Monthly Archives: November 2010

Let the Story surprise you…

There was a post in the NaNoWriMo Forums which I got inspired by.

“One subject that keeps resurfacing on this forum is the idea that characters are somehow able to make their own choices. While this is a cute idea, it sounds like it is derailing some would-be authors. Rather than try and address this misunderstanding on a case-by-case basis, I thought it might be a good idea for us to explore why some people feel this way and what the harm of it is. […] The big pitfall of believing your characters are actual, sentient beings is that you lose the ability to tell the best possible story with them. Grow too attached and you’ll always find a way to keep bad things from happening to the character. You’ll enhance their traits until they’re the embodiment of everything you want to be. You’ll give them unrealistic rewards, or become blind to their faults. You’ll stop using them to serve the needs of the story, and they will become a parody of excellence that you may adore, but no one else will want to read.

Nah, I don’t believe that my characters are People (well they are people in the story, like any third person I see and describe the actions or words of in life), nor do I think that my characters ‘hijack’ my story/stories. But I do believe that my ‘storyteller some times comes up with twists and turns, concepts and ideas, that was not present in my mind when I started out writing. That is not the doing of my characters, that is the doing of ‘the story’. I had one of those ‘incidents the other day – I was plodding along in cavern full of possibly dangerous creatures (that was planned) when “Mr Bright Idea” started hollering from somewhere in my word counting brain that I absotively NEEDED an order of cloistered monks! I could not let go of this idea, every other word that my mind produced had to do with cloistered monks. Now the Monks are in the story, and they work fine there – but it was a twist in the story I had not anticipated. I don’t believe any story is a slave to me. I feel that part of telling a story is in the ability to let it surprise me, as it possibly will those who read.

Some ideas and twists might have to wait for later in the story – for me the ART of writing and the CRAFT of writing are not mutually exclusive, on the contrary, when my mind comes up with an idea that ‘absotively’ has to get ‘in there’, it is a test of my ability to get the story where it is supposed to go despite the unexpected twist.

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Fascinating tidbit

In the time of William Shakespeare, there were commonly reckoned to be five wits and five senses. The five wits were sometimes taken to be synonymous with the five senses, but were otherwise also known and regarded as the five inward wits, distinguishing them from the five senses, which were the five outward  wits. (From Wikipedia via Ketutar Writing.)

It sort of makes sense, that we have five inward wits or senses. I experience my outward world through the five ‘tangible’ senses – Hearing, smelling, seeing, feeling and tasting. But with what do I experience my inward world? What faculties do I use when I build a world for a story, inhabit it with beings and creatures that I would never encounter in my outward world? Imagination. But what is ‘imagination’? I’d like to think that I have an implicit understanding of what I imagine. That the imagery of buildings I describe in my writing, or the feelings of people and creatures that I let interact with each other in a story have somehow manifested within me. How else would I know to give ‘sound’ to a ‘growl’ or ‘taste’ to a piece of bread dipped in honey? Through the use of my five inward wits of course!

Unfortunately, in our modern world those five inward are lumped together into such a vague concept as ‘imagination’ and ‘sense’. How poor the world has become!

Because with my inward ‘taste’ I know just how good that bread dipped in honey is, and the ‘sound’ of that ‘growl’… neither the bread nor the growl is ever as tangible in the outward world. Isn’t that fascinating?

Inspired by: Ketutar writing: Five senses and wits

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Past the half-way mark – one day ahead

I didn’t think it would happen. That I actually managed to get past 25000 words. And relatively easy too. What I have now are two stories that will at one point converge and merge into one. I think that is probably why it’s been ‘easy’ – by writing two stories ‘simultaneously’ I am ‘getting over’ the ‘rough spots’ without straining myself or the story as a whole. It feels a bit like I am driving two cars on semi-parallel roads towards a junction or riding two boats on side-rivers that will flow into a larger river at a point up ahead. It is a very fascinating journey.

So how did my researching experiment go? I haven’t decided yet. I can do that in December. Now I just need to get 50000 words in the bank by November 3oth.

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Book Notes…or I am researching…

Remember this entry?

Well, I decided to give ‘research’ a try. And came up with a very interesting Book Notes Page.

  • What are my definitions of various societal structures?
  • Matriarchy
    • Mother or oldest living female is the head of family, clan, tribe.
      • Define: family, clan, tribe.

Matrilineality is a system in which lineage is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors. Matrilineality also is a societal system in which one belongs to one’s matriline or mother’s lineage, which can involve the inheritance of property and/or titles.

Does Matrilineality naturally imply Matriarchy?

Does Matriarchy naturally imply Matrilineality?

If either case – is this then true also about Patriarchy and Patrilineality?

Can a society be a Patriarchy and at the same time Matrilineal? Or vise versa?

Does that imply an Egalitarian society?

VERY important question:

What is an Egalitarian society?

Is it a society where Power and Property are evenly distributed according to and/or between genders/gender-roles?

OR

Is it a society where Power and Property is distributed according to Ability and Inclination, irrespective of gender and gender-roles?

So,,, what have I decided that at least one of my races’ societal system is gonna be? Well, I haven’t decided yet, I really want to discuss these question with my wife – she would love to have that discussion, and even if it’s my decision in the end, I always get superb input from my wife!

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Not a Word…

17,366 words so far…and I didn’t write a word yesterdayNaNoWriMo 2010 Participant Badge. Dunno why, I was gonna, or so I thought, but I kept blog surfing instead…

So today I have to do a whole lot of Writing.

… but…. what’s the use? No-one reads this blog or care about many words I get in the bank…

I asked someone on NaNoWriMo to be my writing buddy – they didn’t even reply to my NaNoMail….

I am sorry, Hart, but that is REALLY bad form, since I can see in my NaNoMail that you have received my note. At least have the frigging decency to reject me ‘face-to-face’.

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Book Notes, Book Notes and more Book Notes

Forest Road 1I am deep in bat dung – up to my neck in dreck, my friends…

 

Haven’t written much today, cause I keep running into snags, that Side Stories cannot take care of. Because it’s the Side Stories that produce the dreck, manure, bat dung (you get the picture…)

 

My sense of logic and of style demands that I at various points STOP moving my characters from point A to point B along a vague route, describing their feelings, impressions and structure in the landscape the move through, and actually have them interact with actual features in the landscape, BY NAME, and not GENERIC labels like ‘road’, ‘cave’, or ‘the next landmark’ etc.

 

It’s good and fine as long as the ‘environment’ is generic – a forest is a forest and a mountain is a mountain – but when it turns out that my characters have parents, siblings, uncles and aunts, and that they do not live isolated from other sentient beings, but have homes and are part of a societal structure… then I start to ‘need’ specificity on a few items… so today I have spent my writing time swearing over the following ‘Book Notes’:

 

Questions about the [species name]

 

·         Why don’t I have names for the various  [species name] ‘villages’?

 

Because I haven’t looked at the following questions:

 

·         What kind of Society do I imagine the [species name]  Society to be?

·         Do I need to research

Social structure?

·         Matriarchy or Patriarchy?

·         Feudal or Democratic?

Leaders?

·         Elected, Chosen or Hereditary?

Religion?

·         Monotheism, Pantheism, Animism or Polytheism?

Infrastructure?

·         Do I have to ‘invent’ vehicles and road making methods?

Geography?

·         Do I need to make a map?

 

·         What exactly do I know about the [species name]?

What do they look like?

Are they like

Dwarves? 

Trolls?

Humans?

 

·         If the [another species]are Simian in appearance, doesn’t it logically follow that the [species name] are too, if they have interbred in the past?

·         If so, what kind of Simian?

 

How do I picture the various species?

 

·         Does [Character Name] have friends in the ‘next’ village?

·         Which is the ‘next village’?

·         What  is a ‘village’?

 

You see my problem?

Do I really have to write a frigging essay to each of these questions? I mean who the frak am I – JRR Tolkien?? Still, he had a few good points, despite the fact that he couldn’t write worth a damn, except long litanies about trees and grass and WALKING and orchs…

One of the good points he had was that about knowing what kind of environment the characters were moving in, even if the reader never knew the nitty-gritty details.

I think that’s why my writing career has never taken flight – I HATE research.

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Double Duty for Mr. Obligation

choreYesterday I had a visit from Mr. Entitled and Mr. Procrastination, remember? Later one of their half-brothers was snuck in to my kitchen – over the phone (amazing how wispy he is, using the Ether that way…)  by my wife – who incidentally happens to be in Finland this week. Mr. Chore Obligation. Yup, there he was. As soon as my wife had hung up, he materialized like a djinn out of thin air. Pointing an ethereal finger at the dirty dishes, the garbage bags and the vacuum-cleaner.

Thing is that I can’t deny him. He has a very valid point. Novel or no Novel, I still have to do the Household Chores (which I, like any other sane person, hate to do). Mr. Entitled and Mr. Procrastination sure isn’t going to do them, just as they have not walked the dog or made me any coffee. So, like it or not, I have to do a double duty for Mr. Chore Obligation to make up for the DAY I have to spend with household implements. i.e I have to make sure I write 3600+ words before midnight…

Bummer, I was actually beginning to enjoy myself, and the process of writing…

Good thing I am about half a day ahead of the ‘schedule’ – means I can be good with just 1½ dose of writing…

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