My Favorite Places to Write

I don’t have a specific area where I write, but there are a couple places that I like to write.

Coffee shops are one of my favorite places to write.  I get to drink coffee, and eat pastries.  Coffee shops are also great places to people watch.  I love coffee shops because I don’t get distracted as easily.  Power outlets are often far and few between so I have to get my writing done, especially if I can’t to an outlet.  On the downside, some places seem to frown upon staying for a few hours, so I also have to keep an eye on the time.  And there’s also the cost of food/drinks every so often. 

However, at home is where I get most of my writing done.  There’s no specific writing room or anything, since I’m still living at home, and I can’t exactly claim any room specifically for writing.  It does sound nice, though.  Someday.  Anyway, I pretty much write in my room, on my netbook.  It’s great to write at home because I stay as long as I want.  Plus there’s free food and coffee.  On the downside, there’s a lot of distractions at home, so it’s not ideal for someone so easily distracted.  There’s family needing stuff, (or just being annoying), there’s the lure of the internet.  And for some reason, when I’m writing is always, without fail, the time I decide I need to make enough dinner for a couple weeks.  And bake a lot of stuff.  Which would be helpful if I did it before the month where I try to write 3 novels.

 Of course, everyone has their own preference about where to write, so it’s definitely good to know where and how you work best, and to use it to your advantage.

My NaNo Survival Kit

I love the forums over at NaNoWriMo.  They’re not only really helpful, but there’s a lot that I would never think about.  One being the NaNo Survival Kit.

Essentially it’s something that helps you get through the month of November.  Writing a novel in one month is a roller coaster.  And with work, and school (Note: this year, there’s no school and no work), there are certain things that help people through the month. 

Things that I would put in my NaNo Survival Kit:

  • my magical binder- it has all the notes and characters essential to my novels
  • music- i can’t write when there’s silence.  i need some kind of background noise, but of course, i don’t need anything too loud either.
  • USB drive- backing up my work is really important, plus I’m paranoid that I’ll lose everything before I manage to validate it.  and I work on 2 different computers so I need to have the most updated version in one spot. 
  • pencil, eraser, highlighter and pens/sharpies in assorted colors- I love color-coding, plus it’s a good way to organize my notes
  • post-its/index cards/paper- good way to write short notes, or to do an outline, and on the plus side, it’s easy to rearrange things.
  • the forums over at NaNoWriMo- there’s a wealth of information and distractions, plus I get to talk to other people who are in the same boat as I am
  • coffee- I love coffee, and it helps me focus long enough to actually get writing done.
  • snacks- I have to eat sometime, and I don’t always want to make an actual meal.  The actual snacks vary from year to year, but halloween candy is always good the first week or so.

I’m debating whether I should have a writing hat or something.  Some people swear by it, and I’m curious as to whether it could work for me.  Maybe I’ll spend some time looking at hats.  Or failing that, maybe there’s something else I can wear while I’m writing. 

There will definitely be at least one more post in the next couple days.

The Magical Binder

The picture above is my NaNoWrimo Binder.  And yes, it is an offical binder to boot.

My binder originally started in December when I decided that I wanted to attempt editing one of my 2009 novels.  I also had a section for the character biographies as well.  Since then, I’ve added a section for names I like, and a section for plots, things I overhear and things/people I see. 

I’ve since updated my binder replacing last years kind-of edited novel with my 3 plot ideas and swapping out last year’s characters with this years characters.  The different sections can be seen below. 

    The tabs are the post-it filing tabs.  The backs have an adhesive, so I just stick the tab where I need it to go.  And  plus, they’re removable so I can change the sections around if I want.

The first section, Novels (2010) not only have my plots, but they also have any and all notes I have/need.  So I have family trees, a list of ways to get fired from your job, a list of things to derail a writer, and a bunch of notes and questions about the Secret Service.  My secret service novel definitely has the most notes out of the three plots.  I have the evolution of the idea, plot holes, questions, some basic info about the secret service, and random notes that I probably won’t use, but are still helpful.   

The second section, Characters, has character biographies for all characters in Plots 1 and 3.  I have a basic character profile worksheet (the link for it is the Writer’s Write Worksheet in the link section to the right).  I haven’t answered every question in the worksheet I’ve filled in what I think is necessary for a first draft.  Not only that, but not everything is relevant to every character.  I have a character trait worksheet that I found at the NaNoFiMo website (the link is over in my resources) for all of the Plot 1 characters.  And finally, I have a random fact sheet for a couple characters.  Hopefully I’ll be able to finish those up in the next few days.  For the random fact sheet, it’s something that I created on my own.

Using Kiora as an example, it has her favorite holiday (Halloween), favorite flower (daisies) and favorite food (spaghetti).  There’s a list of her likes (which include polka dots and headbands) and a list of her dislikes (which include hand sanitizer and wearing shoes).  And then there’s stuff like: wearing odd jewelry and volunteering at a hospital. 

I’m still not sure if I’ll refer to any of the character profiles once I start writing, but it’s still a good reference to have if I need it.  Since it all of the info about my characters, it’s definitely a good place to start if I’m having trouble writing any scenes, or if I have no idea what to write next.

Section Three is character names.  I hate coming up with character names, and every year, it’s one of the things I hate doing.  I figured that it would probably be a good idea if I compiled a list of all of my favorite names, that way I can go through and pick the ones I want for whatever project I’m working on.  I did the lists in a spreadsheet, with columns for name, origin, meaning, multiple spellings, and other notes.  If I want something English, I can look at the english section.  If I want a specific meaning, I can go with that.  I decided to go with a multiple spellings section, which is pretty simple- just a yes or no.  If I need an alternate spelling for a name, I can just look it up.  The other notes column has stuff like pronunciation, other origins or translations for names (like Hecate seems to be Greek in origin, but could also be Egyptian) or how I want to use a name.  A good example would Sparrow or Sage.  I like those names, but not really as a first name- so in my notes I have them listed as potential middle names.  

The names are really organized.  There’s female, unisex, and male names.  Under each group, they are arranged alphabetically by origin, so Aboriginal, American, etc.  Under each origin, they are arranged alphabetically by name (so Kiora, Kylie, Early, Kaylee, etc). 

And the last section is devoted to other plots I come up with, people I see and things I hear.  Sometimes people I see are such characters that there’s no way that I can pass up writing them; and sometimes things I hear are too funny not to include.  As far as the list of plots go, it’s  nice to have a list of things that I might want to work on.

I also 3-hole punch pencil pouch thing where I keep index cards, assorted post-its and paperclips, and I usually have pens and sharpies in an assortment of colors, plus a highlighter, pencil and eraser so I can keep everything more organized and for when I need to write notes and draw stuff out. 

So this sums up my binder for now.  More posts are coming in the next few days, but I still haven’t decided on what I want to cover before November.

Music

Music plays an integral role in my writing.  I love writing to music, and when I’m stuck, oftentimes I draw inspiration from music. 

I love Pandora- it has some great music, and since I’m always looking for something new to listen to, chances of finding something I’ve never heard before is pretty likely.  With Pandora, there’s only a limited times I can skip songs, so I can’t be distracted by changing stations every few minutes.  A lot of my stations are finely tuned as well, so for the most part I’m not skipping through songs. 

I do have specific playlists for each novel, and if I’m anything like last year, then I’ll listen to the playlist part of the time, and the rest of the time I’ll probably listen to whatever.

As far as playlists go, I pick music that I think best describes my novel.  I also pick music based on music that my characters like.  They definitely are soundtracks for my novels, as well as my inspiration for where to go next. 

One example is Kiora, from my 1st novel.  She loves Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, The Gin Blossoms, and Black Stone Cherry so those artists will definitely be in rotation. 

As far as specific songs go, Many the Miles by Sara Bareilles, What Hurts the Most by Rascal Flatts, and Crush by David Archuleta are all expected to played a lot.  While romance is on the backburner, it will definitely by hinted at, so Crush accurately describes how Kiora feels about Blake.  

Harry Potter and the Giant Prehistoric Chicken is another example.  I’ll be heavily relying on the soundtracks from the 1st 2 Harry Potter movies, the music from A Very Potter Musical and A Very Potter Sequel, and the music from Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, and Gred and Forge.  I hoping that by listening to Harry Potter-themed music (some serious, and others not so much) I’ll be in Harry Potter mode.

As far as my 3rd novel, the songs are super-random.  While there’s definitely going to be some drama, which is reflected by song such as It’s Been Awhile by Staind, Wonderwall by Oasis and Happy by Leona Lewis, there will also be a lot of light moments as well.  The lighter moments will be reflected in songs like Barbie Girl by Aqua, Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice, and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!

Plot #3

Today’s topic is my third novel, which like Harry Potter and the Giant Prehistoric Chicken, is a combo of 2 different ideas. 

Originally I was going to write about an author who keeps getting derailed from writing their novel while trying to get fired from their job.  There was the shiny new idea of writing a sequel to my 2006 novel.  I realized that I could combine the two rather easily because my female main character Chloe (from my 2006 nano) wants to be a bestselling author, and could use some extra time to write. 

Weird things are definitely going to happen to keep her from writing, and there will be all kinds of work drama for her as well.  She can’t quit her job because she’s a full-time student, and she’s completely on her own, with no family to help her out.  Her dad’s not in the picture and her mom and grandparents died in a car crash.  Her aunts and uncles are out of the picture because they kicked her out of her childhood home.  She does have a few friends who would have no problem helping her out and supporting her, but she doesn’t want to be a burden on them, so she’s feeling really trapped.

Chloe has a lot of trust issues, which stemmed from a multitude of family issues.  Her mom worked a minimum wage job, and had some emotional issues.  She had an abusive aunt and an abusive uncle (and by the way, they aren’t married to each other), her other aunt and uncle could care less about Chloe, and her two cousins were spoiled brats who lived to make Chloe suffer. 

She still has a lot of issues to work through this time around, and it’ll be more of a struggle for her as she tries to balance things.  It won’t be as depressing as 2006, but there will definitely be a sense of darkness lurking in the background.  Things haven’t been easy for her, and that won’t change for this novel either.  She is pretty tough, so she’ll be okay.

Plot #2- Harry Potter and the Giant Prehistoric Chicken

This idea will no doubt be the most funny/amusing of the 3 novels I’m going to write this year.  The giant prehistoric chicken is a great story; it is also a bit of an inside joke, so I won’t mention that particular story here. 

So how did I come up with Harry Potter and the Giant Prehistoric Chicken?  I was leaning towards doing something involving harry potter.  And I was also trying to figure out how to work the giant prehistoric chicken into my novels, when I realized that I could write about Harry Potter and the Giant Prehistoric Chicken.  

I’ve decided to write an alternate 5th year- ignoring books 6 and 7, and keeping some elements of book 5.  Luna will bring up the prehistoric chicken- she’s such a quirky character, and has a lot of…interesting theories, to say the least, so she is the perfect person to bring up a giant prehistoric chicken.  I’m still debating on whether to use Professor Umbridge as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, or if I want to bring in something new.  I know for sure the giant prehistoric chicken  is the secret weapon, and that it needs to be resurrected.  I also know is that the gods/goddesses of the underworld will play a role in resurrecting the prehistoric chicken.

That pretty much sums up this novel.  I haven’t done too much planning for it, mainly because it’s based off of something already written, there’s no need to plan characters, or do any world-building.  And I think I may be trying to make up for all of the research I’ve done with Plot 1.  Balance is pretty important.

Plot #1

My first plot for this year’s noveling attempt is about a 16-year-old girl named Kiora.  My inspiration for the idea came from a couple different sources.  I happened to catch 1st Daughter on TV, and my imagination sprang into action.  It also reminded me of one of last year’s novels, so I started coming up with characters and possible reasons as to why a 16-year-old girl would need secret service protection.  The idea has changed a lot since my coming up with my original notes. 

I had originally planned on them falling in love, but promptly put that on the backburner once I realized there would be a huge age gap between them.  I did a rough timeline of the career path of a Secret Service special agent, and assuming he went right from college to the secret service, I placed him at around 29-30.  13-14 years is quite a big difference.  And yes, I could make her older.  I could even make him younger, but at most a couple years.  I decided not to change up their ages at this point because I definitely want their age difference to be a major source of conflict/tension throughout the novel.  For now, I’ve decided to go for a more one-sided thing.  She has a crush on him, thinks he’s cute, will do whatever he says because of her crush.  And as for Dustin, he resents her because he’d rather be protecting the president instead of some 16-year-old girl. 

Going back to my original idea, I had come up with the idea of her being a niece of the president, but slowly the idea morphed into her being the daughter of a cabinet member.  I’m leaning towards the idea of threats towards the cabinet and their families.

I still need to work out some details on her family.  Her family tree is seen below.  Her mom died when she was a baby, her aunt Arabella has spent a lot of time in and out of psych wards, and her dad doesn’t get along with his sisters, so she has no connections to her other two aunts.  Her grandparents aren’t in the picture, since 3 have died before the story starts, and the opening scene is Poppy’s funeral.  Poppy will most likely be (at the very least) mentioned, since she helped Blake raise Kiora.  Arabella may be mentioned as well.

        

As far as the other characters go, there’s Dustin (who is one of the special agents assigned to kiora), the president, the 1st lady, and their three children.  I’ll probably add a few other minor characters as well, but that still needs to be determined. 

I have character profiles for each of the characters above, although some are much more in-depth than others.  It pretty much amounts to Kiora and Dustin having a more complete profile than anyone else, but I’m pretty sure I can come up with likes and dislikes for everyone. 

I have a pretty decent collection of notes and websites that I will (hopefully) refer to during November if I need a bit of research.  I’m not aiming for accuracy right now, especially since most of what I want to know is stuff I probably won’t be able to find out anyway.  Wikipedia has been a really good starting point for research…everything else can wait until editing starts.

I think that pretty much sums up this novel.  As November progresses, I’ll probably post random tidbits about my characters, and some of the more interesting things I’ve come across during my research. 

This Year’s Ideas

I’ve done two novels the last couple years.  This year, with additional time on my hands, I thought I’d go for 3 novels.

I had 3 perfectly good ideas.

The first idea was about a 16-year-old girl (named Kiora) who needs Secret Service Protection.  My second idea was Harry Potter and the Giant Prehistoric Chicken.  And idea number three was about a novelist who gets derailed from their novel while trying to get fired from their job.

And that was when two shiny, new ideas came out of nowhere, and decided they wanted to be written. 

Idea number 4 was about a girl who commits suicide and ends up in the underworld.  And idea number 5 was a sequel to my 2006 novel.

So that left me with 5 ideas, and two weeks.  While 5 novels in one month is certainly possible, I’m not at all ready for that kind of committment.  So my plan was to keep planning the 1st 3 ideas, and start working on the other 2 ideas, and on Halloween, see which 3 I felt like writing.

I realized a couple days later that idea #3 and idea #5 could be combined.  After all, the female main character in #5 wanted to be a writer.  Her greatest wish is to be a best-selling author.  So what better way than to have her do NaNo, and get completely derailed from her attempt.  And she becomes more disillusioned with her job, which she can’t exactly quit because she is going to school full-time, and she has bills to pay.  

So part of the problem was solved.  But that still left me with 4 ideas, and that was when I realized I could combine idea #2 and idea #4.  Harry Potter and friends end up in the underworld in the search for the Giant Prehistoric Chicken.  I decided to leave out the suicidal girl for this one, and shift it over to the newly combined ideas of 3 and 5.

In the next few days, I’ll probably talk about my 3 plots in-depth.  Expect to see a post about my magical binder, and I’ll probably even talk about the two shiny new ideas too.

Hey There!

I thought that this year I’d try blogging my NaNoWriMo experiences this year.  I have no idea how well it’ll turn out since I tried to a couple years ago and failed miserably.  However, I have a lot of time on my hands, and I’m feeling inspired to chronicle this years attempt. 

My first year doing NaNoWriMo was in 2006.  I won, somehow, with a rather depressing tale of an 18 year-old girl who is the sole survivor of a car accident.  It follows the year of her life after that car accident, and highlights what went wrong in her childhood, and her struggles to overcome everything that’s happened to her.

2007 was certainly an interesting year.  Not only was I writing a novel, but I was working full-time and going to school full-time.  Not to mention that it was my first year as ML.  2007 was the year that I thought I would write about a fictional natural history museum in a fictional town.  I managed to win, which was surprising considering I was really stressed and cried a lot. 

2008 was the first year I attempted two novels.  I had two perfectly good ideas, and couldn’t decide which to go with.  So why not write both?  One was the sequel to the 2007 NaNo, and the other was the sequel to my 2006 novel.  However, a few days in, the only file I had for the 2006 sequel got corrupted, and I lost it, which was just as well, since I didn’t like the direction it was going in anyway.  So I started from scratch going off of Stab My Back by the All-American Rejects, one of my favorite songs at the time.  Going in completely blind was certainly an experience, but one I have no plans to do ever again.  I still have no idea what the novel was about.  I managed to win twice, and miraculously finished both novels early.  That was definitely a fluke, because it only happened the one time… 

Fast forward to 2009, when yet again I wrote 2 novels.  One was about a girl who witnessed a murder, and had to go into witness protection.  The other was the quest for pants, and was entirely based on the dares thread.  Writing a novel based entirely off of dares was definitely an experience, and while I don’t mind incorporating dares, a whole novel based on dares is something that I’m not sure I want to do again.  I did win twice, so I have a pretty good track record.

And of course, there are this year’s novels, which I’ll be talking a lot about over the next few weeks, so I’ll leave that for another day.