Category Archives: Writing

Not Actually a Post About NaNoWriMo, No Really, I Mean It

Last night I met up with a number of other local NaNoWriMo writers to celebrate our success. We discussed all manners of things, but unsurprisingly, the topic of writing came up an inordinate numbers of times.

One of the other writers there started explaining some principles of mad science that she had begun applying to her villains in her writing. Infection. Obsession. Challenge. Chase Scene. Denouement.

It truly is a wonderful world we live in.

The obvious inspiration for this philosophy, A Miracle of Science, continues to excel.

We have entered what may be the final showdown between the good guys and the bad, and our hero Benjamin is doing his best to stop the enemy with the most powerful weapon at his disposal – the power of memetics.

It’s a good comic, and it’s a good time to be reading it.

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Thoughts on NaNoWriMo: Mark 2

And lucky for you, this means National Talking About Novel Writing Month is over too. ;) This evening NaNoWriMo 2006 draws to a close, and I get to enjoy the feeling of a job well done.

This year I managed to actually go the distance, and yes, that is a damn good feeling.

I only wrote the first third of the novel I set out to write – however, I think it ended up more coherant than it would have otherwise, so that’s a plus. And, of course, it leaves me with material to continue with if I undertake this madness next year.

In the end, it sucked up a bunch of time I likely would have otherwise spent playing video-games. It let me test my limits, and let me actually prove that I can sit down and write something extensive. One of my old writing teachers told me that every person in the world has stories in their head they could tell, but you only are a writer if you sit down and write them.

That doesn’t make you a good writer, mind you. That’s the next step.

But the first step is writing, and this is the first time I’ve produced a clearly finished work of significant length. It isn’t as long as a standard novel, it isn’t a masterpiece, and I quake in fear at actually showing it off to my friends and family who demand a chance to read it. The narrative voice is constantly shifting, I’m not entirely positive I maintained the same tense throughout the work, and the most interesting character is an ordinary housecat. The dialogue is poor, the plot resorts to exposition, and the proofreading was nonexistant.

…but it is complete, and it is mine, and I can be damn proud of that.

And that’s what the month is all about.

Thoughts on NaNoWriMo: Mark 1

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

15,193 / 50,000
(30.4%)

It is the fifteenth of the month.

NaNoWriMo 2006 is halfway over. In theory, were I on track, I’d be at 25k words, instead of 15k – but while I’m behind, that would worry me more if I hadn’t gone the first week without any serious progress. As long as I’m able to keep shiny distractions away, the word output itself isn’t really what worries me, especially with two more weekends in the month to crunch it out.

What worries me is the story itself. It’s not a great story, but I’m fine with that – walking into NaNoWriMo and expecting to write a masterpiece is a recipe for failure.

The problem is that I’m at 1/3 of my word count, but only 1/9 of the way through the plot in the book.

Once upon a time, I had great ideas for stories – but usually those ideas were broad and sweeping. I had the momentous climax mapped out, the dramatic showdown, the key moment… but I could never fill in the rest of the story.

Now I’m running into the opposite problem – the filler isn’t pausing to let me progress. The characters run rampant over the story, and I’m trying to decide if I’ll have to accept cutting the plot short, trying to cram the entire thing into the rest of the month, or just skipping past long chunks of the tale.

Still, NaNoWriMo is definitely providing an interesting and intense experience. And if my only difficulties so far are having too much story to write, then I don’t think I’m entitled to spend time complaining!

Happy Halloween!

Boo!

I hope everyone is enjoying a Happy Halloween, filled with elaborate costumes, delicious candy, horrifying nightmares, or whatever element of the holiday is your very special favorite part. Or, if you hate the whole get up, enjoying a very happy… Tuesday.

And if you hate Tuesdays, I’m sorry, not much I can really do for you.

Anyway! All Hallow’s Eve seemed a good occasion to throw off one look for my journal and find a new one – and more importantly, adjust a few things behind the scenes.

I went through a pruning of my webcomics today, and it was no easy task. Suffice to say that, when the job was done, I managed to whittle my way down to a meager 200. Yes, a meager 200. No, you don’t want to know how many were on the list previously.

I was amused that the number came out so rounded, and while not a fully accurate accounting (as some of those links include collections or multiple comics within), it seemed a fortuitous sign. More over, when I then divided that list into the “A Team” (those comics which I can’t get by without) and the “B Team” (the ones that, while fun, I read as much from habit as anything), I discovered that I ended up with nigh spot on 100 on each side.

Speaking of those links, you may have noticed I’ve added quite a few off to the side. This includes a pick of the week, as well as a selection of the top ten comics that have been on my mind. These include old favorites as well as new discoveries, and quite a few comics that after a long stretch of meandering have pulled it together and reeled me in big time. I plan to keep the list updated on a regular basis. Also, I blatantly stole the entire idea from Comics Rock, another webcomic blog.

Speaking of which, I’ve also added a list of other blogs that I keep my eye on. Some, sadly, have gone off into the wild beyond of hiatus, but they are in large part the blogs that inspired me to start this up, and have a wonderful repository of past articles.

And finally, I threw up the entire list of the “A Team” strips that I read – my personal recommendations for the best and the most brilliant strips out there today. While that list may also shift over time, it will probably not be quite as regularly as the top ten.

Now unfortunately all this work is done, in part, in anticipation of a distinct lack of free time in the upcoming month. You see, there is this little thing called NaNoWriMo. You may have heard of it.

If not, a summary might read as thus: It is a challenge for aspiring writers to sit down, over the course of November, and crank out a 50,000 word novel. Quality does not matter. Depth does not matter. Subject does not matter. Just words. It is, at short, perhaps the most elaborate writing exercise developed. It is a chance to show that one has the stuff to go the distance, and can produce the content, if nothing else.

I tried and failed last year. This year, I plan to give another go at it.

I will also have the grim spectre of Final Fantasy XII hovering over my shoulder the entire month. (And most likely absorbing as much time as it can tempt me to burn on it.)

Now, despite these little side-projects, I plan to keep up with my posts here. But in an attempt to do so, I plan to pace myself with a nice little schedule. Even beyond helping keep me on track, I like the idea of adding a little focus to my blog – as much as I enjoy torturing everyone with the chaotic meanderings of my mind, a little order could be nice.

The plan is as follows:

Mondays: Reviews and Remembrances. I’ll devote each Monday to either a review of a lesser known comic that I think could use the exposure… or to taking a look at a comic that has ended, and may be in danger of fading from public view.

Wednesdays: No Strings Attached. This is my chance to let loose! Whatever random topics are on my mind will hit the page midweek. Might be on more ephemeral aspects of the webcomic world, might deal with different things entirely. It will no doubt be a surprise to both you and me.

Fridays: The Latest Happenings. Here is where I’ll be pondering recent events and surprises in the comics I read. There will likely be exclamations of surprise, joy, and dismay. There may even be, dare I say it… rampant speculation.

So that is the plan, gentle readers! I’ll be spending the next few days getting a start on my NaNoWriMoing (my apologies for inflicting that verb upon you), so it is likely you won’t see any sign of me until Friday. But a few last Halloween happenings first…

Yes, at last, the maniacally smiling visage of your humble blogger.Easiest. Costume. Ever.My, my, my, quite a lot of activity for this simple blog. Why, all this plotting has driven me positively… mad!

Actually wait, no… that would simply be my Halloween costume, going as everyone’s favorite mad computer scientist (as inspired by Lord_dave’s coloration of Kirk Tiede’s fan-art, to be profoundly technical.)

Yes, I know, exceedingly lazy costume.

Nonetheless, I like it.

Finally, a few props must be awarded today in honor of some excellently done comics.

Most Stunningly Genius Storyline: Elf Only Inn.

Best Katamari Costumes: Krakow!

Most Shocking Reveal: Scary Go Round.

Absolutely Best Costume: VG Cats, with Aech.

Edit: It has been pointed out to me that the true mastery of costuming is on display over at Penny Arcade. This, in truth, I cannot deny.

Till next time, safe hauntings…

Pumpkins!

How to be a writer: Capture your words now, or lose them forever.

Tonight was a good night to me for a variety of reasons – I completed a lot of random chores and tasks, and the feeling of progress and accomplishment is always a good one. But the evening culminated, as I lay in bed with countless words running through my mind, with a realization.

I am a writer, or at least aspire to be such a creature. But in order to be a writer, I need to write, as successes in the field often tell me.

A writer must go out there every day and write, come hell or high water. Find your story, overcome your excuses, and put words to paper.

Otherwise you aren’t a writer – just some mook with big ideas.

Now, I am working on this writing thing, and plan to make sure I output content on a regular basis, whether it be heaven-sent or the foulest dreck this earth has seen.

But! I realized tonight that a big key to going places is to make sure I put down my thoughts, my words, my ideas when I have them.

I cannot wait a day… or two… or more, and hope to have the same power and emotion as when they first sprang to mind. No, I need to drop such petty tasks as sleep or food or entertainment and write my goddamn words.

It is amazing what relief this discovery brings. And to be honest, I likely will be better off than if I tried to wrestle myself to sleep while the words demanded output, dancing through my brain like a pair of drunken elephants. No, I’ll put these words down and let my mind get some rest as well.

And when I hit the sack in just a few moments, I bet that I won’t have my normal struggle to settle myself enough to sleep. No, my money says I’ll be sleeping like a child. A child pumped full of oh-so-delicious tranquilizing darts.