NaNoWriMo: For All Those Who Haven’t Started Yet

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The official blog of Michelle Tuckett, word ninja.

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Right now, we’re still in the first blushes of NaNoWriMo. Those who have started are beginning to feel what it is like to write their stories, to write and keep writing, feeling that initial rush of a plot beginning to form (I don’t think that feeling ever goes away).

Some, like me, have yet to begin. Some, also like me, have yet to decide what to write. And we’re okay too – even though by the 1,667 words each day standard we might be “behind,” but no one writes just that much each day – no one I know, at least.

Personally, I don’t believe in being behind – only needing to work harder once we begin. Last year, I wrote my novel in the last week of November out of necessity, the rest of the month, practicing it’s shape in my mind so much that it tumbled from me Athena-like: fully…

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Reasons I Hate Outlines With A Firey Passion

The official blog of Michelle Tuckett, word ninja.

With NaNoWriMo in full swing, the O-word is being flung about a lot, and I need to get this off my chest. I’m resurrecting an old post because it is every bit as true today as it was 3 years and 6 novels ago. 

I am not a fan of outlining. In fact, it takes everything I have not to go on a rant about how much I hate them every time I hear writers talking about outlines. After several attempts at outlining before I wrote this year, I have only increased my aversion. Here’s why:

  • OutlininIMG_7962g is not writing. It feels like writing, and it fools writers into thinking they have done something productive toward their story. But it is not writing. Go write.
  • It takes time away from writing. I keep hearing about how outlining saves time, but time writing is never wasted. Spending three months writing the wrong…

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Writing Villains: The Hybrid

The official blog of Michelle Tuckett, word ninja.

FullSizeRenderSo far, I’ve talked about antagonists and monsters and the differences between them, but merely mentioning these two aspects of the villain spectrum leaves a hole in the middle – one that begs to be filled by some of the best villains in fiction.

Disney’s old Maleficent, The Joker, Patrick Bateman, Lestat, pretty much any character in Supernatural, and (my favorite) Moriarty.

The hybrid is a monstrous antagonist, one who, without any other motivation, acts to please themselves. Here we find the realm of the most delicious nightmares.

This is the hybrid – the antagonist narcissist, the psychopath, the monster with human tendencies: the hybrid between the instincts and base level of a monster and the higher functioning of the thinking antagonist.

These characters cannot be trusted, even when they want to be. They exist as the fay folk – beings made to trick and entrap, vampires who fight against…

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Writing Villains: Antagonists

The official blog of Michelle Tuckett, word ninja.

Image-1-2In a previous post, I discussed how monsters are different than other kinds of antagonists or villains.

Today, I want to talk about the most common of villains: the antagonist.

Simply put, the antagonist it the character or characters who’s motives act in opposition to the main character (protagonist). To create actual plot and tension, these characters need to interact on some level, preferably culminating in some kind of stand off and victory or defeat.

Of course, antagonists can be over-the-top Khan level villains, or can be subtle, someone just contrary to our main character’s desired outcome; someone their significant other has chosen over them, their boss, an intrusive neighbor, a paper boy demanding his two dollars, etc.

The most important aspect of an antagonist, though, is that they are not monsters – they are true, well-rounded characters, with thoughts and motivations and a whole reality belonging to them. Antagonists…

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Writing Villains: Monsters

Happy Halloween and a Happy NaNoWriMo!

Make sure to come subscribe to where I’m actually writing from now on:

The official blog of Michelle Tuckett, word ninja.

Image-1-1There are a lot of different kinds of villains or antagonists in fiction – just as many as there are protagonists. While plot and a main character are very important, finding what the main character is working against is equally, if not more, essential to driving a plot forward. Antagonists keep the story going; they push our main characters into corners and make them show us our true colors, give them a change to exist.

These antagonists can be anything from society to an idea to the very psyche of the main character,  but generally they are exercised as individual figures outside of the main character, something or someone they interact with, fight against.

And while it is tempting to group all antagonists into one main group: monsters and all the other villains, I want to take a minute (in honor of Halloween) to explain how these are very, very…

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NaNoWriMo Prep: Creating A Plot in 4 Easy Steps

The official blog of Michelle Tuckett, word ninja.

IMG_9628So you want to do NaNoWriMo, but you’re not really good at this plot thing. Maybe you’ve written short stories but not a novel, maybe you’ve always wanted to write a novel, but you don’t have any idea of how to make a plot. Maybe you’ve written or are writing your Good Novel Idea, and want to do NaNoWriMo but can’t think of anything.

Maybe your mind is just blank and you are panicking because NaNoWriMo starts in 2 days, and you find yourself googling things like “What should I write for NaNoWriMo” and “I don’t know what to write for NaNoWriMo” (yeah, we’ve all done it).

First, take a deep breath – your brain isn’t that bad at coming up with ideas. Plus, your chance of writing something you’ll turn around and let anyone actually read (shudder) in November is slim to none, not without a ton of editing, anyway…

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The Mind is Never Empty

The official blog of Michelle Tuckett, word ninja.


I’ve had a long few weeks of writing. Working two freelance jobs, relearning how to do math for one of them, blogging every day, and generally working my writerly tail off.

Every now and then, I pause in the middle of a particularly difficult sentence, paragraph, article, and with a thin thread of panic, I reach into my mind, and it is empty.

And in the vexing way of the mind, it is always empty when I need it to be full the most – when I must begin a project, article, or story. When I really need words the most – words that always come ready to hand, all the voices are suddenly silent.

What if the words never come back, I wonder. What if this gift of writing, of language and grammar has been loaned to me cosmically, and now is suddenly revoked, and I have no say…

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Artistic License

The official blog of Michelle Tuckett, word ninja.

Image-1-4 This is the dimension of an iPhone screen – feel free to use it as wallpaper.

I have never met an artist, musician, or writer who isn’t living their art on a daily basis.

We – we artistic souls – live life in a fugue of interpretations, of seeing the layers of the world pulled apart into strands of music, words, color, expression. It never goes away.

The only difference is whether or not we are doing the art outside our minds or inside – letting our creativity live in the background or foreground.

Let it out.

Let any opportunity that inspires you be an excuse: NaNoWriMo, boredom, a dare, a dream, or a new set of markers. Create an excuse if you have to.

Whatever you do, make your art.

Make it in poems, make it in sketches, make it on post-it notes during smoke breaks at work. Make…

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The Night of Writing Dangerously

The official blog of Michelle Tuckett, word ninja.

Hello you gorgeous people!

This is my (only slightly) shameless request for your help in helping me get to The Night of Wr
iting Dangerously, taking place this November 15th in San Francisco. Because I love travel and the city, I have audaciously already booked my trip there, and now all I need is assistance to get in.

I need your help. I need to raise $275 of donations to the Office of Letters and Light through my donation page. Some of you wonderful, wonderful beings have already raised $66 for me, and I am so grateful.

By my calculations, if everyone who reads this blog donated just $2, I would be set (it’s also tax deductible)!

Because I don’t expect anyone to give without some reward, the receipt you get after donation will also give you a code to get into my SPONSORED CONTENT page where I will be…

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NaNoWriMo Prep: 5 Rules to Boost Word Count

The official blog of Michelle Tuckett, word ninja.

We’re narrowing in on the last few days before National Novel Writing Month.

We’ve been getting ready – reprioritizing time, deligating as much as we can, clearing out space to allow the giant wonderful mess of November to come in like a bevy of frat boys and take over our houses (and, might I add, it is very likely that by November 30th, our places will smell and look as if that is exactly what just happened).

Some of us are readying out plots and characters, others still aren’t sure. But one thing hangs over all of us – fifty thousand words. In a month.

How the Hell do you write 50,000 words in a month?

Answer: With lowered standards, fingers like the wind, and a lot of tricks.

Because I’ve been at this a while, I’ve compiled a list of my top five ways to boost word count and keep…

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