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Nov 2013

NaNoWriMo Coming to a Close

posted in: Murder Mystery Novels

This year I’ve been taking part in my very first NaNoWriMo. I’ve also been a rebel.

My 50k words are being split between the first novel in the Murder Scripts series (which has been shelved far too long), and four shorter works of fiction.

I expect to hit the 50k word mark today, or tomorrow at the latest. But I won’t stop there. I’m going to continue working on the novel draft until it’s finished (with a goal of 70k words). I’m at 48,523 as of this morning. My hope is to hit 70k by the end of November, but in reality it might stretch into the first week of December. Either way, it’s coming along faster than I could have hoped.

This novel has been a roller coaster ride for me. I started with two chapters and sent the intro to a trusted beta reader. I made a lot of changes based on her feedback, and I loved the results.

Then my hard drive failed and I lost my original file. No problem. I had a backup on a flash drive. But when I tried to pull my file off that flash drive, it was corrupt. Let’s just say that wasn’t my day.

Heartbroken, I shelved the project for a while, knowing I would have to re-revise those first two chapters. Luckily my beta reader still had a copy of the original to send me, so I didn’t have to start completely from scratch. Eventually I did rewrite those two chapters. And again, I loved them far more than the original.

I continued writing. But somewhere along the line I got off course. Things didn’t feel right. It wasn’t the story I outlined (which is fine). But it also wasn’t the story I wanted to write. So I took another break from it.

This year’s NaNoWriMo seemed like the perfect excuse to dust things off and dive back into the book. I scrapped everything but those first two chapters. That’s another reason I guess I’m a NaNo rebel; I didn’t start completely from scratch. It didn’t matter though. It didn’t get in the way of my creative energy. If anything, it helped. Knowing my characters already and what I didn’t want them to turn into made it much easier to get the story I did want to write down in words.

This has been an incredible experience, and that’s coming from someone who never thought they’d take part in an event like this. I’m actually incorporating some of the tools and tactics I’ve picked up into my overall writing and publishing workflow moving forward.

In the end, I’m that much closer to finishing the first draft. And that means after a few more months of revisions, I’ll get this baby off to editors and move forward with the design, cover copy, and all of the other little things that will hopefully get this book in your hands next year. This process is a bigger rush than I ever expected.

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Feb 2013

What are Murder Mystery Party Games?

posted in: Murder Mystery Games

Murder mystery party games play a big role in the Murder Scripts series I’m working on. The series protagonist, Grace Atwood, is a former wedding planner who now plans and organizes these kinds of events. And I’ll eventually release downloadable murder mystery party games here at

But what are murder mystery party games exactly?

Think of them as a combination of a party and a play. You invite people over for a dinner party (or any kind of party that fits the theme). And when they arrive you give them each a script booklet. Each guest will play a character in the scripted murder mystery story.

The guests won’t know their role — who the victim is, who the murderer is, etc. The point of the game is for them (or their characters) to figure it out. The script serves as a guide, letting them know what information they should share about their character, who they should talk to, and what the basic sequence of events is. Eventually the killer and victim will find out their identities. The victim “dies.” The killer tries to avoid being caught. And the other players try to solve the crime.

Some of these murder mystery party games come in downloadable formats. You print them when it’s time for your party. Others come in boxed sets, and might even include props.

Have you ever played a murder mystery party game? What did you think of them, and would you play them again?

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Oct 2012

3 Things I Like About NaNoWriMo (Even Though I Don’t Participate)

posted in: Aria Klein

November is quickly approaching, and to many authors this month is one of frantic typing, scribbling, or even dictating. That’s because November is NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a month-long challenge where authors push themselves to write 50,000 words in their next novel over the course of one month.

I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo. I have my own schedule and writing style that work well for me, and I prefer to keep it that way rather than artificially push myself during one arbitrary month. That said, I don’t think NaNoWriMo is a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s a great thing for many authors. Here’s why:

  1. NaNoWriMo puts authors in a combination of a community and competitive environment. While it doesn’t suit me personally, I can see how that might offer immense motivation to other writers. Sometimes this is a lonely business and it’s nice to know you aren’t going through the grueling process of writing a novel alone.
  2. NaNoWriMo forces writers to think about improving their productivity. When left to our own devices, it’s easy to get caught up in a less-than-optimal routine. For authors who haven’t found their perfect writing schedule, location, etc., making yourself write a novel in a short period of time can push you to figure out those things. Then you’ll have an easier time with your next book, November or not.
  3. NaNoWriMo emphasizes an important part of getting your first draft down — that it’s okay for the first draft to be crap. That’s right. You won’t write a masterpiece while you rush through the first draft in a month. But that’s not the point of a rough draft. The point is to get the ideas down in some kind of tangible form. You make your masterpiece later, during the editing process. NaNoWriMo pushes authors to let go of their inner editor for a month and focus on getting the story down rather than agonizing over every chapter along the way.

Will you take part in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you read anything from an author who completed their book during NaNoWriMo in a previous year? Tell me about it in the comments.

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