Monday, June 30, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo Round Two

It's coming up on July, which means the year's second Camp NaNoWriMo will be coming up.  I'm going to give it another shot, but this time I'm going to do something a little bit different.  Instead of working on the plot of something I already have started, I'm going to spend some time world-building for the Epic Epic of Epicness.

To explain a little further, I've had this vague idea for a world in which several territories are tied together under the aegis of a magical rope.  I have a good idea of what story I ultimately want to tell in this world, but I need to build the world first so I know what I have to play with.  So, my idea is to spend next month writing what are essentially entries in a history book of the world.  In the end, I'm basically going to be writing a lot of words that will probably not see the light of day, but they're going to make telling a story a heck of a lot easier for me.

This is the first time I've ever done any kind of work beyond outlining when writing something, and I'm curious to see how it will change my overall writing process.  What about you?  Do you make yourself a world bible, or do you discover what your setting is like as you write?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Questions for a new world

So, I'm going through my notes on a plot bunny that's been sitting and waiting patiently for a year or two, because I want to give it a bit of a shot for the next Camp NaNoWriMo.  I had developed a timeline, which was helpful, but just reading it over made me realize that there were a lot of unanswered questions I would need to work with.  I started writing some of those questions down, and realized that it might not hurt to have a generalized questionnaire for world- and plot-building.  And so, I share with you.  Feel free to let me know of any other questions you think could be helpful!

1.  What does the average person in your setting do for a living?
2.  How does the average person in your setting live day to day?
3.  How does the average person become educated?
3a.  What obstructions are there to education in your setting?
4.  What kind of person is your main character when we first meet him/her?
5.  What kind of person is your main character by the time the book is over?
5a.  Does the main character die?  How and why?
6.  Who is the most important person in your main character's life?
7.  Who would your main character say is the least important person in his/her life?
8.  What's the first thing your main character can remember?

I'm sure there are more, and I have a feeling I'll be coming back to this topic in the future, but tell me what you think.  Do you try to get some answers before you write, or do you just dive in and let the answers come about naturally?

Monday, June 9, 2014

You say 'escapist' like it's a bad thing...

So, last week I made the mistake of reading an article that I knew was going to make me angry.  I know, I know - someone was wrong on the internet, and I fell into the trap of reading about it.  Still, it gave me something to think about.

The article on Slate was regarding young adult books, and how adults should "feel ashamed" for reading them.  One of the main arguments the author made against the YA world was that they are escapist.  This, to me, seems ridiculous.  I don't read fiction to immerse myself into the trials and tribulations of today's world, exactly as I am living it at this moment; I read fiction to go to a different world, or even a different part of this world.  I read, in fact, to escape.  I'm finding it hard to believe that escaping in that way is a bad thing.

One thing that I've learned from writing is that sometimes, you have to step away from a story and do something else for a bit.  It gives you a chance to change your perspective, and may help give you an idea of how to solve the issue you've been having - an idea you might not have thought of if you hadn't stepped away.  Shifting perspectives, looking at something else, taking a break - those all sound like things you get from reading, don't they?  Frankly, I feel better after reading even a "trashy" novel, because I've had a chance to go somewhere else for a bit.  I might not want to stay in that somewhere else - hell, when I read zombie novels, I definitely don't want to stay there - but it's nice to take a breather before diving back into the "real world."

I don't care that I'm a "grown-up", and should be reading Serious Literature that Deals Seriously with Serious Things.  I get enough of that in the day to day.  If I want to spend some time in a world where the biggest problem is getting that cute guy's attention (well, until the aliens show up), then that's where I'm going.  That's one of the perks of being a "grown-up" - you can read whatever you want.

And you can pry my copies of A Wrinkle in Time from my cold, dead fingers.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Getting back on the horse

Apologies for the radio silence last week.  The US holiday weekends always throw me off my rhythm, and I never realize how much of a creature of habit I am until my routine gets disrupted.  The plan is to be back on track now, so we'll see how long that lasts.

Speaking of getting back on track...I freely admit that I've been neglecting my stories woefully.  Without something like NaNoWriMo to give me a goal to aim for, and without a group of like-minded creative types to bounce ideas off of, I apparently just let things drift away.  While I am self-motivated in many other areas in my life, evidently I need to do some more work when it comes to creative ventures.

I wonder, on occasion, if I'm just fooling myself with this whole "I'm going to be a writer!" plan.  Imposter syndrome and I know each other very well, and it's never more obvious than when I'm trying to be creative in some way.  Who am I to think that people will want to read what I have to write?

In my line of work, I encounter a lot of books that, if they'd been passed through a publishing house, would never have seen the light of day.  Self-publishing has become a haven for people who have things to say, and want the world to read it, regardless of what a traditional publisher might feel is commercial enough.  Now, I freely admit that there's a lot of content that isn't all that good out there.  But even when it's terrible - maybe especially when it's terrible - the author has been brave enough to put the words out there into the world.  Even better, some small portion of the world will read those words.

I'm not going to be famous.  There aren't any awards that will be coming my way.  But I do have a story to tell, and maybe - just maybe - someone will be interested in knowing what happens next.