Thursday, October 30, 2008

Scary Neighbors


Pop quiz
Originally uploaded by LowFuel
From a house down the street from me: Thought it was mildly ironic that this giant scare-children-shitless display (complete with serial killer Michal Myers music theme playing) has a "Yes on 8" (yes on h8) sign prominently displayed. Won't someone think of the children?

Differences Between 2007 and 2008

Two more days until Nano begins.

Probably the biggest difference for me this time around is that I've done this before.  Last year was a great experience -- a thrill ride, in truth.  As fun as it was, there were a lot of lessoned to be learned.

So my approach this year is changing in two key areas:

  • Preperation:  My post below details all the prep work I've done up front this year.  Last year, I formed my idea about two weeks before 11/1, and wrote an outline that was maybe 100 words.  This year I'm using an idea I've been gestating for quite a while, and my outline is 3,300 words.
  • Organization:  Last year, I used Word 2007 on a Windows PC.  Nothing wrong with that, quite frankly, but all-in-all it was really hard to keep myself organized.  This year, I've become a Mac convert, and will be using the wonderful Scrivener to write my drafts.  I'll only move it into Word (or, more likely, Pages) when I've got a second draft that I'm ready to start editing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nanowrimo 2008 - Counting Down to the Starting Gun

Just a few days left until Nanowrimo 2008 begins! I've been working on my story for a few months, which is a breath of fresh air compared to last year, for which I had only a few weeks to prepare.

I'll be keeping a running journal here of how things are going, and the process I follow (so that I can learn from my mistakes, and/or share my success with others).

A brief recap so far:

  • Formed my general idea about a year ago, and have been gradually circling in on the spine of the story since then
  • In August, I wrote a very high level outline (following the method detailed in John Franklin's "Writing for Story")
  • I started at the end, which for me has so far been the hardest part of a story
  • Once I imagined an ending that I liked, I wrote down a beginning that seemed far from that
  • I then filled in a few of the middle bits
  • After letting that sink in, I spent September putting these events into Freemind, an excellent (and free) mind mapping tool
  • In Freemind, I began to expand the outline, filling in between 10 and 20 new events between the high-level ones from earlier
  • I followed, very loosely, the key elements suggested by Blake Snyder in his excellent book "Save the Cat" - not strictly, though
  • I wrote a total of 45 events, more or less (my target is 90k words, so I figure roughly 2k words per chapter as a goal)
  • I then used Freemind to start to break all these events down into more and more detail. Two, three, sometimes four levels deep. My outline alone is now 3,300 words!
  • Feeling pretty good about the plot, I turned to characters in October
  • Again in Freemind, I created a simple biography for each character
  • I also did something I thought I'd never do (it just seems cheesy) - I cast each character, picking some actor or actress and putting their picture right there next to them
  • Finally, I did something I found very useful: I plotted out a "typical day" for each of the main characters, specifically the day before the story will begin. This really helped me visualize the world they live in, and generate a number of ideas for those "little details" that add much needed depth to a made-up place

So that's where I am, with three days to go. Feeling pretty good about this one!