It’s a jungle in here

October 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here’s an excerpt from my daily writing. I thought I might show a peek of the world I’m working on.

The boundaries between their community and the beginnings of the city were unmistakable. Squat concrete buildings gave way to multilevel dwellings in various states of decay as the termite-infested skeletons collapsed onto themselves. Long vines of ivy pulled the buildings into the earth like giant arms, twisting and twining in rain spouts and broken windows. The structures seemed less affected as they moved closer to the city center, perhaps because the broken concrete had only begun to give way to the insistent call of the natural world. Many places were completely devoid of plant life, but still the decay was evident in the crumbling facades of stores exposed to years of the elements with no one to care. The tallest buildings which seemed to stretch up to the clouds had once been covered in glass, which now lay in various sized shards in the streets up to two blocks away. The result was remarkably like the skeleton of a giant snake stood on end.

Not much to report

October 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

I haven’t been doing anything particularly new the past few days, just more character development via short stories in addition to biting my nails and wondering if my story concept is really any good. It’s a weird part of my psyche that basically goes “I love it, this is the best most original thing ever! No wait, I hate it, it’s stupid and has been done to death. Move on!” Kind of makes it difficult to decide one way or the other if my brain is telling me both.

It bothers me that I still can’t really summarize the story very well. I know all the parts but trying to put them into words just sounds silly. There are also multiple scenarios that I haven’t ruled out yet which could take the story in a few different directions. I think I just shouldn’t worry about it yet, but that’s easier said than done…

Nano boot camp is also going well, I wrote 1500 words in about an hour.

Research and small stories

October 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

While I wait for some research materials to download and/or ship to me, I’ve started writing out some scenes from my characters backstories to try and firm up their voices and personalities, as well as get into the habit of writing parts of a story every day. Not to say I haven’t been writing before, but it’s more easily done when you’re brainstorming because none of it really matters, whereas once you start writing the actual novel, speaking through the characters, the words flow slower and I have to resist the urge to read and re-read what I’ve written up to this point and make changes.

It’s kind of fun writing these little one-shots. The first one I wrote today was from my main character’s perspective when he was a child, which is quite different from the adult version I will be writing. It’s also letting me get the setting straightened out and is giving me some things to think about as far as logistics that I’m glad I know about now instead of on November 1st.

The research I’m doing will mostly involve watching the show Life After People and looking up information and photos of Pripyat (the ghost town near Chernobyl), which gives a great view of what happens when humans abandon a city and it returns to nature.

Character First

September 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

I only have about ten minutes so this will be short but I want to get it out there while it’s still fresh in my mind.

I was trying to think of how to describe the story I’m creating to someone, the tagline I guess it’s called, but everything I thought of sounded really stupid when I typed it out. I started to wonder if that was a reflection of my story, and started to think of things to change to make it sound better.

Eventually I just had to snap myself out of it. I could feel my blood pressure rising and just the slight edge of panic creeping into my thoughts. No, this is all wrong! It’s not working, nothing is working! I stopped and tried to clear my head for a moment, which was when I realized that the real problem I have is that I need to work through my characters; their goals and personalities, and what they hope to achieve, and once that is done I can go back and work the setting to find the most effective way to tell their story.

First things first, I need to work on characters.

Fighting forgetfulness, my new nemesis

September 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

I hate forgetting things, it’s the worst. And when it involves parts of my story, I get even more frustrated because I feel I’ve just knocked over the continuity cart and lost all the apples. Previously hot summer weather gives way to winter freezes without warning. A tasteful olive shag carpet turns into a stained red rug. Stupid little stuff that nonetheless seems to glare at me upon re-reading and leaves me wondering what the hell I was thinking.

I should keep notes but I feel myself getting bogged down in trying to remember things that don’t matter. I don’t want to write everything down but I need some basics. They are not names, places or hair colors that get lost in whatever crawlspace my brain keeps things it deems unimportant, but rather the pictures hanging on the walls, childhood memories, room or landscape descriptions. Hell, I even forget what descriptive words I use until I look back and realize I’ve used the word “bleak” five times and it’s time to visit the thesaurus and find a new word.

Old age is going to be hell on me, I can tell. I try to look on the positive side, that this is just a first draft and maybe the stuff I make up when I forget will be better than the originals and isn’t that what editing is for, anyway?

Music for the End of the World

September 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

I go through phases with music. Sometimes I can’t stand to have even the slightest sound distracting me from what I’m doing, whether it is writing or working. Lately, however I enjoy listening to a playlist I made specifically for this story I’m working on.

I call it “music for the end of the world” although listening to parts of it I can see how one could make an argument for calling it “music for committing suicide” (Please don’t). My intention was to create a very dispiriting mood without hope to mirror the feeling I imagine one would have upon waking up to discover their world is gone.

I’ve included parts of lyrics that particularly struck me while listening, but for many of the songs, the words don’t matter, it’s the music and the mood it creates.

Clair de lune – Claude Debussy

The Times They are A-Changin’ – Bob Dylan

The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

The Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel

And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Only Remembered – War Horse

Who’ll sing the anthem and who’ll tell the story
Will the line hold will it scatter and run
Shall we at last be united in glory
Only remembered for what we have done

Abraham’s Daughter – Arcade Fire

Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone

Here Without You – 3 Doors Down

Wise Men – James Blunt

But they couldn’t escape from you,
Couldn’t be free of you,
And now they know there’s no way out

Beautiful Lie – 30 Seconds to Mars

It’s time to forget about the past
To wash away what happened last
Hide behind an empty face

Adieu mon Coeur – Edith Piaf

Adieu mon cœur                     Good-bye my heart
On te jette au malheur.        We are casting you into unhappiness.
Tu n’auras pas mes yeux     You will not have my eyes
Au mourir                                 Until death

The Breach – Sunspot

The frailty that tore,
Still led us once more unto the breach.

Save Tonight – Eagle-Eye Cherry

Mad World – Gary Jules

No tomorrow, no tomorrow

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Barely Breathing – Duncan Sheik

Bent – Matchbox 20

Crying Out – Shinedown

45 – Shinedown

Send away for a perfect world
One not simply, so absurd

Elegia – New Order

Dust – Royworld

All that will remain of us,
Are a thousand voices floating in the atmosphere,
Shadows falling in the dust,
And I hear your voice singled out and I want to say,
You and I will never die,
So don’t think about all the space in-between us,

Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden

2815 AD – WALL-E soundtrack

Setting the mood

September 24, 2012 § 2 Comments

Wind from the Sea

Andrew Wyeth – Wind from the Sea, 1947

The tone I’m going for in the story can essentially be summed up in Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Wind from the Sea.” When I look at this painting there is a calm bleakness and inevitability in the muted colors and path leading into the line of dark trees in the distance.

Despite this, the feeling of motion in the curtains hints at a more dynamic scene than would first appear, and brings a small ray of hope into an otherwise somber setting.

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