October 24, 2011

Nanowrimo: Plan Ahead - by Patricia

Patricia is an awesome writer, an old friend, and a new blogger. She's just started Swimming in Words, but her posts are both fun and informative. If you've got time, please stop by her blog and check it out.


Nanowrimo: Plan Ahead by Patricia

A couple of weeks ago, when Lori asked me if I'd like to guest post for her, I was super excited but at the same time, at a bit of a loss as to what to write. But then with NaNo WriMo so close and me trying to fit time in to do my planning, I decided to focus on that.

For me NaNo WriMo is a good time to be strict with myself and get the writing out. Everything else, all the fine tuning, I'll have time to do it after my first draft is done. At the end of the day, there's no editing if there's no story to edit. Planning ahead is the way to go!

Now, everyone works differently and I'm the type of person who, when I write, not only needs to know what my end goal is (even if this end goal changes later on), I also need to have a word count in mind. It doesn't have to be super detailed to begin with, just something basic works.

I jotted down my idea, then tried to flesh it out a bit just with the little specific scenes and characters that are already in my head. They don't amount to much yet, but it helps with the rest of my planning. I start from the beginning by answering a question from Fiction Writer's Workshop by Josip Navakovich:

What do your characters treasure?
1. Basic values – what they treasure most
2. What happens when these are threatened?

This gets me thinking about my main character, the things she values and what she's willing to fight for, what she'll do when those things are under threat. It helps me decide the path that my MC will start out on. Makes a nice kick start!

With that, I can move onto my next stage, which is the 8 Point Story Arc.

The 8 Point Story Arc fits into most of the stories we've read or watched, and it helps you structure your own story. It goes like this:

1. Stasis (or routine)
2. Trigger (or inciting incident)
3. Quest
4. Surprise (or complication)
5. Critical choice
6. Climax
7. Reversal
8. Resolution

The thing is, at this point my main character, and maybe her closest friends, are all I have so I work entirely off of them, which is why the question about my MC's values is a helpful one. It gives me the start I need for the 8 PSA. Based on her history and keeping it as brief as possible, I start going through the points and jotting down something for each one, trying to get them to feed off of one
another. It doesn't always work and even if it does, chances are it could end up changing completely, but I do end up with a basic outline to follow for when I begin to go into more detail in the outline.

You can find some good, clear examples of how the 8 PSA works over here at parafantasy.

And then last but not least! I round up my basic plan with fractal planning!

This is where knowing my word count comes in. For this new novel I'm planning, I'd like the end result to be 75-80k. Because NaNo WriMo's word count is 50k and that's hard enough, I'll be working to that instead and then see what happens during the editing process.

The reason why I need to work to a word count from the beginning is because it helps me split my time and figure out how much I'll be able to get done each day. Like the majority of people doing NaNo WriMo, I'm going to have the crazy task of fitting in all this writing around my working days and other chores. Knowing my word count helps me stay a bit more in control while still letting me focus on just writing. It also helps because I'm used to working in scenes (not scenes and sequels, more along the lines of a screenplay scene), so if I know the word count, I can figure out possible chapters and then fit stuff in.

So! Fractal planning! Basically, you've got your total word count (50k) and then you break your story up into three acts: beginning, middle and end. The middle is usually double the word count of both your beginning and end.

I end up with:

Beginning – 12.5k
Middle – 25k
End – 12.5k

And then I break those down too:

Beginning, B – 3,125 / M – 6250 / E – 3,125
Middle, B – 6,250 / M – 12,500 / E – 6,250
End, B – 3,125 / M – 6,250 / E – 3,125

And then I break down the remaining 12.5k and 6,250, until I end up with all of them about 3,125 words. It probably sounds like a bit of a dragged out process, and there are plenty of simpler ways to work out your story. This just happens to work for me. Because then, if I turn that 3,125 into a chapter word count, I end up with:

ACT 1 – Beginning, 4 chapters
ACT 2 – Middle, 8 chapters
ACT 3 – End, 4 chapters
Total: 16 chapters

That's by no means anything concrete, but this is what I'll work towards and fit my 8 PSA into. Chances are each of these chapters will grow to about 3.5 – 4.5k but it's something that can be worked out later. For now though, this, is a lot easier to work into my routine.

So why the completely unnecessary roundabout way of doing this? It helps me focus and makes me feel more in control of the process once I actually enter the madness of NaNo WriMo on the 1st November. From now until then, I'll even have the chance to do small basic outlines for my chapters too!

Well, that's pretty much it. There's still an entire week to get yourself in order and make the most of it. The more you prepare, the better the chance there is of you having a novel come 30th November.

Good luck to any fellow Nanoers and to anyone about to start a new novel too!

My NaNo Page


Have a great week, guys! ♥

October 21, 2011

Seven Things I Did to Prepare my WIP

Cherie from Cherie Writes..., Ani at Anime's Musings, and Bonnie Rae from Bonnie Rae, Just Words gave me these rocking awards:

Both rules state I need to list 7 things about myself, but considering I've done that ad nauseam, I figured I would instead list 7 things I did before I starting to my latest WIP :D

Seven Things I Did to Prepare to Write HARBINGER (YA cyberpunk fantasy):
1. Research! The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - various myths, permutations, biblical references, etc. Also Babylonian and Sumerian mythology. Super interesting stuff. Also nuclear power, which was both fascinating and alarming lol.

2. World build - politics, social heirarchy, cityscapes and other settings, a technological system along with a magic system, and world history. For more about world building, see this post! :D

3. Create character profiles - physical traits, personal mannerisms, an entire back story for each character, and how each character relates and/or feels about the other characters.

4. Procrastinate >_>;;

5. Outline in detail - I broke up the story into three acts first. Then broke those acts down into chapters. And then even further into each scene.

6. I wrote down several sets of dialog exchanges. It helped to move the story along even if it often changed and/or was left out in the actual writing.

7. Procrastinate some more. I wrote the first couple sentences, and then dithered around for a week or two before finally sitting my butt down and starting the story. (And finished my first draft in four weeks :D Who says I'm not determined once I get started?)

Thanks for the awards, ladies ♥

Also, I just reached 300 followers both here on my blog and on twitter! WOO~ That means I now have to think up an epic contest. HRMMMM. More on this later, o-hoho.

Have a wonderful weekend, guys!

October 17, 2011

The Mighty Archetype: The Goofy Guy Who Secretly Kicks Ass

The Mighty Archetype 1: Broody Jerks with Hearts of Gold
The Mighty Archetype 2: The Hero Who Hides Behind a Smile

This archetype appears first as that guy you're not entirely sure you can take seriously. He's a mixture of comic relief and idiot, and you start wondering if he serves a purpose other than to amuse and/or annoy readers. But then something happens, and you catch a glimpse of something more behind the fool's smile.

And when the shit hits the fan, it's this guy who pulls out the guns and shocks everyone by kicking some srs ass, often enough to turn the tide.

Exhibit A: Kisuke Urahara from Bleach

*Official art by creator Kubo Tite*

        Urahara was once one of the thirteen captains of Soul Society, the place where souls go after they die. As a captain, he commanded an entire division of soul reapers. But he was framed for a series of murders/experiments and forced to flee Soul Society. Now, he runs a shop in the real world and presents himself as this goofy guy in a hat and sandals who often behaves in typical comedic relief fashion. But he has also proven to be one of the most helpful and powerful of the MC's allies.

Exhibit B: Tobi/Madara from Naruto

*Official art by creator Masashi Kishimoto*

        Tobi is introduced first as a rookie on the bad guy team--and not a very good one. He's funny and melodramatic and kind of a coward. His fellow antagonist view him as a troublesome comrade. But as the story progresses, you learn that his real name is Madara and he is, in fact, the one pulling all the strings. He becomes the series' main antagonist.

What's cool about this archetype is that not only can it take the role of either a protagonist and antagonist, but oftentimes, their alliances are deliberately ambiguous. The mystery of who they really are behind the antics creates tension in everything they do--are they helping the protagonist out of a good moral compass or do they have ulterior motives? And why the idiotic front in the first place? What do they have to hide?

Of course, sometimes, they are simply what they are--idiotic and fun characters who can also kick butt. (See Yamamoto below lol)

What do you guys think of this archetype? Who else fits it?

For today's bit of artwork, Yamamoto Takeshi from Katekyo Hitman Reborn. He behaves like an idiot, but if he's holding a sword, then bad guys better run =P He's one of my favorite characters because he's just that awesome. And I'm convinced there's more to him than how he presents himself.

♥ My CP Ani also has a great post about archetypes in general
♥ My fellow writerly friend Patricia has a new blog called Swimming in Words. Please support her by following and poking her to update =P

Have a great week, all! And I hope you guys aren't tired of this archetype series yet because I've got a lot more coming :D

October 10, 2011

The Mighty Archetype: The Hero Who Hides Behind a Smile

The Mighty Archetype 1: Broody Jerks with Hearts of Gold

The Hero Who Hides Behind a Smile - Specifically the ones who put up happy, go-lucky fronts in order to hide complicated, often dark pasts. Mmmm.

At first glance, their appearance plays at a carefree if honorable attitude and they may even be a little goofy, making them easily underestimated. But the deeper you delve, the more you discover that what lurks behind the happy mask isn't all sunshine and rainbows. AND I LOVE THAT ♥

Exhibit A: Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin

*Official art by creator Nobuhiro Watsuki*

        Kenshin was a teenaged assassin during the Bakumatsu (think The Last Samurai), but his reasons for killing involved protecting the people of Japan and helping to bring about peace. He ended up accidentally killing the woman he loved, along with his enemy, when she jumped in front of his blade to protect him from an attack. When Japan enters the Meiji era and his job as an assassin is no longer needed, he becomes a wanderer (the word 'rurouni' means 'wanderer') and swears never to kill again (and keeps that promise).
        When we meet Kenshin, it's been eleven years since the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. He presents himself as this goofy, penniless guy who smiles a lot. But when his past rushes up to meet him, he slips back into the cold, ruthless assassin he'd been while everyone around him fights to return him to the warm person they know and love.

Exhibit B: Allen Walker from D.Gray-man

*Official art by creator Hoshino Katsura*

        Allen was a street rat with a dirty mouth and a bad (if noble) attitude. His left arm is what's called his Innocence--a God-given weapon that only exorcists can wield and the only thing that can kill akuma (demons). Allen's arm activated for the first time when his adopted father returned from the dead as an akuma and tried to kill him. Allen killed him instead with his Innocence (by accident since he had no idea what his arm could do), and the experience was so traumatizing that his hair turned white.
        When we first meet Allen, he's a harmless-looking kid who smiles a lot, is unfailingly polite, and just wants to be an exorcist.

In spite of Kenshin's past, his goodness really, truly shines through. And Allen is my hero. He's good and kind and amazing and fights so, so hard for what he believes in. He always smiles to put everyone around him at ease despite whatever he's feeling inside. He's an extremely complicated and tragic kid, and I love him to pieces.

So what is it about this archetype that gets to me? Maybe it's the fact that they've overcome these overwhelming tragedies and have somehow managed to remain untainted. They have complete hero complexes, always coming to the rescue, always shouldering everyone's burdens, and always the one to turn to when things get rough. But it's not just because they're good people--it's because they have lived and learned and have become better for it. And when their pasts come back to haunt them, they don't run from it. They face it and accept the consequences.

And there are usually hefty, hefty consequences.

Oftentimes these archetypes are driven by a sense of remorse or twisted justice. Kenshin protects who he can with his reverse-blade sword but never denies or excuses what he's done when his past is thrown in his face. Allen wants to be an exorcist in order to save not only the humans the akuma attack but the souls of the akuma themselves.

So what do you guys think of this archetype? :D Who else can you think of who would fit this mold?

Allen Walker, my hero ♥
(with Kanda, the only person who can turn sweet Allen into the bratty, foul-tempered street rat he'd been as a kid--it's kind of hilarious actually)

Full image here.

Have a great week! ♥

October 3, 2011

The Mighty Archetype: Broody Jerks with Hearts of Gold

No, the 'Broody Jerks with Hearts of Gold' isn't an official archetype name :)

In manga, I have always been drawn to the same sort of character--dark, broody, jerks who hide their high morals and tragic pasts behind a bad attitude and fortified emotional walls. A lot of times, they also have fabulous hair and carry a sword.

Exhibit A: Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto

*Official art from the creator Masashi Kishimoto*

        Sasuke, whose entire clan was murdered when he was a child by his older brother, and has spent every minute of every day since training for the day when he'd be strong enough to face his brother and avenge their clan. He's antisocial, speaks his mind, has a superiority complex and is quick to insult others. But he's also just as quick to risk his life in order to protect his teammates, and he did nearly die to protect Naruto, the title character.
        At the moment, he's in the middle of a huge character arc in which he has become Naruto's enemy. But I have complete confidence that, by the end of the series, Sasuke will find the right path and redeem himself.

Exhibit B: Yuu Kanda from D.Gray-man

*Official art from the creator Katsura Hoshino*

        He's the result of an experiment, with little memory of his previous life aside from the vision of a woman he has devoted himself to finding again. He's technically a failed experiment and he was almost disposed of, but his first and only friend (a fellow experimentee) saved him. That same friend later went mad and Kanda was forced to kill him. Despite his bitterness, he still fights to protect people from the akuma (demons) and remains loyal to the Black Order, the same religious organization that created him.

What draws me to this archetype is that s/he is so intensely layered. Sasuke and Kanda have both buried their pain beneath these rude, arrogant exteriors that shatter in the face of their pasts. And with such difficult pasts, it would have been easy for them to have grown distorted and corrupt as they pursued their goals, but they didn't. They clung to their morals, to the good in them, and it's the one defining thing that sets them apart from the antagonists.

How do you guys feel about this archetype? And what's YOUR favorite archetype?

Who are some literary characters you can think of that fit this archetype?

Naturally, I've drawn my two favorite swordsmen:

Have a great week! ♥

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