Monday, November 29, 2010

Wrapping It Up

First of all, Happy Belated Thanksgiving. Somehow, going to see my family, not really sleeping, spending too much time on trains, I forgot to wish you all a happy holiday. I hope my American readers -- and any non-American readers who celebrated the holiday anyway -- had a great time. I did.

Okay, this post might feel a little random. It's because I'm totally cracked. I'm blaming NaNo. Not that it's really NaNo's fault, but it's just so convenient.

Speaking of NaNo, it's actually going pretty well. I made 48.8k on Sunday. It's looking good for winning this year! (That's not a jinx, I think, because at this point, I'm ready to give up all sleep to make it happen.) True, I won't be done with the story the same time I'm done NaNo (I'm envisioning at least 5k more words here), but just because you've hit a goal word count is no reason to stop writing. You can always cut and trim and shave later. The original word count goal is more of a guideline than an actual rule. (See that POTC reference? I make those because they make me smile.)

I'm a little amped as I write this, because I'm listening to the soundtrack of Next to Normal, which is awesome. I saw it this weekend with my family. The Other One and I loved it. Captain Film Major said it was okay. My parents split between us. But, since I'm the one writing this post, my view's the one that gets reiterated (notice my blatant abuse of my power? I thought you might): Next to Normal rocked. Definitely worth seeing.

I will note one thing about the show. Captain Film Major and my father expressed the view that it's hard to pinpoint the exact main character of the piece. This is true. I think of it as more of an ensemble piece that a story with an MC -- though their is one character whose actions drive the plot.

This makes me wonder, can books be ensemble pieces? I've seen and worked on ensemble plays. However, I'm not sure I've read a book that I would call an ensemble book. Usually, in my experience, books have a single MC whose actions pull the story forward. However, I'm ready to believe I'm wrong about this or have just read books differently than others might have.

How's your NaNo going? Almost there? How's that feel?

How do you feel about ensemble stories? Single MC stories? Which to you write? Which do you read? To ensemble books exist?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Moving Forward

This weekend, I discovered one of the more interesting effects of NaNoWriMo.

One thing NaNo does is force you to move forward. You can't hit the delete button. You've got hit the word count. 50k in 30 days. Go. This means that things happen fast, maybe even things you hadn't thought about or anticipated. Sometimes, this will take you to places you didn't anticipate going, or it'll make you think of all the things you didn't think of.

Somewhere in my mind, I had thoughts about what was going to happen next in my book. MC and friends were going to NYC, and pretty darn soon if I had anything t say about it. Then it occurred to me, because of how I'd been moving my characters along, not giving them much time to cool their heels, I'd ended up with a lot of down time. If I wanted them in NYC when I original plan kicked in, they'd have to chill for the better part of a week. Who chills for almost a week when they've got Intra-Galactic Intrigue to get involved in?

Thinking about this, I started coming up with new plans. I cycled through a couple ideas (a lot of which involved postponing this issue until revisions -- I know, I'm a bum. I like to procrastinate fixing things). After some thought, it occurred to me that if I bump up their time frame, it makes them upset. It massively inconveniences them and means they have to revamp their plan ASAP. Tension! Barriers! Fun (for me at least)!

This is what's great about NaNo. It forces you to think on your face. You'll come up with new ideas, great ideas sometimes. When you write, there will always come a time when your original plan needs to be tweaked, no matter how perfect the plan is. In real life, a lot of people let this stop them. They freeze when they need to adjust. But NaNo gives you the boost to push past that 'Oh, my original plan isn't working, and now the world will end' freak-out so that you can get on with your story.

I'm enjoying this new direction. I think it'll really amp up the conflict in both my plots. NaNo for the win!

How's your NaNo going? Have your stories ever pushed you in a new direction because of how the story was turning out? How did that work out for you?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back to Reality

Hi all.

I have successfully reclaimed my brain. Sorry, I'd hoped to do it by Monday, but my brain was farther gone than I thought. How do we know this? Not only did I forget to blog on Monday, I also forgot entirely about the concept of NaNoWriMo until about 1am Tuesday morning. How did that happen? I have no idea. I knew until 3pm, when I was away from my computer, and then, until 1am, that thought went off goodness knows where. Yes, my mind, was woohoo.

But, as I say, I'm back! It's good to be. How have you all been? How was your weekend? In the general vein, how's your NaNo been going? (Shameless Self-Promotion: In case you've forgotten, my NaNo name is Dominique_En_Violet, and you should come see me.)

Aside from my mind-gap moment of brain-missing-ness (and thank you Scott Westerfeld for bringing that word into my life) my NaNo's been going pretty well. I'm almost 28k into the story, and tomorrow my MC's life's about to get much worse. Not harder, because I've already plopped her into her difficult situation, but I'm about to deprive her of something she really wants. Why? Because I'm a sick, twisted person. 8D

And you, my lovelies? Playing the sick, twisted, cruel god of a universe? I certainly hope so.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Continued Uselessness

Desperate apologies. Sometime, maybe next Wednesday, if sleeps been able to occur on Tuesday, my life will not be meeting at an intersection of Work That Needs Doing, NaNo, and Theater. It'll just be Work That Needs Doing and NaNo. Much more reasonable. And then -- after some much needed sleep -- I will have my brain back. And when I get my brain back, there will be more interesting blog postings going on.

Terribly sorry, my lovelies.

In the interval, I'd like to introduce you to Truth or Fail, youtube's only game show, and the hands down best time vampire known to man. It's quite simple, Hank Green reads off a list of facts and factoids. You pick the right one, or you fail. Lots of fun.

In fact, I endorses it so much, I'm embedding one of my favorite ones right below. Enjoy!

Hope you have a great weekend!

How've you been?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Bad

Hi guys. I'm terribly sorry, but I'm about to be an utterly useless blogger. NaNo's been kicking me while I'm down lately, because it's overlapping with a bunch of other stuff in my life. I'm keeping up with the NaNo-ing, but it's absorbing most of my non-real-world time, and it's totally zapped my creative powers for the moment. So, sadly, I have little to offer you today.

In trade, I offer you this image. It's not super funny, and I was originally hoping to let you off with a laugh, but the second I saw it, it struck me.

First of all, it's visually clever, and I like that. Second, it's so charmingly succinct. Third, it totally calls to mind the situation of my MC and Male Lead from my NaNo project. If there were stars math equations going on in the background, it would be perfect, actually.

Ever happen to you? You're moseying through life, see something, and think, "MC would love that," or "that totally describes MC's situation"? Doesn't always happen to be, but when it does, I think it's really cool.

Now, since I've been talking about me for a while, tell me, how have you been doing? How are your projects coming along, NaNo or otherwise? Anyone up to anything interesting?

Also, since I feel bad for robbing you of the funny, here's another comic. And this one has math. :) (Only time I've ever said that with joy.)Enjoy ...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Writing in Public

This weekend, I did something I've never done before and, to a certain extent, thought I'd never do -- I went to a write-in.

Now, I never had anything against the idea of write-ins. Actually, I thought they sounded quite fun. I loved the idea of meeting other writers and feeding inspiration off each other.

My issue: I can't write in public.

Well, it's not that I can't so much as it makes me really uncomfortable, twitchy uncomfortable. I've found trains to be a really productive place to write. Enclosed space with nowhere to go and not much to do but work. Definitely a Butt In Chair situation. But when other people sit next to me, I get uncomfortable. I always get this strange feeling that they're going to look over my shoulder, see what I'm doing, and think I'm crazy. I guess it's an unfortunate side effect of growing up with siblings, you're always preparing for someone to look over your shoulder.

But I really enjoyed the write-in. I met a bunch of writers really close to where I live. Good fun, good jokes. Besides, despite my twitchy feeling that someone might see what I was doing, I got a hecka lot of words written for NaNoWriMo. So, write-ins are definitely successful. Plus, meeting a goal is a lot of more fun when there are other people around to join in the happy-dancing.

So, if you can, I recommend attending any write-ins in your area. Maybe you can even start one if there aren't any nearby. Ours wasn't an official NaNo event, just a bunch of NaNoers in proximity to each other who wanted to do a write-in. Write-ins rock. Writers rock. We are awesomeness.

Rock on!

Have you ever participated in a write-in? Why/why not? Are there any places you don't feel comfortable writing?

Friday, November 5, 2010


(Warning: I may have already told this story before. However, I'm not sure, and I couldn't find any evidence that I might have. So I'm running with it again. And you can't stop me. Muahahaha.)

Once upon a time, a teacher told my class, "You have to be a sick, twisted person to be a writer. You can't help it. Because writers have to torture their characters." He wasn't kidding. Basically, to be a writer, you need to create characters. Give birth to them. Learn them. Love them. Then you need to kick them in the stomach on a regular basis.

I can't help but agree. We're twisted.

I have a special feeling for each of my characters, especially my MCs. I know their histories, their wishes, what makes them tick. We're close. And then I do awful, awful things to them. For Amira, I know her history, what she wants most, what she hates and fears the most. What else have I done to her? Well, her grandfather gets murdered, she's almost executed, she's exiled, she goes to war, she's almost murdered too. And I'm not done yet. I'm planning on amping this up in the next round of revisions.

You're the same way. Admit it. You know your MCs, probably back to front and inside-out, and you put them in dangerous situations, untenable situations, risky situations. You find out what they want and put as many roadblocks between them as you possibly can.

That's perfectly okay. It's what writers do.

Practice this sentence with me: "I am a genius of tremendous and remarkable power and evil. I am out to control my universe. Muahahahaha." (Yes, the evil laugh is obligatory.)

I know you love your characters. I'm sure you do. But, that doesn't mean you don't have to make them suffer. Think of it this way, it'll just make it all the sweeter for them when everything comes 'round right.

How goes your malicious wickedness, fellow genius of remarkable evil and power? Have you ever experienced difficulty working acts of evil against your characters? Is that hard for you?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Importance of Sitting Down

Hello, all. I hope you all had a fantastic election day and remembered to vote. I'm still smarting over the election results in my district, but I won't bore/annoy you with the details. On an upside, maybe my party will stop sending my letters reminding me to mail in my ballot. They send me more spam that ad sponsors.

For some election day humor, I bring you this excerpt from The West Wing. To lighten your day:

Now, on to my thesis for the day.

I recently had to read a very long biography of an author that was released 266 years ago. I'll spare you the name, because it was just that bad. For most of the biography, I wanted to slap the author. I'll skip the laundry list, but one of his more annoying qualities was that he never seemed to finish anything. Most of the biography was a litany of his plans to do work, most of which never even got through a first draft.

This makes me think of all the stuff people say about the importance of getting a draft written. I really agree with that, the idea that one of the biggest winnowers between People with Ideas and Authors is the Writing a Draft stage. I know, writing a full draft is hard. It takes time, effort, and dedication. And did I mention time? It's hard.

You know what comes in handy doing this? Putting your butt in a chair and writing something. You'll have heard of this. The Butt In Chair philosophy of writing. It's pretty common, and I'm something of a fan. Doing something every day, it helps get stuff done.

To me, it sort of seems that this is what NaNiWriMo is about. I know i've found myself doing it so far. I do reach a point where I might otherwise have stopped but, because of NaNo, I keep my butt in my chair and keep on writing. I'm already feeling more productive. (I just hope I can keep going.) NaNo's about getting 50k out there in 30 days. That's not going to work without behinds in chairs.

Good luck!

How's the writing going, NaNoers and non-NaNoers alike? How do you feel about the Butt in Chair philosophy?

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo On!

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo! Who's with me?

I feel like we should be breaking out into Pirates of the Caribbean references. I don't know. That just makes me think of Jack Sparrow saying "Drinks all around." (And, I've a feeling, by the end of NaNoWriMo, we'll all be having drinks all around for one reason or another.)

Barring any other useful POTC reference I'm inserting this video which highly amused me. Because, quite frankly, we could all do with a laugh. Hope it amuses you.

Hey, if you're doing NaNo too, or if you just feel like stalking me, NaNo buddy me: Dominique_En_Violet.
(And we can all take this moment to be in awe of the awesome creativity demonstrated by my handle. Mad skills.) If you're doing NaNo be sure to leave me your name in the comments so I can follow you. :-)

Whatever, McKinley can do her dance of joy that she's finally escaping my head and appearing on paper. It's about time, I guess, since she's been queuing for about a year.Anyway, I'm already 100 words into my new WIP. That makes me feel so productive. A whole .2% of the way done. Woohoo. That probably means I should sleep more, but it's NaNo, so that's not going to happen. (Note how I pretend the inside of my mind is a neat and orderly system when, let's face it, we all know it isn't. Joy.)

How are you all doing? Psyched for NaNoWriMo/NaNoRevisMo/NaNoReadMo/NaNoBreatheMo or whatever it is you're doing? I hope so. How's the writing going?