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Archive for the tag “nanowrimo 2011”

Help out the guys at The Office of Letters and Light

This is my 7th year doing NaNoWriMo.  It’s a wonderful community driven writing challenge (that I’m sure most of you already know about).  50,000 words in 30 days.  It’s crazy and frustrating and a whole lot of fun.  I discovered it in 2005 and never looked back.  Every October I start to get all antsy, the anticipation building and causing me to panic slightly as the last weeks of the month roll around and I realize I still have no idea what I’m going to write about, lol.  Then Halloween is like a finger in the damn–the pressure is so intense I almost can’t get through the day.  And then it’s over and the kids are trying to go to sleep all hopped up on sugar and I’m bone-tired and just want to crash but midnight hits and it’s November 1st and I HAVE TO WRITE!

It’s on.  I go nuts every year but I love it so much.  And my family understands I will be absolutely crazy in November.  To ignore my random expletives when a character won’t do what I want or my ramblings about plot (or a lack there of) that go on and on and on all day long.  They know they have to fend for themselves because I’ll be locked in my room with a cache of pens and a notebook.  But in the end (hopefully) I’m printing off the very shiny Winner’s Certificate with tears in my eyes and the most awesome sense of accomplishment I’ve ever felt.

This year my kids are joining in the craziness.  Meagan (6th grade)  is planning to write at least 2000 words.  And it’s fanfiction (following in her mother’s footsteps) based on James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series of books (she’s almost done with the 2nd one and I’ve never seen her so interested in reading before).  Owen (4th grade) set his goal to 800 words and thinks his story will be about a grand space battle.  Or, most likely, a bunch of space-Army men blowing each other up.  I’m sure it will be epic.  Brenna (3rd grade) set a modest goal of 500 words.  Her idea is my favorite of all: a retelling of our grand adventure move across the country from the eyes of a puppy (imaginary since we don’t have a dog).  I can’t wait to see what she’s come up with.  And little Nora couldn’t just sit around and watch us all have the fun so she’s going to write a 100 word story about a trip to a pumpkin patch.  That should be interesting since she can’t actually read or write yet so I’ll have to sit and spell every word for her.

Also, this year we’ve created a site to help collect donations for the guys running NaNo: The Office of Letters and Light.  They do so much hard work all year round to make sure November run smoothly for everyone involved.  They also have Script Frenzy in April, Camp NaNoWriMo in the summer and the entire Young Writer’s Program (that the kids are using this year).  Everything is run on donations collected by participants and their friends and family.  I’ve already donated $25.  Any little bit helps.

If you’d like to give a few bucks head over to our fundraising page.  They accept all major credit cards and paypal for your convenience.  It’d be really great if you could spare even a dollar or two for these guys.  The work they do spreading the love of writing is just amazing.  So many kids all over the country and world participate in the Young Writer’s Program either individually (like my kids) or through their school.  And I don’t know where I’d be without NaNo in my life.

NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program

I convinced all four kids to join the Young Writer’s Program.  I knew I could get Brenna to do it because she likes to write but I was shocked when Meagan nearly fell off her chair with excitement.  MEAGAN!  Wanting to do something educational!  Owen was reluctant but then came up with a story idea and wants to try.  Nora, of course, wants to do everything the older kids do.

Meagan has decided to write fanfiction.  She’s reading James Patterson’s Maximum Ride stories (on book 2 now) and she already has an idea for a story.  She’s plotting it out in her head, she said.  She chose a 2000 word goal but thinks she can write more.

Owen isn’t sure what he’s going to write.  I suggested something about a space war since he’s into sci-fi and military stuff.  So now he’s doodling space wars.  His doodles are hilarious and so cute.  They’re all stick figures but really detailed.  Hopefully he’ll come up with an idea before November.  He chose an 800 word goal which is a lot for a kid that HATES to write.

Brenna’s idea is my favorite.  She told me she wanted to write about our move across the country last summer so I suggested she do that but from the point of view of a dog because she loves dog.  Her eyes lit up at that idea.  She’s already decided on what kind of dog (chocolate lab) and her name (Flower) and a title (Flower On the Move).  I told her she should draw a cover for the book with a truck piled super high with stuff and a dog sitting on top and mountains in the background.  She was so excited that last night she did some brainstorming and outlining then wrote 40+ words on another topic (supposedly about being grounded and how much she hated it but I haven’t read it).  She chose a 500 word limit which comes out to like 17 words a day but she thinks she can write more.  Her story idea is so cool I’m thinking of writing my own version later on.

And then Nora just HAD to have her own account and challenge.  So she chose a 100 word limit (which was middle ground for a kindergartener according to the website) and wants to write about our family going to a pumpkin patch.  I told her she should write about a zoo but she be the monkey wondering why all the people kept watching her.  We’ll see what she’ll come up with.

I’m glad they’re all interested but this is going to create a huge scheduling issue with the computer.  That’s 5 people wanting to use the computer.  And we only have the one.  Should be interesting.

On a related note:
Meagan came home from school yesterday and suddenly “found” all her missing math assignments.  Four of them were stuff done in class.  Apparently they do an assignment from their book every other day or so and then have to turn it in the next morning.  So, if you don’t finish it in class you’re supposed to do it for homework.  Her binder was so disorganized she couldn’t even find where she stuffed the papers.  So I spent almost four hours helping her with math to make sure she actually understood what she was doing.  I now have had plenty of practice in fractions, long division and decimals.  Oy.

But she now has all 6 assignments finished plus her homework from last night.  Not sure we did them all right because it’s been a loooooong time since I’ve done 6th grade math, lol.  The highest she can get on each assignment is 80% so if she gets some wrong her score won’t be high but it’s better than a straight 0.  If she got all the answers right it will bring her grade up to a B.

We also worked on organizing her binder.  I have no idea why they don’t use folders and didn’t have dividers on the supply list.  Luckily I had dividers in our school supply box so she pulled everything out and organized it by class.  She also knows if this happens again she’s grounded.

I was also shocked at how messy her work was.  I can’t believe the school allows the disaster that was her homework pages.  When I was a kid it would not have been accepted and I would have had to redo it.  She doesn’t use the lines on her paper at all.  She just randomly puts a number down then does the work and then starts the next problem where ever she wants.  Nothing is written on the lines (not even non-math answers).  I was appalled.  I told her she will write on the lines and write neatly or she’ll be doing lines every day… 50 times of “I will write neatly on the lines,” should get it in her head.  By the last page she was using the lines and being neater.  Hopefully she’ll transfer that to other classes because her world history teacher has been on her case about neatness.  But his papers are printouts and don’t have lines.

NaNo planning: plot

Anyone have any pointers on planning out an episodic story arc like in a TV show?

I’ve always been fascinated with how a show’s story arcs progress and the whole process of coming up with the ideas.  Especially with the number of writers, producers and creative minds are involved with plotting/developing a show.  I watched all of SG-1 with the commentaries on (for every episodes they are available) and ate up all the little tidbits about the behind the scenes writing and producing.

Anyway… my NaNo endeavor this year (I refuse to call it a novel or a story because it’s not really either) is going to be plotted out like a TV show.  It will be made up of shorter stories linked together.  I’ll probably refer to them as “episodes” from time to time because that’s how I view them in my head but I’m not writing it script style.  They’ll be full stories just not 50k words each (I hope).  We’ll see how the “pilot” story goes before I decide on a word count per story.  I’m hoping to keep them kind of even with the first story being twice as long as the others (a double episode!).  There will probably only be a few episodes included in my NaNo but this is all for me.  It’s just one of those projects I’ve always wanted to do and NaNo is the perfect time to try it out.

Anyway, plot is kind of an issue.  Mostly in that many of my stories have none.  At least not when I start writing.  I might have an idea of what’s supposed to happen but I don’t really think about it.  I just start writing and it usually works itself out.  If it doesn’t than the story doesn’t get done and no one ever sees it (and I slowly go mad with my growing pile of “in progress” works that scream to be finished).

As with my character post I want to be a little more prepared this year.  Especially since I’m writing original fic.  I’ve learned through some fictionland challenges this year that I can play around with my own created universes and write stories for them as if I’m writing fanfic.  Only difference is I’m the only fan and the only one that knows what’s going on, lol.

So, in my head I see me kind of planning out a TV show.  What *I* would like to see happen in each episode and then writing it fanfic style.  I’ll be my biggest fan.  I hope.  I’d hate to write something I dislike.  Hmmm.

Yeah, so I want to write something epic.  Which takes planning as I discovered last year because my “epic” SG-1 novel is still unfinished (*cries and stomps feet*).

So this is my plot planning post (who’s the queen of alliteration?)

My main story arc is that Logan (our intrepid hero) is thrown into the future while on a mission to the moon (which takes place in our future to begin with…timeline isn’t set yet).  The time flux that caused his own temporal leap begins showing up all over the galaxy.  If they don’t figure out where it came from or a way to stop it the flux will tear the entire universe apart.

Yeah, generic (it’s much better in my head, I swear).

That would be the main story arc for a “season” of stories/episodes.  The overlying motive of Logan but probably won’t become glaringly obvious until several stories in.

Another story arc will be his animosity for the “leaders” of the ship he’s on for their support of the cultural slave society.  He doesn’t understand the workings of the world they live in or how slaves fit in but because in his time enslaving someone is morally wrong he fights against it.  He has to learn his own place in their world.  So’Fey and Del help him come to terms with that.  But, because of his own ethics he can’t ever stop fighting for the inherent freedom he believes all people should have even if he has to accept that he probably won’t see any change in his lifetime.

But that leads to him having to make alliances with the “leaders” that he despises so, having them come to some kind of understanding (mostly with him and the chief and Captain Bay).  When Bay is gone and the chief seems to slip over to Logan’s side the antagonist will switch to the new captain (Mr. No Name).

My big problem is deciding on more short term arcs.  The ones for individual stories.  The pilot is pretty easy as it’s taken up mostly with setup stuff–introducing characters and setting up the story arcs themselves.  Pilot episodes are usually too rushed or seem overly “talkative” as characters flat out explain everything that’s going on.  Like the horrible opening of Angel where Doyle gives a rundown of Angel’s history from start until the end of Buffy season 3.  Lame and hard to watch if you were a fan of Buffy first and already knew the story.  And just plain lame if you have no clue what’s going on because it sounds completely forced and stupid because Angel already knows his own history.  Joss does much better in Firefly… sort of, it’s hard to tell with FOX fucking with the schedule so badly.  I liked his slow introduction of characters… except for the part that he never really gets around to showing their background because the show was canceled so quickly.

I’m aiming for somewhere in between.  With some stuff quickly put out there but the background stuff being reveled more slowly (like Del’s history of being a princess sold into slavery by her own father and her being a “prisoner” of the ship after Bay dies).

I have a few more “concrete” (and, yeah, I’m use quotes all over the place in this post… imagine me giving this post orally with lots of air-quotes all over the place because I really have no clue what I’m talking about, lol) scenes in my head for the pilot story.  As in I can picture Logan and his team on the moon and losing contact with Earth.  Then they finally get a view and the planet shifts from a lush green and blue ball below (or above or from the side… 3 dimensional space confuses me) them to a debris field.  That’s immediately followed by mass confusion by the astronauts and then things get really weird as the world (or moon as it is) around them begins to flux, fading in and out–the gray dirt and rocks of the Moon suddenly replaced by polished stone and windows and many people wandering around.

Then I have a vague idea of how Logan will meet So’Fey in lock up after he’s dragged away from what’s left of his landing pod and crew (who die because they happen to be standing right where there’s a wall when the future shifts into their reality–or they shift into the future to be more accurate).  He’s confused, scared and more than a little upset, yelling for someone to tell him what’s going on.  They think he’s crazy and stolen a costume from the museum (the space suit) so they strip him and lock him up.  So’Fey then helps calm him down and figures out what happened to him.

I also have a sort of vague idea of how he’ll meet Del but I’m not sure I want to use it.  I’m not really sure how I want to revel her character.  One idea is to have him literally run into her as So’Fey is leading him to her quarters or where ever it is she sleeps so she can get him some clothes and keep him calm.  But it would be really short as he just bumps into her and she glares and walks off.  It could be he’s really taken by her (love at first site kind of set up without the love… just interest) or he doesn’t notice her at all because he’s so confused.

Or I could wait until later in the episode when he’s introduced to Captain Bay since she’s like his 2nd in command without the command part (getting things done in the background without any of the recognition or perks).  Where, once again he can either notice her or completely miss her because she is so common.  Either way her history will be reveled later on and slowly.  First the realization that she’s Bay’s slave.  Then later still that she doesn’t mind being a slave really and then the story of her entry into slavery (her father selling her) and finally what happened to her as a slave (mainly the brothel stuff because that’s the most serious stuff in Logan’s mind… it will sort of taint his image of her).

Other than that happening in the first story I’m not sure what else I plan.  I had thought of killing Bay off before Logan meets him but then decided I wanted him to actually know the captain so he can see the contrast between Bay (who he thinks is a monster for allowing the slave trading) and No Name who really is a monster.  There’s also going to be another time flux while Logan’s on the ship (which would probably be mid-story so right around the end of hour 1 in a 2 hour pilot episode, leading into the bigger problem at hand).

But I really don’t know how I want to work it.  I think I’m going to get my notebook and just write down a bunch of permutations to see which ones I like the best.

I do have some broader story arcs in my head like the time flux keeps disrupting areas of the galaxy like the Moon.  Sometimes the ship will jump times and other times other ships will or whole plants.  I envision one story where the ship stops at a known trading planet (as part of the pilgrimage or to refuel or whatever it is the ship does to keep ferrying people to religious sites) only to find the entire planet is out of sync chronologically (real nice timey-wimey stuff).  The people and the technology on the planet are from several hundred years in the past are just as confused as Logan was.  But it takes awhile for the pilgrims to realize it causing all sorts of issues on the planet and for the ship.

Another will have the entire ship transported in time only to be taken back to their original time (or close to it).  Eventually all this time hopping begins to takes its toll on the ship and people.  Some of them start looking for a scapegoat and realize all their problems begin when Logan, a strange stranger, first appears on the ship.  He has to convince him that he didn’t cause the flux and will probably be aided by So’Fey.  Who devoutly believes Logan is some kind of god-incarnate.

For other episode-stories I’m just going to raid tvtropes sci-fi tropes list, lol.  All my favorites will get an episode.  I just have to write them all down and decide which order to do them.  If I was really daring I’d put them in a hat and draw them at random.  But I think I want the storyline to make more sense than that.  We’ll see.

I’ll use non-sci-fi tropes, too, of course.  I’m sure the characters will easily snap into a trope because they’re meant to.  I’m not going for overly complicated here.  Maybe in later stories if I ever feel like continuing the series.  There’s always room for character development, right?

There is so much planning to do and, as usual, I left it to the last minute.  There’s, what? 21 days until NaNo starts to plan this stuff out.

So, yeah, this post isn’t all that helpful.  Well, maybe slightly in it got some ideas on paper and sorted out.  Any trope requests out there?  Favorites you want me to fit in somehow?  Ideas for story arcs/plot twists.  TV shows are written by multiple writers so all suggestions are welcome.


NaNo planning: characters

[not to self: need AWESOME NaNo icon pronto]

Last week some time, on another site, I made this very awesome post about my proposed NaNo endeavor that went into detail about the characters I have figured out thus far.  I was quite proud of it but didn’t think to copy any of it down.  Why would I when I planned to check back into the thread in the following days to see if anyone responded.

Except when I checked back said post was no where to be found.  It has disappeared into internet oblivion along with my descriptions.  That I DIDN’T.  WRITE.  DOWN.


It’s not that I don’t remember most of the details it’s just that the whole thing came sound really put together in that post.  Like I actually knew what I was talking about and that these characters are more than just shells floating in my head.  Sigh.  I sigh a lot lately.  Now I have to try and remember what I had.

+ Logan March: an astronaut who is on a mission to the moon when he and his team lose contact with Earth.  He finds himself transported into a very distant, strange future where Earth is no more and there’s a shrine on the Moon to the “lost ancestors”.  He’s accused of defiling one of the exhibits in the museum when he’s found in his spacesuit and arrested by the temple’s security chief.  He meets So’Fey, a priestess, while in the jail.  She realizes he is in fact an “ancestor” and helps him to get out of custody and fit in with the denizens of the pilgrimage ship that is in orbit around the Moon.  He’s instantly at odds with Captain Bay and the ship’s own security chief.  He also meets Del-Bay, a slave belonging to the captain.  He doesn’t get how the future can be so dystopian with slaves (sex slaves, no less) and feels superior to the modern humans inhabiting the ship.  Which doesn’t help ease things between him and Bay.  Del becomes a sore spot between the two with the security chief getting caught in the middle of their dispute (hence his loathing for Logan).  Eventually Logan comes to terms with the issue and learns to live with things as they are.  The fact that there are more pressing matters at hand helps.  The whole universe is in flux with time warping bubbles popping up all over the place causing all sorts of havoc.  Now he has to find a way to get back to his own time or stop the flux before it tears apart space-time.

+ So’Fey is the first main character Logan meets after jumping to the future.  She’s a “priestess” in the loosest sense of the word.  She’s older, probably in her 60s, but is sharp and not afraid to speak her peace.  Which doesn’t help her in her in her spiritual endeavors.  She’s constantly in trouble with the law and her own religious order for not following traditions and rules but she has her own moral and ethical code she lives by.  She also knows how to work the system to get what she needs.  She comes off as being this kind, flakey gramma type but it’s obviously some kind of ruse because Logan first meets her in the temple jail where she’s locked up for unknown reasons.  The chief lets her go, though, with minimal fuss making it seem as this is a common occurrence for them.  She realizes right away that something is different about Logan and surmises that he is from the past (an ancestor) who most people in her time worship like gods.  She helps him get out of jail and takes him to the pilgrimage ship in orbit and teaches him about her time.  Her motives are unclear, seemingly altruistic and selfish at the same moment (is she in it for the greater good of beings or wanting to use Logan’s ancestor status to gain power/respect in her own order?).  But she does help him and seems to be liked by the slaves and other lower classes in the strictly class-bound ship.

+ Del-Bay (who has a last name that I can’t think of at the moment) is a slave attached to the captain of the ship, Bay.  Her hyphenated name denotes her status and owner.  She was born on a small moon, one of many daughters of the ruling king.  When famine strikes the moon he sells his children for the “greater good” so to speak.  She doesn’t know if her planet survived since she was very small when she was taken away (around 5 or 6).  She’s gone through many owners, changing hands depending on her usefulness.  Despite the distasteful nature of slavetrading they have strict rules about what certain ages/genders can do.  When she comes of age sexually she is then sent off to a brothel.  She’s not treated badly persay and since being a slave is all she knows it isn’t extremely traumatic for her but she’s never felt loved or even has a concept of love.  She’s just passed from one owner/lover to another without much thought of it.  As long as she pleases her owners she will be well treated (like a prized pet or star worker).  Sometimes she was treated better than the paid workers.  At some point Bay comes to own her and becomes captain of the ship.  He treats her okay and her capacity is strictly that of assistant, managing many of the mundane tasks on the ship in the guise of the captain.  She isn’t treated as well by other crew members.  Many don’t take highly to the lofty position she holds as just a slave (having basically more responsibility and better perks than they do even if they have freedoms she doesn’t).  One of the higher officers (no name at the moment) is particularly hateful towards her.  Later he tries to gain ownership of her when Bay dies.  The other slaves don’t much care for her either, thinking she is snobbish even when she isn’t just for the fact that she is held in such regard by the captain (just the fact that he trusts her explicitly with the day to day activities of the ship results in her being an outcast on all fronts).

+ Captain Bay (haven’t thought of a first name yet) is the original captain of the pilgrimage ship.  He’s a mostly fair leader and strives for efficiency in the running of the ship, using Del to keep things running smooth.  He’s more about following the rules and keeping with the status quo.  That despite the fact that he uses Del as, basically, an XO instead of the military trained officer at his disposal.  Which, according to their laws, is acceptable.  His ship, his choice of servants, officers, assistants and their official jobs (they technically aren’t a military vessel–complicated political-social muckings will be thought about later, lol).  Eventually he dies, though, leaving the ship in turmoil.  Well, that and the fact that the ship is nearly destroyed in one of the time fluxes.  Lots of people die, the ship is wrecked and things are all over the place in chaos.

Those are the only characters that I have even really thought out.  I have more details for some of them or, at least, ideas of the plots surrounding key moments for those characters.

Other characters (mostly no names at the moment):

+ Mr. No Name Officer–he takes over after Captain Bay dies and immediately tries to take Del, too.  She is literally enslaved to the ship by something techno-babbley that I won’t think about at the moment so she can’t physically leave even though Bay is dead and her servitude to him is ended.  She’s technically free since he didn’t leave her to anyone but No Name insists ownership should revert to the new captain.  The law isn’t on his side, though, and Del is free to go about her life… never leaving the ship, though.  This creates more tension between him and Logan who has deemed himself Del’s champion (much to her chagrin, she doesn’t need a champion and thinks her life is not too bad despite the slavery).  Not sure how long No Name will be in command since he’s not well liked.  Might have to kill him off early (friendly fire, anyone?).

+ Security Chief (of the ship)–doesn’t have a name yet, either but he’s going to be kind of one those flip-floppy friend/foe kind of guys.  He’s morally sound so will side with whoever his own conscious tells him is right so he gets stuck in the middle of a lot of posturing between Bay/No Name and Logan.  The captain usually has the law on his side which Chief holds highly but Logan has ethics and morality on his side (sometimes).  Eventually it will come to a head where the Chief finally has to choose a side causing him to be outcast along with So’Fey and Logan, his two biggest troublemakers.

+ The “Big Bad”–since this post doesn’t get into plot all I’ll say is he’s a mad scientist guy but I don’t have any real motives behind his actions, yet.  He’s the one causing the time flux stuff and needs to be stopped before his insanity destroys the universe.

I’m also in need of a “sidekick” for Logan.  Not sure if I want to go with another guy or a tomboyish girl (I’m partial to the tomboy because I am one).  I know it’s all cliche but that’s the point.  I’m getting all the plots straight from TVtropes.  All my favorite sci-fi tropes will be included.

For the sidekick/best friend I could go with the guy that kind of takes pity on Logan and helps him out in jams but ends up being evil in the end throwing things off balance.  Or with the girl who’s “one of the guys” or in another way under the radar but turns out to be totally kick ass when she needs to be.  Or it could be both as in it starts out mainly being one or the other and has to switch because of events.

The plot is following a television episodic storyline.  So there will be many shorter stories (or episodes as I will call them) linked together by longer story arcs.  I was thinking he’d befriend both the guy and girl and when the guy turns evil he’ll have the back up of the girl as his sidekick.  I also want her there for later “love interest” because I have an idea for later (don’t want to spoil it just yet).

Plus I need like a million other smaller characters to flesh out the reality.  Firstly Logan’s crew that he’s with on the moon before the time flux.  They’re going to die right at the beginning but I need names and something to make them real to him.  Plus other officers, crew and slaves on the ship.  Other people in So’Fey’s religious order (her leaders that don’t like her).  And other random miscreants on the ship.  Just your regular extras you’d see on a TV show.  It helps to have this all plotted out or have them in reserve so I’m not making crap up on the fly (which is my usual style).

NaNo planning

It’s getting to be that time of year again–NaNoWriMo time.  Yesterday (after watching several episodes of Farscape so it was on my brain) I had an idea for a story… just an inkling.  I’ve been trying to develop it further so I have something to write in November.  I’m kind of burnt out on Stargate and still haven’t finished last year’s epic SG-1 novel.  If I write an original story it will continue my pattern.  I wrote That 70s Show fic in 2005, nothing in 06 and 07 (participated just never got more than a couple thousand words and can’t remember what I was writing anyway but I’m sure one was an original fic), Angel fic in 2008, original fic in 2009 and SG-1 last year.  So it’s time for original fic again.  🙂

All I’ve got right now are a couple characters and the beginning plot.  Sort of.  I just need to figure out what the hell is going on.
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