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Nanowrimo Prep Tip 5: The last minute stuff.
The last few days before something big are always crunch time. But try try try to get everything done before the 31st. What you really need the day before a big event like this is to relax and have some fun. Dress up, go tricker treating, watch a scary movie... Whatever you need to have a fun relaxing night. Nanowrimo is big, so do what you need to feel ready but also enjoy yourself and relax the day before!!!
For those who like checklists I created a Nanowrimo checklist to make sure you are ready. Today the 30th is a good day to look at it and make sure you're ready. I have the link here below for you.
Here is my Nanowrimo Checklist! THE CHECKLIST!
I hope that you find it super helpful.
Last minute advice:
1. Meal planning the month of November is always helpful. Just jot down what you think you'll want to eat everyday. Make a shopping list and get it done here at the beginning so you don't have to worry about it much during the month. That might save you a few minutes. You can always mix your plans up later if you need, but at least you will already have everything in your pantry.
2. RELAX! Take a bubble bath, watch one of your favorite movies, read one of your favorite books. Take some time to just breathe. Have fun with your family. Don't think about Nanowrimo for a day. You'll thank yourself about day 15 for taking this time.
3. Halloween is my favorite holiday so I will always say have fun with it and forget about Nanowrimo for the day but not everyone is as psyched about Halloween as I am but regardless. Do a thing or two for Nanowrimo prep if you need to on the 31st but otherwise have fun that day. The Hard work starts the next day so enjoy that time.
4. Figure out when you think you'll be able to get your word count in. That might be morning, lunch, scattered throughout the day, the evening... Figure your plan A then figure out your plan B. Lets say your plan A is to write in the morning but say one day you don't feel the best so you don't get up. When is your Plan B writing time. Getting behind on the word count isn't the end of the world but miss a few days and it can be hard to catch up. Plan B might save you that stress!
5. Keep it fun!!! Don't think of this as a hard thing. Be excited. Have fun music picked out. Remember your rewards. If for example you earn a chocolate bar at 5,000 words post a note about it and glance at it until you earn it! Laugh at yourself, keep things light and fun.
6. If feeling discouraged write yourself a motivational note, listen to a motivational speech or song, or go for a refreshing walk.
Just remember— YOU CAN DO IT! YOU WILL DO IT! YOU ARE AWESOME no matter what!
So many people are disappointed if they don't hit the 50,000 words but guess what... its okay if you don't! What? Did I really say that? YES I did. Even if you don't hit it, you might have written more than you have in a long time and that is a win. EVERY word you write in November is a win!!!! So DO IT!! It's going to be amazing! You CAN DO IT! I'm cheering for you! I hope you'll cheer for me too!
We will rock November and our books!!!
Don't forget your checklist!
As always thanks for reading, Happy writing and good luck!
Cassie M. Shiels
Nanowrimo Part 4: Building a simple Outline
It is no secret that every writer is different. There is NOT one way to write a book or outline your book. But there is your way. You just have to find it!
I have a story for you. Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to write a book (me) :D I didn't know anything about writing books but I pulled out a notebook and pen and went for it. That book (of mine) was fully pants. Horrible and will never see the light of day. I am okay with that. I was in seventh grade when I wrote it and I really didn't know what I was doing! My next book I also didn't plan out at all. I also started it in seventh grade. That book took me until I was a senior in high school to finish. I had no plan, I had no idea what I was doing, but writing by my gut. That book later became, The Royal Spy. It is a fun book and I love it dearly. I thought for a long, long time that I would always write my books by the seat of my pants, but then I decided I wanted to actually learn how to write a book. I ran into one of the issues that can pop up as a discovery writer. I had to edit the heck out of my books or cut huge chunks. Not all discovery writers are this way. For some that is the only way they can write and that is AWESOME! But I wanted to cut down on rewrites so I decided to start some investigating into planning out my books. I spent a lot of time reading different books, attending writing classes on the subject of outline and even watching some youtube videos. I attempted things and tried many different things. I discovered a few methods I hated. I couldn’t make them work at all. I also found some I really liked, BUT they did not work well for me always. So then I would try something new.
I learned so much more that one writing method isn't a golden ticket. That what works for one person doesn't work for another. I found out that if I planned my story fully to every detail that I lost interest. I could not be considered a planner. So after lots of experimenting, writing stories wrong, trial and error. I learned that I am what lots of people call a planster. I have to plan my stories to some extent, or else I get stuck with a huge amount of rewrites, but not enough that I lose interest in writing that story. That is just how I roll.
I have read a lot of writing books see my instragram for the different ones if you're curious. I may have a way that works for me right now, but one thing I am learning is that my writing style is always evolving. So I will continue to read more books about creating story and I will continually adjust. Its a super fun thing about being a writer, we get to continually learn. You get to find new ways to create. That is what we are, creators.
Nanowrimo for most people is quick fast and hard. 1667 words every single day for 30 days without a break is hard. You don't have time for writers block. You don't have time to think for a day or two about what happens next, but you also don't want to write nonsense you'll have to cut later. An outline, a simple one at least can help a ton. It could be as simple as this:
Part one of the book looks like this:
Part two looks like this:
Part three looks like this:
The over all theme is this:
The fail moment looks like this:
The change moment looks like this:
The Climax looks like this:
Even something as simple as that will help out a ton! I personally think a little more than that is even more helpful. Recently I have tried doing a new method that I l really like a lot. It has three simple steps. It get's me enough info but also leaves a lot open for discovery. I call it: Cassie's Story Creation tool. You can have my worksheets for free here. It has three steps. Step 1: What you know. Step 2: Important answers. Step 2: Outline of Main events, chapter by chapter. Basically step 1 is all about brainstorming things you know already from your idea. Step 2 is writing down some solid answers that need decisions before you dive into your novel. Step 3 is assigning ever chapter a plot point that is required to move the story forward.
Check it out I hope it helps you with your story planning and if not. Guess what that is okay. You will find the way that works best for you! And I will certainly cheer you on!
Other Outline methods I really like:
1. Dan Wells 7 point Story Structure (find his video series on youtube)
2. The book, Take off your pants by: Libbie Hawker
3.The book, Romancing the beat by: Gwen Hayes
4. The Three Act structure. (Easiest thing is to google it)
5. The book: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
Thanks for reading and Happy writing!
Cassie M. Shiels
Nanowrimo Prep. Part 3: Characters and your world
How are your preparations going? I hope so super good! This week I want to talk about characters and your story world. Sitting at your computer on day one is not the time to come up with your main characters. Now is the time to start creating. If you've already chosen a story this makes this process easier. For example if you know you are wiring a Young Adult Fantasy novel, about a lost werwolf girl. Then you already have your protagonist, maybe you have an idea of a few of your side characters and perhaps even your villain but if you idea isn't that fleshed out yet, you might not have a lot of ideas about who your characters are and what they want.
I personally think what they look like isn't as important as the list I am going to give you below, unless their appearance is vital to the story in some way. So yes figure out what they look like but more importantly think about these questions below for your leading Characters. Just a note their are load of creating character lists out there so if mine doesn't work for you find one that does. I also love to take a pen and notebook and have my characters write a journal entry about their life. I feel that is really helpful especially if I am writing a villain or a character who's backstory is vital.
Creating a character in 20 questions:
1. How does your character feel about themselves?
2. How does your character feel about taking action?
3. How does your character feel about their family?
4. Is your character an introvert or extrovert?
5. What hurt your character in the past that still haunts them today?
6. What motivates your character the most?
7. What makes your character happy? Mad? Sad? etc.
8. What do they want to spend their time doing?
9. Why would they fight for what they want? And what is it they want more than anything?
10. Why would they give up?
11. What would push your character to their breaking point?
12. Why do people like them?
13. Why do people hate them?
14. Why do they hold back?
15. What makes them special?
16. Could they ever chose to be evil (or good if creating a villain)? Why?
17. Describe their bedroom? Do they have a lot of something? What color are the walls? etc.
18. What are 8 descriptive words that would sum them up? 4 positive and 4 negative (ex: messy, caring.)
19. Why would a reader care about them to spend the length of a novel or series with them?
20. What do they need to learn?
I hope these questions along with a physical discretion will help you flesh out your characters for you book. Now lets turn to the world. You might be writing a fantasy where you have to make up all the rules or you might be writing a contemporary book but you still need to understand their world and what makes it run. If they have a certain job their environment will be different than another. So consider the world they live in.
If you are writing a fantasy of some kind think about: the magic system, the rulers, the peasant folk, the bartering or money system, what the outside world looks like, what their buildings look like, where you character fits in the world, how do they see their world (good, bad, neutral), the backstory of your land, how it came to be, what the rules are.
If writing a contemporary you will still need to think about the rules, the environment, where they fit in, what they do in the world. If you are using a real place, either research it a lot now or hopefully you have seen it with your own eyes. Nothing beats actually laving lived or visited the place you want to set your story in. If it is a general place like a small town feel free to make it all up but it is helpful to use a small town you know well as a reference guide.
You need to understand your world so that we can feel like we trust you and the journey the character will take. Setting i huge and building that world will help you craft the setting for each scene.
As always thanks for reading and happy writing!
Cassie M. Shiels
Nanowrimo Tip #2 Support
Hey so we are one more week closer to Nanowrimo. I hope you liked last weeks post. If you haven't read it yet scroll down and check it out. Its all about choosing your story. This weeks tip is all about support.
Nanowrimo is one of those things where you need support. You need to go into this feeling like you CAN DO IT!. You need someone or a group of people on your side, so that when you feel like maybe it is okay to forget writing for the day, they can encourage you to not get behind. Getting behind makes nanowrimo so much harder. Do everything you can not to fall behind in word count. Tell yourself you can do this. It is a challenge but a doable challenge for sure! I know you can do it. Lets cheer each other on!
12 TIPS ON SUPPORT for your AWESOME Nanowrimo goals.
1. Tell your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, parents, sibling. Who ever means the most to you that you want to accomplish this goal. Let them know how it works, what you have to do and how much you need them to cheer you on.
2. If you have children tell them about your goals too. My kids are so supportive of my writing dreams if I explain to them my excitement and what I need to do. They are so supportive and they can help hold you accountable.
3. Sign up on nanowrio.org and find buddies, find out about your writing area and what their goals are. Some have Facebook groups , write-in's, parties, etc. It is so helpful to have others writing with you.
4. Have an accountability partner. Someone who you can text and say, "Guess what I hit my word count today!" and they will be excited for you. Or who will text you if it is getting late in the day and ask if you have your word count yet. This works really well if you are both doing Nanowrimo together, but it isn't required.
5. Get a calendar or planner and write down the word counts for everyday. So it would say 1667 words on November 1st and 3334 on November 2nd etc... I have done the calendar a few times but this time I am trying it in my planner.
6. Get a paper and put it next to your computer to keep track of your word counts.
7. Join a sprinting group and take part in writing sprints.
8. Talk with those you live with about when you are hoping to write. In the morning, evening, during the day, at lunch... So that they know to leave you alone during that time so you can get your word count.
9. If you have children, set a timer. They will love seeing it count down and hopefully they will give you the time you need to get your words in for the day.
10. Write yourself some motivational things. Like for example on day five write your favorite motivational quote. On day 7 write: you can do it, on day nine write: Don't give up, on day fifteen write: Don't go back and edit... etc. Keep things as positive and motivating as possible
11. Come up with awesome rewards. For example: @ 10,000 words you get to eat a huge chocolate bar. @ 20,000 words you get to go on a fun date. @30,000 words you get to buy something you want from amazon. @ 40,000 words you get to go out to dinner. @ 50,000 words you get to have a fun little party. Come up with whatever works for you. We all love rewards and those can be super motivating and sportful of your goals.
12. Have someone who you can tell your woe's, worries or help I need to know what to write next. Having someone who you know you can turn too when it gets tough, is always helpful. Especially if they will listen to you and then cheer you on.
BONUS 13. Support yourself by doing as much leg work beforehand, stock your pantry with your favorite snacks, get your characters figured out, your outline, your world. Make it so you are dying to start writing on November 1st.
You all are amazing! Good luck on your prep work! Thanks for reading and Happy writing!
Cassie M. Shiels
Tip 1: Choosing a story. Nanowrimo prep. part 1 of 5
Who loves the idea of a challenge? I know I do. I like the idea of working hard to obtain a goal. For many writers one of the funnest and best challenges we attempt is the yearly challenge called, Nanowrimo, aka, national write a novel in the month of November. Thats right. We give ourselves the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. That breaks down to1667 words a day. I know many writers who do that anyway and many writers who don't. To write 1667 words consistently for 30 days without a break is a challenge. But a fun one. One that I will yet attempt again this year. This will be year 4 for me. To find out more check out the nanorimo website here.
One of the hardest things is to know where to start. Here is a hint: YOU START RIGHT NOW!!
Start in October to have a successful nanowrimo. And there are three things I think you should do right now to make your November Challenge successful. The first one is try and write a little everyday right now, especially if you are not in the habit. Even 250 words will do, but try to slowly increase it. It doesn't matter what you are writing just that you are getting some words down daily.
Number 2 is to re-read one of your favorite books in your favorite genre and ask yourself:
1. Why do you love it?
2. What genre is it?
3. Could you write that genre?
4. What are your favorite parts? (ex: all the action, suspense, romance, beauty, emotions...)
5. What drew you in and held you tight?
6. What techniques did this writer use that you could also use? (for example: shorter sentences when the action was intense.)
7. Who were your favorite characters and why did you love them?
8. Who did you hate and why was that?
9. Did any parts bore you, why was that?
10. What would you have done differently?
These questions will help you with tip number 3 choosing your own story. Think about the answers to your questions to help you create a story of your very own. Don't plagiarize! Just think of elements you liked that you could incorporate or twist into your own work.
Number 3 Choose your story, ASAP!
I know easier said than done for some of us. I am still debating between three. I had better choose and get my head in the game soon. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you choose your story. Think of the story idea you are considering and put them through these questions if you have a lot of I don't know answers either you need to do more brain storming on your story idea or it isn't the idea for this particular challenge. If you can answer them then you are on a good track.
1. Does your story idea make you excited?
2. Will your story idea require a lot of research. If yes try to get as much of that done now.
3. Is your story idea in a genre that you know very well. You should be reading the genre you want to write.
4. Does your story idea have a captivating problem that won't be easily solved requiring the length of a short novel?
5. Do you know what your main character wants and have some ideas of how they will have to fight to get what they want? And some ideas of what will stop them from easily obtaining it? If not start brainstorming some what ifs?
6. Does your story idea have a villain? If so do you know what they want? Why they want it and what they are willing to do to get it?
7. Do you know anything about the world your story takes place in? Or the job your Main character has?
8. Can you think of a beginning part, a middle part and an end part? You might not know this yet but it is something to think about for sure.
9. Do you know if you have a theme that you would like woven into your story?
10. Do you have a few fun scenes in mind that you can't wait to write?
11. Do you feel like your story will take you at least 50,000 words to complete?
12. After all of these questions does your story idea still excite you? If so, it is probably a winner!
I want to wish you luck on choosing your story. It is all up to you, no one will know what story is right except you. No one will spend as much time with your story except you. Don't go into this and wing it. I know from experience. Make sure you are ready. If you like to pants write don't worry about having every detail figured out just make sure you have the big things figured out so you can make the most of your writing time.
BONUS TIP: Also finish all your TV shows you are wrapped up in so that they are not a huge roadblock to your November goals, come November 1st.
I hope you liked this post and I hope you will check out the other 4. One coming every week this month before we start Nanowrimo.
So who is doing it with me? I'd love for you to comment below and tell me if you are in or out.
Thanks readers and happy writing!
Cassie M. Shiels
READ, READ, READ and READ some more!
As a writer reading is very important. I used to think that I couldn't read and write at the same time and so I was usually only doing one or the other for an extended amount of time. I have since learned that I need to make sure I am trying to do both. For one I miss the other when I am working on one. For two how can I create books without reading them? Reading and writing go hand in hand. Below are the reasons why you should always Read, even while writing.
In your Genre:
Every Genre has different rules, and story beats that readers expect. Without reading in your genre it will be hard for you to know all of those beats and structure that readers expect for that specific genre. Also you can learn what kind of stories are already out there. Sometime a book can help you figure out where you are stuck in your story. And its fun to read the genre that you love so much! I am a multi genre author and I used to think that all stories were created equal, that a suspense, a fantasy and a romance were all created the same way. Then I started learning about story beats and wow there is a difference my friends.
Out of your Genre:
These books can help increase your story sense. They can build your idea of story worlds and open your eyes to new genre's you never thought you would love! I used to only read fantasy and fairy tale, but then I read some paranormal, Regency romance and then contemporary romance. I would never have tried these genre's in the past but now I have learned how much I love all of these different kinds of stories. This broden's your horizons, opens up new possibilities, and opens new stories worlds for you to venture into. You can also learn what you don't like and why.
There is always so much more to learn. After reading many writing books you will discover that a lot of them say the same thing but usually there is always something new in each one. It is great review for the things they say the same and they all have great ah ha moments for the new stuff. I am trying hard to read a bunch this year. I have 5 under my belt since January but I would like to get a few more. Learning and growing your skill is invaluable and sooooo important.
It is important to know what is being published right now. The demand for certain books ebbs and flows like a title wave. The demand for certain books grows until the market is saturated and then publishers and readers are looking for the next best thing. If you are ready to send out a book to an agent or publisher it would be wise to see what is coming out right now or on the coming out soon lists.
Read the classic's. We don't write books like they used to and that is mostly a good thing, we don't like pages and pages of description but try to figure out why the classic's are still read today. What makes them lasting, and how can you translate that aspect into your own writing. I know when I decided that I wanted to write a book with vampires that I had to read Dracula, its just one of those things that have to be done. Still working on that book but hopefully it won't be to long before I can get it written the way I want it.
Read to your kids:
Kids love it when parents read to them. You can totally count a novel read to them as a book read on your own goals. I am loving reading , Ella Enchanted to my oldest girl. We can only read a chapter or s scene a night but its awesome one on one time and the time might be shortchanged but it totally counts.
Your own writing:
After writing your manuscript make sure to try and read it at least once as a reader. See if you are board anywhere or if there is a part that makes you swoon or laugh or cry. Pay attention to how it reads and if it feels like the books that you enjoy so much. If so you are on the right track.
Reading is so important, I hope that you can find time to read even if it is a little bit. If you are having a hard time finding time check out my tips below.
TIPS FOR THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE MUCH TIME TO READ!
1. Read on your phone
2. Read while your kids are watching their favorite movie for the 27th time.
3. Always have a book with you for those times when you randomly need to pass the time.
4. Read in the pick up line, while waiting for the doctor or dentist or other appointments.
5. Go pick up your kids fifteen minutes early so you can get a little reading time.
6. Read while cooking dinner. (I do this all the time! ha ha)
7. Plan a reading date night with your hubby or boyfriend/girlfriend.
8. Read in the car (if you can handle it. I read and write in the car on longer drives)
9. Get audio books and listen while doing other house chores or commuting to work.
10. Make a reading goal for the year on goodreads. It so helps to have a place to keep track of the books you've read and the ones you want to read next.
PLEASE REVIEW: If you read a book and liked it please write a review on amazon, goodreads, etc. authors need reviews and we would love to have a review from a reader like you!
Thanks for reading and happy writing!
Cassie M. Shiels
To have a pen name or to not have a pen name that is the question. At some point in your writing journey you will have to decied what name you want on your work. Will it be your real name? A variation of your name? Will it be a name of your choosing. Will you have many pen names or just one? These are all real question and for us writers it can be a bit troubbling at times. I know it has been for me.
My pen name story:
I remember thinking in middle school when I started writing my first book about what name I wanted on my books. I liked my name but at the same time I was sure I could have one that sounded more authorish. :D When I met my husband and things started looking like they would last, I admit to trying on his last name. I knew Shiels would be a great last name for an author. (In my mind it was perfect, and so was he.)
Fast forward a few years. I published my first two books, The Royal Spy and Lady A under my name, Cassie M. Shiels but when I started thinking about writing contemporary romance. I considered the idea of a pen name. I thought long and hard about it. I even came up with the perfect name. I decided that my alter ego would have to have the name that could have only been mine in an alternate reality. A name that only belonged in a parallel universe. I blame watching a little too much, Doctor Who, for that kind of thinking.
I settled on the name, Cassandra Grimes. Here is why: 1. I didn't want a frivolous name that I wasn't attached to in any way. It had to still feel like me in some form. 2. My real name is Cassie, I was almost named Cassandra therefore in a parallel world that would be my name. Grimes would have also been my last name if my grandfather had never been adopted. Again a parallel universe thought. 3. I thought it sounded cool. I 'll have to name a character that name.
For a few weeks I loved this idea. I thought it was the best thing ever, but then it lost its appeal. I didn't want to look at my book on amazon or on the shelf and not see my name on it. Then my books that I pour my heart into would look like any other, not mine. I wanted to fully claim my work. As cool as I thought this pen name would be, I couldn't do it.
Still worried that I needed a pen name but wanting the book to have my name on it. I settled on the pen name C. M. Shiels for my contemporary works. It was still me. It would work great. This idea lasted a lot longer. But guys I want to see my name on all of my books. I started asking questions about pen names and paying attention to other Autors and two things stood out to me.
The first was how a few of my author friends were working to get rid of their pen names. Mostly because their books were not that different. Or they didn't want to deal with a pen name.
The second thing was that as authors it is a good idea to think about not confusing our readers. Especially if we are writing for both kids and adults. This thought made me feel certain that I had to have a pen name even though by then I didn't want one. I kept telling myself that if I wanted to write all my ideas I would have too. I had dreams of writing picture books, concept books, new chapter books, middle grade books, Young Adult books, New adult books and adult books in various genres. I seriously have tons of story ideas. If I stuck with this plan, yes, a pen name or two would be required. But then I started thinking about what I actually like to write and what I wanted to spend my time writing. Guess what it wasn't picture books. I love and appreciate them but that isn't me. I am a novelist. I read over 35 new chapter books before I decided that I could write them yes, but I didn't really want too. Middle grade would still be fun but I'm not sure I ever will write one. Maybe but maybe not. I figured out my true love is writing for Young Adults, new adults and adults. I know I still want to write in multiple genres, but I hope that if my readers know that then they won't be so shocked to see a princess story from me, then a clean contemporary romance, then a paranormal romance, then a fantasy and a romantic suspense. I am a multi genre book lover and that is what I want to write. And my heart wants me to write it under my name.
I understand I will have different kinds of readers. The split is still there. Those who read my princess books might not want to read my bridal shop romances. Thats great. I will have my name on both but my readers are welcome to avoid what they don't want and read any or all.
To help with this I have two newsletters. One is for those who like magic, princesses, dragons, made up kingdoms, vampires, etc and one is for those who like contemporary romance stories without magic. They are all clean, books straight from my heart and honestly they all sound like me so you could totally tell.
I hope my readers will love my multi genres with me. And I hope having my name on them won't throw anyone for a loop.
This decision wasn't taken lightly. Lots of thought and time went into it. For those writers who are still trying to figure it out I have a list of things to think about below. I hope it helps.
Things to consider:
1. Are your genres or age groups shockingly different? ( Kids vs. Adults, nonfiction vs. horror)
2. Are you willing to manage more than one name?
3. Do you need a pen name for legal or personal preference?
4. Would you rather friends and family not know it's you writing this work?
5. Is your name so common that it would be better to use a pen name?
6. Do you want to have a pen name for your traditional stories vs. your indi works?
7. Do you like your maiden name better?
8. Do you want it to keep your author life and your everyday life separate?
9. What if you really do become well known for your books? Would you want it then?
10. Do you want to clearly separate the books your write?
Thanks for reading and good luck writing!
~Cassie M. Shiels~
Just like in any other job, writers get burnt out. Being creative is the way our brain works but sometimes we hit the bottom of our creative barrel and we need to recharge. Sometimes we hit what writers like to call writers block. Ah this is so stressful!!! Especially when we want to move forward with our story and we are feeling like we have nothing to write other than. I hate this, or what are words? First of all don't feel like you are a bad writer if this happens to you. It happens to us all. Secondly don't give up. Remember, "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it!" ~Anne of Green Gables~ You might feel like hitting your head against your laptop or notebook today, but that doesn't mean it's time to quit all together.
10 Tips to beat Writers Block!
1. Do a task that requires a minimal part of your brain, and think through the spot of your story that you are stuck at. Something like hand washing dishes, mowing the lawn or taking a shower work great.
2. Refill your writers bucket by reading a book that is NOT the same Genre you are writing but you still enjoy a lot. It can be a novel you love or a new book or even a book you are beta reading for another author.
3. Refill your writers bucket by reading a book that IS in your Genre. Pay attention to the story beats and see if it can clue you into what you might need to do next.
4. Take a trusted friend out to lunch and hash out the part of the story you are stuck on. A phone call also works, but it's less fun.
5. Spend a hour on pintrest looking up clothes your character would wear, the environment they are in, the costume or ball gown, or weapon they need soon. Use the time to build excitement for writing not as an excuse for why you're not writing.
6. Watch one of your favorite T.V. shows. Laugh, relax and then think about why you love it. Can you use that element in your story?
7. Play the What If... game (also fun with a friend) Think of the silliest, craziest, scariest, funnest things that could happen next. Not only is it fun but you'll probably find your answer.
8. Do a Timed Write Exercise. Set your timer for 20 to 30 minutes and write about whats wrong, where you need to get too and all the ways you could force your characters in that direction.
9. Make your favorite desert. Something that when sitting there is super hard to resist. Then reward yourself for writing a chapter or a certain large word count by earning some of the desert. #motivation
10. TAKE a bubble bath and relax. Ask yourself questions about your characters background and why they are the way they are now. Two good things comes from this. More knowledge about your characters and sometimes something you learn about them will help you with where you are feeling stuck
BONUS: Search for a song that represents your book or character and play it before you sit down to write
BONUS 2: Let the stress of the block fade into the back ground. Go to bed. Wake up, exercise, eat something filling, drink a large glass of water, stretch then sit down to write with your favorite music. Get yourself feeling good, with endorphins pumping thorough you and go for it!
I hope you find these helpful.
Good luck and happy writing! Cassie!
No one writes their stories exactly the same way. Ideas come to us in different ways too. One of my favorite things to look for when I am creating a story are the shiver moments. What is that? It is a moment where all the braiding of the story comes to a point. Where emotions are high. Where often we see theme. It is a powerful moment that causes the reader or movie watcher to feel shivers. To grip the book or their blanket tighter. The stakes are high. It could possibly be a climatic moment but not always. It works really great as a mirror moment to something else in the story. It is a moment where the reader really feels something. The five biggest ways I have seen this personally are: the climax, mirror moments, a character defining moment, a fail moment or a huge ah ha moment. So when writing a new story keep the idea of finding a shiver moment in mind. Think about what you would need to put into your story to make that moment strong. Remember these moments never contain one element it is a moment where your story braiding comes to a point.
You can also combine these moments to create a more powerful shiver moment. These ones hit harder and leave a longer impact. Example: Wreck-it Ralf has a shiver moment that is a mirror moment, a fail moment and a climatic moment all in one. I think that is why it's my favorite example of a shiver moment.
I will tell you not all shiver moments are created equally some are a lot stronger than others. But they all add a lot to a story. Personally, I feel if you are looking for a stronger shiver moment then use either a mirror moment or a fail moment. But that might just be my own preference. Below are some fun examples of each of the five ways I mentioned seeing shiver moments from both movies and books.
Examples of shiver moments from books and movies:
Beware the below may contain spoilers!!
1. Wreck it Ralph: (Climax, mirror moment, fail moment) Wreck it, Ralph says, “I’m bad. And that’s good. I will never be good. And that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.” This one is huge for me, it gets me every time. It is a climatic moment but it is also a mirror moment and a fail moment all in one. Everything Ralph has been looking for, the hero he is trying to be all comes to a point at that moment. He's about to wreck something which is what makes him a bad guy, yet wrecking something this time, makes him a hero.
2. Boss baby: (Mirror moment): I honestly thought I would hate this movie and then I watched it. The shiver moment happens after the climax is all done when they both got what they wanted and they thought they would be happy but they aren't is so powerful. Tim writes boss baby a letter mirroring some of the same things that were said earlier in the film but the way they are said this time has a different meaning. It is so fun to see the connections and such a strong shiver moment.
3. Thor Ragnarok: (Defining moment) The scene where he thinks all is lost and that he is going to die at the hand of his sister but then finally uses his full lightning power. He pushes her away and defeats her army like they are nothing, after he truly taps into his full potential. His father told him he is stronger and we get to see this at that moment. Every time I see this scene I can hardly sit still.
4. The non-animated Beauty and the Beast: The Evermore song moment (Fail moment): Beast lets Bell go knowing full well that he is out of time. He is choosing to fail in breaking the curse because he cares about her so much. His heart is breaking at this moment. But again it is also the moment where we know he finally has learned his lesson that he's changed. Great song! Powerful shiver moment.
5. Star Wars (Huge Ah ha) When Darth Vader says, "Luke, I am your Father!" Most of us know that now, but when that movie first came out it was a huge shock! The prequels have lessons the surprise but the point is still there. I also think of ah ha moments in romances when they finally realize that they love each other after all or mysteries when we finally understand who the killer was.
1. J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter (Defining moment) We see this again and again in the whole series. When Harry Ron or Hermione step up to fight Lord Voldemort. It isn't always easy but they rise to the occasion. One of the best moments, that is also a shiver moment, is in book number four when Harry fights Voldemort after Cedric dies in the graveyard. I remember gripping that book so tight I got red marks on my hands from the cover.
2. Louis Sachar's Holes (Mirror moment) Stanley Yelnats carries Zero up the mountain saving his friend from the desert. He keeps it light talking about a hot fudge Sunday. Add to this a scene in the next chapter where Stanley sings his family's song to Zero. Its mirror moment is in the past when Stanley's no good dirty rotten pig stealing great great grandfather was to carry madam Zaroni up the mountain instead after carrying the pig up so many times. This moment brings all the braiding together.
3. Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted (Climax) Ella declares, "I shan't marry the prince!" Everyone is commanding her too, but she can't not with her curse. She wants nothing more to Marry him, but not when it would destroy him. To protect him she fights her curse.
4. Betsy Brannon Green's, Don't Close your eyes (Fail moment) When the reader realizes that the main character might have been poisoned and who the murderer is. This one gets me nervous every time! Shiver!
5. Bruce Coville's Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher (Huge Ah ha) When Jeremy finds out that his cool sphere is actually a dragon egg and he is going to be a dragon hatcher. Then again when he finds out why he can't keep her forever. These ones are softer shiver moments but still impactful.
Romances: I love the moment when one of the main characters figure out they they love someone and cannot let them go. They can also be great shiver moments.
In my own writing I am working harder to use this aspect because I feel like it is so powerful. When I thought back to writing my first book, The Royal Spy, two scenes kept coming to mind. Two scenes made the project have to work. One was the mud fight scene and the other the sword fight in the tower with lightning flashing. The first scene is just a fun one that creates happy emotions but the second is a shiver moment. What was missing in the first was the braiding. The layers that make a shiver moment work. Both needed to happen in the story but one had more power than the other.
Challenge 1: Start looking for these moments everywhere! In the movies you watch and the books you read. Look for why they are a shiver moment and what had to come before to make that moment so powerful.
Challenge 2: Start a new story starting with a shiver moment and then build the story from there. Think about what you would need to make this moment powerful.
Thanks for reading, Happy writing and Enjoy! Cassie M. Shiels
Cassie M. Shiels.
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