My Pros and Cons and Tips for NaNoWriMo 2016.



As you can probably tell, this is a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2016 related post. I have taken part in three of the last four having decided to miss one year as choosing to edit instead of writing 50,000 words for 2014. I considered taking part again this year but I managed to consider it far too much and now I have nothing prepared. I will, however, be doing a mixture of editing and writing throughout November as a substitute.

This year, I wanted to provide some (hopefully) helpful information for those of you attempting to write 50,000 words in one month. That number does sound a lot and it did to me when I first tried the challenge in 2012.

When you break down that number across the whole of November, it gets a lot easier to take in. The figure (rounded up as the exact figure is daft) of words to write for each day is 1,667. If you decide to commit to 2,000 words a day, that allows you 5 free days to do whatever you like with. I recall assigning those days for hangovers myself.

I only found writing 2,000 words to be a daunting task when I had no idea where my story was going. For the first 2,000, I planned what I was roughly going to write so I could at least have an idea (it is the first draft after all so I didn’t worry too much about getting it right first time) beforehand. After the first 2,000 were written, I planned the next 2,000 and so on. The plans I made were usually just a few paragraphs or even less as a rough outline. As I got into writing the story I discovered that when I knew where the story was going each plan and 2,000 words became easier.

On some occasions, I managed to write more than 2,000 because I was in the middle of an important scene. It was either a heated discussion between the quarrelling villains of the piece, or the hero’s in some cases. Or some back story or a battle scene (there were quite a few). All of which I could not stop at just the 2,000 because I found myself either in the middle of a sentence or that I wanted to finish at natural point (usually the end of a scene or a chapter) before finishing for the day.

Making sure to write at least some if not all of the 2,000 words a day was crucial to help me calmly reach the target and to not lose my sanity. Some days I managed just shy of the whole 2,000 but made up for it in the days after that. Other times I didn’t come close. Let me show you what I mean through a small scene involving me and my too laid back attitude to the word court in 2012.

Wednesday. “I don’t feel like writing anything tonight. I’ve been working all day and can’t face the laptop anymore” (This equals one day without writing 2,000 words)

Thursday. “I’ll just play one game of Pro Evolution Soccer on my Xbox. Then I’ll start.” (Another 2,000)

Friday. “My head hurts. Too much beer. Cannot write today” (Another 2,000)

“Okay. It’s Saturday. What’s my word count? Including today I’m 8,000 words behind! How can I write so many in one day? It’s the weekend! I’ve used all of my hangover days! HOW!!!”

On that Saturday, I ended up writing 6,000 words and then adding an extra 500 words to the next few days until I had caught up with my target. I kept to my plan for 2013 and 2015 and avoided the above, which made the challenge easier to handle.

The Pros of completing NaNoWriMo 2012, 2013 and 2015 were that I had three partially finished novels that I could work on to finish in future. I have since completed the 2012 novel but found that the 2013 novel will need to be started again (I now hate that it is written in the first person) and the 2015 novel is going to be a lot bigger than I thought and requires further planning. Without NaNoWriMo, I would not have discovered this about two of my stories.

NaNoWriMo also helped me to find discipline whilst writing. Since 2012, I have been able to commit to word counts per day to finish a story as I am able to use the same planning I used for NaNo on all my stories ever since. It allowed me to get down on paper (laptop) tales that have been spinning in my head for years. It is a great feeling to do so and to finish. When you do finish, I suggest buying a t-shirt or something to commemorate the achievement from the official website ( It’s your own trophy and it helps to ensure that the fine people who organised the whole thing can continue to do so for years to come.

The Cons of completing NaNoWriMo? In my case they were:

  • My back hurt a little bit more.
  • I lost some sleep.

That’s all I can think of. I lay flat on my carpet after each days writing for about 10 minutes and that helped my back. I slept longer on weekend mornings to catch up on sleep.

I hope that this has helped you in your quest to conquer the NaNoWriMo challenge. Good luck and make sure you have some fun in the process.


To the edit! Second drafts abound.

blank sheet in a typewriter



Since last time, I have received some hints and tips regarding the planning and execution of a romantic tale. Giselle Marks, author (most recently the Fencing Master’s Daughter. See the link for more details and all round lovely person, provided useful guidance, which I will be looking to use when I tackle the second draft of that story. I’m planning to review my romance after leaving it for a few weeks to stew.

Speaking of second drafts, I’ve managed to start to edit two other short stories. The edits have been fairly successful so far but I still have plenty to do. I have managed to pull up some more questions about each piece of writing. Particularly, what is the theme of my story? Have I conveyed this theme well enough? Have I managed to help each character grow and develop throughout? What are the challenges? What are my characters goals? Why did I even write the thing in the first place?

Now, I know most of the answers to these questions but in some cases, particularly regarding theme and growth of characters, I have found that I need to add more detail. Thankfully I do not think I need to add too much but I know more is needed. For instance, with my story about an immortal man in Manchester trying to find his reason for being, I have focused on this but only realised at the end of the story that the other two main characters in the story, a would-be love interest and another immortal who wants more than to just help our hero find his place in the world, do not have much in the way of growth. I have described them but not provided them with any depth.

I have also found in the other story, concerning the end of the world and those who wish to take over it (giant worms) and those who wish to survive it (a recently broken up young couple) that two out of the three main characters have enough character growth. At least it’s more than the other story, right? Anyway, I again now know what to change, or at least where to begin changing, when I continue my second drafts. I always used to look at second drafts as a thing to sort out grammar and punctuation but I know now that is a separate edit altogether. The second draft is a big and powerful thing.

I have had help along the way as well. I’m currently reading Stephen King: On Writing (A Memoir of the Craft). He goes into sweet detail about how he thinks the second draft should go and it has been very useful. I have not been approaching my second drafts with the mindset and that’s where I’ve been going wrong I think. Though, that probably does not fully explain why none of my previous competition entries over the years have failed. Or maybe it could? Three cheers for progress. I just wish it had come sooner.

Okay. I’m going to go back to it. Have a good week.









A romance story? Really?


Hello all,

It has been a while.

For the past month or so, I’ve been working on my first attempt at a romantic story. This has been slowed somewhat due to a very interesting Cyber Security and Cyber Crime course I have been taking and passing during that time but I have managed to finally finish it.

I’ve been looking to write stories in genres I don’t usually write in. You know, out of my comfort zone and all that. Once I had decided what to do next, I needed an idea. Initially, I thought about setting it in an office environment or in something that could resemble present day or closer to my real life. But then I thought, nah. I want to do this in the future while World War 3 is in full swing and my love triangle is between three fighter pilots of varying ranks. Obviously.

The result wasn’t really what I expected. I am happy with the characters and the settings but I know I need to go back over the romance parts of my story. I think all I need to do is add more of a back story to my characters and why Commander Angela would want to fall for either jet pilot First class Anderson or jet pilot Second class Andrew.

Andrew is the nice one and Anderson is the annoying one. Anderson winds Andrew up whenever he can when they are not on the battlefield (well, not a field really. A Sky I suppose. Yeah, Battle Sky is better) and vice versa. But when they are in the battle sky they work seamlessly as together. Angela has noticed both of them before and during the war. She knows Anderson from some of her teenage years growing up and she knows Andrew from when they trained together. Though she does command both of them, she see’s something in each that makes her think there might be a life after the War beyond work.

The first draft is completed but as I’ve mentioned I know I need to add something else to make it more romantic. Having never written this type of story before it is harder than I first thought. I know how to be romantic, or at least I think I do, but conveying it on the page is a tricky thing indeed.

So, I have questions. Do any of you have any tips for a budding romance writer such as myself? If you have written romantic stories before what approach did you find to be the most rewarding and productive?

I’ll get back to editing my story and I hope you all have a nice week.


How to avoid murdering your career

Hello all,

Recently, I have not had much to write about. I’m currently in the middle of writing a futuristic war romance story (which I will write about when it is completed) and doing non-writing course work.

So, I decided that until I’m ready to write about me, I’ll spread the blog love by re-blogging something cool.

I found this wonderful article on how to avoid murdering your career. I hope you enjoyed as much as I did!

jean's writing

Ever feel like you are strangling a story to death?

I feel your pain. Really I do. Sometimes I think my WIP needs to be put out of my misery.

image delete key Imgflip

So, let’s all avoid the paper shredder. Because there’s help by – 10 Career Killers by David McFarland Story Doctor.

Here is what I learned from reading10 Career Killers.

  1. Critics don’t buy books. Don’t write like a professor, write for your reader.
  2. Idiots don’t buy books either. Don’t dumb down your writing.
  3. Develop a wide range of topics. Don’t be a one-hit wonder. Don’t become bland.
  4. Keep up with technology. Learn to speak. Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you.
  5. Be thankful when fans or critics point out things that need changing. Then do it.
  6. Keep writing. Don’t let success kill your talent.
  7. Invest and save. Remember the law of gravity. What goes up must come down.
  8. Focus on your…

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How to you say politely ‘you missed the point’ to an author?

Found this very helpful article regarding key elements to make your story work and flow in the right way. And hopefully not leave people scratching their heads whilst reading your story. 


Casey Carlisle

How to say you missed the point Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI read a review copy for a fellow writer on his novel recently, and was horrified to find he’d not even paid attention to the basics of writing a book… So what key elements do you need to make your manuscript successful?

This author is semi successful, he has a number of books self-published, and I have to admit, the premise of his story is very intriguing. His writing style is easy to read and his pacing and action scenes are up there with the best of them. But I found myself continually frustrated. Some essential aspects to writing a novel had been ignored… and I was like, why? WHY!

How to say you missed the point Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Apologies if this post has started off as a little bit of a rant, but it leads us to an important question:

How to say you missed the point Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleHow to say you missed the point Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle – yeah, I know, how could you miss this one? In the first chapter (maybe two) it’s important…

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It creeps and it crawls throughout my mind. Wanting to be released onto the page.

(I wanted to insert an appropriate picture for my title but google managed to scare the stuffing out of me so I’m going to leave it. And curl up into a ball for a while.)



Finally, after weeks of tossing and turning over it and not being able to write as much as I’d like due to other things coming up, I’ve finished my horror story!

As I got closer to end my writing speed picked up and then I realised, it’s done. The euphoria that breezes through me every time I finish a story was back.

Obviously, it’s the first draft but I’m happy I’ve finished it and I can now re-jig the whole thing. Change it to add in all the tips I’ve found regarding writing a horror story from my research. Mainly:

Tension – I have managed to build tension towards to end of the story. The build up to the ending definitely has what could possibly be described as tension until a big reveal. I also tried to put tension in throughout the story by having the lights go out in the house my characters are in for their company retreat in the woods. When the lights go out, and while everyone else is screaming or cheering depending on how drunk they are, the main characters hear what could be scratching and groaning coming from outside before the lights come back on.

The Reveal – I found a very useful article regarding this in the November 2014 edition of Writing Magazine by Alex Davis (page 50 if you own it). It talks about different phases.

  • Easy to disbelieve (slightly scary stuff that can be written off easily. Bumps in the night and weird sounds)
  • Hard to disbelieve (making the characters feel uneasy. A sense of being watched, a presence in the room).
  • Hard to deny (Definite sight of something weird, strange, horrible. A voice heard. Evidence to say something is definitely happening)
  • Impossible to deny (The reveal takes place. All the sounds and such come together and whatever the hell it is becomes reality)


I have found it very interesting reading up on how to approach writing a horror story. I’ve also found plenty of scary films to watch to give me inspiration. Such as Ringu (1998, Japan), Session 9 (2001, USA), Exhibit A (2007, UK). They’re all on the list. I’m in for one scary few days if I decide to watch them. I’ll end up not posting for much longer than 5 or so weeks.

It’s good to be able to write on my blog again. It has been a while. So, until next time have a good time doing whatever it is you’re doing.



Two ideas are not better than one.


I’m going to break this post down into stuff I’ve done since my last post as I haven’t posted in a while. I have been trying to create a post since my last, which seems like ages ago, and in the small amount of time I’ve had recently. Hope you like it.

This Way That Way Which way to turn

Signpost saying This Way That Way, Which way to turn good concept image for direction.


Finally, after weeks of pondering I’ve settled on two ideas for my horror stories. I initially had one idea that I was going to stick with (see for more information). But, as I started to plan that idea out I also found another idea. This was an idea that had been swimming in my mind for years but had obviously gotten almost drowned in the time it had spent not being outside and on the page. This has now brought to me my current predicament. Which way do I go?

From being so unsure that I doubted whether I should even bother writing a horror story to having two ideas, I can safely say this is not the worst position I ever been in. But it is one that I would like to be out of as soon as possible.

I’ve created my characters for and given them back stories. I also planned out both story ideas so when I get started I should have a better chance of making it work. Hopefully.

13/05/2016 – 21/05/2016

Work. More work. Drinking. More drinking. Running. More running. No writing completed.


Completed my fourth Manchester 10k run and raised £200 for Cancer Research UK. No writing completed.


Had a pizza. Watched WWE Extreme Rules 2016. No writing completed.


Received my 2nd of two grades for the course I’ve been on since last September. Both I needed to pass. The 1st one I did pass (with Merit) and the 2nd…I passed as well (with Merit). Had a pizza. No writing completed.


Went to the christening of my girlfriend’s niece and nephew. Had a great time. No writing completed.


Big jump forward. Almost a month in fact. But it finds me with time on my hands and one page of my horror story written! Progress is slow but I hope to increase it in the coming weeks. I have week off work coming up that will become my first ever writing and blogging week. Well, writing at least.

The story I mentioned in the link under 12/05/2016 above is the same one I’ve gone with but I’ve twisted it around slightly. I have my characters and their back stories and I have a twist in mind for one of them to go completely loony bin on everyone and revert back to a Neanderthal state. I’m not sure which of my 6 characters this will happen too but it will be in the scariest manner I can muster. Finally, progress and a direction to go in.

Hope you all have a good week.