Tag Archives: character development

Verbs and Character Creation #amwriting

This morning I am writing beneath an overcast sky to the sounds of seabirds and waves. It’s the perfect soundtrack for the moment. Later today, the sun will emerge from the mists, and the air will be full of laughter and excited chatter. Knots of parents, children, and dogs will dot the sandy shore, along with all the paraphernalia that goes along with a visit to the beach.

Words-And-How-We-Use-ThemUnfortunately, although we asked for a ground-floor condo, we were assigned a second-floor unit. My husband is managing the stairs – slowly. On the good side, we have the god’s-eye view of a wide stretch of beach, the perfect deck overlooking it all.

canon definitionWriting is going as well as ever, a little up and down. I’m building the framework for a new story, which I will begin writing on November 1st. The world is already built; it’s an established world with many things that are canon and can’t be changed. So, I’m working my way through the bag of tricks that help me jar things loose.

One thing that helps when creating a character is identifying the verbs embodied by each individual’s personality. I am searching for their motivation, the metaphorical “hole” in their life. What pushes them to do the crazy stuff they do? In several seminars I’ve attended, this aspect of character creation was referred to as their void.

Anyway, I’m thinking. I’m identifying the void that blights the lives of each character. I’m letting my mind off its leash and taking notes.

So let’s pretend we’re plotting a novel, and we’re going to use verbs to do it. It could be any kind of novel, but for the sake of this post, we’ll plot a romance novel.

Jack Kerouak on writing LIRF07252022Protagonist HER: Anna Lundquist, an unemployed game developer. She inherited an old farm and has moved there. She embarks on creating her own business designing anime-based computer games. Anna is shy, not good with men unless discussing books or computer games. VOID: Loss of family. VERBS: Create, Build, Seek, Defend, Fight, Nurture. Modifiers: Adaptable, ambitious, focused, independent, industrious, mature, nurturing, private, resourceful, responsible, simple, thrifty.

Protagonist HIM: Cameron (Cam) Berglund, a handsome and charismatic lawyer. His parents divorced, and he was raised in his mother’s home city. He inherited his father’s failing family law firm when his father committed suicide. VOID: Fears to trust. VERBS: Charm, Fix, Mediate, Heal, Advocate. Modifiers: Analytical, cautious, discreet, ethical, honorable, independent, just, pensive, observant, perceptive, private, proactive.

But if we’re writing romance, there must be a little drama before Anna settles on the right man:

Alternate Almost Protagonist HIM: Nic Jones is a ski bum and the charming owner of a coffee shop where Anna uses the internet for the first week until her cable is hooked up. He is writing a novel. VOID: Parents were killed in a plane crash. VERBS: charm, feed, desire, embrace. Modifiers: Ambitious, charming, courteous, disciplined, empathetic, flirtatious, imaginative, independent, pensive, persistent, private, quirky.

Two of Anna’s verbs are “fight” and “defend.” This forces us to ask ourselves why those verbs apply to her. Enter the antagonist:

antagonistAntagonist HIM: Matt Gentry, owner of MGPopularGames and Anna’s former boss, is angry at Anna for leaving his firm. On a skiing trip with an old fraternity brother who owns an art supply store in Starfall Ridge, he sees her entering Nic’s coffeeshop. Matt discovers that Anna is now living in that town. He learns she has started her own company and is building an anime-based RPG. He goes back to Seattle and files an injunction to stop her, claiming that he owns the rights to her intellectual property. VOID: Narcissist. VERBS: Possess, Control, Desire, Covet, Steal, Lie, Torment.

As we go through the process of sorting out the voids, verbs, and modifiers for these characters, we have some of the bones to form the skeleton of a novel. It’s still incomplete, but it’s a beginning. If we were actually writing this story, we would need to research how narcissists behave to ensure our antagonist fits the classic narcissist description but doesn’t become cartoonish.

In my current work-in-progress, a fantasy novel set in my world of Neveyah, the plot is going in the direction of a murder mystery. I haven’t identified the antagonist yet, but I’m inching closer.

I almost have a grip on my two main characters. I know their voids and main verbs, but their secondary verbs and modifiers are still eluding me. Lenn is a fire-mage, and his main verb is “act” (as in to take action). Dalya is an air-mage/healer whose main verb is “nurture.”

Both mages are members of a sect that hunts rogue mages when necessary and have certain powers that come along with that task. I will have my characters built and my plot fully outlined when NaNoWriMo begins. Ironing out this issue is the perfect excuse to sit and watch the seabirds quarreling with each other.

Next week I will continue thinking about verbs and how they do so much more than set a scene in motion. Some verbs push the action, some pull us in, and some don’t work as intended. All verbs set the mood, portraying the action in the light you, as their creator, envision.

pelicans-seagulls-Cannon-Beach August 20, 2021

Pelicans and seagulls on Cannon Beach in August. © Connie Jasperson 2022

Right now, my personal verb is “observe.”

I know it looks like I’m sitting here doing nothing, just gazing at the wildlife with a silly grin.

But actually, I’m working. See this notepad and pencil? See the wind-sculpted Einstein-esque hairstyle I’m rocking? This is how great minds look when they’re working.

Honest.


Credits and Attributions:

The image of pelicans and seagulls in the fog on Cannon Beach is from Connie Jasperson’s private collection and is copyrighted.

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Creating Characters vs. Defamation of Character #amwriting

Real-life has moments that are far stranger than anything I could dream up. I’m not alone in this—everyone has a story. That story will have moments that are difficult to hear and others that are amazing.

DangerWriting fiction allows me to put reality into more palatable chunks. It’s easier to cope with that way.

One of the ways I design my worlds is by drawing on the real world to help develop the unreal. Reshaping and reusing the scenery and terrain around you are habits of good world-building.

However, crafting characters is different. We shouldn’t use the real names and exact situations of people we are acquainted with for any reason. Don’t thinly disguise your hated boss or neighbor with a different name because they could recognize themselves and sue you.

This was made clear by the late Betty MacDonald’s situation. Her first published book was picked up by J.B. Lippincott. The Egg and I is a fictionalized account of Betty’s life as a chicken farmer. It was set in Chimacum, a small community in rural Washington State.

Many members of my family were from that area of Puget Sound and still lived there during the post-WWII years, the time frame in which Betty’s book was set.

A wide disparity in education and social services existed between urban and rural communities at that time. Only a basic education was available to most families of loggers, brush pickers, and small farmers in Washington.

Thanks to the US government’s efforts, the indigenous people were in dire straits. Traditionally, Puget Sound tribes were mainly hunter/gatherers and now suffered extreme deprivation. They had lost access to their traditional hunting and fishing territories. They were losing the culture that had been their foundation for untold thousands of years.

Betty MacDonald’s book was a success in that era and moral climate, selling well over a million copies and spinning off several movie adaptations.

The Egg and I fell into disfavor in the 1970s because cultural awareness had changed the way we view indigenous people. Critics now saw a lack of understanding and cliched treatment of our local Native people in the book.

This post isn’t intended to address or pass judgment on a 1940’s treatment of cultural issues. These are things we avoid in our modern connected society, but which people took for granted in 1946 when the book was written. Instead, we need to focus on the moral and financial repercussions of writing fictional characters too close to life.

Betty’s book motivated several lawsuits against her and her publisher for defamation of character.

From Wikipedia:

Post-publication lawsuits

Following the success of the book and film, lawsuits were filed by members of the Chimacum community. They claimed that characters in The Egg and I had been based on them, and that they had been identified in their community as the real-life versions of those characters, subjecting them to ridicule and humiliation. The family of Albert and Susanna Bishop claimed they had been negatively portrayed as the Kettles. Their oldest son Edward and his wife Ilah Bishop filed the first lawsuit, which was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

The second lawsuit was filed against MacDonald, publisher J. B. Lippincott Company, and The Bon Marché (a Seattle department store which had promoted and distributed the book) for total damages of $975,000, as sought by nine other members of the Bishop family ($100,000 each) and Raymond H. Johnson ($75,000), who claimed he had been portrayed as the Indian “Crowbar.” The case was heard before a jury in Judge William J. Willkins’ (who was also one of the presiding judges at the Nuremberg Trials) courtroom in King County Superior Court beginning February 6, 1951. MacDonald testified that the characters in her book were composite sketches of various people she had met. The defense produced evidence that the Bishop family had actually been trying to profit from the fame the book and movie had brought them, including testimony that son Walter Bishop had had his father Albert appear onstage at his Belfair, Washington, dance hall with chickens under his arm, introducing him as “Pa Kettle.” On February 10, 1951, the jury decided in favor of the defendants. [1]

stoplightWe all draw inspiration from real life, whether consciously or not. However, if we are writing fiction, we must never detail people we are acquainted with, even if we change their names.

If you become a success, some people may see that as their ticket to a little extra money at your expense. This, despite the disclaimer we put on the copyright page:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or deceased, is entirely coincidental.

However, we can and will draw impressions from the people around us.

A common “coffee shop” game is a good way to develop characters for your stories and won’t get you sued. Now that the pandemic is winding down, many coffee shops offer indoor seating once again. Pick a place that is new to you and have your pen and notepad or laptop at the ready. Watch your fellow patrons. Observe their behavior, their speech habits, and their unconscious mannerisms. You can build an entire fantasy life for them.

Each character sketch is the kernel that can be the start of a short story or even a novel–and all of it is fiction.

My Coffee Cup © cjjasp 2013The best thing is that you don’t actually know a thing about them other than they like a Double Tall Hazelnut Latte. Peoples’ conversations are unguarded in coffee shops, openly talking about what moves them or holds them back. They are lovers or haters, quiet or loud, and most importantly, anonymous.

The moods and mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, and habitual quirks that you see can give rise to a character you can use without risking your financial security and your reputation. People-watching is a necessary habit for the author to develop.


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “The Egg and I,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Egg_and_I&oldid=1050662692 (accessed February 8, 2022).

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Agency and Consequences #amwriting

In my previous post, Agency and Character Development, I briefly mentioned the importance of consequences. It is a word with many uses and connotations.

WritingCraftSeriesAgencyLIRF01302022Let’s look at both the meanings and synonyms for the word consequences.

Consequence (noun)

[kon-seh-kwens]

consequences (plural noun)

[1] The result or effect of an action or condition.

“Many programmers were laid off from work as a consequence of the failing economy.”

Synonyms:

Result, upshot, outcome, sequel, effect, reaction, repercussion, reverberations, ramification, end, end result, conclusion, termination, culmination.

[2] Importance or relevance.

“That’s of no consequence.”

Synonyms:

Importance, import, significance, account, moment, momentousness, substance, note, mark, prominence, value, weightiness, weight, concern, interest, gravity, seriousness.

[3] Social distinction. (Slightly dated usage. Its synonyms are more commonly used.)

“Adelaide Brown was a woman of consequence.”

Synonyms:

Fame, distinction, eminence, preeminence, prominence, repute, reputation, prestige, acclaim, celebrity, note, notability, mark, standing, stature, account, glory, illustriousness.

For today’s post, let’s consider agency and the importance of choice. How will the results of their decisions affect our characters’ lives? After all, a story isn’t interesting without a few self-inflicted complications.

Once again, we will go to J.R.R. Tolkien and look at Bilbo’s choices and his path to becoming the eccentric eleventy-one-year-old hobbit who vanishes (literally), leaving everything, including the One Ring, to Frodo.

ConsequencesLIRF07122020In the morning, after the unexpected (and unwanted) guests leave, he has two choices, to stay in the safety of Bag End, or hare off on a journey into the unknown. He chooses to run after the dwarves, and so begins the real story—how a respectable hobbit became a burglar and became a hero in the process.

The consequences of his decision will shape his entire life afterward. Where he was once a staid country squire, having inherited a comfortable income and existence, he is now expected to steal an important treasure from a dragon. At the outset, that particular job doesn’t seem real. He is beset by problems, one of which is his general unfitness for the task. He’s always been well-fed, never had to exert himself much, and suddenly, his opinions carry no weight.

Bilbo’s hidden sense of adventure emerges early when the company encounters a group of trolls. He is supposed to be a thief, so he is sent to investigate a strange fire in a forest. Reluctantly, he agrees. Upon reaching the blaze, he observes that it is a cookfire for a group of trolls.

Bilbo has reached a fork in the path of life. He must make a choice: the smart thing would be to turn around at that point and warn the dwarves. However, his ego feels the need to do something to prove his worth. “He was very much alarmed as well as disgusted; he wished himself a hundred miles away—yet somehow he could not go straight back to Thorin and Company empty-handed.” [1] Bilbo feels the need to impress the Dwarves and makes decisions he comes to regret.

In the process of nearly getting everyone eaten and having to be rescued by Gandalf, he discovers several historically important weapons. One of them is Sting, a blade that fits Bilbo perfectly as a sword.

At first, Sting has no name, a long knife that the hobbit Bilbo Baggins discovers in the cave of trolls. Gandalf and the dwarf Thorin also find their respective swords, Glamdring and Orcrist.

Although it is only a dagger, its length corresponds to a short sword for a creature the size of the hobbit. It turns out that, like the swords of Gandalf and Thorin, this dagger was forged by the elves of Gondolin in the First Age and possesses a magical property—it shines with a blue glow when orcs are close.

the hobbitThe blade does not acquire its name until later in the adventure, after Bilbo, lost in the forest of Mirkwood, uses it to kill a giant spider and rescue the Dwarves. This is when Bilbo’s decisions become more thoughtful, and his courageous side begins to emerge.

Decisions and consequences shape Bilbo’s character and force his growth. His experiences and bad choices along the way have consequences that shape how he thinks. As the Dwarves continue to get into trouble, he makes plans for their rescue and considers what may or may not go wrong before implementing them. He doesn’t know it, but he thinks like a warrior instead of a staid country squire.

Consequences force the character arc. Sometimes the decisions our characters make as we are writing them surprise us. But if those decisions make the story too easy, they should be discarded.

We, as their creator, must take over, cut or rewrite those scenes, and force the story back on track.


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Quote from The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by J.R.R. Tolkien, published 1937 by George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.

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Agency and Character Development #amwriting

Now that we are well into the new year, many of us are finally getting back to work on novels we began for NaNoWriMo or work we had on hold for the holidays.

WritingCraftSeriesAgencyLIRF01302022This is an excellent time to look at the freedom we give our characters to act and react within the story. I have mentioned many times that I am a plotter. However, when I am in the process of writing the first draft of a novel, the characters sometimes take over. The plot veers far from what I had intended when I began writing it.

West_End_Fair_Gilbert_PA_Demolition_DerbyThis happens because my work is character-driven, and sometimes, they’re like demolition derby drivers.

When a significant change happens, I have to adjust events to match the timeline. Adjusting my outlines is a simple process because I create them in Excel. I can delete and move events as needed to ensure my story arc doesn’t flatten.

Other people use whiteboards and sticky notes, and still others use Scrivener—a program my style of thinking doesn’t mesh with.

I tried Scrivener but grew too frustrated, so I returned to my good old Excel spreadsheet program. Google Sheets works well too, and it’s free.

Usually, the ultimate ending never changes no matter what the characters do. However, the path to that place can go quite far afield from what was initially intended.

I try to keep the plot moving so that it flows naturally. The characters must still act and speak individually, the way that I envision them. I want their uniqueness to remain central to the story, even if their motives and actions evolve from what I first planned.

PinocchioThis is called giving your characters “agency.” Agency is an integral aspect of the craft of writing. It means that you allow your characters to make decisions that don’t necessarily follow the original plot outline. This gives them a chance to become real, the way Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy and not a puppet.

Many times, the way to avoid predictability in a plot is to introduce a sense of danger early, a response to an unavoidable, looming threat. Every character has a different personality and should respond to each event differently. The freedom you allow the protagonist and antagonist to steer the events is crucial for them to emerge as real to the reader.

In literary terms, “agency” is the ability of a character to surprise the author, and therefore, the reader. If you plan their every response when you are writing them, it can feel canned and boring. The most exciting moments I’ve had as an author are when my characters surprise me and take over the story.

Sometimes my characters make their own choices. Other times, they go along as I, their creator, have planned for them. Ultimately, they do what I intend for them, but they always do it their own way and with their own style.

Plotting, for me, means setting out an arc of events for a story that I hope to write. I do this in list form in a new Excel workbook. My outline workbook will contain several spreadsheets. On page one, I create the characters and give them personality traits. On page two, I list the order of events that I think will form the arc of the story.

When my characters begin evolving, new events are added. My plot outline must continually evolve with them so that I don’t lose control of the arc and go off on a side quest to nowhere. The evolution of the outline happens once I begin writing because that is when I get to really know my characters. Only when the writing commences can they make choices and say things that surprise me.

That is when they have agency.

When I first consider writing a new novel, I get the idea out of my head by creating a plot outline. For me, introducing the threat and warning signs of inescapable danger early in the story arc limits my habit of writing too much backstory. Their history can happen off-screen, in a file marked Backstory. That way, I get to know my characters, but no one is going about “life as normal” in the narrative. Readers aren’t looking for ordinary—they have enough of that in real life.

Each character will be left with several consequential choices to make in every situation that arises along the timeline. I consider the personality and allow the characters’ reactions to fit who they are.

Author-thoughtsNo matter how they respond, they will be placed in situations where they have no choice but to go forward. After all, I am their creator, the deity of their universe. I have an outline that predestines them to specific fates, and nothing they can do will stop that train.

The consequences my characters face for their choices affect the atmosphere and mood of the story as it emerges. Think about it—if there are no consequences for bad decisions a character might make, everyone goes home unscathed. So why bother writing at all?

So, while I am an outliner and plotter, I also fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants to a certain extent. I love it when my characters take over and drive the story.


Credits and Attributions:

Lowenburg at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Pinocchio by Enrico Mazzanti (1852-1910), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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#NaNoPrep: Countdown to November, Subject and Theme

NaNoWriMo 2021 officially begins one week from today on November 1st. For those of us who love a challenge, that will be the day we set the pen to paper and begin the actual writing of our projects.

plot is the frame upon which the themes of a story are supportedSo, what do we need to have in place during the next seven days before the big event?

One: We need to have characters.

Two: Our characters need an environment to live in, a world to inhabit.

Three: Our characters need some sort of backstory, so we know who they are when we begin writing.

Four: We need a plot or at least an inciting incident. We should have some idea of that moment when our frogs leap from the frying pan into the fire.

Five: You should try to identify your subject and unifying theme. We’ll talk about those things further on in this post.

How does my storyboard look right now?

Characters: This will be Ivan’s second book, so I have his backstory and don’t need to worry too much about that. Ivan is a fire-mage, an armorsmith, and a shaman. He is a father, a husband to his life partner, Kai. Kai is an earth-mage and a mason. The two share four children with another lashei couple, Avis and Venna. The children live with Ivan and Kai, as Avis and Venna are traveling dye traders.

The Home in WeilandEnvironment: Ivan and Kai live in Weiland, Tribe Weila’s riverport and mining center. Ivan’s extended family has five rowhouses at the upper end of High Street. It’s a steep but easy walk to the market for his grandfather, who lives next door and watches the children while Ivan and Kai work. I drew a little map for my notes, so I know the layout of where everything is in regard to their home and businesses. It could change, but I have something to start with.

His brother, Aldric, and his wife, Marta, have three children. They live at the other end of the row of houses. Ivan’s father, Aengus, and mentor, Jan, have their homes there too. Behind the rowhouses are a walled shared garden and orchard and the family’s barn. Ivan and Jan’s armory is a short walk through the back garden, and beyond that is Kai’s quarry.

The backstory: is already established for this book, as book one is currently being edited.

The inciting incident: At this point, the inciting incident is the arrival of news that a neighboring town has been attacked by tribeless raiders. It’s suspected the raiders are led by a rogue mage. Ivan and Kai must go and deal with that, a simple-sounding thing that becomes complicated. Aldric and Marta join them, leaving the children in the care of the three grandfathers.

What I hope to achieve by the last paragraph of this book: Ivan will be forced to grow in his role as a shaman and mage. Kai will be challenged when an old acquaintance is discovered in the rogue mage’s entourage. Aldric’s and Marta’s skills with weapons will be critical, and the blade that Ivan made for Marta when they were young will be the key to resolving the final encounter. Each character will be tempered steel, able to do what must be done, and still remain compassionate.

Subject and Theme: So, what is a theme? It’s different from the subject of a work. An example that most people are familiar with is the Star Wars series and franchise. The subject is “the battle for control of the galaxy between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance.” The themes are “moral ambiguity” or “the conflict between technology and nature.”

The subject of this book is how the desire for dominance and power corrupts an abused young mage, and the destruction he creates in his attempt to control his life. This book will explore the theme of good vs. evil and the subthemes of comradeship and love of family. The books I am drawn to often feature these themes.

How do you identify your theme? Sometimes it’s difficult unless you start out with one in mind. Here is a short list of some themes for you to consider:

  • Abuse
  • Alienation/loneliness
  • Ambition
  • Coming of age
  • Conspiracy
  • Crime and Justice
  • Fall from Grace
  • General dehumanization of society
  • Good vs. Evil
  • Grief
  • Humanity in jeopardy
  • Love
  • Nostalgia for the good old days
  • Plagues
  • Rebellion and revolution
  • Redemption
  • Religious intolerance
  • Separation and reunion
  • The hero’s journey
  • War

theme_meme_lirf06302020A common theme in fantasy is the juxtaposition of chaos and stability (or order). This subtheme will feature strongly in my novel. Good vs. evil is a trope of the speculative fiction genre. Evil is usually portrayed by taking one or the other of these concepts to an extreme.

Epic fantasy is usually good vs. evil, based on the hero’s journey. The stories detail how events shape the characters.

That is what I am writing in November.

#NANOPREP SERIES TO DATE:

#NaNoPrep: part 1: What’s the Story?  (the storyboard)

#NaNoPrep, Setting: Creating the Big Picture

#NaNoPrep, Building Characters

#NaNoPrep, More Character Building

#NaNoPrep, Creating Societies

#NaNoPrep, Designing Science, Magic, and the Paranormal

#NaNoPrep, Terrain and Geography

#NaNoPrep, Connections and Interconnections

#NaNoPrep, Construction and Deconstruction

#NaNoPrep, The Story Arc Part 1

#NaNoPrep, The Story Arc Part 2

#NaNoPrep, The Story Arc part 3, the End

#NaNoPrep: Signing up and Getting Started

#NaNoPrep: Guernica, Inspiration, and Finding Writing Prompts

#NaNoPrep: Time Management

This Post: #NaNoPrep: Countdown to November, Subject and Theme

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#NaNoPrep: Time Management #amwriting

If you plan to write a 50,000-word novel this coming November, you will need to develop some time management skills.

NaNoWriMoMemeWriting is easier once it becomes a daily behavioral habit. However, making the best use of your limited writing time requires a little planning, self-discipline, and encouragement from your family.

Once you tell them that you have a goal of writing 1,667 words a day, they might be your biggest supporters. My family certainly has been.

My children are grown now, but most new writers have jobs and a family. When you have school-age children, time for personal projects can be limited. You are constantly going somewhere to some athletic or school function.

But I did it, and you can too. By writing in short bursts whenever you have the opportunity, you might get your first draft finished and get that certificate that says you completed 50,000 words in 30 days.

First, you must give yourself permission to write. For much of my working life, I was a single parent, sometimes with three part-time jobs. My main job was as a bookkeeper or working in data entry for corporate America. Throughout the 1990s, I worked weekends and holidays as a hotel maid. I’m retired now, but although I’d never heard of NaNoWriMo, I was a secret novelist, and I couldn’t stop thinking about what I was writing.

Digital Clock FaceWe have this perception that taking time for creativity is selfish, and that will be your biggest hurdle. Trust me, it is not asking too much of your family for you to have some time every day that is sacred and dedicated to writing.

I wrote in the evenings while my children did their homework, which sometimes meant a lot of stopping and starting, but I did get some writing done. Some words are better than none! You can also set aside a block of time on the weekend to make up some words, although that can be difficult. Setting aside time on a weekend can become a hardship, especially if you have a young family.

Having me there, typing away next to the gerbil cage seemed to keep them on track with their homework, and I did get a page or two written every night.

What I churned out was pretty awful, but although I didn’t know it at the time, I was developing discipline and a work ethic in myself as well as in my children.

Having an artistic life means you allow yourself time to create something meaningful to you.

The following is a list of ideas to help you carve the time to write and still be a full participant in your family’s life.

  • You must decide what is more important, your dream of writing or watching a television show that is someone else’s dream. Do you want to create, or do you want to be entertained?

Personally, I would say that if you didn’t like how Game of Thrones turned out, too bad. Write it the way you think it should have been done. Writing fan-fiction is a time-honored way to start your writing career.

  • You have the right to take an hour in the morning and the evening to use for your own creative outlet. Wake up an hour early and write until the time you would generally get up. That will be the quietest time you will have all day. Give up that 9:00 p.m. TV show and write for one more hour. There are your 2 precious hours.

Use those two separate hours for your stream-of-consciousness writing. You could easily get your 1,667 words written every day, possibly more. I am a slow keyboard jockey, and I can do about 1,100 wonky, misspelled words an hour during NaNoWriMo.

ALL words you write count toward the goal, misspelled or not.

Time_Management_Quayle_QuoteWrite for five minutes here and ten minutes there all day long if that is all you can do. Every word counts toward your finished manuscript. I took my lunch to work and wrote during my lunch half-hour whenever possible. I also wrote on the bus when I didn’t own a car.

You don’t have to announce to your co-workers or family that you are writing a book if you don’t wish to. I certainly didn’t feel comfortable saying anything about my secret life.

  • If you want to spend your lunchtime writing, politely let people know you’re handling personal business and won’t have time to chat.

Writing in the stream-of-consciousness style is an excellent way to cultivate your emotional and poetic mind. It will improve your writing skills in general.

During NaNoWriMo, you engage in unedited writing. Nothing is deleted and every word counts. Even with an outline, sections of your narrative will often be unstructured because it reflects your (or your character’s) observations at the moment you were thinking them.

Writing in this fashion mirrors the way internal thoughts in the human mind work. You are quickly processing thoughts and perhaps switching from one topic to another with abandon. Just go for it.

powerwordsWordCloudLIRF06192021Remember, what you are writing is a rough draft, so your story arc will be bumpy and uneven. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t worry about making it so. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get that first draft written in thirty days. So, every time you have fifteen minutes to spare, sit down and write as much as you can in that short length of time. Spew your story as fast as you can in those moments before you are pulled away. With six or seven short bursts of writing, you can really rack up the word count.

In January or March, or whenever you go to revise your first draft, you might be amazed to find that much of what you originally wrote has life and passion.

The point is to keep on writing even when you have fallen behind. Use whatever motivational tricks you need to encourage yourself, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Far more important than simply getting word count, the goal is to finish your novel.

Writers and other artists do have to make some sacrifices for their craft. It’s just how things are. But you don’t have to sacrifice family for it. Sacrifice one hour of sleeping in and give up something ephemeral and unimportant like one hour of TV.

You can achieve your goal of 50,000 words in 30 days if you give yourself permission to create and make the time to do so.


#NANOPREP SERIES TO DATE:

#NaNoPrep: part 1: What’s the Story?  (the storyboard)

#NaNoPrep, Setting: Creating the Big Picture

#NaNoPrep, Building Characters

#NaNoPrep, More Character Building

#NaNoPrep, Creating Societies

#NaNoPrep, Designing Science, Magic, and the Paranormal

#NaNoPrep, Terrain and Geography

#NaNoPrep, Connections and Interconnections

#NaNoPrep, Construction and Deconstruction

#NaNoPrep, The Story Arc Part 1

#NaNoPrep, The Story Arc Part 2

#NaNoPrep, The Story Arc part 3, the End

#NaNoPrep: Signing up and Getting Started

#NaNoPrep: Guernica, Inspiration, and Finding Writing Prompts

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#NaNoPrep, The Story Arc part 3, Plotting the End #amwriting

Some writers are “pantsers,” not “plotters.” Maybe you fall into that group and love NaNoWriMo because you can let the ideas flow freely. I have “pantsed it” on occasion, and it can be liberating.

WritingCraft_NaNoPrep_Novel_in_a_monthBut sometimes, when writing the first draft, we realize our manuscript has gone way off track and is no longer fun to write. That is where the storyboard and my loose outline become important.

My previous posts in this series talked about the story arc and how having a list of prompts can move the story forward and keep it flowing. We have made a list of prompts that will help us get started. We have a character, we have a world, and we have a situation. My sample outline looks like this:

Outline10092021LIRF

Now we must plot the finale, the event that will give Dave his greatest desire.

Hindrances matter. 

  1. It’s an ordinary suitcase, one you might find in any budget-friendly chain store. Dave is familiar with clients who try to hide money and realizes he has to think like a crook.
  2. He purchases a matching suitcase to use as a decoy.
  3. Dave’s new furniture arrives from the Large Swedish Furniture company.
  4. He can’t read Swedish directions, but his neighbor, Sophia, does, and she helps him.
  5. While assembling his furniture, he realizes he has the perfect place to hide the actual suitcase. After Sophia leaves, he puts it in the open space behind the drawers beneath his platform bed.
  6. With the original suitcase hidden, Dave visits a secondhand bookstore run by his neighbor, Sophia.
  7. He buys a large number of secondhand books for his apartment, some of which are in bad condition, claiming he loves to read but loves a good bargain more.
  8. At home, he fills the decoy suitcase with the worn books and hides it in a closet.
  9. He is barely settled in his new apartment when he is robbed.
  10. The decoy suitcase is stolen, but all it contains are beat-up copies of the entire Wheel of Time series in English and two out-of-date copies of Accounting for Dummies.
  11. Dave is kidnapped and threatened with bodily harm.
  12. He doesn’t crack. Why?
  13. His neighbor, Sophia, poses as a pizza delivery person and springs him. Surprise! She works for his employer and is his bodyguard.
  14. The agent Dave is holding the suitcase for turns up dead.
  15. Dave is handcuffed to the suitcase again, and he and Sophia must hurry to take it to Paris.
  16. There is a battle at the airport, but they make it onto the airplane.
  17. Enemy agents are waiting in Paris, but Sophia has mad martial arts skills.
  18. The suitcase is handed off to the proper authorities.
  19. Dave is free to go back to Seattle and his old life as an accountant.
  20. But he is offered a permanent job with his current employer.
  21. What does Dave choose, security and boredom, or adventure and a bodyguard like Sophia?

The entire outline takes about two pages. You haven’t written the story, but you have given yourself a skeleton upon which you can hang a novel.

storyArcLIRF10032021

Each prompt can (and will) be riffed on or changed from page one, but ultimately, the final battle in Paris and the chase to the embassy will be the goal we are writing to.

If six authors used this outline, you would end up with six completely different novels. Once you begin writing, the creative brain takes over, and what emerges will be unlike anything another author wrote.

By the time you arrive at the end, it might have evolved into an entirely different book than you envisioned at the beginning.

This is because you will be “pantsing it” between the prompts, and anything can happen when you sit down and write whatever enters your mind.

Just make notes of your changes and keep the overall story arc in mind.

Some people (and I am one of them) occasionally find it easier to begin writing a novel by writing the last chapter first. That is how I wrote my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel.

I wrote that final chapter, then asked myself who the characters were, how they had gotten there, and why they were in those circumstances. For that book, I wrote the outline in reverse.

There is no one-size-fits-all way to write a novel.

Neil_Gaiman_QuoteEvery novel is different, has a different genesis, and emerges from the author’s mind with its own personality.

The trick for NaNoWriMo is to get 1,667 new words written every day for 30 consecutive days. At the end of November, you should have 50,000 or more words written, and possibly your entire first draft.

To sign up for National Novel Writing Month, go to www.nanowrimo.org and get your profile started.


#NANOPREP SERIES TO DATE:

#NaNoPrep: part 1: What’s the Story?  (the storyboard)

#NaNoPrep, Setting: Creating the Big Picture

#NaNoPrep, Building Characters

#NaNoPrep, More Character Building

#NaNoPrep, Creating Societies

#NaNoPrep, Designing Science, Magic, and the Paranormal

#NaNoPrep, Terrain and Geography

#NaNoPrep, Connections and Interconnections

#NaNoPrep, Construction and Deconstruction

#NaNoPrep, The Story Arc Part 1

#NaNoPrep, The Story Arc Part 2

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NaNoPrep, Construction, and Deconstruction

We are building up to NaNoWriMo 2021. For the last few weeks, I’ve been focusing on the creation of a storyboard. We’ve discussed characters and worldbuilding. Today, we’ll talk about book construction and what we can learn by reading work published by the big traditional publishers.

WritingCraft_NaNoPrep_Novel_in_a_monthWhether you hope to be published traditionally or plan to go indie, you must know what the reading public is buying. You will probably write a book that is squarely set in your favorite genre.

I read in many genres. Most of what I write is genre fantasy, but mystery and contemporary fiction also intrigue me.

Your assignment for today is to find a book you love, sit down with a notebook and pencil, and dissect that narrative to discover what that author did to draw you in and keep you involved.

Even the best books have flaws. Great characters, proper pacing, and attention to plotting keep those rough places from derailing a brilliant book. The flaws are just as important for me to identify as are the things I love.

So, let’s take a look at the construction of a recent entry into the classic mystery genre that impressed me, Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

Publisher: ‎Harper; Unabridged edition (June 6, 2017)

Publication date: June 6, 2017

Print length: 501 pages

But first, THE BLURB:

41OtsmHYJLLWhen editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Masterful, clever, and relentlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective.

My Dissection:

First, Magpie Murders was published by one of the Big Traditional Publishing houses, Harper. This means the publisher decided it would sell enough in hard copy to justify supporting the author with advertising.

What makes this book better than the competition? Many authors published by Harper don’t get the kind of support this book got. What made this book more marketable?

  1. It was an original way to twist the Agatha Christie formula for cozy mysteries.
  2. Readers are given a story within a story, and within that story is hidden another story. The novel opens with an editor reading the manuscript of an author whom she despises personally but whose work she loves.
  3. We read the manuscript that editor Susan Ryeland has been given, experiencing it simultaneously as she does.
  4. Within the novel that Ryeland must edit are many clues, not only to the mystery she is supposed to edit but also to solve the murder of the author.
  5. Those clues take an unusual form—word games, something people who love anagrams and word puzzles will enjoy. The dead author used this trick to write his acquaintances into his novels, rearranging the letters of their names and portraying them in an unflattering light.
  6. The murdered author was known for using the plots of his less talented students’ work and stealing plots and names wholesale from Agatha Christie.
  7. These name anagrams are intended to be noticed by his fellow authors and acquaintances, a deliberate attempt to make them uncomfortable or angry.
  8. Halfway into the novel, our editor discovers that the final chapters of the book are missing. She goes on a mission to find those chapters.
  9. In the process, she discovers just how hateful and rotten the murdered man was.

chicago guide to grammarNow, let’s talk MECHANICS. The author of the Magpie Murders has worked as a journalist. He has taken the time to become educated in grammar and understands common industry standards.

  1. If you want to write a book that other people can read, you must understand the fundamental rules of grammar.
  2. He didn’t get too artful, except when he was writing as the murder victim. That artfulness was there to point out the victim’s arrogance.

What I take home from dissecting books like this is that a plot can be complicated, but simplicity is sometimes best for prose.

A few things I didn’t like, some of which were deliberate. These things didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book:

  1. The pacing was a little uneven. In one place, it grinds to a complete halt. I could see why the author had made that choice as part of the overall plot, but I didn’t like it and wished he’d found a different way to make that point.
  2. The novel “written by the murdered man” was gripping, but I didn’t understand that fictional book’s ending until the editor confronted the author’s murderer. Again, that was deliberate on the dead author’s part, written that way as one more reason to hate him. But I would have liked to understand it before we got to that place.
  3. The relationship between Susan Ryeland and her boyfriend lacks tension. When their relationship was threatened with falling apart, I didn’t care.

Overall, this is an excellent, well-written book. If you write mysteries and want to know what the big publishers are looking for, you must read what they publish.

This is why I read what Tor Forge publishes in my genre of fantasy. If I hate it, I dissect it and find out why. An editor accepted that manuscript and promoted it, and I want to know why. If I love it, I dissect it for the same reason.

You must read if you want to know how a good book is plotted, how worlds are created, and how characters are built. Make notes and learn from the mistakes and successes of others.


#NaNoPrep series to date:

#NaNoPrep: part 1: What’s the Story?  (the storyboard)

#NaNoPrep, Setting: Creating the Big Picture

#NaNoPrep, Building Characters

#NaNoPrep, More Character Building

#NaNoPrep, Creating Societies

#NaNoPrep, Designing Science, Magic, and the Paranormal

#NaNoPrep, Terrain and Geography

#NaNoPrep, Connections and Interconnections

This Post: #NaNoPrep, Construction and Deconstruction

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#NaNoPrep, Connections and Interconnections

All through September, we’ve focused on building our NaNoWriMo storyboard. We’re preparing the groundwork that will allow us to write 1667 new words or more every day during the month of November.

We are four weeks into this series, and we’ve compiled a long list of essential things to consider. So now, we’re going to zoom in and take a closer look at what my co-ML, Lee French, calls “the stuff that permeates everything, and how they interact.”

We have looked at designing systems for technology and magic. We know which scenario we are choosing, and we’ve figured out how it works. Now we’re going to look at how those systems are connected to the people and how they impact the way our characters live in their worlds.

Lee reminds us that in the case of technology and magic both, the most significant impact is on the efficiency of routine tasks:

“In a contemporary, real-world setting, you have everything we have now. If you want to contact someone, you can call, text, or email them.

“In many fantasy settings, magic replaces tech with a fantastical version of something, like casting a spell instead of calling, texting, and/or emailing.

“In sci-fi settings, advanced tech typically makes things faster, like having a cranial implant that eliminates the need to type–all you do is ‘think’ and it happens. Maybe there aren’t voice calls anymore, and everything happens by text.

“In low-tech, no-magic settings, things take longer to accomplish. There is no phone, so you have to write a letter or go visit someone in person.”

Just because some technology exists doesn’t mean everyone has access to it.

We go back to considering the layers of society. Who is in charge? Where does our protagonist fit in that hierarchy? Who has access to the best magic/technology? Is our protagonist one of the lucky few or one of the underclasses? Where does the antagonist fit in society?

Think about the subgenre of cyberpunk: it encompasses many features of hard science fiction and the dark anarchy of classic Sturm und Drang but is set in a dystopian society. The religions people worship are technology and industry. Corporate uber-giants are the gods whose knowledge mere mortals desire and whom they seek to replace. Recreational drugs are the magic potions, and technology is the superpower mortals desire to wield.

And, just like all demi-gods in classical mythology, when a powerful and clever protagonist does manage that feat, nothing changes for mere mortals. The new gods are no better than those whose thrones they have usurped.

Wikipedia defines cyberpunk: Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a future setting that tends to focus on the society of the proverbial “high tech low life”  featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as information technology and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.” [1]

Works in this subgenre are always set in a post-industrial dystopian world with deep divisions in the strata of society. Some have a specified caste system, but most people live in extreme poverty in all cyberpunk tales. There will be a small middle class, and at the top, a few of the most powerful people hold incredible wealth. These societies have fallen into extreme chaos, which is the driver of the story.

Protagonists acquire and use technology in ways never anticipated by the original inventors. A central element of cyberpunk is “the street finds its own use for things.”

So, now we understand that privilege, or lack thereof, shapes a person’s place in society, no matter what genre you choose to best tell your story. How does the protagonist see themselves in relation to the antagonist? Better than, as good as, or beneath but clawing their way up?

Who are these characters when they’re home? Write a paragraph or two introducing them to you, showing them as they are when no one is looking. Do they cook, clean, answer messages, etc.? What tech/magic are they comfortable interacting with on a daily basis? Get this out of the way now, so it doesn’t make an appearance in the narrative as an unnecessary info dump later.

Considering these things now can speed things up when you plot your opening scene. You’ll see your characters fully formed in their comfort zone and know who they are and how they think. When you write those first lines, you will have no trouble seeing them as unique individuals.

If you are writing a novel set in our contemporary world, most of the work is already done. Your concerns should focus on the specifics of where your story takes place and the opinions of your characters.

If you choose to include contemporary politics, events, and tech, keep in mind that your novel will no longer be current in ten years. It will recount a history that recedes further into the past every year.

That is NOT a bad thing, not by any means.

One of my favorite genres to read for pleasure is mystery. I have always enjoyed the characters in the Gregor Demarkian series by the late Jane Haddam. These novels were set firmly in the political climate of the 1990s and early 2000s, the era in which most books in the series were written.

While references to technology and political events date these books (as do the religious and social complications), great characters, murder, and the mystery of why it happens are timeless.

These novels are compelling despite the advances in today’s technology and the changes in the way society sees itself. The characters are engaging, and the worldbuilding creates a solid, believable image of 1990s Philadelphia.

If you are setting your story in a historical era, remember that sometimes the events of one year can change everything about a society.

If your story is set in a specific year with significant events that changed everything for whole societies, take some time to think about whether you want it before or after the incidents. Think about how those events impact your characters.

I would say that 2019 was a vastly different time than 2021. Any novel set in contemporary 2021 will have societal aspects and complications that are wholly unique to this time and this world and very different from one set in that long-ago-time of 2019.

#NaNoPrep series to date:

#NaNoPrep: part 1: What’s the Story?  (the storyboard)

#NaNoPrep, Setting: Creating the Big Picture

#NaNoPrep, Building Characters

#NaNoPrep, More Character Building

#NaNoPrep, Creating Societies

#NaNoPrep, Designing Science, Magic, and the Paranormal

#NaNoPrep, Terrain and Geography

This post: #NaNoPrep, Connections and Interconnections


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Cyberpunk,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cyberpunk&oldid=1020463998 (accessed May 15, 2021).

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#NaNoPrep, Terrain and Geography

We are continuing the build of our storyboard for NaNoWriMo2021. My planned NaNoWriMo project takes place in the world of Neveyah, a world where five other books have been set. Neveyah is an alien environment, yet it’s extremely familiar to me.

WritingCraft_NaNoPrep_101I know that world because I based the plants and topography on the Pacific Northwest, where I live. Other than the Escarpment, which is the visible scar left behind by the Sundering of the Worlds, the plants and geography are directly pulled from the forested hills and farmlands of Southern Puget Sound and Western Washington State.

In 2008, when I first began writing in this world, I went to science to see how long it takes for an environment to recover from cataclysmic events. I took my information from the Channeled Scablands of Washington State, a two-hour drive from my home. This vast desert area is comprised of the scars of a series of natural disasters that occurred around 13,000 years ago.

From Wikipedia: The Cordilleran Ice Sheet dammed up Glacial Lake Missoula at the Purcell Trench Lobe. A series of floods occurring over the period of 18,000 to 13,000 years ago swept over the landscape when the ice dam broke. The eroded channels also show an anastomosing, or braided, appearance.

The story I’m prepping for takes place only a century after a world-shattering disaster, so the way the world was before the Sundering is still fresh in their lore. The elders remember the culture and technology and know firsthand what was lost in the cataclysm. I am plotting book 2 of a duology, so I’ve already established that my protagonist is a shaman and devoted to caring for the fragile ecology.

But perhaps you are writing a historical novel. A certain amount of worldbuilding will be required, no matter when or where your book is set.

Let’s say you are writing an account of a soldier’s experiences in the Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Ardennes Counteroffensive. This battle was a pivotal point in World War II. American forces endured most of the attack, suffering their highest casualties of any operation during the war.

512px-Western_Front_Ardennes_1944

US Army Center for Military History, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Researching and building the world this novel takes place in will be time-consuming but easy because a great deal of information about this battle exists. You can access documents and accounts from both sides of the war. The Ardennes region covers the province of Wallonia in eastern Belgium, northeast France, and Luxembourg, and many maps showing the area as it was in 1945 are still available in libraries and on the internet.

In regard to the events and battles of World War II, generals of both sides left many documents detailing how the terrain they were forced to fight on affected their decisions.

But even though your book may explore a real soldier’s experiences through newsreels, the pages of his diary, and the interview you had with him just before his death at the age of 94, you are still writing a fantasy.

This is because, in reality, the world of this book exists only in three places:

  1. it flows from the author’s mind
  2. to the pages of the book
  3. into the reader’s mind through the written word

We can only view history through the stained-glass of time. History, even recent events, assumes a mythical quality when we attempt to record it. Even a documentary movie that shows events filmed by the news camera may not be portrayed exactly as it was truly experienced. The facts are filtered through the photographer’s eye and the historian’s pen.

Modern Romance, historical, and contemporary novels are genres set in real-world locations. Their authors are fortunate, as information is usually available for the researcher to dig up. For an author recounting any historical era, information will be accessible since archaeologists and historians are constantly expanding our knowledge of history.

Any story set in prehistorical times is a fantasy.

  • Historical eras are those where we have written records.
  • Any story taking place in a society that left no written records must be considered a fantasy as little scientific facts are available, although mythology, conjecture, and theorizing abound.

If you are setting your novel in a real-world city as it currently exists, make good use of Google Earth. Bookmark it now, even if you live in that town, as the maps you will generate will help you stay on track while you are winging it during NaNoWriMo.

If you are writing a tale set in a fantasy or sci-fi setting, you are creating that world.

Neveyahmap jpeg of original scanned doc

Original Map of Neveyah from 2008 © Connie J. Jasperson

The first map of my world of Neveyah series was scribbled with a pencil on graph paper. Over time it evolved into a full-color relief map of the world as it exists in my mind.

I love maps. My own maps start out in a rudimentary form, just a way to keep my story straight. I use pencil and graph paper at this stage because:

  • As the rough draft evolves, sometimes towns must be renamed.
  • They may have to be moved to more logical places.
  • Whole mountain ranges may have to be moved or reshaped so that forests and savannas will appear where they are supposed to be in the story.
Map of Neveyah, color copy compressed

Neveyah © 2015 – 2021 Connie J. Jasperson

What should go on a map? At this point, not a whole lot.

  • The name of the town or area where the story begins.

Yep, that’s it, unless you are in the mood to draw maps. All you need for now is the jumping off point.

In November, you will add all the details as they occur to you, and believe me, they will come. In the meantime, your map page will be ready and waiting for you to note the particulars. When you are spewing words, the details will emerge, and you will have a place ready for them.

Why should you be worried about this now? It will be one thing you don’t have to worry about when you are pantsing it. The page will be there, and the map will be waiting for you to add to it.

When your characters are traveling great distances, they may pass through villages on their way. Perhaps the environment will impede your characters.

If environmental or geographical obstacles are pertinent to the story, it will be easy for you to take a moment to note their location on your map. This way, you won’t interrupt the momentum of your writing, and won’t contradict yourself if your party must return the way they came.

Billy's Revenge Floor plan ground floorIf your work is sci-fi, consider making a map of the place where the action happens. It could be a pencil-drawn floor-plan of a space station/ship or the line drawing of part of an alien world. I drew the floorplan of Billy’s Revenge for my reference, as most of the novel, Billy Ninefingers, takes place there.

Your storyboard is your lifeline in November, offering you dots to connect and help you stay organized when you are writing stream-of-consciousness. During the lead-up to November, make notes about your environment whenever you have an idea that you’d like to incorporate into your novel.


The #NaNoPrep series to date:

#NaNoPrep: part 1: What’s the Story?

#NaNoPrep, Setting: Creating the Big Picture

#NaNoPrep, Building Characters

#NaNoPrep, More Character Building

#NaNoPrep, Creating Societies

#NaNoPrep, Designing Science, Magic, and the Paranormal

Today’s post: #NaNoPrep, Terrain and Geography


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “Channeled Scablands,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Channeled_Scablands&oldid=1031181669 (accessed September 21, 2021).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Western Front Ardennes 1944.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Western_Front_Ardennes_1944.jpg&oldid=470134455 (accessed September 21, 2021).

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