Welcome to the BlogBattle Inaugural CampNaNo Challenge

Writers assemble. BlogBattle is about to engage with April’s CampNaNo. Do you have a tale to write with us in the BB writers group now live there?

As you all know, BlogBattle has altered it’s format with an increased word-count maxim from 1000 to 2000 words a month. There is also a minimum requirement of 250 words to try and separate it from flash fiction. Poetry being exempt from the minima.

The maximum is not there to be a target to meet. That is up to the writer. Moreover, its role is to level up personal writing ambitions. Try your hand at longer pieces and consider projects that might end up as chapters or even a novel.

This leads me to another area we have mulled over for the best part of a year. How to get our community involved in something longer? Not isolated, but as a group where there is a forum to send messages, queries or just seek support.

Most of you will have heard of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWrMo as it is more widely referred to. This is a “main” event held in November with a set target of 50,000 words. It can be a formidable experience, filled with euphoria and gloom depending on how you perceive the outcome. The rate breaks down at 1667 words per day. Fall behind and the target grows smaller, disappearing into the distance. Many take losing sight of the goal as failure. My take on that has been described elsewhere. Suffice to say it isn’t. Not if you find a story not working, have an issue that takes over or just find time to fully commit waning. Any writing is writing.

How does this affect BlogBatte?

A lesser known part of NaNoWriMo are the NaNo Camps. This year they have merged the sites together onto the main NaNoWriMo page. If you have an account, then navigating between these is now much simpler.

Camps are month-long events and have a similar theme to the November marathon with one massive exception. The author decides on the word-count goal or self assigned target. This might be a new or old project, editing an existing one or anything linked to a WIP that an author hasn’t got round to.

This makes little room for excuses not to be productive. If you’re doing BlogBattle then this is the natural upscale. Consider absolutes though. If you do an average of 500 words a day then you will achieve 15,000 by the end of the month. Keep that going for six months and you have a 90,000 word novel.

Or, if novelettes are something you’ve not yet tried, one month will create just that at the rate given above. Push harder and you may even reach a novella. Then again, if you participate in both April and June you have the potential to be two thirds through an actual book just by joining in.

What to do now?

Register an account with NaNoWriMo. Once you have a username, spend some time creating a profile. Then let us know what name you are using and we can invite you to the BlogBattle writing group. From there we can all send you a buddy request and add your blog URL to the writing group page header.

Please note. At present the group size is restricted to 20 members. We have no control over that. Anyone currently doing BB will have priority. If more people join over time we can set up a second writing group.

Consider a project. If you have an idea already then that’s fine. If you’re struggling then, go to your favourite BlogBattle story and try expanding that. If you have an existing WIP then develop that further. If it’s stuck, then edit what you have and try to find out why. Use the group forum to ask questions and find support. Most of us in the BlogBattle community already know each other so this is a fantastic opportunity to engage and grow friendships.

Choose a sensible word-count or project that fits your lifestyle. Don’t make it unreachable. Remember we all write at different rates and from different life points. Young children, for example, are tremendously good at knowing when you’re trying to concentrate. Work can also throw in curve balls. Do not be tempted to look at other peoples goals and think yours is less. It is your goal and yours alone.

Get ready. If you’re a plotter then now is the time to start. If you freeform then clearly you won’t! Either way you need to start with a concept and goal in mind.

Announce it. This part doesn’t go live until March on the NaNoWriMo system. Once it does there will be banners and headers which are downloadable to use as announcement graphics. Creating your project on their site and declaring it will be available at the same time. This means you have a head start in thinking about what to do before committing.

If you choose to blog about your participation or intentions, then drop the link here. That way we can all see your project and generate some excitement in advance of starting.

If you have any questions or want to take part let us know in the comments section.

One last thing, April’s word prompt will go live as normal. For anyone taking part in CampNaNo an extract from the project will suffice. Don’t feel obligated to do the prompt and the Camp at the same time. If your goal is high there may not be time. Instead feel free to give us a taster of what you’re working on. We’d all love to add feedback and see if writers are enjoying the new experience and may consider the second Camp in June.

Beyond that, welcome to the inaugural BlogBattle CampNaNo writing challenge.

50 thoughts on “Welcome to the BlogBattle Inaugural CampNaNo Challenge

  1. Pingback: Short Story Prompt for March “Fragment.” #BlogBattle. - Fiction is Food

  2. Pingback: March #BlogBattle: Fragment | BlogBattle

  3. Okay, I registered for Nano as CathleenT, and I’ve got my Red Riding Hood avatar that I use on my site. I listed five favorite books and authors.

    Now, if I understand correctly, you’ll invite me to join, right? Please let me know when that happens.

    Also, just a small note. 15k is a novelette, not a novella. This has been important to me for personal reasons–it turns out I’m a natural novelette writer, between 12-15k. It’s truly a beautiful length. Four chapters: act 1, act 2 to midpoint, act 2 to dark night, act 3. The story structure is baked right in.

    Unfortunately, you need abut 22k to get enough words to end up with a paperback that has your title and name on the spine–I found this out writing collections.

    It’s kind of disappointing because the best thing I ever wrote was a novelette–a fairy tale retelling set in the trenches of WWI. And I don’t know if it’s worth doing the paperback without a spine.

    And while you can get 2.99 for a novella, .99 seems to be the going rate for a novelette. None of us are getting rich doing this, but getting less than the price of a cheap cup of coffee doesn’t seem to be the greatest marketing move the world has ever seen. Or at least that has been the case for me.

    I’m not sorry I wrote my two stand-alone novelettes (the others anchor collections), but I’m trying to at least write novellas now. Besides, this way I don’t have to get annoyed when someone calls my novelette a short story. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apologies for the delay Cathleen. I seem to have lost track of time due to life tasks that need attention as lockdown easing looms.

      Yes to your first question. I do need to invite you into the NaNo group. I’ll get onto that after this reply. March already so the project goals are now probably live to submit on the site. All getting very real now haha.

      Good point re novelettes and novella. I will edit this post to reflect that. Thanks for pointing it out.

      Re publishing. I did notice Stephen King started publishing both formats purely on kindle. Personally I think if you enjoy writing to any length then actual word counts don’t count. Enjoy what you write. To me that’s worth more than worrying about buying cups of tea! Then again I’m not one to overthink a need to publish. That used to tie me in knots with overthinking so I put it aside to just enjoy word craft. Maybe in the future I will reconsider it 🤔

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  4. Pingback: #BlogBattle Stories: Revolution | BlogBattle

  5. That’s a good tip! I’m toying with *whispers* plotting the story out ahead of time, just as an experiment. See how it goes! If I don’t like it, I can always drunkenly veer off the predetermined path and cut a bold course through the darkness. Undecided, yet. But I rather like your word count goals — I think I’ll use them as a target!

    I think that sort of thing is common amongst our “types”. Let MH weasel its way in with whispers of “It’s not good enough” and “What a load of rubbish, who’d want to read this?” And so into the dusty tenebrosity it goes. The more I think about it, the more I’m leaning towards a fresh new idea — getting a fresh spring breeze in through the open window!

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    • Haha, one reason I’m not a planner. I can overthink the story and end up with nothing at all! The word count suggested aims at 2000 a day. That’s a week all in so the flexibility of not hitting it is much better. You can easily soak up misses. I know 2000 is a high target for many, but I’m guessing serious writers don’t bat an eyelid on that. Then again if it’s your big income stream there’s a much better mojo to go with 😳

      It might be better, considering your words n both of us, to go fresh. Anything on the back burner can be returned to later. Main trick is to get a decent habit formed, build up that confidence and leave MH “it’s not worthy” somewhere in the wake of past ghosts.

      Mind you I went to do a cellar check today and what I found was a big case of WTH. If they do unlock this one will take a lot of unpicking now. Stupid (insert expletive) idiot unlocked a line I’d hibernated and stuck lager on. It’s now been festering for three weeks. You just can’t help some people 🤬

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m thinking of easing myself into it, considering the issues I’ve had with the longer stuff. Short stories I can write flying by the seat of my pants, but the same technique doesn’t seem to work for me, when I try to go for the marathons… I guess I’m still finding my way! Novels are a different art form to the shorter stuff — King himself said so in On Writing, didn’t he?

        The more I stew on it, the more I think I’m going to use my current WIP but start it again from another character’s POV. Got about 1/3 of the way into it and realised the main character wasn’t actually the main character…

        Oh dear! It makes you want to rip your hair out, sometimes, doesn’t it?! I can sometimes see why micromanagers end up the way they do — it’s hard to shake the ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself’ mentality!

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        • Haha. I used to dread short stories until someone said it’s a good way to practice tightening your writing. I actually prefer long tales which is why I think my latest prompt attempt feels more like a piece out of a chapter. It’s not wanting to follow short story writing. I guess I’ll let you read it and tell me what you think there.

          A tad unfortunate for the main none main character… I suggest perhaps one to find the end of the path if you’re of a mind haha. I have said somewhere in NaNo posts that by around 10k you should know if a story has legs. I guess you could target that with the other point of view character and see how it feels during the camp. My caveat (challenge) is no overthinking. Write to 10 or 15K before self or word critique. Rest it a couple of weeks then read it properly.

          Haha. Yes. It’s actually worse than I inferred. The whole cellar set up was chaos. Cask ales used as shelves for rubbish, doors wedged open so the air cooler was trying to chill the whole building. I could go on. I’m actually thinking it’s becoming pointless trying to fix it. I actually charged two extra hours last time I line cleaned because I had to clear a path just to get to the barrels.

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          • Ha! It seems we started off at opposite ends of the storytelling spectrum! Each working their way forward, haha. I tried treating the novel’s chapters as their own short stories, in a way. Not sure if it worked/if it’s working… I feel quite confident when I write the shorter stuff, but when I swap to the longer pieces I get tentative. Like a man shuffling forward in the darkness, searching for the light switch…

            I’m still keeping the character in the story — and I’ll keep their own arc/story in it. So we will see the end of that path, just through the eyes of someone I’d initally thought was an ancillary character. I just realised that theirs wasn’t the central showstopper. So not rewriting per se, but rather I’ve explored from one POV and know how things play out. And now I’m going to shift cameras and observe the same events from a different angle! I guess the little exploration I’ve done wasn’t a waste — as we’ve discussed before. But just that, an exploration. Got a bit of an idea of the shape of things — I hope! Fingers crossed I’m not fooling myself.

            Oh my god, that’s a comedy of errors! It’s almost as if they’re trying to make a cock-up of it…

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          • Combined then we’d ace everything haha. Novel chapters need an ending that ensures suspense carries a reader into the next one. I ought to be able to say more on how I do it, but most have been shelved now for almost three years. I lost my way somewhere and switched to prompts to keep moving. The longer format however has reignited my longer story thinking. I’m sure that’s why the next prompt feels more like an excerpt (to me) than a short story.

            All I can say is take a torch haha. But seriously don’t overthink longer pieces. Be that archaeologist excavating. Work out where all the bones go later.

            No writing is a waste IMO. It tells you something. Bit like a science experiment. Poor results say as much as good ones. All depends on how you treat them.

            Oddly I’ve just had a text asking me to sort a skip out after I suggested they need one lol

            Liked by 1 person

          • I know exactly what you mean. A “hook” to keep pulling the reader on! I read A.E.’s first novel a month or two back, and she does this sort of thing brilliantly. Each chapter opens and closes with an answer and a question in terms of what’s happening and where it’s going.

            I think one of the (many, many) problems I have is that I need to like what I’ve done so far. If I look back and see a mess, it kind of puts a dampner on me. I like to see what I’ve done a feel proud of it — it fuels me onwards. I’ve tried the messy draft route, and it didn’t work for me. Or I went into it with the wrong mindset? Hm. I’m still trying to figure out how to work around this fussy little brain of mine. Quite the princess, at times, haha!

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          • I fear many do. King especially as I recall reading DT with a sense of no chapters as it rolled seamlessly with me not looking for chapters ends to break off. I got that in Robin Hobb too over the last few days. Keep going. While I like getting back into reading ive found it’s dislocating other areas. Blogging replied being one.

            I see your point too. Not liking what’s been written is quite off putting. Thing is is it the way it’s written or the plot? I struggle much more if I feel the story isn’t forming. If that parts working then I do enter the King zone and excavate. It’s difficult for me to really decide though. My own writing has been life long in terms of science and policy making in education settings. Constant writing. Fiction is a relatively new zone, but I think maybe the word craft is translatable?

            Using the term “messy draft” does suggest wrong mindset IMO. It’s a Joda thing…do, or do not, there is no try. Excavate and focus on the dig. Get a few chapters down then consider if the story is actually gripping you. I think that gets answered by the narrative voice. If it’s not talking then it might be the story isn’t ready to come out?

            Now I’m meandering haha

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          • I think it’s a bit of both — plot and form. When I write shorter fiction, I get a feeling in my gut when I’m “on the money”. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s going wrong — well, perhaps that’s not the right way of thinking about it. I’m trying to be gentle on myself. I’m framing it more as “I’ve yet to uncover the right method for longer fiction.” I’ll get there some day, of that I have no doubt. I hope it’ll feel like my short pieces, and it’ll click in my gut.

            For the time being, it’s all a bit trial and error. I think my most troubling issue is losing my way 1/3 or 1/2 of the way into the story. The characters become blurry and lose their focus, and the narrative arc loses its urgency — even if I know where I’m going. The characters become less living breathing people and more cardboard pawns I’m pushing around a chessboard.

            I’m trialling a different approach this time around. Character first, plot second. Sort of semi-plotting — but not really. Trying to figure out the character’s growth path, and then let the plot flow naturally from there. Maybe that’ll help. Not sure if it’ll succeed or not, but I’m feeling good about the sketches so far. Guess we’ll see when Camp rolls around, eh?

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          • Tricky one Joshua. With short form you don’t have time to really overthink it. It’s down, not much to edit or rethink and gone. With long stuff it’s harder I agree. More to consider, both in plot, character depth and, not least, commitment. Maybe NaNo might help there. I think you’re aiming at almost seven times the BB length so it’s possibly longer than most things you’ve done. My only thoughts on what you say is if that feeling bites you chuck it at beta readers. Let them scan it and feedback. If you’re not doing that I suspect the issue might be the way we both think rather than the story itself? Just a thought.

            The other possibility is character loss of urgency might actually be the plot ebbing. I know I go on about excavating, but is it possible as soon as the urgency ebbs you might stop and appraise where the next third is going? Would a planning stage help do you think? The King method is brilliant for short form, but not necessarily the same for long form. Hard for me to be clear there as I started with long form. It took king to validate my method I guess. My problem now re previous manuscripts is the long form wants to go epic. I’m struggling with the world build as that needs planning.

            Of course if I’d had your last paragraph up when writing the above I’d not have written anything here 😳

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          • That’s probably a good idea, re the beta readers. Only thing is, I’m terrified to show the in-progress stuff to people! But you’re right. If I get a unanimous response telling me it’s ****, I know my gut is right. Vice versa.

            I think it *might* help, if I planned it out — which is what I’m trialling this time around. The King method works brilliantly for shorter pieces, as you say. If it ain’t broken… But longer stuff is a different beast, isn’t it? Requires different training to run a marathon as opposed to a sprint. Currently reading Lisa Cron’s theories on approaching books, and she’s got some interesting ideas — might try and see if they work in practice for CampNaNo! I’m also keeping in mind King’s words on writing a novel in a single season — perhaps I’m dragging the process out too long, and it’d be better if I raced through as quickly as I can?

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          • Put another way…beta readers are there to assist. It may feel terrifying, but their “spots” are better than a publisher or agent ripping you to shreds because it’s not as polished as it should be. Besides, you already put stuff up on the blog for anybody at all to see haha.

            Longer stuff is more natural to me but has side effects that I mention in a Facebook message. My opinion on your last point is a definite yes. Dragging it out just increases the probability of it getting shelved. It gives to much self analytical time too. Write and don’t look back is the overarching King message. Mine too. If it’s crap it will let you know by 10k. If the rhythm keeps beating there will always be awesome points and bits you don’t like. Think of it as a continuous journey. Race through the very first point of that. Second reading can be slower and done with a high lighter. In the past I’ve printed stuff out double spaced and single sided. That allows inline errors to be circled and ideas written on the blank part. It’s also easier than on a screen for the first read.

            That’s just my way haha. You already know what happens to me if I leave it too long….five chapters short 😳

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          • Some very good tips, here, Gary. Especially that bit about printing it out! For my first collection of stories, I spotted so many typos once the book was in print. There’s just something about having it on paper. I think the eye tends to gloss over ~50% of errors on the screen.

            Planning a bit now. I’m hoping to set it all up — like a well-loaded catapault, springs tightened etc. So that when it comes time to write, I can just set the whole thing off and bang, get it out of my system as quickly as I can. At this rate, I should be ready to go once Camp rolls around!

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          • I think screens tie you to inner focus. Great for actually writing. When it’s your own work they can be counter intuitive on a first read back though (in my world at least). I skim rather than read. With it on paper I actually ring bind it. That lets me take it anywhere to edit. Then it’s back to Word and the book template. Why word I hear you say…. well, most editors and proofers want a double spaced word document so they can track changes in the process. Just makes that part easier than conversions that may muck up formatting. Obviously this part is not near the actual publish part haha.

            I’ve set up my project. Not quite sure where it’s going to take me yet. But that’s how I prefer it haha. That said April might not be good. I’m seeing more places wanting to open which means I might be busy. Time will out as they say

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          • I see that you’ve chosen Dragon Stone for yours — if you do end up joining. One can only ponder as to where the beginning of such an epic actually occurs — especially with all the time hopping! Super intrigued as to where it all begins. Would love to read it! But you’ve got to write it, first! 😉

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          • True indeed. I decided on it a week ago which is why I returned to Yish and Naz in this months prompt. I have a thought about a start point which rolls back to before the Keep falls. Maybe start the day it occurs. Either that or follow my idea which draws on the Assassins Guild for the next prompt. Thing is, as you say, it could start anywhere really. Although I will say… prior to the fall of the Keep things occur in linear fashion(ish). I’m rather excited actually to do more than short excerpts now. Although I think I need a cartographer to map out the worlds 🥺

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          • I’ll be reading all of the stories once they go live! Sam mentioned that they didn’t want to miss any by reading “too early” — I thought that was smart, so I’ll be doing the same. (In case you were wondering why I haven’t gotten to yours yet!)

            Sounds very interesting — it would be very cool to heave the lead up to the fall and end it as everything goes to hell. I mean, we all know about the fall of the Keep, so it could be a nice ominous cloud on the horizon. Like the claustrophobic inescapability of fate winding down to its logical conclusion.

            I’ve made a second project should the planning of my alien fungus story not finish in time — a simple collection of themed short stories. Inspired, in part, by my recent Reedsy stories. I hit all five prompts this week, and linked them together in the same universe, following different characters. I quite like the novel that I’ve got in my mind, so I don’t want to jump the gun and make a mess of it!

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          • I think that’s why we dropped all month submissions and gave time at months end to read haha. In my case I have to open those I’m adding to copy the URL into the post. I tend to read as I go there. Although last month I got in a muddle as Rachael did some and I lost where I was haha.

            The fall of the keep currently has no “Why?” Well, I’ve barely scratched on it way back, but not through BB. My start point I have a yearning from a Master Cresswell. At least that’s a recurring name from the Assassins Guild in the keep. It keeps cropping up when I think about it. Not sure about starting with a full on war mind! Then again the story forwards is why the Amanuensis is inside a sorcerers bubble. The last post on fragment I think is key too. Whatever was in that bubble I think may well be the antagonist… too many options muddying the stream I think 🙄

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  6. You know I’m game for this, Gary! 🙂 Just trying to pinpoint which project to go for. Do I use my WIP as my CampNaNo project? Or do I play around with some of the other ideas I’ve got floating around, and try for a short novella? Bit less daunting than a novel, and the idea is alluring. Halfway between the short pieces I churn out and a proper full-length.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I just said as much re me in the other comment! My take is this. If you’re after a novel, then it’s June Camp and November too to get the word count heading into the right ball park. All assuming it’s just done via NaNo. I’m toying with the political satire or something like the Gunslinger. Short, but a lead into a much larger tale. Almost a world welcome as it were. Not a prequel though.

      An actual novel isn’t going to happen in one camp. Even NaNo proper is about 30k short if a true book is the aim. For me this is about the habit forging more than anything 🤔

      Does any of that make sense??

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, exactly! I’m thinking of containing this project — whatever it may be — to NaNo. So perhaps a novella might be the most natural route? I want something “finished” at the end of it — not something I need to tweek and work on more, just to get sick of it and toss it in a dusty drawer. Done that a few times, now.

        I like your Gunslinger idea. Short and functional by itself, but with the possibility of leading into something bigger. Might work for BC — or something new entirely! I am well aware that I’m a sucker for new ideas. The freshness draws me. It’s a bad habit in a way…

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        • I’d suggest finished or near finished. Just in case you end up “forcing” an ending. Some stories evolve way more than you (ie I) want. If you’re after a novella I’d say 15k target with the end game entering at 10k. 20k maximum maybe.

          I know what you mean though. I’ve tossed full manuscripts into drawers. One I am still 5 chapters off finishing too. Even with its sequel finished. Maybe I should put that in the mix? Or…maybe June. Stay fresh here and maybe go gunslinger. Heck, I’ve got enough prequel material for the Dragon Stone thing. Maybe that’s one to hit a novella with🤔

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  7. Hi, I have been following BlogBattle for a while, but life circumstances have interfered with my writing. But this year is the year I up my game, and this sounds like a perfect opportunity. Over on NaNo, I am johawkthewriter. I understand you giving preference to those already writing with you., so if you leave me for a later group, that is ok too. Thanks for the consideration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jo, sorry about the delay getting back! That life thing keeps butting in. Sorry to hear life has caused issues wrt your writing. I think it happens to many of us at some point. Why not try this months prompt here? Or next months which is out the first Friday of the month. You’d get support from people here for sure. No need to follow BB silently, we don’t bite…much haha.

      Re NaNo. The Camp is aimed at helping this community grow. Not just in writing terms, but also friendships between us. I don’t think April will be over subscribed from here so if you’re serious about having a go I’ll send you a buddy request and invite you over if there are spaces open once goals are submitted. That starts at the beginning of March.

      Looking forward to reading your stuff though if you can muster a few words for prompts. The word count is flexible. Anything between 250 and 2000 and must include the prompt word or relate heavily to its meaning.

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    • Just sent you an invite Doug. Still early days as things don’t really start until March when goals can be set. Hopefully it will be an interesting sideline to just doing prompts… and a slight caveat to normal as anyone writing a project could replace April’s prompt with a excerpt. Hopefully people will join in

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