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NaNo 2020 – The Hallowmas Box

Ever feel like taking a risk with your writing but aren’t sure where to start? My first piece of advice is don’t force it. The opportunity may present itself to you. I know it certainly did to me a few weeks ago. I happened upon the inspiration for a project that I’ve been dying to write in terms of genre and style.

I am always hearing advice from other writers that we all need to keep learning and expanding our craft, making it better. All of my main WIP projects right now are in different genres (stretching from urban fantasy to sci-fi, and even fantasy), but they have a POV in common (mainly third person omniscient for the most part). Now, I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. It’s a POV I’m comfortable with and like.

However, this year I decided to do something … unusual as my project for National Novel Writing Month. I have chosen not only a genre but a POV that is completely different from my usual work.

Besides a few short stories or blurbs based off writing prompts I’ve written across the last few years, I’ve never spent much time in the horror/thriller genre. (Which is strange because I love movies in this genre and have read several short stories that I adored.). Unusual item number two is that I’ll be writing this project in first person POV. I haven’t done this since high school. My abilities as well as my confidence in myself as a writer have developed greatly since then.

Both of these factors make this project incredibly frightening.

Here’s the kicker. I came across a single word that started me down this road.

That word was Hallowmas. And it spawned not only the title but the project itself.

(Brief explanation: Halloween is All Hallows Eve and Hallowmas is the day after, known in the Catholic liturgical calendar as All Saints Day. Based on certain mythologies, Halloween is the day where the veil between worlds is lifted, allowing the fey world and ours to touch.)

Now back to the project! I’ll give a sneak peak to the general idea of the story and briefly introduce the main character.

The Hallowmas box can only be found between the hours of midnight and 3am between Halloween and Hallowmas. The box itself is full of several mysterious objects, related to the passage/ties between worlds.

Preston Everett is an unusual academic in search of the box. He has a fascination with the supernatural and often dabbles too deep in the ancient and arcane.

What he’ll find will be secrets beyond what he anticipated, as well as stories of those who have delved too deep into this Otherworld, like himself.

I know this story is going to be an immense challenge to by abilities as a writer. Neither this writing POV or genre are in my comfort zone. But I’ve decided it’s time to step outside of that in an attempt to understand myself and my writing abilities better.

After all, what is there to lose? All I may lose in trying out this sort of project is a little time. But really, there’s everything to gain. I can learn more about what I’m capable of and fulfill one of my dreams in terms of working on a genre I’d previously been too timid to explore.

Furthermore, in the vein of taking risks, sometimes all you have to do is adapt your ideas if it doesn’t work out like you’d hoped. Worse comes to worse, perhaps I simply change the point of the view of the book.

So don’t be afraid to take risks, broaden your horizons, and grow your abilities!

You’ll be hearing significantly more about The Hallowmas Box, so I hope I’ve intrigued you!

Happy writing!

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Prepping for NaNoWriMo!

It’s October! And we all know what that means! Halloween! Which I love, but that’s not what we’re preparing for right now. The start of October means NaNoWriMo is one month away.

If you know me (and especially if you write as well), you know I’m a huge proponent of NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated in it every year since 2013. It’s taught me a lot of things about myself as a writer. What conditions I work best under, techniques to beat writer’s block, items I need for the journey.

Over the years I’ve also learned a few things about doing NaNoWriMo specifically. And that’s what I’m sharing today. I have a few recommendations for NaNo Supplies to have on hand for your 50k writing sprint this coming month.

#1: Get a Notebook

Sure, I know you’ll spend all of NaNoWriMo writing on a word processor for speed’s sake. But here’s my tip. You need a notebook at least for prepping.

My advice is to pick a notebook with nothing else in it. A fresh one can help you sort your ideas the easiest. I find clutter of any kind can be a hamper to my creative energy. And using a notebook already cluttered up with other ideas can impede starting the preparation for your NaNo novel.

#2: Pick a Pen

Find yourself your favorite kind of pen. I recently got a fountain pen and that’s what I’m using here. Not only did it seem like a fun pen to use, but it’s related to the overall vibe of my project, so it serves a twofold purpose for getting me in the mood.

But mainly what you want is a pen that you’ll like to use. If you have a favorite, use that. I like Pilot G-7 or G-5 pens the most myself.

It helps to make your project feel special if you have a pen specifically dedicated to it. So even if you don’t have a favorite pen, just set aside one specifically with your notebook for it. Keep them together for whenever they need to be used.

#3: Take Notes and Outline

Two tips on one this time, since they’re intimately connected!

ALWAYS make notes. A few pages full of notes are the best foundation of your new project. I recommend making notes before outlining your story. You’ll be glad you did. Just a few freehand thoughts will make outlining significantly easier.

And definitely outline as well. I am generally not the type of writer who does thorough plotting. However, I find that if I don’t do any plotting for NaNo, my novel inevitably resists the pace required. So even if you’re more of a “pantser”, still spend enough time to plot at least the order of the biggest events in your project as well as their most important connected points.

It will make sprinting through 50k words infinitely easier if you don’t have to constantly be thinking about what’s next.

#4: ZERO Editing

Just don’t. The pace of the event is just too fast. Towards that end, I’d advise against reading through what you’ve written until after midnight on November 30th.

#5: Find a Buddy

Pictured above: our cat Fish. He’s a buddy alright, but not the kind you need for this project.

If you can, find a friend who is also working on a project during NaNoWriMo. Otherwise, just find someone who will cheer you on and help motivate you to make it to the end of the 50k!

This will help an immeasurable amount, especially if both you and your buddy are working on a project. You’ll serve as motivators and accountability partners for each other. Plus, you’ll both be a support and a person to bounce ideas off of.

#6: Announce Your Project

Last, but most certainly not least, do this one.

Yes, I know this one sound nerve-racking. But the easiest way to do it is on your NaNoWriMo profile. It’s low pressure, but it makes it feel more official.

Otherwise, if you’re trying to make yourself feel accountable and know you need pressure in order to finish a project, maybe put the announcement on social media. I mean, this blog post is a kind of announcement in itself for me. I’ll likely be making a longer one about the story itself soon. You don’t have to tell anyone what it’s about yet if you don’t want to, but maybe just announce the fact that you’ll be participating in the event.

Fin.

So that’s it! All my preliminary tips for getting ready for NaNo.

Now with all these tips at your back, go pick your project and get it ready!

(Don’t forget you’re allowed to work on novels already in progress; you just have to write 50k new words in order to win NaNo.)

Happy writing!