TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 15

It’s now Day 15, another 15 days to go. Last night, I made it to 30,028, just past 30,000 words. I’m three-fifth towards my goal. At this rate, I should reach 50,000 before Thanksgiving.

The tip for today.

  1. Stop procrastinating and write that first sentence already. When you are a beginner writer, you stare at that computer and don’t know how to start. You find all kinds of excuses not to proceed. I know the route. I had problem typing that first sentence too. I spent so many hours writing and rewriting the first sentence. All writers’ guides say you have to capture your reader with that first sentence. It’s easier said than done. I can remember how many times, I write that first sentence, only to be deleted later on. I must have written it at least twenty times. Your first sentence must capture the attention of the reader. If it does not, the reader will stop reading. It has to answer the 5 Ws – who, what, when, where and why.

My book recommendation for today is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Ms. Du Maurier’s first sentence is unforgettable. “Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .”

Rebecca by du Maurier

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 14

Yesterday, I put in 2,046 words. I am now working on the second half of my goal. Today was a busy day where I live. We had our Fall Festival sponsored by the Social Committee which I am a part of. I volunteered for five hours helping out. It was a great day and the weather was perfect, sunny and cool. I got plenty of fresh air. For some who are wondering how I fit all these volunteer works into my schedule, the answer is simple. I make time on things I enjoy. I cannot possibly write all day. I get headache looking at that screen for too long a time. I have to take a break. Then I sit down and pay full attention at my writing. I think I’m a better writer doing it that way.

The tip for today is:

  1. Watch the chronology. Information about a character and the dates of the events are very important. Watch the age of the characters as the story moves along. You don’t want to be caught by the readers of this mistake. If there are major historic events incorporated in the story, make sure the dates are accurate and your story events parallel them. I check and double check them to make sure they are right. This is especially important if you are writing historical novels.

My book recommendation for today is Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. Talking of chronology, this book chronicled the life of five families through the world events from the WWI, the Russian Revolution and the struggle of the suffragettes to gain women’s right to vote.

Fall of Giants

 

 

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 13

I reached the 25,000-word milestone last night on Day 13. Actually I finished last night at 26,168 words. I’m half way to my goal. I just have to keep on going. November is not an easy month to be doing this challenge with all the distractions so when I sit at my computer desk, I have to focus my attention to the task at hand. Otherwise, it will never get done.

Here is the tip for Day 13:

  1. Do your research. If you are doing a novel that happened at a particular time period, do a thorough research on the events during that time. It is a good idea to incorporate some of those events into your story. It makes for a better story. Some writers do their research before they start writing. To me, it is an ongoing job. I do research early on before I start writing and more research as I rewrite. There are plenty of resources out there besides Google. I found out an old Compton Encyclopedia is the best source for thing before 1940. I am lucky to have a set that my husband inherited from his family. It’s much better than the Britannica. You can also find other sources by reading books that were written about the same period you are writing. So do your research thoroughly and make your books shine.

The book I recommend today is Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd. It traces the history of England from prehistoric times. It’s a monumental piece of work at 1033 pages. One does not sit and read it casually. The names of the character are very hard to remember but it has a fascinating story. It took me a while to finish it but I learned a lot about England history. It is obvious Edward Rutherfurd did a tremendous amount of research to write the book. If you love historical novel, this is one of the best books I have read so far.

Sarum by Rutherfurd

 

 

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 12

It is now Day 12. Last night, I finished at 23,728 words. I’m getting close to the next milestone – 25,000 words.

Half of today was taken by my involvement with the Magnolia Garden Club. I had to get up early because I signed up months ago to be part of the Hospitality Committee today. I did not know I would join the NANOWRIMO Challenge this November. I got up early and had to do two trays of tea sandwiches with crust cut off for the meeting. I made a tray of Chicken sandwiches with guacamole and mayonnaise and cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese and chives. These simple sandwiches were delicious, easy to make and got rave reviews. I hope my books will get rave reviews as my sandwiches.

The tips for today:

  1. Get inspiration from around you. As a writer, you have to accustom yourself to observe your surroundings. Take note of everything around you. They are fodders for your next book projects. If you notice something unusual, intriguing or interesting, take note of them and write them down. It could be something you see, feel, touch or smell. When you come into a new place, look around. Observe what you see and store them in your memory. Then write them down in your notebook. Make note of the objects around you, the events and the people and their actions. All the things in your notebook could be a source of inspiration for your books later on.

My book recommendation for today is Don’t Fall Off the Mountain by Shirley MacLaine, inspired by her journey through life as a ballet dancer to being an actress and her numerous travels. It is a wonderful autobiography.

Don't Fall off the Mountain

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 11

It’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind into it. Even with a small aberration yesterday, I made my goal. I was able to put in 1,899 words, making my total 21,737 words so far. I was too exhausted when I typed in the last word but I’m proud of myself for pushing myself.

The tip for today is:

11. Write what you enjoy reading.

I enjoy reading historical fiction and so I write historical fiction. I enjoy WWII stories especially those that happened in the Pacific Theater. The market is saturated with stories in the Atlantic Theater but not much were written about the Pacific Theater especially in the Philippines. I have heard numerous stories about events there during the war but never seen them in print. It was the main reason I wrote “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”. Talking to local people who were witness to the events was a better source of information and so the stories I heard from my elders became the inspiration for “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”.

My book suggestion for today being it as Veteran’s Day is Day of Infamy by Walter Lord. It is an account of what happened in Pearl Harbor that led to WWII in the Pacific. It was the same day the second Pearl Harbor happened. This time it was in the Philippines and it was a part of the story in “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”.

Day of Infamy by Walter Lord

I salute our veterans who fought for us so we can have the freedom we enjoy today.

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 10

I made it to Day 10. Last night I reached 19,838, a little short of 10,000 –word milestone. I’m still on target to my goal. I cannot slow down. Although today I had a small aberration. My husband got a bad nose bleed and I had to rush him to emergency. We went to the nearest clinic but they were closed so we ended up in the hospital emergency which was quite a distance. I lost 4 hours of work today.

My tip for today has something to do with goals.

  1. Set realistic writing goals. Write it down and put it near your writing spot so you can see it every day. Even if you missed your goal, having a goal keeps you motivated and it encourages you to put forth serious effort to attain it. Be specific and follow a regular schedule like writing two hours a day or five hours a day or twenty hours a week but write. You can always change your goal if necessary. Keep in mind that you can always amend it except the NANOWRIMO challenge where our goal is 50,000 words for the month which we can spread out through the whole month of November at any rate we are comfortable with and convenient for us. My other writing goal is to publish a book every two years. It’s not impossible and it is easily attainable. So what is your writing goal?

My book recommendation for today is The Bells by Richard Harvell where the main character has a goal to sing at the famous opera house in Vienna. He works at it and he accomplishes his goal.

 The Bells

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 9

It’s Day 9 and I am making progress. Last night I made it to 17,519 words and I am beginning to get weary. My back begins to ache today but I have to keep on going. This gives me the idea for the next tip.

  1. Find and establish a place to write comfortably and productively. Some writers can write anywhere. With the new technology, you can choose where and when to write. I don’t use a laptop. I prefer to use my desktop so I have to write at home at a particular location in my house. I can type faster on the keyboard to my desktop than on my laptop. Some people like to be in a place where they can interact with other writers like in a restaurant where some of the NANO writers meet to write in. Some like a background music. In my case, I want peace and quiet when I write so I can concentrate on the task at hand. My computer faces east and looking out to my yard and my little garden. It is bright and sunny but away from the afternoon sun which is too bright. I have a sheer curtain in case I have to tone down the glare. I have my supplies close by. My only problem that I find right now is my chair which is too low for me. I have two cushions but still the back does not give me enough support and I’m beginning to have a backache. I take one of my dining room chairs and replaced the chair that I was using. Now it feels more comfortable. So find a place more conducive to your writing mood and claim it as your writing space. It’s important to be comfortable but not to the point of being too comfortable that you forget your mission to be a productive writer.

Marley

Here is a nice dog book: Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan. I am a sucker for dog stories. Since we had Dallas, my son’s Dalmatian, years ago and he saved my life (another story someday) I love reading dog books. Here, John and Jenny were just beginning their life together. They were young and in love, with a perfect little house. Then they brought home Marley, a wiggly yellow puppy and fun began. Life would never be the same again. Love it!

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 8

It has been a week since we started the NANOWRIMO challenge. Yesterday was a Double Up Day. Our normal goal for the day is 1667 so to double up, I had to write at least 3334 words yesterday. I really worked double time yesterday. I was able to put in 3425 words ending my total word count at 15486. I’m moving right along.

8. The tip for today is “Be Consistent”. Just like what we are doing this month, we are consistently writing every day. Most beginners have an ambitious goal of becoming famous and earning tons of money. Nothing is wrong with that except when reality sets in, they realize it is not that easy. Then they get discouraged and dropped out. That is not the way to go. You have to keep on going in spite of the hurdles along the way. Eventually people will discover your writing. There are some authors that hit the jackpot with their first book. I’m happy for them but it is a pity because they have no idea how they got there. Learning your craft as you go along your writing journey gives you more insights on how the writing process work and give you more incentives to improve your craft and be consistent in your effort.

Gold Coast by Nelson Demille

Here is a book by Nelson DeMille about the fabled Gold Coast of Long Island regarding a Wall Street lawyer and his Mafia neighbor. The Gold Coast is Nelson DeMille’s captivating story of friendship and seduction, love and betrayal. After reading the Gold Coast, one was lured to read the next book which is the Gate House, another Gold Coast story. Nelson deMille is consistent in his writing, always having a work in progress to keep his fans happy and anticipating the next book.

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 7

Last night, I advanced to 12, 061 words on NANOWRIMO Challenge. Today is Double Up Day? What is my goal for Double Up Day? I’m planning to write at least 3,334 words, which is double the recommended daily word count for Nano. We’ll see what happens when I finish today.

Here is my tip on becoming a better writer for Day 7:

  1. Begin a Writer’s Notebook. Not a journal or a diary although you can have that too if you want. A Writer’s Notebook is merely a place to record your ideas, observations, outlines, descriptions or anything you think you may need for your future writings. It should provide materials and inspirations for your writings. You can divide your notebook into sections and write in appropriate headings for easy reference. A notebook can be anything that is easy for you to use. It can be spiral notebook, a blank bound book like the marble notebook we use in school, a three-ring binder or a legal pad. It does not have to be fancy. Most likely you can use your iphone if you have one and take notes on your Notes icon. As long as you have a piece of something to record your thoughts and ideas when you think about it, that will be fine. Keep it handy at all times. You never know when an idea pop into your head.

Upstairs at the White House

Here is a fascinating book about the life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue  – Upstairs at the White House by J.B. West, the man who spent nearly three decades in their midst. J.B. West is the chief usher of the White House who directed the operations and maintenance of the home of our presidents and their first ladies – Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. He supervised all activities from mundane tasks to state functions and had to interact daily with the first families and the relatives and friends who visited the White House. He must have thousands of notes to fill up this book. A fascinating read by our own version of Mr. Carson of Downton Abbey.

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 6

Last night, I finished NANOWRIMO challenge with 9,656 words, a little short of 10,000-word target. I’m hoping to make good progress today. The sun came out finally so I went out and raked some leaves and it made me feel good. I’m tired feeling confined in the house. I needed some fresh air to clear the cobwebs off my brain and rest my eyes off that glaring screen from my computer.

Here is today’s tip on becoming a better writer.

  1. Read the work of good writers especially those on the genre you are working in or plan to work in. You’ll learn the various techniques they use to attract readers. Do you have to read the literary classics? Only if you want to. You can even read almost anything, even magazines and newspapers. My son gave me a subscription to Wall Street Journal and I enjoyed reading it. There are some great writers there besides business articles and some great book reviews too. I subscribe to Writer’s Digest, a monthly magazine and I read that magazine cover to cover. How much reading should you do? That depends on how much time you have. It should not cut into your writing time. If there is a choice between reading and writing, you have to choose writing. But set aside some regular time to read, say an hour a day or a few hours a week.

Here is a new bestseller, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, that I read in the genre that I am writing.

Unbroken by Hillenbrand