capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)

So, I took part in my first NaNoWriMo in 2005, and crossed the 50K word line by a hair’s breadth just prior to the stroke of midnight, but in terms of storyline, barely squeaked past the first chapter -- I just sorta picked the resolution of a mid-plot conflict and chose that to be the point where I stuck "the end." And ever since then, my goal has been to:

Get the number of words written and actually get the entire plot written.

And that accomplishment still alludes me.

This year was actually a third attempt at the same story. And I still didn’t actually get to writing the final scene... Though I did get about 7/8th of the story written? or maybe 3/4ths?

And even that word count win is kinda-sorta, because maybe half to three quarters of what’s on the page is either: the same scene written multiple times (with different wording/p.o.v./voice), rambling as an author about what I want the scene to accomplish, rather than writing the actual scene, or multiple versions of author ramblings.

On the other other hand: a) after ten years of having this story in my head, I am still not sick of it, and want it to be a thing (and I vow that I will revise), and b) at least, even if I didn’t write the final scenes, I at made a list of them, so I have them on record.

And at least I made it past chapter two (yay?)

I’ve learned two things about myself, in the process, the first is neuro-cognitive, and the second is ... what’s the word?... philosophical? Or political?

First: This year, for the first time, I mostly wrote using the offline version of “Write or Die,” which keeps track of your typing speed, odometer style, and also requires you to set a timer for writing. Those two features together revealed that when I’m just writing words in the abstract (such as those bits I mentioned above, where I’m describing what I want a scene to accomplish) I can easily write 25 words per minute. But when I’m writing an actual scene, and visualizing it through my P.O.V character’s eyes, I struggle to reach half that speed. And, further, when I’m writing in a rambling way, I can keep going for 40 minutes without getting tired, but writing in-character wears me out at around 20 minutes -- and that’s even when I have the scene detailed clearly in my head, and I’ve been “rehearsing” it for days.

Who needs an fMRI machine to tell you that visualization and language production take place in different regions of the brain, and compete for resources?

:::Brain go FLOP!:::

Second: while "gentle fiction" may be my favorite thing to read, it turns out that writing it? Not so much. I mean, I love the gentle resolution, but in process of the getting there, my mind is drawn to the ugly guts of cruelty like a moth to the flame. Like opening up an alarm clock, scattering the gears and springs across the table, and then, sitting down and examining each gear in turn, admiring how the light glints off each cog... And that kinda makes me uncomfortable?

I tell myself it's 'cause I feel the need to plant flags all over evil, in order to make sure that no one can ignore it, ...but I dunno...

Can you kink shame yourself? Can you fiction kink shame yourself?

Final word count: 51,864 (by NaNoWriMo's counter). Probable word count after I revise it will probably be half that, but it could be double -- depends on whether "Backstory" stays in the back, or moves to center stage.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)

Okay, so I'm caught up so that I'm on par. I'll try to get a bit ahead later tonight.

Watch this space, this widget will fill up as the month goes on.
capriuni: Text: "an honorable retreat ... not with bag and baggage, yet scrip and scrippage. (Scrippage)
I wrote the bulk of the poems during last July's Camp "Session."

But I've been faffing about with the prose "Notes & Comments" part. I feel the need to back up each poem with prose explanations so that what I'm saying is not dismissed as "mere poetic license" (you know?).

So, this morning, I decided to sign up to the Camp's April session for that part, with a word count goal of 10,000 (same as last time).

Making an official commitment, now.
capriuni: Text: "an honorable retreat ... not with bag and baggage, yet scrip and scrippage. (Scrippage)

My project is nowhere near "done," but now, I have a mess of words that's worth editing, I think....

I'll post specific, favorite pieces, soon
capriuni: multicolored text on black: "Quips and sentences and paper bullets of the brain" (paper bullets)
As I walked into a cafe one morning,
I spied a young writer a-sitting alone
Her laptop was open,
Her fingers were tappin'*
And as I passed by, she was mutt'ring this song:

Whoopee ti yi yo, git along, you Plot Bunnies
If this is the story you want me to write
Whoopee ti yi yo, git along, you Plot Bunnies
Then don't you dare get lost, or give me a fight!

Someone once asked the writer John Steinbeck
About his ideas -- the 'How,' 'Why,' and 'When.'
He answered, quite simply: "Ideas are like rabbits --
"You start out with two, and you get a dozen."**


God damn them bunnies -- keep changing direction!
Hip-hopping all over, all throughout my brain.
And just when I think I've got 'em all settled
Then seven more pop in, and we start it again!


Some folks write to get rich and famous
But that's where they get it most awfully wrong
The publishing houses are great corporations --
If it don't fit their market, it ain't worth this song!


It's writin' and rewrite and edit them bunnies;
Oh how I wish that they would sit still
It's writin' and rewrite and edit them bunnies;
But if I keep at it, might get a novel.


Your mother was a story I heard as a child,
Your sire, an overheard word on the street.
I'll fix you with dialog and setting, and grammar,
And when you are finished, I might get some sleep!

*Alternate lines:
Her notebook was open,
Her pen was a-scribblin'

**Paraphrased for scansion, published in a 1989 biography, if I recall correctly.

The "original" version I filked is here:

[ETA: This morning, at breakfast, I decided to change the bunnies' pedigree in the last verse:

Your mother was a story I heard as a child,
Your sire, a report in last week's news.
I'll fix you with dialog, and setting, and grammar
And when you are finished, I'll lay down and snooze.
capriuni: Text: "an honorable retreat ... not with bag and baggage, yet scrip and scrippage. (Scrippage) April, which is ... just three weeks away (eep?!).

What makes it especially eepish is that: A) I'm not sure I want to do the same story I did, back in November (April has a totally different vibe, you know), and B) at "camp," you're allowed to do any format -- including poetry, nonfiction, and scripts... So that's even more decisions to be made.

Anyway, what with recent medical expenses, and Audrey moving in, I'm especially broke, this year -- so I set up a fundraising page: Laughing Monster's "Camp NaNoWriMo" Endeavor... critique my version of NaNoWriMo's boiler-plate pitch, please?

ETA: making public, instead of my artsy filter, because it's a fundraiser, dammit.
capriuni: Text: "an honorable retreat ... not with bag and baggage, yet scrip and scrippage. (Scrippage)
... before I banish her for a month. She's insisting that I should at least be sure of my format before I start. And I suppose she's right.

The story I want to do is a retelling-reworking of Hans my Hedgehog. The biggest change I want to make to the original story is that the marriage to the "Good Princess" would come closer to the middle than the end of the story, and it would not break the spell. Hans would remain in his half-man / half-hedgehog form. After all, Hans's form brought more pain and shame to his father than it ever brought to Hans, himself. And also, it's a more interesting story if, after he inherits his bride's kingdom, he's given the challenge of being a monarch when his subjects view him as a monster... It's easy to inspire loyalty when you're pretty to look at...

But: right now, I'm wambling between two, or possibly three, different time-settings-tones. And whichever one I ultimately pick would radically change the mechanics of my plot. So I'm going to list the pros and cons of each one, and then, I'll post a poll for all you good folk to give me feedback. Whether your answers tickle me, or annoy me -- either way, I'll be clearer on my true desires (fingers crossed that there's no three-way tie).

Option One )

Option Two )

Option Three )

And now: The Poll!
(If you're reading this on LJ, and don't want to log into Open-Identity, you can just tell me which of the three options you think I should pick in a comment.)

Poll #14360 Help me Decide!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 3

So -- which time-setting should I choose?

View Answers

Present Day (near future)
0 (0.0%)

"Once Upon a Time"
3 (100.0%)

Combine the Two
0 (0.0%)

And finally, for your enjoyment and my inspiration... A key plot element of Hans-my-Hedgehog is his love of playing the bagpipes (they were never just Scottish). Here's someone playing a replica of a 17th Century set of the smallest of the German Shepherd's Pipes -- which would be the most likely right size for an eight-year-old hedgehog boy. Imagine being lost in a deep, dark wood, and hearing a sound like this drifting down from somewhere in the canopy above you:

capriuni: Text: "an honorable retreat ... not with bag and baggage, yet scrip and scrippage. (Scrippage)
Because, frankly, I didn't like the one I did a few days ago.

Replacing "though" with an ellipsis gave me just enough room for a prettier font, as did updating the graphic from stylized quill pen and parchment to pencil and ruled notebook paper.

I've decided to make this my user image for NaNoWriMo, this year...

Now, if only my muse mice will give me an idea for an actual story to write, I'll be all set.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
So, last night, between a long, hot, shower and getting ready for bed, the question of this whole test clarified (as happens), and this is the revised version that's circling in my head, now, after sleeping on it.

[personal profile] jesse_the_k. [ profile] lilacsigil, [ profile] kittenmommy, [ profile] elettaria, and [ profile] prydera all disagreed with my inclusion of the criteria that the disability be "Actual" and "have consequences," since that would likely lead to "disability policing." And I see that point -- I also realized that, since "A Quest for Cure" is irrelevant in this test, "Cause" is also irrelevant. So that part is simply out.*

I realized that what makes the Bechdel Test so strong is that it is completely free of jargon -- using words that even those who never studied literature or writing get intuitively:

Stories have people who talk to each other about... stuff. The Bechdel Test point out: Unless those people are women.

I (and many folks in my circle) are comfortable with terms like "Conflict resolution," "story arc," and "motivation," but these terms are still jargon to many (and they have lots of syllables). [ profile] elletaria also pointed out that it would be nice just to have random people with disabilities Show up in the background scenes whether or not they're actually part of the story. It's so rare that they're even in the background.

So-- this is the hot-water-drenched version:

1) There's a disabled person visible
2) Who wants something, and tries to get it,
3) Other than: Death, Cure, or Revenge.

(This might be the main character having story-type adventure, or it could just be someone in a wheelchair, in the crowd, buying a paper at the newsstand, while the lead couple make googly eyes at each other in the foreground)

*(Incidentally, I included "consequences" mostly as a note to myself. I originally wrote my NaNoWriMo novel as a script for ScriptFrenzy!, five and a half years ago, and back then, I only had my prince character suffer a missing eye and facial burns to break from the trope that the heroic prince is now and must always be "A Handsome Prince."

But, in revisiting the story this time around, I realized: "Oh, hey! having only one eye is going to change how he moves through his palace, isn't it -- especially all those steep, uneven, lit-by-torchlight, tower staircases? That's probably something I should address, and not have him capering up and down like he used to, when he was twelve..." [He's also relatively newly disabled -- within the last year -- and he hasn't, yet, gotten completely comfortable with his changed body])
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
(I've also posted this to [community profile] disability, where it is waiting in the moderation cue, and I mentioned this at the end of my most recent post about my NaNoWriMo novel [under a custom filter], but I also thought it might be good to open this question up to everybody, so... here it is [ETA: Also, I realized, just now, that I can cross-post it to [ profile] crip_crit, so I will do that]):

So, you know about The Bechdel Test, for evaluating certain aspects of gender bias and sexism in fiction, yes?

Well, there has been some talk in some circles, about how one could come up with something similar for depictions of PWD in fiction -- the discussions that spring immediately to mind are these two from Dave Hingsburger's Blog: "Rolling Around in My Head," from March of this year:

The Dave Test and The Rolling Test (I think he updated the name in order to honor all the comments to the Rolling... blog, not necessarily the little wheelchair stick figure).

Anyway, November is freshly over, and I'm still recovering from this year's NaNoWriMo marathon, and my head is still buzzing with my story. Cut for rambling about my story ) I realized I've created some disabled characters that do not embarrass me, and that feel as though they do reflect something of what I experience as a disabled person (even though I did not give either of these characters my form of disability). And, in the process, I think I've hit on my own "Disability Test" for fiction (movies, TV, books, etc.):

1) There is at least one character who has an actual disability (with consequences)
2) The character is in the story to resolve a conflict of his or her own
3) Curing the disability will not resolve that conflict.

notes with more rambling )

The thing is, the strength of the Bechdell test is in its simplicity: 3 points, 15 words. So-- any tips or feedback on how I can simplify this test? And, perhaps more important, do you think this test "covers" the biggest weaknesses in fictional depictions of disability?
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
(A fully detailed description can be found by clicking through to the flick'r page)

NaNoWriMo 2011 winner

Total word count: 50,663.

No, technically, it's not actually a novel, strictly speaking, 'cause I never got out of chapter one, plot-wise. But it served its purpose admirably, of giving me an escape and a mental exercise to help me deal with stress. And it allowed me to really think deeply about what I think is actually my default worldview, but I've never actually put it into words before.

And I am still, after all this, still fond of my central characters. Which has never happened before. So that's a win, too.

I know that I also owe my friends an Art Garden report. And, before midnight tonight, I need to post my next Plato's Nightmare entry, so I can keep up my promise of having at least one post a month.

But first: I went shopping today, and I bought myself an extra dark bitter sweet chocolate bar, so I can have something to celebrate my win with.

So I will break off a couple of squares of that, and enjoy them, right now.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
[Begin Quote]

My Novel, Oh my Novel--

Why are you doing this to me?

You keep me up late, with your chatter in my head, and then wake me up far too early with this?!

No! I will not go back and change it. If you wanted the beggar's ghost to be the mentor, instead of the wizard, you should have spoken up when we started out. Now, sit down, and be quiet.

If you behave for the rest of this trip, maybe we'll go out for ice cream later.

[End Quote]


Okay, Fine! Have it your way! I'll write the extra dream scenes, but I WILL NOT rewrite what's already written. No, it doesn't matter that it makes no sense. I'll just stick the dream sequences on at the end-- yes, even if they actually happen at the beginning.

And no ice cream for you...
capriuni: text icon "Writer's Block" (blocked!)
It took me 29,100 words to figure out where my Chapter One starts (metaphorically speaking), now I need to figure out Chapter Two.

Long, rambling, exposition-- as much to clarify my own thinking as to spell things out for readers-- but it might help you know what sort of thing I'm looking for )

My $29K Question: Something is going wrong on the Otherworldly plane, and two of the "regular visitors" to the Otherworldly B&B seek help of my wizard and MC, to come to the Otherworld and help solve the mystery / fix what's breaking / find what's lost (Wizard and MC could 'travel there' via dreams or astral projection, or maybe just a form of self-hypnosis that allows them to see the world from a ghost's or bogle's vantage point).

But What? Why?

Oh, and gripe: You know what's annoying, for fantasy writers like me? Google's spell check does not recognize either the word "Otherworld" or "bogle," so every time I write them, I get red squiggly underlines.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)

Just so you know: I didn't even decide to join in until the fourth.

Yesterday, I admit, I was in full-blocked, can-barely-stand-to-listen-to-my-own-thoughts mode and managed to add a whopping 47 words to my manuscript.

Today, I added 3,600 (and change) words. In less than nine hours -- since I posted that poll this afternoon (I told you polls clear my mind.) [see footnote]


[footnote] I fixed my character by having her be the one who first encounters my Wizard character (via a surprise letter in the mail) instead of her mother making first contact and telling her about it in a surprise conversation over dinner. Also, having her gather the mail and letting herself in from school gave me a chance to witness her relationship with her mother (as she sorts out the mail addressed to her) and the rest of the world (in how she deals with all the junk mail and pop culture surrounding that. The wizard's letter fell out of a mass of supermarket circulars, and is the Unexpected, Unknown quantity. So when she examines the envelope and puzzle out what it might mean, and what she should do with it, she begins to have a direct relationship with him before she even meets him.

Which gives her something else to be besides passive (and angry and resentful that she's been made passive). Simple, really (once I thought of it)
capriuni: text icon "Writer's Block" (blocked!)
Poll #8521 writing a novel-on-the-fly is like wondering a maze, and I've come upon another dead end
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 1

I've chosen my main character at random, from a snippet of a scene I wrote last year. It turns out she's a teen at an aloof and detached stage in life and has no emotional incentive to go boldly forth into anything. Should I:

View Answers

Rewrite her, at a younger, more enthusiastic age?
0 (0.0%)

Make her an audience for a completely different story, rather than a character in this one (just have another character tell a different story while she's sitting there and listening)?
0 (0.0%)

Scrap her entirely, and hand the Point-of-View role over to some other character, who is currently 'on the sidelines'?
0 (0.0%)

Keep her, but make her a secondary, rather than main, character?
1 (100.0%)

Or should I keep her as-is, but change the world she's in, by:

View Answers

Giving her a best friend that's her own age?
0 (0.0%)

Changing her starting family (currently, she's an only child of a single mother -- maybe she should have siblings by the handful, or two parents, or...)?
0 (0.0%)

Giving her family wealth and privilege it doesn't currently have, for her to rebel against?
0 (0.0%)

Changing the way she moves from her current family position to being fostered by the wizardy-mentor who acts as a catalyst for the plot?
1 (100.0%)

A third question (and a third Question type) for good luck -- freestyle: give me phrase, sentence, or idea -- anything that pops into your head:

capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
The "How Many?" Questions:

The "Old House's Mystery" Questions:

  • What's the floorplan? )

  • So what did happen, ~100+ years ago? )

  • (I'd put this under a cut, too, but right now, I just have the question, and not much to say about my thoughts on an answer): What are the consequences of this conflict remaining unresolved? If the Truth does not come out, So What? Could it be that Strange Aunt is preparing to make her will, and if this family feud is not healed, the house will be sold outside the family, instead of passed down? Hm... I could figure this out after I start, perhaps. But I'd feel better being able to add it to My List now...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
The first one I had up there focused on how the Monster Teddy Bear was created, and why he was chosen by his human. But I've realized that that's only the opening premise of the story, and not the actual center of conflict for the storyline.

So today, I rewrote it. I also finally decided what he actually looks like, and I also settled on a name -- the one that he would've originally had, if he'd come out normal, and got put on store shelves with a proper label, and everything (I'm not sure if that's the name my human character would give him, or not. But it might be the name he starts out with, in his own head... I imagine the naming of toys is a bit like the naming of cats); the toy designers/marketers had intended him to be part of their "Country Cousins" line, aimed at the "Grandmother Market," so I tried to think of a name that ad-writers would think sounded like Old-Fashioned Farm Boy. I'm not sure of "Alfonse," but I like the backwardness of the initials Z. A. Maybe Zachery Amos would be better?

Anyway, here it is:

Zachery Alfonse didn't know how he came to be the strange bear he was -- none of the toys did. Only Old Steam 'n Stitch, the oldest assembly machine on the floor of the Fluffy Hearts Ltd. toy factory knew for sure... And Old Steam had been shipped to the city museum the day after Zachery was born.

Zachery didn't really mind the fact that he had big duck feet instead of bear paws, that his left ear was like a rabbit's, or that his snout was like a crocodile's -- all full of felt teeth. Sure, his looks had almost gotten him thrown into the Recalls Bin, and other toys assumed he was as mixed up in the mind as he was in his body, so it was harder to make friends. But Sally Rose chose to take him home. And he could scare away the Night Shadows faster than any other toy.

Just when he and the others were all starting to get along, however, the announcement came that The Holidays were coming, and Mother was taking Sally (And Sally was taking Zachery, and Crayon Box) to stay with Strange Aunt Julia until the New Year. The Whole Family was going to be there, in Julia's big, old, House.

And the House was strange -- even Zachery thought so. What secret does the house know, and what message is it trying to send, before the family has its last big party, and everyone goes their separate ways?
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
This old house once knew my children
This old house once knew my wife
This old house was home and comfort
As we fought the storms of life
This old house once rang with laughter
This old house heard many shouts
Now she trembles in the darkness
When the lightnin' walks about

(Just a song going through my head, now that I've started meditating on this particular strand of my story.)

Note: I don't particularly like the terms "subplot" or "B plot," etc., especially in a children's story where the protagonist / viewpoint character has so little control over the events that move the story from one place to another. The protagonist may have no idea of the parent's troubles with the Boss, but when a job is lost or promotion granted, and suddenly the whole family has to pack up and move 'cross country, you can hardly call those "other" troubles a subplot. When making a braid, which of the three strands is "primary"?

And that is particularly true when the character is a house and its primary concerns and worries are about the humans moving through and around it.

written out as an actual dialogue between the four of 'us' -- cut for length )
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Back in the writing days of my youth, before I had the Internets at my disposal, I'd work through my writer's block by writing out questions and then, and then, answering myself -- sort of like one of those metaphorical dialogues from the Middle Ages.

Now, that I do have the Internets, I can still ask myself, but you guyzes can also pipe up and shout out answers (a bit like a Christ-a-massy Pantomime!) (Yay!) (Please do... it helps).

  • Question One: What sort of stress is the mother under, that she is projecting her fears and insecurities onto her daughter?

    • It might be because of unresolved issues or wishes from her own childhood, or
    • stress about work, or maybe
    • someone from her past comes back into her life. Or maybe it's not the past, maybe she's worried about
    • a Big Change that is looming in their future.

    The unresolved issues, if that's what it is, might be triggered by someone coming back from her past... That might be interesting. Could it be someone from her past coming back to warn her about the future? Or is that going overboard?

  • Question Two: What sort of job / work does the mother have? That would determine what sort of stress she's under, and/or what sort of warning she gets... Well, what are some broad catagories of work?

    • Construction / Factory / Manual Labor
    • Intellectual / Accademic
    • Business / economic
    • Travel / Exploration
    • Medical

      Of these, I think "Business," and "travel" would be the most believable in a) giving enough privelege / allow the most free energy to give over to worrying about her daughter's future status (rather than just, say, making sure she's healthy and safe). And if the mother has a mid-level job in either of these fields, that could put her under the most pressure to "keep up a appearances."

  • Question Three: Why do the mother, daughter, and daughter's favorite toys go to stay in old House-with- issues -Mystery?

    • The mother might be laid off, or lose her job, and they go to stay with a relative in a "new" place until they get resettled. Or maybe:
    • it's the Holidays[tm], and they're just staying at this house because it's family (formal family reunion/vacation). Is it
    • for the Mother's job -- a business-related trip "Vacation" (i.e. is it a boss's house, or retreat? If it's for work, why would the daughter be there?)

  • Question Four: Is the Old House with Mystery directly connected to the toy factory where our Monster Teddy Hero was born?

    • I don't think so... After all, the teddy travels some distance in a cargo container before arriving at the store where he is found and taken home... and if the Teddy's magic life-giving heart does turn out to be a charm from the toy company's founder, then I'm already including the "Factory perspective."

    • On the other hand, if it is connected to the factory, than the teddy monster could have important insight into solving the mystery... But would that make him too much of a Marty-Sue?


capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)

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