Camp Nanowrimo

Despite knowing how difficult it would be I did sign up for Camp Nanowrimo this month. So far, because I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to write something about the fact that I’m participating. If I’m so busy you’re probably wondering why I signed up, part of it was peer pressure. Nah, not really. I’m just kidding about that, my fellow Blue Unicorn’s didn’t pressure me into this. It was my choice and my choice alone. Our ‘cabin’ is filled with Blue Unicorn members. Nine of them to be exact and that’s only part of the group! How awesome is that? We started with a couple of members, five to be exact and now we have a group which is much bigger than I ever could have guessed it would be. I’m happy and proud to be a member of the Blue Unicorn Group.

Our group is a lot of fun and we try to meet once a week during this month, usually on Friday’s. Just like we do during the big November Nanowrimo. It’s great to have that support and I can really recommend to anyone who wants to write to join a group like ours. For a big part writing is something I do on my own, behind my computer, on my couch with my tablet in my hand or even just scribbling in my notebook. And yet at the same time I crave that time with my fellow writer friends. We laugh and joke around and we might not get a whole lot of writing done during those hours that we meet but it does give you strength to go on.

No matter how different the topics of our books are we always find common’ ground. I can honestly say that I have gained some amazing friends just by participating in that group. If you have a chance to join a group like ours, do it. I can whole-heartedly recommend it to you.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. April is a really busy month for me, in general every year. Add to that the extreme stress I’ve been under at work ever since this year started and I am basically set up for failure. But it felt good to do something for myself because I have basically been denying myself that pleasure. These past months I spend way too much time worrying about my job while fighting off headaches and insomnia and thinking about everything that has been happening.

The difference between Nanowrimo and Camp Nanowrimo mostly lays in the fact that you can choose the word-count you want to achieve your goal during the April version. The minimum is 10 000 words and since I knew how hard it would be to even achieve that I choose that amount.  Today is the fifteenth day of the month and theoretically speaking I should have been somewhere around 5000 words … but I’m nowhere near that amount of words in fact I am at 1600 words right now.

My story

The story I’m working on is the story I started in November. I’m really happy with what I’m writing and I think that I have an interesting story going. But it’s going to take some time before it will actually be finished. More than I had expected to be honest however that’s fine by me. In my opinion writing should be a slow process, it gives you time to think about what you’re writing. Weigh in the options and come up with the best possible scenario.

It’s really difficult at times. I have been working on this story for a while now and what I had when I started in November is nowhere near what I have now. And I think that it actually makes my story better, so I’m content with the changes I made.

The thing I have been focusing on is the character development. I want my main character to be a person of flesh and blood. Well honestly not just the main characters, the other characters as well. A person who could be alive today, I wanted her to have fears and doubts both in herself as well as in society in general. And even though she’s having a hard time I also want her to have happy moments. Even if they are small tiny moments as simple as having a good meal or finding pleasure in a beautiful sunset because that is how simple life can be.

Also writing is in many cases a dreadful thing to do. You know what you want to write, but actually getting the sentences written is much harder. It takes many tries and I have mentioned this before, I have a pretty big problem with my inner editor. We don’t see eye to eye when it comes to writing. Nanowrimo should be about quantity, not quality. Getting the words written and focusing on progress and then after the month is done you should go back and edit. But I can’t do that, when I see that something isn’t working I need to fix it. If I don’t I won’t make any progress either. I do keep everything I write in the same Scrivener folder however so at the end of the month everything I’ve written counts in total word count but a big portion will never see the light of day in the finished product.

So tell me, who else is participating in Camp Nanowrimo and how is your writing process going?

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Nanowrimo 2014 participant

November is almost here!

Besides the fact that I can hardly believe that November is almost here – just the sheer fact that the years is almost over astonishes me. Just two short months are left in 2014 before the new year begins. But before that happens we have November.

And November means just one thing and if you’re following my blog you must know what I mean by that. November is reserved for Nanowrimo. My new writing adventure starts tonight, November first at 0.00. Yes, I’m gonna kick it off, right at the start. Get my first words in because this weekend is going to be a busy one and who knows when I can get some writing done.

Besides I want to do it better than I did these past years. There are days when I already know that I won’t be able to write or when I know that I don’t have time to spare. One of those days is actually the very last day of the month and given that I usually clock in the last words on that very last evening. I need to do better! I want to finish early, that is my goal for this year.

And now an hour and a half before the start I feel very pumped up! I want to start!!!

I gotta admit it … Scrivener rocks!

When you’re wrong, you’re wrong and you gotta admit it!

Scrivener

I started writing from the perspective of a fan. I was completely into role play on forums for a while (way back when…) and I was reading fanfiction as well. But role playing didn’t go fast enough, I felt like I was always waiting till someone else would post something so I could react.  And one day I got challenged by a fellow role player, she asked me why I didn’t try to write fanfiction, so I could write my own story and write it as fast or as slow as I wanted to write  it. That’s why I started writing fanfiction. But the thing is – unless you write AU (Alternate Universe) stories. The setting, the characters and the all that basic information is already set.

So for years yWriter was more than enough for me. And I have used it for a long, long time. But two years ago I started working on my first original story. And that honestly didn’t go too well. I had an idea – an idea which I still whole-heartedly believe in – and I started working on it the same way I plan for a fanfic.

Which of course doesn’t work because there is so much more you need to know. And honestly I thought that I could come up with it on the spot. But of course I couldn’t. So I ended up with 50 000 words of crappy story. I pushed it aside because I knew that it wasn’t working at all. But the story kept begging me to take another look at it. So last year I decided that I would do a rewrite, so I started working on ‘Mirrorland 2.0’. The basic storyline idea was the same as were the characters but everything else I changed around.

This time the result was a whole lot better. But still there were some pretty big gaps and some science fiction stuff (alternate universes) which I don’t have an solution for yet. So I tried writing in December but after November it’s really difficult to continue writing, work is extremely busy and besides that there’s also the holidays. Eventually I have to admit that I haven’t opened the file in months. I know there is a story and I really feel like it could be something interesting but right now might not be the right time for this story. So I put the file aside, for a later time.

However let’s get to the point of this post because that was Scrivener, right. The thing is, yWriter is a great program which has really served me well in the past. But I felt like the preparation for my new story needs more. So I started reading up on Scrivener, because I know that a lot of people love that program.

And I have to admit that it has a lot of special little features which are really helpful, you just have to figure it out. This guide especially helped me on my way. I used Katytastic’s video – which I have mentioned in a previous post – to help me on the way. I find it really hard to set up say ahead of time how many words my story is going to take or how many chapters for that matter. So by using the 3 acts of 9 chapters guideline I was able to figure it out, or at least set up a plan for my story. About half of it has been planned out, just a basic outline. Nothing more so no details yet, I’ll fill them in when I get to writing that particular chapter. The other half hasn’t been planned at all, I’m not really sure yet what will happen in that second part of the story.

I’ve used Scrivener to keep all the research and ideas I have together and it’s definitively one of the benefits of the program that you can literally add all types of files to it. That’s a definite plus for this program. Because that is not an option for yWriter you can only add text to it. And in Scrivener I can add pictures, PDF files and more.

The only thing I miss right now is an option to create a timeline. I really hope that this option might be added one day, but until that they I guess I’ll be using Aeon Timeline. Which is a really good program – I used it last year – as well and gives me all the options I want. Besides once I made the timeline I can always import it into Scrivener. I’m an extremely chaotic person but for some reason I like my writing to be organized. And I really like the way that Scrivener gives me the options to keep everything organized in one place.

Pinterest

I made a Pinterest account a couple of weeks ago and I have been adding pictures to it. All are in some way related to my story or Nanowrimo in general. Either it’s character ideas, location ideas, clothing ideas, writing tips or Scrivener. So there might also be some tips which you could use. Right now Pinterest is the place where I add every picture I like or want to remember. But once I actually use a picture for a location – for instance – I will also add it in my Scrivener binder and that is how I will keep everything organized.

 

The countdown has started, four days till the actual Nanowrimo 2014 kick off!!!

Casting call

I love writing and the creative process of it. But I’m also a very visual person. After all I am a graphic and multimedia designer by profession. So I cast every story I write. I find it helps me to keep better track of details about a person’s appearance. So for these past couple of days I have been wearing the hat of the casting director in my project.

Casting

I believe that the casting of a movie or a television show can make or break the show. For instance what if Regina (Lana Parrilla) wasn’t so perfect at being the Evil Queen on Once Upon A Time (OUAT)? Well, the show certainly wouldn’t be as good as it is right now. A small change in her expression makes a huge difference, she can be evil one second then turn around and look a her son Henry (Jared Gilmore) and all you can see is love. Pure love. And just in her eyes you can see that she would do anything – and has done everything – to make sure that he´s save. That just shows how incredibly talented she is. But someone had to cast her for that role, someone out there saw that talent in her and used it.

Another incredibly important part in casting is when younger actors need to be cast as the ‘child’ version of an already cast role. A really good example is Snow White/Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) on OUAT. In some of the flashbacks she’s a child, the young Snow White is being played by Bailee Madison. Right now she´s fourteen but she´s been on OUAT since the first season. They really do look alike. And for all of those people who say that Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison who play mother and daughter in the show look nothing alike I can recommend you to look for pictures from a couple of years back where both Ginnifer as well as Jennifer had dark long hair. According to themselves they were often mistaken for one another in the press and at parties.

Snowwhite

Or when you´re casting the – ´Oh-my-God!-I-have-a-sibling-I-never-knew-about´ sibling, this is also something which happens in a whole bunch of shows – Grey’s Anatomy anyone? Another good example is the show ´The Fosters´, which is about the Foster family who – yes, you guessed it – foster children. There´s Maya Mitchell who stars as Callie, the girl who thinks she can handle life all on her own but is failing miserably. She´s in youth detention and has a problem with men who lay down the law. So she´s placed (temporarily) in the Foster household with Steph and Leena – who have a son from Steph´s previous marriage and twins who they adopted a couple of years ago. Flash forward to this season (I´m trying to keep this post spoiler-free) we find out that some things weren´t exactly the way she always believed them to be regarding her parents and that she has a sister. And that sister is coincidentally played by none other than Bailee Madison. They have this uncanny-resemblance which you might expect two sisters to have.

This in my eyes is perfect casting! And to be honest I looked up if they weren´t related and judging by the search results I got, I sure as hell wasn´t the only one who wondered about it.

BaileeMadison-MayaMitchell

My casting process

So with all of this in mind I started my casting process.

I take a lot of time when I’m casting my characters, I have a certain idea in my head of what the person should look like and what age they are. And that idea in my head fits a certain type, I guess. So that is what I’ll be looking for. At first I started looking for the men in my story. My first main character is a female, but I felt that so far in all my stories my male characters have been lacking. Probably because my main focus has always been the women, who are often in lesbian relationships. So it’s no real surprise that my ‘men’ have been lacking in the character development department. I want to do it right this time. So that is where I started.

Looking for the perfect people to cast your story is key, especially when you’re casting family members. They have to look alike – enough at least to be brothers in this specific case. But I also want them to be their own person. To have their own identity and their own quirks. If you have pictures of the person you’ve cast you can use them to spot small details like that freckle they have, or a small scar.

I’ve cast my main characters and I have some possibles names for side characters. And yes, I am of course fishing in the same pond which most ‘casting directors’ are fishing in. The current pond of young actors. But the funniest thing happened, I was casting two brothers for my story. And I randomly came across an image of Aaron Taylor-Johnson. It was perfect, there are a lot of pictures of him since he’s been in quite a few new movies. And he’s one of those people who look different in each and every movie. And that is perfect because I needed that. When this particular character starts out he’s going to be a really buff looking ‘guard’ but as the story moves along he’ll goes through a lot of changes … both physical as well as mental.

And by coincidence I also found the perfect candidate for the younger brother. My FMC and some side characters. Interested in my ‘cast’? Take a look at my Pinterest.

Nanowrimo prep

It’s October and for a lot of people that probably means that the fall has started or perhaps the last quarter of the year. The dark days leading up towards Christmas and the new year. But for people like me October means Nanowrimo prep month.

Well, maybe you’re one of those people who’ll grab their computer, laptop, tablet or notepad on November first and start writing, but in general I think that most writers who are going to participate in Nanowrimo choose to do some type of preparation. And really preparation could basically mean everything, for a large part the type of preparation depends on the person doing the prep. As long as you’re not actually writing the story, that is of course. Since that would be against the rules of Nanowrimo.

I get that a lot of people won’t understand the concept of Nanowrimo. So let me explain it to you. Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month, it was started back in 2001 – I think, by a group of friends who always said they would write a novel one day. It started in LA but spread through the US in the following years hence the ‘National’ part of the title. Nowadays Nanowrimo is a worldwide event but the name was set. The plan is to write a 50 000 word novel during the month of November.

You challenge yourself, there is no real control that you’re actually writing the novel during the month. What’s the point in lying about it? But that is also the thing that a lot of people don’t understand. But look at it from this angle, you have a story which you would really want to write down some day. However each and every day there are things you need or have to do. You have to go to school, get an education. Go to your job to earn money, take care of your family. Be part of life itself.

Let’s be honest there are a lot of things you want to do ‘one day’ … but actually getting to them is something completely different. I guess that we need a reason to do it, we need to set time aside to actually sit down and do it. And that is why Nanowrimo is perfect. You challenge yourself to write 50 000 words during the month, you sit down and you do it. Because you want to reach that deadline at the end of the month.

Will you finish your story? You might, well at the very least you write your story down and you might get from the start to the middle and reach the end within 50 000 words. But you also might realise that you are not even nearly finished when the end of the month is approaching. It al depends on your work, your story. At least by the end of November you will have partly or a completely written first draft of your very own novel! Will it be any good? Honestly? Probably not. A novel needs a lot of work, this is only a first draft, it needs editing and rewriting. But you did it! You wrote that story you wanted to write one day. And you are not alone, you are part of a large community with people who have the same dream!

But for now it’s October and like I said October means prep month. In my case prep month means that I want to figure out my storyline. This year, my story is completely fresh … I have written fanfiction three years in a row. In that case you’re characters and setting are already made. So a basic idea is more than enough to know. These past two years I wrote an original story, but it was something that had been playing through my mind for quite some time before I actually started on it. The first year I just started writing it, the same way I used to write fanfiction and while I did make it through the 50 000 words it became very clear to me that I had to do a lot of work on my story. So I took my time and with the same basic idea and characters I wrote a new version of my story. With a lot more preparation I started confidently writing and I think that the second version is a lot better than the first version of the story in fact, that one can pretty much disappear into a bin never to be looked at again. However that doesn’t mean that the second version is good … it’s better but it still needs work. But the project has been pushed aside for the last year.

I needed to start on something fresh so I’m writing – well preparing to write a completely new story. I’m setting up the storyline – with the help of Katytastic videos. The one below has been particularly helpful for me.

And I´m thinking about my characters, what do I want them to look like and who are they. What do they stand for and what is their goal in the story. I´m casting so to speak my main characters for my story. I like to use actors for my characters because you have a clear image of what they look like and knowing that makes it easier for me to describe them in my story.

I´ve also been writing down note, lots of notes in my notebook and on my tablet. I´m making my storybible so to speak.

The last thing I have done so far is ajust my website. It needed to fit my new story.

Are you going to participate in Nanowrimo? Do you use October to prepare for Nanowrimo or are you just going to start writing once November starts?

It’s here! – NaNoWriMo 2013

While the last few hours before the witching hour on this Halloween’ eve tick by the start of NaNoWriMo is getting closer and closer with every minute that passes.

I’m going to say this now, I’ve been really looking forward to this day and I was planning on staying up and start writing at midnight till one like I did the other years. We would gather in the chat room and do Word Wars, share first sentences and word counts. And I love it. But that’s not going to happen, not today anyway. My sleeping pattern sucks! And I’m so tired that I think that it would be best if I go to bed early and try to catch up on my sleep. That’s the best course of action … which kind of sucks because I was really looking forward to it.

But since I have work tomorrow followed by a Yoga class in the evening I am choosing the smart thing. I have too, because I won’t be home before nine tomorrow evening. And right there is the second problem, I probably won’t be able to get much writing done tomorrow at all … so that’s a really good start. *insert sarcasm* Anyway, I’ll make that up during the weekend, or next week or the week after that … like a true procrastinator.

Nah, I’m just kidding it’s just that the first day has something special it’s a moment you have been waiting for and I’m not really able to get any writing done.

50 000 words

Anyway, that’s besides the point I got a whole month to get  50 000 words written and I will get it done in time. That really is my goal this year, get those 50 000 words written well before the end of the month. Now I am not going to say that I will  This is my fifth time and this time I want to be ready before the 30th of November. Because these past four years were touch and go, I just made it each and every time. The lowest amount of words was actually 50 004 – my first year at 20 minutes before midnight on the 30th. And I almost didn’t make it because the word count validator kept giving me a blank page. The other three years I made it with a little bit more time left on the clock but all in all I made it with ‘barely’ 50 000 words on the count.

So this is my tip to all new participants of NaNoWriMo (and maybe also some returning participants) don’t wait till the last-minute to validate your word count because the validator might not work because of overload since a lot of people are trying to validate on that last day.

To-do list

I tried to work on my to-do list and finished some things and changed a couple of things around;

  • Finish the timeline … as far as I can. Stuff will still need to be added while I’m writing so I can keep my facts straight. This is a work in progress … probably will be fore the whole month.
  • Finish the map, I need to figure out where everyone lives, maybe street names and distance from one another. I didn’t finish the map, I know where my main character lives and some other significant places but I have decided that it would be easier to fill it out while I write.
  • I need to develop the characters better, the graffiti crew and the geek squad – they are minor but important. I worked out the characters who are part of my main character inner circle – or who will become part of the inner-circle.
  • There is a special police task force in the Mirrorland, who are they and how do they track them. Are they the alternate versions of the cops who try to get the names of the other graffiti crew members from Kayleigh or are they someone else? I still have some time to figure this out, I will need this in the second part of the book.
  • That all important meeting with the Mirrorland alternates, how will that go?
  • Will Kayleigh find love? Yes, but will it be with Amy or someone else?
  • How will it end? There are some things which I hate when I watch a movie or read a book, so I know what I don’t want to happen. Which narrows down the options quite a bit.

Nanowrimo Kick Off

Yesterday was the Dutch Kick Off for NaNoWriMo, I had a blast. It’s always fun to meet other people who are just as crazy as I am for attempting to write a book in a month time. Because let’s face it we would have to be at least a little bit crazy if we do attempt to write a book … and not just one year but year after year, every November. It is after all my fifth NaNoWriMo.

Of course the official first day is still a couple of days away but it feels like it has really started now. Per the rules of Nano we of course can’t start writing until the first of November.

But it’s itching … as probably most writers who ever participated in Nanorwrimo know. It’s a world-wide phenomenon amongst us writers, I guess. Anyway the count down has officially started and there are still some things I want to do before November 1st.

MirrorlandOne of the things I had on my to-do list was my cover. I had made a design but I really hated it. Really hated it so much that I had to do something about it. So as much time as I spend last week on my crappy design being not happy, I honestly spend barely any time on this new design, which I love!

It’s a dramatic story, at least I want it to be. For some reason I have this desire to write an extremely dramatic story. I don’t know why but I have to do it, we all know that a picture says more than a thousand words and this one says it all.

So that is one more thing on my to-do list that I can strike through.

But I still have a couple left;

  •  Finish the timeline … as far as I can. Stuff will still need to be added while I’m writing so I can keep my facts straight. (*Even if that’s the only straight thing about my story)
  • Finish the map, I need to figure out where everyone lives, maybe street names and distance from one another.
  • I need to develop the characters better, the graffiti crew and the geek squad – they are minor but important.
  • There is a special police task force in the Mirrorland, who are they and how do they track them. Are they the alternate versions of the cops who try to get the names of the other graffiti crew members from Kayleigh or are they someone else?
  • That all important meeting with the Mirrorland alternates, how will that go?
  • Will Kayleigh find love? Yes, but will it be with Amy or someone else?
  • How will it end? There are some things which I hate when I watch a movie or read a book, so I know what I don’t want to happen. Which narrows down the options quite a bit.

These are some of the things I want to look at before NaNoWriMo really kicks off.