Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaNoWriMo pitfalls...

I wonder if I hit all of them :-D

Reality 101 lists these:

1. Lack of advanced scheduling
2. Internal Editors
3. Writer’s Block

Yes, yes and yes :-)

Cyde Wey says this:
- flat characters
- inconsistency
- sloppy writing
- no flow
basically - internal editor. >:->

I haven't even thought of the deepness of my characters, inconsistency, flow or other points of style. I have been thinking about my bad English and how I cannot variate the dialogue by giving each character their own voice. I don't have a clue on how they would speak differently.

The Writing Spectacle mentions:
pitfall #1 - reading what you have written
pitfall #2 - my novel sucks!

I haven't read what I have written, but I am convinced my novel sucks. I haven't reached 10000 words, because of that.

Farrah Tochon mentions two - first - the obsession with the word count, and two - the main mistake - joining NaNoWriMo in the first place :-D

Yeah... I'm obsessed with the word count as well. Mine, others', last year's, any.

Cynthia Closkey mentions the intention to publish the draft as a sure way of not writing a word.
She also mentions DrawMo! ("draw more" or "draw month"), which leads me to "every day matters" and NaArMaMo (National Art Making Month). There's also NaKniSweMo (National Knit a Sweater Month) and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) and what not. Interesting.

From the NaBloPoMo comes a few quotes about writing:

"At least half of all writing involves just sitting and staring into space. Letting your brain out to hunt down ideas, bringing them back all warm and bloody between its teeth."
- Warren Ellis

"The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it."
- Jules Renard

"Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you're doomed."
- Ray Bradbury

"Loafing is the most productive part of a writer's life."
- James Norman Hall

"One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment."
- Hart Crane

"Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing."
- Melinda Haynes

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why is writing a lot of crap a good thing?

Disorganized Author forwarded the question asked by her friend.

I haven't won NaNoWriMo any time I have participated, and I think my dislike of what I am writing right now got the better of me, and I won't win this year either. Well... I have been badly organized and prepared, I don't have a whole story, just a scene, and I don't even like what I am writing... But, I still think NaNoWriMo is a good thing, and writing a lot of crap among the good stuff is also good.

This is because I have noticed that I need to get into the profession of writing.
I need to teach myself to write every day, what ever happens. If I manage to teach myself to write - what ever it is I write - I will be writing, and that is the only way any writer can produce a manuscript.

To Disorganized Author's friend and her likes, I would like to say that it is quite possible to write 4 hours and then edit it for 4 hours, and produce 8000 words, of which one edits out like 6000 words, and still produce a 60K manuscript to the end of November. It is possible to produce 2000 reasonably good words a day for a month, even if one allows the inner editor to work during that time.
It is also possible to print out some 20 pages of the manuscript at a time and edit the "mess" in reasonable pieces, so that the whole 50K will not drown you.
I imagine it would be easier to edit a whole story. I imagine it is easier to cut off the unnecessary parts, because I know where the story is going, because I have already written it once. It is easier to see if the flow is there, if I have the whole book to read. I have never managed to write a novel, so I have never edited a novel either, so I don't know. I just imagine it to be so.

I have also noticed that my inner "editor" or saboteur, who she really is, is quiet, if my goal is to produce 2000 words a day, but not, if my goal is to produce a book someone might want to read. If I am writing a book, I will never succeed, because the writer's block hits me with all the "uh, this is no good, no-one will ever want to read this, this is pure crap, blah, bah and humbug!"

I am seeing the NaNoWriMo as practice in writing, not in writing well. :-)

As I said, I doubt I will be winning NaNoWriMo this year either. I haven't written a word in six days - or I have, but it's about 400 words. Not the 12.000 I planned to write... It is 11th of the 11th, Memorial Day, and my word count should be about 18.000-19.000 words. It is a little less than 9000. *sigh*

I haven't written short stories, articles, blog entries, or anything else either this weekend. To my defense I can say that I was at my sister's, because my brother and his family were visiting Stockholm this weekend, they came on Friday and left on Monday, and today is the cleaning day, but in reality, I have no excuses for not writing. None, what so ever. I even dragged my laptop with me this weekend, planning on taking a couple of hours off and writing.

I could also say, that my medicine is "playing tricks" with me, and I am constantly sleepy. I sleep 12 hours a night, but wake up tired and drowsy. 7 hours later I'm ready to go to bed. Even when this is true, I don't feel I can use that as an excuse not to write, because I write really quickly (if I write) and this is my life. I should be able to write in spite of the obstacles life puts in front of me, if I really am a writer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Some thoughts about the length of stories

I just learned a new concept: hint fiction. Very fascinating. I could probably publish a new hint fiction story a day...
"...if a drabble is 100 words, and a dribble is 50 words, then how about we say Hint Fiction cannot be anything more than 25 words."
Flash fiction, mentioned in the article, is 1000 words or less.

Short Story
~ 1,000 - 7,500 words

The ’regular’ short story, usually found in periodicals or anthology collections. Most ’genre’ zines will feature works at this length.

~ 7,500 - 20,000 words

Often a novellette-length work is difficult to sell to a publisher. It is considered too long for most publishers to insert comfortably into a magazine, yet too short for a novel. Generally, authors will piece together three or four novellette-length works into a compilation novel.

~ 20,000 - 50,000 words

Although most print publishers will balk at printing a novel this short, this is almost perfect for the electronic publishing market length. The online audience doesn’t always have the time or the patience to sit through a 100,000 word novel. Alternatively, this is an acceptable length for a short work of non-fiction.

~ 50,000 -110,000

Most print publishers prefer a minimum word count of around 70,000 words for a first novel, and some even hesitate for any work shorter than 80,000. Yet any piece of fiction climbing over the 110,000 word mark also tends to give editors some pause. They need to be sure they can produce a product that won’t over-extend their budget, but still be enticing enough to readers to be saleable. Imagine paying good money for a book less than a quarter-inch thick?

Epics and Sequels

~ Over 110,000 words

If your story extends too far over the 110,000 mark, perhaps consider where you could either condense the story to only include relevant details, or lengthen it to span out into a sequel, or perhaps even a trilogy.

Copyright 2002 Lee Masterson
Then someone mentioned "noveleenie" or "noveleeny" - which could be a "tiny novel", but it might also be another word for "novellette". I don't know. But:

Wired's "Very Short Stories"

Wired magazine took 33 writers from the fields of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, and asked them to write 6-word short stories.
"Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?"
- Eileen Gunn

"Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so."
- Joss Whedon

"The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly."
- Orson Scott Card

"Kirby had never eaten toes before."
- Kevin Smith

I once won a Columbus Dispatch "noveleenie" contest (write a short story under 400 words.), but this sounds like more fun.

- Dara

Fifht day and I haven't written anything

I asked the question "which genre is my book in?" and while I was answering the question, I started thinking... bad choice. :->
Someone said about the last chapter's synopsis "so boring I feel like crying", or something like that.
She's (or he, I don't know) is right.

I wouldn't want to read my book.

I wouldn't want my family to read it. I wouldn't be able to promote my book. I wouldn't recommend to anyone. It IS boring. Says nothing, doesn't show the world from a different point of view... one wouldn't probably even like the people in the book, not to mention want to know what happens to them.

No-one would ever say:
"After reading The Gargoyle, my first thought was that nothing could possibly top it. After 44 years (I started early) of reading anything I could get my hands on, including Moby-Dick, reading Andrew Davidson’s debut novel made me feel as if I were done. The Gargoyle had it all – all I’d ever wanted or needed from a book."
On the contrary, they might probably say something like:

It is hard for me to believe that the other reviewers on this site actually read this book. I am halfway through it and have resorted to skimming -- it is one of the most boring books I have ever read . . . and I read a lot. I would not recommend it, even if you are an aspiring writer, a lover of recent history, and enjoy books about the friendships of women. It is all of these things, without anything to draw you in.

I don't want to write this book any more. I don't understand what in it I thought would be something anyone would like to read, ever. Or, what made me think *I* would like to read this book. The name would never stop me, the cover would not interest me, synopsis wouldn't make me want to read it... If not me, whom then?
I'm sure there are people in the world who would love this story, told by me, but I am not one of them, so I will not tell this story.

I'll give you the synopsis, so if you are interested, you can tell the story:

A mysterious and strict woman has a brothel in London. It's the middle of the winter, and the housekeeper finds a Chinese woman, on her way to give birth, in snow, half naked and delirious. She keeps talking, in Chinese, which the housekeeper doesn't understand, but she cannot leave the woman out, so she runs home and asks the handyman to help her carry the woman to her room. In early morning hours the baby is born, but the mother dies. The newborn girl's first scream brings the Madame to the housekeeper's room, and she takes on the baby. She adopts her, and names her Mei Li - or May Leigh, so that people cannot understand of her name that she is Chinese. The Madame learns Chinese just to be able to teach Chinese to the little girl, she sings her Chinese songs and tells her Chinese stories. The girl grows up well aware of her Chinese inheritance.
The society doesn't approve the little China-girl, because she isn't "proper English girl". She gets some unexpected allies, though. There is an old books store in the neighborhood, and the shopkeeper is charmed by the little bookworm, and spoils her rotten. The neighbor boy, 4 years older than the girl, saves her some times from being bullied, attacked, abused and discriminated. When the girl grows older, she fells in love with the boy, and they initiate a love affair. The boy's parents don't approve a Chinese girl, and when the girl asks help from her adoptive mother, she reacts very strongly against the boy, as his parents are racists. She says some things that hurt Mei badly, and she cannot forget nor forgive Madame. The young two decide to run away, and start a new life somewhere else. Madame cannot forget or forgive either, and gives the House to the housekeeper, packs her things and leave the House never to return.

There it is, take it and run with it, and if you write anything, let me read it :-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fourth day, and I'm still on!

I have broken my record! YAY!

I also read about people who have already written more than 10.000 words. One girl had written over 25.000 words. Already. In three days. *blah!* One woman is writing three novels at the same time and keeps up with the word count in all three!

On the other hand... I write quickly, and if I just had gone into the habit of writing, I could do that too. I write about 60-65 words per minute, which means that if I just wrote, and not think, and not go and do research in the middle of writing, and not edit, I would be able to write all 50.000 words in about 13 hours. He. That is, if I started 8 A.M. kept half an hour "coffee breaks" after every 4 hours of work, I would be finished 10.30 P.M.
I could well divide that for two days, which means that I would be working 6-7 hours every day, have a lunch break in the middle, and be free from 3.30 P.M. - and have written the book in two days.
Interesting, isn't it? I could well write my two books every month, with plenty of time left for research and editing...

I do write only for a couple of hours every day. I try to keep up with the 2000 words a day count, and finish with 60.000 words draft in the end of November.

It really doesn't take long to write... I am just not used to write. There's a tiny editor inside my head... or "editor" I should say, because real-life editors are amazing, and mine isn't. She's just a pedantic besser-wisser and perfectionist who tells me everything I write is crap.
I know I write some crap, but mostly what I write is good.

I have been thinking what to call my genre.

It's not romance, it's not chick lit, but it's similar, so I could call it "women's fiction" - even though I don't write my book with women in mind. I hope people of any gender would read and appreciate my writing, but my main characters are all women, or defined by women in their lives, and it's very much centered around home and relationships, so I assume the majority of my readers will be women.
It's steampunk inspired, but because I don't explain any gadgets, machines and such, it's not sci-fi, or strictly speaking steampunk either. I'm speaking of what happens behind the scenes in a steampunk world. What a normal, common contemporary fiction novel would be, if the normal, common world was a steampunk world. As the history of my world turned out differently than this world we are living in right now, it cannot be classified as historical fiction either. I think it would be classified as fantasy, but it's not medieval fantasy, and there are no dragons and fairies and vampires and werewolves around, and no-one has superpowers or paranormal abilities, so I think classifying it as fantasy would be saying it's something it's not.

And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day.

I decided to move my NaNo-diary from the story and in here, so that I can just "mark the whole document" and "copy and paste" it to word count verifier - or just count the words with Word word count calculator. That's close enough in this stage of NaNoWriMo lol

1.11. 0.06
National Novel Writing Month has begun and I have begun to write. I feel a bit off, because I just found this amazing blog I wanted to search, and I am already 5 minutes late :-D

1.11. 0.37
Here again - after the good start with 1000 words in half an hour, I don't know what to write. I suppose I might not be a writer after all :-D

2.11. 12.42
I just heard about someone who will write 2000 words a day through whole November... if it takes me one hour to write 1700 words, I should be writing two hours and produce 3000 words.

3.11. 12.53
Oh dear. I write a page and start thinking. I don’t have this story! I don’t know what will happen next! I suppose I should have been writing something I have already researched and thought about, and something I know the story. Sure, I know the outline of this story too, the child happens to enter these people’s lives accidentally, changes everything, and leaves just as accidentally... and changes everything again. It’s about how children do change the lives of the families, but they are not OURS, just visitors who stay longer than a week, and never outstay their welcome... on the contrary. I will be putting in happenings, incidents and substories I have snapped from other stories.

3.11. 14.17
Oh DEAR how I don't want to write!
I also notice that I am spinning something else than I planned on writing. I have slipped back to a fantasy of mine, where my native country has a quite different position in the world history... I am very fond of that fantasy of mine :-)
But - every word is a good word. I have written over 1000 words today. Now I only need to write another 1000 words and I can think of other things :-D

3.11. 14.48

When I say I don't want to write, I don't mean I don't want to write. I do, I just don't want to write my NaNoWriMo :-D

I might want to write a short story for L.Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest.
On the other hand, I just read about the dangers of writing contests, and... well... I suppose L.Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future is legitimate.

If you are living in UK or Ireland, you could try writing a 1000 words short story for Cally Taylor's contest with the theme "Heaven". You could write a 1000 words short story with the theme "Heaven" anyway, even if you are not eligible for the contest. The contest has very nice prizes, but if your short story is good, you will reach there without the help of the contest. Cally did ;-)

I have been reading Louise Doughty's interesting columns "A Novel in a Year".

"The day after my eighth birthday, my father told me..."

It's totally empty in my mind. I try to think back at my 8th birthday...

My father didn't say me much anything the day after my eighth birthday - or after any of my birthdays. I don't remember much of anything anyone told me when I was 8.

My 8th birthday was in 1977. Or perhaps 1976... if one counts my first birthday as the day I was born. I started the school 1976. We were still living in the town. I was 7 years old. If I am 8 years old on my 8th birthday, it was my first birthday after we had moved from town to countryside. I knew no-one, I had no friends, no-one came to my birthday. The day earlier one of my class mates had his birthday, and he had a birthday party in his home, with some other class mates. So, perhaps my father could have told me why no-one came to my birthday party. It was simply because they didn't know where I lived. But, that never happened, and I didn't wonder. I couldn't have told anyone how to get to my house. I was 7 and had lived in the house for just a couple of months, and it was in the countryside, and I barely knew our neighbors.

What could someone else's father have told this someone else the day after he was 8? I really cannot imagine. Adults, especially fathers, don't tell things to 8 years olds. Middle-aged people wouldn't remember what was told to them when they were 8.

This exercise makes me sad about my lonely childhood and about being ignored by people who were older, not only my father, but my mother, my siblings, teachers, neighbors, buss drivers, shop keepers - basically anyone who was older. Also, it makes everything I write about being a child and getting attention from adults second hand information. I could just as well be writing about what it is like to be black, or growing up as a slave. I know just as much of that. I have lived a very boring 40 years, and that is awful. Well... sisters Brontë didn't have that exciting and fascinating life either, but they wrote some interesting books.

I want to write a novel because I like reading novels.
(And I want to get Nobel literature prize, get rich and not need to worry ever again about what I'm going to eat and where I'm going to live tomorrow.)
Also, I want to be a published AUTHOR, and to me that means writing novels. Many novels, not just one. It's not enough to have written some words in a friend's book, or have written children's picture books, or have written fact literature, or have written short stories and articles in magazines. That makes me a published WRITER. To me being an author is something wonderful, admirable, idealistic... it's my biggest dream, my fantasy, my ambition... I want to BE an author, not just call myself one.

I just read Chris' first pep-talk. I loved this one: "...endure a few shameful days where the only thing keeping your word-count afloat is the fact that your protagonist has a habit of reading the dictionary aloud whenever she gets nervous. And she's always nervous. " LOL
But this is the most important message: "There's an adage in noveling that you can revise a bad first draft into a great book. But you can't revise a blank page into anything but a blank page. Take this to heart during NaNoWriMo. In November, all words are good words."

So what if I snatch inspiration from someone else? That's what Dan Brown did, and look at where that got him! It's not so that the inspiration is lost from the original source. He/She has already written his/her book.
Also, it is as Alexandra Sokoloff says, I will be saying the things with MY words.
As Chris says in his peptalk "The world needs your new novel, author. It's time to go get it written."
As said in Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium:
Molly Mahoney: You remember when I was a little girl and I could play Rahmaninov's Second Piano Concerto and everyone was talking about my potential?
Mr. Edward Magorium: Mhm.
Molly Mahoney: Well, I am 23 now and everyone's still talking about my potential but if you ask em to play the song I know best... I'll still play Rachmaninov's Second.
Mr. Edward Magorium: May I suggest you stun the world with Molly Mahoney's First?
*sigh* It is scary. But I don't need to be afraid. The worst thing that can happen is not that I write crap, but that I write nothing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I went to the doctor's...

and we did discuss my future. *sigh* She hinted at the possibility of me having Asperger's syndrome. Ok... what does it mean? How is it going to influence my future? I don't recognize myself of the descriptions at all. I feel awkward and clumsy, but don't everyone? I know I'm not. I have no problems in communicating and I'm highly empathic person. I never spoke like a little professor, and even though I knew a lot of certain things, these things were many. I knew all about horses, birds, Lord of the Rings, sheep, stars, mythology, well... anything I happened to get interested in. Yes, I'm shy, a grey mouse, but people don't see me as cold. I don't know. Perhaps there are different shades, and I'm not like others. Just like everyone else :-D (Who ARE these others, anyway, because no-one is like them?)
I'm having an emotional hangover and I'm feeling really, really, REALLY bad.

So, I'm just going to share a couple of things. You remember the Elizabeth Rose writing thingy I posted about some 2 months ago?
Here's something to be added: learning to be a good Muse "owner".
Here's another little something I read about yesterday: training your brains.

This is very important for us NaNoWriters: Stop multitasking. There really isn't a need for that, and most often it's just a question of doing a lot of jobs badly, not doing anything well, and in the end procrastinating, and needing to do the darned list again tomorrow. Do one job at a time, do it well, finish it, forget about it. Next item on the list.

If you STILL don't know what to write for NaNoWriMo, here's some help: NaNoWriMo tools you need for your writing journey by Angela Booth.

Here's Chuck Palachiuk's 13 tips to a writer

It seems that Men with Pens are having a week long fiction writing course :-)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I don't want to go to the doctor...

We are going to discuss my future. Blah.

I'd much rather sit at home and write my nano :-)

Here's something that might interest you:

The Literary Lab is organizing a short story writing contest. Write anything, every genre is welcome. It's less than 2000 words, one day's work, or two, if you edit the thing you wrote :-D - I think it might be an interesting thing to do in the middle of the NaNoWriMo :-D

Here's 5 things to do to GET READY for NaNoWriMo... a bit late, but better late than never ;-)
Here's Lynn Viehl's NaNo-list. As said, not too late :-) If you plan to write 2000 words a day too, you will end up with 56000 words, so it's 6000 words over the goal, if you start tomorrow :-)

Then I have been reading a little of Alicia Rasley's Writer's Corner, because I've been a good girl and written over 3000 words the first day :-D

Nevertheless... I doubt I'll keep up with the good work the rest of the month. I probably won't even be able to produce a nice little short story of only 2000 words for the contest. I probably won't write another fictional word this year. Knowing me... I'd rather surf the net and collect information about writing ;-)

(Tehee! Guess what just happened! My computer was slow, I was quick, and I closed the tab holding my blog entry, and it hadn't autosaved, so everything I had written disappeared!)

But if you like, visit me at NaNoWriMo :-)

First day of Nanowrimo - 1700 words

I also did that in an hour, which leaves me plenty of time to do other things. :-)

I was reading Sonja Foust's blog and that lead me to Alexandra Sokoloff's blog

Among books I wish I had written are Da Vinci Code (though a better one), Twilight books, Outlander books, Pride and Prejudice, Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy, Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland and Romeo and Juliet (and everything else Shakespeare wrote). And the Bible.
Not because I think they are good books, but because people love these books. Yes, I'm very materialistic on some level. Yes, I wish I could support myself with my writing, even get rich by writing. I am extremely jealous to Dan Brown, who in my mind cannot write, but who can support himself with his writing. :-(

I wish I was as productive an author as Agatha Christie, Shakespeare and Barbara Cartland.
I wish I was an author good enough to get Nobel prize.
I wish I was a popular and beloved author.

Sigh. I went and read Geoffrey K. Pullum's critique on Da Vinci Code, and it was delightful and soothing read. I don't know if my book - if there ever is one - is considered as worthless, but I am not an English teacher in University level. Dan Brown is. I don't understand how he could get the job, when he writes crap like that.
Anyway, languagelog is very good reading for all writer-wannabes. I found among other things this "16 first rules of fiction".

Show, don't tell
Be readable; grasp the reader's attention.
- "something terrible happened', and instantly we want to know what, and where, and how, and why"
Don't explain.
Know your characters.
"The words the characters use need to reflect their heritage, upbringing and life experiences."
Drop the reader right into the middle of the action.
You can do anything.
Write what you know.
You can't talk about fiction.
Be true to the characters and let the story flow from them.
A relieved sigh ALWAYS brings trouble.
Truth is stranger than fiction, so appeal to the sense of absurd to gain credibility.
Never, ever, let your readers be confused about the precise geographical locations of your minor characters.
The narrator can't die.
Create a believable universe out of nothing.
It is not real life, but it must somehow honestly represent something of real life.
The voice may be yours, but the characters are just characters. ("all similarities to existing people are purely co-incidental")
the links aren't working, but I managed to hunt down a couple of them through Internet Archive. :-D
Here's another take to this list. Better than mine, which is not really even a take...

BTW, this is my list of 10 top films and books:

1) Big Fish
2) Hook
3) LA story
4) Amelie from Montmartre
5) Quiet Man
6) Father Goose
7) How to steal a million
8) Aristocats
9) Don Juan de Marco
10) Enchanted April

1) The Eight
2) Lord of the Rings
3) Narnia books by C.S.Lewis
4) Overwhelmed by joy
5) Jonathan Livingstone Seagull
6) Alchemist
7) Foucault's Pendulum
8) Wind in the Willows
9) Fifth Elephant
10) Jonathan Stroud's demon trilogy

I just wonder what's the common denominator here...