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NaNoWriMo (November 2017)

Discussion in 'Arts & Entertainment' started by Zkribbler, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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    Last November, I blundered into NaNoWriMo completely unprepared. My book on how to outline arrived, and I suspended writing while I read it and threw together an outline. I finished writing way late with a novella of 40,000 words.

    I've begun this November by really studying the book. My plan is to turn my 40,000-word novella into a trilogy of novellas, totaling ~120,000 words.

    By starting outline with the last chapter, I can see the theme for all three novellas. In each story, my characters will have a patent goal of finding/stealing treasure but will also have a latent goal of making the world a better place. For example, in Novella 1 they inadvertently lifted the "Forever Curse" which had for two generations turned their homeland into desert wastes. In Novella 2, they will trigger a slave revolt.
     
  2. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    I admire your enthusiasm in starting this thread two months before I would have expected anyone to even think about it. :crazyeye:

    Seriously, I'm happy to see that you've got a sound plan in place. Outlining is critical to a successful November event, in my view. :goodjob:


    A huge reason for all my 30 days of rambling complaints in July was because I didn't have a firm outline of the bridging material between the two gamebooks I'm novelizing. So the dialogue meandered from this to that, characters got into unexpected arguments, and they drank a LOT of tea (wrong time of day for the harder stuff).

    In November I need to finish the bridge material - and not take another 15,000 words to finish up a shopping trip, have supper, stay the night, and set out for the actual place where the main quest starts.

    The thing is, I've got long-term plans to set up for my characters. This is a story that takes place over decades - at least the next 20 years of in-universe time. I've got to be careful how many new characters I create that were never part of the original gamebook material, who I kill off, marry off, or how many kids they have and where they live... plot inconsistencies and retcons drive me up the wall on Star Trek and Doctor Who, and I really don't want to be guilty of it in my own writing.
     
  3. JohannaK

    JohannaK Heroically Clueless

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    Admirable! Me I have had this story in my mind for almost four years that I planned to do on July, but now has been transferred to November. I sketched the rather complex and interweaved structure of the projected 28 chapters, 7 character's stories in 4 parts each.

    There is still work to do.
     
  4. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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    OK, two writer's . blocks overcome.

    First, I couldn't figure out how to make my characters' journey from the city to the agricultural highlands interesting. I pulled out my notes on how to outline. The first subject was premise, which is a single sentence encompassing setting [a ~renaissance-era high-fantasy], characters [some but not all from my first novella], and central conflict [uhhhhh?]. This was my problem. :thumbsup: I'd been envisioning my characters sort of drifting north :sleep: where they would learn about the legendary Fantabulous Egg. --Now, the story begins with the egg being stolen, and my guys set off to recover [i.e. steal] it.

    Second, the ending I was contemplating was unacceptable: To free the slaves, I thought of the American War, the bloodiest in US history, and I thought of a Spartacus-type slave rebellion...bloody messes both. I'm writing a mirthful comedy. A bloodbath has no place here. Then last night, I came up with a third alternative, one in which the slaves are freed but no one ends up with so much as a paper cut. :cool:
     
  5. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    Here's a suggestion about journeys. Find some sort of FRPG "Wandering Monster" table, get some dice (there are virtual dice rollers online) and make a list of the random encounters you get. Adapt it for your genre, of course - it doesn't make sense to have an ogre attack if your story is set in Renaissance Venice, for example.

    Okay, it would probably make perfect sense if you were writing a Doctor Who fanfic, but otherwise, just take the idea and tweak it.

    Fortunately, I am writing in a FRPG milieu, so I could have my character encounter an ogre. However, since I don't write combat very well, I opted instead to have him encounter a somewhat clueless, overconfident adventurer who just bought a new sword and armor and wants to tackle killing the Warlock of Firetop Mountain. The character who will actually accomplish this 20 years later (in game time) will probably find this idiot's bones in the dungeon, or maybe the Warlock has enslaved him... haven't decided yet.
     
  6. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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    :thumbsup: Good idea. Done, done & done.

    .
    Ummm, I have an ogre. In novella #!, he works as a bank guard. He's got a heart of gold and a brain of lead. He'll make a cameo appearance in novella 2, chapter 2, beat up, tortured & unconscious. :sad:

    .
    My trick is to take out a video [or two] with a fight scene I like and turn it into prose. Then I add things, take out parts, switch things around, etc. to the point where, if the filmmakers ever read it, they wouldn't guess they were the genesis. :D
     
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  7. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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    ...for example, I'd forgotten a passing reference in my first novella that the riverbanks are infested with pirates. So I was thinking "pirates" as wandering monsters when I sat down for dinner & switched on the T.V. On came Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest...and the celebrated 3-way sword fight. I thought, I can do that! --But let's not just have it three way fight; let's have it eight ways. I'm thinking an evil red dragon, a virtuous gold dragon, an elf flying on a pegasus, and on the ground, a rogue with an invisibility cloak. This still leaves four open slots for my characters. This scene will be a blast to write! :cool:
     
  8. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    Sounds like you plan to have fun, which is one of the main reasons for NaNoWriMo. :)

    I did some prep for a future project (not the one for this November, but one that I'll tackle next year sometime) and discovered that I accidentally set up a perfect plot point.

    In the bridge material between one book and another, I had my character meet an overconfident adventurer on his way to slay the Warlock of Firetop Mountain and take his treasure. Of course that adventurer isn't going to succeed because 20 years later, game-time, a young woman is going to slay the Warlock and take his treasure.

    I was going through that gamebook today and realized that there's an encounter in the dungeon in which she meets an adventurer who tried "many years ago" to slay the Warlock, but ended up enslaved by one of the Orcs that lives in the Warlock's lair. As they talk, the young woman realizes that this is the same overconfident idiot who bought a sword from her father 20 years previously. She's surprised that he's still alive, since nobody expected him to last beyond his first combat.
     
  9. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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    Hrumph, I just realized why I'm having so much trouble with organizing a plot. :mad: I have no antagonist maximus.

    Oh sure, I've created a menagerie of minor antagonettes, but no overarching enemy. To create him/her, I need to be able to articulate what my story's theme is and what is/are the goal(s) of my characters.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
  10. JohannaK

    JohannaK Heroically Clueless

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    Marvel has managed wonderfully to create a plethora of good movies with less than stellar villains.
     
  11. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    What are your characters' goals? If you enumerate them one by one, you might see a pattern emerging or discover something they have in common. How are they connected to each other? Have you constructed backstories for them?

    For instance, the current protagonist I'm working with is named Ranok. I haven't decided where he was born, but his current official residence is Port Blacksand, on the western coast of Allansia, on the world called Titan (it's the main world of the Fighting Fantasy game). Port Blacksand is literally a den of thieves, so why is a good guy like Ranok living there?

    Two reasons: Port Blacksand is one of the major cities in the region, it's got access to both river traffic and ocean-going vessels, and it's on a major caravan route. And then there's Ranok's wife. She's a warrior-mage, and has had a long-term goal of finding her parents, who literally disappeared during a magic experiment gone awry (her father, also a mage, always had more curiosity than common sense). To do the magic research she needs in order to accomplish this goal, she needs money. Yeah, she could go treasure hunting or kill some evil warlord... but she's basically a Lawful Good-sort of person. So she's doing it honestly, while making contacts and picking up gossip and information about unusual happenings. Ranok helps out via his own usual jobs of adventuring, when he's not contracted as a guide or caravan guard; it's amazing how much magical stuff he runs across, and whatever he doesn't use for himself, he either brings it or sends it home to his wife, to use or sell or trade. So they have a good system there, and she's also raising their son while running her magic shop in Port Blacksand.

    These characters are very skilled, and so naturally they need appropriately challenging opponents. I'm tweaking some of the encounters and characters in the gamebooks when they encounter them to further the larger story - to put more character into the characters - which, after all, are merely a set of stats in a gamebook. But 35 years ago I decided to give my characters names, backstories, and literally made character sketches. Some of the npcs (non-player characters) they meet up with along the way turn out to be catalysts for more character development or some new twist in the overall story.

    For example: In Scorpion Swamp, the game character is given a magic bracelet by an old woman he helps along the road. I started wondering - who was she, why did she have the bracelet, and why would she give something that valuable to a stranger? What made him seem worthy to her of receiving it (it's a bracelet that prevents the wearer from ever becoming lost - invaluable when trying to map the Swamp)?

    Questions led to answers, and next thing I knew, I'd invented a couple of small villages, given the old woman a name and family, and fleshed out the main character (who I decided would be Ranok's brother-in-law, off on his own life of adventuring elsewhere on Titan).

    So if you let your mind wander a bit - ask questions about your characters and do some "what if" exercises, ideas will come. This major story I've got going now took over 30 years to develop.
     
  12. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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    "If you enumerate them one by one..." This is my target goal for today. :) I'm working on the second part of a trilogy, so most of this has already been done once. I've been searching all over for my outline & notes for part 1, but I couldn't find them anywhere until two days ago. [They are hard copy, not computer files.]

    Edit,later: Okay: I've redone the character charts on the five major characters who'll be heading north from the city to the agricultural highlands. But I'll need quite a few more:
    The MC's new girlfriend.
    The sidekick's mother.
    The sidekick's gf's string quartet
    A silver dragon in human form
    A young red dragon with his/her kobold and wyvern marauders
    The mysterious orc shaman who inhabits [Something] Tower.
    The dwarf slave lord of the Demons' Crown Bastion
    A quirky commercial printer with a Gutenberg-type printing press.
    :crazyeye:
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2017
  13. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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    I've pinpointed my antagonist. He has two demi-schemes. I've been wrestling for days, trying to forge them into a single scheme. Last night: success! :D One scheme is a smoke screen, which allows the other to succeed.:smug:
     
  14. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    Sounds like you've been busy. :thumbsup:

    The printing press is an interesting idea that never seems to come up in Fighting Fantasy. It's very "old-school D&D-ish" although the series was created and published in the UK. In most cases, anything printed has to be done by hand, by a scribe and/or book binder. So books are precious in that game milieu, and there aren't any newspapers.

    That said, it's mind-boggling to me that every time the books' authors say that maps are essential and the reader/player should make maps... they never include any map-making materials among the characters' starting gear. Not once.

    So I decided that my prose-form characters weren't going to be that stupid. The Scorpion Swamp character, when he decided to map the Swamp, went to the marketplace and bought parchment, some quills, and some ink. That's part of his starting gear, as far as I'm concerned, and should be for any adventurer (unless it's important to the plot that the PC doesn't have a means to make a map or write notes).

    Another obvious thing is a pouch. Fighting Fantasy characters, unless otherwise noted, all start out with a standard list of equipment: sword, leather armor, and backpack that usually contains enough provisions for 10 meals, and may or may not have some gold pieces for money. They also get a magic potion (can choose either Stamina, Fortune, or Skill).

    Gah. My own experiences in a medieval re-creation group tells me that everyone would wear a belt pouch, to carry their money and any other small incidental things they might need. It's amazing how much stuff I could cram into mine - I found out that I can comfortably carry 25 loonies and a few quarters (loonies are what we call our $1 coins here in Canada; we don't use $1 bills anymore; haven't for 30 years now), a small notebook and pen, a small package of kleenex, a keychain, a small pill bottle (some of my medications have to always be within reach), and a few hard candies (for energy). It's ludicrous to suppose I'd carry this stuff in a backpack along with food, treasure, weird magical items, etc.

    So I equip my characters as a sensible adventurer would be equipped: separate small pouch for the small important stuff, bedroll, lantern, tinderbox, candles, mapmaking supplies, and of course I specify what clothes they wear. Nobody other than the women in Larry Elmore paintings goes off adventuring only dressed in armor.


    One of your characters has a string quartet? Are they off-screen characters, or active characters?
     
  15. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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    They were off screen characters in my first novella. However, in the second novella, they're among the passengers on a small river barge, so I'll probably need something for them to do.
     
  16. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    Well, since they're musicians... have them play. :)

    I'm reminded of a FRPG I participated in some years back. It was PBP (play-by-post) and the DM decided I should play a bard, since one was needed and my only other choice was a fighter. Since I do play a few instruments in RL (most of them not that well, but enough to identify the tune I'm trying to play; the only one I'm actually good at is the organ), I decided to play the bard.

    The DM wasn't pleased when I decided my character's chosen instrument would be the concertina. He thought that was a bit undignified for the type of story he was hoping to create. :p

    But I explained to him that it was closest fantasy equivalent to the accordion, which is one of the instruments I do know how to play. I'm not going to fake my way through trying to write stuff I don't know about.

    This is why I have so much trouble writing combat scenes, for example. I've never learned how to fight in any way, even after spending 12 years in the SCA. People kept nagging me to take up archery, but I never did.
     
  17. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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    :undecide: Except that doesn't add to the conflict or advance the plot. Maybe I'll be able to work this in later.

    Today was Herding Cats Day. I have about 10 people on the quest, but all with different motivations. Plus, it's a 3-step quest. First, up the river to Gnomeshead Village and nearby High Quest; then it's across the breath of Ambershire to the slave markets of Demons' Crown Bastion; and finally it's back to Gnomeshead Village. So I have to orchestrate about 30 motivations. I've now nailed down most of them, but I still have no reason for my sidekick, his girlfriend, or her string quartet to leave the luxury of High Quest Towe and head off for the slave markets.

    My halfling maiden is coming more into focus, and I just love her to death. She has the innocent-looks of Shirley Temple, the fighting ability of Jackie Chan, and the moral compass of Lucretia Borgia. :hug:
     
  18. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    There's nothing wrong with adding in a paragraph or two, or even just a sentence to mention that they need to practice. That's something all professional musicians have to do, every single day. It might not add conflict or advance the plot, but it adds authenticity to the story. You don't know just who your readers will be, or what they pick up on. Professional musicians who don't practice or rehearse before a performance would be one thing that would stand out to me and make me go "waitaminute, this isn't making sense."

    Maybe the quartet needs to buy a slave who has musical experience, or is needed to tote stuff around. Even high-class groups need "roadies." :p

    I suspect that Lucrezia Borgia probably wasn't as evil in some ways as her reputation says she was, at least not by the standards of early 16th century Italy. Of course we can't really know if she and Cesare really committed incest, but they were certainly rumored to have done so. Murder was part and parcel of how the aristocracy operated in that time and place, as it's been throughout history.
     
  19. Buster's Uncle

    Buster's Uncle AC2 Co-Owner

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    Hey Zik - is it you I dimly remember trying Scrivener years ago to help keep track of plotlines and characters and such? (Or some other writers' spreadsheet-y thing of that ilk.)
     
  20. Zkribbler

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    Nope. I'm not aware of any such spreadsheet.
     

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