Monday, November 15, 2010

The Greatest Thing Since...well, the greatest thing ever. WRITE OR DIE!

For those of you not as deeply ingrained in NaNoWriMo culture, Write or Die ( is a way to force yourself into writing. You set a goal and a time limit, and then, depending on the mode you choose, it forces you to write by turning the background a very angry red, blasting an annoying noise, or - in the mode I have yet to attempt - begins to erase your writing every time you stop typing.

I come to you fresh out of a Write or Die session, in which I wrote 400 words in the ten-minute time limit. I set my goal for 200, since I was currently at 25,810 and enjoy seeing my little blue progress bar above the purple graph after so many days of being behind.

Need I tell you of my overjoyed-ness? I wrote DOUBLE what I intended. Considering that there have been 15-minute word wars where I've only managed 300 words, Write or Die is my new best friend. I used it a few times last year, during my first NaNoWriMo, at times when I couldn't find the motivation to write and needed something to keep me going. And I liked it. But now, I know I couldn't live without it. In my 2010 NaNo, I'm fighting to resist the sophomore slump, and Write or Die is keeping me out of it.

Plus, I wrote a hundred more words than I average in a fifteen minute word war. In less time.

The only thing I have left to do is to get my typing speed of something like 60/70 words a minute aligned with my brain-functioning-and-thinking-all-the-things-I-want-to-say-in-my-novel speed. If I did that, then ten minutes could mean 700 words, and I could get my daily wordcount requirement out in less than a half hour.

Well, I'll work on that. For now, I encourage all of you Wrimos out there to try write or die if you haven't already. Don't be fooled by the name - truly, it's a lifesaver.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carrots. (Or "Plots, and the funny things they do in November")

I'm writing a humor/parody story. I always knew that things were going to be absurd. I even planned for the appearance of a carrot and wasn't all that surprised when a dare about an insane seer proclaiming my main character the "chosen one" screamed out my name. But THIS?

Let me backtrack. I had found a funny line on the Adoptables forum of the NaNoWriMo website - "Did you really think a carrot could save the day?" I knew I had to fit it into my novel somehow, but I had no idea how. Later, I saw a dare to include an insane seer who proclaims your MC "The chosen one" but is later seen as proclaiming that random objects such as a chicken, a fence post, or a goat was also the chosen one. There were various levels of bonus points, one of which was "cookies if the goat saves the world."

I have taken it one level farther into the insanity.

The seer was introduced in one of the more recently written scenes, where she proclaims my main male character, Benjamin, the chosen one, saying that she's seen it in the glass, and that he must go through "fire and water, stone and air." The entire prophecy sounds a little off-beat, but he believes it. In the next scene, I showed the insane seer proclaiming to a carrot, a goat, and a fence post that they are also the chosen one. My plan was to have these things be completely ridiculous and have someone say to the seer, later, "Did you honestly think that a carrot could save the day?"

But then I broke the scene down into three sub-scenes and began writing.

Sub-scene 1. My character Ferdinand is trying to locate Benjamin, and he visits the produce stand where he encountered the seer while he was buying supplies. While Ferdinand is grilling/bribing the person selling the vegetables to give him information, the insane seer, who frequents the alley nearby, comes up to Ferdinand and tells him that she has seen Benjamin. A few moments later, though, she lapses back into insanity and is vehemently declaring a carrot the savior of the world. She tries to take the carrot, but the vendor says he won't give it to her unless she pays. She accuses him of kidnapping the chosen one and holding him for ransom. To end the madness, Ferdinand pays for the carrot, earning the old woman's unending gratitude. He is now a hero in her eyes, and although he knows she's insane, he's flattered by it.

Sub-scene 2. My character Eleanor is searching for my other main character, Katarina, and she sees the insane seer, who fled the cruel produce man to take the chosen carrot to safer ground. The insane seer declares a nearby fence post the chosen one, and gets so worked up that she almost collapses. Eleanor prevents her from falling. The woman has a moment of sanity and confesses to Eleanor that once she was a great seer but is now losing her wits and going mad.

Sub-scene 3. Katarina shows a rare display of generosity whens she visits a shop selling blankets and socks (the socks are a result of a writing challenge also. Take your character's name, multiply the letters times ten, and then write that many words about their socks. I really should not have clicked on that thread.) owned by a struggling family. She buys some of their more expensive merchandise and pays more than the asking price. As she leaves, she passes the family's small flock of goats and sheep and sees the insane seer proclaiming that a goat is the chosen one.

The ramifications:

The carrot is, in fact, the chosen one - in a very convoluted way. Somehow, the carrot will end up going with the group on their quest and in a battle with the two wizards chasing Benjamin, which will likely form some of the climax, it will get hit with a blast of magic. This will alter it, turning it from an inanimate object into an animate one. It will save the day; it may be able to defeat the other villain, Inner Editor, simply through its sheer absurdity.

The carrot, extremely grateful to Ferdinand, will return home with him in the aftermath of the climax. Ferdinand, a retired author, will be inspired to write about the carrot, and one of the ending scenes will contain him presenting a children's picture book manuscript to Eleanor. The carrot will then, in a way, become HIS muse.

The seer will somehow regain her sanity, because in the scene where she's talking to Eleanor she made me sympathize with her.

When Katarina returns to her home - which just so happens to be the palace - she will tell her parents - who just so happen to by the king and queen - about the woman and her son selling the blankets and socks. They will either be given incredibly amounts of money or a job at the palace.


So are the affects of NaNo on my novel, I suppose.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

9,596 words into NaNoWriMo - and there's the plot

Despite the surprisingly sinister turn my villain decided to take when I saw the line mentioned in the previous post, my novel is going along well. I was terrified because when I started today I was several thousand words behind. I'm still not quite where I should be, but I'm only about 400 (give or take a few hyphenations) words behinds and I wrote around two thousand words today.

And also, my plot is finally developing fully, and I love it. I have a direction for the rest of my novel, and the adventures that my characters will be having are no longer incredibly disjointed and annoyingly separate.

My original premise was this: my three main characters, who are rather cliche, fantasy stereotypes (a rebellious princess, a mysterious ranger, a runaway slave) would unite for the ultimate quest: to have fifty thousand words worth of adventure in one month. The idea was that they knew about me - or rather, the fictional me and the fictional personifications of my muses (trust me, sorting out the levels of reality and how much the characters actually knew was a pain) and my inner editor - who was the villain, and wanted to stop them from having the 50,000 words of adventure.

A few snippets of a plot appeared in the first three scenes I wrote, but my character Katarina was uncooperative and I had no idea what the wizards chasing Benjamin wanted from him. And Aoyam just completely refused to show up. But I managed to get through the scenes that incited the plot at the last write-in I attended, and after finding a way to end that scene and determining what was going to happen next, I had a plot breakthrough. Then another. And another. And finally, I know where my story is going.

As it turns out, it breaks down to these main threads:

-The overall quest; that is, the quest of the characters to have 50,000 words worth of adventure in one month. Actually has taken a backseat to the other plotlines.

-Benjamin running from the two wizards who are chasing him, who want to reclaim an object he stole from them.

-Katarina being reluctantly forced into the adventures.

-My two muses trying to find and encourage the characters to keep going so they don't lose a bet one of them made with my Inner Editor, known as I.E.

And, what really clears the plot up, is the fact that my three main antagonists and sources of opposition for my characters have clearly emerged.

1. I.E., the Inner Editor, who made a bet with one of my muses for five hundred dollars that my characters cannot have 50,000 words of adventure all within one month. His plan is to find the characters and turn them against me. I mean, the fictional personification of me.

2. The two wizards who are chasing Benjamin at the beginning of the book and later chase him and Katarina away from Katarina's camp. They want the object that Benjamin stole from them. They are basically all around evil. So far, they have said nothing. They may go through the entire novel mute. We'll see.

3. A group of [enemy soldiers, or bandits, or land-pirates of some sort; what they are has yet to be determined.] They also want the object that Benjamin stole from the wizards, and when the object falls into my muse's hands, they begin chasing them. Whoever they are, they are ruthless and wield the Traveling Shovel of Death.

Other things that have happened because of my plot breakthroughs - my muses have become very wise, apparently, and have appointed themselves the guardians of the object that Benjamin stole - a glass orb that swirls with color and is, so they say, very powerful. They're being stubborn, though, and won't tell me what it does. Katarina and Benjamin are plunging headfirst into their romantic subplot, which surprises me as I thought they'd resist. Aoyam has come out of hibernation. My half-crazed seer has determined when she will put in an appearance. The lines I accumulated in preparation for this novel are finding homes. My word count it climbing. Things are good.

Hoping everyone else is finding their plots as well,


Friday, November 5, 2010

The place where my novel takes an unexpected turn..

Five days and 7,000 words (I'm a bit behind) into NaNoWriMo, and it's happening. Something unexpected happens, and suddenly the entire direction of my novel is completely changed.

Until now, everything was going well. I wrote 2,000 words at a write-in last night, my novel is finally sorting itself out, and I had managed to write a scene that I'd been putting off for two days. But then, I decided to take a look at the "Adopt a villain catchphrase!" thread on the NaNo website, and I stumbled upon this line:

"You wish I were like a villain from one of those books you love so much. Willing to leave you in a death trap, as I go about my evil plan. No. You will remain, tied to this chair, while I destroy everyone and everything you've ever loved, before your eyes. Then, I will kill you. Slowly."

The ramifications of reading this line were numerous. I raced to the document that stores all the lines I have adopted to use in my novels, and copy and pasted this piece of genius. My villain, who was meant to be more of an annoyance, has taken a sinister turn. The comedy elements have run away from my novel as fast as they possibly could. My supporting character Eleanor is going to end up tied to a chair. My heroes are furious that my villain now poses an actual threat. They are planning to revolt. My writing no longer has anything that might possibly be considered a contraction.

Well, that's a ramification of NaNo, not that line.

Anyway. So, now, my novel is charging off in an entirely unexpected direction, and I have to run like mad to catch up. Wish me luck...I'm going to need it.