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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, if you’re a blogger you’ve heard that November is National Novel Writing Month, that time of the year many bloggers/writers make a mad dash to pen a 50,000 word novel in a space of 30 days. The idea is that you just write, put simply. No looking, no intensive editing, no excuses.

This may sound crazy to many but published novels have actually come out of NaNo. Of course at the end of November what you’ve got is simply a rough draft, but at least you put in the time; and a brilliant idea may come out of it. Some also choose to devote the time to a work in progress that promises a good book.

To get ready for NaNo, I’ve been looking around for useful resources, seeking to hone my craft. Writer’s Digest has been useful, and it led me a number of other very helpful sites. Flogging the Quill turned out to be one if my favourites. Ray invites readers to submit their first chapter for a critique, and he posts a first page critique, giving his opinion as to whether he would turn the first page or not (& why) , depending on the writer’s work. Other readers/writers are invited to critique, comment, and vote on whether or not they’d turn the first page.

Turning the first page, here, is synonymous with an engaging read. Ray lists the following 6 vital storytelling ingredients from his book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells, advising that ‘While it’s not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.’

  • Story questions
  • Tension (in the reader, not just the characters)
  • Voice
  • Clarity
  • Scene-setting
  • Character
  • In my mad dash, I’m writing what I hope won’t stay hidden in the archives of my computer and I intend to integrate all 6 points above, as well as this.

    Are you taking part in NaNo? What are you doing to get/stay ‘in shape’?