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
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~
So love by Consequence is the first book in my bridal shop romance novella series. I am so over the moon excited for this book and the others to follow. One of my all time favorite jobs was working at a bridal shop. It has been a ball creating these characters and coming up with their love stories, with the bridal shop as the common thing in them all. I was honored to get that job and I am honored now to present these stories. I will note that all of the characters and situations are completely fiction, made up and in no way representative to anyone I worked with or knew at the bridal shop I worked at. Any similarities are completely coincidental, I did not base anything off of real people. I am just honoring my time with fun stories. I hope that you all enjoy this one too, due out in July 2018!!!
I had the awesome amazing opportunity this last weekend to attend an event. I love author events. I have loved them for years. Going to book signings, and writing conferences are a blast. Spring into books happens to be both of those combined. I loved every second of this event. It was so much fun creating book marks, ordering in a bunch of my books, talking to my neighboring authors, watching my brother and hubby step in to watch over my table while I taught, meeting readers and other writers. I was there for over five hours but it felt like two. I suppose book signings could be boring but I truly had a ball. Readers, we authors love to see you and authors if you are considering doing an event like this just do it! You'll be happy you did. See below for my 10 tips for a book signing event after these two fun photos!
10 Tips for a book signing event:
Cassie M. Shiels.