Night of the Undead Prose…

I don’t have a lot to add to this. I just thought it was worth sharing. 

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NaNoWriMo Final Report: Victory!

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner

I actually crossed the finish line two days early, late Monday night. Woohoo!

Things I learned, in no particular order:

  • For me, the most important part of writing is making decisions. Writer’s block is often just the fear of making decisions. Be Bold!
  • I have a bit of a depressive personality, which I mostly manage through self-care. Writing dark, morally ambiguous, cynical stories is not good self-care
  • Writing can and should feel good. If it doesn’t, maybe I’m writing  the wrong story. That’s not to say that it will always be easy, or always flow freely, but it will be feel right and good.
  • I need to simplify characters, starting with a couple of broad roles (this time, I used the four classic temperaments and role within the classic “five man band”), so I can differentiate them early. Complexity will come from the interaction of roles and their interactions with other characters
  • “Surviving in nature” shows are good inspiration for nonviolent action and peril scenes (Dual Survival, Remote Survival, River Monsters, etc.)
  • I still need help with plotting. The Hero’s Journey (especially Christopher Vogler’s simplication of it ) and Kenn Adams’s Story Spine (aka “The Pixar Story Spine”) are good guides to keep me on track.
  • Back to characters, to keep myself from making the same characters over and over and muddying them up, I made cards, shuffled them, and randomly drew for role, temperament, etc. I didn’t bind myself to the results, but I used them to get myself flowing.
  • The key is making decisions, being bold, and not being afraid to try something new, to go against the mold … especially the “white male antihero solves problems by beating up the right bad guys” mold. 🙂
  • Nightwish makes some great writing music

NaNoWriMo 2016 Preparations


I’m planning to do NaNoWriMo this year,  and like my Disney trip,  I’m starting to prepare for it ahead of time. Here are a few of my preparations: 

Going to bed earlier (by 11). I have such limited time and energy after work and after we’ve had family time and put the little one to bed, I know I’ll have to do a lot of my writing before work. I’m not a morning person by nature,  but I will be by necessity. 

Reading novels to help get my mind ready to write, and to surround myself with positive writing influences of the type of writing I’ll be doing. Good movies may help the general narrative sense, but only novels are novels. 

Writing scenes as exercises to get myself used to writing fiction again. 

Reading a few books on writing craft, so my results will hopefully be better. 

Watching nature documentaries, because I get inspired by cool landscapes and wildlife. River Monsters with Jeremy Wade is my favorite. 

I’m also trying to get ahead on my blog posts so I can focus more on fiction during November. 

A Tale of Three Pens

Like most of the American population, I’ve become more of a visual learner in the last few years. 

I like taking notes in multiple colors, using different pens for different categories or to separate different thoughts. I like having multiple highlighters for review. 

And, of course, I like to use pens that write well.

I know, I know: first world problems. But who doesnt like a smooth pen, especially when you have a lot to write?

So I keep a number of gel pens and quality ball points in my bag. But I often don’t have that with me,  and there’s no good way to carry a half-dozen pens in my pockets. 

So I started carrying one of those four in one ball point pens (The one at the top). They’re not expensive,  and they’re a compact solution,  but they are horrible pens. 

The colors are so dark and still I have to faint to tell the green from the black once it’s on paper. The points scratch and drag across the paper, allowing my writing down considerably.  And that’s when they write I  the first go,  and I don’t have to spend time trying to get them primed to write at all. 

Great concept, rubbish execution. 

So, after conversation with a co-worker who really knows pens, I decided to buy the red pen in the picture above, a Uniball Jetstream.

It was $9, a manageable amount for a pen, it comes with four colors and a mechanical pencil,  and it feels great the hand. I think it looks pretty good, too.

It is world better than it’s predecessor, both in writing experience and in ink color, and definitely worth the extra cost. It’s even refillable. 

It does not write like a gel pen. But the more I write with it, the more I like it. I really don’t need another multi-pen…

…But that doesn’t mean I won’t buy one anyway. Right now I’m looking at the Sarasa Zebra multi-pen, a well-reviewed gel multi, and the Pilot Coleto Multi, a hyper-custonizable gel multi that comes in 2,3,4, or 5 color barrels, and allows you to choose your own colors (or pencils or styluses).

I’ll let you know how it goes. 

A Long Journey, with Much Pain, and No Guarantee of Arrival


I realized something today about all the things I want to change about myself: 

Every one well be painful and long.  None will be accomplished overnight. They will require me to hurt for a fairly long time. 

Muscles will ache. My mind will wrack  with ideas and extended effort, long after inspiration has passed. 

And not a single one of them comes with a guarantee of success. 

There are smarter ways to work, tactics to prevent injury and burnout, and tips to lighten the load, but there will be no more easy victories. Becoming vegan was the only one of those I’m likely to get. 

The sooner I accept this,  the sooner I can really get started. 

Heh. Does this mean I’m finally growing up? 


Another Update on Building My Writing Muscles: Deconstructing Rubbish

When practicing anything to try to get better,  it’s inevitable that some sessions, some output, some exercises, won’t go so well.

Sometimes you’ll know it immediately.  Sometimes it may take a while. But either way, you’re faced with the question of what to do about it.

That’s what happened in yesterday’s session. I used the first half of my lunch break to write, before I even ate. It was good to put first things first, so to speak. But the output wasn’t so great, and it wasn’t because I was hungry.

The initial writing came to 500 words, which was longer than some of the other exercises. I did it in under 15 minutes. But it was far and away the worst so far. Why?

Well, that’s what I spent the next 15-20 minutes figuring out. I analyzed what went wrong, and what I might do differently in the future, and it came to almost 600 words. Yep, it was longer than the passage.

Without intending to, I’d written a dialogue exposition info-dump. The dialogue had no internal conflict, and there was no reason to give that much setting information in one scene.

There wasn’t any conflict in the scene, and that meant it was almost destined to be boring.

There was no setting information given, nothing for the senses. It could have taken place in a white room or on a rocky beach for all the information I gave.

The characters didn’t even react strongly or do much. Dialogue, I think, should take place during other actions. Yes, in the real world, a lot of times we stand around or sit around just talking. And those conversations can be very interesting to be a part of. But unless they are really earth-shaking conversations, they’re not that interesting to read.

But hey, I call the exercise a success, because I thoroughly deconstructed a failed effort and came up with solid steps to do better next time.

 

 

 

August Life Goals

Yesterday, I shared my progress on my July writing goals and announced my August writing goals.  Today,  I’m setting out my August life goals.

  • Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep each night.
  • Get to bed early enough to write,  read, pray, exercise, or otherwise greet the day
  • Exercise 3 days a week, rain or shine
  • Continue eating a plant-based diet
  • Try to do something actively helpful for someone (family can be included,  but ideally this should reach beyond them)  each day
  • Listen to music, go outside,  and do other things to rejuvenate myself

Well,  that’s more than enough to do for one month. I will  let you know how I did at the end of the month.