characters, relationships or values and ethics, our inner muse has the information of who and what we are and uses it, even if we don’t realize that’s what is happening.

So we don’t always realize what we know and even what we don’t know. But when we consciously let the muse do its work, when we become consciously aware of the work it is doing, then we can form a relationship with it that changes what we write. We can give the muse permission to explore new situations, characters and relationships. This awareness allows us to ask for help to change the pool of information the muse has to work with. In a critique group I’m in, a well published author informed us that she had become aware that she always wrote a specific father-daughter relationship into her stories and she understood why. Now she wanted to change it up.

The two truths contradict each other:

“Trust inspiration” versus “Don’t trust what it’s telling you”.

Or, so it seems at first glance. But the real axiom is:

Trust Inspiration. Understand what it’s telling you so that you can change it up – if you wish.

We found our muse!
We found our muse!

We, and our inner muse, are the sum total of our experiences. As writers, we’re not always aware of what we know and what we don’t know. The more we write, the more opportunity we have to understand what informs our writing and to change and expand upon that.

You know that the writing myth that says you’ve got to write a million words before you’ve got a chance to be successful? It’s not about the word count, it’s about understanding your inner muse and developing a comfortable, trustworthy relationship with it. Sometimes, it takes a million words before you realize you’re basically writing the same story, the same themes albeit in different settings and milieus. Once you realize that, you’ve hear your inner muse. Now, you can give it new fodder, inform it with new information and experiences. You can give it permission to shake it up a bit.

Will you need a million words to do this? Maybe yes. Maybe no. And remember, I used the word ‘myth’ for a reason.

Inspiration isn’t always obvious and you may not realize what you know – once these two unspoken truths are understood, your life experiences will shape your writing in ways you never imagined it could! So, trust Inspiration and understand what it’s telling you so that you can change it up – if you wish.