Brari Hollow generously shared her tips on Facebook and now I’m sharing it with you all. All instructions and pictures are hers, and you can find her here.
I plan to write more this summer than I normally do. I know I’ll have enough time to do it, so it’s just a matter of setting goals. I went ahead and made a spreadsheet that can help me as Nano does with keeping track of my word count. It looks a bit like this.
Color-coded by month, because I’m a boss. If anyone would like to use this tool, you can download it here. I’ve used that site before and it’s safe. My document won’t give you any viruses, it’s just an excel file (it should be able to open with both Word and Open Office).
You can customize it as you’d like, delete May or August or get rid of the colors, but I already have all the formulas in there so that you don’t have to calculate a thing. Instructions are included in the file, but if you have any questions about anything feel free to ask!
I just think tools that let you see everything like that can be really useful. I want to see if anyone would like to write with my this summer. Nothing intense, nothing nearly as frantic as NaNoWriMo. My personal word goals are 10,000 for both May and July, then 20,000 during June and August. Obviously I won’t write every day, but I’m hoping to keep myself writing at least every week.
So if you’ve like to join me, leave a comment here! If enough people join up (you can write as much as you want, set your goal for 5,000 words a month if you want) then I’ll post each month to tell everyone how I’m doing and ask everyone else to report on their current status. I think it’ll be a fun way to meet some more bloggers and get to know them!
The project I’ll be working on primarily is A Game of Madness. If I finish I’ll just start my other project that was abandoned from trying to write too much at once. I don’t think I’ll get past A Game of Madness, though.
My goal was only 20,000, but still! I knew I couldn’t get 50,000 so I’m plenty happy with 20k. Here is super official proof of my win:
Here is an excerpt from the novel, A Game of Madness:
“I’m an old man. I get lonely. Won’t you give me someone to talk to?”
Wren rolled back over and sat up on her elbows. “An old man? You’re what, five and forty?”
Ferran frowned and lowered himself to the bare featherbed. “You think I look five and forty?”
“Fifty, then?” Wren tried. She didn’t know. He had a few lines on his face, but they weren’t deep. For the most part his skin was still tan and smooth. He said he’d been there for seventeen years, so he had to be older.
“Gods, girl. I’m four and thirty. I was making a joke. Do I look like a grandfather to you?”
“Four and thirty?” Wren asked. “That means you couldn’t have been more than fifteen when you left Vor’Tor.”
“It’s Vor’Torn,” Ferran corrected. He gave her a sad smile. “I’ve been away from there for far too long. I hadn’t planned on being here for years. I don’t even remember my parents’ faces. I don’t even know if they’re still alive.”
“I’m sorry,” Wren said. What else was there to say? “I don’t remember my mother’s face. She died giving birth to my youngest sister. I was still a little girl when she died. I just remember the stories she used to tell me before I went to bed.”
“Stories of princesses and ladies being swept away to beautiful castles?”
Wren shook her head. “A few, but not normally. I didn’t like the stories about princesses. I got mad and wouldn’t talk to my mother for days the time she told me the story of The Dirty Farm Girl.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with that one. We grew up with different stories on Vor’Torn,” Ferran said. “Lots of tales of pirates, cannibals, and chests of gold.”
“I don’t remember the words to it, exactly, but the story starts off with a dirty little girl who works on a farm tending to the pigs. She wishes every day to be able to go live in a castle, and one day a prince rode by. It started raining and the prince asked for shelter in the little girl’s hut. She let him in before she realized that the rain had washed away all the dirt. The prince fell in love with her and whisked her away to his castle to be his princess.” Wren fidgeted with her blankets. She had never shared that much with anyone in her life. Her family was the only friends they had. What she had to tell they already knew and what they didn’t she refused to tell anyone.
“Why were you mad?” Ferran asked.
“Oh. Because I was afraid that some prince was going to ride up and kidnap me from my home. I worked on the farm just like my brothers did. I loved being outside and working the land. My favorite job was to tend the chickens. Everyone says that chickens are stupid, but they all have their own personalities. They can be nice pets if you take care of them.”
“I can see why you attacked Rozen to try and escape. It sounds like you had a nice life.”
Wren drew her knees up to her chest and looked at Ferran. His eyes seemed even darker in the low light of the candles. They were almost black. “Rozen told you about that?”
“He came to have me examine his head to make sure you hadn’t done any real damage to it. I think he’s lucky you didn’t cut his throat.”
I swear, I didn’t mention chickens just to continue with the chicken takeover of my blog…. or did I….
If you know nothing about your character, the first thing to do is to fill out a character quiz. My characters were all kind of hazy individuals with only a few distinct personality traits. They had vague backstories and unclear motivations. Not only were my characters lacking, but my plot was as well. I just wasn’t sure where it was going, and how could I when so many of the characters were only partially formed in my mind? If I didn’t know the personality of the antagonist, just his motives, then how was I to know how he would inflict pain on my protagonist? If I didn’t know about how my protagonist was affected by things, how would I know how the antagonist could hurt her?
Not only this, but I dread writing a Mary Sue. Or a Gary Stu. I have taken this test many times for many characters. Some passed, some didn’t. Some fell on the middle line. As you write more and take the test more you realize that some things are just not okay to do, like being Stephanie Myers and writing a character like Bella. I just took the test for a character of mine and got a -3. I think that’s also not good, but a bad score on the test doesn’t mean I need to scrap the character. A very low score means that I have to make sure my character remains interesting enough for readers to want to read about her while a very high score would mean that I needed to think about making her more of an individual and less of a special snowflake. I suggest everyone take this test at least once to make sure you know what to look out for. After that you just need to ask yourself if your character has personality traits you can list and if they have a specific flaw. If so, write on.
Speaking of flaws, it’s important that your character have a flaw. A world of perfect characters means a world where nothing goes wrong. There is no plot, no problems to be solved. Even if all but one character has a flaw, that single perfect character isn’t okay unless his/her perfectness actually causes them non-Mary-Sue-like problems.
Characters are made-up people in a made up world. That’s the gist of it. To make a believable character you have to think if they would be a believable person. Have you ever known anyone that didn’t annoy ANYONE they met, even the most irritable? Have you never met a person who hated someone for basically no reason? Have you ever met someone who you found completely perfect and couldn’t find a single flaw in? If you just said yes, you need to take a step back from writing and examine your personal life. I love my boyfriend with all my heart and I think he’s absolutely perfect for me, but I still recognize that he’s terribly introverted, procrastinates too much, and is kinda lazy and incredibly unmotivated when it comes to certain things. However, I can love him and still recognize that he’s not perfect. Love should not blind you, and that includes love for your character. You created them from nothing and have been with them through everything, but you have to remember that they’re not real. They’re just a tool in your writing. If realizing that your perfect character is kind of an asshole betters your writing, it’s the best step.
That being said, Camp Nanowrimo starts tomorrow. I might do more character quizzes since the one for my main character helped so much with the plot. Here’s my favorite question/answer from the quiz.
Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Wren wanted to breed livestock and sell them at market.
It might not seem like much, but I made it up on the spot and now that’s another aspect to my character that exists. Little things like that add up and can go a long way.
Over spring break I did nothing. This week I did nothing. I turned in an assignment without double-checking it because I had been too lazy to work on it before it was due. I’m a terrible person.
What you’re looking at here is my current outline for A Game of Madness. Yeah. That’s my outline. That isn’t normally how I outline. Normally it’s all nice and typed up and detailed…. almost like an actual outline. I really don’t know what I was thinking. It’s not done, either. But Camp Nanowrimo starts on Tuesday. I don’t know if this outline will give me enough material to write with because I’ve already gotten like the whole first column done and written. I just need to write 666 words each day. Then I will feast on the blood of the innocent.
Also during April I’m going to finish typing up the edits to Kiss of the Fey. I’ll do it if it kills me. Honestly, I only work 3 hours a week and during that time I basically just sit on my computer and look up funny pictures on the internet so I may as well use that time for something productive. I just need to make April super productive so that I can have a nice summer full of wishing death upon myself at Pizza Hut (unless I can get a better job) and writing.
May be the title of my untitled novella I’m working on. It will be eventually turned into a novel and hopefully I’ll be as proud of it as I am of Kiss of the Fey (Woman of Fire, Man of Ice). I’m hoping to write it for Camp Nanowrimo in April. My goal is 20,000 words in April. If I finish the novella in that time (because it doesn’t have to be long, I’m basically using it as an outline because that worked really well for Kiss of the Fey) I’ll just start on the novel.
I’m still working on editing Kiss of the Fey. Like, I ignored it all spring break. In my defense I’ve been feeling like poo.
Here is the shitty description I currently have for the camp nano page:
Wren has worked on a farm all her life, working the land of a Lord of Iborek. After a late frost kills their crops, Wren’s family finds themselves unable to pay their Lord his dues. To save her younger sister, Wren allows the guards to deliver her to the castle and learns that her fate is to be the plaything of Lord Acton. That is, until she meets Acton’s brother.
Wren doesn’t know how the king has allowed such evil to continue or how the other girls in the castle are so contented with their fate. After a late-night encounter with a ghost and when Wren starts to hear voices, the once-steady farm girl must question if she’s going mad.
But eh. I’m excited for it. Even though school is going to kick my butt.
Also, everyone should listen to this.