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7 Ways To Make the Most Out of NaNoWriMo

29 Oct

happy-nanowrimo-from-european-paper

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, takes place every November. The entire purpose of this fun, funky non-profit project is to encourage people to write a draft of a novel—50,000 words—between November 1 and November 30.  It costs nothing to sign up at http://nanowrimo.org/ and roughly a half-million people on all continents (including Antarctica!) are expected to take part this year.  The goals are enthusiasm, determination and a deadline—not gorgeous prose—but NaNoWriMo is responsible for germinating bestsellers Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. We turned to a NaNoWriMo veteran, Yu-Han Chao, for her best advice on tackling a novel-in-a-month.  

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There are many ways to come up with ideas for novels. Try coming up with a few ideas using any of the below methods, then choose the idea you’re most excited about.

1.  Start with a title or opening lines: Sometimes a title or opening line comes to you; imagine the story that would go along with it.
2.  Read a book, magazine, or newspaper: There’s probably a good story in there, and if not, ask “what if?” about something or someone so it becomes a good story.
3.  Character: Visualize a character, then imagine the worst thing possible happening to your character.
4.  Passion: Write about what you are excited or passionate about.
5.  Steal: Rewrite another plot/story, but avoid clichés.

2. Develop Your Character, Central Conflict, & Setting

1.  Develop your characters into round, not flat ones, by asking yourself questions about them: What does my character look like? What is my character’s background and psychology?
2.  Decide on the central conflict of the story: Main Character + Goal + Opposition = Conflict. The main character wants something, the opposition thwarts your character’s plans and raises the stakes, and this allows your story to rise to a climax.
3.  Decide on the setting: When and where. Jot down some notes about important settings, and later work these skillfully into action and dialogue (avoid boring, clunky paragraphs describing nothing but landscape).

exacompta-graph-index-cards-5-x-8-pex3273-13. Create Your Outline

Why outline in the first place? It saves time, something you can’t afford to waste during NaNoWriMo. Making plans ahead of time can be hard work, but it will save you the major writer’s block and possible inconsistency that may result from deciding on these things WHILE trying to write your novel. Not to mention, if something sounds like a bad idea, you can fix it right away in the outline, and not everywhere in a 100k word draft.

So plan and plot ahead. Try Aristotle’s three act structure–it’s old, but it works.

Act I. The Beginning: Present your world, establish the tone of the novel, introduce your main character & opposition, and have some kind of disturbance/conflict happen that pushes your main character across the first threshold.

Act II. The Middle: Confrontations happen, relationships deepen. A second threshold leads your story inevitably towards the climax.

Act III. The End: After that long awaited climax, pick up broken pieces and tie up loose ends for closure.

4. Maximize Word Count

Since writing an outline for your novel helps at the macro level, try it at the micro level as well: spend five minutes at the beginning of each writing session deciding and summarizing in a few sentences what will happen in the scene you’re about to write.

Basically, plan what you will write, then write it.

conklin-mark-twain-black-chase-crescent-filler-fountain-pen-pco1135-15. Writer’s Block

If you still feel stuck, read something awesome, something you love, something similar to the novel you’re writing, for inspiration.  If you’re genuinely stuck, there are two common reasons:

1.  There is something wrong with your plot/scene/character/story.

This is difficult to admit to yourself, but deep down in your gut you know that something in your novel or story isn’t working, and that’s why you’re resisting. Try to diagnose what is dragging you down, fix it (which may be hard work, but so worth it), and write on!

2.  You are lazy. (We all are sometimes!)

Try forcing yourself to sit down and write for five minutes—tell yourself to just try it for five minutes—and often that’s all you need to get started.

6. Revision

Yes, you are brilliant and talented, but your first draft is nowhere close to its full potential. Before sending your completed NaNoWriMo draft to a beta reader or agent or publisher, read through it and fix things that need fixing, ideally several times. This may take months or even years, but you’ll be glad you did.

7. Know the Industry

Please do not self publish or query an agent until you’ve not only finished your novel, but made it as good as it can be. At that point, you’ll need to research and make decisions about publishing (self or traditional?) and querying agents.  But you can worry about all that later—for now, plan a little before you write, have fun, and happy noveling!

 

Meet the Writer:  Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Yu-Han (Eugenia) Chao received her MFA in fiction from Penn State and teaches a novel writing class at The University of California, Merced. She made a yearly event of NaNoWriMo until she had a baby and no longer had time. Her stories have appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Zyzzyva, and other venues. The Backwaters Press and Dancing Girl Press published her poetry books and chapbooks. Her website is www.yuhanchao.com.

G. Lalo Double Border Correspondence Cards for Lively, Cheerful Greetings

21 Aug

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Add a dash of dapper cheer to your notes! These sets of 10 notecards and tissue lined envelopes are the epitome of classic Parisian elegance infused with lively hues. Shop G. Lalo Double Bordered Cards »European-Paper-Company-Double-Border-Correspondence-Sets-Blog1

How Low Does Your Blackwing Go?

20 Aug

Never-Waste-A-Blackwing

RhodiaDrive featured this Blackwing enthusiast’s snapshot of his Blackwing 602 pencil during the index card stages of writing his manuscript. We’ve never seen a Blackwing nib this low, but we completely understand! If we could jot the picture : you fall in love with Blackwing, the mighty pencils bring your dreams to life on exquisite paper (like Rhodia), all the while performing brilliantly, even down to their ferrules – of course want to keep them around for as long as you can! We paper geeks at European Paper absolutely know the love you feel.

Here’s the comment from writer Aaron Delcourt :

“I use my Blackwings for writing my manuscripts. I write all of my manuscripts on standard sized index cards in pencil [...] The pencil in the photo was sharpened with a box cutter towards the end, and believe it or not I actually used it until it was unsharpenable.”

Which Blackwing is your fave? Do you pair it with Rhodia? Shop the Legends : Blackwing 602 at European PaperBlackwing Pearl Pencils at European PaperBlackwing Soft Graphite Pencils at European Paper

Notes & Quotes: Perspective with Hemingway

5 Jul

Notes & Quotes Series on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

Want more quotes? Discover them all on our blog here!

Notes & Quotes: Writing with Thoreau

7 Jun

Notes & Quotes Series on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

Want more quotes? Discover them all on our blog here!

Notes & Quotes: Exploring with Joss Whedon

31 May

Quote by Joss Whedon; Notes & Quotes Image Series on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

Want more quotes? Discover them all on our blog here!

Notes & Quotes: Writing with Isaac Asimov

24 May

Quote by Isaac Asimov; Notes & Quotes Image Series on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

Want more quotes? Discover them all on our blog here!

Notes & Quotes: Writing with Anais Nin

10 May

Quote by Anais Nin; Notes & Quotes Image Series on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

Want more quotes? Discover them all on our blog here!

Notes & Quotes: Writing with J.K. Rowling

26 Apr

Writing quote by J.K. Rowling: Notes & Quotes Series by EuropeanPaper.com

Want more quotes? Discover them all on our blog here!

TWSBI: Intertwining Chinese Culture and Writing Instruments

8 Apr

Shop all TWSBI fountain pens, ballpoint pens, and fountain pen nibs on EuropeanPaper.com

With over 40 years of experience in manufacturing (originally as Ta Shin Precision; TWSBI was launched as a separate brand only in 2009), the TWSBI brand recaptures the romantic flair of past art and literature within its modern-day design. Relying heavily on customer feedback to tweak each product to perfection, TWSBI manufactures fountain pens, mechanical pencils, ballpoint pens, fountain pen ink bottles, among others.

Based in Taiwan, TWSBI’s roots as Ta Shin Precision are as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for other global companies. Philip Wang branched out with the brand name TWSBI in 2009 and it quickly evolved to encompass a smattering of fine writing instruments and accessories. TWSBI holds high standards for the quality industrial design found in their fountain pens, but they also work hard to offer their products at lower prices so more people have access to them.

When TWSBI says they want to hear your feedback on their products, they mean it. Read the story of how TWSBI launched their first product (the Diamond 530) complete with testers and feedback here on Fountain Pen Network. And here’s the result, direct from TWSBI’s man-in-charge, Philip Wang:

“The result was the TWSBI Diamond 530, a classic fountain pen with a piston ink-filling system.  By fusing the traditional mechanisms of the fountain pen with a modern industrial design, we have created an eye-catching fountain pen that is simultaneously appreciative of the past and relevant in the present.”

TWSBI Vac 700 Fountain Pen on EuropeanPaper.com

TWSBI Vac 700 Fountain Pen on EuropeanPaper.com

Not only is TWSBI’s direct customer service via online channels incredibly quick and valuable, TWSBI has another factor that makes it unique. TWSBI includes a manual with each fountain pen instructing you how to disassemble the entire pen and put it all back together. In our fast-paced world and grab-and-go products, TWSBI encourages the avid fountain pen user to slow down, take some time, and enjoy the process of getting to know TWSBI fountain pens inside and out, literally.

Of course, we would be remiss to not answer the most frequent question about TWSBI: what does TWSBI stand for?

Intricate and encompassing the past and present yet again, TWSBI’s name has an interesting story. It’s best to hear from the source, as TWSBI says: “TWSBI’s name stands for the phrase “Hall of Three Cultures” or “San Wen Tong” in Chinese. The character “Wen” translates into language and culture. The phrase “San Wen Tong” also brings to mind the Hall of the Three Rare Treasures created by Emperor Qianlong as a memorial to three great masterpieces of Chinese calligraphy. The initials of the phrase “San Wen Tong” was reversed and thus turned into “TWS”. The last letters “Bi” was added with its literal meaning of “writing instruments”. Thus combining the two segments, creating TWSBI.”

Shop all TWSBI fountain pen nibs on EuropeanPaper.com

 

Paperblanks: Special Journals for Special Writings

6 Mar

Special Paperblanks Journals on EuropeanPaper.com : filled with details to make your writing special

We know how it feels to write something special; something we want to pay justice to when we commit it to paper. It can be gratitude from daily interactions, the spark of a new hobby or passion, or the beginning of a new chapter in a novel. Whatever inspires the pen to be put down on paper, Paperblanks Journals are there to capture thoughts, dreams, and future goals. And Paperblanks makes it that much more special with the amazingly small, but powerful, details of their journals, such as the beautiful laid paper, durable sewn binding, and perfectly worn covers. Try just one Paperblanks journal and we guarantee you’ll know what we’re talking about (and you’ll be hooked!). Enjoy Paperblanks here >>

7 Ways to Celebrate National Handwriting Day

23 Jan

celebrate national handwriting day with EuropeanPaper.com!

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1) Practice your penmanship. No, seriously. The small things in today’s world have such an increased focus on them, that you’ll appreciate having nice handwriting when the time comes to write a thank you letter, sympathy note, or love letter.

2) Start a new journal if you don’t already have one in rotation. Need inspiration? Check out our blog post: 10 Ideas for a Journaling Jump Start (or just start writing about National Handwriting Day)!

3) If you have more than one notebook you journal in currently, go through each one and write a paragraph about this day/week.

4) Volunteer at your local elementary or middle school and help teach children how to improve their handwriting–and why it’s important! Check out Campaign for Cursive for more information. (h/t Canon-McmillanPatch)

5) Take your time, sit down with your favorite stationery or note card, and write that thank you letter you’ve been avoiding since the holidays. Here’s how: How to Write a Thank You Letter.

6) Did you know National Handwriting Day was created on the birthday of Declaration of Independence signer John Hancock? See his beautiful signature on Wikipedia and see if you can recreate it freehand

7) Never used a fountain pen before? Today’s the day! Learn how to write with a fountain pen!

Need more inspiration? Check out our blogroll for amazing snail mailers, pen & pencil aficionados, and writers galore HERE

And that’s just scratching the surface. What are some of your suggestions for celebrating National Handwriting Day? Leave them in the comments below!