Planning

Last week of June 2013

Well, the first part of this week was not nearly as productive as I wanted it to be. Let’s see. I know a little more about my protagonist. Nothing more about my antagonist – I’m not even sure that the person I have in mind will turn out to be the antagonist. I know there are at least two other main characters – of whom I know absolutely nothing, not even their names. I have not settled on any particular scenes. I only have a very, very vague idea of where the story should be at the end of the first and second acts – still not sure how I want to end the story.

I have to admit something: This is the first time in an extremely long time I have sat down and really tried to write a story. I mean, I have written a few pages here and there of an idea I have for a story. I have lots of ideas for stories and some of those story ideas have even been researched. But I have no, or very little, prose for any of them. This is the first time I have really decided to structure and finish a story. And, I’m not sure how obvious it is, but I have no freakin’ idea what I am doing. Which is why I was hoping to have more of my story planned out before diving into the writing part of it.

However, from what I understand, that is part of the purpose of NaNoWriMo. Because left to my own devices, I would probably end up doing what I always end up doing: planning, researching, planning, deciding…and never actually writing. So, I don’t know how this story is going to turn out since I’m not entirely sure where to take it, but I am still determined to have 50,000 words of it at the end of July. They may not be that cohesive or terribly exciting to read, but I’m going to have 50,000 word, by gosh!

Well, that’s all I’ve got. This past week kind of had a rather large distraction in it – I’m hoping that July is largely distraction free. I have to make finding a job my priority in July, though, but I should still be able to devote at least two hours a day to writing my story. That’s the plan, anyway. See y’all next week!

Categories: Outlining, Planning | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

July 2013 Camp NaNo

For far too long this blog has deviated from its original intention. That is, to chronicle my journey from blank page to finished manuscript. So, starting today and for every week until the end of July my intention is to record my experience with this summer’s Camp NaNoWriMo.

I graduated in December last year and I still do not have a full time job, which will be the other major objective for this coming month. I have been teaching part-time, but now I am done for the summer. So, what better moment than now to take this writing thing seriously?

During the last week of June, my plan is as follows:

  1. Decide on all my character names and genealogies. I know that having to know the family trees of my major characters isn’t really necessary, but it helps me get to know my characters better.
  2. Get to know my characters and settings. I have a couple of books I am going to be using to help facilitate my process. Schmidt’s Book in a Month has some worksheets that look like they may be a good starting point from which to help me chart my story. Watt’s the 90-day novel also looks like it has some helpful direction. Since I do not have a degree in creative writing and I am a little unsure about how to craft a novel from beginning to end, I feel like having a couple of resources to help me along the way may be a good idea. Otherwise, I may end up with 50,000 words that go nowhere.
  3. Try to define my acts. Nothing too solid – just to try and figure out where I want my story to start and end. And what kinds of scenes I think should come in the middle.

I haven’t been thinking about this story idea for that long. I am not even really sure what is going to happen yet. I just have a vague idea of the town and the mystery that heroine will uncover throughout the story. I really don’t know how to move past that, but I suspect that part of my problem has always been a lack of discipline to just sit down and write the damn thing. I’d rather have 50,000 words of crap than 1,500 perfectly crafted ones. Which, if I am being honest, has always happened in the past. I get a story idea and I am really good about doing the research and crafting the world, but when it comes to populating it, I usually end up spending two writing sessions writing only about 2,000 words. Then, I get discouraged and I quit.

But not this month…At least, that’s the plan. Even if I do not finish 50,000 words, my goal is to spend 2 hours a day writing. I have this next week for the last bits of my planning and whatever doesn’t get planned will have to be decided on the fly as I write.

I don’t even need a cohesive story (although I am going to try) – I just want a complete manuscript with something that resembles a beginning, a middle and an end. I will update at least once a week to track my progress.

I’m putting my plan out there in the hopes of keeping myself accountable. So, here’s to hoping that I don’t have to eat my words.  

Categories: Planning, The Process | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Knowledge Hoarding, or Academic Miserliness

This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately and probably deserves to be addressed in a proper essay rather than a quickly composed  blog post, but here goes.

Library front [2 dot bp dot blogspot dot com slash _EazJIBgp890 slash S_0qnaVlRsI slash AAAAAAAAA34 slash 6ap4_4emBJM slash s320 slash Library plus front dot jpg]

Online libraries restricted to public access

I am currently an adjunct teaching at a tiny, private school [read: part-time, underpaid & few resources]. This semester I am teaching an advanced undergraduate level course. They are awesome students and I am constantly amazed at their dedication. One of the things I am trying to emphasize is the importance of reliable, peer-reviewed sources. When I was still in grad school and had access to my huge university’s online databases I did not notice this problem so much, but this semester has been exceeding frustrating for both myself and my students. Trying to find relevant, reliable and peer-reviewed sources that are ACCESSIBLE feels nigh impossible most days. My school’s databases are limited and hard to navigate, therefore I often use Google Scholar to find citations. This week, it took me at least three times as long as it should have to find a couple of relevant articles for my class* because every time I came across a citation online that looked perfect, it was only available on Jstor, to which I do not have access. Well, to be fair, Jstor has made a limited number of their articles available, but when I just searched through this limited selection, I could find nothing relevant. Continue reading

Categories: Academia, Miscellaneous, Research | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NaNoWriMo 2012

 

That’s all I’ve been seeing lately while surfing the creative writing blogs here on WordPress, so I figured I may as well write my own NaNoWriMo post.  I’ve also added the 2012 Participant badge so the whole world (all three of you, that is) knows I’m doing it.

I have never participated, so I have no idea how it will go.  I have a story in mind, though, and a writing buddy to keep me accountable.  And I really, really want to win this thing…but, I have a feeling about a week into November things will get really busy and I will have to set it aside.  I know, I know: I should have a more optimistic outlook, but,
really, I am being optimistic, because it will mean I am that much closer to getting my doctorate.  (Then I’ll only have to face the horrors of trying to find a job.)

My advisor approved the draft of my dissertation.  Woo hoo!  Her revisions were minimal – it only took me a day to finish them.  This means, of course, that I could possibly be defending by the end of November, which means I have a LOT of things to do between now and then.

In the meantime, I have some class prep to finish up and then I look forward to doing some research for my NaNoWriMo story.

Categories: Planning, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hello, my name is Marilyn and I am a Vampire Addict.

One of the first exercises Chris Baty has you do in the beginning of No Plot? No Problem! is to draft two “magna cartas.”  One should be composed of all the things that you personally like in the books you love to read.  He says to be honest, even if it means admitting that you like books with a lot of white space because you do not like reading large blocks of text.  The other “magna carta” should be the opposite list – all the things you find boring in books.  Again, he encourages you to be honest with yourself, even if it means admitting that you really hate books about old people or love stories.

I did this exercise, although I have not yet hung them up by my desk like he suggests.  I will not post them here either, but I do want to take this opportunity to be honest about the kind of book I want to write, based on the kind of book I like to read.

I am a genre reader.  I love me a good urban fantasy.  I also enjoy straight-up fantasy, science fiction (both soft and hard), apocalyptic dystopias, some steampunk, and the occasionally mystery.  Add to that Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and John Donne, and that about rounds out what I prefer reading.

I also LOVE vampires.  Love them…I get all feisty with people who try to disparage my beloved vampire and I feel the need to spout long diatribes, explaining their importance as archetypes of the human experience.  I will spare you that spiel here.

Bela Lugosi's DraculaFirst of all, I would like to concede the fact that the current state of literature is filled to the brim with vampire stories.  Well, I don’t care.  This first manuscript (and probably the  second and the third) is just for me.  I need to get in the practice of writing creatively again.  I need to experiment with story-construction, from beginning to end.  The first manuscript I write, edited or not, is probably not going to be publication-worthy.  I am okay with that, which is why I decided that one of the main characters in my first manuscript will be a vampire.  It will not have to compete with the market and that is what I want to write about, so that is what I am going to do.  So there!

Secondly, I just want to mention something that I find ironic.  I love reading and I love vampires, but, honestly, I cannot think of a single book about vampires that I would give five out of five stars too.  I am not entirely sure why.  It just seems that even if I enjoy the story and the characterizations, I always end up disappointed – as though the author could have treated the vampire mythology just a little bit better.  Of course, I have not read every single book out there with vampire characters, and I am sure there must be at least a couple that would become favorites.  Nevertheless, my experience to date cannot provide me with such a book, with the one notable exception of Dracula by Bram Stoker himself.  However, Dracula works for an historical setting (today anyway), but I like my vampires to feel a little closer and that involves a contemporary treatment.

If I may momentarily set the novel aside, Joss Whedon is my hero and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (along with Angel and the irrelevant-to-this-discussion Firefly) is, in my opinion, one of the best shows every produced for television.  I wish I could find that in a novel.

I believe part of my desire to focus on the vampire is that the part of my brain which has never been introduced to my internal critic thinks that maybe I can do it “right.”  When I say that out-loud (or the written equivalent), however, that little guy takes note, glares at me and shames me into believing that I could never do that.  My inner critic’s opinion is irrelevant, though, since he is barred from reading my first manuscript.

Well, there it is… *Whew!*  I have come clean.  I like vampires.  I feel so much better having gotten that off my chest.  Now you, dear reader, know what you are getting yourself into and I can no longer be held accountable for leading you down a dark path that leads to a genre you hate.

My name is Marilyn and I am a vampire addict.

Categories: Pensive Ponderings, Planning, Random Ruminations, Reading, The Process, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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