Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 4: Mind over Body (we all wish we could do it)

Mind over body. That's what I'm telling myself today, after having terrible bowel issues that I have been successfully avoiding for some months due to controlled diet. Somewhere in the past couple of days, I failed that diet, and I have been punished by the bacterial culture living in my gut. They decreed that those bacteria that process lactose were evil and sacreligious and exiled them from my stomach some years ago, after previously locking them in a fart-gulag.
The body is a horrible place, and everything about being made of meat is awful. That is why I like to write about things that aren't human! Robots and other superiour beings that don't have to look at the delicious melting cheeses that they once loved so very dearly and now can only gaze wistfully upon lest they eat even one tempting morsel and send themselves into a shit spiral that will last for days.
It's important to find the passion for your work, wherever it may come from. Most days, it's love of crazy wonderful things, or a desire for childhood fantasies to be real, or just wanting to be heard. Today, it's the rage and anguish I feel as a Frenchman towards lactose intolerance.
C'est la vie, c'est vrai, mais j'suis un ecrivant de science-fiction. Cette vie n'est pas la seule vie disponsible.
Nous faisons nos mondes propres.

Let's write some novels.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 3: It's like it never even ended

By this third day of #nanowrimo you've all either begun to remember what the last nano was like and are freaking out that you'll lose steam two weeks from now and nothing will ever be finished and oh god why or you're freaking out that you're behind on your count and oh god it'll never be finished why me...

Yeah, we've all been there before. But this is only day 3! The official count for today is only about 4000 words! YOU CAN GET THAT DONE TODAY IN TWO HOURS I BELIEVE IN YOU. Okay, probably not. In a perfect world, that's how I'd get it done. 1000 words every 30 minutes. The golden pace. But no, I'm never there. And you never are either! But that's okay. Because every moment we spend freaking out about our wordcount is time we should be using to fill our books with words.

Here is your mantra for the month, in fact, forever:

NO WORRIES ONLY WORDS. No worries only words. No worries only words! NO WORRIES ONLY WORDS!!! CHILDREN OF THE CORN AHHH

We've got 27 more days of nanowrimo, but you've got an eternity to worry about whether anything you do is good. For these next 27 days, just forget about that crap. Everything you do is good. And it'll be better when you edit it in December.

I'm trying to keep my face around the Forums for those in need, but if you see a thread that could use some Caps Lock Crusader action or see someone crying out for a #betabuddy, let me know!

Keep writing everyone, and I'll see you online :D Join me for a #wordsprint sometime!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day 2: The envengening of fwords

Are you making up words? Chances are if you're writing fantasy or science fiction, you're making up far more than one. But almost any book can involve new language. Teen slang is an ever-changing miasma of made-up words. If your book has teenagers, you should probably have some kind of slang. Otherwise, they aren't really talking like teenagers.

But how make false words are too many? If I write out "The Glorxian sacrophods invexed the Halati metalikuds" you have some idea that <proper noun> <things> verbed some other <proper noun> <things>. But even if you have a degree in linguistics and figure out that the author was trying to suggest with the cross-linguistic "metalikud" that the Halati have a group that is above consolodation that doesn't really help you understand anything at all. But that's not because the words are made up, it's because you have no context for them. This is the first time you've seen these words, and they don't come with any context whatsoever, so you have no idea what they mean. If you provide the proper context, and make the language rich enough, (cough cough Elvish) everyone will want to learn that shizz. You know they made a whole language for the Avatar people? Cool, but no one actually cared about the language, because the world of that movie wasn't really compelling enough to make me want to pretend to be one.

Ooh, but what if someone's trying to take my unobtanium? Godzilla. If all your made up words are like unobtanium, then please, take all the made up words out. But for the rest of you, who have imaginations and intelligence, don't throw your made up words away. Sometimes they are beautiful, sometimes they enter the real language. I don't believe for a second that Shakespeare made up all the words English profs say "he" did -- I think that about 99% of them were common street language, which was never written down. And if you include a slang word that you and your friends use but nobody else, and it catches on? Think about grok, or frak. I at least hear those words pretty much daily. Frak is fun to say, and we all know what it means because it shows up exactly where fuck is supposed to be. But frak sounds funnier and doesn't come with any connotations other than BSG.

The key to getting your fwords into people's brains is to not make your book a language textbook, with long descriptions and definitions, but to leave those words like little crumbs of cake, a tantalising tidbit that you nab quickly and easily. Set a new word up with proper context, put in the proper grammatical slot and bam your readers will slurp up that word. Hell, if you make the language beautiful or compelling enough, people will learn the whole damn thing! Klingon appeals to those of us who love to yell consonants, Elvish to those who like to whistle and sing. My advice to making up words if you don't have any sort of academic linguistic knowledge is to just go with what sounds natural, and give us enough context to understand what it means. Don't give me a quiz on whether a lanitar has a long shaft or short shaft or whether the mechanism to create the spinning blade motion uses chains or gears or both. Just let me know that the mechanism whirrs as it slices through a thousand orks. (or orcs, whichever you want!!! Start a controversy over the spelling of your made up thing!!)

If you put in fwords sparsely towards the start, keep their usage consistent and supported, by the end of your book we'll be able to read "The Glorxian sacrophods invexed the Halati metalikuds" and go "OH SHIT!" instead of "Uh, what?" And that's what you're really going for.

2 days in, 28 more to go! Get those words, get those novels written!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Need Words? No Credit? NO PROBLEM!

Hello, and I am here to sell you the deal of a lifetime. That's right, fame and fortune can be yours, all yours. No strings attached, nothing scammy, nothing under the table. Except the dog, but that's where he's supposed to be. Can't have dogs sitting at the table, can we? Then there's no difference between them and us. Anyways -- I've got a deal for your. I know you've got a dream. You wanna write a novel.

OH I've heard that one before. Who doesn't say that? Everyone wants to write a novel. of course they do! But how many do? How many set up and say that and then finish? Not enough, i'll tell you that! Same as the gym, a few weeks after New Years and they're all empty. But what if I told you that I could guarantee you'd finish those fifty-thousand words?

Well, I can't. But you can. That's why I'm here. I'm here to make a deal with you, for that promise to fame and glory. I promise to badger you, to cheer you, to rabble-rouse and even jeer you, whatever it takes to help you make it down that line. I promise to sprint with you every day I am able, and to be unfailingly positive and faithful. Because it's hard to do that for yourself. But I know you can write these words. I know you have the power within yourselves to reveal the stories that live inside your minds. I believe you have the will and the fortitude to write just over a thousand words a day. For some of us, that's an hour's work, even less. For others, it's a whole day. We don't all have time to write slow. We don't all have time to write the best lines that there are. But that's not what #nanowrimo is about, and it's not what first drafts are about. They're about uncovering the bones, about laying the foundation. It's about transferring that story from your brain to a stable and permanent medium, before you refine it into art.

None of the words you write have to be perfect. None of the words you write have to be good. But you want them to be, and I believe you can do it. You just have to believe tha you know when something is wrong, and when you need to continue on. If your brain gives you another scene to write, write it. Maybe it will fit, maybe it wont, but you will learn something, and you will have those bloody words.

It's November first, and we've just begun. The road ahead is long, but also tragically short. Don't make every minute count. Don't make every word count. Just make words. I'll be here whenever you need aid, whenever you need to know that someone believes in you. And when we're all done, when that novel's written and ready to be edited into beautiful, magical art, then you'll find that the road to all that fame and glory just got a lot shorter.

Let's write a novel.