NaNoWriMo Day 8 Update: How’s It Going Guys?

Hi Everyone! How’s NaNoWriMo going?

I haven’t got so much of a word count in, but I have been plugging away at 30 days of world building, which I found on this blog here.

Basically you spend each day working on the different aspects of creating your world. So far, I’ve created a climate, created a rough sketch of map, and selected what races will be in my world and how they will interact, etc.

The planning is so detailed and it’s been a lot of fun so far. Some of the stuff I’ve already come up on my own, but before I started doing the exercises I hadn’t even thought as far as climate and how weather (like a bad storm) could help drive a plot point.

Kind of neat! I think tonight I will do my world building exercise, (Economy and Politics!) and get down to some actual writing for once. I tend to not want to sit at my desk, because I sit at one for work all day long, so here I am propped up in bed and it is working so far.

How is everyone doing? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep writing?

Happy Writing Everyone!

Fear of Failure: The Struggle is Real Tonight

fear-of-heights-2040805_1280

God, I need to get motivated! Having a hard time tonight. Everything I was supposed to do, didn’t happen. All I did was eat food, watch TV, and accidentally fell asleep at like 7 o’clock and slept like an hour.

But when it comes to certain things, I am starting to realize that the fear of failure is holding me back. Every time that I tell myself all those wasted hours watching TV I could be writing, ends with me usually watching three of four more episodes of said TV show and then feeling guilty.

The same goes with applying for jobs. Temp jobs don’t last forever you know, they ARE temporary, but I see a job posting and think: what’s the point? Everyone is always more qualified, more well-spoken, always better than me.

A lot of this boils down to self-confidence too, hmm…

Anyway, I always seem to feel myself resurfacing to the What’s the point? I’ll just fail anyway.

My boyfriend’s favorite saying to me seems to be: You don’t know unless you try.

But lately, I feel like the past few years have been me trying and trying and nothing comes of it. I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of what happens when nothing comes of hopes and dreams…

How stupid, I know.

I can’t seem to shake this feeling though, tonight. And this feeling has me having trouble starting something, too. I’ll stare at my revamped resume and be like: do I really look like I’m a quality specimen? The person they’re ultimately looking for?

I certainly don’t feel like one sometimes. (Sigh.)

Same goes with writing, too. I’ll stare at the page and I feel like my characters stare unflinchingly back at me. In some sort of eternal pause, waiting for me to direct them across the page, but their stories are at a standstill…so they stare at me, and they judge me.

I decided early on that I wanted to be a writer. But that doesn’t mean that writers automatically know how to write a novel. This is difficult stuff, really.

I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but…sigh.

What do you guys do when fear gets you down? Do you struggle with some of the same fears I do?

NaNoWriMo Days 1-3: How’s It Going?

writing-828911_1920Well, my first few days of NaNoWriMo haven’t been all that successful…I must admit I’m not sure I’ll have the time nor the attention to devote to it this year, but I’m going to try.

Starting a new job soon and I’m in a new location and that makes it even harder to concentrate…but we shall see how it goes. I had hoped tonight I would get more brainstorming done so I can start working on building some sort of Plot Map.

I like the idea of a Plot Map, rather than an outline. Outlines really don’t do that much for me. Not when stories have the potential to branch out in so many different directions.

Plus, with maps you can see the path illustrated in front of you to follow. To me outlines are just a bunch of words on a page and I have a hard time visualizing my story if I were to plot it out that way.

When I say plot map, I’m picturing something like these examples.

Anyway, how are you guys doing with NaNoWriMo this year? How did you brainstorm or prepare for your story?

My Plot Points are too Weak?

I’m actually sitting down to work on the plot for one of my stories tonight. Woo! This is progress!

However, I have a few questions. How do you know when your plot points are too weak? This is my problem:

I’ll sit down to write out a few scenes or scenarios for an outline, and suddenly doubt creeps in the further I get into the story. Suddenly, I’m filled with doubt and questioning my motives and my characters motives: would someone really do that? Am I going overboard with my character’s emotions?

So of course, turned to google for some answers. I found my answer here, on this blog, who uses J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an example of a book that has great plot points; which makes for a compelling story as well as evokes an emotional reaction in its readers. (I mean kudos already goes to this blogger who references my hero, J.K. Rowling.)

I guess the important thing to note here, when it comes to plot writing, is to make sure that your character is influenced emotionally, (so emotion is great!) you want your character to change/face some obstacle in someway, but you also want your story to resonate in the mind of your readers. Huh.

Not too difficult I should think? Right? Do you guys have any insight on how you go about plotting your stories?

Happy Writing everyone!

 

 

NaNoWriMo Days 1 and 2: Let’s Go Places!

NaNoWriMo Day 1: I slept late, went to the mall, ate dinner with a friend and got my hair cut.

NaNoWriMo: Day 2: Slept late, drank a cup of tea, did dishes, and looked at Grad programs.

The point: My NaNoWriMo month is off to a rough start, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say that I’m going to give it a try. It’s the busiest month I’ve had in awhile, what with the holidays coming up and new jobs…and Agh! But this is important to me.

Except, I’m going to use the rules as “guidelines,” and well, cheat…essentially. I’ve already got my story in mind, and I already have a brief brainstorm, ANND I have already about 9,000 words written.

dawns-rising-cover-page1.jpgThe story that I’m going to try to write in its entirety, even if it is a crappy first draft, is my story Dawn’s Rising, which I had hoped to self publish, and use as a platform for this blog. It’s been on a hiatus for awhile, but it still lives…somewhat.

Bringing that idea to life is very important to me, and something that I still want to complete and finish….whether good, bad, ugly…I just have to face my fears, learn how to create a compelling plot, and storm on ahead no matter how many self doubts try to bring me down!

So I am going to be using NaNoWriMo as a motivator…and hopefully get some kind of finished product as a result!

Any other fellow NaNoWriMo writers out there? What are you going to write about?

I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Writing everyone!

Part 4: Endtown (a short story)

There’s no excuse. I should have got this out to you guys on Thursday, and I am sorry. I won’t let writer’s fear get the best of me, or quit when the going gets rough. Whew. I am a strong, confident writer who can succeed and that’s that!

Anyway, here’s Part 4 of what was supposed to be Thursday night’s post. If you missed the previous post, you can view them on last week’s post Here. You will also find links to Part 1 and 2 there as well.

Endtown

0407131926aSo far, the story focuses on Genevieve, a young teen who died way too early. Both her and her friends find themselves in Limbo, or “the in-between,” in neither Heaven or Hell. They are offered the chance to make a difference in the war that the Angels are still fighting against the demons, who are trying to take over the earth.

Part 4:

The demon was still looking at them. “Your Master doesn’t know, does he?” He grinned, and Genevieve shuddered. His teeth were filed down to points, for gnawing on flesh.

“What are you going to do?” said Genevieve.

He looked the three of them over. “Oh, wouldn’t you like to know.”

 

          THE demon just stood there looking at them. Gen squirmed as she felt her stomach drop to her feet. Her skin itched; it felt like a hundred stinging ants were crawling across her stomach. She was burning. Her forehead was sweating. “He’s going to burn us from the inside out!” she gasped. Gaven and Gillian both groaned suddenly and dropped to their knees.

“Make him stop!” cried Gillian as he moved onto all fours.

“Do what?” cried Genevieve as she struggled to stay upright.

“There’s nothing to do,” gasped Gaven. “We’re already dead.”

“That you are,” said a voice that was familiar, and scary at the same time.

And there he stood next to the ugly bald-headed demon, looking resplendent in his white suit, and colored sunglasses. His face was slightly rough with a day’s worth of scruff, but other than that, the master looked smooth and handsome and powerful.

“Why are you here, Lyle? I hear your master is half-way around the world right now,” he said.

And then the pain fell away. Genevieve fell onto all fours next to the boys.

The demon named Lyle turned toward the master slowly. He scrunched up his already ugly face into a scowl. “Samyaza.”

“Please,” said the Master. “Samuel is fine.”

“Your name doesn’t matter to me,” hissed Lyle. “Who are you to question where I am?”

“It matters when you hurt,” (he said as he glanced at the three teenagers,) “Those that are close to me.”

Lyle spat on the ground, and the dirt hissed and sizzled where his spit fell. “In-betweeners.”

“We prefer the term, “Watchers,” said Samuel.

“You think you scare me? You are no more welcome in heaven than I.”

“We have been pardoned,” he said and the ground seemed to swell under his feet. He was growing, no, he was rising. Genevieve saw the wings sprouting out from his back. He seemed to glow with a faint light. “Would you like to see?” he said.

“Save your holiness,” gnashed Lyle between pointy teeth. He glanced at the smoldering wreck of the train. “My work is done here anyway.” He turned into the darkness and disappeared.

“Oh man,” said Gill as he slapped Gaven on the back as they both got to their feet. “That was a close one!” But he quieted as their Master, Samuel, turned towards them.

“Stay out of trouble, I said. Watch the town, I said. See what sort of exports are coming in. Are you three incapable of following instructions? Or are you just stupid?!”

Genevieve flinched as she scrambled to her feet. His wings were still extended and although she couldn’t see his eyes beneath his green-blue sunglasses, she didn’t need to. She’d seen his eyes flash a silver and gold in a rage before.

“It was my fault.” She stepped forward as the two boys bowed their heads. “I told Gaven I thought there was something on the train. We came to investigate. Gill found us later.”

“I don’t care what happened,” said the Master. “We can’t let them get the best of us, again.” He turned his head and his sunglasses flashed a teal color. “Do you even know what happened with the train? What they blew up?”

“We were working on that when you showed up,” mumbled Gaven.

“Shut up,” said the Master, and then he jerked his head over to the wreck behind him and moved a smoldering piece of wood out of his path and set it down gently. “Well, let’s get this sorted out.”

Genevieve never seemed to know which side their Master was on. And it bothered her more than she cared to admit. Hot and cold, he ran. Like two different types of weather. It was exhausting.

Yes, the Watchers, or In-Betweeners were pardoned, but if being forced out of Heaven to live on Earth was punishment, it certainly felt like it. They were alone. One of a kind, and yet never resting. Sometimes Genevieve felt like she ran a marathon that never ended, and she was always dying of thirst.

She watched the Master turn over a burning log and pick up a smoldering box. She or the two boys would have been burned by the heat, but Samuel was a lot older than them. And he had his wings. She wondered if they would ever get a chance to earn wings.

“What is it?” she asked him.

The Master cursed and threw the smoldering box into to dirt. “Food,” he hissed.

“Those fucking bastards,” said Gaven.

Samuel’s sunglasses flashed as he turned towards him. “Watch it.”

“So?” said Gillian. “What will that do? There’s plenty of food, here.”

The Master jerked his head toward her. “Tell them.”

“Well…not really,” said Genevieve.

“What do you mean?” said Gaven. “What did we just eat a few hours ago?” he laughed. “Dirt?”

“No, and the new districts are fine,” (she glanced around) “Here in old town is different.”

“What do you mean by that?” said Gaven.

“There’s a lot of poverty here. People depend on the free shipments the train brings in. Mostly stuff from the government. Goes into food pantries and the like.”

“The free shipments cut down on stealing,” said the Master. “The government finally found out that people were starving and stealing for food and they did something about it.”

“So without the food to keep people off the streets?” said Gaven, but he didn’t expect an answer.

“Well, shit,” said Gillian. “Mama ain’t gonna like this.”

“Shut up,” said Gaven as he smacked him in the head. “There will be riots over this stuff, idiot. We got our work cut out for us.”

“My foster parents are even depending on it,” said Genevieve.

“We’ll see that they are taken care of,” said The master.

“Great,” said Genevieve as she looked down at herself. “Is that all we’re taking care of? When can I be myself again?”

She thought she saw the Master grimace before he turned away. It was his fault that she found herself in the form of a twelve-year-old. It was her punishment, he had said. She shouldn’t have been sticking her nose where it didn’t belong.

But all Genevieve had been trying to do was make a difference in this world. Wasn’t that what they were here for anyway?

 

To Be Continued…Tune in next Thursday for more!

Happy Writing!

Dawn’s Rising Update

A few years ago, (honestly I can’t believe its been that long already) I started this blog all with the hopes of helping my writing career.

The idea was to write my ‘first crappy novel’ and see about self-publishing, creating an eBook of my very own. Well, I’m here to say that the dream is still a live and kicking…if a bit delayed and slow going. :/

dawns-rising-cover-page1.jpgThe trouble is: the story. I had an idea, I started to write, and suddenly it’s not good enough. I want to go in one direction, the characters go in another. I read on someone’s post last night, about discovering who you are as a writer. How you can’t really write, until you decide who you are.

Am I the organized type? Do I write on the fly? Do I write outlines?

Well, I can say right now, I detest outlines in any form, although I have tried a few now and then. I write notes, and I brainstorm ideas, usually in a notebook dedicated to the specific project. Usually I start with an idea of how I want a scene to go, and then I write, trying to get a feel of how it affects the characters, and generally how they feel about the situation.

I know that seems strange, but characters (sometimes well-developed ones) are alive and as real as people (at least in my head), I’m sure other writers feel the same. It’s hard to take a story in one direction, when you’ve got a character giving you the stink eye and being like, “seriously? you’re taking it there?”

This is the reason I love the movie, Nim’s Island, which is about an agoraphobic writer who is influenced and encouraged by her main character (who is adventurous and the complete opposite) to go and do and be something she is not. In the movie, Jodie Foster shows us how hilarious and how true it is for writers that their characters seem so real to them.

So anyway, Dawn’s Rising lives!

So much so, that when I wrote some more on it last night, it fought me all the way.

I think from now on, I am going to let it go and be what it wants to be, sometimes as a writer you have to learn when to surrender. Also, I think I’m going to start writing the story from the middle and then write the beginning last. I’ve read somewhere, that many writers use this approach when writing large novels.

Some things have changed a bit. But I’d thought I’d post a small synopsis of what I have so far, for those that are still interested:

Dawn’s Rising –

Angel Desoto longs to be an actress. After graduating from college, and working as a waitress, she stumbles into a world where she might have landed her greatest role yet. But when did demons, and witches and parallel dimensions exist?

Anyway, do you have any strategies when it comes to plot building, or creating a story?

Happy Writing people!

Life of Pi – In Medias Res

I saw a trailer for the new movie “Life of Pi” so I, of course, had to check out the book by Yann Martel. I downloaded it on my nook and am I already on the tenth chapter. Some of my friends on Facebook complained that it was a book they were forced to read their first semester of college; that it was confusing and boring and no one understood what was going on half the time.

As I am hardly a quarter of the way into the story, I cannot say much about the actual story just yet, but what I am impressed with, is the writing and the depth behind the words that are being said. I don’t often read novels that have significant meaning to them lately, (I know shameful of me) but when I do – I make sure they are good ones.

Although I am very impressed with the author’s intelligent writing, I can agree that the narrative is long-winded and the first person narrator takes forever to get his points across, whatever they might be. As a reader, however, I am trusting that there is a point to this story and am going to follow it faithfully on as I am anxious to see what happens. The author himself has promised a story that will make you believe in God, and perhaps that is a hook just like any other. However…

View from overlook at Harris Hill, NY.

My creative writing teacher in college always encouraged us writers with a Latin phrase, “In medias res,” which means in the middle of things. It is a literary technique that some writers use to grab the attention of their readers by starting off their story in the middle of the action, or near the end. The result is very little exposition, but it is an exciting technique, because it allows the reader to experience what is happening to the characters they are reading about; and as a writer, you are forced to show your readers what is happening through action and various sensory details.

Life of Pi does not do this.

Well, at least not yet. There is an opening chapter with a brief glimpse of what the first person narrator thinks about certain things, and some of his experiences after something traumatic has happened to him, but it is mostly telling. It also reminds me of some early nineteenth century literature, where the narrative just goes on and on and on, because of some unforeseen need from the narrator to express something very near and dear to his or her heart and nothing can stop the flow of conscious thought.

Perhaps I’m doing that now…hmm. Anyway

While I think Martel’s style of narrative can be tedious to some, it is also thought-provoking. He says some amazing things. I’m terribly sure I’ve heard this somewhere before, but the author says in his introduction:

“If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.” (Martel).

How true! But I wonder how amazing would this book be if it were written with the idea of impressing its readers? If the action and scenery behind the narrator’s reflection actually mirrored his thought process? (Perhaps this is where the movie has numbed our mind with visuals.) Some could argue that it is not about the experience but what he or she has learned along that journey…

I, on the other hand, just yearn for a story where I am immediately scooped up and taken for a ride of a lifetime. A quick, sensory detailed read where I am lost in the character’s voice and story and cannot wait to see what happens on the next page. Perhaps this is why I love Young Adult fiction so much, because teens are not impressed with literature that confuses or bores them. They want that quick fix of great writing, of a story that wraps itself around your subconscious and you can’t hear or see anything else for a few days.

Perhaps the lesson here is no matter the style of writing, a great story is a great story, but a narrator should not bore its readers. They want to be entertained, they want to love the story that you are trying to tell. Don’t bury a great story in yards and yards of exposition. Show them!

The Words – Choosing Between One Reality and the Next

Last night, I saw the movie, The Words. It was a last minute decision, there was honestly nothing better to watch and I thought, hey, I’ve seen a trailer for this, it looks romantic.

Little did I know, that it was going to be completely different than what I expected…what a relief!

***I recommend this for anyone looking for a thought provoking film and if you just happen to be a writer, you’ll love it too!

This movie is intelligent, and just very well written. The Words is the name of a novel, which is narrated by the author throughout the movie; it is about a writer who finds a story, which he takes as his own.

The music is beautiful, the acting is superb and  it easily sucks a viewer in; the scenes are intricately woven and well placed ***this would be one of my examples of how to write a great plot!!

Anyway, the movie brings up questions about a writer’s capability and what it truly means to be a writer and the sacrifices that are made; about choosing between fiction and reality and that all writers eventually make a choice.

“Hitting a little close to home?” asked my friend in my ear during the movie, and well, yeah, it does!

I sometimes wonder if I don’t take too much time with my imaginary worlds. I’ll emerge hours later with a sort of glazed over expression and a dumb look on my face. My mother will be asking me a question but I’m still off in the story, I’ve still got the character’s voice in my head, I still feel their emotions.

Sometimes, it makes me worry, because it is so difficult to come back to the real world…to connect, to pay the bills, to do the laundry, to answer a friend’s text. Especially when things aren’t going well.

Sometimes the fiction world becomes an escape mechanism, a therapy. There is nothing wrong with this to a point, but suddenly I’m afraid. If you get too lost in your fiction, do you miss the real world, too?

Because, well…there is also beauty in reality, too.

Plot Plot Splash!

Had another night where I did everything else but write. Yay. Went to church, went out to lunch and then watched a movie and then sat down to write…well, then the parents came home and someone started watching football and the effort was pretty much gone from there.

Did get some tub-time in though and as my niece’s green squirt-y turtle was floating around the tub, I was able to clear the mind somewhat and get a little story planning in.

I struggle a lot with plot. Hey, I’m a poet and I don’t know it! Durrh.

Seagulls at the beach on a cloudy day in Wilmington, NC.

Anyway, from what I notice, a lot of my writing and story planning has a lot to do with scene. I will picture a particular scene in my head; a location in full detail, the sky, the buildings…and the people in it and then I will build my story around that particular scene.

It’s almost like C.S. Lewis with his dream of the fawn in the red scarf, except my Narnia doesn’t seem to want to develop itself quite as effortlessly. What I’ve noticed a lot about Dawn’s Rising though, is that I’ve let my characters do a lot of the planning for me. I let them go where they want to go and viola! I’ve got a brand new twist and something new to go upon. The trouble with this is that it makes for a more complex world, as people (especially characters!) are never as simple as they appear.

But pshh trouble! Complexity is great…it just makes the plot, which is all twisty and full of cul-de-sacs hard to spot! I remember one time a creative writing teacher said the reason I have trouble with plot, is that I cannot SEE what I’m writing. So I took the story that I wrote and printed it out and arranged it all page by page on my bed and what a difference that makes!

There’s a symmetry to knowing that your words and the actions behind them are following the right path. Perhaps I should try the Castle thing, and hang pages up on a clothes line. If you’re not familiar with Castle it is a TV show on ABC starring the ever brilliant Nathan Fillion, whose character is a writer. I highly recommend it.

ANYWAY, a lot of writing plot I’m finding, is figuring out how to do it and in a way that works for you. I admit, I have yet to do this. For shorter stories I am fine…but for two-hundred plus pages? Ahh! Because there’s got to be a better way to SEE the story line.

I suppose that’s why creative writing teachers tell you to write the crappy novel…get it out-of-the-way and then you learn from the experience!

So, meet: Dawn’s Rising. My first “crappy” novel. Doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining along the way…