Seeds for NaNoWriMo Part 4

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafb

Below are today’s ideas to produce seeds for NaNoWriMo (or any writing project). Remember: the point is not to develop an entire plot. It’s simply to create inspiration. Write what is suggested for each numbered item, or whatever else may come to your mind. Then set that aside for now and do another one.

setting 2

1. Write a detailed setting based on the above picture. Whatever your instincts or preferences for setting and detail, try to over-exaggerate the scene. Write it however you’re comfortable–with a person there to experience it, from a first-person perspective, or simply describe it from a distance.

2. This is modified from an exercise in the book Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror : Using a playlist of songs that you like (if you don’t have one already, you can pretty easily create one on YouTube or such, if only for this exercise), set it to shuffle and write down the title of the first song that comes up. Then hit next and write down the next song. Do this until you have a list of songs–the original exercise calls for 30, but I found that amount to be a bit overwhelming. I’d suggest maybe 15. Then make each song title a chapter title. Try to find a way to encompass all of them into one novel.

Alternatives include using movie or TV show episode names.

event 2

3. Write a scene from this image. What has happened before this was taken? What else is going on around this? As a result of this? What emotions might be present in the people who live around here?

4. Think back to a dream you’ve had–one that stuck with you. Even if it’s one that has changed in your head since you actually dreamed it, write what you remember. And write what it has become. Sometimes when I have a particularly striking dream, I’ll spend the rest of the day imagining where it would have gone.

Also, consider keeping a dream journal if you don’t already. Any time you wake up with a dream fresh in your mind, write it down quickly before you start your day. It can be an unexpected source of inspiration, even later.

people 2

5. Write about these people. What are their names? What are they doing or talking about? What is their relationship to each other? How are they feeling? What’s going on around them? Be specific.

6. Go back to the pictures and find some way to make them all fit together. This doesn’t mean that they all have to somehow be worked into the same scene, or even the same day within the story. But find some way to connect them all to each other, some story that would encompass them all. Then write the synopsis (as broad or specific, long or short as you need it to be) that involves the three images.

You do not have to stick with what you already wrote for any of them; you can go different directions with any of them to make them fit together.


This is the last post like this I’m going to make. If anyone has been doing the suggested activities, I hope you got some interesting results. Don’t worry if you didn’t get through all of the activities. I didn’t either. I plan to keep working on them for the next few days though.

This weekend I plan to post about what I feel could be the next step from here–going from ideas to sketching out a plot. I will be gone all this weekend though, so I’ll have to prepare the post in advance. If I really manage my time this week, I’ll be able to do more story seed writing, work on my normal revision, and write that post.

In the meantime, if anyone came/comes up with anything from these 4 posts that you really liked, feel free to share!

Other posts like this one: Story Seeds 1, Story Seeds 2, Story Seeds 3

Dream Every Day: Fanfiction That Isn’t

dream plan write

Full disclosure: I used to write fanfiction. A lot. All for one MMORPG called Ragnarok Online, which my husband and I played for around a year. It was where my love for writing fiction resparked, after having dimmed during high school. I’m never sure what’s going to happen when I say I write fanfiction. Plenty of people have no real opinion. Some say they have written or currently are writing fanfiction as well. And some scoff, laugh, roll eyes, or quietly assume the worst about what that means. There are many misconceptions about fanfiction, but that’s not what this post is about.

This post is also not about convincing you to write fanfiction—at least, not precisely.

One of the biggest benefits of fanfiction is that some of the work is already done for you. Characters are already in play, relationships built (or at least started), sometimes a plot is left dangling that you can pick up and run with. At the very least, in the case of a mostly story-less, character-less world like was in the game I wrote for, a setting has already been established—a whole world built, with mechanics in place that I didn’t have to create myself.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying fanfic writers are lazy, but let’s face it—it’s easier to start writing when some of the work has been done. And that’s where I’m going with this post.

As writers, we are often reflections of what we take in. My dad is a blacksmith, and so is my main character’s dad. I have a character that I created long ago who is jovial, always enthusiastic, outgoing, and sometimes annoying; in recent years I actually met someone in real life who reminds me of that character, so now when I write that character, I keep this other person in mind as a guide.

Errol

Now when I write Aeldrim’s dialog, I think to myself, “What would Errol say?”

The same can be said for books we read, movies or television we watch, or even music we listen to.

A major character in my story “Outcast” was partially inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, mostly in that I decided to give her a physical mark that reminded people of her mistake.

I have grand plans for a dramatic scene in a story that I never finished when I was writing fanfiction (but will likely pick back up someday and finish in my new story world) that was heavily inspired by a song called “Letters From War” by Mark Schultz.

And the entire premise of a short story I wrote years back was drawn upon the question, “What if the girl had to save the guy?” which I asked myself after watching a movie with my sisters. (For years now I’ve been certain it was the movie Last Holiday that led me to that, but after rewatching the climax to that movie, I don’t see how it could have been. So now I’m not sure what the movie was.)

As a whole, writers get ideas and inspiration from everyday life all the time, so none of this is special. Most writers that I talk to seem to always be neck-deep in ideas that they have to choose between when deciding what to work on next. This advice is more about what you can do if you’re looking for new material. A fresh idea, a different direction to take your plot, or a new character to introduce.

In the book Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, there is an article about taking an existing story and simply adding a different element to it. Examples were moving the story to space, adding dragons, setting it in an alternate dimension, or adding time travel. The idea is not to literally rewrite the same story with the same exact plot with that one added element, but to use that as a starting point. Once you start plotting and/or writing, you make it your own. By the time you’re done, it will most likely look very different from the original.

And that is really where I’m going with this post. Take a cue from fanfic writers and let other stories around you inspire you. What you liked or didn’t like about them, what you’d change or how you think it would have continued.

Dream for yourself: For the rest of this post, understand that “story” can refer to any work of fiction in any medium—print, big or small screen (even a single episode out of a series), or audio.

Think of a story you really liked, but just didn’t like the ending. Or wish a character had been given a different side-plot. How would you have done it differently? What would have been better?

Or think of a story you absolutely hated. Starting with the same premise and same characters (or different characters, if they were part of what made the story so horrible), rewrite it so it’s better.

What character do you really despise? I don’t mean the kind that are meant to be hated, but one that fell flat for you. The character who grated on your nerves. Who was meant to be a comic relief but was just stupid. Or maybe one who was indeed an antagonist, but the villain factor was taken too far. Even a protagonist who you just didn’t sympathize with and couldn’t care less if they lived or died. What would you have done differently? How would you have made that character better for the story?

Yes, this is what some fanfiction writers do. But it doesn’t have to turn into literal fanfiction. If you do not purposely hold yourself to the world the original story is set in, you can make it your own. Or simply use these questions to spark an entirely different idea.

So how about you? Are you now or have you ever been a fanfic writer? Have you noticed real life or fictional stories seeping their way into your writing?

Daily Challenge Check-in: January 2, 2015

Words: 252 written. Nothing story-related, just some dream journaling. But since I was sick all day and had to work, I was glad to have at least done something.

Today’s was actually the 7th entry in the notebook I keep next to my bed and have turned into a dream journal. I started writing down dreams on Dec. 1 of last year. An exercise in my Now Write! book was to write for 12 minutes as soon as you wake up, without thinking, recording what you dreamed about. It suggests doing that every morning, even when you can’t remember a dream, to then write what you think you may have dreamed about. I don’t always have 12 minutes to spare in the morning, and I definitely don’t have the mental capacity to make up something out of nowhere when I first wake up. So I’ve stuck to only writing when I can remember a dream, and it’s vivid enough or striking enough to be worth writing down (so no jumbled messes or dreams where I can remember a couple of elements but would take two sentences to write out).

The great thing about the challenge I’m doing is that if you don’t get all your words in, you’re not behind for the next day. You start every day new. Really, it’s in the rules. So though I didn’t meet the 500 words today, I don’t have to try for 750 tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow–though I’m not feeling well, I’m hoping to get some real revising done on “Adventures in Pithea” tomorrow.

A Look Back at 2014

This year has been a very productive one for me, fictionally speaking. I’ll recap some of the highlights.

I started this blog at the end of April in an attempt to keep myself from slacking off in my editing work. I’ve had some success with it, while at the same time let it slide now and then.

I finished two novels in 2014. The first one, temporarily titled “Adventures in Pithea”, was started in November 2013, and finished in February 2014 at 105,000 words. The second one, titled “Pursuit of Power”, was started and finished in November 2014, the first draft landing at 101,000 words.

I participated in my 5th year of NaNoWriMo, and won with 107,234 words, passing the 50k word mark on the 12th. I was also more socially active than past NaNo years, even if most of that was online, and set a huge daily word count record for myself with 10,516 words on the 15th. It was a good year.

And here at the end of the year, I even had a very writerly Christmas. Here are the writing-related gifts I received this year:

doctor who notebooks

From my in-laws, a set of small notebooks, Doctor Who themed.

I have a larger version of the notebook on the right, but the one in the middle takes my focus. River Song’s spoiler-filled notebook is a great addition to my notebook collection.

 

shirt

From my younger sister, a t-shirt with a reminder to never stop writing in some form or other.

I created this motto and image to go with it earlier this year, for use as a banner in some places. Then I went to Zazzle and slapped it all over several items and set them for sale. I hadn’t bought any yet myself, but hoped to one day. This is the t-shirt, which I did want more than the other items.

 

NaNo notebook

From my mom, a medium-sized, lined notebook with the NaNoWriMo logo on the front.

This blank notebook was a new product in their store recently, and I’ve wanted a blank notebook from them for years! I was one (among many, I’m sure) who suggested they create a blank notebook instead of the confusing (to me, at least) notebooks they already had that seemed to have filled pages and maybe blank ones, but who knows without buying them. I love the look with the shield in gold against the black. I have grand plans for this new addition to my notebook collection.

 

mug all

From my older sister, a mug she made herself.

The mug was brilliant. On the front is the motto I made up earlier this year to remind myself that every day should include some time for my creative pursuits, whether it be dreaming up new ideas, planning a story, or writing a story. The sister who made this is one of two who make up the Tri-County Sisterhood of the Traveling Book with me. That is what I call our little group that meets on Skype weekly to work on the editing of “Adventures in Pithea.” When I turned the mug to see the side and back, I laughed so hard.

Now this month, I have taken an initially unintentional break from my writing projects, which turned into a necessity as Christmas grew closer. Near the beginning of the month, my husband and I went out of town for 5 days, and the days before and after that were busy with preparation and recovery. Then wrapping, shopping, and other Christmas-related activities took up my evening time. Now as the season draws to a close and the new year is set to begin, I plan to delve back in with a fervor. I’ve done heavy revision on 1/4 of my first novel, so there is still a lot to go. Considering that that 1/4 took most of this year, it’s difficult not to get discouraged about how long it will be before it’s ready to attempt publishing. But I’ve not given up yet.

Just before this break started, I had begun a challenge to write/edit 500 words every day, and I am eager to get back to that. I’ve also dropped off on a plan to do one writing exercise from my Now Write! book per week, so I hope to have time for that again too. Those are my plans for this year. That and have as many mega meetings of the TCSTB as the others will allow.

To all of my fellow writers out there–whatever, whenever, and however often you write–what were your highlights for this year? What are your proud or disappointed moments from this year? And what are your plans for the coming year?

 

December 4

500words-300w

Words: 1693 total. Most of it was several pages of “Adventures in Pithea” I got through revising. (Missy has been corrected in her accusation toward Evan, though he still found a way to be a jerk.) The rest of it, though only a measly 135 words, was original writing, and requires a longer explanation than 135 words probably should.

In October, my husband and I went to a con in Ohio called Ohio Valley Filk Festival. It was our first con. We were only there for one afternoon, and it was a small con. However, in the dealer’s room, there was a wide selection of books. We spent quite some time there. I came away with a book that has already changed the way I think about plotting, creating characters, writing, and even sleeping. It is called Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror and inside are “lively and practical insight and exercises, straight from the top speculative genre writers working today”.

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I have decided to start going through the exercises in the book. Not all of them actually pertain to me (most of the horror-related articles, for example), so I’ll skip those. But I plan to try to focus on one article per week, and see how that goes. This week’s article involved using random images as story seeds, forcing two images together and developing a story idea or even new story world from those. This morning, I wrote with that in mind, with two images I’d generated a few days ago. It didn’t produce quite what the exercise was expecting, but I do already have an entire world I’m writing in. It was still an interesting idea I may pursue in one of my storylines someday though.