#NaNoWriMo Day 6: The Point Of No Return

Day 6
Word count: 11,446 words
Word count goal: 12,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Refusal
Save The Cat: Point of No Return

Plotting with Tarot

I did a reading a bit off the book. Today, I focused on The Inciting Incident:

Inciting Incident Day 6

The Inciting Incident: The Empress Upside-down – the emotional world, the sensual world, and the possibility of new life. A tremendous potential to take an idea and turn it into a finished product; in reverse.

What is going on when The Inciting Incident happens: Ten Of Wands – Carrying a burden

How the Inciting Incident forces my MC to act: Four Of Cups Upside-down – ignoring potential, inspiration in the reverse.

My interpretation – My character’s inciting incident is a reversal of his idea that his quest was finished. He feels burdened by the knowledge that he has found. The inciting incident forces him to stop ignoring the information that has dropped in his lap.

Ask Your Character

  • How would you describe a perfect day when you were young?
  • What did you think your life would be like when you were older?
  • Do you have any favorite stories from your childhood?

Word Of The Day

quixotic: adj. extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical, or impracticable. 2. impulsive and often rashly unpredictable.

8 Action Verbs:

activated          calculated          contracted          edited

guided               lobbied              promoted            shared

Poem prompt

Theme: The point of no return

The point of not return
Return to my regimen
Regimen of daily responsibilities
Responsibilities give my life meaning
Meaning guided by principals
Principals shared through relationships
Relationships I must protect
Protect from outside forces
Forces that wish us harm
Harm guided by evil intent
Intent calculated by selfish will
Will lobbied to tear me from safety
Safety the promise of my daily prayers
Prayers of thanks with wants folded in
In hopes that I would never reach
Reach the point of no return

Note: I’ve wanted to try one of these poems since I saw one of the other poets in #OctPoWriMo write one. I think it’s a non-rhyming form of Loop poetry. It was fun and flowed well. I think the themes and motives of my MC are becoming very clear and his motives are clear in this poem. Using some of today’s Action Verbs helped guide me along.

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Explore connotations: Choose a word (may I suggest one of the active verbs or the word of the day) and look it up in your thesaurus (thesaurus.com). Pick one synonym that has positive connotations and choose one that has negative connotations and write a sentence for each one. Read the sentences aloud. Do the particular connotations of your chosen word influence how you write the rest of the sentence?

Today’s Simple Task

Show your Main Character’s greatest weakness. Put him or her in a moral dilemma.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. Write about the last thing your character would ever want to do. Then write a scene forcing your character to do the last thing they would ever want to do. – inspired by prompt from Josie (NaNo poster)

Recommended Word Crawl

The Nightmare Before Christmas Crawl

I tried this crawl last year and enjoyed it. Like they mention in the crawl, the movie Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is great for watching anytime between Halloween and Christmas.

And Don’t Forget To Read!

A great writer reads and reads and reads. It may be harder to feel like you Cover of A Long Walk to Waterhave time to read during NaNoWriMo, but it’s still important. Yesterday, I finished reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, based on the true story of Salva Dut. It is the story of his young life fleeing the war in Sudan and his efforts as an adult to bring water to the people of his home country. The book is well written and a good read. I enjoyed it in little bites during the commercials of the Seahawks game.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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#NaNoWriMo Day 5: The Refusal and the First Week Sunday Summary

Day 5
Word count: 9,270 words
Word count goal: 10,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: The Refusal
Save The Cat: Debate

Today, I dove into my surreal images folder on Pinterest. Today my character will be convincing himself that his ordinary life is better than the call to adventure. He’ll be considering the structure he has created that constitutes his home and relationships.

Plotting with Tarot

Today’s Hero’s Journey reading is The Refusal. The center card is The Refusal card, the one to the left is your MC’s biggest fear about the Call to Adventure. The card to the right the responsibilities that can’t be abandoned. It is why he can’t refuse.

The refusal.jpg

Page Of Cups – Deep personal relationships

Six of Cups Upside-Down – represents a relationship you’ve had since very young or a soulmate connection

King of Wands Upside-Down – Inspired creativity

My interpretation – This reading makes sense for my Main Character. He does not want to answer the call because he wants to stay home with his family and enjoy his retirement. The Six of Cups in the reverse position represents his fear of hurting or losing these relationships. The King of Wands in the reverse represents his daily responsibilities to others, not wandering into creative solutions, but the repetitive and expected behaviors that create trust in these relationships. His refusal has to do with maintaining what is expected of him, but he will have to respond to the call of adventure to maintain this daily life and protect his relationships.

Ask Your Character

  • What words of wisdom would you like to pass on?
  • Is there something you’ve always wanted to know, but never asked?
  • Is there something you’ve never told anyone, but want to?

Word Of The Day

eldritch: adj. eerie, other worldly, weird, spooky

8 Action Verbs:

acquired          built          continued          earned

grouped          litigated          produced            shaped

Poem prompt

Write a Constanza about doubt.

Threats to Fear

I sit and ponder deepest doubt
To lose the ones that I hold dear
For them to turn from me, my fear

I protect them, day in day out
If I should go who will fix things
Resist decay and loss time brings

And who will tend the little sprout
A stranger’s hand won’t be the same
A different voice his rage to tame

What if the soil dries up from drought
Wells of wishes not to be found
Who will tend the fertile ground

Too far away to hear the shout
I will not know when dangers near
Impossible these threats to clear

I linger here and ponder doubt
But know I have no choice to stay
I hope my heart will know the way

Awesome Sentence Challenge

noun (or noun phrase) + verb (or verb phrase)
Write a page full of two word sentences. Try to convey as much information as possible with only two words by using specific nouns and strong, active verbs.

Today’s Simple Task

Think of your favorite scene from any movie or TV show. What makes it so great? Try to incorporate its strengths into a scene you write today.

Warm-up Exercise

Have your MC write his or her will or manifesto.

Recommended Word Crawl

Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy crawl.

Sunday Summary

This was a short week. Hard to believe we’ve only been at this since Wednesday. How’s it going so far?  I hope everyone got a good start, but if you didn’t, there is no time like the present. Grab a prompt and write a scene.

Have you found any of these prompts particularly helpful? Is there something you would like me to add? What do you think of plotting with the Tarot?

For me, I’m finding that doing the reading and writing my daily poem, get me focused on the day’s scene(s). They help me focus on the characters I’ll be writing about, really diving into their feelings and motivations. Then, when I open up my story and start writing, the words flow. I feel more prepared and organized than I have in the past.

This week, in The Hero’s Journey, we’ll be hitting The Inciting Incident and heading into Act II. We’ll meet mentors, allies and enemies. Exciting! So many fun things to explore.

I hope you’ll continue to join me in 2017’s National Novel Writing Month adventure.

Happy Reading and Writing!

NaNoWriMo Tools

Novel in 30 Days Worksheet Index

The Character Name Generator

Mood Fuse

Cliche Finder

Free Writing Workbook

Random number generator

Virtual dice & coin flip

Pound-O-Dice

Waterproof PVC Playing Cards Set Pure Color Black Poker Card Classic Magic Tricks Tool ,54pcs/Deck

Oxford Extreme Index Cards, 3 x 5 Inches, Assorted Colors, 100 per pack (04736)

Post-it Super Sticky Notes, 3 x 3 Inches (Blue Monster)

#NaNoWriMo Day 3: Call To Adventure

Day 3
Word count: 4,393 words
Word count goal: 6,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Call To Adventure
Save The Cat: Set-up, Catalyst, Debate

I love these images. The one on the left makes me think of the fool card from the tarot, jumping into his new adventure without worry of what’s ahead. The other two images make me think of going on a group quest. Each character’s strengths adding to the others’ to conquer every conflict thrown their way.

#vss very short story

The hinges creaked as he opened the door a crack. There was a whole world of unknowns out there. A gust of wind forced the doorknob from his hand and flung the door wide. He stepped.

Plotting with Tarot

nov 3.jpg

For today’s reading, I’m back to focusing on my main character. Today he gets a call to adventure. Something happens to draw him out of his Ordinary World.

Call to Adventure: King of Cups – an intellectual approach to love

What is happening when the call comes or your MC’s goal before the Call to Adventure: Ace of Pentacles – a new sense of security found through work and determination

Why your MC would consider the Call to Adventure: Nine of Cups – self-sufficiency, doesn’t need an outside source to tell him his work is good

My interpretation: My character’s Call to Adventure is a need for answers. He worries that his family is in danger and has a driving need to protect them. He is working on fixing a fence when the call came in the form of a piece of paper found in his garage. He considers answering the call because he is self-sufficient and feels responsible for everything that happens on his property.

Ask Your Character

  • What are the funniest stories your family tells about you?
  • What are the most embarrassing stories your family tells about you?
  • What’s a story your family tells about you that you hate?
  • What’s a story your family tells about you that isn’t true?

 

Word Of The Day

susurrus: n. whispering, rustling

The susurrus of dry leaves was like writhing snakes.

8 Action Verbs:

accounted for          brought           consulted          documented

governed                  licensed           printed              selected

Poem prompt

Write an ode to change. The change can be a change of scenery as in going on an adventure, an adventure into a new life, or any kind of change.

Twists of Fate

Our stories are but arrays of change
The joys and suffering these turns have brought
Hills and valleys as fate will arrange
Deliver conflict and suspense to every plot
Jealous hearts may wish to exchange
But they fill their minds with tortured thought
Fantasies malign to derange
When contrasts to one’s reality is sought
Happiness and self-worth may estrange
When forced revisions are wrought
Metamorphosis may feel strange
Along the path with dangers fraught

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Nominative Absolutes (also known as absolutes): is a noun phrase used as a sentence modifier. Try these five different ways of constructing nominative absolutes:

  1. noun or noun phrase + adjective: He sang, his voice low, while he pushed Billy on the swing.
  2. noun or noun phrase + present participle: He jumped, his jacket billowing like a parachute, into the mud.
  3. noun or noun phrase + past participle: The window, glass fogged from the heat of his breath, rattled in the wind.
  4. noun or noun phrase + prepositional phrase: Hands reaching out, Billy said, “up.”
  5. noun or noun phrase + noun or noun phrase: The woman, her grin a menacing rack of knives, motioned for him to join her.

Today’s Simple Task

Write a scene where your Main Character acts selflessly to help someone else (saves the cat, or dog or hamster).

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer for 10 minutes. What was the last lie your Main Character told? Who did he tell it to? Why did he lie? How did he feel about telling it? Would he tell it again?

Today’s Recommended Word Crawl

Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party crawl

This crawl is based on a really cute show on YouTube featuring many classic authors. Each episode is about 10 min. long.

 

Other Blogs With Daily Writing Prompts

Putting My Feet In The Dirt:a list of prompts for each day

5 Fun and Useful Books of Writing Prompts from Rachel Poli

Day-by-Day NaNoWriMo Outline: Your 30-Day Cheatsheet from Christine Frazier at Better Novel Project

30 Daily NanoWriMo Prompts from K.L. Whightman

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge from TA Writes

Weekend Writing Prompts from Dave Farmer

Happy Reading and Writing!

Reading to Keep the Blues Alive

I recently received an email from author Ben Sandmel announcing that he is the recipient of the Keeping The Blues Alive award in Literature for 2015, presented by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation. Congratulations, Ben! If you, dear readers, are at all interested in history, biography, New Orleans, rhythm and blues, music in general, or even me. I highly recommend checking out this book and its website erniekdoebook.com

The book has won many previous awards:

Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans is selected by National Public Radio as one of the Best Music Books of 2012

Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans is selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Non-Fiction Books of 2012

selected as Blues Book of the Year for 2012 in Living Blues magazine’s annual Critics’ Poll

My email from Ben included a ton of wonderful reviews. Here are just a couple:

12-22-12, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Staff Picks: Our Favorite Music Books Of 2012:  Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans, by Ben Sandmel:  “Much more than a biography of a New Orleans music eccentric, this perspicaciously researched book encapsulates the spirit of a city that honors the wisdom of its weirdos. It’s also the story of a unique place — K-Doe’s Mother-In-Law Lounge, the shrine to his career-defining hit, and a haven for connoisseurs of this precious city’s flamboyant expressive culture. Packed with rare photos and gorgeously produced by the Historic New Orleans Collection press, this volume will transport you to the liveliest city in America — a trip all music fans should frequently take. —Ann Powers

6-21-12, ROLLING STONE, 4 STARS: — “With passionate R&B-detective research and eyewitness accounts from local legends like Dr. John and Allen Toussaint, Ben Sandmel vividly captures K-Doe’s wild rise out of poverty, the riches on his many 45s and his long, strange rebirth as a Crescent City treasure. In a city that breeds and adores gifted eccentrics, K-Doe was royalty. And he reigned in style.” — David Fricke

So why, you may be asking yourself, did I list an interest in myself as a reason to pick up this award winning, critically acclaimed tome of American Music History? I’m in it!

Ernie was a good friend of mine. I was in a band called The Rubber Maids that performed with Ernie near the end of his life. After Katrina, I stayed near family in the Pacific Northwest, but Ben called and interviewed me for the book. I’m even pictured AND in the index. I love showing off that there’s a picture of me in a book that includes pictures of Paul McCartney and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin). Like I said, this is a must have for music lovers.

Personal poster from show not in book.

Personal poster from show not in book.

If you want to take a trip to pre-Katrina New Orleans from the comfort of your reading nook, I highly recommend the book that is Keeping the Blues Alive, Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans.

Revision: Exploring my characters’ motivations

A nice sunset

A nice sunset

And after a few revisions in Windows Photo Gallery

Sunset with revisions

I love playing with simple photo editing software. All of those fabulous colors were in my photo just waiting for me to draw them out–slough off a bit of brightness, delete a bit of shadow, redefine the contrast and saturate the hues. Now, to apply the same principal (drawing out the good stuff) to my manuscript.

This morning I approached my task in a new way. My goal is to make the motivations of my characters clear to my readers. I had planned to read through my manuscript and note my characters’ motivations for each major action in the margins (and I am still planning on doing that), but as I wrote my morning pages, I started exploring some of the hermit’s major motivations: Abandonment, Rejection, Betrayal, Judgement. Then I explored events in her childhood that would have led to these feelings. I quickly filled my morning pages with ideas. One of the ideas for betrayal seemed to be a better motivation for my other main character.

Looking at the origin stories of my characters’ motivations, I saw a common theme–Perception. Specifically, how incorrect perceptions both internal and external can negatively affect one’s life. At first it felt like a revelation to define this underlying theme, but really, it is no surprise. I got my M.S. in perception, be it the biopsychology (behavioral neuroscience) of visual perception and memory, but I am obviously (though somewhat subconsciously) writing what I know.

Now, I’m daydreaming about quoting my own journal articles and bringing in quotes about the physical aspects of perception and anxiety. It could be a fun tie-in for chapter titles. I’ll see where it takes me.

Today, I’m excited to be making some progress toward taming the beast named First Novel.

Anyone have revision tips? Every idea is welcome and appreciated.

Getting Words on the Page – Three Tools to Increase Productivity

How fun is this

The Plot-o-Matic and Dialog warm-up in Morning Pages

It’s almost time for me to print out the rough draft of my novel, to read through the whole thing with fresh eyes, as if I just brought it home from the bookstore. But first, I have a few more goals to accomplish: I WILL finish reading Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (I was born at exactly midnight and I enjoyed many of his other books, so I thought it would be a fun read when I bought it at the airport about five years ago. It seems no matter how much I read, I’m only half-way through.) and I WILL finish the draft of my mid-grade fiction story and make a mock-up of my picture book. I’m pretty close on all of these goals so I’ve given myself (and now you can hold me to it) until the end of the July 4th weekend to finish (these goals) before the big first-draft read.

In the meantime, I thought I would share some writing tools that helped me get all my words to the page:

  1. Morning Pages – as recommended by Julia Cameron author of many inspirational books including the Complete Artists Way where I first discovered morning pages.
  2. The Plot-o-Matic – a rendition of PLOTTOMATIC! introduced by John Dufresne in his intelligent and useful book on writing, Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months.
  3. Dialogue Warm-up – a way that I get my writing going when my plan for the day escapes me. When I run out of things to say, I let my characters start up a conversation and watch where it goes.

Writing every day has not been easy for me, but I’m pretty close now. Throughout my journey to (almost) writing every day, I read everything in my local library on writing and everything recommended to me, plus a lot more. Only a few things really stuck with me and, through some development, still work for me.

Everyone has different amounts of time they can commit to their writing and most have to SQUEEZE it into their hectic lives (and family tithes). Making time for your passion makes you better for all the other people in your life, so that is why I want to emphasize . . .

  1. Morning Pages – Get up twenty minutes early if you have to. It will be totally worth it. Find three lined 8.5 X 11 sheets of paper. I use a thick college ruled notebook (I’m addicted to kukumusu designs, but they’re expensive and my super-favorite is already out of print, so I buy a bunch at a time). Start writing. Do not get dressed. Maybe make a pot of tea or coffee, but then – Start writing. Do not get up and do the things you remind yourself to do while you’re writing. Do not lift pen from paper. Write everything that comes to mind even if it is “I can’t think of anything” then “I’m spacing off”, etc. Keep writing until you fill all three pages. No excuses. No I have to’s.

Staying at the page for all three pages is much more difficult than I ever expected. I’ve worked with morning pages for years and looking back at my filled journals, there was very little written, but paragraphs of things done and things to do, with either woeful disappointments in not accomplishing these lists, or motivational speeches to myself of how I would accomplish these lists. After a while, however, I noticed if I did my morning pages those thoughts wouldn’t nag at me when I took a walk, or when I tried to meditate. I had more room for creative thought. More recently, I’ve started spending only the first page on those should do’s and the other two pages on character development and story ideas. These days most of my writing for the day is retyping my Morning Pages. I took a long time to get here, but if you have a story burning inside you, but can’t find time to write, set that alarm twenty minutes earlier than normal and give Morning Pages a try.

What about those days when even your morning pages won’t get you where you want to go? You feel dry of ideas, you want someone to just hand you a character, a conflict, or your character’s next step. Try the . . .

    1. Plot-o-Matic – I loved reading Dufresne’s book, Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months and I will bring it up more when I work through my rewrite. A plot-o-matic is easy to make. I made a Word document with large print, bold type, centered in 3” X 2” rectangles. I printed the subjects – Dufresne used occupations and I added character descriptions like “Conspiracy Junky” and “Disco Dancer”- on green cardstock, the needs or wants of those subjects on yellow cardstock, and an action the character took on blue cardstock. I cut out the different colored “cards” and turned them upside down so I couldn’t see what my options were and chose one of each. If you take a look at the picture at the top of this post you’ll see I drew “A conspiracy junky wants to rescue kittens, so he listens at the wall as the neighbors argue” Fun right? Why rescue kittens? What conspiracy could the neighbors be part of? Are they the neighbors’ kittens? This tool can be great for story ideas, but you can also customize it to help you decide what your characters will do next. Limit the subject pile to only include your characters and choose wants and actions until you feel inspired. Remember to write at least five minutes for every combination you choose. Exploring what you don’t think will happen can be even more exciting than what you thought you were looking for.

If you don’t want to make a plot-o-matic, there are similar products you can buy:
The Storymatic Classic – 540 Unique Cards
Rememory – Share Memories and Make New Ones
Story Slam – Hundreds of cards with more than 600 unique story concepts, for endless storytelling fun.
The Amazing Story Generator: Creates Thousands of Writing Prompts

And finally, my personal trick that gets my mental juices flowing when I’m not quite sure what to write about . . .

  1. Dialogue warm-up – Discovering dialogue as a way to get my juices flowing was a major step to finishing the draft of my novel. The way it works for me is: I’ll imagine I’m speaking from one of my character’s point of view. Who does she want to talk to today? Who might she run into in the scene I’m thinking about? Who do I picture when I write, “Oh, wow, didn’t expect to see you here.” I let their conversation flow. While I write, I picture their motivations, what they are saying and not saying, who they might talk about. Where are they as they converse? Are they in public? Does another person join them? By the time I have finished writing a short conversation, I often have my next scene in my head, even if I never use the conversation in a finished piece, somehow my characters tell me what I need to know. Try it. Let the conversation flow. It’s fun. Big Tip: Don’t worry about dialog punctuation, or he said she said while you’re getting it out in these dialogue warm-ups. Only pay attention to starting a new paragraph for each new person speaking and adding physical descriptions of vocal or body language nuances that seem important. Be in the moment. You can put in all the other stuff when the conversation is over.

I hope at least one of these tools that work for me helps you find what works for you. The only way to know what works, and doesn’t work, is to physically put pen to paper in ways you haven’t tried yet. The job is only a little bit thinkin’ about it and a whole lot of writing it down.

I would love to hear some of the things you’ve discovered to keep pen to page. Please share your tips in the comments.