A sort-of summary

October 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m just so happy to have come up with a summary I just have to share. It’s still rough but it’s something.

The scattered communities of people living in the former Americas are living on borrowed time; a combination of commercial farming and biological warfare has rendered the soil infertile. The only food left is the kind that comes in a can.

Aran and Isac, two brothers who have lived their entire lives in this hostile environment, are scavengers for their community who are willing to find this food. The risk is great; they must face dangerously unstable architecture, unforgiving weather systems, and the ever present threat of attack by other scavengers and survivors. All the while they know that as soon as the last of the food is gone, their time is up.

Plot sketching

September 30, 2012 § 1 Comment

One day left until the great long month of October, in which I hope to outline the novel I will write in November and hopefully not tire of the concept. The last half of September has been devoted entirely to brainstorming, and I must have come up with a dozen or so different ideas for a story ranging from the cliche to the overly complex. I think I’ve settled somewhere in between, although to be honest I’ve tried to concentrate on character creation and purposely ignore plot until I’ve nailed them down.

I’ve finally done it. I have characters and what they want, their goals and in some cases their sub or secondary goals. I have some pretty good flaws. They are still kind of flat but that makes sense because I haven’t started writing them yet. The character prompts my sister has been giving me will help with that a lot.

I won’t lie, plot has crossed my mind more than once as I wonder how to move these characters around in the world. I don’t want to ignore it either because it’s hard to have a word count if you don’t know where your story is going. I do have rough ideas for the high energy events like the end of the beginning, crisis point, and climax and now I just need to flesh them out and think them through in detail to make sure it’s a good concept. I have a lot of ideas that sound great initially but when I think about them logistically, they break down.

Two days of thoughts (aka catching up)

September 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

From Saturday:

My fingers are moving as slow as snails while my mind races faster than I can keep up. I’ve had quite a bit of time to think about the structure of my story. I find it has become an amalgam of several different storylines that appeal to me, and I hope that in itself will be enough to make it somewhat unique. What I really need to do is stop worrying about whether something is a cliche or not. Even if it is, I can always tweak it later to help it along. The big ideas are always the same and just a little creativity can separate it from the pack.

Like my sister says, “Everything you want to do has already been done a hundred times before, so don’t worry about it and just do it!”

I’ve been thinking of actions that can be taken more than one way. Something as simple as a look of surprise and the exclamation “..but you’re dead!” could mean the person was the would-be murderer shocked at his victim’s survival, or the lover who was told the victim was dead and is simply experiencing the shock of the dead coming back to life. Two very different standpoints but through the eyes of a another character they could seem similar. And that gives me some wiggle room to manipulate the storyline as it develops. I don’t want to be too vague because that is a dead giveaway. I need to find the right way to convince the audience that one of the statements is true but not the other so I can totally blow them out of the water with a revelation later on in the story. I know that doesn’t work on everyone because some people are crazy good at guessing the outcomes of stories. But in general the theory holds.

Written today:

Trying to be creative is exhausting! Inevitably, I wonder how much I’m over-thinking it. I’ve seen what happens to writers who over plan every little interaction. It sounds about as natural as a child’s haltingly memorized lines in a school play. But trying to plan out twists in a plot is a harrowing and altogether new experience for me (previously I’ve been more of a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of writer). I feel as though I’m adding and adding and twisting and twisting until it no longer resembles the plot I came up with, and I wonder if that is a good or bad thing since the original plot is not in fact a unique one by any stretch.

I’ve also discovered I freeze up writing in certain situations. I was at the clay studio thinking I could just sit back and plunk on my keyboard with no problem. The first of many problems was Adele’s horrible throaty voice constantly in my ear thanks to someone’s terrible taste in music. The next was that the comfortable chair I’m used to disappeared, leaving only hard wooden stools in its place. I sat at the computer, flipping through screens idly; reading other people’s writing and feeling too self-conscious to write any of my own. There was someone who kept walking behind me and I felt like they were staring over my shoulder to read what was on my screen. I’m sure that wasn’t the case but it’s unnerving nonetheless.

Character development is exciting!

September 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve started writing some development stuff for two characters who I’m hoping will become the leads in the story I plan for November. This “stuff” so far is just writing from a character prompt from two different perspectives.

The prompt was something like “what is the first thing your character does in the morning?” and it’s funny but after writing this same scene from two different points of view, it felt like a dusty old trap door opened somewhere in my brain and more ideas came flooding out, not just for character but an entire story line based around them. I immediately started writing notes down and it was hard, even typing, to keep up with my thoughts.

They are just preliminary ideas but just having an idea is the most exciting thing! An idea that’s mine! I think the message to take away from this is that you don’t have to wait for a fully formed plot idea to start writing. Take some rough character sketches, start writing, and more than likely ideas will spring further from there just based on the direction your mind takes. Mental note for the future.

Re-reading

September 18, 2012 § 7 Comments

I reluctantly started to re-read my nano novel from…was it 2006? No, 2007, which seems like such a long time ago. I’m surprised; it doesn’t suck nearly as much as I thought it did. It’s not fantastic by any means but definitely entertaining because I largely have forgotten all of the plot twists that were added in. One nice thing about needing a word count is that it forces me to look to other areas besides dialogue and action to fill in description. I’m paranoid about being overly descriptive, and as a result my ability to set a scene is limited because I avoid talking about it. I end up having the opposite problem which is just as obnoxious.

This is a consistent weakness in my work that I’ve noticed ever since I was young and it’s something I really want to work on because reading the description, which I thought was superfluous while writing, strengthens the work. I think about stories like a movie in my head, and I can see the setting  while I’m writing so I don’t think to describe it for others. I also get really carried away with dialogue. I’m sure I could just make a story that was entirely dialogue between characters; in fact I’m pretty sure I’ve done that at some point.

I’v also been reading character sketches my sister and I did over the years. There are a series of questions to answer about a character such as “favorite food” “first memory” and so on. Mine were written answers, not usually direct but through a scene in their lives that was related to it or answered it in some way. My sister’s are actual drawings, she is very talented, and we were laughing at some of the comedic answers we came up with. The characters are from a computer game we play but they have blossomed under our care until they developed minds of their own. I wonder how I could possibly use some of them in the work I hope to make.

Excerpt (written on Day 4)

November 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

This is an example of something I find hilarious in my head. I don’t know how well it translates.

He knew every building and every car parked along the street. Except for that Mercedes parked along the curb just outside of his building. The sleek black car clashed painfully with the rusted out white Cadillac and Honda civic that flanked it. As he came nearer, he saw the figure of a woman slumped back against the driver’s seat. A quick glance up and down the street showed no movement. His footsteps quickened and he burst into a jog, sliding between the cars until he was looking in through the side window. Pulling the sleeve of his shirt over his hand, he tested the door. Locked. Locked?

At once the body behind the wheel jerked up as though attached to the hands of the cruelest kind of puppeteer, and began to scream.

“Jesus Christ!” Dunn jumped back from the car. His eyes quickly narrowed as he looked closer and recognized the driver. “Michelle?” The dark-haired woman’s hands had come up in front of her face, a tiny can of Mace poised to strike. Her mouth opened, the dark red lips forming a small ‘o’ of surprise. His sister rolled down her window and glared up at him.

“You nearly gave me a heart attack, Oliver! What were you thinking?”

“I gave you–? What was I–?” He managed to stop himself and took a deep breath before he went off the rails completely.

End of Day 2

November 3, 2009 § 1 Comment

One thing you should never ever do while doing nano is read the blogs of other people who are doing it. Granted, there are many people who are doing worse than you, but then you see something crazy like someone who had over 6,000 words on the first day. Insanity!

The funny thing is that I get a lot of my word count in when I go back over what I’ve written and fill in the details, which seems to break the editing rule. However, I have realized that I tend to summarize and move on, forgetting that the scene has a location and several characters that may need description. Imagine that.

I can honestly say I have no idea where this novel is going, but it has worked out just fine for me in the past, so I’ll just go with it and see where it leads. Now enough with the non-nano word count. Back to work!

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