NaNoWriMo 2018 Prep : Plotting

So I’ve redone the plot I was working on. It’s still on the same world, but I’ve made the story more focused, more character driven, hopefully with compelling characters in the heroes and villains. The over arcing plot of the series I’m anticipating is still the same, a multi world conquest story, but we’re starting off small, and building out.

Going through a standard three act set up, with a major point in the middle of the novel, and a climatic battle at the end, so everything builds becomes bigger from start to finish, as there’s a couple of smaller conflicts earlier on. Nothing really innovative there, but I’m not going for innovative, I’m going for character moments.

Five talkie bits are planned, which hopefully I can keep quite snappy and not exposition heavy, (something I’m quite prone to), outside of those moments dialogue will be functional “Go here,” “Go there,” “Phew! that was close”, with actions and behaviours used to tell those parts of the stories. By no means is this the best way to write, it’s more if I do it, I can avoid a lot of pitfalls I fall into, (like circular dialogue that fails to end at a natural point).

So character wise on the good guy side (nominally the overall plot blurs who’s good and bad, but for the first novel it’ll be quite clear), we have a young character, an innocent caught up in something greater, and destined for something massive, then there’s the wise mentor, and a roguish mentor and defender, alongside a cast of supporting roles like military leaders, politicians, traders, and general people. A goal will be to have more dynamic and engaging secondary and tertiary characters.

On the bad guys, there’ll be a couple of military leaders who have the same goal, but sit in opposition to each other on methods, with one aiming for a domination victory, and the other a very targeted crafty plot.  I want them to be compelling, and to sew the seeds that they are the villains of the piece, but there’s a broader ethics involved which would allow for that obfuscation of heroes and villains later in the over arcing plot.

So –  a lot of work to do to make all that a reality, but at least most of the planning I’d done to this point is still valid and very useful. The history of the world still applies, though I’ve realised if I want to rely less on exposition, I might struggle to get some of it in, there’s only really one point in my plot where I can, (and must), show the history of the world. So, some block breakers are going to be experiments in historical exposition, and exposition generally.

Block breakers are now definitely going to be part of my prep after the recent trouble of number three, I might also do an out right short story as world setup for the NaNoWriMo novel, focusing on one character’s earlier life before the planned story takes place.

Post NaNoWriMo Challenge Plans

So following NaNoWriMo this year, win or lose, I’ve decided on a challenge to continue writing and build on whatever momentum I have, (or lost during November if it doesn’t go well).

I’ve got dozens of stories in my drafts that I’ve never finished for one reason or another, I’m going to go through them and finish a couple a week during November. Some of them are years old, and the original ideas and goals have faded from my mind, so it will be interesting to see where I go with them.

So Completionist December is going to be a thing. Of course that will be followed by Editing January, where I take a run at a second draft of my NaNoWriMo story, (editing is soul crushing, so usually doesn’t happen, maybe I’ll change it up and redraft and edit last year’s NaNoWriMo instead, for similar reasons as completing all those short stories, it’ll be interesting to see where I take it). I’m not planning further than January, because while at the moment I’ve got the writing, (and blogging bug), who knows where I’ll be come February onwards.

So things to look forward to, in the meantime I’m concentrating on planning and preperations for NaNoWriMo, and Block Breakers (short stories) for practice.

My oh my, well it has been a long time…

My last post here was the 31st October, just getting ready for NaNoWriMo 2013. I’d had the ambitious aim of finishing in twenty four hours, but alas, I was a bit ill – quite a bit ill actually, and it waylaid me. Still, I managed a day ten win, so I’m still proud and happy.

A lot has happened in the past eight months, in November I started a new job. A very busy, stressful, demanding, and satisfying job. Lots of travel at the beginning of the year for work, (I’ve racked up something like twenty nights in hotels this year so far). In January I had to move from my home of over a decade, but I now have a two bedroom back to back all to my lonesome, and it’s nice, if a little too quiet at times. Both new and old friends have been coming and going, each bringing those indelible marks onto my life, the little changes, the memories, the lessons not to be forgotten.

This is just a synopsis though, you’ll have to wait twenty years for the biography, because all that life stuff isn’t what this blog is for. No, this is blog is for the writing. If I were to look at my life and say what label I would most like to be identified with, it would be ‘Writer’.

Of course writers write. Being published, even read, that’s irrelevant. Writers write. That’s the only thing that defines a writer. I write stories, that’s me. Despite everything going on, I’ve actually been doing that. Had a few false starts, that are now doomed to the dusty and neglected corner of my mind labeled “For future use”, but there’s one that’s fast forming a story that I’m quite proud of. It’s post apocalyptic zombie stuff, so hardly original, and somewhat dated with the zombie fetishism rapidly vanishing from fashion, but I’m enjoying writing it, and it has clever touches.

I’ve been reading a lot too, I’m practically devouring novels at the moment, but it’s helping me form my ideas for NaNoWriMo 2014. A nice big epic story to achieve my highest November word count yet, and of course another attempt at the one day 50k.

What else is happening? Well the post apocalyptic zombie novel should be finished this month. This July I’m banning myself from social media, (I don’t count blogging), no TV binges on Netflix, LoveFilm, et al, just four hours a week to watch films, healthy diet, exercise, chores being done, and the rest of my free time being taken up with writing and reading. I’m going to be highly productive this month, starting with finally updating here.

Will be pulling more interesting stuff together as well, rather than just recaps of my life, (because there’s enough replays around with this World Cup nonsense).

So watch this space.

Its Been A While

Reports of my demise, well weren’t really reported at all – but if they were, they weren’t true. I’m still here, this heart of mine beats its strong baddum baddum.

It has been a while since I posted, and the last time I posted I admitted failure, I had lost NaNoWrimo09, however it wasn’t the end of the world. Unfortunately, the writers block didn’t stay long gone, and since then I’ve struggled to write again. Even the words for blogging just wouldn’t come. As I said though, its not the end of the world. It never really is, however depressing it feels. That said, I’m feeling ready to write again, a whole chasm of ideas has started to fill the void where inspiration had previously been lacking.

I also have a brand new toy to help with my writing. Since I switched to using the Nokia 5800, I’ve been struck by the lack of keyboard, and many key features of my beloved Nokia E71, so until I get another new phone that combines the great features of the E71, and the 5800 – I needed a filler, which was either going to be a carrying my laptop everywhere, or gadget time. The gadget in question is an electronic pen. I got the cheapest one I could – however it is incredibly amazing. Forget your iPads, and you tablets, the future is pen and paper!

I’ve never been adverse to handwriting my fiction – in fact I find it far easier to transfer my thoughts to paper than to a screen, however I fail at typing up, and at some point I’m going to get stuck because my handwritten pages are hard to read, and get damaged, or go missing. There is no way I can type up thirty thousand words of my handwriting, especially not when most of my writing time comes while travelling. However, the digital pen comes with software to not only catalogue your written word into a database, but to also convert it into text.

Obviously the catch here is that the quality of your handwriting will affect how well your scribbles can be converted into text, the software can’t make miracles. I’ve found, though, that as long as it can hit 70%, you’re correcting, not rewriting whole sections. Which suits me, as it lets me slip a bit of editing in the process.

I bought the most basic one I could find, (by basic read cheap), and the look of the product does reflect this – however the actual quality is so much better.

It comes in two parts, the pen, and the sensor that does the recording. You clip your sensor to the top of the page, and then start writing. When you complete a page, you hit the button, and it starts a new one in memory. Best gadget buy of the year for me, its going to take a lot to top that. Here’s a link to the one I bought: http://bit.ly/bKV5OG 

Hopefully that’s going to help me achieve some writing – but toys themselves aren’t whats necessary, I realise now I’ve been having real difficulties at focusing on the tasks I set myself. So I need to work on my habits – and this is a general life thing, rather than specifically a writing thing. So I’m going to introduce some new behaviours, such as going to a coffee shop once a week to chill out, and read or write. Getting back to going to the gym, get myself fit, doing more puzzles to get my brain engaged, rather than switching off the second my mind wanders. I should probably stop making lists of things I intend to do – but we all have our vices. There are never any promises with me, I get distracted far too easily to even promise myself something – but I’m going to try. Writing isn’t just about writing, its about making better worlds, and better people to me, especially a better me.

In the mean time, I think I’m going to spend this week writing a couple of three hundred word short stories, just to get myself warmed up for the rest of the year to come.