NaNoWriMo 2013: Doomed to Failure

writing

This isn’t an admission of defeat, I don’t think you you can admit defeat when you weren’t really planning on trying to win.

I honestly didn’t think I would have a chance in hell at winning NaNoWriMo this year, I’m way to busy with other things, but I signed up anyway just in case I suddenly had an influx of free time.

I think my word count is currently sitting at 361 words when it should be closer to 20k (18,337 by close of play today), technically I could make that up if I spent every non working hour writing, but if I’m honest I’m not likely to do that. I’m not engrossed in my idea for a story, and I don’t have the spare time to spend (I want to say waste but I don’t think that time spent doing creative pursuits can be classified as time wasted).

So my story for this year is not going to happen, I’m going to gather my notes and try and come up with something fresh so that next year I can march proudly into ranks of the winners.

Up Up Down Down Left Write: The Freelance Guide To Video Game Journalism

I’ve always wanted to be a Game Developer, failing that I think I could settle for being a Game Journalist, I just found Up Up Down Down Left Write: The Freelance Guide To Video Game Journalism by Nathan Meunier there is a sample chapter available online which I’m going to have a look at later. It could be interesting.

The book is set for release in hard cover and on Kindle on August 5th, although it doesn’t appear to be up for pre-order yet;

Camp NaNoWriMo: Should I? Shouldn’t I?

As if trying to write 50,000 words in November wasn’t enough, I’m debating participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this April.

What is Camp NaNoWriMo? Apparently it’s a bit like NaNoWriMo Lite, you set a word count goal for the month (I’ve provisionally set mine to 10k) and you get assigned a number of “Cabin Mates” who are your partners in crime for this literary adventure.

At the moment I don’t know very much about what I’m going to actually write, my one goal is to somehow incorporate tea into the story, aside from that everything is a little up in the air.

The seed I have in my head has a main character whose life has stagnated several years after finishing University, one by one all their friends have moved off to other cities for work, or on crazy adventures. It’s reached the point where they have one friend left in the city, and that friend announces that they are moving away too, leaving them alone in the city.

On a whim they decide that they are going to go on their own adventure, I’m not entirely sure where to at the moment, and I’m not entirely sure I’m going to go with this idea.

I’ve got till the end of the month to flesh this out or to come up with another idea, assuming I actually go through with this at all.

If anyone else is thinking of joining up you can sign up for free on the Camp NaNoWriMo website.

 

Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling

This list by former Pixar employee Emma Coats has been floating around the internet, I thought I’ve share it here for inspiration. Pixar consistently release films with amazing stories, and well rounded characters, and while I don’t always agree with having “Rules to Follow” a little bit of advice can go a long way.

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

While on the subject here is some “Advice to Writers” by Neil Gaiman, I’m sure this was originally in one of his NaNoWriMo Pep talks.

  1. Write
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

It’s fairly simplistic but I think it worls.

Brainstorming: Last Humans Not On Earth

I saw the image above on Reddit, it’s a picture of the World Trade Centre after the events of September 11th 2001, taken by the only American not on earth and I had a story idea.

What if the threat of impending nuclear war or some other catastrophe has lead the UN or some other Global body to take representatives of each and every Nation and put them in space for safe keeping? Orbiting in a space station are 2 people from each and every Nation on Earth, or maybe just the ambassadors to the UN of each member state?

The inevitable happens and all human kind on Earth are wiped out, the people on the space station are the last survivors of a dying species.

What would happen?

An alternative would be for them to be safely stowed at an “unknown” location under the sea, like the recently revealed DARPA project.

Alternatively the UN might have “set aside” a cross section of Humanity for safe keeping, either underwater, in space, of underground. These people would have had regular contact with the surface to keep them up to date with the happenings, but their goal was to be a disaster recovery backup for humanity, isolated from any natural or un-natural disasters or disease.

What are these people’s lives like? What happens when the signal from Earth suddenly goes down?

What kind of people are these people?

You’d have to have people trained as builders and farmers as well as scientists and engineers. Politicians

How Many people are there?

Assuming they have been down there for a few generations, you’d need to have a large enough population to prevent inbreeding being an issue.

How would you train them?

If the containment is to last several generations how do you train them? Training people in engineering and science is easy enough, at least in the theory, but how do you train farmers and carpenters who are trapped underground/in space/underwater without fields to farm and wood to work on?

When they eventually come out do they know what they are doing?

How long will they have stayed away?

Are there actually other survivors who don’t know about this program?

I think my thought track is heading away from the original premise and going towards a Fallout type situation where survivors of a nuclear war live in a vault, but I think the key difference is that these people don’t start out as “Survivors” they are a disaster recovery backup for humanity, akin to the Seed Vault in Svalbard but for people rather than plants.

I’ll maybe post some more thoughts here once I’ve had a chance to incubate the idea…

NaNoBabble Day 3

I am trying to keep my NaNoBabble to a minimum, partly because I know most of the people who read this couldn’t care less and partly because every word I write about NaNoWriMo is a word that could have been added to my word count for NaNoWriMo

After a fairly good start, having written about 1,800 words at midnight on Thursday and about the same after work, I didn’t write very much if anything on Friday because we had people round.

I’ve now managed to scrape enough words to make me almost on track for the end of today (Sunday) even though it’s only 1AM and I’m about to go to bed. I need to do this because I’m heading through to Edinburgh to go to the Zoo and then a Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds concert in the evening. The net result is going to me not having much time if any to write tomorrow.

So what am I writing about? I’ve got three characters in mind:

  • My main character is a guy who can’t be sent on to the next life because they can’t find his paperwork, so he gets sent back to earth and can’t die until his paperwork is located.
  • Another character is a demon who works for an organisation that collects resources which is distributes to find plots to destroy the world.
  • My third character is a fake Wikka girl, who accidentally summons the second character because she’s not really paying attention while her friends and her try to perform a ritual to make boys like them

The whole thing is tongue in cheek, and so far I’ve only written from the point of view of the first character.

I have just written a really dull conversation which I’m going to probably have to rewrite in it’s entirety to make it snappier, but for NaNoWriMo it’s the word count that matters….

Close of day 3 start of day 4 my word count is sitting at 6,457 which I think is more than I wrote for last year’s NaNo in it’s entirety.

Anyway it’s bedtime now, otherwise I’m not going to go to the Zoo tomorrow, and that would be tragic.

NaNoWriMo Kick Off Event: Pimp My Plot

So for the first time ever, despite having done NaNoWriMo 4 times before, I attended a NaNoWriMo local meeting. It was quite fun, in as much as 20 awkward, introverts meeting in a pub with a group of people they have never met can be fun.

One of the exercises that we did was called Pimp My Plot, the idea is you write a short synopsis of your plot on a bit of paper and then you hand it round the room each person adds a little to your plot. While some people will have gotten more use out of this than others it was none the less an interesting exercise.


I was caught off guard and had to scribble down my plot, here is what I wrote:

Due to a clerical error James finds himself unable to die. Meanwhile a demon working for a charity that raises money to fund plots to end the world is accidentally summoned by a group of teenage girls trying to perform a ritual to make boys like them.

I’m not even sure if that summarises my ideas well, like I said I was caught off guard. Knowing that 20 other people were going to comment on it I was pressed for space.

Here are the responses I got.

Babo is the Devil
James finds himself caught in a conspiracy to end the world through his mere existence, to use him as a source of infinite power to power a device that will rip a hole in reality.

I’m not sure that the first word is “Babo”, I can’t read the handwriting. I hope the word I’m missing isn’t intrinsic to the idea. While I reckon that the there will probably be some conspiracy, and James will be at the center of it I’m unsure how this will pan out. I think the way that imagine the clerical error happening means that it’s unlikely that he has been given any kind of power. I think it’s just that they can’t harvest his soul/move him on to the next plane of reality until his paperwork is in order, and since they have lost the paper work that is going to take some time.

James is the key to either life or the end of the world, but the girls decide he is the ultimate man…

I hadn’t actually figured how James and the girls were linked, I didn’t think that the girls would actually fall for him, the teenage girls were actually a McGuffin to get the demon into the world in a comical fashion. I was debating killing them off, although I might have just one survive and she will be his bane. Or something along those lines, whether she will “Fall for” James is another matter entirely.

…and must fight the demons, their alternate selves and a fallen god to have him.
The girls start to make boys into girls and the balance of the world is upset as girls start to find it difficult to find boy friends.

I don’t think this is going to feature much, I have a concept of how the theology is going to work in the universe of my story, and that is that every religion is right. I have a quite complex justification for this that probably doesn’t make sense and is probably going to sound better being explained by one of my characters through the narrative rather than here.

I’m going to drop the Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 – Unmanned esque plot idea as i don’t think it fits with my setting, but there will probably be many fallen gods. Just maybe not in the way that the commenter intended.

James suddenly finds himself in possession of powers – much like cupid – that will help the girls. This will be key (and hilarious) to defeating the demons

Thinking my way round the table I think that this might have been written by the person who has 4 erotic fiction novels published. While the concept isn’t in it’s self erotic, I’m not entirely sure I could pull this plot off.

The only power I’d intended to give James was that he couldn’t die, I think anything else doesn’t gel with the setting. Not having Cupidian powers kind of makes this plot point moot sadly.

James falls in love with one of the girls but decides to just have them all, with disastrous consequences.

I envision James as being a bit of a lost soul, quite literally, he’s not the Casanova type, sure he might develop feelings for one of the teenagers (I’ve not decided how old he or they are but 18 is still a teenager and they may well not be teenagers, they might be University students, naïvety was what I was going for not age) assuming any of them survive. I don’t think that he’s likely to have the social skills or the balls to try to seduce all of them though.

James develops a killer allergy and must find a cure because he can’t die but his life is boring because of ….

I don’t think that word toward the end is boring and I can’t read the last word. If the point of the story was to torture my character this might be a good way to go, you can’t die but you are going to spend the rest of your life in anaphalaxic shock, is pretty horrible. The allergy could be his Kryptonite I guess, “I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those pesky cats!”

I’m unsure, initially I dismissed this outright, but I think that having such an Achilles heel might make the character more rounded. I’d have to ensure that it doesn’t crop up too often though.

It was all a dream…

Really, I’m not even sure this warrants and answer. James is going to have to get killed at some point to kick start the whole process,and the whole story could be his dream as he is lying on a hospital bed in a coma. I’ve always thought the it was all a dream plot was a little tired though, unless you are writing a story where dreams have some tangible effect on the real world like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series then it’s a bit of a cop out.

As neither the protagonist nor the demon can die their battle plays out over and over again with the whole of human history as a backdrop. Until… James finds another immortal.

This is a great idea for another story, James is not a fighter, he’s a guy with rubbish social skills and a crap job who gets killed and finds out he can’t move on to the next life because they’ve lost his paperwork.

The demon is also not a fighter, he’s an accountant (I know I never said this in the synopsis) at a charity that tries to raise money to fund schemes to destroy the world.

Also James’ death takes place in modern times, my current plan has him “Killed” by someone holding up a convenience store. He’s not been about for years, he is just getting used to being an immortal.

Also this story is a little too epic for me, I tried epic for last year’s NaNoWriMo and it didn’t gel with my writing style.

Does he want to die? Or was he happy with the situation? Does he let people around him know? Use it for the good of others? Can he still be hurt? IE bleed, break bones… That kind of thing

That is a list of useful questions:

Does he want to die?
No, at least not to begin with. He’s not made his peace with the world and he dies trying to save someone. I guess a darker version of this would start with him slitting his wrists and then finding out, much to his chagrin, that he can’t die.

Is he happy with the situation?
I think happy is a strong word, confused with what to do with himself is more likely. I see him as having lead a fairly mundane aimless life previous to his “incident”, when he gets sent back, he tries to find some sort of purpose for his life. After all if he can’t die then he probably should do some good. Unfortunately I see him as being a man with little or no practical talents, and he probably doesn’t have the strength of will to stick at anything for any period of time. It’s not like he could go off to the Himalayas and spend 20 years training to be BatMan or anything like that, that would be too much hassle.

Does he let people around him know?
I’ve been humming and hawing about this for a while, I don’t know the answer yet. I think the people who send him back have a process for successful reintegration of people who for whatever reason have to be sent back due to processing misshapes.

This process will have been set in place due to previous cases where a person who could not be processed was inappropriately reintegrated into society.

“We really screwed up with this one guy about two thousand years ago, guy died on a cross but we couldn’t find his paper work so we sent him back. Everyone thought he was some kind of messiah. Luckily Bob over there found his paperwork three days later, it had been filed under Y when it should have been filed under J”

Something like that.

Use it for the good of others?
I think he will try to, but he won’t know how to. I mean if your only super power was that you couldn’t die what would you do?

Can he still be hurt?
Yes, I think he will be imbued with a healing factor by the administrative body that sends him back, but it’s not like Wolverine’s healing factor, he heals over days, and gods does it hurt.

If he wants to die he must give the demon ten koala souls.

There was someone who was trying to work Koalas in everyone’s story… I’m not going to humour this. Although I might mention Koalas in passing during a trip to the zoo.

Is he able to choose life or death? Was he meant to die in the first place?

He isn’t able to choose, he can’t be processed until his papers are processed and since they can’t find his papers he can’t die.

I don’t think the concept of fate is going to play into my story, nothing is meant to be until it happens, if it happens then it has happened.

All boys like them – from toddlers to octogenarians

Again I’ve not put much thought into the girls, if I were scripting an episodic story then this might be possible, it sounds like the plot of an episode of Buffy that vampire slayer though, and I’m not sure I’d be able to write that. I might though, the whole point of it is that the ritual failed though.

He sells his soul to fix things

Souls and the selling thereof are governed by contract law. As James’ paperwork cannot be found it cannot be determined whether or not he has a soul to sell in the first place.

What happens if he loses a limb?

Like I’ve said earlier, he is given a healing factor, but it would take days to grow one back, and it would be excruciatingly painful to lose a limb. He’s not a comic book character who shrugs off pain like that.

James has been trying to commit suicide and continues to try again and again, but the demons start to chase him and he realises he does want to live.

This would work in a different book, with a different James, but not with the character that I envision.

I love this idea and I really want to read it. Anyway the demon’s older brother is much higher up in the hierarchy of hell, and their relationship is typical, overachiever vs unlucky slacker

It’s nice to get a compliment, I might add in other demons, I’m not sure at this point. Part of me wants to add in depressed version of the devil himself, he’s given up on running hell because he’s depressed. Lilith has left him for someone else because he doesn’t have the fire he used to.

Part of me likes the idea of the overachieving sibling for the demon character, I want him to appear to be just as down on his luck as James does.

James is doomed to eternal celestial filing.

I don’t think I want James to spend is time filing souls, he may well have been filed away, but he gets sent back to earth to continue/resume living. Perhaps as someone else.

Dead Pool references

I really wish I’d read more Dead Pool comics, I’ve seen the odd snippet here and there on the net and I like what I see, but I don’t know enough about the character to be able to make references. Also I don’t think James has Dead Pool’s sense of humour, or his multiple personality disorder for that matter.


So uh yeah, that’s that. NaNoWriMo starts in 2 days and I have some food for thought.

Idea Seeds Wanted

It’s the 9th if October which means that next month is November, which means that I’m subjecting myself to NaNoWriMo once more. I have the seed of an idea which involves a guy who can’t die due to a clerical error. But I don’t really know where I’m going to go with it aside from a few scenes I’ve thought up from the characters point of view.

I think the general theme of the story is going to be a dark comedy possibly involving defeating some otherworldly power, but maybe not.

I’m looking for Ideas for things that could happen to a guy who can’t die.

If you have any ideas shoot some away in the comments and I’ll see what I can incorporate into my story.

I’m going to have to sit down at some point and brain storm this idea to flesh it out and having something to fuel that would be useful

Useless Superpower: Selective Telepathy

I had an idea this morning of a super power that would not only be completely useless but would also be a little annoying. What if you were telepathic but the only thoughts you could hear were other people’s earworms?

For the uninformed here is the definition of an earworm from Wikipedia:

An earworm is a piece of music that sticks in one’s mind so that one seems to hear it, even when it is not being played. Other phrases used to describe this include musical imagery repetition and involuntary musical imagery. The phenomenon is common in normal life and so may be distinguished from brain damage which results in palinacousis.

I think it might be an amusing aside to a character in a story, they experience some really weird incident and gain a super power but it’s completely rubbish… Maybe I’ve been watching too much Misfits…

Can anyone see any benefit to this super power? Or can you think of a more rubbish/pointless power?

Feel free to leave comments.
Incidentally the reason I put the definition of an earworm in this post is because when I told one of my colleagues of the idea he thought I was talking about this:

Fridge Magnet Poetry

The fridge in my old flat was covered in fridge magnet poetry when I moved I wrote down a selection of the poems that had survived. I can’t claim ownership to all of these, it was a free for all poetry jam that came together over the course of me living in my flat for almost 10 years.

 Your natural obsession with
 Outlandish cuddly fetish poetry
 Would command a bizarre
 Pathological lifestyle driven wild
 With psychedelic discontent
 She is compelled to do lunatic
 Cybersex in the most shockingly
 Freakish flawless tight place & I
 Wish her erotic wonderful sexy
 Pussy was on my perfectionist
 Hardware

 

 My fetish for him
 was curious and fabulous
 his cock magnetic
 I crave hard love

 

 She glows like magic
 A delirious symphony of love
 Star burst in dark night
 A storm of passion at peace
 Perilous Time rhythm ghost
 A whimsical child in love

 

 Speak not of repulsive green lake
 Think once of vast peaceful forest
 Life is only as sweet as you are
 Take joy for that vision n your self
 Dream of how you must need stroked

 

 Say wet wild animal
 Heal my sacred bug
 Slowly it drinks
 Delicious shaft honey

 

 Swollen is easy love
 Those who need dirty beauty
 Always shoot sweet golden juice
 Live for my love cream
 Fill butt here pole shower

 

 End as ask fish fire
 Never day
 Think not of grass
 Let him perfume every
 For tree star most magic life
 Is up out pudding
 Sea fist ism

 

 Black rain in velvet sky
 Come with me to eternity
 My whisper frantic breath
 After the power of you

 

 Flowery purple child explode
 Black breast
 Rub together
 With girl here

 

 Perhaps window to eternity
 Or cloud like circle

 

 Warm champagne
 Pretty cheek
 Smear it on
 Sisters head
 Blush moan