After Camp NaNoWriMo

It’s been two weeks since Camp NaNoWriMo has ended.

Final Thoughts?

I was unprepared for the complexity of my story. Even from the beginning, I knew it was going to be complex but I didn’t plan enough for that. Luckily, Camp NaNoWriMo showed me that. Blue Moon is a story that needs to be planned. A beat sheet should, in retrospect, help me write the story better the second time around.

Writing a novel in a month has always taught me something. It has also shown me my limitations and what I need to improve. This time, it was planning and execution. Granted, this was the first draft. The first draft of a book that isn’t even completely written yet. Blue Moon and I have a long way to go before it is ready to shown to the world and I’m okay with that. There’s still a lot for me learn.

On a different note:

I am officially finishing editing and revising my story, Clan of Ash. Now, I’m working on my query letter and searching for agents before sending out queries by September. My summary has to be fixed a bit more and I have to research more agents but I’m close. I’m planning on rereading my novel once more before sending it out. I’m not sure if this is a good idea but I’ll take my chances.

Speaking of reading, I finally got around to reading the books on my kindle. I have a few paperbacks around the house that needed to be read first. Hopefully, I can stop buying books long enough for me to finish reading all the ones I have already. Then again, buying books help authors. The struggle is real.

I’m still working on revising Crimson Queen and Phantom Blade (two stories I have on Wattpad). I have also been working on another story on Wattpad as well. It’s been busy and productive. For now, that’s all I can ask for.

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D&D: Writing you own Campaign

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What’s Dungeons and Dragons have to do with writing a story? Everything.

To those who aren’t familiar with D&D, I’ll give you a quick overview. Dungeons and Dragons is a table-top, fantasy, role-playing game set in the Forgotten Realms. Those familiar with R.A. Salvatore‘s Drizzt Do’Urden might know a little something about the world. For those who don’t know Drizzt then take a look at the popular show Stranger Things. Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will played D&D in the pilot of the show and even in the last episode.

The major component about the game is storytelling and that’s where this post comes in. For starters, there is ‘a lot’ to know about playing D&D but I won’t go into too much detail. Instead, I’ll focus on how to build your own campaign for what’s called a ‘home-brew game.’ This term just means that you made a game set in the Forgotten Realms. It can also mean that you created your own world and are simply using the game mechanics of D&D like the dice rolling, the encounters, etc.

I should also mention that I went to Compicpalooza 2017 and was able to take down notes on many of the panels. The topic for this post was selected from my many notes so, in essence, it’ll be an overview of the advice and tips that I received.

  1. There’s no order in building your campaign and that holds true with writing.

You can start with your characters (in this case it can be your NPCs – the many roles you’ll take on as a DM (Dungeon Master – the one who runs the campaign)). If possible, it’s best to add as many NPCs beforehand. If needed, ‘someone’ will exist for your ‘adventures’ to come talk to and you won’t have to manifest them on the spot and remember them later.

Or your world. Or an object players (the ‘heroes’) have to find or destroy. That’s for you to decide.

Perhaps even your antagonist. This can be from anything you really want – a blood mage or a dragon.

However, for those building your own world, the terrain/ the environment is something to keep in mind. Is it mountainous? Plains? Forest? The Sea? The adventure will depend on what kind of area the players have to traverse. Plus, it would also make the encounters (the ‘enemy/beasts) plays will have to fight.

For the world building, you don’t have to know how to draw a map. There are pre-made maps and map generators available. Like donjon; RPG Tools. There are a lot of resources online to make it easier.

2. Basic Fundamentals of the World

The more details you know about your world the better. Just like writing anything, it is best to know almost everything you need to know about your world. That way, you won’t have to make things up on the spot and possibly forget about it later. I’m not saying it’s bad to make things up but I find that it disrupts the flow of the story. Plus, if you do have everything planned then it makes the world seem more real. Not only that but if you know the relationships between towns or tribes then you can use that as a source of conflict (if needed).

3. Managing your players

It’s not really a rule of thumb but your players are what makes the story. As the DM, you create the story and basically, the players help you write it. The story may go on a different path that you intended but it’s okay. Plans are subjected to change. It’s not like the story went out the window or anything. The DM is there to help guide the players through the story. There has to be some level of control but don’t force them to stay on that path only. Let them explore.

Whatever you don’t use then recycle it for another adventure. I do that in writing all the time. I can’t use something in one story but if I can use it in another story, then I will.

Like any story, there are going to character backstories. As a DM, you can use these to create a different arc or build it into the story. Just give your players something to care about. That’s what the core is for any story. Keep them invested.

Final thoughts:

Have fun. If you’re not having fun then why would your players be?Don’t get caught up in the details. They’re more like guidelines.

Self-Publishing 101

I like to thank Sara Rothman for allowing me to upload her presentation over self-publishing. I attended her panel at Anime Matsuri 2017 and found her presentation very informative and decided to share that information with everyone. Sarah Rothman has written An Otaku Abroad: The Affordable Japanese experience for Anime and Manga fans. For more information, you can visit her website here. She has a book, Suicidal Samurai, coming out in May that, if anyone is interested in, can pre-order here.

In this post, I’ll be going over some of the main points discussed in the presentation. I will also upload the entire document on my blog. You can find it here.

So, to begin with:

Self-publishing is basically where an author publishes their own book, independently, without the involvement of a third-party publisher and at their own expense. The author has a lot of control but have to do all the work themselves like marketing, PR, format, price etc. There’s also outsourcing where the author can have someone else do, for example, the marketing part of the process.

There are advantages and disadvantages to self-publishing.

Advantages:

  • Easy to do
  • Control
  • Outsourcing
  • No Gatekeepers

Disadvantages:

  • Personal costs
  • Negative stigma
  • Lots of competition
  • Dealing with bookstores

There are more advantages and disadvantages and those can be found on the presentation.

Next,

Where to start?

It’s helpful to know why you’re writing. Money? Status? Bragging rights? For fun? I think, in essence, each motivation will help with the process and how much time and effort you’re willing to put into a story.

It’s also important to write A LOT. You can publish a book if you haven’t finished it. You may have heard it plenty of times but write every day. Even if what you wrote today can’t be used at all, at least you’re staying in the habit and practice. I honestly believe that practice makes perfect.

  Editing

It’s nice to read through a story multiple times. Read it once for grammar, another for story, etc. If you try to find all the problems at once, I feel that will get complicated so focus on one thing at a time. It’s also helpful to read it out loud or use audio reading software. Another tip, have another set of eyes. I find it helpful when I have someone else read my story because they might catch something I didn’t. And remember, it’s your book so you make the decision on what to delete or keep.

(A few)  Self-Publishing Websites:

  • Amazon.com
  • Lulu.com
  • Ingram Spark
  • Smashwords (ebook only)

A bit more information:

Choose your cover design carefully. People to judge books by their covers.

The pricing for ebooks and printed books will vary. There’s also distribution costs to take into account.

The business of self0publishing is always changing.

Niche books tend to well.

Marketing is touch and requires effort. Social media and freebies help.

Build your email list.

Always keep writing. The more books you have out there, the higher the chance there is of one book hitting it big. Also, the more books you have publish, the more money you can have coming in.

Lastly,

Slow and steady. Self-publishing, and writing in general isn’t something to get rich off straight away. It takes time and effort. Don’t be discouraged. If something isn’t working then change it until it does.

Thanks for reading. Like I mentioned before, this is just a basic summary of the presentation. You can have the full document here.

Map Making

For the past week or so I have been drawing some maps for my fantasy stories. These include: Crimson Queen and Blue Moon. Blue Moon is more of a story that I have been working on the lore and the background story of how the world came to be once the story starts. I haven’t really started writing the novel yet because there’s so much and I need to make an outline for it once I figured everything out.

I will say that I have written a movie script for this idea. Actually, it all startes out as a movie idea and, as time went on, I began to realize that it would be good as a book series. 

So, overall, I’m not saying that I have never drawn a map of lands/worlds before. I’m just saying that it has been a while and they’ve never been so detailed before. How did I mange to do this?

For starters, all I used was a piece of paper and a pencil. Nothing fancy. I’m not an artist, I can’t draw but I do know the name of the town my story takes place in and a few more details. For example, there’s a river near town and a cave. I started off small. Well, it also helped that I had a world generator but more on that later.

Creating a map for Crimson Queen had me going back to the planning section. I needed to create a layout of the town but that wasn’t too difficult. I focused on the main points in town like the church, the Major’s mansion, and enforcement office. From them, I added all the other pieces. The buildings weren’t perfect and I didn’t create any floor plans but I knew where everything was.

After the layout, I zoomed out and focused on the surrounding areas. I added trees, a river, farm land, the cave, and even neighboring towns. Thanks to the map generated by the world generator, I was able to use set my towns on the map and be done. 

At least now, not only do I have notes on the distance betweens towns and those details, but I also have a visual aid. Sure, it might not be perfect but no one but me is going to see it. Plus, making a map makes the world come alive a bit more. 

Half and Half -Part 1

I decided to try something different today. For the last seventeen days, I have been writing around 1,800 words (sometimes less) all in one sitting. This probably contributes to the reason of why I…

Source: Half and Half -Part 1