RP and Storytelling

It’s been close to a year that I fully got into playing Dungeons and Dragons. It’s been a lot less than that since I took up the role as a Dungeon Master.

In this role, I basically give the players a situation, e.g. they are hired as guards by a merchant to escort him and her goods to the next trade city, and they play out tue scenarios as they wish. Of course, this situations are part of modules and hard-cover campaigns so mostly everything is scripted.

As a player, I’ve had really good DMs. They manage to bring the world to life with a couple of words and it’s so easy to imagine everything that’s happening in the scene and round by round. It’s flawless how they can paint so vivid images. As a DM (dungeon master), I know I will never be able to do that.

It’s not like I’m putting myself done or anything. I just know that that’s never going to be me. I won’t be able to paint vivid worlds with the spoken word, I plan to do this through the written world.

Lately, I’ve been hyper aware of how I described an environment/scene to my players. They rely on me for information and it’s my job to provide it to them. This is similar to writing a story. The readers need information, not only to comprehend what’s going on but also to imagine the world you’ve built in your head.

This has helped me in my writing because describing the situation or environment in speech tells me that maybe I’ve forgotten to include sensory details or perhaps one social interaction didn’t go so smoothly.

By taking note on all of this, writing and describing things has gotten easier. I’m aware of what I’m missing and try to include everything I can. Of course, I do this in moderation. Personally, I don’t like to bog down my readers with so much description. I try to only include all the necessary information.

While I haven’t exactly perfected all of this and I have a long way to go, I’m going to keep learning. I believe as a writer that there’s always something new to learn. Perhaps one writing style doesn’t fit a genre or theme. The beauty of it is that I can try new things and figure out what works with the story I want to write.

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Eve of NaNoWriMo

If someone were to ask me if I was ready for NaNoWriMo, I would say no. It doesn’t matter if this was my first time or ten times. I don’t think I would ever be ready to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve done before in the past but it hasn’t been easy. My spare time goes to typing up the daily goal and if I’m lucky, I’ll have enough time in the day to relax before going to bed and getting ready for the next day and all the responsibilities that require my attention.

Thinking back to all my previous attempts of NaNoWriMo (including Camp NaNoWriMo), I have never really written a novel. Not really. I’ve written 50,000 words towards an idea that I really wanted to develop. It’s not a novel until I go in there and try to salvage whatever I can from it. Sometimes, I have to start from scratch. Even though I plan to write the second installation of the Half-Blood series, I won’t be writing a novel. In those 50,000 words, I’m going to try to write something that I can salvage at the end of it all.

While I have experience in writing 50k words in a month, there are some tips that I’ve come to learn that work for me.

  1. Carrying spare paper/notebook. 

I don’t like to limit myself to working on my daily goal only on a computer/laptop. When I get a few moments, I’d like to jot down a couple of sentences here and there. Personally, I like to think about the direction I want the story to go and imagine possible scenes in my head. If end up thinking of a really good scene, I write down a summary of the scene and the key points I want to include just so I won’t forget anything.

2. Time Frame

Choosing a time that I can write is very helpful because I am able to only focus on writing. I’ve never really had to turn my WiFi off but if I had to, I would find an online app that shuts off my internet access until I hit my daily goal. Most importantly, don’t let anyone interrupt your writing time. Once it happens, the ‘golden time’ is subject to change at a moment’s notice. This has happened to me before and I have fallen behind on multiple accounts. Catching up is brutal.

3. Notecards

There are times when I have no idea how the story is going to progress. Writing scenes on notecards have steered me away from writer’s block. I rather have a scene to write than to have nothing. Notecards give me a visual tool to let me rearrange the story as many times as I need without changing anything in the document.

4. Keep Writing

There have been times when I have had no motivation to write. I’ve had to force myself to write. Even if everything made no sense and nothing was coming out like I wanted it to, I kept writing. The goal is to write 50k words. The goal is not to have anything make sense. That comes later. It’s not something you need to worry about now.

5. No Editing

Say no to the voice in your head. Now is the time for creativitity not editing. It’s going to take a few days getting used to it. Even for me but it can be done.

Lastly, for anyone participating in NaNoWriMo, I wish you the best of luck. I’m sure going to need it.

Writing A Sequel for NaNoWriMo

Tips and thoughts on writing the second installation in a series.

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I still haven’t gotten ready for it. I will say that I have decided to work on the second installation of the Half-Blood series simply because the second book needs to be written and I really want to go back to that world. Plus, it helps that I really enjoy making my character’s lives miserable and difficult.

Now, writing a book in a series can be tricky. One piece of advice I read long ago said that the second book needs to be able to stand alone. I took this as meaning that the book has to have its own plot and the story can still work even if someone hadn’t read the first book. K.M. Weiland has a fantastic article about how to write a sequel that’s better than the first.

One of the points the article makes is whether or not there is enough content for a second story. This also includes having new ideas so the second book is entirely different from the first. Without much content to go on or new ideas, writing can be difficult. I often come across this problem when I haven’t developed an idea well enough. Ultimately, that is what it is, an idea.

When I wrote the first book, I didn’t plan to write a series. However, as I revised the first draft and the second draft, and even the third draft, that is when I began to make the world deeper and richer with lore. I can’t really say how it all came together. All I can say is that when I thought of the ending to the series it made perfect sense. I won’t include any spoilers but I can say that I began to think of what needed to happen to get to that ending. As I developed this idea, new content sprung up. I knew I needed to leave some loose-ends in the first story.

Granted, having a story bible really helped out because that way, I could keep track of all the little tidbits of information that I could expand upon at a later time. It did take some planning on my part. I doubt I could add such complexity to the plot without planning it out first.

Another point the article makes: what are the consequences? Loose-ends are rarely tied in a perfect bow. Personally, I find a story more interesting if they are questions left, and as long as they are answered in the second book or down the line, that is fine by me. Since I left loose-ends in the first book and didn’t quite explain too much on something, it left me with the opportunity to expand on it in this book. Plus, thanks to the events of the first book, there are a lot of consequences and domino effects that I have to work with. The one thing I like to keep in mind is that an action has a reaction and that can be said for anything.

Lastly, let’s not forget character arcs. By the end of the first book, one of my main characters, Alastair, has gone through a change but that’s not the end of his character arc. Renelle, my other main characters, also undergo changes but it hasn’t come full circle just yet. Of course, I still have to do a lot to do for other character’s and their arcs.

However, when it has been all said and done, if the first book doesn’t get picked up then writing the second installment could be seen as a waste of time and effort. With this in mind, maybe writing another book is the better idea but even so, I feel that the Half-Blood series needs to be written. It’s begging to be told which is why I will continue to write the series even if it takes a while for the story to be picked up or even if it never does. Luckily for me, I have plenty of novel ideas I can work with.

 

Writing Admiration

While rewriting a portion of Crimson Queen, I came to a realization that the relationship between the main character and her deceased father wasn’t good enough. Sure, I had some flashback moments added before said point, but it was only at that moment when it really hit me. The relationship between the two is the reason that the main character won’t escape even though she’s on death row. She can’t abandon the people her father protected and yet, looking back at the previous chapters, I didn’t get that feeling between the two.

I might need another set of eyes on this but, for the most part, I think it is safe to say that their relationship needs work. My main character, Lucinda,  admires her father but I’m afraid I might have not shown enough. It’s one of those things that I just have to go back and add more information to but, at the same time,  I’m not sure if that will be enough.

Yesterday, I took to the web to try and find some tips about how to go about doing this but it seemed like I didn’t get anywhere. All I came across was sample letters of how to write a letter of admiration. However, it wasn’t as unfruitful as I thought it would be. One thing I notice about the letters was that they contained examples of deeds/actions.

That’s something I could take to my writing. It’ll need to be casual, has to flow well with what I want to write. Plus, the flashbacks are short so they need to be concise but informative. Of course, this is a draft so there is always room for improvement. Heck, I might receive a ray of inspiration and write a perfect flashback. I’m not counting on this but it might happen.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing the story and move forward with my realization. At least, I notice this issue early on so I can keep that in mind while I write.

On a sidenote, the free editing services I got is turning out well. I’m waiting for Sarah to get back to me with the first 20 pages of my manuscript. She provides this service for all new, potential clients. After this, we’re going to move forward with my 8k words.

I’ll keep you guys posted. Until next time,

Kassandra

Catching Up

Well, I’m officially behind work count but it’s only by 300 words. I didn’t exactly plan to be behind it just that I play Dungeons and Dragons on Fridays (well most Fridays anyways) and, unfortunately, after that four hour campaign, I was too tired to finish writing. 

Overall, Blue Moon still has a lot of work on it. The beginning is going to change yet again. I don’t need to type up anything new. At this point it is all about rearrange scenes. I won’t do that as of right now because I don’t want that to me my main focus. For now, I need to be writing and not worrying about how the story is going to start.

I have typed up a brief summaries of my scenes. That way, I’ll have them “in sight” and I don’t have to go back through the document to find them. I was thinking of using note cards to jot the scenes down so I would be able to rearrange them “physically”. Or maybe if I had a program or a website where I could do that – that could also work. So if anyone knows of a good website or program for a storyboard that let’s me rearrange scenes then let me know. I’ll be looking into that sort of stuff.

The story with my sister is going well. It’s a work in progress because at this point, I’m making things up. It’s all been pull out of thin air. My sister hasn’t complained about it so that’s good. Our plot for that story is holding strong. It’s all “according to plan” so to speak.