Jeff Hirsch’s tips for NaNoWriMo
By Guest Blogger on November 15th, 2012
It’s November 15th and that means we’re exactly half way through NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which kicked off November 1st. If you haven’t already begun your novel (it’s not too late to start!) or you’re having some trouble moving forward, Jeff Hirsch, author of YA novels The Eleventh Plague and Magisterium, has provided some of his own tried and true writing tips to help you out. And if you’re really stumped, he’s even sent along an exclusive writing prompt to jump-start your creativity!
Check out Jeff’s tips:
1: Read Around: Everybody tells you that as a writer you need to read a lot. This is absolutely true but I think it’s also important to read as widely as possible. Love Sci-fi and want write it? Great! Read a whole bunch of science fiction but also be sure to mix in some horror, some contemporary literature, some westerns, some romance. Think about what you can take from every genre and how you can use it to enrich your science fiction. Keep in mind that we would never have had the awesomeness of Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” if he hadn’t decided to mash up sci-fi and westerns.
2. Be Like Mike: I’m not really much of a sports guy, but what I really admire about athletes is their discipline. They know that the thing they’re trying to do is extraordinarily difficult and so they make training for it a part of every single day of their life. They don’t wait to feel inspired. You shouldn’t either. Make writing an integral part of your day. Even when you’re not feeling inspired and the writing isn’t very good, you’re still practicing and getting stronger.
3. Rome Wasn’t Built in a Single Draft: Yes, your first draft isn’t going to be great. That’s because a first draft isn’t a book, it’s the raw material for something that will eventually become a book. In a way, writing a first draft is really the last stage of pre-writing. So when you read it, give yourself a break and look for the places that thrill and excite you. That’s your story. Build on that and prune away the rest and you’ll really have something. Eventually.
4. Have Fun! I know, the most irritating advice ever, but it’s really true. Art is play, or at least it should be. When we get all adult and smart and well read we start to forget that and get very very serious. Relax. Sit down at your computer and make your goal to entertain yourself. Do that and you’ll entertain us.
5. Nobody Knows Anything: What will readers like? What will agents and editors like? What will be successful? Here’s the thing, no one knows. No one ever knows. If you had polled the pros before the release of Harry Potter, I guarantee not one of them would tell you that what the reading public was desperate for was a series of increasingly dark and increasingly doorstop-length novels about a British boy wizard. So since you can never anticipate what anyone else will want from one day to the next, all you can do is write what you want. Maybe it’ll match up with other people’s taste. Maybe it won’t. But at least you’ll be true to yourself.
Ok! Those are my tips. Now go away and write something. Need some guidance? How about this…
Write a three chapter short story of any length, utilizing the following chapter titles:
Chapter 1: The Wolves that Laugh in The Attic
Chapter 2: The Day that Marla Saw the Men in Yellow
Chapter 3: One Million Three Hundred Thousand and Thirty Two
Jeff Hirsch graduated from the University of California, San Diego, with an MFA in Dramatic Writing, and is the author of USA Today bestselling novel The Eleventh Plague and Magisterium. He lives in Beacon, New York, with his wife, and you can visit him online at www.jeff-hirsch.com. Follow him on twitter @Jeff_Hirsch.
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