NaNoWriMo: A Survival Guide

The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and the supermarkets are full of pumpkins. It is almost that time of year again... For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is simple: write a 50,000-word novella in the 30 days of November. This year will be my fifth NaNoWriMo. I've participated in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013. 2011 and 2013 birthed my two published novels, Binary Witness and Code Runner. If you are thinking of taking the plunge and participating in your first NaNoWriMo, I have a few words of advice to help get you through... Plot as much or as little as you need You may heard the question "plotter or pantser?" addressed to authors. Basically, do you plot our everything that happens in your novel or do you just write whatever you feel like at the time? I'm somewhere in the middle. I need to know how the novel begins and ends...
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Writing Battles: Making Death Personal

What do war films, comic books, high fantasy and epic poetry have in common? Their writers must hold our interest through long battle scenes. I love a good explosion, mech fight or horde of screaming orcs as much as the next geek. But I struggle with large-scale senseless violence if it doesn't make a point. Do I care about the giant who just swept aside fifty nameless, faceless barbarians? Of course not. It looks cool for five seconds, makes a nice trailer shot, but leaves no impact on me. SPOILER WARNING: This post uses examples from Edge of Tomorrow, Game of Thrones Season 4, Blood of Tyrants (Temeraire series), Avengers Assemble, Man of Steel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Iliad. These spoilers include major character death. You have been warned! So, how do you write an exciting, enthralling battle sequence, while marking the tragedy of death and ensuring...
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Getting Back On The Horse

I've been away from the keyboard for a while due to family things. I was lacking in inspiration and I had no idea where to start. So when an e-mail popped up asking me to meet with a producer to discuss feature film ideas, I thought this might be a good water-testing exercise. Get the creative juices flowing again. He gave me a location brief and I threw together a handful of ideas, condensed them into loglines and character sketches, and set off to London Waterloo for coffee. I come out of that meeting feeling positive. One of the ideas was adapted from an old story that had been brewing for a while but I hadn't found a way to make it work. It had been set aside for a number of months, occasionally pulled out for inspection, and then returned to the virtual drawer. Said producer was also enthusiastic about my percolated idea and, before I knew what was happening, I had...
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