Monday, February 6, 2012

Why the Novel Matters Contest Announcement (And a Groovy Quiz!)

Why the Novel Matters Contest:

We’re excited to announce a new contest for readers and writers alike. Here is the skinny:

Why the Novel Matters Essay Contest.

What you do: Write an essay on the topic Why the Novel Matters. Send it to us by the closing date of midnight, March 2, 2012.
Three winners will be chosen.

Third place wins a copy of Sally Stuart’s 2012 Christian Market Guide.
Second place wins a copy of Sally Stuart’s 2012 Christian Market Guide and a copy of Novel Matters Tips on Rice Cookbook.

First place wins: A NEW KINDLE TOUCH!

Plus, the winning essay will appear on the Novel Matters blog.

Winners will be announced April 2, 2012.

Here are the specifics about the essay:

            Entry  Guidelines:
·     Maximum 750 words
·     Header:  Name top left;   page # top right
·     1” margins, double-spaced, 12 pt. font
·     submitted as a Word doc attachment

            Essay Criteria:
·     You can write about a specific novel, or about novels in general.
·     Need good supporting evidence
·     Clarity
·     Good conclusion
·     Will be critiqued for punctuation, spelling, grammar etc.

Type in the subject line of your email: Why the Novel Matters Essay.
Send your entry to:

Remember to “like” Novel Matters on Facebook. It’s not a requirement of the contest, but when you connect on Facebook, you have access to lots of immediate conversations and ideas from the Novel Matters community. It’s like family that you don’t have to clean your house for!
Your Writing Personality Quiz
On Friday, Sharon posted a wonderful article that helped us draw parallels between our personalities and our writing style. It got me thinking that, as a former program developer, I should create a highly scientific, accurate, and iron clad test writers can take to discover their true writing style. Below is that test. Guaranteed to be as accurate as any Cosmo magazine quiz you’ve ever taken, this test will reveal for all eternity your exact writing style. Get a pencil and get ready to uncover the truth about your writing to the power of three. Discover the truth about how you plan, write, and edit! It’s totally fake neat-o and keen! 

1) When I get an idea for a novel, I:      
    a) Jot down the basic idea and go for a long walk.
    b) Grab a pen and paper and write until I go blind.

2) When it comes to describing my characters:
    c) The more the reader knows the better: Eye color, favorite movies, moles, birth weight.
    d) It’s more important to know how my characters think and feel.

3) I know if a scene I wrote doesn’t belong in the book because:
    e) Easy. I don’t write stuff that doesn’t belong in my books.
    f) Six trusted friends and my Mom told me so.

4) To me novel structure is:
    a) A complex web.
    b) A fun puzzle.

5) I know I’m on a writing roll when:
    c) I write 25,000 words in one marathon writing day (or is it night?)
    d) I write 2,500 words in one week.

6) When I edit a chapter of my work, I always ask myself:
    e) Is the opening sentence strong?
    f) How does this chapter effect the rest of the novel?

7) When I start planning a new novel, I buy:
    a) The entire left half of Office Depot.
    b) A notebook and some pencils.

8) If I were to describe my writing in one word it would be:
    c) One word? Are you kidding me? I’m a writer! I have LOTS of words that describe my writing.
    d) Verbose.

9) When I can’t make a section of my novel work, I:
    e) Look for weak verbs, flabby nouns, and overused words that are dragging the writing down.
    f) Read further down, looking to see if there is a better place to start the scene.

10) When I’m writing, my work space looks like:
    a) The War Room.
    b) The battlefield.

11) When I finish writing an important, emotionally charged scene, I:
    c) Ride the momentum straight into the next scene.
    d) Nap.

12) When I get critique feedback from others about my work, I:
    e) Freak out, get upset, calm down, and start making the needed changes.
    f) Freak out, get upset, calm down, and go for a long walk.

13) I get my best character descriptions from:
    a) Pouring over magazines and celebrity web sites until I find the right face.
    b) Waiting until my characters visit me in a dream.

14) When I print out the first draft of my novel:
    c) I remind myself to lift with my knees. Or invite a friend over to help me lift it onto the table.
    d) Lay it out on my living room floor, so I can see my whole story all at once.

15) When my editor tells me to cut 10,000 words, I:
    e) Light candles, dress in black, and weep with each press of the delete button.
    f) Chop out that scene I was on the fence about anyway.

How to find out your score:
There are three parts to this quiz. Planning, writing, and editing. You will discover a score for all three areas! After you add up your scores, there are definitions for each type below.

Look at questions 1, 4, 7, 10, and 13. These are questions related to planning a novel, or fixing to get ready. Add up how many A’s you scored, and how many B’s.
If you scored more A’s you are a: PLANNER.
If you scored more B’s you are a: PANTSER (one who writes by the seat of the pants).

Next, look at questions 2, 5, 8, 11 and 14. These are questions about writing a novel. Add up how many C’s and D’s you scored.
If you scored more C’s then you are a: Proser.
If you scored more D’s then you are a: Poet.

Lastly, look at questions 3, 6, 9, 12 and 15. These are questions about editing your work. Add up how many E’s and F’s you scored.
If you scored more E’s, you are a: Picker.
If you scored more F’s, you are a Plopper.

Now you know if you are a Planner/Poet/Picker, or perhaps a Pantser/Proser/Plopper.
So what does that mean?
Here are the definitions!

Starting a novel.
PLANNER. You love structure and find inspiration in thinking things through. You take time to plan each move before you write the novel. You start writing at the beginning of the story and write in order to the end. Your novels are complex, brimming with metaphor and reflection.

PANTSER. You love to write by the seat of your pants. It’s an adventure! You are inspired by rich characters who act unpredictably. You jump in and write what’s in your heart, often writing scenes out of order so you don’t miss a single moment of sudden inspiration. Your novels are full of the unexpected, overflowing with larger than life characters.

Writing a novel.
PROSER: You have an exceptional vocabulary and love for rich descriptions of people, places, and situations. You aren’t afraid to fully explore an idea and you ensure the reader is never unclear about what is happening in the story. You think in pictures, often playing a scene out in your mind like a movie. Danger for Prosers: Sometimes forget to give the story white spaces where the reader can rest.

POET: You have an exceptional vocabulary and weigh out each word you choose to ensure every verb and noun is infused with purpose. Brevity is golden, and you leave plenty of white space in your stories where readers can ponder what they’ve just read. You manage to say a great deal in only a few words. Danger for Poets: Too brief and readers can miss your meaning, or over look important events.

Editing your novel.
PICKER: For you, editing is word weeding work. You love hunting down adverbs and killing them off. You beef up your work with strong verbs and meaningful nouns. You are always on the lookout for overused words and phrases that drag the writing down. You especially enjoy digging into dialogue, polishing until you make the banter sparkle. When you are finished editing, the whole thing gleams so bright you gotta wear shades. Danger for Pickers: Excessive editing might mean there are larger issues. Take a step back and look at the larger picture.

PLOPPERS. You can pick up scenes and even whole chapters and plop them here or there, moving them around to create a strong story arc. You can know when to keep a scene and when to cut it out. Even characters can be cut or created to better serve the overall story. You’ve been known to re-write entire sections of your novels. When you are done editing the story snaps with energy, pacing, and can’t-put-it-down excitement. Danger for Ploppers: Zoom in close every so often to ensure a close up shine on that lovely shape.
What were your results?? Do share! And after, we can braid each other's hair.


Megan Sayer said...

HAHAHA!! Love it!
So I'm a pantser poet plopper.
Who knew?
Oh okay, I did. But now there's words for it. How cool is that???

And please don't braid my hair. You might disturb the birds (or the rabbits in the undergrowth) : )

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Megs! I'm a pantser poet plopper too!

Let's paint our nails!

This was fun! And, actually, eye-opening.

Now to write my essay. Oh mercy.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Love the contest idea and plan to come back to take the quiz later.
~ Wendy

Patti Hill said...

I took the quiz early, and it nailed me completely. I'm a planner-poet-plopper. Anyone else in my camp?

Steve G said...

Planner - Proser - Picker is Present here. Perhaps weekly sermon PreParation affects that. I did the quiz once quickly, and then rePeated it again a bit more PurPosefully and Placidly. Now I have to P!

Marian said...

This plopping poet is a pantser with planning propensity.

Cherry Odelberg said...

Groovy was a good descriptor for this quiz. I could not even get past the first question. Let's see 49% for answer a; 51% for answer B - or was it the other way around? Decisions did not get better with the remaining questions. What does this mean? Am I a balanced writer? Or a conflicted writer?

Bonnie Grove said...

Megan: it's so great to have words for things! ;) Love the nature-girl hair.

Susie: Looking forward to that essay *she says whilst sharpening her teeth*.

Wendy: Wonderful!

Patti: You and I are the same! I'm a planner/poet/plopper too!

Steve: You are so weird. I like that about you.

Marian: Woo Hoo! plopping poets unite!

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Bonnie: I fear your sharp teeth.

Anonymous said...

What fun, Bonnie. I too am a Planner (by a narrow margin), Poet, Plopper. I'm really looking forward to reading the contest entries.

Robert White said...

I'm a panster/poet/plopper.

Considering I'm just working on my first novel, it helps knowing my style. Which I think comes from 20+ years of journalism in which:

I usually write to deadline by the seat of my pants - after I've mulled the research over in my mind for a day or more.

I weigh every word for brevity because when an editor tells you that you have a 500-word article, you submit an 500-word article. I know I'm going to have to open up with verbosity in the novel.

When I'm writing a news story, I'm constantly shifting paragraphs and sentences around to create the best word flow. And rewriting is second nature.

Looking forward to the challenges of fiction.

Bonnie Grove said...

Susie: Chomp chomp. :D

Sharon: You are such a perfect balance of all of the categories. I remember being so grateful for your eagle eyes when you went through my ms before I handed it to my agent. Plopper you are, but you have picker skills too!!!

Robert: I've had only a brief chance to look at your work (novel), but I know as a journalist you write robust articles using remarkably few words. That may seem at odds with novel writing, but it doesn't have to. Often when I writing a scene I'll lay down the skeleton, then later go back and layer on other important elements. Several layers of brevity can create breathtaking depth (if we're lucky!)

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Bonnie: Just because you put a " :D " behind it doesn't make it less scary.

Megan Sayer said...

Ummm...can I ask a question?
Does it really have to be an essay?
Can't it be a wildly contemplative piece of creative prose? Or a poem? Or a sculpture created from dirty socks? (!!!) know what I mean. How much license do we have?

Bonnie Grove said...

Megan, if you blow our minds with your amazing writing, you can call it whatever you like and use whatever structure you care to.
What matters far more to us than the structure (although word counts matters in terms of not going over), is that we are all exploring the question Why the Novel Matters.

Get your art on, girl! Fly! Be free!

Pepper said...

I'm on the fence for every one! Does that just mean I'm confused. :)

Robert White said...

Bonnie, that's what I'm doing. The NaNoWriMo challenge gave me enough time to put the bare bones of a novel together. Now I'm furthering my research into the main plot element and am finding areas where I can add narrative, character traits and colour to flesh out what's there.

Bonnie Grove said...

Pepper: Maybe it means you are balanced!
Or confused.
Or balanced.
Or confused.
Or balanced.

Bonnie Grove said...

Robert: I think it happens that way for a lot of writers.

Remind me that you and I need to talk about formatting!

I'm sharpening my teeth.

Kathleen Popa said...

Oh, but I so want to read that Pepper is a Plopper, Piper, Popper... or something like that. You really must try again!

Bonnie Grove said...

Oh dear. I feel a tongue twister coming on.

Debra E. Marvin said...

I am still in shock. I scored four out of five for Pantser. I am so Un Pantserish. What did I do wrong? (notice how I consider that wrong?) I think I was on the fence and thought back only as far as last week.

Proser plopper makes sense, though...
fun way to avoid writing for fifteen minutes. thanks!

Bonnie Grove said...

Debra: I love how quizzes can help us shock ourselves. Glad you had fun!

Robert White said...

Bonnie, we need to talk about formatting :-)