An Engineer’s Guide to NaNoWriMo (or how I grew from a newbie to a veteran)

This post was originally written for the NaNoWriMo blog. You can check it out here (it's been slightly modified, but the content's basically the same). I’m an engineer. While most of my colleagues use this as an excuse to keep themselves from writing anything, I argue it’s the reason they need to be the best writers. The concepts engineers can create in their minds still need to be communicated to the world. Concepts never imagined before. Similarly, how many writers are out there with an idea nobody has ever read, just waiting to get it onto the page? As an engineer, I have a particular set of skills—some would say “quirks”—that have helped me over the last eight years of NaNoWriMo grow from just barely finishing to writing rapidly and voluminously. Most engineers are known for their problem-solving skills, and NaNoWriMo presents an interesting problem: how do I write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days? Like most problems, I resort...
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So you want to be a writer . . .

Congratulations! Admitting that you want to be a writer is the first step in achieving that goal. “But . . .” I hear you hesitate, “what does being a ‘writer’ even mean?” Plenty of people have their definitions for the term, but in its simplest form, being a writer means that you write. Simple, no? Some of the complexity of the term “writer” comes when people make the transition to “author,” since being an author usually means you’ve published something (be it self-published or traditionally published). I consider myself an author because I have written books and published them. Others might disagree, since the process of being traditionally published is a lot more involved (and complicated). Either way, we’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit. Let’s start on the ground floor: being a writer. Being a writer simply means that you write. If all it takes to be a writer is to write something, then you could be a writer just by writing...
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Which Hunter

Being concise is one of the standards of superior writing. Unfortunately, when you're writing the first draft of your novel in a month, your mind might insert a lot of "filler" words. I've had this problem for years, but recently have come across a simple solution to help my manuscripts "cut the fluff" during the editing phase. For some background, one of my beta readers for [book:The Third Degree|18141169] noticed the word "that" popping up more often than it should. My solution at the time was to replace most of the "that" with "which". I had always heard the advice "don't use that", so instead of eliminating the word from my writing, I merely shifted it to a different word. Now that I've received notes back on The Constellation Tournament it appears I've been found out. A completely different beta reader was distracted by the enormous amount of times I used "which". Recognizing the problem, I set about trying to find a...
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