Archive | May 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo: My Plans and ‘Supplies’

I’ve already mentioned a few times before that I’m going to be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this June. I’ve never participated in either of the Camp NaNo’s before, and I’ve only participated in November’s NaNo once, which I wound up giving up on. This year will be different – I’ve got time, goals, rewards, and inspiration. I’m building up more and more excitement for Camp NaNoWriMo, and I plan to go through with this. I’m outside now as I write, sitting on my porch and enjoying the fresh air – something I’m sure I’ll be doing during most of my writing sessions during ‘camp’.

My project this year is the same one I tried to go through with last time, and the same I’ve began several unfinished drafts on, even completing one of them. None of them quite had the right spark – and after a while of immersing myself in a different project along with reading up on the craft of writing a lot more, I’ve figured out how to make it work for me much better. The plot’s being twisted around and recreated, new twists have been added, and I’ve gotten heaps of ideas for new character development, something that was missing from the older drafts (despite my absolute love of it – my characters and their relationships as a whole are some of my favourite parts of writing). Instead of sticking to the same old story that I usually try to tell, I’m starting at the same place and allowing myself to branch out to whole different levels of the story. It is, as I mentioned in a previous post, a continuation of an edited version of a short story I posted on here a while ago, The Angels.

This may not be the final draft, but I have a feeling it will be the best version yet – complete with new dimensions to old characters, and a plot much more fun to get into than before. I am 100% sure that when this draft is finished, it’ll take tons of revising and rewriting to make it into really something, but that’s not really the point – you can’t edit a blank page, and if you don’t start with anything, you won’t end with anything either. NaNoWriMo is a tool to get a draft started/finished, not a tool to complete a polished, ready-for-publishing novel, after all. Now, without further ado, my supplies for camp:

  • A few pre-written entries to the novel

I’ve been doing some pre-NaNo writing, to get the ball rolling on my story so that when the event actually begins, I’ll be past the opening and ready to delve into new and exciting dimensions of a story that I’ve been through several times. My project is going to be written in journal entry format, seeing as it’s one of my favourite formats to both read and write in. It’s a blast getting into my character’s head and it’s a way to make the story very personal – it’s not just his story, it’s his thoughts and his emotions weaved into it on a different level. Journal format isn’t right for everyone, but for me, it makes writing the story much more enjoyable, and that’s what matters at this point – I have to enjoy writing it as much as possible to be able to get things down so quickly.

For camp, I’ve decided to try out a software made for journals, called ‘The Journal’. It’s working very nicely for me – it took a little bit to get used to (which was another reason I started doing some pre-NaNo writing, in order to get used to the program) but it’s easy to get in the hang of and use. Since I’m writing in journal entry format, I’ve created a category for my NaNoWriMo novel and am using the journal features that the program was primarily made for. It logs each entry per day (which I will have to change the dates when I save the draft as a whole, but it is useful) and has a little calendar that you can manage and click through to each entry on, even allowing you to add onto days that have already passed or start entries for days that have yet to come, which is also useful for novel-writing in some ways. It saves your entries periodically, and also has a ‘save as’ feature under the export file section where you can save each entry (or even the entire thing) as a different file-type (I go with .rtf’s for the time being while I just save an extra copy of my work).

Dropbox is how I manage to keep all of my files backed up and in-order. I haven’t had it for long, but it’s a great help – if you save a file in the dropbox folder, it will store a copy of it on your account online and on every computer, phone, etc you have connected to your Dropbox account. It also allows for easier sharing of files and folders. This is where I save my extra .rtf copies of my entries for my novel, in it’s own little folder in my Dropbox. Not only is it easy to use, it’s very useful and helps you keep your files on-hand as easily as possible! I suggest it to anyone who wants to keep their files safe and sound and would like to be able to access their files not only from any computer or phone that they have the program on, but anywhere so long as they can get online and into their account.

  • Drinks and snacks

While I’m not much of one for snacks, I love to have a drink while I write. Coffee, sweet tea, green tea, Dr. Pepper, Mr. Pibb, anything I like, I’ll drink it while I write. It helps keep me comfortable and energized, and the occasional snack is great too. As I write this, I’m sipping on some very, very sweet tea, expecting a little bit of supper in an hour, which will be around the end of a pre-writing session. I’ll also probably go to Starbucks every now and then like I did during November to enjoy some of their delicious little snacks and a mocha while I write (this usually helps me get a lot of work done – going out into a different environment specifically to write both gives me some fresh air and a change of setting, along with motivation!).

  • A friend to participate with

This June, both my sweetheart and I will be participating. Having someone else to participate with is actually very exciting for me – especially since we’re going to be sitting down and powering through some writing sessions together. We have our goals set for our days and will both work towards them together until we both reach the minimum word count goal we’ve set, meaning that if one of us has hit that goal but the other hasn’t, both of us keep writing regardless until the other has. Not only does that encourage writing more than our daily goal when it happens, it also has some motivation for the other person to get their draft down faster (again, as NaNo is a tool for getting things down, not getting a polished, publishable draft, getting the story down quick is a goal for most) since the other person will continue to work despite hitting their daily goal. We’ve also decided that after we both hit our goal, we’ll discuss the work we got done today and whatever problems we encountered/things we discovered during the process.

  • Rewards

I guess this kind of ties in with the last two here, but I have worked out a rewards system for the month. Every Sunday, if we’ve hit at least our minimum goal in weekly word counts, we’ll be able to watch a movie together to relax for a little while. The movies are generally less serious ones and moreso ways to relax and get a laugh after a week of hard work. We’ve also both chosen something to get the other when we finish writing these drafts, which might not necessarily be during NaNoWriMo, but still provides incentive to keep writing. Another reward I’m planning on giving myself is being able to read a little bit once I’m finished with my goal for the day.

  • Twitter/this blog

Yes, they’re distractions – but being able to escape and get distracted every now and then is okay, especially when you’re doing a lot of work around the time. Not only will tweeting and blogging document the experience and how it’s going, it allows me to reach out to others who are experiencing/have experienced the same event before. One of the most enjoyable parts of NaNoWriMo is, to me, learning about other people’s points of view on the event and how it’s gone/going for them.

Daily word count goal for weekdays: 2,000 words

Daily word count goal for weekends: 840 words

Are you going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are your goals and “supplies”? And for everyone in general, what have you been working on lately in terms of your writing, and how’s that going?

Advertisements

5 ways blogging may help a writer

Blogging is a fairly popular thing among web-users, that’s a given – tons of us read them and most likely, even more of us write them, from blogs centered all on someone’s personal life to fiction blogs to fandom-dedicated ones and to the place that most of my attention focuses: writing blogs. I read them, and I write one myself. I enjoy it, and it helps me as a writer in more ways than one. Today, I’m going to be giving a list of not only some of the reasons why I blog, but also the reasons I think that it’s worth giving a shot.

Before I begin, however, I will say this: blogging isn’t for everyone, and it might not be ‘your thing’, but I do suggest you give it a little try if you ever have some free time and you actually feel inclined to. It might not be something you enjoy, and that’s perfectly fine. Different things work for different people, after all.

1. The ever-popular ‘writer’s platform’

One of the most popular reasons I see being mentioned in posts about blogging as a writer is to build a writer’s platform. This is, essentially, building an audience through writing your blog. The idea of this is that if you tag your posts accordingly, people interested in the subject of them will come and you’ll get people’s attention. These people are finding out that you and your writing exist, and some amount of them will be interested. By gathering an audience for your blog, you’re gathering a potential audience for your work. I believe that the writer’s platform is something that can be very useful to some, while it’s definitely not required – people have gotten by without it plenty of times before – however, for me, getting people interested (and hopefully helping them in some way while I’m at it) is something that I really want to do. Sure, it’s not going to happen over night, but even getting a small “platform” can be helpful in the end.

2. An outlet, just for you

Sometimes, you might wind up wanting to say something that you can’t convey in your work – you can write a post about it. Your opinions are your own and you can express them, and somewhere, someone else may be interested in reading them. I like to focus most of my posts on my opinions and thoughts on writing – this blog is basically an outlet for my thoughts on things, where I can organize what I think about different topics, but most of the things I post about are centered around the topic of the craft of writing. I don’t often get opportunities to outright express my thoughts *on* writing in my stories, and through posting about it, I can both organize those thoughts and clear my head of those things I want to express to the world a little bit more to focus on my stories. Not only is this blog about writing, it’s about my own thoughts on it.

3. It’s still progress

Just sitting down and beating a post out on the keyboard and from the depths of my mind is still writing, even if it’s not working on my stories, and when I’m not inspired or motivated to work on those, I still need to write. Turning to the blog not only gets me writing and is a form of practicing it, it can get my mind working and get me back into the ‘flow’ of writing when I just don’t feel like working on my projects. It’s getting writing done, even if it’s not on those, and at least it’s doing that – it’s making progress with writing. Not only does it help with “writer’s block”, a little post to get the mind working can serve as a warm-up before getting to work on those serious projects.

4. Helps with tracking your progress

Through writing a blog, you can keep records of your progress in writing, whether it’s on a project or not, if you write about that particular topic. You can basically track how much you’ve gotten done through looking back through the archives on that, which is why I not only suggest blogging about writing, but about what you’ve been getting done in terms of it – looking back at your progress can help you reflect on what you’ve been doing and see just how much you’ve -really- gotten done since a certain point in time.

5. The beauty of your readers

If you tag your posts, you’ll wind up with at least a few people reading your blog eventually. At some point, this means, they’ll most likely comment on your posts. Through communicating with your readers, not only do you get to see someone else’s opinions on your topics, they may end up giving you feedback that could, in the long run, really help you out. Not only are comments fun to read and respond to, they can be helpful, as well.

Overall, blogging is very enjoyable and quite an aid to me in terms of my writing. I definitely think it’s worth trying out for most writers, even if it turns out to not be their ‘thing’ – it’s an experience worth taking a stab at.

If you write or have written a blog that has touched base on your writing/writing in general, why, and did it/does it help you in any way, if so, how? I’d love hearing what everyone has to say!

Aero’s Tips For Writing Action Scenes

(A quickie post from my pretty little lovie, who’s writing you can get a little taste of at his writing blog and his last guest post here.)

Hello, all. I have returned to grace thee with another guest post. This time, I’ll be giving some pointers on writing action scenes.

1) Keep it quick.

Personally, I’m not a fan of slow motion shots, but for those who are, it’s unfortunate that we can’t use them in writing. Since we cant slow it down, out only choice is to speed it up. Action is intense when it has a fast pace. That doesn’t necessarily mean less words, but maybe shorter sentences. It’s best to save long, visual descriptions for either before or after it begins. It would also help to avoid long speeches or conversations, though dots of witty banter  may be more suitable.

2) Give it purpose.

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear ‘action’ is bloody, grotesque, seemingly purposeless, over-the-top, senseless violence probably involving ninjas and impossible aerial maneuvers. Personally, I hate that. It’s the general consensus that action scenes should make sense. They should play a purpose in advancing the plot.  I’m sure no one wants to waste time reading something that has no relevance to the plot. The best action scenes or ones that advance the plot.

3) Septuple-jump gound-shatter kick-smash combo-breaker of doom

Tying into the last one is the matter of realism. Make sure that what happens within the realm of possibility in whichever setting and characters you have. One can do that rather simply, in most cases, by keeping ninjas out of 15th century England or by not allowing a ninety-pound librarian to wield a forty-ton warhammer without any aid, or what have you.

That’s really all I have for now.

(A little note from Cynical/the blog owner!:

Action is something I really see mishandled a lot in fiction, so I really wanted to see if I could get something up that handles that topic – but alas, I’ve not practiced my action scenes quite enough yet and probably won’t too soon, so instead of just asking someone who has some experience with it right off the bat, I decided to ask him to post about it instead.

I’m really curious as to what you guys think about action scenes. What are your opinions on them, and how do you go about them if/when you write them?)

Shake It Out: An Epiphany

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a slum. I haven’t really felt like ACTUALLY getting things done – I wanted to, but I just didn’t feel like it. I couldn’t find motivation. I felt lost, like nothing would ever turn out right, like I’d tried so long but nothing made trying worth it. I haven’t been doing my work, I haven’t been writing, I haven’t really been doing anything except eating hash browns, watching How I Met Your Mother, and wishing I could get it in me to actually do something productive.

But then something happened this morning.

I was catching up on HIMYM’s 7th season, and a song played at the end of the episode. I didn’t recognize the song, but I did recognize the voice, it gave me chills. I looked it up and lo and behold, it was who I thought it was – the song was none other than Florence + The Machine’s “Shake It Out”. I listened closely to the song and it’s lyrics once or twice, and I truly believe the epiphany I had at that moment was one that may just have saved my life.

I can’t deal with waiting for everything to sort itself out anymore. As frustrating and stressful as life can be, I won’t let myself give up like this. I’m not going to wait for motivation and progress, I will make my own progress. I’m going to start doing what I know I need to do – even if I don’t see immediate results, I will make progress. I can and will make this work. I just have to keep trying. Not only will it more than likely improve my emotional state, it will ultimately make my life better. How am I going to do it?

Baby steps – I’m getting back into the groove of doing my work, writing and researching, etc. When I finish writing this, I’m going to grab the book I’ve been on the same page of for five weeks despite my urge to get back into it, and make as much progress as my mind is up to. When I’m done, I’m going to finish some work, and maybe do a bit of research on the Regency Era for a writing project. I’m going to start crossing things off of my to-do list and stick to my schedule a bit closer, and I may start doing some warm-up writing exercises to get my mind working when I don’t quite feel the motivation to work on one of my projects, and I’ve got a few blog posts planned for the future.

Along with this, it’s been a hard decision, but I’ve moved the previous Camp NaNoWriMo project I was talking about to the August Camp NaNoWriMo. This June, I’m going to be working on a different story, a quick break to relax my current project while I pan out details and do more research. The story I’m working on will be a continuation of a short story I posted a while ago, which is using the project I’ve been working on for a few years as a basic outline with several drastic changes for the better. It’ll be a way to escape for a bit, while still getting work done and sinking my toes into my schedule.

Starting today, things will change. I will make progress, and so will my writing – if all goes well, you guys will be along for the ride.

And if anyone reading this whenever they do is having a hard time?

You can make it. It’s hard, I know it is, with personal stress piled on top of everything… but push through, shake it out and remember that it’s always darkest before dawn.

How are you guys doing?

The personal side of my writing

This is going to be a really short post, and a bit personal, so if you don’t like that kind of thing I’d suggest not reading this. It’s short, unedited, more than likely all over the place and bad with explanations, but I’m having a lot of trouble today (especially with writing) and I really want to at least post something if I’m not going to get anything else done.

Writing is a very personal thing to me sometimes.

It’s more than “just a hobby” as people I know personally seem to claim it to merely be, it’s a passion – it’s something that’s very emotional for me, and looking back at old drafts, I can see the mentality I had when I wrote them. I can see my fears and hopes and dreams shining through them, no matter how they’re laced into the stories. Writing unlocks several different facets of me that I may not have even noticed until writing a certain story or rereading draft of one. Drawing and writing are things that I have always loved to do, and are also ways of expressing myself.

Sometimes, they’re even a means to keeping myself happy, although that’s tied into that writing and drawing are things that I really enjoy, and some of the only things that I have to enjoy as of now. Sure, there are other things, but most of the time, what I’m proud of tends to be my writing or my drawing. Without them,  I’d probably drive myself mad with my own boredom.

But that also means that having problems with my work can cause some pretty bad effects on me in general. A lack of motivation to work on editing and revising my script is currently making me feel lost and hopeless in the process, where even forcing myself to do it ends up getting no where and helping with nothing, and trying to take a break just stresses me out even more. Problems with this end up unlocking problems with other things, and everything just grows and gets worse.

I just don’t know how to motivate myself to finish this chapter of the project. I really want to, but at the same time, I just feel like I can’t.

I’m relapsing, and it’s a horrifying experience. I feel helpless in terms of some of the only things that make me happy, and finding inspiration and motivation is one of the hardest things for me to do.

I really need some help here – how do you find motivation to write? How about inspiration?

Rewriting and Revising: Different editing species of the same genus

Horrible titling, I know, but it’s better than just ‘Rewriting and Revising’.

Rewriting and revising are often talked about together, I’ve noticed, but really, they’re very different creatures. Yes, they do have things in common at times – you may be working from one of your drafts, you may try to think about more details than you do when getting the first draft down that you tend to pay more attention to while revising, etc – but they are still quite different.

To revise is, to me, to modify something, to go in and correct or condense, to fix up the material which may involve some rewriting, but for the most part, you’re just, well, fixing up the material. Rewriting can be a part of revising, but it really depends on what stage you’re at in the revising and the material you’re working on – the idea of rewriting is different than just revising. To rewrite is to completely write it again – some things about it may come out similar or even the exact same as the original, but essentially, you’re recreating the material and probably altering it quite a bit in rewriting, being it in the word choice or the material aside from that, and you could technically edit it as you do this in some departments depending on what you personally consider revising (when rewriting, I do tend to pay more attention to my word choice and edit the plot as I go).

For me, rewriting is more enjoyable than just plain revising, but at the same time, harder. Changing scenes, ‘killing my darlings’ as it’s so often called, trying to even it out and fix it, and trying to use my editorial mind at the same time as trying to change things that need changing to my liking – they’re things I’ve not gotten used to quite yet. I’m trying to revise and rewrite at the same time, but still give myself the freedom of not trapping myself within what I’ve already got set out, to give myself the freedom of making what happens still what I like, even if I don’t like it as much as what I had originally planned. Revising is something I like to think I’m fairly good at when I feel up to it, to go through and find misspellings, odd word choices, choppy sentences, bad grammar, etc, that’s something I can do when I look over something a few times, sure, but changing the overall material to the degree I do when I tend to rewrite can be a little bit hard for me.

But I have to sit down and do it – I have dreams for these projects that I’m working on, and I have to remember that to achieve what I dream of for these things, I need to sit my ass down and work on them, even if some parts of the process feel a little slow and unenjoyable – to get the finished product that I want, I have to get through the parts that aren’t so fun. If it’s not worth getting through the tough parts of the process, then it really isn’t worth working on at all, is how I see it.

I’m not too sure on whether my rewriting and editing process is normal or not – I will admit that I don’t read posts on that often, which I really should, especially while trying to motivate myself to rewrite and revise my current project, so I don’t know much about the process that other’s use. I complete the material to edit – in this case, it’s my script from Script Frenzy, which is for the first chapter of a graphic novel I am working on. I wrote it out in a large notebook I’ve had for years in pen, so it’s a mess of scribbles and chicken scratch, and I rewrite each scene individually. Each scene has it’s own separate file, which I rewrite the material in and when the scene is done – usually between 3 to 7 pages, I believe – I go back and revise it to make sure I didn’t misspell something or make any mistakes, to fix up the scene, before I move on to rewriting and revising the next.

I like getting each scene edited before working on the next one, and while working on this, I’ve been sending each scene to someone to have them read over it and give me their feedback to ponder and fix up the scene some more if I feel necessary afterwards before I move on to another scene. I usually send every other scene to a different person, so all of the work of reading the entire thing isn’t just on the shoulders of one person. It helps me get the feedback of two different people rather quickly, giving them little bits and pieces of the story without giving them the whole thing, again, which can help see if each scene is engaging enough on it’s own and other bits and bobs of information of that manner.

It helps me to both rewrite and revise at the same time, editing like this. Having a sort of mini-audience, or beta readers, to it while you’re editing seems to help quite a bit, at least for me, especially since the two people I have looking at it are pretty big influences and inspirations for my work as of now. I think I’ll have yet another person look at the completed product as is to get an opinion on the whole story and fix it all up yet again before handing it out to the two current readers to get their final opinions before I buckle down and complete it to work on the other chapters/transfer it to art.

I’m sure my editing process will change over the course of working on this entire series (it will be rather long, if it goes as I’m currently planning), but dipping my toes into this way of editing tells me that the water here is rather comfortable and I may well stay in it for a while.

What are you guys up to? When it comes to editing as a whole, how do you get it done, and what do you think of using beta readers?

Update, Productivity, and Camp NaNoWriMo!

I’ve been slacking a little.

But, at the very least, I have enough of an update to report to make what’ll probably be a decent-sized post!

After a recent epiphany, I’ve decided to make sure I don’t slack off and improve significantly at getting the things I want to done and living the life I want to live – thus, I’ve set the goal to complete at least one thing per day, no matter how small, something productive, and to keep myself on this track, I’m designating a loose schedule for myself. When I say loose schedule, I mean I’m going to give myself time to move things around and do things when I want to in a day and still have enough free-time to do whatever I want, but I will have guidelines on what I need to get done that day. Incentives to get this done being 1) My lovie will be seeing my goals in the morning and my completed list before I go to bed, to assure that I got things done, 2) Some sort of reward for myself depending on what I get done.

To help organize what I need to work on first per day, I’ve set some more loose guidelines on what I need to get done in terms of my writing, schoolwork, and visual art first during my week, these being:

Monday – Friday

  • Writing, be it work on my script’s re-writing and revision, outlining for one of my writing projects, a blog post, research notes, or any sort of work on my writing projects.
  • Schoolwork, need to get a significant amount of studying and work done. The amount done during the week depends on Holidays and grades.

Weekends

  • Art, be it working on drawing my project’s art (such as character and scene designs, pictures related to the series), working on colouring and finalizing sketches, or drawing something unrelated to any of my projects.
  • Personal work – this being work on charities and towards things such as answering compassion alerts.

Basically, what I’m doing here is setting what comes first during these brackets – by no means am I making it where I can’t work on one of these things during the other bracket, I’m just giving myself guidelines of what I need to sit down and get done before I move on to doing one of those other things. I’m not big on tight schedules, but I do need to get in the hang of getting things done and being more productive, living my life to the fullest, at least a little bit every day, so a loose schedule/set of guidelines that will fit with other things (social life, sleep, hobbies that I don’t intend to make a living off of, emergencies, reading, etc) and give me as much flexibility as possible. I’m hoping I’ll be able to come up with more things to add to my guidelines over time, but we’ll see. For now, I’m going to keep pretty loose with it and give myself lots of freedom.

This month, in terms of writing, I’ll be working mainly on getting research done for my project for NaNo Camp and re-writing/revising/polishing my Script Frenzy project while hopefully getting plenty of updates and hopefully some more content for the tips, tricks, and opinions category on here, trying to get some good content in before Camp NaNoWriMo June comes around. Come June, my posts will most likely be chronicling my journey through my first participation in Camp NaNoWriMo and I may not have much time to do posting about my writing process and tips during the month. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get more content for the category done than needed for this month to keep it updated throughout June. It all depends, so we’ll cross that bridge when we must.

My lovie and I have decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo together this June, as stated above, and I’ve decided that my novel this go-around will be something a bit new for me. It will be a sort of “guidebook” style novel about the fantasy world my main project is taking place in, going through every factor of it and it’s civilizations, written in a more informative manner, almost as if it were a sort of textbook or nonfiction novel within the world. I’ve not written in that style for my own projects, as far as my memory serves, and it will definitely be a challenge, but hopefully, it’ll be fun and help me get to know my world and, by extension, the people in it, a little bit better.

Now, I’ve got a bit more time to stay up, and everything I’ve got to cover is just about done here, I’ll be closing the post up and (probably) popping back into Netflix to watch even more of the original Dark Shadows tonight, as 4 AM is quickly approaching and I had a goal to finish this mess of an update by then.

What have you guys been up to? Do you use schedules, or prefer to just work with whatever time and inspiration gives you? If so, how tight of a schedule, and if not, why? And of course – is anyone participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this June?