tips to write a novel

NaNo Break: Conquering Your Block— And Your Novel

Some Tips and Tricks to Finishing on Time


If you're like me at the beginning of this week, you're stuck. Completely, utterly, knee-deep stuck. You're not sure when it happened, you just know it did, and you're novel's suffering because of it. Last week I hit a block. I got to the part of the story where my outline ended, and apparently, so did my inspiration. I ended up pushing myself to write through it, but I'm still at least 5,000 words behind, and my story's trash (not actual trash, it just needs heavy editing). I was working hard, and still ending up behind.

Because of this, I decided to take a break from my weekly updates, and share a few things that helped me. I'm still behind, but I'm definitely gaining speed. First, I want to say that pushing through isn't always the worst idea. It helps you get some words down, and ideas flowing. It also helps to get ideas pumping when you go to edit it. While my 1,000 words that I forced down are terrible, I can fit them into the plot, still.

Second, remember to keep your eyes on the prize. Don't follow every rabbit trail that makes you excited to write. Keep comparing it to your original plot helps when you're out of ideas. It gives you a map you can follow and helps you stay true to your story. Also, keeping a plot list/summary of your novel nearby is a good idea if you've got too many ideas, too. If you stray too much, you'll have a series of short stories, but not a cohesive novel. This may not be the editing phase, but it will help to shorten that process because you won't be reconstructing a plot based on loosely connected stories

That's not to say that following some rabbit trails is not important. It is important. It keeps your novel interesting and adds more surprise or fun to it. It also improves and refines your plot. For example, my fantasy novel had a basic plot, but because I got stuck on a question and had to ask a friend for help, I ended up making one of the protagonist's friends another protagonist, because she was interesting, and had a great backstory (not being prideful, I just really like it). I also ended up completely changing the plot and the antagonist. The important thing is to remember to regularly update and read your plot, so you know where you're going, and that you like the direction.

Third, if you're feeling stuck, look up tropes that your target audience likes. I've been spending a lot of time watching 'Booktube' videos about tropes they like and don't like. While I'll still add my own opinion, reading these can inspire me, and help me see some possible additions to the novel, and to add to my plot. Another favorite of mine is to look up plot twists that got people mad in the right way, and that readers liked. Plot twists especially help me because they give me a fresh look at the novel. They make it new and full of possibility and interest.

Here are a few example plot twists to pick up the pace, and get you back into the writing mood:

  • 1.Kill a character that the protagonist was close to, by the antagonist
  • 2.Betray someone, with someone the character was close friends with
  • 3. Take the weapon—Doesn't have to be an actual weapon—that the main character will use to destroy the villain, and lose it (don't forget to give it back at some point, of course)

Do you see the pattern? Yep, they all relate to hurting the protagonist. Someone once told me that a story goes like this: "You make your protagonist climb a tree. Then, you throw rocks at the tree. A lot of them hit your protagonist; then you help her climb down." This is really basic, but pretty much what every plot boils down to. Pain, then change, and the end.

I hope that these ideas help you and that you get back in the mood to write! Remember, pain generates familiarity, which generates likability and interest. Put your character through everything. Think of the worst thing that could happen, then do it. Then help your character down the tree. Give her a new life or fix her old, change her, fix her problems, anything. Or, you could push her out of the tree. It's up to you because it's your story. Go! Write! Conquer!

Oh, I'll be back next week with a week 3 & 4 recap, and possibly some extra tips, so look out for that!

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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.

2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.

4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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