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It's time for NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month, where thousands of writers try to write the first draft of their novels in just 30 days.

Learn about my project below, along with a special excerpt from Writing Advice for Teens: Editing Fiction and a contest hosted at the Rochester Public Library.

My project:
Confessions of a Former Zombie

This month, I'll be working on a month-long project to write a novella called Confessions of a Former Zombie. Check out the blurb I'm using to guide my writing throughout NaNoWriMo.

Edward Lake lost everything during the zombie apocalypse: his family, his home, and even his humanity. When the government discovers a cure for zombism, his body is restored, but his mind remains broken. To become human again, Edward must overcome his guilt over those he killed, avoid angry mobs who blame him and other survivors for the deaths of millions, and perhaps even find someone to love.

Writing Advice for Teens update:

Since I'll be focused on NaNoWriMo this month, I expect that I'll make very little progress on the new book about editing fiction. At this point, I'm expecting this will be pushed to an early 2018 release. I apologize to anyone who was hoping to give this as a gift this year, but want to make sure I'm giving you the best possible product. Hopefully I'll have more updates for you before the end of this year!

In the meantime, check out the short excerpt below!

 

Excerpt from Writing Advice for Teens: Editing Fiction
Speed up slow scenes!

There are two choices with a slow scene: delete it or increase the tension to make the scene stronger.

Let’s say that you have a painfully slow scene in your novel:

I took out a knife, bread, peanut butter, and strawberry jam. I unscrewed the cap on the peanut butter, scooped a glob onto the bread, and spread it with the knife. I cleaned the knife using the other piece of bread, then scooped out some jam and spread it on the other side. The red jam glooped out the sides when I put the pieces of bread together, but I didn’t really care.

How boring is that? Pretty much everyone has made a sandwich before. Unless it’s vitally important that the character makes a sandwich, I’d normally recommend cutting this section. I’ve read entire scenes where characters cook a meal or go through some other everyday routine.  Most of the time, it simply bores the reader.

But wait: there are two choices with a slow scene, right? Delete it, or increase the tension. Deleting is easy. Increasing the tension requires more skill.

There’s a trick to increase tension in a routine: make the story about something other than the routine. Consider this instead:

Peanut butter and jelly, I thought. That will get my mind off her. Off them.

I took out a knife, bread, peanut butter, and strawberry jam.

As I unscrewed the cap on the peanut butter, I thought about how Sarah had screwed me over. How could my best friend betray me?

Imagining I was clawing out Sarah’s eyes, I stabbed the knife into the peanut butter. I carved a glob onto the bread. And Jake. How could he have kissed her? He was my boyfriend. Why would Sarah try to take him from me?

I sighed, wiped my eyes, and cleaned the knife using the other piece of bread. Get ahold of yourself, Alice. You’re not going to think about them anymore. It’s over.

The lid stuck on the jar of strawberry jam. I thought about how I’d come around the corner after school to catch Jake pressing Sarah against the side of the building. Their lips locked together like this stupid lid stuck on the jar.

I ran the lid under some hot water and finally popped it off. I scooped out the jam and spread it on the other piece of bread.  The red jam glooped out the sides when I put the pieces of bread together, but I didn’t really care.  It’s just the remnants of my heart seeping onto the floor.

In this case, the scene isn’t really about a girl making a sandwich. It’s about Alice’s recent heartbreak and the betrayal of her boyfriend and best friend.  The routine amplifies the intensity and feeds into her thought process.  You can do the same thing in your stories.


 

Upcoming events

Several local authors (including me!) will be hosting Come Write In events for NaNoWriMo. We'll be running writing sprints and have dedicated time for you to get in your words for November.

Saturday, Nov. 4 - 1:30PM-5:30PM -- Mike Kalmbach
Sunday, Nov. 5 - 1:30PM-5:30PM -- K. B. Lincoln
Sunday, Nov. 12 - 1:30PM-5:30PM -- Catherine Armstrong
Monday, Nov. 13 - 5-9 PM -- Anthony Eichenlaub
Sunday, Nov. 19 - 1:30PM-5:30PM -- Stephanie Saathoff
 
All events will take place in Meeting Room C (first floor, stop at the front desk first!)

Frankenstein Novella Contest

The Rochester Public Library is hosting a novella contest with a $1000 grand prize (the two runners-up get $500), along with their work published in an anthology. This is an awesome opportunity for local writers to get something published.

Please note: the contest is limited to writers living in southeast Minnesota. Visit the Rochester Public Library's website for details.

Next month, you'll get an excerpt from Confessions of a Former Zombie. Enjoy your Halloween!

My books on Amazon!
Copyright © 2017 Mike Kalmbach, Author, All rights reserved.


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