Warrior Wednesday Drum Roll

Announcing my 3rd interview in the new series: Warrior Wednesdays.

This evening I will be posting the successful interview I had with YA and Children’s author Dee White. This is one not to be missed. I met Dee through Word Warriors – the online FB group started for NaNoWriMo20101 – and Scribblerati – the writing ning I belong to. I have gotten to know Dee very well through both these groups. From a stranger who writes as well, to a colleague and finally to a friend.

She is an avid supporter of any writers both published and pre-published. Dee herself is a published author. She blogs regularly with very useful writing tips.

I will not tell you anymore about Dee but watch this space for the interview. She will tell you more about herself as we sit down and have a cyber chat.

In this interview you will learn why I admire Dee so much. You will also learn the tricks and tools of being a YA and Children’s author. You will be as charmed and disarmed by Dee’s honesty and humility as I have been. This is one talented lady and more than that: a true Warrior of Words.

Join me in a few hours for our interview.

girl with a quill…

What Inspires the Most Creative People We Know

Entropy ≥ Memory . Creativity ²
Image by jef safi via Flickr

What Inspires the Most Creative People We Know – Oprah.com.

I have been thinking a lot these last few weeks about what creativity means to me and what inspires me to feel and be creative. I have made a resolution with myself that 2011 is going to be a year focused on creativity. I have been immersing myself in different forms of creativity.

So what inspires me to feel and be creative? Beauty inspires me. The beauty found in the natural world around us. The beauty of a child’s laugh; unashamed and full-hearted. The beauty of love in an old couple. The beauty of gathering clouds before a storm. The beauty of sunbeams striking a path through heavy clouds.

I have also been doing a lot of photography this year. I have really found that the ordinary can truly be transformed into the extraordinary when looked at through the view finder of my digital camera.

Words also inspire me. I often find that if I come across a new word that I am unfamiliar with, I take note of it. I then go look it up in the dictionary and thesaurus. I challenge myself to use this new word in a few sentences. I love the sounds of certain words. My favourite words are: Zephyr, Serendipity, Surreal, Radiance, Effervescence, Subtle, Gossamer, Effusive, Ephemeral, Sublime, Lyricism.

zephyr |ˈzefər|noun1 poetic/literary a soft gentle breeze.2 historical a fine cotton gingham.a very light article of clothing.ORIGIN late Old English zefferus, denoting a personification of the west wind, via Latin from Greek zephuros ‘(god of) the west wind.’ Sense 1 dates from the late 17th cent.

serendipity |ˌserənˈdipitē|nounthe occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way : a fortunate stroke of serendipity | a series of small serendipities.DERIVATIVESserendipitous |-ˈdipitəs| |ˈsɛrənˈdɪpədəs| adjectiveserendipitously |ˈsɛrənˈdɪpədəsli| adverbORIGIN 1754: coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

surreal |səˈrēəl|adjectivehaving the qualities of surrealism; bizarre : a surreal mix of fact and fantasy.DERIVATIVESsurreality |ˌsərēˈalitē| |ˈsəriˈølədi| |-ˈalɪti| nounsurreally |səˈriəli| adverbORIGIN 1930s: back-formation from surrealism .

radiance |ˈrādēəns|noun1 light or heat as emitted or reflected by something : the radiance of the sunset dwindled and died.great happiness, apparent in someone’s expression or bearing : the radiance of the bride’s smile.a glowing quality of the skin, esp. as indicative of good health or youth.2 Physics the flux of radiation emitted per unit solid angle in a given direction by a unit area of a source.

effervescent |ˌefərˈvesənt|adjective(of a liquid) giving off bubbles; fizzy.DERIVATIVESeffervescence nounORIGIN late 17th cent.: from Latin effervescent- ‘boiling up,’ from the verb effervescere (see effervesce ).

subtle |ˈsətl|adjective ( -tler , -tlest )(esp. of a change or distinction) so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyze or describe : his language expresses rich and subtle meanings.(of a mixture or effect) delicately complex and understated : subtle lighting.making use of clever and indirect methods to achieve something : he tried a more subtle approach.capable of making fine distinctions : a subtle mind.arranged in an ingenious and elaborate way.archaic crafty; cunning.DERIVATIVESsubtleness |ˈsədlnəs| nounsubtly |ˈsədli| adverbORIGIN Middle English (also in the sense [not easily understood] ): from Old French sotil, from Latin subtilis ‘fine, delicate.’ .

gossamer |ˈgäsəmər|nouna fine, filmy substance consisting of cobwebs spun by small spiders, which is seen esp. in autumn.used to refer to something very light, thin, and insubstantial or delicate : in the light from the table lamp, his hair was blond gossamer.adjective [ attrib. ]made of or resembling gossamer : gossamer wings.DERIVATIVESgossamery |ˈgɑsəˈmɛri| adjectiveORIGIN Middle English : apparently from goose + summer 1 , perhaps from the time of year around St. Martin’s summer, i.e., early November, when geese were eaten (gossamer being common then).

effusive |iˈfyoōsiv|adjective1 expressing feelings of gratitude, pleasure, or approval in an unrestrained or heartfelt manner : an effusive welcome. See note at sentimental .2 Geology (of igneous rock) poured out when molten and later solidified.of or relating to the eruption of large volumes of molten rock.DERIVATIVESeffusively |əˈfjusəvli| |iˈfjusəvli| |əˈfjuzəvli| |iˈfjuzəvli| adverbeffusiveness |əˈfjusɪvn1s| |iˈfjusɪvn1s| |əˈfjuzɪvn1s| |iˈfjuzɪvn1s| noun

ephemeral |əˈfem(ə)rəl|adjectivelasting for a very short time : fashions are ephemeral. See note at temporary .(chiefly of plants) having a very short life cycle.nounan ephemeral plant.DERIVATIVESephemerality |əˌfeməˈralitē| |əˈfɛm(ə)ˈrølədi| |iˈfɛm(ə)ˈrølədi| |-ˈralɪti| nounephemerally |əˈfɛm(ə)rəli| |iˈfɛm(ə)rəli| adverbephemeralness |əˈfɛm(ə)rəlnəs| |iˈfɛm(ə)rəlnəs| nounORIGIN late 16th cent.: from Greek ephēmeros (see ephemera ) + -al .

sublime |səˈblīm|

adjective

( -limer , -limest )of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe : Mozart’s sublime piano concertos | [as n. ] ( the sublime) experiences that ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.• used to denote the extreme or unparalleled nature of a person’s attitude or behavior : he had the sublime confidence of youth.verb1 [ intrans. ] Chemistry (of a solid substance) change directly into vapor when heated, typically forming a solid deposit again on cooling.• [ trans. ] cause (a substance) to do this : these crystals could be sublimed under a vacuum.2 [ trans. ] archaic elevate to a high degree of moral or spiritual purity or excellence.

DERIVATIVESsublimely |səˈblaɪmli| adverbsublimity |-ˈblimitē| |səˈblɪmədi| |-ˈlɪmɪti| nounORIGIN late 16th cent. (in the sense [dignified, aloof] ): from Latin sublimis, from sub- ‘up to’ + a second element perhaps related to limen ‘threshold,’ limus ‘oblique.’

lyricism |ˈlirəˌsizəm|nounan artist’s expression of emotion in an imaginative and beautiful way; the quality of being lyrical.

Your task for this week is to choose 11 of your favourite words and use them in some way, either in a piece of prose or poem.

Your second task for the week is to find a new word per day and memorise it.

Meditate on what creativity means to you this week. What inspires you to feel and be creative? How can you be more creative? How will you inspire others to be creative?

I will post my piece of prose or poetry up here tomorrow inspired by my 11 favourite words.

Some famous thoughts on creativity:

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” — Henry Ward Beecher

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.”  — Henry David Thoreau

“Creativity is… seeing something that doesn’t exist already. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God.” — Michele Shea

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

Smiles & Shout-Outs to my Cyberspace Sisterhood

Cover of
Cover via Amazon

Well my day was a dreary one indeed. I will not bore you nor depress you with the details but suffice to say that this was a day I could have done without. On coming home my head ached and my annoyance levels were seething in me. I was not feeling creative other than imagining scenes of destruction on my unsuspecting villains of my day.

I came home and powered up my MacBook. I started scrolling through my inbox until I came across a few comments on yesterday’s post that I needed to approve. It was not long before my deadly frown and grimace of the day turned into a smoothed brow and a wide smile.

A kind word is like a Spring Day. – Russian Proverb

I started this blog as a way to build an online presence and to network with other writers. I started blogging about a few things that I would be working on and found that many writers were in the same boat as me. But this blog has done so much more for me than just build an online presence. This blog has introduced me to a network of writers that have become my good friends….and this week I have needed the encouragement from my writing pals.

So this is a Shout-out to some amazing gals and guys I have gotten to know. I cannot attempt to name every single one of you as this post would then go on for pages. But I would like to the opportunity to give a few shout-outs and send out my grateful smiles to the following lovely people.

 

Melissa Pearl

Rachna Chhabria

Roz Morris

Dee White

Lia Keyes

Sheryl Gwyther

Leigh K Hunt

Engrid Epel

Denise Maclennan Bruce

Judith van Praag

The Running Garlic

ElizOF

I hereby award each of you lovely friends and followers, motivators and encouragers, pick-me-uppers and fix-me-uppers, frowns-into-smiles the double awards of The Sisterhood Award

The Sisterhood Award

and

The Sunshine Award

The Sunshine Award

Thank you to every single one of you Amazing ladies who I have mentioned here. Allow me to take this moment to Shout Out to you. Paste and copy these twin awards onto your website. These are not meant to be paid forward, they are simply to show my appreciation for your constant support, encouragement, motivation and above all your friendship. Keep them and display them proudly. I am proud and honoured to count you as my friends and part of my sisterhood.

I bow in gratitude, admiration and friendship to each of you.

Thank you. I hope I can be as good a support for each of you as you have been for me this last year.

Yours in Sisterhood & Sunshine

Kim @ Dragonflyscrolls

Sisters are doing it for themselves

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning

Telling your story in your Character’s voice

His Masters Voice
Image via Wikipedia

I have been reading a lot lately on “Voice“. What do I mean by this? Do I mean the sound that comes out when I use my vocal chords? No, I mean “Voice” in a literal sense. I have also been doing a lot of thinking about my favourite characters in literature. More importantly why are they my favourite characters? What makes a character memorable?

There are many great literary characters out there in the world of words. Why then do a few stand out for each of us? I think the common element of a great memorable character is one that has its own distinctive voice. Yes characters are created in the imagination of a writer but the great character steps out from their creator’s imagination and becomes a living, breathing entity as real as a friend you like to spend time with. So how are these characters able to step out from the imagination and become people. This is due in part to the way the character is written. These are some of the ways that a character gains their own voice.

LISTEN

A writer has to learn to listen to the voice of their character. There will be a voice. It may not be very loud and it may even be a shy voice that takes a while to come through. Sometimes you have to learn to separate a character’s voice from the white noise of the story. Even though as a writer you may have imagined the story, the story will be happening to your character. Don’t they have a say in what happens and how they handle it?

Don’t play Puppet-Master, Cut the Strings

As the creator of the characters in your story it is very tempting to play Puppet-master with your  characters. Don’t let your writing become a mirror for your own life. If you are writing Fiction, remember that you need to stay true to the “fiction” element of your story. As tempting as it may be to stand above the scene and move your character to your own wants and desires resist the temptation. This will only result in a puppet show not a story that learns to live and breathe on its own. So cut the strings. If you find you are controlling your character’s reactions, even dictating their personality, then just STOP. Your story will be better off for it.

Don’t Parent your Characters

Unless you are writing a book about parenting skills, leave the parenting to parents. You are not a parent in your story. What do I mean by this? Don’t tell your character what to do. Sometimes you have to let them figure out things for themselves. Let your character argue with you. This will add another dimension to the character in your mind and if you pay heed to your character, your reader will also play heed to your character.

Let your characters make mistakes

This is a really important point in creating characters that resonate with your readers. Do not make your characters perfect. Make them imperfect and I will go even one step further and ask you to accentuate their flaws and imperfections. Perfection in a character is distancing and boring. We all know those characters that are so perfect and so well-adjusted to anything life throws at them that you just want to slap them. If you accentuate your character’s flaws this can be a growth point in your character’s personality. Your characters are only going to learn how things work if you let them fail.

Give your character a 3D character

Human beings are not all good or all bad. There is a little of everything in a human adult and sometimes even more extremes of emotion in a human child. Give your character a hint of arrogance and entitlement. But give them a fierce loyalty to under-pine the negative aspects. Allow them to have a temper. This is one of the most human of all emotions. Very few people can say they have no temper. If your character comes across as greedy, don’t try to change that.

Don’t protect your character

Throw something difficult their way. Put them in the way of hardship. Put them through trials and tribulations. As attached as you may be to your character, your reader has to believe that they can sympathize with them. Your reader will not sympathize with a character that you protect in a glass bubble from all the bad things in life. Life is not fair and most of the times life is not pretty. Give your character a real world to live in. Make them feel sorrow, feel anger, feel regret, feel vulnerable. It is through the bad that the strength or weakness of your character will shine through. You will make your reader believe that this character is a person, maybe even based on someone they know.

Get your reader into your character’s head

Your reader must be able to walk in your character’s foot-steps to understand your character. But how can your reader do this if you are not doing this. Ask yourself this question: Are you in your character’s head or is your character in your head? If you answered yes to the latter part of the question, then you need to backtrack. You need to get into your character’s head. How do you do this? How do you separate yourself (the writer) from the character? There are a number of ways of doing this. This brings me to the MUSCLES of today’s post and your exercise for the week…

MUSCLES

  • Do a week-long journalling exercise: For 1 week, start a journal in your character’s voice. Do not write what you want to write but write what your character is thinking and feeling.
  • Write a 1 page scene from your story. Now read over this scene. Whose writing the scene? Are you in this scene? Or is this scene one that is happening to your reader? Now go back and re-write this scene but get into the head of your character for the re-write. Now write this scene as it is happening to your character, not to you.
  • Observe your life from your character’s viewpoint. Make your character the narrator for your life this week. Put this into your journal entries.
  • Interview your character. Ask them to tell you where they see their story going. Ask them for their back story. Put your character in the driving seat of their story. Give your character their own voice in your story.
  • Read your favourite book, particularly focusing on the voice of the character that resonates with you. Do you hear the voice or do you hear the author’s voice. Analyse what tools the author uses to make you hear the character’s voice.

Now I leave you with some quotations that relate to finding the Voice of your character:

Listening is very inexpensive; not listening could be very costly!
Tom Brewer

Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”
Stephen R. Covey

“Before I can walk in another person’s shoes, I must first remove my own.”
Brian Tracy

Live out of your imagination instead of out of your memory.”
Les Brown

The more you listen to the voice within you, the better
you will hear what is sounding outside.
Dag Hammarskjold

“You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written.  And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.”  Madeleine L’Engle

“You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.”  Jack London

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”  E. L. Doctorow

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” Ray Bradbury

Show don’t tell.”  Henry James

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.  No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”  Robert Frost

“Plot springs from character…  I’ve always sort of believed that these people inside me- these characters- know who they are and what they’re about and what happens, and they need me to help get it down on paper because they don’t type.”  Anne Lamott

“Don’t say the old lady screamed- bring her on and let her scream.”  Mark Twain

“A writer should create living people; people, not characters.  A character is a caricature.”
Ernest Hemingway

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”  Roald Dahl

 

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.


Write Time of Day

squared circles - Clocks
Image by Leo Reynolds via Flickr

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.
Ernest Hemingway

Writing is the hardest work in the world not involving heavy lifting.
Pete Hamill

“I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark.” Henry David Thoreau

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”Oscar Wilde

“Nighttime is really the best time to work. All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep.”
Catherine O’Hara

“At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.”
H. P. Lovecraft

If you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework you can still be writing, because you have that space.

Joyce Carol Oates quotes

“I write when I’m inspired and I see to it that I am inspired at nine o’clock every morning.”      Peter de Vries

When I was a poor and struggling writer, I made a vow that if ever I got lucky enough to write full-time, I would never again write at night or on weekends, and I never do. I work from about 10 a.m. to 5 or 6 at night, and then I lock the door to my office and go home to my wife.” – Evan Hunter

What is the right time of day to write?

Or put another way: What is your Write time of day?

I think this is a question that is unique to the individual writer. Some people work best in the early morning. The common term for these people are early morning birds. I am however, not one of these people. I find that the mornings are when my brain is foggiest and most resistant to all thought let alone creative inspiration. I am always envious of these so-called morning people. I am amazed that they can write before the sun even rises. Unfortunately I have never been able to do this.

I have tried to discipline myself into writing in the mornings. I have been doing The Morning Pages on and off for 2 years now. This is a method described by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. The idea is that you write 2 longhand A4 pages of writing first thing in the morning after you have woken up. Has this method worked for me? Yes and No. Yes, in that I am surprised that I can even think let alone write legibly in the morning. But No it has not made me form a habit of writing in the morning.

So why fight what your body is naturally inclined to? I am sure you have heard of the body’s internal clock. Everyone has one. Some may need new batteries but believe me, you have one. This internal clock is known as the Circadian Rhythm. It is also true that there are two main types of individual:

The Early Morning Bird or Lark

and

The Night Owl

For me I fall into the Night Owl category. I think part of it is that I like being awake and seem to think more clearly when everyone else is asleep. Another reason why I am a Night Owl is simply because the morning and day offer too many distractions. Birds are singing, cars are driving, people are talking. For the same reason, some people are morning larks. They get up at 5am before the sun rises and write until dawn. I understand the theory behind this but at 5am my brain, even if I happen to be awake, is sluggish at best and at sleep at worst.

There are numerous articles online about whether morning larks or night owls or more productive. Again I think this is mainly subjective and wrapped up with what works best for you. In the morning I am least productive in all areas. I usually need at least 1/2 a litre of coffee to wake up my mental system.

So why fight your nature?

There is no Write Time of day definitively speaking. There is only a Write time of Day for you as an individual. Don’t think you are less productive if you are a night owl. This is just simply how your body and brain function. For me writing at night is the Write Time of Day for me because it is also when I have the most time. During the day I have far too many distractions to be able to focus on my writing.

The most important element of writing is writing at the same time every day. Why is this so important? If you treat writing as a hobby and only write when you want to or feel most inspired, then you will find every excuse to not write. If you write every day at the same time, you are making a scheduled appointment with your imagination. There is also the added theory that if you do something every day for 28 days, you will form a habit. Whether you are writing full-time or whether you write part-time, it is vital that you treat writing like any other job. Give it the same importance as a 9-5 day at an office.

If you are serious about your writing, you need to get serious about your writing time.

So what is your best writing time?

Are you a morning lark or a night owl?

 

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.


 


Rhythm. Space. Timing. Serendipity.

Blur
Missed Moment
Perfect Rhythm: Space. Timing. Serendipity.

Today’s Photo of the day was the 3rd in this series of 3. With the assistance of my creative assistant, Jazz (my Papillon Puppy), I managed to finally capture the shot I wanted. This series of shots got me thinking about today’s Thursday Tips post.

EXTRA!! EXTRA!!!

TODAY’S NEWS – THURSDAY TIPS!

GET IT NOW!!!

COPIES ARE SELLING OUT!!!

RHYTHM. SPACE. TIMING. SERENDIPITY.

 

A story is composed of many parts just as a photograph is composed of many elements. For a photograph you need a subject, a tool (camera), a placing in space, rhythm and perfect timing. For a story you need a plot, characters, a tool (imagination), a setting, rhythm and perfect timing.

So today’s Thursday tips is focused on: Rhythm, Space, Timing and Serendipity. What do I mean by “Rhythm”? There are 2 types of rhythm that I am thinking of: Musical Rhythm and Poetic Rhythm.

Musical Rhythm

Noun: A strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.

Now you may argue that you do not have an ear for music. You do not realise that your own body has a perfect musical rhythm of its own: Heart beats. Yes. Heart Beats. Now close your eyes, place your finger at your pulse point and listen to the rhythm as you feel the drum beat of your life’s blood flowing through your body. Now if your heart’s rhythm was slightly off, too quick or too slow or skipping a beat, there would be a problem with the way your body functioned. This problem could even be fatal in the worst case scenario. In the same way, this can be an allegory for the importance of having cadence and rhythm in the construction of your story. If one word is not placed in the right space on your page the beat will be off.

Poetic Rhythm

Noun: a regularly recurring sequence of events, actions,

or processes : the measured flow of words and phrases

in verse or prose as determined by the relation of long

and short or stressed and unstressed syllables.

You may think you know nothing about poetry but if you were a child at some stage, you will know all about poetic rhythm. I am talking about the wonder and simplicity of Nursery Rhymes. Now I am sure if I ask you to close your eyes for a moment and think of a nursery rhyme from your childhood you will be able to come up with more than a handful. So why is this poetic rhythm so vital to your story? It is vital for the same reason that it took you less than a minute to recall more than a handful of nursery rhymes. Rhythm is strongly intertwined with memory. If something has a catchy rhythm, it tends to be locked in the vaults of your memory bank. But the connection and resonance of the “Rhythm” allows you to re-access this vault at a moment’s notice. So I ask you, what is common to successful stories throughout the ages? They are a perfect synchronicity of musical rhythm and poetic rhythm. The sentences have a resonant beat to them and they flow easily through your mind. The words are perfectly placed and sequenced. The sentences are sharp and neat. The punctuation is perfectly placed, accenting and pausing through the rhyme of the words on a page.

Space and Timing

The other two vital elements to a perfect story is setting (space) and timing. A setting can make or break the story. At times a setting can make or break a genre. Setting is an oft-forgotten but vital element in a successful story. Just as space and setting is vital to the perfect camera shot, setting is not something to be overlooked. So if you have found yourself concentrating too much on plot and character remember to include setting in your focus. After all, your characters need “Somewhere” to have a story. They cannot be in a Vacuum throughout the whole story.

Now I come to one of my favourite elements in a story: Timing. There are two types of timing in a story. The first is the Story’s sequence of events and the second is the timing in the placing of chapters, paragraphs, openings and endings. The timing of events in a sequence will make your story a well-loved hit with your readers or on the other hand the incorrect timing in sequence can alter the story at best and confuse / lose your reader at the worst. You cannot rush the sequence in your plot and you cannot go too slowly. You need to use the second type of timing I spoke of to set the correct sequence. At the same time, you cannot spend an uneven amount of time on any element of your plot. Too quick an opening may leave the reader floundering for a life raft but be too tired in the end to bother. Too slow an opening could bore your reader. Even though you may have put your best part of the story in the middle of your plot, the reader needs to still get there so time your story with care. Don’t rush your plot too quickly that you lose your reader and that your story becomes a blur in their mind. Don’t slow your plot too much or your reader will miss the suspense of the moment. Don’t rush your characters through their dialogue or accelerate their development – your reader will find them unrealistic and have no connection to the story. Don’t go too slow with your characters as by the time you have got your character to the next day, your reader will probably have fallen asleep.

Serendipity is the tie of these 3 elements: Rhythm, Space (Setting) and Timing. I love the word “Serendipity”:

Serendipity ~ the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way….

Isn’t this the perfect way to describe a story that will imprint itself on your reader’s memories?

I leave you with my Poem for the day inspired by my photograph..

Flying Free on the Wings of Time


If you rush through Life,

Moments will pass by in a blur;

If you take things too slowly,

You will miss the Moments.

Like a Photograph

Life is all about being in the Moment:

Perfect Rhythm of Space. Timing. Serendipity.

~ Kim Koning ~


© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning

Colouring outside the lines

left-brain-right-brain
Image by vaXzine via Flickr


I have spent a lot of time today contemplating this post. I knew that I had to come up with some fresh creative exercises. Unfortunately due to a bad case of hayfever, I had little to no sleep last night. Tired person = tired brain. So instead I went to my online creative clusters and trolled though the websites of writers and creatives on my favourites list. It resulted in a few surprising exercises coming to the foreground. Enough to do today’s post.

Strangely enough, I then got an email from one of my subscriptions about unlocking the potential of the right brain: the creative you or me. Intrigued I clicked through to the post and then read to the end. It fascinates me that in most articles about right brain vs left brain, all the writers, bloggers and experts tell us that the world we live in tell us to make the left brain more dominant.


Left Brain

Logical

Analytical

Realistic

Rule-Follower

Schedules

Lists


Right Brain

Intuitive

Impulsive

Risk Taker

Fantasy

Imagery

Visual


Above are just some of the differences between the right brain and left brain. We are told as children to stop day dreaming. We are told to focus. We are told to stop playing. We are told to never fail. We are told to follow all the rules. We are told to get our head out of the clouds and get back to reality.

Was this correct teaching? Or has all this pre-determined teaching instilled in us a dominance of reality and impaired us creatively. Cases could be made for both sides. But isn’t it uncanny how a child can believe that there is a mouse or a fairy that comes to collect children’s lost teeth at night. Yet as adults every time we catch ourselves slipping into a day-dream, we mentally tell our minds off and remind ourselves “that will never happen, it’s impossible or just a fantasy”.

A lot of articles on the net are trying to explore the “unlocking” of the right brain. Why you may ask? Isn’t it better to live a life based in only what’s probable then dream the impossible and maybe set our hopes too high? You might think it is. I don’t think it is. I think it is vital to dream impossible dreams and hold them as goals before you. Unfortunately to be a creative individual means, by society’s benchmark anyway, that we fall into that latter group. The dreamers. The fantasists. The day-dreamers. The hippies. The arty-fartys. The unstable ones. The emotional ones. Any of these labels have and will be used towards you if you fall into a creative group. Are you fearful of those labels?

So you are a writer, an artist, a photographer, a painter, a sculptor, a musician, any and all of the previous labels: So then you have the right brain unlocked then just by being focused on the creative. Right? No. The answer is that though you are a creative person (let me just use the term “artist” for all creatives from now on) you live in a left brain dominated world. How do I know that? How many times have you had raised eyebrows as a response when someone has asked you what you do and you have told them? Or maybe you have not even got the courage to voice what you do or who you are. Just because you maybe do an office job for 40 hours a week and work creatively all the other time that you are not sleeping does not make you any less of an artist. So let’s get that out-of-the-way! Say it now. We will practice:

What do you do? (Picture a bland face looking at you waiting for the answer)

Now, don’t think, don’t hesisitate:

Answer: I am a ______________. (Fill in the blank with writer, artist, painter, sculptor,photographer,graphic book author,cartoonist,musician.)

Now pat yourself on the back. Was that the first time you said it aloud? Be proud of yourself, admitting it is the first step to success and authenticity.

So are there exercises or tools we can use to unlock the right brain in ourselves? Is there a way to allow ourselves to colour outside the lines of society’s “normal and accepted” which hardly ever included creativity unleashed? Well I have spent the afternoon researching this for both myself and for this post. Here is what I came up with:

LaTeral ThiNking

This is a process that allows you to see things in a different way and to express them uniquely. So for this week, the lateral thinking exercises are:

  • Spend an evening doing some riddles.
  • Go and get yourself some 3d pictures and practice 3d watching.

Here are some riddles to start out on. Think about them and if you think you have them figured out, type your answer in the comments. I will post some clues throughout the week. Next week Monday I will post the answers to these riddles.

Riddle # 1: A man lives on the seventeenth floor of an
apartment building. Every morning he takes
the lift down to the ground. In the evening he
goes into the lift and if it is raining he goes
directly back to the seventeenth floor.
Otherwise he goes to the tenth floor and
climbs up seven flights of stairs.

Riddle #2: A man walks into a bar and asks for water.
The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at
him. The man says, “Thank you,” and walks
out.

Riddle #3: A landlord is threatening to evict a father

and his beautiful young daughter, unless she

agrees to marry him. There are a lot of

witnesses and in a false gesture of sincerity,

he offers her an opportunity to remain in the

house without marrying him. He has a silk

bag in which he says he has placed a white

and a black stone from the footpath on which

they’re standing. If she picks the white stone

from the bag, then she wins; if she picks the

black, she loses. However, the young girl saw

him place two black stones in the bag. She

can’t accuse him of cheating, because he

would say that his good question was called

into question and storm off without showing

the bag. How does the clever girl win?


Riddle #4: A man is alone on an island with no food

and no water, yet he does not fear for his life.


Riddle #5: A man managed to visit over thirty foreign

countries without his passport. He was

welcomed in each country and left each one of

his own accord. He did this in one day.

Puzzle # 1 Look at the below words for a while. Say them in your mind. Now repeat them out aloud. Did you get all the words correct?

Green

Red

Blue

Pink

Orange

Purple

Black

Writing Exercise #1 What’s another word for it?

Each day of the week, pick a word  and play with it.

Monday: Begin with the word creative. Intially think of as
many words that come to mine when you focus on the
word. Then take each of those and visit a thesaurus
and see how many words you can generate or find in 15
to 30 minutes. Review the words when your time has
ended. What did you discover that was new to you?
What patterns do you find?

Tuesday: Begin with the word dull. Do the same as above.

Wednesday: Pick up a newspaper and randomly pick 6 words and do
the same thing as you did with creative and dull.

Thursday: Listen to a radio for 5 to 10 minutes and list words
you hear randomly. Then pick 6 of them and do the
same thing.

Friday: Look at billboards or other forms of environmental
communication and choose 6 and use the same process.

What did you discover over the week?
Did you control your thougths or were they directed
randomly or intuitively?

Writing Exercise #2 Cliche stretching – I have listed cliches here. The exercise is simple using only these cliches, write a piece of flash fiction or a story plot.

a bad scene
add insult to injury
agree to disagree
all things considered
all too soon
along these lines
ample opportunity
armed to the teeth
as a matter of fact
at a loss for words
at one fell swoop
avoid it like the plague
awaiting further orders
 

back at the ranch
back to the drawing board
bated breath
beginning of the end
before you know it
benefit of the doubt
best-laid plans
better late than never
better left unsaid
beyond the shadow of a doubt
bite the bullet
bitter end
bone of contention
bottom line
budding genius
burning question
busy as a bee
by leaps and bounds
by the same token

calm before the storm
call of the wild
casual encounter
chain reaction
charged with emotion
checkered past
cherished belief
circumstances beyond my control
clear as crystal
come full circle
contents noted
cool as a cucumber
curiously enough
cut a long story short
cut down in his prime

days are numbered
dead as a doornail
deafening crash
depths of despair
diamond in the rough
dig in your heels
do not hesitate to
drastic action
due consideration

each and every
easier said than done
eat, drink, and be merry
eminently successful
engage in conversation
epic struggle
even tenor
exception that proves the rule
existing conditions
express one’s appreciation

fall on bad times
fall on deaf ears
far and wide
far be it from me
fateful day
fate worse than death
feel free to
feel vulnerable
festive occasion
few and far between
final analysis
finishing touches
fit as a fiddle
food for thought
fools rush in
foregone conclusion
foul play
from the sublime to the ridiculous

generation gap
give the green light to
go down the drain
goes without saying
good team player
grave concern
green with envy
grim reaper
grind to a halt

hands across the sea
happy pair
hastily summoned
have the privilege
heartfelt thanks
heart of the matter
heart’s desire
heated argument
heave a sigh of relief
herculean efforts
hook, line, and sinker
hook or crook
hope for the future
hot pursuit
hunker down

ignorance is bliss
ill-fated
immeasurably superior
in close proximity
infinite capacity
innocent bystander
in no uncertain terms
in our midst
in reference to
in short supply
in the limelight
in the nick of time
in the same boat with
in the twinkling of an eye
in this day and age
into full swing
irony of fate
irreplaceable loss
it dawned on me

keep options open

labor of love
lashed out at
last analysis
last but not least
last-ditch effort
leaps and bounds

leave no stone unturned
leaves much to be desired
leave up in the air
lend a helping hand
let well enough alone
line of least resistance
little woman
lit up like a Christmas tree
live and let live
lock, stock, and barrel
long arm of the law
look before you leap
 

marked contrast
matter of life and death
mecca for travelers
method to his madness
milk of human kindness
miraculous escape
moment of truth
momentous occasion
monumental traffic jam
moot point
more than meets the eye
more the merrier
motley crew

narrow escape
nearest and dearest
needs no introduction
never a dull moment
never before in the history of
nipped in the bud
no sooner said than done

one and the same
ongoing dialogue
on more than one occasion
open secret
order out of chaos
other things being equal
outer directed
overwhelming odds
own worst enemy

pales in comparison
paralyzed with fright
paramount importance
pay the piper
peer group
pet peeve
pick and choose
pie in the sky
pinpoint the cause
pipe dream
place in the sun
play hardball
play it by ear
poor but honest
powder keg
powers that be
pros and cons
proud heritage
proud possessor
pull one’s weight

rack and ruin
ravishing beauty
red-letter day
regrettable incident
reigns supreme
reliable source
remedy the situation
right on
ripe old age
round of applause

sadder but wiser
saw the light of day
scathing sarcasm
sea of faces
seat of learning
second to none
select few
selling like hotcakes
shattering effect
shift into high gear
shot in the arm
sigh of relief
silence broken only by
silhouetted against the sky
simple life
skeleton in the closet
snug as a bug in the rug
social amenities
spectacular event
spirited debate
stick out like a sore thumb
stick to one’s guns
straight and narrow path
structure one’s day
such is life
superhuman effort
supreme sacrifice
sweat of his brow
sweeping changes
sweet sixteen

take the bull by the horns
telling effect
terror stricken
thanking you in advance
there’s the rub
this day and age
those present
throw a monkey wrench
throw a party
throw caution to the wind
tie that binds
time of one’s life
tongue in cheek
too funny for words
too numerous to mention
tough it out
tower of strength
trials and tribulations
trust implicitly

uncharted seas
unprecedented situation
untimely end
untiring efforts

vale of tears
vanish into thin air

watery grave
wax eloquent/poetic
weaker sex
wear and tear
whirlwind tour
wide open spaces
words fail to express
word to the wise
wrought havoc

So I hope your Mental Muscles are feeling stretched. This week is all about refocusing our right brain and allowing yourself to colour outside the lines and for that to be ok.

All of these exercises were found on various lateral thinking and creativity sites. I take no credit for them, only for sharing them as tools and exercises that I have found handy today.

Enjoy colouring outside the lines this week.

My Muse

Today I spent time at my perfect place of Inspiration. Whenever I spend time here at this natural gem in creation’s jewellery mine, my mind feels cleansed and I can breathe again. It washes the week’s cobwebs from my thoughts and my soul soars as it sings.

This is my Muse.

Where is your favourite place to be inspired and refreshed?

What place makes your soul soar and sing with joy?

Atmosphere is so important to an artist of any type. Whether you are an artist of words, images or music – you often need to be recharged and re-energised to free the creative spirit within. My muse is not a person but it is a place.

Its name is Piha. It is a wild surf beach at the foot of natural rain forests on the West Coast of Auckland, New Zealand.

Tell me about your Muse…

I leave you with my day’s inspiration from my Muse…

Endless tides of Possibility under the clouds of fate and time…

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

Online Creative Clusters

online friends
Image by ritab38315 via Flickr

In July last year I started this WordPress Blog and not long after that I signed up to Twitter. Since then I have joined 4 online writing / creative groups. I remember wondering how I would develop any sort of following either through this blog or through my tweets. But I have a following and I have learnt a lot about myself as a writer the last 6 months.

I have been reading a lot of blogs online from agents, editors, publishers and writers that developing an online presence is essential to the success of any pre-published writer. I had heard about it quite some time before deciding to build an online presence myself.

Initially I was fairly resistant to the idea. For me it seemed improbable that I would be able to build any sort of following. I also did not know anything about being a blogger let alone about being a successful blogger. Yes, I had a Facebook profile but that was for personal use. I knew that my blog would have to be at least interesting and maybe even useful. The other deterrent to starting a blog was that it felt like I was throwing a very small pebble into a very large ocean. With so many blogs out there, why would people choose to come to mine.

Eventually though I signed up to WordPress and I wrote my first post. I remember being absolutely amazed when people commented on that first post. By then I had signed up for twitter and after following a few people who returned the favour by following me, I had a small following.

Since then my following has grown. I am more confident in the direction that I want my blog posts to go. I am also more confident on Twitter. Although I must admit, it was quite addictive just sitting watching tweets from all over the world. It fascinated and amazed me, sometimes even shocked me, what people were willing to tweet about.

I mentioned the 4 online writing / creative sites I joined. They are:

I have grown to enjoy blogging and tweeting but it is these 4 groups that give me the most joy in my online presence. I have “met” friends through these sites and found mentors. I have been inspired, supported, encouraged and always felt included. Any creative pursuit can be very lonely. As much as your friends and family want to support you, sometimes they have no idea how much energy your creativity can take from you. The people in these 4 groups do know and understand because they are in exactly the same pathway in life. It is through these online friendships and mentorship that I have both grown as a person and a writer. I am still growing and learning more each day.

So yes I would say that building an online presence is vital to the success of a pre-published author. But I am not saying yes for the same reason so many other people say yes. I am saying yes it is vital because of the support, the networking, the friendships and the mentorship that you gain through an online presence. For me this was the impetus to take up the challenge of NaNoWriMo 2010 in November. I knew that I could do it because at any time of day or night somewhere in the world I would have a supportive voice who understood my frustrations, my excitements, my stresses and my wins.

NaNoWriMo also brought me into contact with another inspiring group called:

The Word Warriors

This was a group formed by the creator and developer of Scribblerati, namely an amazing dynamo of a lady called Lia Keyes. Through the drive of this group I managed to complete NaNoWriMo in the first 2 weeks of November. Many of the writers/members of this group have become firm friends and beacons of inspiration and creativity.

I am a firm follower of Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. In her books she talks about the importance of forming creative clusters. In this spread out world we live in, it is sometime difficult to form creative clusters in the real-time. The wonder of this age is that it has become such a digital driven world. So I am proud to say that 2010 I took up Julia Cameron’s wise advice and now belong to 5 successful creative clusters.

I have a feeling though that 2011 is the year when I am going to really be leaning on these inspirational and creative friends. 2011 is a year that is going to be devoted to creativity and branching out into more and newer forms of creativity. For this I am going to need the support, encouragement, challenging, critiquing, mentoring and friendship of my creative clusters.

So I am taking the time to tell you – no make that to urge you to develop an online presence this year. It may take some time and effort on your part but at the end of it the reward of having the support of people who are creative too far outweighs any effort it will take you to build that online presence.


Thank you to my creative clusters and to all the members of the 5 groups I belong to: You have my appreciation and admiration. Thank you all for pushing me on and encouraging me these last 6 months whether it was for Blogging or for NaNoWriMo or any other creative ventures and goals I set myself. You have all become friends of the truest nature. I treasure and cherish my creative clusters. I look forward to many years of friendship,mentorship and support.

Make 2011 the year of the Online Creative Clusters.


© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

National Novel Writing Month 2010 WINNER (NaNoWriMo))

Well today, being the 25th of November here in New Zealand, I officially verified my word count for NaNoWriMo and am a Winner. This is one of the badges I have downloaded from my Winner’s Goodies.

I have taken a short hiatus from writing, hence no blogs from me this last week. Having just returned to work, I have been in the thick of getting back into the swing of life post-nano.

This experience has been one of the most valuable writing experiences for me. Through doing and completing NaNoWriMo I have found a new confidence in my ability to treat writing as my occupation and sit down for sustained periods devoted to writing. I have gained knowledge from the vast experience bank of my fellow wrimos and my Wonderful group I belong to called NaNoWriMo Warriors. I have formed writing friendships with people who have cheered me on and supported me. I have learned how to put aside my inner editor and just let the writing flow. I have learned to trust my writing. I have learned that anything is possible if I can write 50 000 words in 12 days: I finished NaNoWriMo on the 12th of November after starting at midnight on the 1st.

As a writer, it has been wonderful to be part of a global group of people who understand my motivation and drive to be a full-time writer. What is usually an individual pursuit has become a group pursuit. One of the best parts of every day of the 12 days was downloading my word count. Not only did I watch as the green bar became longer but I felt proud as my fellow NaNoWriMo Warriors, friends and family cheered me on from both the writing battlefield and the sidelines.

I have also realised that I am a writer that enjoys writing to timelines. I enjoy the structure of seeing a goal post of time or word count ahead of me. In many ways Wrimos are a bit like racing greyhounds constantly chasing that rabbit that sits just a little way ahead of us.

Today I feel like a winner and more importantly I know without a doubt that I am a Writer. Nobody can take that away from me. Many people have asked me why I have entered a competition where there seems to be no “prize”. This is why I entered. I entered to prove to myself I could do this in a set time period. I entered to increase my self-confidence in my writing. I entered it to meet fellow writers who have similar dreams to me. So to those people who believe that there always has to be a monetary prize, I say that you are limiting yourself and your own potential. The “winning” in this challenge is that you take the risk to follow a dream that many think illogical or unfeasible. Some wrimos might not get to 50 000 words by 30/11. Does this mean they have lost? No. I believe anyone who has taken up this challenge has won. It takes courage to chase a dream others believe to be a mere pipe-dream. So to all those wrimos who do not think they will make it to 50k, I say this to you. Firstly it is not over. You still have some days to go before the 30th of November. Secondly, even though you may not reach 50k, you have still tried and for that you are a NaNoWriMo winner.

To my fellow NaNoWriMo Warriors I say Thank You and Well Done for being the most supportive group of people I know. I am proud to be a NaNoWriMo Warrior and I am even more proud to call many of you friends now. Though oceans may separate me from my Writing Warriors, this challenge has bridged those oceans and the many time zones. Thank you for the cheering and the support. Thank you for the word wars. Thank you that someone was always there on the Facebook site to talk to in the lonely hours of the night when I am tapping away on the keyboard.

This has been a phenomenal experience for me. Will I be taking part in NaNoWriMo 2011. Definitely!

Lastly a huge and hearty Congratulations to all my fellow wrimos who are winners and have reached 50k words. To the wrimos who are still writing and still racing, Good Luck and may the Muses never stray from you in these last days.

Signing off from NaNoWriMo 2010,

Good Luck with the upcoming editing Wrimos – this will be the next challenge for us all.

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

NaNoWriMo has begun!

The Starting Line
Image by Susan Sharpless Smith via Flickr

Day 1

Day 1 has come and is almost done in New Zealand. We were the first, along with Fiji to see the start of November 2010 and NaNoWriMo 2010. Before midnight struck, I was at home in a chat room with my fellow NaNoWriMo Warriors. You may have heard of this group before or this may be the first mention you know of. NaNoWriMo Warriors was created this week by the developer of the Scribblerati ning that I am a member of. In 5 days it has grown to 217 members. At first the members were all fellow scribblers belonging to Scribblerati but before long tweets got tweeted, Facebook group shares were placed on individual walls and now we have 217 members as of 9:26pm, NZ time. There are more being added every hour.

This is the first NaNoWriMo is which I am participating. At first there was a small part of me that thought it was sheer madness to contemplate doing a novel in 30 days. But before long I was hooked on the idea and had found myself signed up and registered on 1st October.

People often think that writing is a particularly lonely pursuit. This year I have found my writing life filled with support, encouragement and cheers. It was not just my family and friends as you would expect but two spectacular writing communities that I belong to: Scribblerati (as mentioned before) and She Writes.

When I signed up for NaNoWriMo the support just about blew me away. There was a sense of camaraderie and solidarity from all of my online writing friends. As October progressed, I got more and more excited. I felt like a kid before Christmas except I knew that the perfect gift that I had wished for would be under the tree.

The last week before the today was a mixture of intense anticipation and a jingle jangle of bouncing nerves. I was also trying to get some sleep to prepare for the madness that is NaNoWriMo. It is very difficult trying to sleep when your characters do not have the same courtesy and are wide awake with verbal diarrhea. Trying to explain to my MC that she has to wait just a few more days was like trying to reason with a 4year old child who knows where the Christmas prezzies are hiding. In a word: Impossible. Even for a writerly type who is usually never short of words.

On Sunday afternoon I signed into the NaNoWriMo Warriors page and was immediately infected with the creative enthusiasm of writers all excited for this challenge. I was asked to be a moderator for my time zone when our tireless creator would have to sleep for a short time. I accepted immediately. There is something palpably electric about being a cheerleader for something like NaNoWriMo. On top of that I knew that I would be up for most of the night so being on hand to welcome NZ and OZ WriMos to the wonderful madness that is NaNoWriMo.

The clock ticked and the moon rose higher in the sky. The night air seemed suspended in waiting for something special. As it got closer and closer, I spent the time chatting to my online fellow WriMo Warriors. Simultaneously I started getting ready to type the first word into my full screen MS screen on Storyist. The clock ticked and it got nearer and nearer.

The clock struck midnight. I called the Battle Cry for the NZ WriMos and I was off into the start of my first NaNoWriMo. I wrote down my first word and then I gave control to my MC. I felt it only fair that she be given free rein this first night after being so patient all week long. Before long I had a 1000 words and the next time I looked up I was sitting at 4094 words on my NaNoWriMo Novel. Looking at the clock, I realised time literally opened up a secret time hole that I fell into well writing everything my MC was telling me: it was 3:30am. The first 3 1/2 hours of NaNoWriMo had begun and I had surpassed my own personal goal for the day. I felt a rush of adrenalin hit me and I knew that this story would flow for me this day, this week and this month. All I had to do was believe in the unwritten words that were in a treasure trove locked in my mind.

I stayed online for the sheer pleasure of that writerly solidarity. I kept on popping in and out of the tweetchat #NaNoWriMo and was excited to read the word count updates on there.

Yes NaNoWriMo is a challenge. It may even still sound crazy and impossible to some people. But to me NaNoWriMo is not just about the challenge of the novel or finding the mind-space to let the words flow. NaNoWriMo is also about thousands of writers joined together in a global pursuit. NaNoWriMo is about making friends with true artists all across the 4 corners of the globe. NaNoWriMo is about being a NaNoWriMo Warrior and knowing that I have an army of support, understanding, encouragement and cheerleading to lean on. NaNoWriMo is a creative boost to what is usually a lonely pursuit.

NaNoWriMo Warriors are anyone who has signed up for NaNoWriMo. You are already a Warrior and a Conqueror. It takes real “Chutzpah” to sign up for this challenge.

NaNoWriMo Warriors I salute you.

Bring on Day 2. I am waiting, willing and ready. Are you?


© All rights reserved Kim Koning.


My NaNoWriMo Pencil-Case of Tricks, Tools & Software

What's in your pencil case?
Image by congalaconga via Flickr

It is just under 12 hours until the Mad,Wonderful Craziness of NaNoWriMo 2010. Based in NZ has its advantages and disadvantages. We are the first to open Christmas prezzies. We are the first to celebrate New Year. But we are also the first to start NaNoWriMo. I will be starting at midnight in under 12 hours time. Does this fill me with trepidation, excitement, terror, anticipation, jingling-jangling nerves, raw adrenalin? Yes to all of those. NaNoWriMo is almost like a relay race on an athletics field. Although it started as an US competition/challenge, it is now a global phenomenon with well over 100 000 writers taking part. With its nature of being global and the world being broken up into time zones, this makes NaNoWriMo a relay race. People in NZ and Fiji start the race first, then we hand the batons to our fellow scribblers in Australia, then Asia, then Europe, then Africa, then US & Canada and South America and finally Hawaii. Like every successful relay race, the runners (us WriMo scribblers) are partners and team mates in a race to the finish posts: minimum 50 000 words of a Novel. But every runner and athlete knows that there are certain elements we need to make our race more successful. This is what this post is about. My athlete’s uniform or My NaNoWriMo Pencil-Case.

From the beginning of the month I blogged about trialing out certain software in an effort to find the perfect software for NaNoWriMo. I have been using different trials for a month now and some a little longer. Here is what I have found works for me:

Scrivener (software)” rel=”homepage” href=”http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html”>Scrivener

I started using Scrivener about 3/4 months ago.  I had been searching for just the right software for my writing needs and requirements. I happened across Scrivener. At first I was incredibly confused and overwhelmed. I had never come across anything like this type of software before. I thought I had just wanted a good word processor. (Aside: I have only been a MAC user for 2 years. Before I was a prolific Word user/fan.)

Instead I found myself in the world of Digital Cork-Boards and Index Cards. I tinkered away until I had it relatively figured out. Slowly I started falling in love with this new software. I realised that for the first time I did not need a separate program for research materials. I could do everything in preparation for a Novel within one program.

My favourite tool of Scrivener is the amazing Cork-board with mobile index cards. On this cork board you can place index cards that you can move around and rearrange to your heart’s content. On these index cards you can write scenes from your novel or plot points. You can even break up each paragraph/section of your novel into individual index cards. If you need to rearrange the sequence of events or timelines, you just need to move the index cards around and it automatically translates to moving your text in your novel around without copying, pasting and cutting.

My other favourite tool in this clever software is: the research possibilities. You can directly paste all your research into a file within Scrivener. You can also directly access Wikipaedia articles from Scrivener’s platform without first having to open your browser.

So out of a score of 10, I am marking Scrivener as 9/10. There were some elements that were missing when I first trialled Scrivener which did affect my rating of it. Some of these elements have now been added in the 2.0 version. As a former Window user, I am also pleased to let all Windows users know that Literature & Latte have now released a Windows version of Scrivener. Both the Windows version and the new 2.0 Mac release have been put up for a free trial period on the Literature & Latte site. Literature & Latte are one of the sponsors of NaNoWriMo. Looking for a software program aimed at writers of all types with a little extra yumminess and spice? Try Literature & Latte’s Scrivener. It might just be the software for you.

Storyist” rel=”homepage” href=”http://www.storyist.com/”>Storyist

When I signed up and registered for NaNoWriMo on the NaNoWriMo site, I noticed that there was another software developer who is sponsoring NaNoWriMo this year. This software is called Storyist. Being a software junkie, you know that I had to investigate further. I linked through to the main website of Storyist and saw that they were also offering a free NaNoWriMo trial version of this software. I immediately downloaded the trial version to my Macbook. It would have been rude not to try since it was a free trial and they are sponsors of NaNoWriMo.

When I opened it up for the first time, I was slightly confused. This looked very similar to Scrivener. There must be some differences. So I investigated further. Now a month from first downloading the trial version of Storyist and I am HOOKED. Of course as any writer knows, there has to be a HOOK for a story to be a success. I tend to view Writing Software the same way. I always look for an enticing HOOK to bite onto. So what are the HOOKS of Storyist?

For me the hook was that it has Character formats/Plot formats and Setting formats. On top of that even though it has the Cork-Board like Scrivener, it also has a fully formatted Manuscript view in which you can type in your entire novel and not have to worry about formatting. Another handy tool is that you can export it into epub form and/or print a WYSIWYG hard copy of your novel. It has a word count and spellcheck that I have found more than meets my requirements.

I LOVE Storyist and am sold on this software. My rating for it is also: 9/10.

Scrivener vs Storyist

I am an avid fan of both software programs. Reading through the forums I have found that people are in a sharp divide of opinion when it comes to sizing up and comparing these two programs. However, in my humble and personal opinion, I give both software programs a HUGE DOUBLE THUMBS-UP.

Though it could be argued that the two programs are very similar, there are subtle differences. Scrivener allows you a more open hand way of formatting. It has the better Cork Board and Index Card system. Scrivener is fantastic for any writing that is intensive in research. It is also a software that has all the bells and whistles that any writer; novelists, scriptwriters, journalists, academics, may need.

Storyist however is the Be All-End All software for Novelists & Scriptwriters. Storyist understands the importance of character arcs, plot arcs and settings to the story. As a writer who starts from a Character to get a story, Storyist just WORKS for me. The already formatted Manuscript view is perfect for a Writer who really does not want to have to figure out industry standard formatting. Basically with Storyist, I can do all my prepping and outlining beforehand and then split my screen into a double view screen, with my corkboard / outline on one screen and my manuscript ready to be typed and entered into the other screen. Then I switch to full-screen view and all distractions are shut off and I can just write.

So my diagnosis on both is that try them both out for yourself. I guarantee that you will find what you need in at least one of them. You might even be like me and find you are in love with both of them. I now use both of these programs. Scrivener is fantastic for my research heavy WIPs but Storyist is fantastic for those WIPs that just need me to shut off from the world and from the voice of my characters build my story.

So those, in my personal opinion, are the two top software programs designed for writers. But sometimes you don’t want a program with all the bells & whistles. You might even be intimidated by a program with “so much”. Do not despair. There are fantastic and simple “purist” word processor programs out there. The best thing about these following programmes is that they are free to use and download.

Bean

Now this is my FAVOURITE word processor tool for Mac users. I use this program all the time. I do any and all writing on here. I find this is especially useful for my writing that does not need formatting or bells & whistles. Bean is also a fantastic software for those of you with sensitive eyes and looking for an easier and more comfortable writing environment. The view of the screen is white text on a deep blue background. Bean has all the simple word processor tools you would find in a program. It has spellcheck, full-screen, formatting for fonts and margins, word count and it has a brilliant Text-to-Speech tool built into it as well.

My rating for Bean as a simple word processor is: 10/10.

Try it for yourself. You may like it.

FocusWriter

I have used Focus Writer. Again it was purely my penchant for being a software junkie that inspired this. I found Focus Writer adequate and easy to use. A couple of things it has that bean does not is: themes and timers. In light of this, this may be the perfect tool for NaNoWriMo. It also has not just a Word count but a Paragraph count, a Character count and a Page count. So far I have only been using it for about 2 weeks so I am still learning the various tools and tricks in this program.

So far though, I am impressed. I score it a rating of: 9/10.

Another tool that I absolutely love and advocate is: mind mapping. I confess to being a perfectionist and a grammar-nit-picker. I am a planner. I love planning things but I do not like lists. Then how do I plan if I don’t out line, you may ask? I work best on a visual basis. I used to do all my studying using mind mapping. For me the mind map is something visually appealing and it suits my perfectionist nature. Although I have always done mind mapping by hand and been quite happy with that, I needed to see if there was an online software program that allowed me to mind map. Much to my delight and surprise I found quite the plethora of software that do digital mind mapping.I am going to tell you about my favourite one. (It is also free to use).

(Storyist and Bean are Mac OS X Software Platforms)

(Scrivener and Focus Writer are multiple platforms – both for Windows and Mac)

 

FreeMind

Now this is software that just gets the creative, organised part of me EXCITED. FreeMind is everything and more that you can want out of a visual and creative outlining/planning/plotting tool. It is exceptionally easy to use. It is visually appealing as you can colour code different roots/nodes in your particular mind map. I use FreeMind with all my writing projects. I have even used it for non-writerly pursuits, like planning staff meetings or preparing marketing plans.

If you are a visual person who is inspired by freeform colour and construction of ideas in a mapped format then FreeMind is simply the perfect software program for you.

My rating is a resounding 10/10.

Another tool that I have used for NaNoWriMo is a graphics manipulation/photo editing software called Compositor. Many of my fellow scribblers and WriMo buddies have asked me how I “made” my cover for my NaNoWriMo novel. Compositor is the answer to this question.

Freemind can be used on the Windows platform and the Mac platform. It can also be used on the linus platform.

Compositor

Compositor is a very simple to use WYSIWYG software photo editing and graphics manipulation tool. I have been using it for about 2 weeks and love it. It is geared towards people who want to make up posters or covers or even videographers and scriptwriters for movies. There are many “video” view tools as well as “Photograph” tools. Being an avid photographer, I just “get” this software. In this software you can alter the “filters” on a photograph just as if you were using a manual SLR with all its bell and whistles. You can completely transform a photograph with a few clicks. It s however not a storage facility. You would have to use it along side a storage facility like iPhoto.

My rating is a definitive 10/10.

Download the trial and see what you think of it. I do warn you to put aside a few hours though as you get lost in the wonderful world of graphic design and photo manipulation that Compositor gives you a passport into.

Compositor is a MAC only platform software.

Another great and popular NaNoWriMo tool is the NaNoWriMo calendar with attached word count. Through the links of fellow scribblers and friends I have fund my perfect online calendar and the one I am going to use for NaNoWriMo.

David S. Gale’s NaNoWriMo Tracker

This is the only tracker that I am aware of that calculates your word count goals and accumulations accurately. In this program you can format your own word count calendar/tracker. You can then put in percent (%) form how much of the word count you will do. It allows you to write fewer words on weekends for instance and automatically adjusts all the other days of November.

My rating and recommendation for this tool is: 100% or 10/10.

Use it. You will love it. It will be invaluable to your success in NaNoWriMo. It is also perfect for those writers who are over achievers and want to write more than just 50 000 words for NaNoWriMo. Try it out. It is free and it is online. You won’t regret it.


So those are the “pencils” in my Pencil Case or the “tools” in my digital Tool-Case. All of these ratings and reviews are from my personal opinion. These are my favourite software programs on the digital page. Try some or all of them out, you may just find a new favourite amongst them.

Preparing for any race is all about the reliable tools and equipment that allow you to run effectively, competitively and successfully. I hope that you are getting ready to crouch down at the NaNoWriMo starting block for the global and creative relay race of November.

So pull on your running shoes, fill up your water bottle, amp up your carbs with Pasta and get ready to run the race of the year.

Good Luck to all the WriMos out there . Good Luck for your race.

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.