Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

I am super excited to announce a new project.  Our super awesome municipal liaisons from NaNoWriMo have started a project.  This project is the cleverly named Novel Travelist.

This blog helps writers understand details about foreign countries without having to endure humiliation by the TSA to fly there themselves.  The Los Angeles ML’s have gathered several travel experts.  It looks like I am the writer for details on Korea.

The first Korea contribution can be found here.  It offers a small detail about how food is fresher than sushi in Korea.

Future Korea contributions will include.

  • Why Noraebang is completely awesome.
  • Starcraft!
  • How US Army Dudes chivalrously pursue feminists with liberal arts degrees.
  • How people feel about “the Kims.”
  • Why it’s important to get your lattes delivered.
  • Marketing, Begging, and Evangelizing on subway tubes: is there really a difference?
  • The Hagwon Heart-attack.
  • Starcraft!
  • Why E-mart is bigger than Walmart.
  • Soju hangovers in the classroom.
  • Chillin’ with Hip Hop Artists, rock stars, and theater troupes.
  • Why Korea is safe for single white females.
  • and of course, Starcraft!

As most of you know, I am a big fan of NaNoWriMo.  This year is no exception.

For this little blog, let me get straight to the point : we all know that noveling can make us cry.  In fact, that’s how most creative work is done.  At the end of the deadline while crying.  So for all my writing friends out there, who are perhaps falling behind, here is an excercise.  This idea is adapted from a week three technique found in Chris Baty’s No Plot no Problem (thanks again to Stephanie for getting me my copy).  I am happy to share this technique with all my readers, especially those whose name is Brandi.  I call this technique, word count power lifting.

What you need

In order to begin word count power lifting, you need about ninety minutes of free time.  It can be done on any weekday, or you can take some paid time off (it’s flu season after all.  We understand if you’re sick.  We wouldn’t want to you to call in sick, but then again, who are we to judge if you do?) from your work so that you can do this several times.

The second thing you need is someone to make sure you’re not interrupted.  This means somebody who can take care of your load of laundry.  Answer your phone if you get an urgent call, or even fend of the crazy makers who are demanding your time.

The next thing you need is a hammer so that you can smash your internet router so as to not be distracted by the internet.  If you do not have a hammer, you can simply turn your internet “off” on your laptop computer.

Finally, you need a timer of some sort.  Cell phones are pretty good for this kind of thing.

How you do it

Here are the easy steps for word count power lifting.

First Step, unlpug your internet and remove from you life anything that might distract you from writing.  Then, set your time for 40 minutes.  Place your time out of arms reach so that you cannot look at it.  Then, write until you hear the buzzer.  During this writing, you are not allowed to be interrupted by anything other than house on fire, and even then, it’s going to take a few minutes for the fire to spread anyway.  Once you hear the beeper, stop writing.  Take a quick moment to count how many words you wrote.

After that, set the timer for ten minutes.  During this time you are allowed to do anything.  You can do some wrist exercises.  You can get yourself a drink.  You can cry, complain, lie on the couch in a fetal position whatever.  You can do that until you hear the big beep from your timer again.  Then, take a look at how many words you wrote in 40 minutes.

Repeat the first step, but this time set your writing time timer for twenty minutes.  After that, check your word count again.  Now, you get to take another ten minutes to vent frustration and despair.

Do the first step one final time, but this time set your timer for ten minutes.

So what’s your word count for the day?  What will it be when you try this?

Whatever words it will be, you will find that it is a lot better than the words you had before.  If you enjoy the process, than that is what really counts.  Do this little exercise some day off because you will feel better for going for it, rather than giving up before the end of the month.

This blog is for everyone who asks, “How do I become creative?  How do I get ideas?  How do I overcome writer’s block?”

Like many people who began writing fiction, my first attempts were very, very bad.  I was frequently hit by writers block and did not quite understand how to deal with it.  Furthermore, much of what I wrote seldom coalesced into anything worth reading or continuing.  Of course, I eventually learned that there are simple techniques to do get the ball rolling.  I offer this to anyone who is considering writing a novel next month.  If you are having trouble getting inspiration, here are few things that you might consider.

Technique One:  Get the Inner Editor to be quiet.  When we talk about the inner editor we are talking about that very important part of the brain that analyzes, examines, criticizes, clarifies and frequently oppresses.  It is the left half of the brain and it is very important that left brain people learn to shut it off and chill out once in awhile.  (If you google’d something like “scientifically proven methods to write a good novel” then chances are you a left brain person).  The way to train the inner editor to be quiet is to write a certain quota of words or pages at any given time of day.  Try doing it by hand, as that activates a different part of you brain.  When the inner editor starts to analyze, politely tell it to be quiet, and then proceed on.

After all, you don’t want to wind up like IT from the Wrinkle in Time do you?

Technique Two: Ignore the Outer Editor.  The outer editor is any person who is somehow discouraging you from writing either explicitly or implicitly.  This could be the crazy roommate who is interrupting your write time with video game tournament.  It might be your friend or relative telling you that you are not creative.  Sometimes they might even mean well.  They could tell you all the horrible wrong things of your novel so you can “fix” it.

Let them never get to you.  Instead, politely explain that your time is important and that you are a creative person because you are doing a creative work.  Furthermore, take advantage of all the people who will inspire you.  Go to the write-ins or escape to a library, coffee shop, or anywhere else to get the peace and distance you need to allow your ideas to germinate.

Technique Three: Read inside and outside your genre.  This advice comes from Terry Pratchett.  He believes that a good fiction writer must read extensively inside and outside his genre.  Chances are, if you are writing a particular genre of fiction -e.g. fantasy, coming of age, BDSM wish fulfillment. etc – you’ve read quite a bit in your genre.  So go find a blog, a news article, a Law Dictionary, a history book, some Manga or anything else you haven’t read before.  You never know where good ideas might come from!

Technique Four: Get some good music.  This may not work for everybody, but this has worked great for me.  One of my favorite things to do is listen to choral church music, grimy club music, grandiose movie soundtracks, or abstract electronica and let images of places, characters, and so on inspire what I write while doing technique one.  It’s a great way to shut up the inner editor too.  “Hey you, just listen to the fuckin’ music okay?”

Now as you read this, you might be thinking about how to find time to do all these things.  There are, however, some fairly easy ways to get it something done.  Subscribe and you’ll see it in tomorrow’s update.

Go check out the NaNoWriMo website for more ideas and where to find supportive, creative, people.

For each of these NaNoWriMo, warm-ups, I will be sharing something that I’ve thought about and written. Most of this is done by hand, and is part of a “morning page” process. What that means is that this is thoroughly uneditted. The roughest of the rough draft, and extremely raw, explosive creativity written on pages. Since I am not trying to pick out what is “good” in these, it is up to the readers of this blog to do so. The more input I get from readers, the better this year’s novel will be. So thank you in advance, for helping my crowd source this. I am not looking for what you think is bad or terrible. Chances are, I see that too. I’m looking for what you think is good, and interesting, and then I will do more of that. That said, here goes.

Somewhere in Mons Istelle city.

Arcturo sat as stiff as the chair he was planted in inside a private, quiet booth at Green Imperial Inn.  Across from him was Justine, his travel companion since leaving Northern Province.  She fidgeted while staring at him.  A knuckle cracked under her stress.  To his right, sat Pitr -an elf from the far Eastern Kingdoms.  He sat shorter than either Arcturo or Justine.  One of his hands was stirring an iron skillet of, while the other was calmly folded in his lap.  He inhaled deeply the aroma of delicious chicken and rare spices of the elven homeland.

“Arcturo, it is a dirty job,” said Justine, “but we are both going to be eating like this for a solid month after we do it.”

Arcturo’s toes curled in and he drew his arms towards his chest.

“Is there a problem, Mr. Rizenbalt?” said Pitr as he served a helping to both Justine and Arcturo, “You must know how much I depend on good people like you.  Please, speak to me what burdens your mind so heavily.”

“Let me see if I understand,” Arcturo said, “you want us to enter the frieghter… the…”

“Old Sea Tusk,” chimed Justine.

“Right.  The old Sea Tusk,” Arcturo continued, “We enter the dock hold and … steal… a package for Don Cosmino of House Venteralli.”

“Yes…” continued the elf with almost advuncular smile, “it is a black box with the Venteralli family seal on it.  Please intercept this package for me.”

Arcturo took a moment to listen to pleasant, thought foreign sounds.  It was some stringed instrument that another elf plucked away at with his fingers.  It calm, civilized sound.  A thousand years of refinement in a single flow of melody and chords.

“Tell me,” Pitr continued, “You are outsider here in Mons Istelle?  So am I.  You are stranger to aristocrat family?  So is people here.  And I no ask for killing.  I no ask for kidnapping.  I invite you here so there be no killing.  And you no owe Mons Istelle aristocrat nothing.”

“He’s right Arcturo,” said Justine blunt as black jack, “No one can pull this job cleaner than us.  It’s not thug work if we get it done.”

“Oh see?” said Pitr, “Your friend very smart.  You think elves like filthy hobgoblin you fight on way here?  No.  We civilized people.”

“Well, yes, of course you’re not a hobgoblin.”

Pitr smiled and poured a bit of wine.

“Yes, I make poor joke,” Pitr continued, “Now what I do if you no help?  Must get box somehow.”

Arcturo clenched his jaw, but only for a moment.  Then, with a steady, relaxed hand, he drew his glass and took a nice red sip.

“Very well, Pitr.  I agree” he said looking at the elf straight in the eye, “one job.”

“One Job,” repeated Pitr.

Justine heaved a sigh of relief.

For each of these NaNoWriMo, warm-ups, I will be sharing something that I’ve thought about and written. Most of this is done by hand, and is part of a “morning page” process. What that means is that this is thoroughly uneditted. The roughest of the rough draft, and extremely raw, explosive creativity written on pages. Since I am not trying to pick out what is “good” in these, it is up to the readers of this blog to do so. The more input I get from readers, the better this year’s novel will be. So thank you in advance, for helping my crowd source this. I am not looking for what you think is bad or terrible. Chances are, I see that too. I’m looking for what you think is good, and interesting, and then I will do more of that. That said, here goes.

Another Fantasy Setting.

The rank circular room was lit only by the faint glow of a torch light.  The howling of a gagged half-elf echoed about the room.  Glowing, magical, chains bound him against the wall like insect in a cocoon.  He was some minor acolyte.  Mostly useless at magic, and of ironic importance.

Celise held a gauntlet against her guest’s forehead.  An yellow stone in it center glowed and and flickered like fire on his head.  Behind her stood Thanderson in thick red robes.  He leaned on his rod and let out a grin, barely supressed by wrinkles on his leathery skin.

Celise let up her gauntlet and pulled the elf’s hair back with her other hand.

“Oh… poor you,” she said, “I know this pain must be unbearable for you.  You must understand, this isn’t really my fault after all.”

She flipped back her black hood, allowing her dark brown hair, held back by a leathter strap tied around her forehead.

“You see… it is you clever friends.  They were so clever to suppress a memory….” she hissed as her mouth stretched to a triangular smile, “We really, really hate doing this, but I simply must have what you know.

The gauntlet fleshed with the half elf’s skull again.  She could not so much as see his mind but feel it.  Her hand was reaching into places, feelings, thoughts, days.  Such a tangled mess it was.  Like a blind snake in a labyrinth.

Thanderson thought and thought.  He tapped his fingers on his rod in a rhtymic fashion.

“Celise,” he said off-handedly, “it is possible that the memory was buried to deeply?  Perhaps it was altered entirely?  The poor bastard might really be only a hapless house-mutt.”

Celise turned.  She yanked off her gauntlet and held it out to Thanderson.  There was stone still glowed.

“You could always try yourself…”

Thanderson put up his hand firmly.  “You know my opinion on this method,” he said, “Somus Draught and extraction via dream divination is the surest way.  He would never know.  He would never talk.”

Celise turned back to the half-elf.  His head hung like limp dummy, but his chest heaved in an out against his restraints.

“You hear that, mutt?”  She said as she pulled up by his hair again.  “We could sleep you for days if we needed it… maybe we could give you dreams… more pleasant ones?”

She looked down at him.  His eyes locked with hers.  Was he pleading?  Thanderson couldn’t quite tell.  Celise slipped on the gauntlet again.

“Ahh you’d probably go mad afterwards anyway,” She said, “Those clever friends of yours…”

The stone glow again to its full strength.

“We’re very much in a hurry here.  It took us so long to find you… so I guess you have some fault too?  Either way I am going to ask you one more time….”

She slammed the her palm into his head with deliberate force.  The searing and the muffled howling resumed.


For each of these NaNoWriMo, warm-ups, I will be sharing something that I’ve thought about and written. Most of this is done by hand, and is part of a “morning page” process. What that means is that this is thoroughly uneditted. The roughest of the rough draft, and extremely raw, explosive creativity written on pages. Since I am not trying to pick out what is “good” in these, it is up to the readers of this blog to do so. The more input I get from readers, the better this year’s novel will be. So thank you in advance, for helping my crowd source this. I am not looking for what you think is bad or terrible. Chances are, I see that too. I’m looking for what you think is good, and interesting, and then I will do more of that. That said, here goes.

Fantasy Setting Again:

Saint Virgil’s Hall was stood on the east of Mons Istelle.  Its beige stone walls were minimally decorated.  Within the walls was a small courtyard and path which lead to the hall itself.  It was a rectangular building stood several stories tall.  On two corners of the building stood circular towers.  It stood as only mainland out post of Paladin’s of Alethia.  Their glory days were lost in history.  Yet their presence here remained both symbolic and frequently -practical.

Inside his office a top on the north tower, Prelate Marcus Stirmahal sat down at his desk and his stoic eyes peered down at at stack of papers.  His large, calloused hands filled through the papers.  One had lazily stroked his grey goatee and he signed at the first letter on his desk.  There would be enough hours of daylight to address each.

The first letter was a cordial thank you letter from the head of the Sandir-Metzens.  Three junior knight’s of the order had escorted niece while traveling someplace and had given the order a sum of some of gold.  The next letter was a request to send a representative to a ceremonial rite of succession regarding one of the minor nobles.  Another was excited report of a knight who had squelched the vile evils of a den of wererats.  Very, dangerous, vile, wererats.

The prelate pushed the papers away and stood up from his ornate, oak desk.  He turned towards the window and open the large window.  The sky was clear enough that he could see the ocean clear out to the horizon.  The breeze was nice.  Not quite strong enough of wind to blow the papers away though.

A rap at the door interrupted the Prelate’s day dreaming.

“Enter, please.” he said.

“Ah, Sire Prelate,” came in a young squire in simple brown breeches and a dirty vest.  He carried a satchel full of  small parcels and a letter, its seal already broken, in hand, “begging pardons.  But Sir Yoril sent me with this.”

Stirmahal winced, but quickly straightened himself in front of the impressionable, eager, squire.

He adjusted his spectacle and began reading the letter.  As he did the wrinkles on his face seemed to grow deeper and his he gripped the paper as if it would fly out of his hands.  He moved to his chair, fell into it, and re-read the letter one more time.  He pushed it aside and pushed his head into his hands.

“Sire-prelate?” asked the squire.

“Aww this…this cannot be… oh it should not,” Prelate Stirmahal muttered as if he had not heard him.  A moment later he straightened up in his chair.

“Please send for Sir Yoril as well as SirReyhad,” he said as he pulled a blank parchment from his desk and dipped his quill in an inkwell, “I will also send a letter to the keep.  It must leave this evening.”

“uhh… very well Sire,” stammered the squire.  He turned, bowed slightly, and left the room in jitter.

Prelate Stirmahal breathed deeply, and gathered himself before he began to write.  He would be careful with what he wished for next time.

For each of these NaNoWriMo, warm-ups, I will be sharing something that I’ve thought about and written.  Most of this is done by hand, and is part of a “morning page” process.  What that means is that this is thoroughly uneditted.  The roughest of the rough draft, and extremely raw, explosive creativity written on pages.

Since I am not trying to pick out what is “good” in these, it is up to the readers of this blog to do so.  The more input I get from readers, the better this year’s novel will be.  So thank you in advance, for helping my crowd source this.  I am not looking for what you think is bad or terrible.  Chances are, I see that too.  I’m looking for what you think is good, and interesting, and then I will do more of that.  That said, here goes.

Story with Characters from the Uber Bean, the same characters I wrote about last November.

The infectious thumping of the bass pounded into the air with a hypnotic carnality.  Across the speakers stood a bar which glowed a soft yellow and shed lights on an altar of liquor behind the bartenders whose large shoulders moved with an incredible grace as he poured drinks while accepting tithes of tips in his jar.  A shirtless, tatooed, DJ was hollering at the crowd.  Everyone was a a high-roller tonight.

Jenn perfect hair cut and her new blue and black dress stepped out from the mesh of bodies and made a clearing for herself.  She threw her arms up into air.  Two years of Polynesian dance lessons demanded expression, or at least use.  She moved her spine as if by an ocean current.  She cleared space for herself by turning in circles -always turning away from whoever was directly in front of her.  She closed her eyes and move her hips in tight, perfect, rhythm the pulse of bass drum.

Andy sat at the glowing bar clutching a rum and coke and made an idle stir in its ice.  Becca was next to him.  She took one turn at him then turn back to watch Jenn “move like a cyclone” as the music insisted.  Ian darted his eyes about the room, and eventually stared at the DJ’s set up of wires, and cables.  Andy turned around then clutched his hand around his knee and returned to his sip.

“What are you guys thinking?” said Becca with innocence.

“Socrates.” said Ian, which gathered a disbelieving glare from Andy.

“Whose idea was this?” said Andy, “That’s what I am thinking.”

“Oh don’t be grumpy gills!” said Becca who turned to the dance floor, “She’s having fun!”

“Me too!” piped Ian.  No one could tell if he was sincere, sarcastic, or saving face.

Becca crossed her arms and made a deliberate stare right at Andy.  She kept her eyes on him like laser beams.

“What?!” cried Andy.  He threw his hands up in a surrender.

“Go dance with her right now.”

“Not my venue!”

“Not your birthday!”

Jenn stepped up onto a small platform near one of the speakers.  The thumps of the bass drum faded back and bowed to chorus of dancing synths chords.  A second DJ sang through an auto-tune.  The feeling of performance infused.  She was wound up and moving faster with the music.  Ian looked at her.  Looked at Andy.  He new the answer.

“The categorical imperative compels you to dance!” Ian pronounced.

Andy hands slapped right against his face in utter dismay.

“Oh God, Ian, don’t start…”

“No no, you see the boyfriend by definition is someone who…”

“Okay!” Andy nearly shouted, “I’ll dance!”

Andy chugged the last half of his drink and fought back the gag against the cheap rum.  He slammed the glass against the bar while and shot up to his height.  The crowd of animated bodies blocked his way, but he pushed his way past and around with rude “excuse me’s.”   Jenn’s eyes widened with wonder when he came near.  She threw out her arms and yanked him up on the stage.  Andy nearly felt whiplash.  As soon as he was standing Jenn spun around and backed her entire body next to him.  Andy instinctively moved his hips in connection with her.  In a dance club that was not his venue, he felt like a rock star for the first time in a long time.


>Here is a quick little blog about for NaNoWriMo. Holy Crap, I can’t believe I need to start next week. Again, this comes from Game Development Essentials: An Introduction.

There is an outline that I think helps augment the Hollywood three-act. It is technically known as the “monomyth” but more commonly referred to as “the Heroes Journey.” Ever seen Star Wars? Read the Hobbit? Yeah, it’s it. Think of those two books and then think of the following. what follows is a very short summary.

1. Exposition the story begins in ordinary, mundane settings. Bilbo Baggins is minding his own businesses at home. Luke Skywalker whines like a bitch about power converters.
2. The Call The hero gets a “call to adventure.” The alternate world, or more magical world, is introduced to the character. The alternate world collides, or interrupts, the mundane world.
3. Refusal The hero first refuses the call. The hero does not want to leave the relative comfort of home. The hero also doubts himself.
4. Information The hero questions his refusal. Another character, such as a wise old man, gives the hero advice relevant to call to adventure.
5. Departure The hero makes a commitment to the call to adventure.
6. Testing The hero faces a series of challenges. This makes up the bulk of the story. Bilbo meets Gollum. Bilbo outwits Gollum
7. Rewards Bilbo gets the ring!
8. Ordeal The hero faces a huge challenge. This is usually when the villain shows his full hand. The deepest fears and the heroes vulnerability are shown here.
9. Resurrection The major enemy, usually a the arch villain, resurfaces briefly. I believe nearly every horror movie uses this. There can also be a trick ending. The battle of five armies at the end of the Hobbit is a “resurrection” in the Hobbit.
10. Return. The end of the story and the denouement. The hero returns to the safety of home. Though obviously, there is always room for a squeal.

Can you think of any movies, stories, videogames etc that follow this pattern?

>Okay, so I am thinking about NaNoWriMo still, which is great because it forces me to organize my creativity. First, I would like to say that the book ‘The Artist’s Way’ has been very helpful. It has given me a lot of inspiration and forced me to just bleed thoughts onto paper. This is an incredibly helpful exercise because the inspiration will come to you. You might consider checking that ought, even if you do not do NaNoWriMo this year.

What now, I am thinking about writing my story based on two probable outline scenarios that I read about in a book on game design. You probably know that many people avoid NaNoWriMo because they are afraid to suck, but also because outlining is a challenge. There are two that I have learned about recently.

The first, is the Hollywood Three Act. I quote here directly from Game Development Essentials:

1. Beginning (Act I): The most interesting stories begin by placing the audience into the action or drama of the story. The backstory and any background events leading up to this moment can be introduced later. The goal is to capture the audience’s attention. Act I focuses on the character’s problem. The story should introduce this problem immediately.
Middle (Act II): The middle of the story focuesses on the obstacles that stand in the way of the character’s ability to solve the problem introduced in Act I. There are usually a series of obstacles in Act II that the character must overcome. this act comprises the bulk of the dramatic tension in the story.
End (Act III): The story ends when the problem introduced in Act I has been solved. The character often has to systematically face and remove each obstacle in Act II in order to reach this resolution.

This is the first of two outlines that I think are useful. Tomorrow, I will be concentrating on the hero’s journey.

That one will require a bit more thought.

Thanks for reading.

>A long time ago a friend told me that he was reluctant to take up a musical instrument because he didn’t think he’d be good. On that night, I shared a recent epiphany with him: in order to become good at any talent (or “excellence” as the philosopher says), one my first have the courage to suck.

Yes, the courage to suck. Not the absense of fear, but the resistance to it. One must suck, and suck for a long time, and only then will one slowly get better at whatever it is you are pursuing.

So get ready to suck!

Last year, I desperately wanted to NaNoWriMo. I got all excited for my friends who were writing their 50,000 words of garbage. I wanted so badly to have time to produce that same amount of garbage that I was even quite a bit envious. Why couldn’t I angst up, force manic-episodes, and type feriously at my laptop until I needed some wrist exercises?

Because I was in grad school, I resolved rather to do it this year than last year. I have since purchased a few books on writing. One such book was Creating Characters, which is short but packed with a lot of really simple advice in order to get characters going. I have learned, that I have been thinking way to hard about the characters I create. So with that in mind, my characters will be much better. Another book (which is mostly about comics) was Scott Mccloud’s Making Comics. It was book that also highlighted, expanded, and downright paradigm shifted, my approach to making any comics in the future.

Most importantly, I going through the Making Comics. This is part daily devotional, part mental exercise. Ideally, I would’ve started this months ago, as the book is a guide a long a twelve week program. Still though, I feel that book is good. The very first chapter of the book encourages the reader to shut off their left brain -internal censor- that constantly criticizes and judges.

I think I can live with that.

You, who read this, probably have a creative bone in you. I really hope that everyone who is checking this blog consider NanWriMo. Remember, have the courage to suck.

I mean, just look at the webcomic I ran.