It’s almost November

It’s that time again. November is almost upon us. That means it’s time to dust off your story ideas and get ready for NaNoWriMo 2014. Stock up on paper, pens, printer ink, coffee, chocolate, popcorn, soda and anything else you need to keep you writing. The local writers are gearing up and ready to write. Next post we’ll have the schedule for write-ins and links to our new region on the NaNo site.

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Week Two

We’re starting the second week of Camp NaNoWriMo. How’s your word count? Are you still scribbling away at it? This is usually the point at which you find plot holes. You might also start to get the feeling of “holy cow, there’s so many words to write.” Or maybe you started out really strong and got half your word goal in the first week and you feel like you can coast the second week and have plenty of time to finish.

Whatever point you’re at with your story, the goal is to keep writing. Write everyday. Even if you only write 100 words, write something every day. It doesn’t have to be related to your story as long as you’re flexing those writing muscles. This is really the goal of NaNo: to teach you that you can write everyday. The trick is to keep writing and to work on something that holds your interest. If you get bored, it’s easy to put down the pen or walk away from the keyboard. And we don’t want that, now do we?

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Summertime Fun

It’s July. That means it’s time for campfires and roasted marshmallows and fireworks.  It is also the second Camp NaNoWriMo for 2014. Hickory Writer’s Society tries to participate in all the NaNo events each year. For July our write-ins are as follows:

Tuesday 7/1 6:00-9:00 pm
Saturday 7/12 1:00-4:00 pm
Thursday 7/17 6:00-10:00 pm**
Friday 7/25 4:00-8:00 pm
Thursday 7/31 6:00-9:00 pm

** Our regular Third Thursday meeting will be first up on the 17th followed by write-in time until the bookstore closes. All write-ins will be held at B&N except for the 31st. We will meet at B&N and carpool to a member’s house for that one.

I hope to see lots of people writing their hearts out.

Happy Writing 🙂





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For what it’s worth…

I’ve been looking at job listings lately and found something interesting: an employer more interested in your actual writing samples than in what degree you graduated with. They actually say that in the listing. I’ve heard for quite a some time now, at least the last two or three years, that employers are heading back towards how much experience you may have being worth more than any post-graduate education. The pretty diploma just doesn’t mean as much as it used to.

Here’s my question for you: do you think the Bachelor’s degree and further, the Master’s in creative writing, is necessary to be a successful writer? Or is real world experience more useful to you as a writer and to a future employer/publisher?

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A bit of advice

No, I’m not giving it. Just sharing it from a prolific writer of science fiction and fantasy. Crawford Kilian has been writing books and articles for over 40 years. I came across a checklist for fiction writers of his that I had saved from an online writing seminar I attended back in 1996. The advice still holds.  This link has the entire article with information on genre, plotting, style and scene construction all the way through to query letters, publishers and contracts. Lots of good stuff in there. Be sure to check it out.

The one part I want to mention here is the style checklist for fiction writers. This also applies to nonfiction writers. Much of this is stuff we talk about doing and/or checking for when we edit, during the second or consecutive drafts. However, I think it’s important to address some of these points while you’re writing your first draft. If you keep them in mind when you start to write, it will make your editing process easier because you’re already addressing what could become major issues in your writing if not fixed.  Here’s the list:

Style: Checklist For Fiction Writers

As you begin to develop your outline, and then the actual text of your novel, you can save time and energy by making sure that your writing style requires virtually no copy editing. In the narrative:

    1. Do any sentences begin with the words “There” or “It”? They can almost certainly benefit from revision. (Compare: There were three gunmen who had sworn to kill him. It was hard to believe. or: Three gunmen had sworn to kill him. He couldn’t believe it.)
    2. Are you using passive voice instead of active voice? (Compare: Is passive voice being used?) Put it in active voice!
    3. Are you repeating what you’ve already told your readers? Are you telegraphing your punches?
    4. Are you using trite phrases, cliches, or deliberately unusual words? You’d better have a very good reason for doing so.
    5. Are you terse? Or, alternatively, are you on the other hand expressing and communicating your thoughts and ideas with a perhaps excessive and abundant plethora of gratuitous and surplus verbiage, whose predictably foreseeable end results, needless to say, include as a component part a somewhat repetitious redundancy?
    6. Are you grammatically correct? Are spelling and punctuation correct? (This is not mere detail work, but basic craft. Learn standard English or forget about writing novels.)
    7. Is the prose fluent, varied in rhythm, and suitable in tone to the type of story you’re telling?
    8. Are you as narrator intruding on the story through witticisms, editorializing, or self-consciously, inappropriately “fine” writing?

In the dialogue:

  1. Are you punctuating dialogue correctly, so that you neither confuse nor distract your readers?
  2. Are your characters speaking naturally, as they would in reality, but more coherently?
  3. Does every speech advance the story, revealing something new about the plot or the characters? If not, what is its justification?
  4. Are your characters so distinct in their speech–in diction, rhythm, and mannerism–that you rarely need to add “he said” or “she said”?

As I said, keep these things in mind as you start to write. You may be surprised at how it changes the way you write your first draft. You can find more about Crawford Kilian here and on his Goodreads page.

Good luck and happy writing!

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Warm weather is here

What are you reading? Do you have a favorite genre to take on vacation? Do you wait for vacation? Where is your favorite warm weather reading spot?

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New Year, New Words

Our first meeting of 2013 is this week.  I hope we all have interesting story ideas to work on for the new year.  What are your goals for your writing?

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Holiday Blues

Christmas is almost upon us.  Traffic is insane, people are fighting in the stores.  It can be very stressful.  For a writer, this works in a couple of different ways.

You can jump into holiday festivities and add to your own insanity and feel guilty for not getting anything written.  Or you can take your experiences throughout the holiday season and use them in your writing.  How, you may ask?

Take notes.  Practice describing scenes of your family gatherings.  Change the names to protect the naughty if you have to.  How does Uncle Carl sound when he joins the children singing carols?  What does Aunt Sara say about the potato salad at dinner?  Does the living room look like a scene from a war-torn village after all the presents are opened?

Each moment is a chance to practice what we do.  Take notes.  Pay attention.  Involve all of your senses.  Quite often I’ll be found making notes about something and will hear, What are you doing, writing a book?  The answer is always, Yes!

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Do you smell that….

…that’s the smell of a blank page.  It’s almost November.  That means it’s time to dust off your plots, shake up your outlines, and get ready to write like the wind.  Yes, it’s time for NaNoWriMo.

Are you ready?  Character sketches fleshed out?  Stocked up on coffee, lollipops, and chocolate?  Got your “Do Not Disturb” signs ready to put up?  If not, then you better get cracking.

We’ve had two planning meetings this month to get ready.  You can find us here and on Facebook.  Here is the schedule of write-ins for this year:


11/3 Newton Public Library, Newton, 10:00-1:00

11/8 Barnes & Noble, Hickory, 5:30-8:30

11/16 B&N + Dinner, Hickory, 5:30-8:30**

11/24 Becca’s House, Newton, 1:00-4:00

11/30 TGIO Party @ Kristyn’s House, Conover, 6:00-9:00ish


** On the 16th we will do a mid-way break. We’ll meet at B&N and all go to dinner and blow off some steam. We can eat at B&N or go somewhere to eat and come back to B&N to write if anyone wants to.

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Achoo!  It’s dusty in here.  Hopefully you are reading this because you searched for something about writing.  If you’re already a member of Hickory Writer’s Society you know we’ve not used this blog in a long time.  Let’s all work on changing that.

We are making some changes in the group to get us into a more productive state.  We will have more regular meetings, more writing prompts and challenges, and writing projects like our new anthology project on tolerance.  We hope to add to our ranks with more talented people who have words to share.

So if you’re someone new finding us and you’re in the area, feel free to stop in.  We’ll be glad to have you!  Now, where is that feather duster…..

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