Week 4 Update + Reflections on the Month

As you may have noticed, by the lack of a Writing Craft Element post this week, that I didn’t manage to research Planning and write about it. This week was not as hectic as last week, and things are really starting to settle, there was still a lot of work (and procrastinating) to be done. In my defense, I was a bit sick yesterday. And, honestly… I just didn’t feel like it?

I’ve explained why Planning was going to be this month’s second Craft Element: Camp NaNo is coming up and I want to be prepared, and being prepared seems an imperative considering what my life is at this point. I’ve been in the process of finding my best planning process for at least a few years now, but nothing has really stuck so far. Even if I have a path for the middle of my novel, I just lose steam, though I have managed to persevere and reach the end, even if I’m below my desired wordcount. Not having a plan at all is not particularly great either, at least for something as NaNoWriMo, because of the same problem: even if I reach the end of my novel,  it has a severe lack of development (and plotholes everywhere). I have the bare bones, the action and development, but where are the other plot points? I’m not mentioning Description, since we’ve already established that I can add it in later, but I would at least like to have all of the plot down in an at least semi-coherent manner.

I have a plan, which I will present on the Map for March, which I will post later.

Week 4 Update

Prompts: This week’s prompts were:

  • One day, everyone wakes up with wings like an angel, soon after scientists found that the colour of the wings depend on your character. The better your character is, the cleaner (more close to snow white) the wings are. Yours are decently grey, but your family’s are dark as hell. [x]
  • Once upon a time far, far away, there was a tiny kingdom that floated high above the clouds. Create a fairytale that is set in this city. [x]

This week I wrote 3106 words, 1478 for the first prompt and 1628 for the second! In total, this month I wrote 12934 words, which is actually more than I wrote in January. It’s interesting to note that, in both months, I reached a peak on the second week, while the lowest point was on week three.

Craft Book: This week’s chapters focused on Point of View and Atmosphere. There are still chapters left in this book, but they refer to Creative Writing in general and some recommended works, so I’ll skip those.

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when writing your story is your Point of View–it affects the plot, the characterization, and the tone of the story. When deciding, you should consider:

  • Whether it will be first-person (I), third-person (he/she), or, more rarely, second-person (you)
    • First-person: Reader identifies better with this form, since it’s more intimate; the character doesn’t need to be a protagonist; limits what is known to what that character knows (can’t know other character’s thoughts, for instance); and more than one narrator can be used. If the writer is not careful, however, they can identify too much with a character and it will become a copy of the writer.
    • Second-person: Rarely used, it’s interesting but hard to pull off. It can pull the reader into the narrative, but can also throw them off if they can’t identify with the actor.
    • Third-person narrator: Most common type, it doesn’t create the intimacy of a first-person narrator, but has the advantage of accessing multiple perspectives.
  • How much the narrator knows
    • Omniscient Narrator: Knows everything about the characters and setting
    • Internal focus: Only knows what the characters know; intimate
    • External focus: Ignores characters’ state of mind; sometimes seen as cold due to its objectivity
  • If the narrator takes part in the story, and if it’s a main character or a background one
  • If the narrator can be trusted

There’s more to be said, like whether you want your narrator to be an opinionated and sarcastic little shit (I do have a bias for this type), but maybe I’ll make a more complete post in the future.

Choose what works best for the genre, theme and plot. A way to decide is to write the first pages in different Points of View and choosing the best for the story.

Atmosphere is what makes reader get involved in the story. It’s sometimes defined as the story’s time period, a place’s ambience, a genre’s feel, or even as images, impressions and events. In summary, atmosphere is what makes the reader believe in your story and submerge in it. It’s what makes the reader feel it.

In order to create Atmosphere, you can:

  • Visit the place you’re writing, to catch its spirit so you can better emulate it
  • Recreate it using your imagination, which calls back to a previous post
  • Describe it from the point of view of a character that is seeing it for the first time, make the strange feel familiar and vice-versa, and make the setting and character relate to each other
  • Use the five senses to add depth to description, never forgetting that details are better than broad generalizations, add colours, which have specific meanings tied to them, and music

This chapter also has a section on how to edit Description, but I’m keeping this for after Camp NaNo, when I write a post dedicated to Editing (hopefully).

Course: In its final week, the course dealt with Genre.

Genre is defined by the similarities in style, form or subject matter in literary works, and, as such, there are tropes and clichés  associated with each of them. There is nothing wrong with writing with a genre in mind, it will actually help you with ground work and define your work, but you should never limit yourself to it. Innovate, combine genres, subvert tropes and expectations and your story will stand out from the rest. I recommend checking out Eva Deverell’s Genre Mind Maps.

Reflections on the Month

Considering the changes this month, I think it went well. It’s still early to tell if things will keep on going this way, since my workload is bound to get worse, but I hope I won’t have to stop the blog, even temporarily.

I’m still bummed I didn’t get to research Planning, but I suppose I can do it at a later date, especially when I have a better idea of what my specific problems are. Right now, my focus is on next month.

I’ll also have to make changes to the schedule I established for myself when I began classes, since now I have a better idea of what classes will demand from me. I now know that Tuesdays will also be difficult days for me to squeeze writing into, due to a weekly time consuming assignment from one of my classes, not to mention everything my other classes will throw at me. The evaluation seasons will be fun.

I think that’s all, and it’s late. Good night for now (or not, depending on where you are/when you read this, in that case Good Whenever you are).

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Week 4 Update + Reflections of the Month

Today is the end of the first month of “A Youth and the Sea”! I think it was rather educational, not just in terms of writing, but also in terms of what I want to do from now on and how I’m going to do it. I’m going to talk about that in more detail in my Map for February.

Week 4 Update

Novel: I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t get any reading done! I got distracted with other things I had to do, including family events and the Writing Craft Elements post, and reading the novel kind of got pushed back much more than I wanted.

Short Stories: Read three short stories, “À Grande e à Francesa” [Expression that means living ostentaciously and in luxury], “Hades” [Misspelling of “Hás de”, it means “You will”] and “Elegantil”.

Prompts: This week’s prompts were:

  • The police suspect your character of having committed a crime.  Your character is innocent, but so much evidence points to him/her that your character is certain that s/he has been set up.  But who has done this, and why?  And how can your character prove his/her innocence?
  • A sports car, a dare, and an obnoxious ex-girlfriend

This week’s total of words was 2728, the first story having 1669 and the second 1059! The first story was different from the rest, because it was the plot from one of my writing projects summed up and told from the perspective of one of the characters. It’s something that I won’t publish here, because I’d rather hold onto projects in progress and only reveal them when they’re ready, but it did help me visualize the plot, its problems and ways to fix them. The second prompt was just three elements I had to include in the story, which is something I always found fun to do.

Craft Book: Finished A Field Guide to Your Imagination. These last exercises focused on using imagination to solve problems, either disengaging the mind from the problem through a near sleep state or by lucid dreaming (which is another thing I would love to try). There’s also an exercise that reminds us to train our imagination to think outside the box, by imagining impossible things and going through them.

Finally, the last exercise focused on the physicality of imagination. Instead of sitting down and imagining things, move. It can be something as simple as going for a walk, or you can imagine yourself in your character’s shoes and do things as they would. Just now I remembered that the reason why we doodle is that it helps the brain stay focused and solve problems.

I found this exercise enteresting because, sometimes, I just can’t sit still when I’m imagining something. Sometimes, when I’m writing, I just have this overwhelming urge to jump out of my chair and move around. And not just when I’m writing. I can be listening to music, or reading, or watching TV, or even day dreaming. I don’t know, I think I’ve always been like this, and often I have to surpress these urges because there are other people around. I don’t know, am I weird?

Craft Element: Wrote the Writing Craft Elements post, which was way harder than I had anticipated. Granted, I should have taken notes and actually planned the thing, but I think it’s actually ok? I’m not really comfortable talking about and explaining things that not even I know if I’m understanding correctly, so please, if you find something that is wrong or you don’t understand, tell me. Still, it was nice to just research and then compare that with everything that I already know, and then writing it down. And I know that this kind of post will be helpful in the future when I’m in doubt over something, and for other people who want to learn these things but don’t know where to start.

Reflections of the Month

I think this month went great, in general. I mean, I reached the end, that alone deserves celebration considering the slump I reached about halfway through. In total I wrote 8 short stories, 11857 words, not to mention the posts here, which is not bad, and I’ve figured out where I want to go with the blog next.

If I could do something better, and it’s something I’m going to do in February, is organize my time. It’s very easy for me to procrastinate and make excuses later, which then invalidates the times when I actually had something to do. But that’s a topic for the Map, which I’ll publish either later today or tomorrow, depending of when I finish it.

Thanks for reading!