When we travel, I buy postcards. I rarely send any. I think about it. Sometimes I even take addresses and stamps with me. But, I usually end up bringing all those postcards home and stuffing them in the stationary drawer. So, what should I do with all of those treasures? Why, give them away, of course! Yesterday, I promised you a surprise–just for buying my book, Write-A-Thon. Well, here it is!
The Surprise! The first fifty people who email me a copy of their book receipt along with their snail mail address will receive a hand written postcard of encouragement from me sometime during National Novel Writing Month. So here’s what you do: scan the receipt (black out the credit card info), put it in an email with your snail mail address, put ‘write-a-thon postcard’ in the subject line, and wait. The first fifty of you will get a postcard. I’ll let you know here when I’ve received the fifty.
What is a write-a-thon? A write-a-thon is simply a book-writing marathon. You can make up the rules for yourself. Some writers choose to sign up for National Novel Writing Month and write a 50,000-word novel in a month. Others—like me—use the time to write a nonfiction project in a month. (Visit Write NonFiction in November for more information on writing nonfiction.) And other writers decide to use the time to create a series of picture books, poems, or even a screenplay.
How do I start? Starting today, I’ll be offering tips to help you get ready to participate in National Novel Writing Month in November.
First things first. How are you going to keep track of all this NaNo stuff? I recommend that you start a file on your computer for all of the documents you need for National Novel Writing Month. If you prefer a more hands-on, visual approach, create a story board or story bible for your novel. This does not have to be something fancy—you can use an old three ring binder with pocket page dividers, a journal, or even a spiral notebook.
Today’s Assignment: Make a list of your five favorite books. What genre are they? What do you love about them—genre, character, plot, setting, writing style? If you are writing nonfiction, your list will be a little different. What features of the book do you like? What structural elements work for you? (For example, you might like that the author has a list of questions at the end of each chapter.) Use this list as a guide for the kind of book you will write this November.
Extra Credit! For those of you who want extra credit, make a second list of the features you dislike in books. For some of you it may be a whole genre, like fantasy or romance. For others it might be something like too much description and not enough dialogue. This list can help you by reminding you what to avoid in your project.