Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Hitting the Middle

It’s the start of the second week of April and things aren’t looking good. I underestimated the travel distance from work to my house and how that affects me mentally. However, I have managed to write every day despite not hitting that daily goal.

Perhaps part of that comes from the fact that I have hit the middle point of my story. As I might have mentioned before, I am working on a previously started story. While I had a few major plot points planned out, I’m finding it difficult to write the details that lead to said plot points.

So, I need to reevaluate my goals here. I still want to work on my novel this month and I still want to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m going to do all that and try to write as much as I can this month. There is a high chance that I might not make it to 50k words but even writing 30k sounds like a good number.

The game plan is to do a bit more brainstorming. As I wrote, I created two situations that I have to further develop. These were completely unplanned but I’ll be using them. Just imagining the scenes will increase my word count but also, and most importantly, add some tension and conflict to my story.

Typically, once I’ve gotten to this point, I’d start thinking about the end, but not this time. For now, I’ll focus on what I need to write next. I want to stay true to the story and not add things that aren’t necessary to the overall story. Personally, I don’t like adding elements that can easily be taken out or replaced by something else.

Lastly, I hope that everyone who is participating in Camp NaNoWriMo is doing a lot better than I am. If we’re in the same boat then, I’m rooting for us. We got this. 🤞

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Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Around the Corner

Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. Even though I have a few things planned, I realized that I might have made a mistake. My new job takes a lot of time to travel and exhaustion is more than an issue than I had initially thought. Saying this, I will still try to do my best in the following month. My overall goal count might decrease by 10,000 words or perhaps 20,000 words, but I’m not backing out.

The past few posts have been about developing ideas for April. Now that Camp NaNoWriMo is around the corner, it’s best to sit back and take a breather. By this point, a writing schedule should have been put in place. If not a writing schedule, perhaps an idea of between what times you’re going to start writing. There are some things that we’ll have to give up, but I’m willing to cut down some time from other activities to write.

This weekend is about ironing out the starting details for your story. Even if the middle and end aren’t exactly planned out to the fullest, just having a vague idea or a goal, will make writing easier. The first few days (maybe the first week) of Camp NaNoWriMo are, I believe, fairly easy mostly because these days are about introducing your character and their everyday life. You might want the perfect starter sentence but don’t worry about perfection until later. Focus on writing.

Have pen and paper on hand or perhaps use an app like Evernote or Google Docs on your phone so you can write away from home. Ideas tend to strike when you least expect it. Also, write when you get the chance. You’re waiting for something to heat up? Write. You’re a passenger? Write. Take advantage of the free time you have. Of course, you don’t always have to be writing. Taking breaks is essential. You don’t want exhaust yourself every day.

Personally, I like to write whenever I get the chance. I like to decrease the word count as much as I can before I sit down and actually write.

Overall, test the waters the first few days. If you get to write more than the daily recommended amount, that’s good. It gives you a bit of leeway on other days. Figure out what works for you and go from there.

Just remember, take a deep breath. We got this.

Posted in Methods, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Where to Start?

Now that I’ve decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo (some of you may have too), it’s time to decide where to start. This is where the time to decide what project to work on for the month comes in. My project for April is currently ongoing at the moment and I do have a few chapters written. Camp NaNoWriMo will be used to write 50k words of that story. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have any planning to do.

For those who don’t have a project in mind, I’ll offer some advice. In my humble opinion, I feel that Camp NaNoWriMo is all about writing (I’ve probably already said this before and I’ll continue to say it). It doesn’t really matter what you write, only that you’re writing. We all have a story inside of us and that doesn’t necessarily mean that this story will or should be share with anyone else. Maybe it’s a story you have to write for yourself.

The story can be anything. If you want to try your hand at fan fiction, go ahead. If it’s mystery, or romance, or science fiction then, go for it. It’s not going to be perfect – it never is – but at least you’re going to try and that’s all that matters.

Most of the writers I’ve met keep an idea journal with them. What’s to stop you from choosing an idea from there? However, in case that you can’t seem to choose something, there are tons of story idea generators out there. A quick search online gives you a lot of websites. Choose ones that interests you.

Once you have a story in mind, what I like to do is to keep a separate notebook or folder for this story. This is where I place all my notes so that I don’t loose anything and they’re easy to find. The method of developing the stories and generating ideas differs from person to person. I tend to think (daydream) scenes with my characters or maybe it’s just a phrases but I take note of everything because I might use it later. The scenes I think about don’t always make it into the writing itself but it is a place to start.

Now, what I won’t go into is naming the characters. It must be done. What I will say is that it’s okay for character names to change. For now, especially for Camp NaNoWriMo, use a name and, if later you don’t like it or doesn’t fit well, change it. The name doens’t have to be perfect right off the bat. I literally used “the Vampire Prince” has a name for almost half of my story on wattpad because I finally figured out a name for the Prince. It can be done.

The next “step” is a little tricky. We have to figure out what’s going to happen at the beginning, middle, and end. Planning is probably the second hardest thing, I believe, when writing. Editing is the first hardest then, writing. So, how are we going to plan?

For starters, there isn’t a correct way. It depends on how you write. Do you need a detail plan or do you just mostly wing it and see where that leads you? This is where having scenes in mind can come in handy. If you have a scene, you can figure out how the characters are going to arrive at that point. Maybe that scene is how the story starts. Planning is a lot of brainstorming and trying to fit it all together.

Lastly, if you’re new to Camp NaNoWriMo and/or writing, try both ways. Write down a sequence of events. It doesn’t have to be too in depth. Rough ideas or scenes help too. I find using flashcards for this helps. With the scenes on each flashcard, you can rearrange them how you like without deleting, copy and pasting, or starting over on a document. You don’t have to be a newbie to do this either. When I’m not too sure on which scene should go first, I take out some flashcards and lay them out in front of me.

Overall, find an idea and try brainstorming about it. The idea might change but the more you think about, the more it can help. April isn’t here yet so, you have time. Be flexible in your thinking and planning.

As always, thanks for reading.

Posted in Writing, Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt – Glowing Hands

The small girl stared at her glowing hands to her older brother’s, her voice shaking as she spoke. “Are we monsters?”

John’s throat closed up at her question. What could he possibly say? Hadn’t their neighbor been taken away just last night due to a “mysterious illness”? Everyone knew the real reason. The Human Protect Agency kidnapped colonists that started developing strange abilities. John was sure that glowing hands was one of them.

“No, Stacey, we’re not,” John forced out.

Stacey stood uncertainty by the bed. The glow on her hands illuminated the frown on her brow. John pulled her up and sat her next to him.

“But the videos,” Stracey insisted.

“We’re not bad people,” John reminded her. “We fill our daily quota and pay our taxes on time. Those other people do bad stuff. We don’t.”

“But what if – ”

“Stace, listen.” John grabbed her hands. The combined glow of their hands illuminated their faces completely. “I know this is scary, but don’t worry. I’m going to figure this out, okay?”

“What if the HPA finds out?”

“They won’t.”

”But what if – ?”

John squeezed her hands. “Stacey, they won’t find out. I’ll make sure of that. We’re going to keep this a secret, okay? Let’s act like we normally do. It might go away.”

Stacey didn’t look convinced, but she didn’t say anything else. She looked down at her hands. A lot of the glow had somewhat dimmed. It wasn’t exactly bright, but it was noticeable.

From what he remembered from the videos,  people with glowing hands were sick. They needed to be retained by the HPA.

“Go back to sleep,” he told her.

“Can I stay here with you?” she asked. “I don’t want to be alone.”

John sighed. “Alright,” he said.

Stacey joined him in bed.

That night, neither of them slept. Stacey latched on to his arm. He felt her dozing off a few times but never stayed asleep. John stared  up at the dark ceiling. His stomach was in knots.

The day had been normal. They’d went to work like always, ate at the cafeteria, cleaned. It was close to 1 am now. The glowing hand started half past midnight. At least, his had started. Stacey knocked to his door closer to 1 am.

No one knew where this glow came from or what caused. All they knew was that once the HPA found out, they were never seen or heard from again. There were rumors of experiements going around.

Both orphans, he and Stacey lived at the community house in the city. It was one of thousands. The Madam wouldn’t care if two more mouths left.

John turned over and pulled Stacey closer. He didn’t want to lose her. She was the only family he had.

One thing became apparent to him, the risk of exposure was too great. They couldn’t stay here any longer. What if he and Stacey were separated? He’d rather risk traveling to a far away colony where the HPA was lax than stay in the city and risk getting caught.

John had saved up a few credits on the side. If he took extra shifts, he might be able to pay their way out of the city. Just maybe they could get out of here before anyone noticed their glowing hands.

Posted in Writing

Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect Blog postMany years I go, I heard a really good piece of advice. Or maybe I read it somewhere but I can’t remember the exact details. However, I will say that that advice stuck with me even now. It floats around in my head and pops up when I’m writing or reading over someone else’s work.

As I write this, I suddenly remembered that I read about the advice while researching how to write action.  That piece of advice is this “cause and effect”. Something happens before something else. Or another way to say it: there’s an action and then the consequences.

Take a look at the sentence that follows:

“Ron stumbled back as Henry punched him.”

The punch should come first and then the stumbling. At least, that is how I see it. It wouldn’t make much sense that someone would drown before falling into the water either or someone falling before tripping down some stairs.

Action isn’t the only thing that I use this advice for. I also use this when I writing in general. It’s how I create tension and conflict. If a character says something (cause) others will react differently (effect). It’s a fact that there are consequences for everything. Some might be mild, but others aren’t. I find it that this keeps my characters human. It means that they have real emotions and they react like human beings. They aren’t just filling up space. They have purpose.

Plus, I find it helpful to make a list of all the actions and their consequences so that I may, not only remember all the tiny details, but also so that I can bring that into the story along the way. Maybe a character holds a grudge over what was said. I have to remember what was said first in order to further develop that. That list of action and consequences aka cause and effect also helps with plotting. While it might not help for all instances, it can help for some.

For example, the protagonist is part of a special suit unit and they have a job somewhere. They jump out of a transport. Said protagonist suffers a malfunction and is seperated from the group. Now, we have consequences. If the protagonist can’t reboot her/his suit fast enough, they’ll be a pancake. Drama. Tension.

This is just but one example. Another I can think of is when it doesn’t involve actual writing instead. How can that be? The Cause and Effect list that I mentioned can be used before any writing begins.

Maybe you have a story in mind but you don’t know where to start. Write

I’ll use one of my stories for this. It’s has low sci-fi western vibe to it.

My protagonist is in a desert with enough provisions for himself. He comes across another human being, hurt and starving. Now, he has to ask himself  ‘do I help and deplete my resources faster or do I continue on my way?’ Not only is this a great situation to showcase the protagonist’s personality but it builds up to the potential consequences of running low on food. There’s also perhaps the mental trauma of leaving someone to die. In the end, my protagonist does help and now I have a lot of things to work with as the consequences unfold.

So, remember: action and then consequence. Cause and effect.