My NaNoWriMo Tip #30: Follow my motto, “Last author standing.”

NaNo30

It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #30, for Friday, the 30th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too. The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2 THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 

#45 on Amazon Kindle/Mysteries/Women Sleuths
 But It Today, on

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My NaNoWriMo Tip #28: Your character said WHAT???

NaNo28

It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #28, for Wednesday, the 28th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too. The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 

 

HAH Hanging Man V2 THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 

#45 on Amazon Kindle/Mysteries/Women Sleuths
 But It Today, on

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My NaNoWriMo Tip #27: Bad query letter. (Just sayin’.)

NaNo27
It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #27, for Tuesday, the 27th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too. The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2 THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 

#45 on Amazon Kindle/Mysteries/Women Sleuths
 But It Today, on

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My NaNoWriMo Tip #26: How to get an agent.

NaNo26
It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #26, for Monday, the 26th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too. The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2 THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 

#45 on Amazon Kindle/Mysteries/Women Sleuths
 But It Today, on

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My NaNoWriMo Tip #25: Why, and when,authors need an agent.

 

NaNo25
It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #25, for Sunday, the 25th…

 

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

 

 

My NaNoWriMo Tip #24: Why your phrasing is important!

 

NaNo24
It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #24, for Saturday, the 24th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too. The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2 THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 

#45 on Amazon Kindle/Mysteries/Women Sleuths
 But It Today, on

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My NaNoWriMo Tip #23: Make sure your plot isn’t half-baked!


PieBook
It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #23, for Friday, the 23th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too. The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2 THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 

#45 on Amazon Kindle/Mysteries/Women Sleuths
 But It Today, on

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My NaNoWriMo Tip #22: No, Your manuscript is NOT a turkey…if you…

NaNo22

It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #22, for Thursday, the 22th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too. The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2 THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 

#45 on Amazon Kindle/Mysteries/Women Sleuths
 But It Today, on

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My NaNoWriMo Tip #21: Why EVERY word counts!

NaNo21

It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #21, for Wednesday, the 21th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too. The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown


Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2 THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 

#45 on Amazon Kindle/Mysteries/Women Sleuths
 But It Today, on

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My NaNoWriMo Tip #20: Become the George Clooney of writers.

NaNo20

It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #20, for Tuesday, the 20th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too. The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown


Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2 THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 

#45 on Amazon Kindle/Mysteries/Women Sleuths
 But It Today, on

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My Tip #19 for NaNoWriMo: To rewrite a scene, change the point of view.

NaNo19

It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.

Here's Tip #19, for Monday, the 19th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too. The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

 

HA5 Vacation to Die For (LoRes) (768x1024)Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S VACATION TO DIE FOR contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 


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My NaNoWriMo Tip #18: Why authors have to pace themselves.

NaNo18
It's NaNoWriMo Month! (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.


Here's Tip #18, for Saturday, the 18th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.
The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,


— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2 THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 

#45 on Amazon Kindle/Mysteries/Women Sleuths
 But It Today, on

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NaNoWriMo Tip #18: Writing a novel is a marthon, so pace yourself.

Dustin-hoffman-marathon-man
Congratulations! You are more than half-way through this exhilarting creative writing marathon called  National Novel Writing Month. For the past seventeen days you've gone pens-to-the-wall, sprinting beyond word counts (1,350, 4,500, 10,000) that some of you never thought you'd achieve.

You have each other to thank: nothing inspires more than a group grope, especially when it comes to an artistic challenge.

But it's only Day 18, and you've still got a hella lotta words to go.

If you've been hitting your word count of 1,650 words a day, then I'm guessing you're somwhere over 28,000 words. In a 300-page book, that would put you just under a third of the way into your book.

Youch.

If you've found yourself running out of steam, don't panic. These three tips should give you your second wind:

1. Move forward, not backward, in this writing process.
At this juncture, resist the urge to edit or rewrite. Just follow your outline. Trust me, you'll have plenty of time to revisit those bumps you've hit along the way: in fact, IMMEDIATELY after you've completed your manuscript. I know you'll have the urge to show it to everyone you know, but don't. It's like putting on your makeup in the dark: what you DON'T want others to see could have easily been corrected in the light of day.

2. Whenever possible, schedule a “creative break” prior to writing.
By its nature, writing is a solitary experience. You are staring at a page (or computer screen) for whatever number of hours you put into reaching your daily goal.

All the more reason to get out into the real world, even if it's just for an hour. It's the best way to hydrate your creative writing process.

Every day I take a walk, usually a different one from the day before. I'm lucky in that I can walk with my husband. Because he's also a professional writer (a journalist) he's a great person with whom to bounce ideas around. It is one of the best ways in which to work through my plot concerns. Just hearing myself express my problem out loud gives me a new perspective, and helps me find a detour around it. Don't have a life partner who is also a writer? No problem, make close friends with people who also have a passion for writing.

3. Give yourself a reward.
Some people make it a favorite food or beverage. I ‘Flix a movie, or a television show I've missed. Sometimes I pick up the latest copy of New Yorker. I find myself doubly inspired when I pick up on some current event. In fact, my book, The Baby Planner, was inspired by an article I'd read (sitting in a doctor's waiting room) on the topic of this new profession. And yes, the idea for my next book also came from an article I'd read, this time over lunch with an online edition of the New York Times

You never know when the next perfect “what if” idea will come. If you're lucky, you'll be able to incorporate it into your next scene, and continue the NaNoWriMo marathon.

Notice a pattern here?

Keep your eyes open, and your mind clear.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All Rights Reserved

The photo above is of actor Dustin Hoffman, when he starred in Marathon Man, the movie, based on the book by the same name, written by screenwriting legend William Goldman. His memoirs —  Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting (1983), and Which Lie Did I Tell? (More Adventures in the Screen Trade)(2000) — are must-reads for anyone interested in writing in Hollywood.

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READ YESTERDAY'S TIP HERE…

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Question of the day: What has been the most exhausting part of the NaNoWriMo process? How do you put it in perspective, and move forward? 

Happy plotting (Yes. You. Can), and Happy National Novel Writing Month,

— Josie

 

My 17th NaNoWriMo Tip: Why your characters need emotional depth.

NaNo17
It's NaNoWriMo Month!
(National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you.


Here's Tip #17, for Saturday, the 17th

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 

HAH Hanging Man V2Buy THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK! No #90 on Kindle Top 100/Mystery Women Sleuths. And it's only 99 cents on

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My 10th NaNoWriMo Tip is here…

NaNo10

It's NaNoWriMo Month!

(National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you. 

Here's Tip #10, for Saturday, the 10th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 

HAH Hanging Man V2Buy THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK Today, on

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My NaNoWriMo Tip #7: How to fix a dud chapter.


NaNo7
It's NaNoWriMo Month
!

(National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you. 

Here's Tip #7, for Wednesday, November 7th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 

HAH Hanging Man V2Buy THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK Today, on

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And then there were five (NaNoWriMo tips)…


NaNo5
It's NaNoWriMo Month
!

(National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you. 

Here's Tip #5, for Monday, November 5th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2Buy THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK Today, on

 

 

http://www.authorprovocateur.com/2011/11/nanowrimo_tip_5.html

Are you ready for my NaNoWriMo Tip #4?

 


NaNo4
It's NaNoWriMo Month
!

(National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you. 

Here's Tip #4, for Sunday, November 4th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


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NaNoWriMo Tip #22: If your dialogue doesn’t match the character, fix it. Now!

Tfios_soundtrack_coverMost novelists have several characters walking around in their heads at any given time. Sadly, not all authors take the time to bring these wonderful imaginary people to life.

Where they fail most often is in the words they put in their characters' mouths.

If all of your characters sound alike to you and to your critique partners, rewriting their dialogue may actually save your book.

Here are three steps to take in order to bring your characters to life:

1. Know your characters.
Where are they from, originally? How were they raised? What do they do for a living? What are their fears? How about their desires? As with all of us, these live experiences shape us, and affect the words that come out of our mouths.

Some authors I know actually do character bios: not just for their heroes and main characters, but for every character in the book. It's really a great exercise, and may make the difference in how your characters act– and react — on the page.

Actors do this, too. Michelle Williams (in the photo, above) is proving to be one of the foremost actresses of her generation because, like a Meryl Streep or a Kate Winslet, she is a different person in every film. One of her movies, My Week with Marilyn, is proof that she can lose herself in the iconic Marilyn Monroe: not just with makeup, but in the walk, the voice, and by saying the words written for her character in a way that rings true.

2. Do your “dialogue” homework.
Just as you'd research a moment in time for an historical novel, or a place (say, the Vatican, if were you Dan Brown, and writing The DaVinci Code), you should also research the tone, cadence and slang of your characters.

A female college student from Berkeley in the 1960s won't speak — let alone think — the same way as one who went to school at Wellesley. That is also true about a father raising his children in downtown San Francisco, and one raising his kids in Dunwoody Georgia. 

If these characters inhabit your book, it's time to do a little research into their lives, and how it affects the words that come out of their mouths

The most common dialogue mistakes come when an author is (a) writing in the voice of the opposite sex, or (b) writing a character who comes from a different country.

In my very first novel, True Hollywood Lies, the anti-hero, Louis Trollope, was both: male, and from England. Not only did I tap into my male side (the yin and yang/dominant and recessive traits are something we all have, and must use if we are involved in creative writing) and have my husband vet my male dialogue, I also sent the manuscript to a male friend who grew up in England, to check the authenticity of my slang research. It was a great move, as he was able to tweak a few phrases, and to verify much of what I'd written was in fact “spot on.” (Love that term. Used in Britain more than here, but it aptly makes the point.)

3. Read your dialogue out loud to yourself.
Charles Dickens was an actor as well as a novelist. He knew the power of great dialogue. It was part of his writing routine to read his chapters out loud to himself, in order to hear the flow of his prose and gauge the authenticity of his dialogue. 

You should do that, too. If it doesn't sound real to your ear, it won't sound right to anyone else, either.

 4. Unless your character is Father Knows Best, a super hero, Ghandi, or Mother Teresa, he or she is not perfect–and that's okay.

So write them that way. Let them make mistakes. Let them do, and say, stupid things. Let them do things that will come back and bite them in the but later in your plot.

In other words, let them be real people. Because no one is perfect.

Except for you.

At least, according to your mother.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All Rights Reserved

The photo above: from the movie “The Fault with Our Stars” 

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Question of the day: How many times do you re-read your manuscript before sending it out into the world?  And honestly, do you feel it's enough?

 

— Josie

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #27: Don’t do this in your query letter. Pretty please.

Johngrisha_6905555_11586349As mentioned in yesterday's NaNoWriMo tip (#25), you don't have to wait until your novel is completed to start the process of researching literary agents — or, for that matter, crafting a “I want this book”–inducing query letter.

Get started now, after you finish today's word count, of course.

Yesterday, I made some suggestions as to what a query letter should include. Today, I want to let you know what will get your letter tossed immediately:

1. Poor spelling.
 We all make mistakes. We make less of them if we proof our letters prior to sending them. And then proof them again. Then, to play it safe, have someone else proof them, too. 

While I'm on the subject: Since we live in the age of multiple submissions and cut-and-paste (and we should all be thankful for both), it is truly bad form to leave the name of the last agent you queried in the salutation of your letter for another. Not to mention calling a Ms. “Mr.” or visa-versa. 

Proof. Proof. Then proof again. Trust me, you'll find something.

2. Bad grammar.
You are what you write. That goes for your query letters, too. Again, proofing should catch an “It's…” that should have been an “Its…”

3. Boasting.
You aren't J.K. Rowling. You aren't Stephen King. You aren't John Grisham. However, if you can attach a personal letter from an author of note espousing on your manuscript, you'll certainly get an agent's attention.

4. A biography that is longer than a couple of pertinent lines.
This isn't a job interview, so don't include a resume. And for that matter, it isn't a date either, so skip your hopes, dreams and future financial projections. 

5. Threats.
Warning literary agents that they are missing out on the next Twilight series doesn't make them beg to see your novel, but may give them a needed chuckle for the day. The begging part comes when you whet their appetite with a surefire teaser that describes your book. Which brings us to…

6. An inability to sum up your plot in a paragraph.
The sole purpose of the query letter is to intrigue agents about your novel and to request that you send it to them to read. If you bore them with paragraph after paragraph of specific details about your plot or hero, they'll think that your manuscript reads that way, too…

And they'll pass on it. 

Sell it to them in a one-liner: “In (novel's title), a (middle-aged woman/shy teen boy or whatever) has their (life/ or whatever, cut short/changed forever) when (s/he finds a letter from…).”

Hopefully, you'll show more nuance and perspective than I did in the line above. In other words, it's your story, so sell it. 

And yes, it's okay if you need two or three sentences instead of one. 

7. Begging.
They don't care that you took eight years to write this novel, 24/7, or that you're supporting your invalid mother. Should they like what they read and get a bidding war started for your manuscript, trust me: that will be the backstory used by the publicist to get you an interview or two. So cut the sob sister act. Work on a killer one-liner instead.

8. Photos or Illustrations.
John Grisham claims he received twenty-eight rejection letters before he found a publisher for his first novel, A Time to Kill. I'm guessing that the bare-chested photo he included had something to do with it. (I kid you, John!) This isn't Match.com or the Miss America Contest, so resist the temptation for visual stimulation. 

For that matter, don't send chocolate, either.

Save that for your first face-to-face meeting with your new agent.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

Picture: The s(pec)tacular John Grisham. I'm sure the six-pack abs are under there, somewhere…

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READ YESTERDAY'S TIP HERE…

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I've got a question for you: Have you already made a query letter faux pas ? Let's have a pity party, 'cause I've made some, too, lemmee tellya! 

Let your fingers do the talking during National Novel Writing Month,

— Josie