Nanowrimo pt. 2

Nano Week 1: Starting Your Novel

Welcome to 'episode two' of the NaNo express!


These articles are all about November's Nanowrimo! If you don't know what that is, check out my first article, here. Geared to anyone currently participating in NaNoWriMo, This miniseries is for you!

Welcome to week one! I'm here to answer some quick questions, and tell you about the first week of Nano! I find that this is the most comfortable week for me. I'm so excited that I get a bunch of words out, pretty quickly. BUT, if you don't write regularly, you may not have the same excitement/preparation as I currently do. So, what do you do? Plot out. Even if you're joining in the middle of the month, take some time to plot your novel. Trust me. This will help you. Take a template, and plot your main points and the plot arc. You also need to know your characters. Who are they? What do they look, act, and even smell like? What do they want? Fill in this page's sheet, and get to know them and their goals.

There are also some other things you'll need to know, including why your protagonist is against the antagonist (why is there tension between them/why do they hate each other?), how your supporting characters are going to influence the work, and what direction your story's going to take. You should also consider a rough sketch of any characters you plan to include (unless it's like a crowd/group of people). Knowing your characters helps you write in a more consistent style, showing a great distinction between each character, so no readers start to wonder who's saying what.

Once you have all that written down, you've got a map for the rest of your novel and the month! This will help your book so much, especially when the enthusiasm wanes. If you feel like you need more prep, you can come back and outline specific scenes of your novel, so that writing them will become easier, and your novel will flow more. Don't stress too much about your outline. Your outline is nothing but a rudder, guiding your first draft to that completed word count, and your nano win! The thing that needs to be remembered is that this is just the first of many drafts. This isn't the editing phase; it's the writing phase. Just get your words onto paper, and tell your story. The editing part comes in January/February, depending on how long you want to wait before you jump into fixing it up.

When you've sufficiently outlined, log into your computer, or pull out a pen and paper. It's time to get writing! There are three basic ways to start your novel, and none of them are to give a lot of backstories. When you give too much backstory, the novel becomes slow, and readers fade before they finish the first chapter. They want to read about the conflict, not about Margaret's whole week, starting Monday, when the main conflict comes in on Friday. You want to skip a big, long backstories. The ways that you should start your novel are like this, start at the beginning, start in the middle, start at the end.

Pick the one that most inspires you, and run with it. If you picked to start at the beginning, giving some backstory is warranted. People do need to know about your character a little before you jump in. If you start in the middle, start in the middle of the action. Maybe your novel starts at the climax of a sixty-foot roller coaster, and your character is afraid of heights. The novel could start with him/her wondering how she got into that situation, and then continue in action while peppering in short flashbacks to convey the story. Finally, and most difficult, is to start at the end. I've never done this, and I'm still not exactly sure if I'd be able to. You start at the end of the action and again push in flashbacks and things to let your reader know the context of the story. Some people also find it helpful to skip the first chapter until the rest of the novel's done, but you can do it any way that works.

Starting to write may be a little difficult because words are hard. Getting thoughts from your brain to your page (virtual or physical) takes energy and a lot of momentum. A lot of the time, I find myself staring at the empty page, unsure of how to start, or what to write. Once I finally get writing, however, I find it hard to stop. Still, those first few words can cause some wasted time. So how to avoid that? Writing prompts. Write your own, or pull one from online that fits your novel. Just make sure that the author of the prompt has made it free to use. You can also look at inspiring pictures from your genre, or listen to inspiring music. Or, if you feel like you're not going to be a hermit for the day, you can go out and observe the actual world. Just sit, watch, and listen, then draw from your inspiration. If the above doesn't work, try writing exercises, or looking at what you've already written from a different perspective. The majority of the time, you just need to get your brain moving, and the gears turning. Like a train. The wheels turn slowly before they move quickly, but once the train is going, it's easy to keep moving. So what are you doing? Push that novel into motion!! Go. Write. Conquer!

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The End Of The Semester As Told By Todd Chrisley

Because we're all a little dramatic like Todd sometimes.

The last 3-4 weeks of every college student's semester are always crazy hectic.

We have last minute assignments, group projects, and exams all squeezed into the last few weeks before break.

Sometimes we all need a little humor, and sometimes we are all a little dramatic, so why not experience the last few weeks of the semester as told by the king of drama himself, Todd Chrisley of "Chrisley Knows Best."

1. Sitting in class listening to your professor explain upcoming assignments/exams.

2. When your group project members refuse to do anything until the night before it's due or just show up the day of to present.

3. When you and your roommate try to cook with whatever few ingredients you have left in stock.

Because we definitely want to avoid going to the grocery store at the end of the semester if we can.

4. When your parents get tired of you calling them about every little inconvenience in your life.

5. Sitting down to work on assignments.

6. Your thoughts when the professor is telling you what they want from you out of an assignment.

7. When you've had about 30 mental breakdowns in two days.

8. Trying to search out the class for the right group members.

9. The last few days of classes where everyone and everything is getting on your nerves.

10. When your friend suggests going out but you're just done with the world.

11. This. On the daily.

12. When all you want to do is snuggle up and watch Christmas movies.

13. Studying and realizing you know nothing.

14. When your finals are over and it's finally time to go home for break.

You're finally back to your old self.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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The Top 10 Gay-Themed Commercials That Should Be Celebrated

Gay-themed advertisements are an important part of our representation in pop culture. Here are the ten best gay-themed commercials that deserve celebration.


Advertisements have a long history of reflecting and influencing popular culture. As someone from one of the boroughs of New York City, I've always been surrounded by advertisements. So it is extremely obvious to me why representation in these advertisements matter. Commercials online and on television are no exception. As a gay man, I'd like to present you with ten commercials that make me feel a sense of pride.

1. Israeli Gays Get Distracted On The Beach

Israel is a safe haven for LGBTQ people living in the Middle East. While places like Saudi Arabia and Iran treat gay men horrifically by enforcing Sharia Law, Israel welcomes them with open arms. That open minded attitude was even more obvious with this commercial from 2006.

2. Pepsi Brings Out The Confidence In One Guy (With A Gay Twist)

This Pepsi ad from the UK has a comedic twist that will delight the viewer with the main character's confidence. I find the women's reaction to him passing by each of them even more humorous than his friend's reactions.

3. Doritos Gay Sauna Contest Entry That Could've Gayed Up The Super Bowl

This commercial was created as a contest entry where aspiring filmmakers could create commercials for Doritos. The winning entry would be aired during the Super Bowl and the filmmaker would win a cash prize. This viral smash didn't make it, however. It seemed unfair, as several straight-themed commercials feature tons of innuendo. Unfortunately, it seems as though gay male sexuality is still threatening to some.

4. Campbell's Soup Portrays The Adorable Gay Household We All Wish We Had

This Campbell's Soup commercial is a short and sweet depiction of two gay dads sharing a sweet moment with their son. If it proves anything, it's that gay households are just like any other.

5. Marriage Equality Gets An Endorsement From Tide

While marriage equality has been a source of debate over the years, the only thing wrong with this union was the attire chosen for it. A brilliant twist ending courtesy of Tide.

6. This Heinz Commercial Is A Gay New Yorker's Dream Come True

As a gay man and a New Yorker, this commercial makes me very happy. Affection between same sex couples hasn't always been something we could see on television. However, this Heinz commercial squashes all that.

7. A Sweet And Unexpected Coming Out At McDonald's

This McDonald's commercial from Taiwan features a twist ending that is heartfelt, not comedic. For anyone who has struggled coming out, this should hit you right in the feels!

8. Sister And Brother Fight Over The Hot Pool Boy... With Coca-Cola

A nice bottle of Coke is quite refreshing. Who knew it was the perfect ice-breaker to approach your crush? This ad features a brother and sister competing for the pool boy's attention. However, it seems like someone else beat them at their own game.

9. This IKEA Commercial Was A Historic Turning Point

This classic IKEA ad from 1994 was groundbreaking for gay representation in advertising. It would be remiss of me not to include this important commercial on the list.

10. What Happens When Your Dad Sets You Up On A Tinder Date?

It's always nice to have your parents acceptance. However, even for gay guys, parents can get a little too close for comfort. This Vote Savvy ad portrays just that. But hey, they mean well, right?

Whether comedic, heartfelt, or provocative, these ten commercials have done wonders for gay male representation in advertising. It also reflects the representation of gay men around the world. From Israel to Taiwan to the UK, these commercials reflect the growing acceptance around the gay community. As far as I'm concerned, that's something to be celebrated.

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