Thursday, May 25, 2017

JUNOWRIMO - Don't start a new book! Finish the old one!

                        Get free Story Structure extras and movie breakdowns

So who's doing Junowrimo?

It was inevitable - once a year Nano was never going to be enough. Now there's a whole community built up around Junowrimo so writers can take a month in the summer and bash out the first draft of a book.

As it happens I'm teaching not one, but TWO of my rare Screenwriting Tricks For Authors workshops in June - the DC Romance Writers weekend conference and the five-day intensive I do every year at the West Texas AMU Writers Academy. So I've been leading my workshop participants through some basic prep that would work really well for Junowrimo prep as well - here are the questions if you want to play along.

     1.  The genre of your book. 
     2.  The premise of your book - the story in one or two sentences.  (Read about premise here

(If you DON'T have a book idea yet, that's fine, too - just let us know and we’ll give you alternate homework.)

     3  This is the most important:  Compile a list of TEN books and films (at least five films, please)  in your genre that are somewhat similar to your book structurally.    

We learn best from the storytellers and stories (in any medium) that have most inspired us. And as authors we can learn a whole new dimension of storytelling by looking specifically at films that have inspired us and that are similar to what we're writing. 

     4. For extra bonus points, write out the premises of each film on your list (in one or two lines, only. This will be hard, but very, very good for you. 

For people who are struggling with nailing down a premise sentence, it helps to answer these questions first:

• Who’s the story about? 
• What’s the setting? 
• Who’s the antagonist? 
• What’s the conflict? 
• What are the stakes? 

Getting these answers and a bit of biographical information on my students helps me focus the class so that everyone gets the most our of our time together. And you know what the biggest Junowrimo takeaway from their answers is?

Most people SHOULD NOT be writing a new book in June.

Oh, they should be writing a book, no doubt. But I suspect what most aspiring authors need to be doing is using Junowrimo to FINISH an old book.

It is astonishing to me how many people in my classes have six, seven, eight projects in various stages of completion. It's not astonishing at all that most of these people are unpublished. Because published authors are writers who suck it up and FINISH their books. They deal with the reality of what they have written instead of the fantasy of what they thought they were writing. They develop the Teflon skin that allows them to put their work out there to be criticized and yes, rejected. Lots of rejection.

Some of these unfinished projects will never be good enough to be published. The unfortunate truth of writing is that you won't know that until you finish. But you have to become a writer who finishes what you start, even if you then have to throw a whole completed project away once in a while. That is part of the process of becoming a professional writer. You must figure out how to FINISH every book you write.

Part of that process is picking the right premise to begin with. But another critical part of that process is ramming your head into a concrete wall (metaphorically speaking) until you're battered and bloody but you finally figure out how to make that particular book work. Some books are just harder than others, but you must demonstrate to the Universe that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make ANY book work. It's a trust thing. Your books must trust you to fully commit to them.

And that time is NEVER wasted, even if you never make money off that book. It is professional and more importantly - CREATIVE development.

I have a book hidden in my files in the Cloud that I could be making quite a lot of money on if I just self-published it. People would buy it and a lot of readers would enjoy it. But it's not as good as the rest of my books and I don't want it out there pulling my reputation just slightly down. I finished it, and then put it away and wrote another. It was a big gap in my publishing schedule. But my next book was Huntress Moon, a real breakthrough in my writing, and the book I was meant to write. I don't think that's a coincidence. I think my creative mind and the Universe understood that I was finally ready to do more with my writing.

So I beg you all, just as I am begging my workshop students. If you haven't finished the book you're on, DON'T start a new book for Junowrimo just because.

Commit to the book you're already writing, in whatever stage of the process you're at, and use Junowrimo to finish THAT one.

And then go get published.

- Alex


Our textbook for my classes is STEALING HOLLYWOOD. The alternate text is WRITING LOVE, for more romance-centric writers. Both have the same basic structure material, but Stealing Hollywood has more material and more mystery/thriller examples, and Writing Love has more romance examples. The e books are 3.99 and 2.99 each.

                                        STEALING HOLLYWOOD

This new workbook updates all the text in the first Screenwriting Tricks for Authors ebook with all the many tricks I’ve learned over my last few years of writing and teaching—and doubles the material of the first book, as well as adding six more full story breakdowns.


STEALING HOLLYWOOD print, all countries 


Writing Love is a shorter version of the workbook, using examples from love stories, romantic suspense, and romantic comedy - available in e formats for just $2.99.

Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)


Barnes & Noble/Nook

Amazon UK

Amazon DE

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