Oct 17

Some Self-Reflection and NaNoWriMo

Describing Descriptions Descriptively
Talking Up Your Story

OK, I half-wrote the planned blog post on dialogue. I was just going to preface this with some notes, excuses about the stall in Eilidh’s latest chapter, and some info on what I’ll be doing in November, but these preceding notes grew until I made the executive decision to make them their own blog post.

On Eilidh’s Diary first, I have a couple of issues with it. The first is simply that my excitement surrounding Guild Wars 2 has significantly cooled off. I have not entirely exhausted the game of all the many things to do in it, but I have reached a point where I have things to “work on” – such as crafting and map completion – rather than things to “play through”. When I do play, I’m in it for achievement-hunting and other ‘tasks’ – the dailies don’t help this mentality either – rather than for the fun of it per se.

Secondly, the story itself is bugging me. I have been writing at CoT for over two months now and the characters are just on the edge of moving out of the sylvari starting area. The slow pace was originally a stylistic choice, but poor impatient me is desperate to move things along a bit faster. The other issue I have consistently had is writing action in the diary style – because Eilidh is reporting back on the day, she is always safe and well enough to write and this bothers me somewhat. Also, having spent a good amount of time working on the first entry that was entered for the competition, I personally don’t feel I have been able to maintain the same quality throughout.

None of these things are massive concerns I suppose, but they are things I am conscious of at the moment and working towards a solution is slow, particularly as I am busy with other things. However, do expect some tweaks soon with these things in mind.

It seems strange for me to accuse NaNoWriMo of eating up my time already, given that it does not start until November 1st. I have alluded to it in the past, but let me explain – NaNoWriMo is an online ‘competition’ against yourself to produce an entire novel within the month of November. 50,000 words, 30 days – an average of 1,667 words a day. The point is to rally writers together worldwide for encouragement and fun times while proving across the board that regardless of what you have going on in your life and how busy you think you are, with the right motivation you can write significantly more than most people think possible.

With the start date charging ever-closer, I have been considering what I want to write this year. I did briefly consider doing it as a fan-fiction, but given my disconnect from the game and that providing an excuse to play Guild Wars instead of write, I decided that I probably don’t have the stamina for it. As a result, I have been reading through old novels, writing synopses and characters for potential new ones, and significantly editing a novel to better fit a sequel (a sequel that I am now not likely to write, it turns out). All in all, my writing energies have been focussed elsewhere.

That said, it has now occurred to me that I am not going to do a very effective plug for NaNoWriMo while I’m pining over the sorry state of Eilidh’s story. Achieving the target requires a determination to keep writing no matter how much you hate yourself or the characters. Keep writing until you either hate them less or can kill them off (the characters obviously, never yourself). I should really take the opportunity to practice, and will get on with finishing the next segment after this. No, really, I will!

So by some circuitous route I come to the plug. NaNoWriMo is a challenge, and tests your character far more than it tests your characters. But it’s also a lot of fun – there’s a great community of writers over on their forums, and more likely than not there will be writing events in your local area throughout the month of November where novelists tend to either gather in cafés to compete in word wars, complete dares and consume the aspiring author’s lifeblood (caffeine and sugar), or go to bars to see how alcohol and good company improves their writing experience. It’s also very rewarding – undoubtedly there will be times in the month when you despair and want to give up, and/or you feel you have too many other things on your plate. Overcoming these things is infinitely satisfying, but even if you bail out after a week, you still probably wrote more words in that week than you do in any other given week. Nobody ‘loses’ NaNoWriMo.

I’ll be taking part, and I would love if some of you would join me. I have no idea what I will be writing yet, so don’t worry about that. You still have a few weeks to think, make plans, reschedule your November social life to December, and stock up on junk food. You can find me on the NaNoWriMo forums as, unsurprisingly, ‘Opera’, so do look me up if you make it over there!

A disclaimer that I am in no way affiliated with the NaNoWriMo people, just a participant and fan.

Next week, the promised dialogue blog.

As always, please leave comments below, on the forums, tweet them to me @mark_opera or email opera@chroniclesoftyria.com.

Describing Descriptions Descriptively
Talking Up Your Story
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