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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

NaNoWriMo

Alright folks!

In two days I’m embarking on an Amazing adventure. It’s called National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This will be my first attempt and I’m really excited. I have a brand spanking new story I’m going to work on. It’s only a little sad because I know while I’m doing this I have to put my faery story on hold and not finish it this year like I had planned. But, I’m hoping that if I really settle down in to a writing regime then once November is over I will still be in hard core writing mode and be able to seriously work on Roren’s (the main character) story.

Since I have to do some major focusing I may not be able to do very much blog posting and reviews. I’ll have to cut back on reading and movie watching. Maybe up some workouts to get the brain flowing. I will however try to keep a weekly update of the word count and maybe post some links of interesting blogs or discoveries.

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is I suggest you check it out. Basically, you spend a month trying to reach a writing goal of 50,000 words. There is an online community to keep you going and give you helpful suggestions. Check out the webpage. NaNoWriMo was started by Chris Baty who also wrote a book to help with the process called No Plot, No Problem.

It looks like the Blood Red Pencil will be writing a couple of blogs about NaNo, http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/, and I’m sure there are lots of other excited bloggers gearing up for the month.

So for everyone else that is participating, good luck and see you on the other side!

And for those that will be checking in on this blog, stay tuned for some guest appearances of my friends!

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I spend a lot of my driving, walking, and exercising time thinking about my stories. Many times I am wondering how a sub plot is going to work or how can I make a character more realistic.

It was on one of these occasions that I found a really fun game that actually helped me develop one of my characters. I originally intended to see how many of my characters were too similar and how to make them more unique. I had no idea it would help me realize some deeper feelings my characters had like prejudices and beliefs.

So here is the little exercise and it is meant to be fun.

Pick out the main characters in your most developed stories and put them together. How do they like each other and get along? Would character 1 from story A get along with character 2 from story B? If so, why? If not, why? I think one-on-one introductions are best.

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**Spoilers** for the movie The Legion

I’m fascinated by Angel and Apocalypse stories. I love the idea of angels walking around us or coming down to protect some special person because that person is key in the up and coming Apocalypse and the survival of the human race. It’s most likely because I want to be that “special” person and how cool would it be to have an Angel hunt you down and protect you from the forces of evil. Okay, if it happened it probably wouldn’t be that cool and you’d wish that you were never chosen but still…cool!

A couple weeks ago I watched Legion and before I get started on this film I just have to say quickly that I haven’t watched The Prophecy yet but it’s next on my queue (right after a movie about a Norwegian farmer who orders a German mail order bride). Okay. I liked the idea of Legion and I was really excited to see Paul Bettany playing Michael and as expected the movie was pretty silly. I laughed quite a bit, which is probably not what the actors and director were trying to get at but hey, at least I wasn’t furiously throwing tomatoes at my television, and I was entertained.

However, here is where I had a problem. The movie had little character development where it mattered. It explained more about the secondary character’s background than the main characters. Of course, the secondary characters were still lacking but I understood more of who they were. I wanted to know more about the main characters. Why should I care about them? Who are they? What makes them so important that Michael would defy God, tear off his wings and join the ranks of Man? I also wanted to know more about Michael.

I was alright with the Joseph, Mary and Jesus concept (cliché but whatever) but I wanted to know more about those characters in this story. Jeep loved Charlie even though she was carrying another man’s baby but I didn’t understand why he loved her and what exactly she thought about him. And what exactly made her and the baby so special? I think this would have been easy to explain or show, which is preferable, but the film would rather show zombie-angel’s, gun fights and fights with razor sharp wings. There were a couple scenes where there was an excellent opportunity for Charlie to speak with Michael, or vice versa, and develop an amazing relationship while explaining plot gaps. But it never happened.  I want more story!

This has been my problem with a lot of movies, and some stories, lately. Their focus is on special effects and fight scenes. I understand that people do want to see the newest advancement in technology – and wow-factor brings in the audience – but it’s the story that makes the movie memorable. It feels like Sci-Fi and Fantasy movies are falling flat and not making money because there is too much focus on the effects. I would love to see more Sci-Fi/Fantasy movies and there can be so much creativity and excitement in them if only someone would take the effort to make a quality movie. I’m tired of remakes, reboots and the easy romance and action story that is so formulaic you barely remember what you watched a week later. Yes, 3D can be cool but if I don’t care about who the main characters are, I’m probably not going to spend the extra $3-5 dollars to watch them run around in a pretty forest.

I find that when and if I go to these movies I lower my expectations for plot and character development so I can enjoy it. I’m not going for the special effects even though I know I’ll be disappointed. However, do the film makers cut back on story because people go for the effects or do people go for the effects because they don’t expect much of a story?

And then again, there are those times where you just need to turn off your brain because it’s been working way too hard.

What are your thoughts about Legion and/or lack of plot and character development in movies? Please avoid talking about Avatar and Twilight because they are just too easy of targets.

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JulNoWriMo

Just a quick post from me. I’m trying to convince myself to write a website review for a homework assignment and the convincing is only partially working.

For all those wonderful people that have some spare time to write, today is the first day of JulNoWriMo. Just like NaNoWriMo but for July. I would totally do this but I should probably focus more on the last bit of my grad program. I will be joining in November with as many friends as I can gather.

Here is the link for July: http://julnowrimo.com/

I hope you have a blast and please write in and let me know how it is going for you if you try it!

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One of the subjects I have frequently come across in reading and in thoughts regarding what would help in writing is creating a workspace that encourages writing and discourages distraction. Personally, I have a very short attention span and if anything flits by that is even remotely curious, I can’t concentrate. I’ve read that people suggest a quiet place with your computer, or journal, where there are few visual distractions. Some people recommend being in a corner with no decorations or windows. Eliminate it all.

This might work for a lot of people but I have another idea. As my short attention span would indicate, I’m a very visually oriented person. My stories, I hope, are very visual. The characters wander through stimulating environments that are unique and fascinating. I usually see my stories as a movie that constantly plays through my head.

So, in my wonderings of how, when I finally get the chance, I am going to set up my home office area to help breed beautiful and often times dark stories I consider the environment around myself.

In my dream office, I will be able to change my atmosphere around me by hanging fabrics and pictures on the walls that emulate the environment in the current story I’m working on. I will have wind chimes that are made of shells and ceramic pieces and if I’m working on a tropical story I will put more plants in the room. I’d also like to put up a relatively large white board to write notes and characterizations.

The whole prospect of creating the environment that I’m working in/writing about really excites me. It makes me want to write more and also makes me feel comfortable with what I’m writing. I think I will feel a bit more connected with what my characters are experiencing. I also think that it will help me focus more on my writing and become less distracted by anything else that is going on in the room because what is happening in my workroom is a mirror of what is happening in the story.

About a week after I started writing this post a coworker told me of some greenhouses she was thinking of purchasing and how they were large enough to grow fruit trees in. I began to wonder how great it would be to have such a space, separate from the house, to put my writing office. However, that would definitely take a lot of time, money and space that I don’t currently have. Dreaming about it is nice though.


How is your work space or office set up to encourage writing and dissuade distractions? How would your dream office look?

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Last week I read about writer’s block and various other subjects. I looked at exercises to try and find something fun so I could get excited about writing…anything. I came across a few interesting suggestions and some others that I wrinkled my nose at but don’t misunderstand me. The nose wrinkling suggestions are very valid and definitely worth trying. They just don’t inspire me and I am definitely looking for some strong inspiration.
My inspiration came this weekend in the form of a movie I went to see with my father and his lady friend. It was a summer action blockbuster, The Prince of Persia, so I wasn’t expecting much from it other than not having to think – just sitting back and letting it happen. In the end, the movie was utterly silly but I LOVED it. It was most likely the mindset I was in and I’m sure if I was forced to watch the movie because someone else wanted to see it I would have hated it. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t inspired to work on the story that I would like to finish this year but was sent in the direction of another related story I placed in the back of my mind until I could discover a character(s) I would like to work with or a plot, which ever came first. The fact that I was sent in another direction did not upset me. The point was that I was inspired to actually write something (a suggestion I found repeatedly in my readings). I find that once I get writing then it gets easier to keep writing.
I spent the whole three-day weekend thinking about this new story idea and came up with seven main characters. Parts of it worked and other parts didn’t and I’m still lacking a plot but I am excited with 3 of the characters.
One of the exercises I found was to design a back-story for your character to help you figure out who exactly this person is and what makes them who they are. You’re not really supposed to write this as a part of your story. It’s just a method of really becoming intimate with your character(s). As I thought about this to develop these characters some more I decided that maybe I should take a break on this plotless story for a moment and try this new technique on my story I’m focusing on. In this story I have at least four characters that I’m still having trouble developing. They are very two-dimensional. So I decided to think about their back-story some more. It seemed so simple and you’d think I would have worked on this earlier – I’m only half way through the story for crying out loud – but I think I just get so excited with my main character that I tend to overlook the rest. When I started thinking about two of my characters, I felt like the whole story was gaining an entire other layer that makes it just a little bit more interesting. Of course my ideas also brought up more questions I have to think about but I think I’m getting back some of that spark I’d lost during the last semester and hopefully I can accomplish some writing before the workload gets extra crazy with school, holidays, work and such.
At my friend’s suggestion, I’m leaving this post with the exercise that helped me. Feel free to use it or just think about it. Consider a major character in your story. Write about their back-story. You can go as far back as their birth or their parents’ story, or further, and develop it up to the time where your story begins. Don’t worry about whether this fits in with the story you are writing. That is not the point of this exercise. You can use this in your story or don’t. The point is to become intimate with your character so you understand who they are and why they behave the way they do.

What other kinds of exercises do you use to get back into the groove of writing and to reach a better understanding of your character?

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Writer’s Block

I am a writer.

Or maybe a writer-in-training, but I write. Quite a bit. I think about writing. I dream about writing and then I write down dreams for future writing ideas. I read about writing. Actually, I read about a lot of other things too but this seemed to go along with my theme. Most of the time I’d rather be writing. I’ve been pretty busy the last year and a half with grad school, a full time job, obedience and agility classes for my dog, Sami, and just trying to keep up with everything else. Writing has been put on the back burner for those spare 5 minutes where my brain explodes on paper. But now, in my one month of summer break from school before the mad dash for the end, I just can’t seem to sit down and write. It’s not like I’ve got writer’s block, if you believe in that sort of thing. I know what is supposed to happen in the story. I can see it like a movie. Well, maybe a muted movie. I just can’t give myself the time or mindset to actually write it down.

Some people give the advice to just work on something else. So I’ve thought about working on another story but none of them peak my interest. Same problem. I just can’t sit down and work. Instead, I become very interested in all the lovely websites that I don’t have any true interest in or perhaps I dust off that hobby I haven’t looked at in a few years. Sitting down and staring at a computer or a blank piece of paper is just not what my brain or body wants to do.

I give a lot of advice to friends about their writing and it usually makes sense and they say it’s good advice, whether they take it is another matter. I always find it funny when they give my advice back to me. I then proceed to mumble and grumble, change the subject, and oh look! Some shiny little bobble that needs fixing or my dog needs to go for a walk. I guess my procrastination is at least healthy in that chores have a possibility of getting done. But what about my story that I’ve put so much time and care into? I love my characters and I love the lands they travel through and their discoveries and adventures because in essence, they are also my discoveries and adventures.

So my goal for the week, after the cat is brushed and I have walked my dog numerous times, after I have done laundry and folded clothes and done a bit of house cleaning, perhaps I can convince myself that it is time for my two main characters to have that serious conversation they’ve been waiting to have for the last semester. Perhaps I can take a couple hours, in a dark secluded back bedroom or drive the fifteen minutes to the coffee house and actually pin myself down to a not-so-comfortable chair and just write. At least today I have taken the initiative to set a coffee house writing date with a friend.

How about you? What do you do when you have writer’s block? Feel free to comment and ask questions.

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