NaNoWriMo and Beyond

Yesterday, I woke up with 6,500 words left on my NaNoWriMo target. Somehow, I stumbled across the finish line, completing 50,000 words of my latest November novel. Congratulations to all my fellow wrimos and thank you to everyone who cheered me along the way. Suffice to say, I don't have a lot of energy left for updating my blog after running that marathon. Thankfully, I sorta planned ahead and wrote some other things that were kindly hosted and highlighted by my fellows in the writing community. Over at Bang2Write, I wrote about 5 Ways to Keep Writing After NaNoWriMo, because real authors don't get to retire in December. Writing is not always writing. Sometimes, writing is thinking about writing, preparing for writing, or deleting writing. Confused yet? Writing a novel is a process far beyond just putting words on a page. It is certainly more than typing each individual letter. Hopefully, before NaNoWriMo, you put together at least a rudimentary plot and some characters...
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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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Writers’ Tools: How Google Maps Can Enhance Your Narrative

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I have a few moments to do something other than pour words into my novel. One of my most invaluable tools this year, and in 2011, was Google Maps. My mystery series is set in Cardiff and spills out into South Wales. While I was resident in Wales for seven years and spent five of those years in Cardiff, I am currently living in London. Therefore, real life research would require hopping on the train and having a limited wander in the time available. Or I could just look up my location in Google Maps, plot out the route and make notes on the twists and turns of the adventure. For example, here is a chase sequence from the first novel - from Cardiff Central station to the River Taff: (To orientate you, the station is at the very top of the image and Cardiff City Centre is north of that. The river runs south towards Cardiff Bay.) This is...
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NaNoWriMo 2013

This is the blog post in which I nail my colours to the mast: I am doing NaNoWriMo 2013. For those not in the know, National Novel Writing Month is where one can write a book in 30 days - 50,000 words at a pace of 1,667 per day. However, I am a masochist, so I am writing 80,000 words in November. I have tortured myself in this manner before. I participated (and won) in 2006, 2007 and 2011. It was in 2011 that I decided to go for an 80k target. And that novel will shortly be coming to an eReader near you, because it is being published by Carina Press in May 2014. My NaNoWriMo 2013 novel is its sequel, which has also been earmarked for publication. So, for any folks thinking that NaNoWriMo is just a fun thing to do when the nights are drawing in, remember that it can lead to a whole lot more. Happy Nano!...
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NaNoWriMo 2011: Wordy

80,370 words. 41 chapters with eccentric titles, including "Mama Told Me Not To Come", "Dial 'M'" and "Down Corridors Through Automatic Doors". 956 instances of my protagonist's name. 580 instances of his partner's name. 72 "killer"s and 25 "victim"s. 40 "murder"s and 15 "gun"s. 52 "cop"s and 27 "detective"s. 451 "ifs", 2,538 "and"s and 547 "but"s. 26 "fuck"s and 16 "shit"s. 30 days of heartache and toil and blood sweated. 100% worth it....
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Cite Me

NaNoWriMo progresses a-pace - just passed 66,666 words with an adrenaline-fuelled chase sequence through Cardiff back streets. My heart's pounding just thinking about it. Today, I was mired in an audit project for the day job and I came across a fantastic reference guide. I realise that to most people this sounds dull as ditchwater, but it's actually useful. And, I discovered, pretty entertaining. I was scrolling through looking for a specific reference when I spotted this e-mail citation: HornblowerH. (h.hornblower@HMS.Renown.uk) Treaty of Luneville. Email to: Pellew C.(c.pellew@HMS.Justinian.uk) 16 Sep 2005. Wait, what? And then there's these presentations: Yoda M. Code of Ethics for the Jedi: are they outdated? Presented at the Annual Jedi Conference. Coruscant, 2005. Solo H. Light speed and prevailing problems. Presented at the School of Aeronautics. London. 2003. http://starwars.org.uk (accessed 20 May 2005). So, for BMJ-style Vancouver referencing and a bit of a nerdy giggle, I recommend a trip to Coruscant, Southampton....
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The Importance of Relaxation to the Writer

I've done well this week. I'm on 48K of my 80K target for NaNoWriMo, which puts me bang on track. I caught up while working night shifts, despite the upheaval of being abruptly pulled off nights yesterday and thrust back into a day shift today. The neurones don't fire too good on four hours sleep mid-afternoon. I've also heard back from one of my Speed Pitching contacts from LSF, so I know my script has safely reached the hands of a reputable production company. This gives me butterflies, but We'll See. So, tonight, I'm going to kick back and watch Children in Need with an extortionate pizza. Sure, I could eek out another two thousand words of novel, but I have the whole weekend to write and I've earned my pizza and my Doctor Who trailer. When you work a day job, it's easy to feel pressured to spend all your free time writing. I firmly believe you should write every day, or you...
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NaNoWriMo Owns Me

I originally started this blog at the end of 2009, when I wanted to write 100,000 words of my Apocalypse novel in two months, Nano-style. That novel's word count currently stands at 18,041. That's because someone pointed out to me that the concept was exactly like 'Good Omens'. Disheartened, I shelved that novel and moved on to screenplays. However, I'm still passionate about the novel, and when I got the idea for an agoraphobic, techno-whizz detective and a streetwise ex-con fighting crime, how could I say no? And, oh look, it's November. And hey, I've won Nano twice before - 2006 (Vivid Images - never edited) and 2007 (Deus Ex Machina - partially edited, one of my favourite stories). So, I think to myself, I can do this 50k thing. Why not make it challenging? 80,000 words. That'll be a walk in the park. Yeesh. I'm only 5k behind schedule, giving me, at this moment, 21,859 words. Which, for those of you who can't count, is...
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Page 100

Inane subject lines aside, this is a good moment for me. Sure, it's not 110 and I still have to sort out the scene length in the second half of my film, but it feels good. I put it down to the three impending work deadlines hanging over my head. I always spend so much more time on my writing when I have other things I should be doing. My writing buddy is pushing himself through Script Frenzy this month. As I'm a NaNoWriMo veteran, I thought he was making a lot of fuss over nothing - until he told me his movie involved time travel. I thought an escape sequence through a steam clock was hard. Only ten pages to go!...
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