Topical Tuesday: NaNo is Over! Time for Project Updates!

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, hasn’t it? And I mean actually written a post. It may be the last day of November when I’m writing this, but I have so much to share from the past month that I’m not sure of where to start.

Well, for one thing, I WON! I finished writing 50k words in record time, all thanks to my working on multiple projects at once. I can’t fully believe I managed to finish, though none of my projects are done. I think that’s one thing I’d like to talk about today, in fact… The projects I’m working on, how, and what I hope they’ll do if I publish them.

So, my first project I’m going to share is Pure Blood, a supernatural romance that was my original focus. I wrote a few chapters, but I got stuck and was basically bouncing all over the place. I’m not going to give up on it, but I’m taking some time from it until I feel I have more direction… Apparently I didn’t plan enough.

The second project, which has become my main project, is Luna Blue. This story is a sci-fi, quasi dystopian story about the world humans left behind due to destroying it with radiation and pollution, only to return to it once it seems the chaos has died down. The story has a lot of characters, because the colony it focuses on will be growing as the story goes on. There will be bizarre creatures due to the destruction of the gene pools and such, and a war between the mutated humans that’d been left behind and the colonists trying to start a new life for themselves. I’m recently working on a beastiary for it- and I gotta say, it’s pretty hard, but a lot of fun.

Another story I worked on for a short stint is Monochromatic Secret, another sci-fi, but this time focused on modern or maybe futuristic times. In this story, a girl can see up to the molecular level due to mutations done to her as a fetus. It follows her story of the loner moving up to be a friendly, confident woman.

I honestly don’t remember much else that I’ve written this month. I wrote a few paragraphs of a Pokemon fanfic, but that’s just for me at this time, and it will stay that way either way. I want to test more writing styles and programs, so more stories will help with that… But I hope to focus enough to finish one one of these days!

A lot has happened on the non-writing front too. I went to a few write-ins (okay, so those are writing related. Shush.) I got some neat prizes over the course of them, including a couple notebooks, a signed book by a fellow WriMo that I really like, and some other nifty knick knacks and stickers to go with the theme. I also went to a party upstairs this past Wednesday. They called it ‘Friendsgiving’. It was basically a small group of people hanging out, snacking, and a fair bit of alcohol. I woke up Thursday a bit hungover, but it was a fun night, and I’m glad I went. I should spend more time with the neighbors- they’re nice people.

Now that NaNoWriMo is officially over, I have a couple plans to put into place. I’m still going to write, but it won’t be my focus as much as it has been the last month. I also plan to work hard to motivate myself to declutter, as well as work on other art/development projects, namely game dev, a bit a day. With ComiPo having an update recently, I may use it to make a visual novel at some point- I have software for it, I just haven’t really played with it yet. I may start with just a kinetic novel… Honestly, I’m not sure.

What do you guys think I should focus on? I mean besides writing and my health. Yesterday (or what will be yesterday when you’re reading this) I went for an eye exam and to get some new glasses. So, hopefully, I’ll be seeing properly very soon! But besides my focus on writing and health, what should be my primary goal? And what projects do you think I should work on (both type of project and details if you have any)?

I need your help, my wonderful readers. How do you make a decision on what to work on? And what do you do to motivate yourself? Please leave a comment below to share with me your two cents. Also, if you have ideas for future blog topics or videos you’d like to see, let me know! I need all the brainstorming I can get!

NaNo Special: World Building

It’s that time again today. That’s right- it’s time for a NaNo Special! Today, I felt like talking about something I worked on for a good chunk of September and October in preparation for this year’s NaNo: world building. It’s a difficult and tedious task depending on how you go about it, but in my experience, it can feel so worth the time and effort!

One of the first things I worked on, personally, was religions. I only knew one religion on the world my story takes place in, but I also knew that my characters followed something different. So, I had to come up with a new religion or two. With that responsibility comes the requirement to note down things like their myths, their holidays, their rituals- and to be honest, I didn’t finish as much as I intended to. It can be pretty hard to come up with all those details! But as of this moment, the world I’m writing in has three religions. I hope to use all of them in the stories I write someday!

The next task, to me, was to make a calendar. You see, my stories take place on another (made up) planet. Time moves differently there. And naturally, the religions and countries have their own holidays and things to celebrate throughout the year. So, I made a calendar. A calendar full of the world’s important dates highlighted.

That calendar was a pain in the ass to make, however. It was tediously daunting, and I had issues with my local spreadsheet programs eating and just deleting the calendar after I finally got it all prepared. In the end, it’s on my google sheets, and will eventually be put in my writing planner when I feel it’s filled to the brim with important information.

Another major task was getting to know the countries of this little world of mine. I had to know not just their names, but their layouts, governments, and other details relating to local vs broad spectrum holidays and such. I drew really crappy maps, set up the sections with numbers, colored the maps with a key for the different terrain, etc. I set up holidays for single countries and the world as a whole. I set up a monarchy, and two distinct forms of democracy of sorts. I laid out some of their laws, and up to 400 years of history depending on how far back I felt I’d need to deal with my immortal heroine in this year’s NaNo project.

With all that said, there’s still a lot of things I need to do. I need to adjust character birthdays, which are currently set on the Gregorian calendar. I need to finish fleshing out rituals and holidays, and write more lore of the land in detail. I haven’t plotted out the resources that are abundant or lacking yet, and while I’ve named all the primary politicians and capitals, I haven’t laid out where on each map the stories are set when they’re not capitals or anything of the sort.

As you can see, world building has a lot of details it can include. I think it really depends on the writer as to what details to focus on and how to go about planning things out. I put so much work into it the past months because I felt having the world better set up would give me more to work with when I write my stories in it. I get stuck with a lot of plot holes and writing blocks when I’m working on a story- but I think maybe, just maybe, better knowing the world will give me ideas of what could happen, or at least become good dialogue.

So today I have questions separate for my readers and writers out there. Readers, what do you consider the most interesting or important information to have about the world you’re reading about? And writers, how do you prepare details about your world? Do you use spreadsheets, make maps, or a number of different things? I want to hear this topic from different perspectives. Please share anything you’d like or can, so that I can learn it from you!

NaNo Special: Me and My Characters

Hey there everyone! Having a good November so far? I’m writing a number of these NaNo Special posts in advance, to give myself more time to write during NaNoWriMo… But I’m sure I’m having a lot of fun and frustration in your present and my future. “But wait, Jaluna, why are you so certain you’d be frustrated today?” Well, writing is hard… Especially if your characters seem to have a life of their own. You’d think that’s a good thing, but it’s not that great when they go off script and lead you in a direction that’s interesting, but blocks you from getting to what you needed.

To me, my characters are like my children- and I have a LOT of children in this case. They love to take me down alleys I wouldn’t have thought t, as if they’re trying to find a shortcut to their conclusion. Sometimes, my kids from another story idea start to whine about not getting enough attention. Basically, I feel a lot like a parent with many children, perhaps like my doctor whom has eight of his own. And yet, I’m not a parent. I’m only a writer- a writer with childishly defiant characters that won’t accept the rules I enforce on them.

I think this way often, however. I remember that my characters are my kids- and some of my kids have kids of their own already. I ended up becoming a fan of parenting blogs and following twitter accounts that talk about their kids a lot. I always make it clear when I respond to them that I’m not a parent, and most of them are totally understanding when I describe my characters the way I do, surprisingly. Some of them give me advice on behaviors I can do for myself that will improve my connection with them, in fact. I’m lucky parents can be so understanding- just like my father is.

Of course, another big issue when writing about a character is generally knowing as much as possible about them. When is their birthday? What makes them tic? What color was their favorite when they were 5 compared to when they were 25? No matter what inane piece of information, I want to know it all with my ‘children’. I want to know their life story and then some. I want to know their goals in life outside the plot. I want to know what led them to the plot, and what the plot means to them compared to me.

For me, the built in template for character development in Scrivener works great- but there’s always a sense that something’s missing. I can edit it as I please, luckily, but I often just keep a separate character form I can fill out for each character that’s more extensive. I’ve seen character charts that are a hundred questions, and others that are two-hundred fifty. What I like to do is take one of the larger forms and crop it, taking only the questions that fit my needs. I’m not likely to need to know anything about magic if it’s a fictional world without it (though this is just an example- my work always has some fantasy and sci-fi inside it!).

I think the things I often find myself cropping are things like specific body parts that don’t fit, such as scales, tails and all that fun stuff. I do have occasional characters that need those parts, but for the most part my characters tend to be humanoid, so I’ve yet to need those particular sections.

That’s all I can really say about my characters. They’re the proof of a lot of things: my love of children, my dark side, my inquisitive side and my thirst for control that I still can’t seem to get right. Writers, tell me about yourself: what do you think of your characters as? Are they just characters, or are they something more special? I’d love to hear how others plan out their characters and think about them in general. I could use some new tips to get to know mine even better, that’s for sure!

Until next time! Happy NaNo!

Throwback Thursday: NaNoWriMo

Welcome to the last post of October! It feels like time’s blown away quite quickly, doesn’t it? It’s already Halloween- and that means one thing to me: Tomorrow starts the craziest writing time I have each year: National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo.

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s a challenge for writers to write 50,000 words of fiction within just the 30 days of November. This requires writing almost 2k a day, which is surprisingly difficult at times. I’ve been a participant in NaNoWriMo since my school days.

It’s called ‘national’, but the challenge is spread across the globe nowadays. NaNoWriMo has a very social part to it, both online and off. Online, there’s forums and the ability to chat with your writing buddies. Offline, home regions (in my case Northeast New Jersey) have write-ins where you meet up at a library, cafe or some other institution to sit, have word wars, and quite a few other activities to help boost your word count.

It took me until about three years ago for me to really get to enjoy the socializing offline, when I finally found someone who could drive me to them since my dad often was sick and couldn’t. The next year, a different person drove me. Last year, I skipped NaNoWriMo due to mental health issues… And this year, I found out someone in my own town is going to be taking part, so they agreed to pick me up and go with them to the write-ins they plan to go to. For write-ins that this new friend isn’t going to, I have a secret weapon to get there.

See, my aunt is finding joy through writing recently. She’s always encouraged my writing, but finding a writing group made her realize just how good the social aspect could be for me. She gave me a prepaid card I can use to get Lyft rides to writing-based events. And you know what? I’ll do that if I need to, because it’s an amazing feeling to be surrounded by other writers working vigorously on their craft. It just makes me want to work harder!

However, while this is a quick trip down memory lane, this blog post is also an announcement: I’ll be cutting back my posts to every Saturday only. The posts will be about my writing process and things of that sort. I won’t have much time to blog, but I’ll try to check in on sporadic days to update you on how I’m doing, maybe share some pictures of things going on.

I’m sorry to announce this so late, but I hope you’ll cheer me on. By announcing my participation to you, my readers… I’m certain it will improve my chances of finishing this novel. Having people to check in on me and encourage me is a great feeling, and it just makes me want to finish harder knowing I’ve made a promise to do my best.

Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? Do you just want to send your support? No matter what it is you have to say, please comment! I want to hear everything you have to say!