World-building! Yay!

And so we start the world-building again!

This is blackboard tape on my bedroom wall.  It was a Christmas present and I love it so much.  I can’t decide which is better anymore—my whiteboard, my sticky-notes, or my blackboard!

After deciding that I won’t start any major plot changes/revisions until after I’ve had at least one beta-reader go through my novel and give me feedback, I figured starting the world building now would be acceptable.  I tried it last night, actually, and ended up instead extremely frustrated.

Today, though, proved to be much more fruitful!  That blackboard was actually mostly empty this morning, and the strip underneath wasn’t there at all.

I decided that I was going to start my world building with the history.  And the history, I’d start at the beginning.  Yay for figuring out creation!  I actually considered an idea for it, but then it developed into something else, and now I have a really, really awesome idea for my religion, and no clue how the world actually came into existence.  (I’ll probably say “science” and be done with it.  Because, really.)

Tomorrow I’m going to work more on fleshing out my timeline (that’s what that bottom strip is), and then next week, I’ll probably be working on research.  I suck at research and my first and second draft were both written with a “I’ll pretend I know what I’m talking about and hope nobody notices” kind of attitude.

I’m pretty sure that won’t actually slide.  (It actually already hasn’t, considering the culture and whatnot of my world feels very blank.)  And I would like to know what I’m talking about in a few cases.  So now begins the research!  Yay!

That’s basically how it’s going so far.

I also happen to be procrastinating from my WIP, but hopefully that won’t last long, because I would like to finish the first draft of that.

How goes the writing for everyone else?  Where do you usually start when you tackle the huge chaotic mess that is world-building?


NaNoWriMo, Day Nine & Summary of the Week

Over the weekend, we lost Internet (and the phone line) for roughly 24 hours, and I got sick with a cold.  Great for productivity, right?

Well.  This cold left me feeling particularly…fuzzy, and I couldn’t concentrate.  So I mostly bundled up under a blanket (it’s actually getting cold! sort of!) and wrote basically nothing.

However, on Friday, I came to a conclusion that I was going about my writing, and even NaNoWriMo, wrong.  See (prepare for random tangent), I have two methods for brainstorming.  Method A = rambling at friends until they get sick of me or I bore myself or I come up with a solution.  Or all three at once.  Method B = scribble on my whiteboard.

Method A is great when you aren’t writing a sequel that’s full of spoilers you don’t want to spoil.  So, I spent the first week trying to figure things out without brainstorming at all, and I kept getting stuck and feeling frustrated.  Then it occurred to me that I forgot about Method B.

So I went and grabbed my headphones and cleared off my whiteboard and brainstormed.

I started by writing down everything that my “primary protagonist”, as I’ll call him since he seems to be most important in this book, had to deal with.  Which was a lot, poor guy.  Then I started writing down the random plot twists that I’d already encountered, and how they led to other scenes, and how they affected other characters, and suddenly, I was afraid my whiteboard wouldn’t be big enough.  (I’ll be eternally grateful to anybody wants to buy me a whiteboard for Christmas.  Okay, just kidding.  I don’t need anything for Christmas.)

I blurred it so nobody can read spoilers (or at least not as many). The red column, and the one black part at the bottom, are all of the things my main protagonist has to deal with. The two blue sections and the two black sections on the left are the other four characters, and you can see how much smaller THEIR problems are. And then the black column on the right are all of the major plot twists I’ve become aware of.

So after doing all of this, I came to a realization.  My goal for NaNoWriMo isn’t to write 50k, but to write enough to figure out where the story is going.

And look at that! Look at all I know now! Before November, I knew probably two or three things from that list.

Conclusion? If I had written this story chronologically, I wouldn’t have known half of what I’ve figured out now.  In other words, writing all of those random scenes that popped into my head (and then figuring out what scenes could result from it, and who it would affect and how and writing those) was actually probably for the best!  Granted, I only have ~7k out of my 30k, and I don’t think I’ll get a full 30k out of nothing but random, unconnected scenes, so at some point, I’m going to have to start writing the beginning and following it from there.  But for now, I think I’m doing pretty good.  In fact, if I didn’t write a single other word at all this entire month, I think I would have enough to write a vague outline and have almost enough to be totally satisfied.

How’s the writing going for everybody else?  Have you gotten to the Week Two Blues, as I think the NaNoWriMo staff often call them, or are you still going strong?

Planning for NaNo…

So…it’s been like a month and a half since I posted anything.  Part of it’s that I’ve had nothing to say, and part of it is that…well, I’ve been having a lot of self-esteem issues recently, so I’ve just been avoiding my blog. But, I think it’s time I at least say something.

So, it’s October.  NaNoWriMo starts in less than a month.  I’m as prepared as I’m going to be.  Characters are more or less developed (meaning, my MC’s are developed, but I have only backstory and motivation, but no personality, for my villain).  I figure that’s probably enough for the moment, and even if it wasn’t, it’ll have to do since I’m bored of developing characters at the moment.  Same with world-building.  I have random things figured out, and random holes in other places, but I think I have enough to write the first draft.  Afterwards, in December or January, I’ll go through and finish my world building and then I can edit things in and whatnot, but for now, I need a break from all of that.

I know I can’t just not do anything for the next month, though, so I decided to start working on an old story I had started a while ago, and so I’m working on that for now.  I’ve been consistently writing every day, averaging probably around one thousand to two thousand words a day, and I’m very happy about that.

NaNo is going to hard this year, though.  Last year, I wrote about 84k, and so, of course, I want to try to beat my own record and get more than that.  Currently, I think I’m going to try for 100k, but that’d mean I have to write four thousand words every single day.  That’s a stretch even for me (and people are always asking how I write as much in one day as I do…hmm), but I really want to try this.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten one of my siblings to do NaNoWriMo with me.  Just one…maybe two.  The other one doesn’t want to touch NaNo with a ten foot pole.  Eh.  So I was trying to help the one brother with figuring out some things for his story, and he’s got this big thing of time travel and a colony on Mars and magical jewelry, and while it sounds awesome, I wonder if it’ll be too much for him to handle.  He did NaNo last year, but he only wrote about 2k, and so this is going to be a big project for him.  Still, I think it’ll be fun, if nothing else.

So, how’s planning for NaNo going for everyone else?  At least, those of you who are actually planning anything…

Day Twenty-One…and Here Comes the Distractions

So. Today, I made three weeks of writing every single day, for a minimum of 500 words (with the occasional 300….oopsie). And so, what does that mean?

Oh, nothing short of—surprise, surprise!—my concentration wavering. Again. It’s a pattern for me, I’ve noticed, and I’m not sure how to break it. Really all I’ve been able to do is just go with it and use the inspiration as it comes, even if it happens to be for the wrong story.

So, I made my 500 words today, and then ended up in my room, writing on my mirror/reflective-whiteboard/place-to-brainstorm-things. At which point, my dad asked where I was, which ended up in a slightly amusing conversation that went more or less as follows…

“[Shim], are you in the house?”
“Yes! I’m upstairs.”
“Why are you hiding up there?”
“I’m writing on my mirror!”
“Doing what?”
“Your brain is all over the mirror?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up.”

Well, I was amused by it, anyway.

So, as you can probably already tell, all of this “brainstorming” was not for my current WIP but actually for the novel that… well, it’s one I rant about a lot, and it’s also where I got my online nickname Shim from. Sort of.

Anyhow. I’m having, what I think is a problem with my plot and characters not working together (though I have no clue if I’m imagining that as well, though I hope not), so, the easiest thing to do is get a new plot. Or, well, dig up an old plot from an old draft. So what I’m doing now is basically trying to fit a story that I wrote two years ago with the characters that have evolved quite a bit since that draft. So far, it’s going okay, but who knows if it’ll work.

Anyway. Back to the main problem. If I work on this, then I’m not really going to finish that other story I’ve been writing for the past three weeks, will I? But I don’t want to just drop the inspiration for this other one, either… So what I’m going to try to do is write my five hundred words, just like before, and then after that, I’ll work on the other one. That way, I can do both.

Please tell me this will work, please tell me this will work, please tell me this will work… Please tell me this will work!

Little Sisters and a Little Bit of Stress

So.  Way back in November, I decided to write a novel.  Y’know, for NaNoWriMo.  I actually didn’t end up writing said novel, instead writing an outline for a different novel, but that’s not important.  The important part is, I decided to drag my younger siblings in with me on the wonderful craziness of NaNo.  One brother decided to write a Minecraft fan-fiction, while the other made up a story about a can and a ghost who ran away from their home and the cat’s cruel master.  Neither finished their story, but considering their age, I think they both wrote a decent amount and I was very proud of the fact that they at least tried.  (I’m also happy to hear that one of them plans to finish his novel this up and coming November.)

Then came my little sister.  She’s younger than the two boys, yet she’s always loved telling stories.  Never written them down, but certainly told them verbally enough to practically be an expert.  Or, well, as close to expert as an eight year old gets.  I convinced her into joining NaNoWriMo as well, and she wrote a story about a dragon who got lost and has to find her way home, with the help of a friendly cat.  (It amused me greatly that two of my siblings’ stories had cats in them as one of the protagonists…now I’m tempted to add a cat into one of my own stories, just for the fun of it.)

She completed her goal of a thousand words and finished the story, on about the 24th of November.  The story was awesome.

As you can probably guess, considering it’s like the opposite time of year as November, I just helped her finish editing it.  It’s even more awesome now.  I love it.  She had quite a few spelling and grammar errors (including switching back and forth between present and past tense, using comma splices, and so on), but she is only eight, so I helped her fix them up.

Now it’s pretty much finished and she’s even illustrating it with little sketches of some of the scenes.

I’m the proudest older sister there ever was.  And also…one who’s kind of discouraged in herself.

I haven’t finished a project since last May.  That’s nearly an entire year ago.  That was a story I believe I mentioned in an earlier post about my lack of motivation, which is now back in the outlining/figuring-out-what-in-the-world-is-going-on-here stage.  Or, er, the drawing board, I guess.  I’ve got so many plots holes…

But that’s for another rant.  Anyhow, there are a few excuses for my lack of finishing anything.  I lost both my uncle and my grandmother in June, and since then, there’s been enough family drama to, well, fill an entire soap opera.  Or three.  But right now?  After all, that was way back in June.

I’m…not really sure.  I just feel stressed.  I’d like to blame school, but we’ve actually figured all of that stuff out.  I know what I’m doing the next two years of highschool and maybe even a vague idea of what comes afterwards.  No need to be stressed.  Yet…I keep feeling stressed out.

It finally occurred me that it’s really the writing itself that’s the problem.  I can still do most of my creative process.  I can outline, I can brainstorm, I can even do some world-building and some sort of character development (I’m not very good with that part yet, unfortunately, without doing discovery-writing….which is weird, since I’m more or less an outliner at this point…hmm.).  But  whenever I sit down to write, that’s when I get stuck.

Turns out, I can’t seem to get into the story.  Any story.  I’ve got five of them, after all.  (Or was it six?)  I’ve found I can still, occasionally, write random scenes here and there, but nothing important and nothing that actually goes anywhere.  I tried writing a new short story, too, and that didn’t work either.  I tried just sitting and writing nothing, I tried switching to a notebook, and I even tried taking a break from writing altogether and coming back later.  No matter what I do, no matter how I try, no matter even which story I work on, I can’t seem to lose myself into my writing anymore.

So that’s what the problem is.  That’s why I’m completely stressed out about any of my writing and avoiding it.

I also…have no clue why this is the case and what in the world to do about it.

Gah, so this post turned out far more complain-y than I intended…I had really just wanted to talk about how proud I was of my sister. Heh.  So, yeah, there it is.  Anyone have any suggestions of what to try?   And anyone else have awesome little sisters?

So-So Productivity and Scrivener

Well what do you know.  I abandoned my blog again.  Unlike last time, I have a more legitimate excuse—I’ve been dealing with both lots of family drama and also trying to fill out my high-school transcripts.  Talk about stressful.

Anyhow.  Doing Camp didn’t quite work how I intended it to.  Meaning, I’m not doing as planned, but once again am stretched out between four projects.  Again.  I also haven’t kept track of any form of “word-count” at all, which means according to the Camp website, I have written a whopping zero words.  I’m not terribly worried, though, because I really have done more brainstorming and outlining than actual writing—and it’s kind of hard to convert that into a word-count.

Besides.  I didn’t want to do Camp to write a novel.  I just wanted to use it to motivate me to do something.  That something might be a lot of weird things and with absolutely no concentration on one project, but it’s still something, isn’t it?

I’m going to blame part of my not-as-productive-as-I’d-like-t0-be-ness on Scrivener.  I got the program for Christmas last year, and it is an awesome writing program.  Never before have I been able to organize and sort my writing and notes and everything so well, and I’ve started to have trouble working in anything else.  Which means, whenever I have to let one of my siblings have a turn on the computer, suddenly the program I use on my tablet, Pages, which I’ve used for years, seems very incompetent and I’m struggling to write anything in it.

Gah.  Even notebooks seem pathetic now.

Okay, that’s enough ranting.  I’m curious, though, what writing programs does everybody else use?  I hope I’m not the only one who doesn’t use Word. (Granted, I can’t use Word, since I have a Mac, but still.  I could use the Mac equivalent, Text Edit, except the very idea gives me the shudders.)


Critique and Feedback

I realized I am missing one of the important things with my writing: critique and feedback.  In my last post, I mentioned that I’m starting to look into publishing.  It turns out, though, that I’m not quite ready for that stage.

As of yet, I haven’t had anyone read my novels (at least, all the way through) for the point of criticizing.  A few people have read it for fun and told me they liked it, but…whereas that makes me feel better, it’s not constructive.

I’ve known that I need some outside feedback for a while, but I only recently realized how much I needed it.  I’m at the point, right now, in my writing, where I’m trying to improve my skill by looking at the problems I make, and attempting to fix them.  The problem is, I’m finding problems everywhere.  Dialogue, structure, description, sentence-structure, everything.  Yet, I have no clue if these issues I’m finding are real, or if they’re all in my head.  I know most of them are probably imaginary, but I don’t know which ones and how much.

So, yesterday, I had a big three-hour-or-longer-discussion with my mother.  (You know how writers often say, don’t go to your mom for criticism because she’s going to love everything you write, even if it’s terrible?  Well, my mom’s cooler than that.  She loves it and helps me out.)  It turned out that I had some loopholes, plot holes, and other holes that I wasn’t even aware of.  It all made perfect sense in my head, but it didn’t actually make much sense at all.

Hmm.  I now have a decently sized list of things I have to think about and then fix in this draft.  It’s going to be more eventful than I realized.

I guess publishing might still be a ways off…

Now For the Ideas…Or Lack of Them

Something doesn’t seem to want me to write, it seems. First, I’ve spent the past week procrastinating instead of actually writing. Finally, yesterday, I’ve gotten back into writing. Just needed a bit of stubbornness to shove myself back into it, it seemed.

Now, I have a different dilemma. It turns out, I didn’t write down the ideas I had for what happened next, and now, after my week of procrastination, I don’t remember what they were! So, now, finally that I’m on a roll with the writing, it’s stopped by a lack of ideas of all things. I had a brilliant idea of what was supposed to happen, and yet I didn’t write it down. It might as well never had happened, except that I remember coming up with it.

It’s going to drive me nuts, I think. Even if I come up with something better.

Well. Now that I’ve gotten that out, I think it’s time to go brainstorming. Now, where did my ducky go…?