NaNoWriMo: Mid Month Check In!

We’re just over the halfway point in NaNoWriMo, and today we should be at 30,000 words. That’s an insane number, and around where Bee and I both pulled out in 2015 (mostly because we hadn’t planned our novels further than that and just wanted to play Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer.)

This year, things are different.

We’re not quite at 30,000, but we’re chugging along after a couple days of not writing in favour of planning out a few more chapters (and watching the One Direction: This is Us documentary…it was research, we swear!) Our WIP overall is sitting at around 40,000 words so we’re getting into the tricky territory of The Middle, where ideas and motivation go to die.

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To keep ourselves motivated, we created a MyWriteClub account to track our goals, and because an online version wasn’t enough in the form of the NaNo graph, we made a sticker chart to keep ourselves accountable. Different colour stars have different word count weights and an emerald star is the highest tier at 2,000 words.

Our most successful day was the 3rd, when we somehow managed to churn out 4.5K, followed by the 11th when we wrote 4K. Seeing gaps in the chart for the days we didn’t write does make me feel tragically sad, so it’s definitely working as far as encouraging us to make writing a daily practice.

Seriously, stickers are motivating as heck. Why didn’t we remember this from when we were kids? It’s a tried and tested method to success.

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So, overall, NaNoWriMo is going even better than planned because I thought we would have given up by now. I guess it just proves to me how passionate we are about telling this story together. It’s what I’d rather do than anything else, apart from a 1,000 piece piece puzzle. (That’s what another one of those days off was for. Sorry, not sorry.)

If you’re doing NaNo, keep going! Even if you’re not at the word count for hitting 50K, you’re still writing more than you would have if we weren’t doing it!

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Nanowrimo 2017 | Our Plans!

I can’t believe it’s already the beginning of November and that time again! The time where a bunch of writers attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Is it possible? Well…

Bee and I attempted the challenge in 2015, (vlogging most of our struggle!) and managed to get 30k through each of our manuscripts before getting tired out and bogged down with university commitments. Unfortunately, that’s probably the way this year, too, but this time we’re joining forces and working on our joint project.

If we each manage to write 30,000 this month, then together that adds up to completing our manuscript (that sat at around 15,000 before November!) Hopefully by splitting the workload and writing as much as we can in the first week of the month, we’ll definitely be able to win NaNoWriMo this year.

So, what are we working on?

Here’s our Twitter pitch to give you an idea: Scott and Ronnie, teenage musicians, meet at a YouTube convention and sing a duet that breaks the Internet.

There’s so much more going on than that, including Own Voices asexual rep (and not just one character, but two! Yay!) but we hope you like the sound of that little teaser!

To any one participating in NaNo this year, good luck and we believe in you! And for any still unsure on whether they want to take part, we’d definitely recommend making the most of the wonderful community atmosphere to get that first draft that’s been swirling about in your head for ages finally done on the page!

(We’d also recommend checking out some of our favourite writing-based content creators, including: Kristen Martin, Lainey Kress, Natalia Leigh and the WordNerds!)

Wordbound: Personal Writing Goals

One of our favourite YouTubers, Kristina Horner, has just created this super awesome writing project called #wordbound, where a prompt is given every week to help you write about something. Bee and I both want to make writing more of a priority in 2017, and thought this would be a great way to keep it in the front of our minds, all year! So, look forward to this new feature on our blog, and a little insight into our writing! We couldn’t be more excited to give this a try! This week’s prompt is:

What are your personal writing goals for 2017, and what does #wordbound mean to you?

Our main writing goal is to start legitimately working on our joint writing project that we’ve been thinking about for the last year and a half, even though we created the concept a good three years ago! It was something we wanted to work towards in 2016, but we didn’t really know where to start. It’s an epic fantasy, something neither of us has done before, and there was just so much to think about in terms of character arcs and world building, so we let ourselves get overwhelmed.

BUT, I’m not going to beat us up for what we didn’t achieve. Instead, I want to remind myself that we did do some immense planning sessions, and developed all four of our main characters so they were all equally ready at the start line, instead of dawdling behind! We also shared the first (and only) chapter we had written with our writing group, and their feedback was beyond encouraging. 2016 was definitely a step in the right (or write!) direction and laid the groundwork to us actually achieving our goal this year!

Apart from getting a first draft of our novel done, we have no other goals. This one should be big enough to tide us over until the end of the year for sure, although Bee may continue to work on her excellent solo project that she focused on for NaNaWriMo last year!

So, I guess for us #wordbound means putting writing first, being bound to write something so that another year doesn’t pass by without us doing what we really, really want to do: write something together! #wordbound hopefully means making a dream come true, as soppy as that sounds!

Our schedule for these posts is going to work out that we complete the prompt on Sunday that was given on the Wednesday, so wish us luck, and hopefully at the end of the year, we’ll be posting about how we completely smashed our goal!

No Reading in November?

It’s pretty obvious that our blog has been a little inactive this month. We’re two weeks into November and nothing bookish whatsoever has appeared! But, that’s all because of one thing: NaNoWriMo!

This month, Bee and I are both attempting to write 50,000 words of our current, individual YA projects. We’re almost on target for achieving the goal, and both have over 20,000 words down so far. It’s a big deal, and takes a lot of time that I’d usually spend reading out of my day, but it’s worth it.

We studying English Literature and Creative Writing at university. Writing essays and short pieces that fit our class briefs has become second nature to us, but it has meant we’ve sacrificed working on our own projects to do what’s demanded.

NaNoWriMo is so great because it gives you an excuse to make time for writing what you love, but in order to maintain our work schedules, we’ve had to sadly sacrifice reading as much as we’d like to in order to write.

And that’s not a bad thing. We’ll both have written whole novels by the time December rolls around! Speaking of which…

As per tradition, Bee and I will be participating in Blogmas. That means you can expect a post on Heart Full Of Books, every day for twenty five days, up until Christmas.We’re really excited to put time aside to give our blog some love, and anytime we’re not writing, reading for class or sleeping we plan to spend preparing to make this year’s Blogmas the best one yet!

If you’d like to check our progress on NaNoWriMo, check out our pages:
Maddie: here, and Bee: here!

If you want to see what we plan to read when NaNoWriMo is over and we can get back to the sweet world of books, check out our December TBR video!

Love, Maddie and Bee XOX

How To: Write a YA Dystopian Novel

You will need:

  1. Female protagonist

That’s not to say that you can’t have a male protagonist who’s equally as amazing – The Maze Runner, for example, has a male protagonist (in fact 99% of the characters are male) – but kick-ass female protagonists seem to be the most popular in YA fiction. Look at Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior! Celebrated as literary heroes! The gender of your main character shouldn’t really change its reception, but undoubtedly there has been a trend of braid-wearing K-A females, and they definitely act as strong, independent role-models.

  1. Contain the area

You know, with some kind of fence, steel wall, ocean perhaps? It’s tension building, and means you can explore the characters in a limited space. Also, it means there’s always going to be the question – and therefore motivation for your protagonist – of ‘what’s out there?’

  1. Answer the question

Is it an organisation of people that have built this society as part of a genetic experiment? Okay, so this one is turning into a big cliché, and you can see why. It perfectly answers the question, and means that the series can progress from focusing on the baddies inside the contained area, to the baddies on this outside. Maybe it’s a baron waste-land, or maybe it’s magic! Maybe it’s aliens or maybe it’s a drop-off that leads to an entirely new world? What about a portal to another dimension? The possibilities are endless as long as you have some imagination. Just be aware that the ‘your life is a lie because it’s all been an experiment’ thing is starting to loose impact.

  1. Categorise the society

By wealth, or personality, skill set or generation. Again, pretty much everything has been done, but nothing says dystopian society more than societal boundaries!

  1. Take down the Government/ the equivalent system

Girl vs. Government is becoming its own strand of dystopian fiction and its popularity in YA has sky-rocketed. Surely the logical step after getting out of the contained area is trying to break down the boundaries established in step 4. You didn’t spend all that time creating a complex government system with an awesome acronym to not have your protagonist tear it to shreds! I feel this is mostly done to show that the voiceless have an incredible amount of power when they come together, and it reassures everyone that tyrannical overlords are always destroyed. What I always wonder is: what happens next, after the government is taken down? Maybe that’s something you could explore in book three.

Extras that you might want to consider:

  • Why not add a love triangle, everyone’s favourite relationship dynamic (!) Although your setting may be futuristic, it’s important to have grounded characters that go through human experiences that readers can relate too. Now, the love triangle is pretty difficult to relate to, but there are plenty of other contemporary tropes that you could explore in your dystopian setting.
  • Adult figures! So teens are the ones that destroy the government, but you’ll need a lot of complex adult characters to make this a successful series. And, wait for it, your character will have parents, maybe include them!
  • Communication is key. I think readers are pretty fed up with communication barriers, so good communication skills should be necessary.

Disclaimer: I have not (yet) written a best-selling dystopian series, and not all of my points are to be taken seriously – *cough* satire *cough* – but I’ve read a lot of YA dystopian fiction, so I’ve picked out some of the key features that have varying success rates. If you have any other suggestions of dystopian clichés/tropes, feel free to leave them in the comments!

Other How Tos:
How To: Write a John Green Novel

When We’re Not Reading…

Reading is a huge part of what we do. It’s easily our biggest hobby and something we devote a lot of time to! But, what do we do when we’re not reading?

1. Writing!
Wanting to create your own stories normally comes as a byproduct of reading great ones. I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil, but only in the last few years have both Bee and I taken writing more seriously. We currently have eight novels on the go at the moment (and a ninth book that we’re writing together!)
But, writing is quite a time consuming past-time. Over the summer, we hope to embark on more writing adventures, and actually get a book finished!

2. Making Videos!
We make videos twice a week for our corresponding YouTube channel ‘Heart Full Of Books’. It usually takes about two hours to film, edit and upload, so its something we can do fairly regularly. Making videos has really helped us gain presentation confidence and definitely helped to formulate ideas and articulate them coherently. We love to involve our lovely friend Sarah as much as we can – it’s so fun to film challenges with an unsuspecting guest!

3. Watching TV shows!
This isn’t something we do regularly, but when we do find something we love, that love is hardcore. We mourn shows when they finish for at least three days. Our latest obsession is the web series, based off of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, called ‘Nothing Much To Do’ Examples of previous obsessions include: Blue Water High, Dawson’s Creek, The Office (US), Nowhere Boys, X-Men Evolution.

4. School Stuff!
Let’s not elaborate on that one.

So, what’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not reading?

Reading and Blogging Goals 2015

Reading:
1. Read every day.
2. Try and read at least one classic a month.
3. Use the library more!
4. Don’t neglect the Kindles (Sorry, Roger and Amy)
5. Finish 10 series!
6. Read a new author.
7. Give something old a second chance.
8. Do more read-a-longs with Sarah!
9. Complete TBR
10. Read over 100 books.

Blogging:
1. Try and post at least 15 times a month!
2. Continue to write more ‘not reviews’.
3. Start a recommendations series.
4. Start ‘Student Reviews’ on the classics we read.
5. Blog about creative writing.

Writing:
1. Complete Camp NaNoWriMo 2015
2. Complete Taylor Swift Anthology on secondary blog SongTitleStories
3. Finish a novel

Wish us Luck!
Maddie and Bee x