Nobody Reads Anything

December 11, 2014 § 1 Comment

They like it or follow as the headline scrolls by

But the idea of reading it doesn’t take root.

Even clicking the title seems a price just too high,

and growing seeds of ideas? They just want the fruit.

And yet still they like it, though the page be unseen.

Is there a point to that? A reason? A why?

Maybe they skim, missing the words in-between,

but it’s a lot to take in from some random guy.

There’s too many words and the point isn’t clear,

seems more like discussion than a neat, easy list.

Might as well stop reading it here,

there’s a semblance of something and I might have the gist.

Nobody’s reading now, they’ve scrolled to the end

there’s too many words for one person to read.

The point should be there, the identified trend,

and then I can make up my mind with some speed.

Each day there’s a hit though there’s usually more,

and it matters not what’s gone up on the site.

Sometimes there’s lots but there’s no hard or fast law

that can predict if the views will be heavy or light.

Whether I publish, well, there it is.

Whether I comment or not, there’s a hit.

They look at About and see “oh, it’s his”

but that’s as far as they go with this shit.

There’s too many words now and yawn, where I am now?

Why did I open this – who linked me here?

I’m on this strange page and I don’t even know how,

and there’s not even pictures? Read, no no dear.

So I look at the chart as there’s a rise or a fall,

grouping the numbers by days, months or weeks,

hoping to comments notifications will call,

and glimpses of opinions delivered in peeks.

Yet nobody’s talking and everyone’s still,

Cause nobody’s reading a word of this crap.

And the sporadic views are no longer a thrill,

unless they’re from somewhere unique on the map.

Do you have an opinion, a solitary thought?

Why the hell isn’t it posted on here?

Write your bloody comments so I can retort,

and reduce all dissent to flashes, all mere.

Some Kind of Workshop

December 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

chef-gusteau

Or Write!

Ideas time. Kinda.

During the year, one of the things expressed by a few of the people in my wonderful writing group is that they think I should do workshops. How things are at the moment, I tend to spend time with each person that comes along and if they’re running into issues with the writing process, particular when it comes to where things go, ironing out plot-creases or filling plot-holes, I jump in. I’ve done this out of instinct from very early on, and while I know ideas-people are never in short supply, I do this.

The pic at the top is there for a reason. I love the message in the film Ratatouille, but tend to paraphrase it a bit for my own personal thoughts when it comes to writing. Anyone can write. What’s more, I tend to believe it’s a good thing that lots of people want to write and a huge, huge, HUGE part of my starting this blog was I want to help people write. If you look at The Plan Plan, both the paged version and the worksheets, I’m pretty upfront in that I’m doing this to encourage and aid people.

I mightn’t have the grounding to outwardly prove I know what I’m doing (though hope it comes through eventually or in the meantime, through the ideas I bring), but I hope I’m helpful.

Turns out there’s a lot of people out there to help writers. Beyond the blogs you’ll find books on writing, courses on writing, degrees on writing, people to give you ideas, people to develop your ideas, people to edit, sell, read, and it really goes on.

Now one of the first things you’ll hear (after the “You could be the next Stephen King/J.K. Rowling/etc”) is about how there’s no money in it, but they’re wrong. There’s a lot of money in writing, but it’s just not in the writing itself. It’s in the selling. Gone are the days where your buy-in was the pen and paper you wrote with. Maybe you start that way (ha, amateur) but without the backing of all that stuff you’re meant to do, how is anyone going to take you seriously as a writer? Next you’ll say you haven’t worked out your authorial wardrobe or favourite uncommon style of coffee. You haven’t? Ha ha ha ha. Amateur.

I don’t know if I have a point here.

I’m happy to give people my time. It’s not only the most valuable thing I have, but it’s also the one I don’t run out of every month.

Thing is though, I’d love to be doing all my word stuff on a more permanent basis. If I’m lucky I’ll get a half-hour in my lunch-break to write, an evening once a week, and that’s about all I can fit around all the other life-stuff right now.

So y’know, anything that’d allow me to take this side of things more seriously has to be a good thing. It’s only through the feedback of those I’ve directly shared advice with that I’ve even thought that maybe this is something I could do for real, rather than my writing being some self-indulgent mental jerk-off that distracts me from the realisation I should have explored this all back when I didn’t have people that depend on me to be a source of stability.

I think in the new year, I’ll explore something to this effect. I don’t know what it will look like yet, though I know it’s a better process in-person if that’s at all possible. I assume I’ll try and get some kind of structure worked out first, so yeah, this is a thing that might be happening. It also might not.

Oh and for the record, I appreciate people have to get paid. It’s why I can’t just throw in the day-time stuff and explore the stuff I’d love to be doing. It’s just… you know, having done NaNoWriMo and being involved on the organising side where lots of the people trying to get started in the writing circle are either teachers or students (both areas not REALLY synonymous with a wealth o’ wealth) who tend to be scraping by as-is and then often don’t come along because they can’t afford the extra travel, well I dunno. Couple in that so many writing groups turn into “hey other authors, here’s my book that you should buy because doesn’t everyone love pyramid schemes??”

Those $800 for two days of a basic writing course is so far beyond my own price range that I can’t imagine how anyone affords them.

I don’t mean this to come across as a case of “they got some, I want mine” but it gets old when people assume my time isn’t valuable just because I’m not charging for it. Just because I’m doing something for the love of it doesn’t make it worthless.

Entry Zero: A New Side-Project

December 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

In case you hadn’t heard, I started writing for Save Game back in August this year. I can’t remember when the site first popped onto my radar but can say it had become my first stop for any gaming-related news long before. It’s one of the reasons you won’t see much in the way of games writing on Fictioner’s Net anymore. If you’re a fan of my opinions as I am – or even better – if you like the way I express myself on such topics even when you don’t necessarily agree – this is a good thing. In fact, it’s a better thing. The biggest upside to me writing for Save Game is that I’m a tad more mindful of writing quality stuff, where I’ll be the first to admit here is usually a dump for whatever thoughts I’ll never look at again.

But well, games are still big for me. Narrative in games continues to be a super big thing for me. Maybe everything is freaking big for me but you know, I’d like this Gaming section here to still mean something.

Enter old aspirations!

While I’m still working on the rewrite of my novel, there’s a piece of me that’s always wanted to make games. Been in there since about ten years old, and it was always the Adventure style where you explore and discover and do interesting things that I wanted to make.

Recap time

This year was my second as a Municipal Liaison for my region during NaNoWriMo and I’m making no secret of the fact it was also my last, at least for a few years. In terms of the fifty-thousand words, I was signed up to do the thing but you couldn’t even call what I did an attempt. There wasn’t a since day where I got over 1500 words, and probably none with 1000 either. Life, uh, got in the way. I did write a little for the idea I was going to, and also wrote a bit more on my novel rewrite. Gradual process but it’s all a bit slow lately.

Now, I love my novel. It’s going to be great. It might already be but I can’t judge that accurately just yet.

I also am getting more serious about this idea of writing something gamey. While I have an idea for a short puzzle/minigame type thing to stretch my mind around, it still comes back to the idea I was going to write for nano. I think games WILL be a medium that’ll surpass film, possibly even books, for what they can do. The ability to explore, rush through, make character choices we think are better than the ones the static counterparts do, there’s so much possibility.

So back to that idea.

In true Nick-comes-up-with-a-new-idea fashion, I put together a list of rough ideas and tried to pull an overall thread out of it. Wanted it character focused. Wanted it somewhere cool. Wanted it to kick around with morality. I did this because I wanted something unattached to any of my other ideas. Didn’t want to load it with the preconceptions or expectations of other stories or settings I’ve been puttering around on, but something new, slick, cool. So lalalala focus group of one and I had my idea.

To start with I’m playing around with a few different ideas I’ve had, definitely for the story (and I think a great, ambitious story can be done and has been done in such a thing, and there’s no reason we can’t have good writing in games). Also though, in terms of the game elements. There’s a few ideas I’ve had around the role of the player and their effect on how the game plays that I’d love to explore. Branching narratives sure, but that’s something else. I’ve wanted to do that since the days of messing with AGI Studio and the blame for that lies squarely on the Quest for Glory series but beside the point.

To start with I’m working out some ideas on how the narrative might work and how I want it to play with regards to player role. Play style will be next and though that’s more open-ended, I definitely have a bunch of ideas there too. Doesn’t everyone?

Whether this ever results in a semblance of a game is currently unknown, but let’s see where we can go from here.

Maybe You Should Wait A Day Before Sending Out Your Manuscript

December 1, 2014 § 5 Comments

I love writing. I also love that people love writing. The whole reason I started this blog was because I had lots of ideas about writing and from my experiences in talking to others about writing, realised that I also loved helping people with theirs. Sure, it’s not quite as effective as it would be in person, but if Fictioner’s Net hits upon even a single percent of what I do in person, I figure that’s a good thing. As someone who’s so often in that position, one of the most encouraging things is to see people’s enthusiasm for what they’re doing, the world’s they’re exploring and the joy that they derive from the process of writing.

But holy hell, put a lid on it.

I’m not going to say my way is the best way, but sending out your novel, draft, what-have-you the second it’s been written is THE WORST. STOP IT. YOU ARE RUINING IT FOR EVERYBODY ELSE.

This year I repeated last year’s responsibility of being a Municipal Liaison for Sydney during NaNoWriMo (albeit with a lot more delegating than I had the opportunity to do last year), and through the many discussions on our Facebook group, one particular topic had a lot of opinions. Some people had heard that NaNoWriMo had become a dirty word to publishers, agents and basically anyone involved in the industry. While others disputed the statement, I’ll admit I’ve heard about the dread that post-NaNo December fills some with due to the avalanche of slush pushing through to the slushpile.

One of the clear messages that both sides of the discussion agreed on, was you don’t just write and send.

A few weeks ago I had the inordinate pleasure of attending the Most Underrated Book Awards in Sydney, and as mentioned elsewhere on the site, was also lucky enough to be invited to be a judge for the awards. Each of the judges read through a shortlist, and each came to their decision in a rather unanimous way. Jane Rawson was the author who received the nod on the night for her novel, A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, and I spoke to her briefly. Interestingly enough, Jane told me that her novel started life as a NaNo novel, and had been worked on much beyond that initial writing blitz.

Somehow I also met an agent while at the Awards, spoke to her a little about what I was working on, my process and all that, and with full disclosure, told her the novel I was working on (For More Than Earthly Ends) began life as a NaNo novel. It didn’t strike her as a problem because I’d been very clear about November 30 not being an endpoint. Also, for the record, I didn’t come anywhere near completing NaNo this year, however I did get some great scenes for the bits and pieces I was working on, so that’s still a win to me.

Anyhow, have to repeat the point again – That 50K (or really, whatever your goal is) is not your finish line.

If you haven’t read your own novel from start to finish, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to. Sure, you’ve just written it and probably can’t judge it dispassionately yourself. It’s either going to see way worse than it is because it won’t match the level of excitement you have, or it’s going to seem so much better than the reality of it because your excitement is going to fill in the gaps with every bit of the story that’s still in your head and not on the page.

You need a break first. Once it’s finished, take a bloody break. You’ve actually earned one!

Look, I understand what it’s like. The first year I did NaNo, I was sending out bits and pieces to friends because I wanted to share what I was doing. Even worse, they were encouraging me, begging me to finish the next bit. That excitement is hard to match, but you know what? That doesn’t translate to it being READY for publication. You want to send it to editors or agents or publishers straight away? Fine, but READ the bloody thing first.

If you’re not willing to read it, how can you prove you’d be willing to work on it? You don’t want to work on it because you’re bored of it? IMAGINE HOW BORED THE READERS WILL BE!

Today’s the first of December. How about you not give the rest of people working on a novel a bad name by doing something shitty like sending out your goddamned first draft.

By all means, get input. Have some trusted friends as a test audience – trusted because they will tell you when it’s not working or when you should give up on writing forever because their eyes and souls are bleeding – but read it until you want to pull it apart and fix everything you forgot you wrote. So yeah, MAYBE wait a day. Hell, wait a month. If it’s that good, it’ll keep. You only have one chance to make a first impression so at the very least, be aware of what you’re using to make that impression.

Let’s make December International Don’t Be A Selfish Ass Month. IndoBeASeAsMo. Alright, the name needs work, probably because IT’S JUST THE FIRST DRAFT.

Sometimes New and Shiny is Dull and Shallow

November 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

I used to have a serious issue with sticking to ideas. I’d begin work on a new story idea and once I’d gotten past the honeymoon stage where things shift from fresh and exciting to actually being work, I’d start getting new ideas. Those ideas were always more interesting to me. While what I was working on had turned to a meandering swamp, the new always promised quick leaps and flashes of brilliance.

I knew I shouldn’t take the bait, but there was always that voice that said “If you change to that idea now, it’ll be the one you’ll be able to see through to the end.”

Whenever I did, it never worked out.

Eventually I learned to break the habit of breaking the habit. I even wrote about it last year! The point is somewhere along the line, I stopped abandoning ideas and began sticking with them. For most of this year, I’ve been working on a novel. For More Than Earthly Ends (which I admit will probably not stick as a title if a publisher ever gets involved, but you never know). More than that, I was conscientiously working on the second draft, which involved a whole lot of rewriting and not so much editing.

Enter NaNoWriMo.

My initial thoughts were to write something small. A game design document. Well, small compared to a full-blown novel. It’d have a story, a setting, and it’d be something I could switch off come December 1st. Then well, the idea grew. It’s a cool idea (at least I think so), but while it was continuing to form, something was off. It all felt a bit hollow. It felt as though it occupied a space somewhere between my first NaNo and my fourth, between light space-bending scifi and theological fantasy, and that’s probably an apt analogy for the concept. Nothing wrong with it, and well, I eventually went through my usual preparation process.

The process, brainstorm. Think up ideas. Write a plan. Put together a playlist. Write. That’s the things (yes, all of them).

Thing is, the plan didn’t represent where I felt compelled to start, and the playlist (when I eventually got around to it) just didn’t inspire.

In the lead-up to NaNo, I considered not doing it. Sure, I was an ML (spoilers: last time, for a few years anyway), but I was meant to finish this novel. All of the other scifi stories I wanted to tell came after it. Fantasy I could do, but I didn’t want to get into something BIG just yet. Then I came up with the idea I started with and bam, ridiculous something.

Part of it is moving. House moves are exhausting, and there’s still much to do, which all kills writing time at home. It’s also removed my ability to attend write-ins I might ordinarily go to, and then there’s just general tiredness. None of that was an excuse last time I went through similar events.

So yesterday, I tried something else. I put on a different playlist – the one I use for FMTEE. And I felt excited. So I took my notebook to a seat out on the street, during my lunchbreak, and started writing a new chapter (chapter seven), and I immediately felt it – this story was like home. At the moment, mid-move, it’s hard to feel like my literal home is home. A sense of belonging there isn’t, yet it’s there in this story.

In case it’s not clear, I don’t mean the one I was writing for NaNoWriMo on the first of November that’s still sitting at under 1000 words. I mean FMTEE.

Starting with this chapter seven, I’m going to go back to it. I don’t think my chances of hitting 50K will be any better with it, but I’ll be writing something that means more to me. Whatever this other one is, it can wait until FMTEE is proper done.

The Inner Turtle

November 3, 2014 § 1 Comment

tortoise

“Why aren’t you helping?”

I’m behind.

That’s not a general missive on the state of my being, but an expression of my state as it pertains to NaNoWriMo. I’m behind.

It’s only day three, but I’m sitting on around 1000 words. The on-track target for the end of the day is 5000 words. With luck I’ll have the chance to write at least 500 more today, which I’m considering a reasonable minimum, given that life itself is many kinds of busy. Moving house, moving jobs, three month old, writing work, being an ML and yeah, there’s more besides them.

Yet I’m not panicked.

I’m writing something that I came up with on a whim, and while I wasn’t taking this new world very seriously when I first threw concepts around, it is growing on me. So far there’s been two scenes – one with the intended protagonist and his kind-of antagonist, the other with a glimpse of the support characters. I’m not sure if this means I really have deuteragonists in the major support character and the original antagonist, but it’s possible. What’s more, even the small details present already inform a level of richness that seems improbably for a hastily formed setting.

In a scene I’ve established some semblance of technology, a form of government and political conflict. In a second, I’ve introduced Mars, given it a history (and in fact, physical ruins), and brought in the cast-offs. All of this is world-building or scene-setting. It’s introducing the world with gradual details, and giving it enough of an outline to present a shape, and then the smallest, most insignificant descriptions that set it apart.

It might not be great. Far too early to say. In some ways it feels similar to my first NaNo, what with a character from outside a setting being put into a world he’s not a part of. Sure, that’s a common one beyond my own writing, but I recognise that it’ll be leaning toward the ‘adopted outsider’ story (at least on the surface). Unlike the story I started last year, November 30 is the cut-off for this particular one. Not saying that I won’t jump back in to it later, but the rewrite of last year’s takes precedence.

In terms of the plan for what’s next, there’s a few things I need to do – vital parts of my routine. Firstly, I need to make a playlist. It’s not NaNo without a playlist. I’m lucky in that I’ve found a song that nails a pivotal scene, so it’s going to be the formative track. More will come. The next is revising my ten point plan. See, I neglected to do one. I have a half-finished plan, and I haven’t even reached the first point on it. Lastly, once all the moving is done, habit. Whether that means write-ins become more of a thing for me, or I set up an area in the new home to write in, it’s all needed to facilitate the habit.

Perhaps I’ll have to start warring. Well, of the wording kind.

The Plan Plan Worksheet

October 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

Minor one, this. I’ve reworked old NaNoWriMo worksheet I did of the long version of The Plan Plan, cutting the number of pages down to 9. It’s a little streamlined, but should hopefully be just as useful to those that liked the previous version. I’ll admit it’s not suited to everyone’s preferred planning style, but it’s helped some people before, and that’s what it’s intended to do.

Here’s the link: ThePlanPlanWorksheet

The original version had a lot of use – I even heard from schoolteachers that used it with their english classes! So if you do find it useful, I’d love to hear about it.

It should still do the trick if you’re thinking about NaNoWriMo, though I’m purposely not encroaching on their territory this time. Writing ain’t just for November!

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