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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

NaNoWriMo Plans

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

NaNoWriMo Plans

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I've seen lots of mutterings this week about NaNoWriMo. As some of you know, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year but in an "unofficial" capacity. Since NaNoWriMo doesn't count works-in-progress, and I will be aiming to finish last year's novel, then I'm technically not eligible. I know, I could break the rules, who'd know the difference? But I agree with their mindset that someone starting from scratch has a much harder job than I do, picking up a novel that is well over 50,000 words already. And, really, I "won" last year, got the nifty icon, so what is really important? The icon or finishing the novel?

So my aim is to finish or come very close, which will take at least 50,000 words (since it's me, and I'm rambly). I'd thought of setting myself loftier goals--70K or even 100K--since last year was pretty easy for me, but decided that it matters not how many words I write but that I finish--or at least come close.

The novel takes place in my original fantasyverse of the Midhavens. The story is fantasy with elements of horror--just pretend to be surprised by that--and follows the early life of one of my most important characters, who was bred and born to be an evil sorcerer of extraordinary renown.

The problem is: He's not evil. So the story follows him through his life, finding his identity and escaping the fate into which he was born and dealing with the repercussions such a background brings in a world that is naturally suspicious of magic.

In writing this story, I can see why Tolkien got himself into such trouble with ever-changing names and ideas that now boggle researchers with their inconsistency. The Midhavens began as a realm in which to set my original fantasy RPG. As I constructed the backstories of the main NPCs, I was drawn into their lives, and they practically begged to be written about. So here I am. The problem is that, forming an RPG, I cared considerably less about naming and practical details deep in the history and mythology. Many of my names were derived from Elvish--both Sindarin and Quenya--because I hate inventing names and was the only Tolkienite in the group...and so the only one who would ever notice that my fantasyesque names were in fact derived from another author's language. As the Midhavens move from an RPG realm into a full fantasyverse, I'm slowly changing things...but I hate making up names. Hate it, hate it, hate it. And it seems that my little dark sorcerer and his eventual wife--the parents of meryth and talban--are two of the names that I have to change.

*grumbly sigh*

So I've been looking for names, teasing apart words and existing names, occasionally scribbling random conglomerates of syllables in hopes that something clicks. This was how I named Meryth and Talban. Meryth was named because I wanted a Ranger character to play in my RPG, I needed a name with a moment's notice, and literally blurted out, "Meryth!" Talban came to me while sitting at my desk at work, staring at the CSAFE map over my computer. It has all of the Maryland counties on it, and I was pondering some of the names. My mind got caught on "Talbot." Could be a cool name for a character, I thought, but "Talbot" inevitably makes me think of steamed crabs and the Chesapeake Bay (since it is an Eastern Shore county) and the CSAFE district of Easton. Heh. The perils of working with warrants. So I changed the "bot" to "ban," and Meryth's brother was born.

Now, I just spent a good minute staring at the CSAFE map and hoping that their father's name will similarly jump out at me. Charles? Caroline? Prince George?? *snickers* Nah, I think I'll have to look in my character name book or just hope for dumb, dirty luck on this one.

Meanwhile, it occurs to me, while working on this project, that building a universe and writing a story are really separate but connected endeavors. Before starting this, I would mentally scream at my Tolkien books--particularly HoMe--all of the time. "Why! Why did you do this to us?! Pingo becomes Pongo becomes Dingo becomes Fingo becomes Fingon...nrgh!" Now I'm a little meeker, shall we say, while reading. Sometimes, I just want to write something, only I need one hundred names and historical facts to do it. So I make up stupid names or create names in Elvish to tide me over. I can imagine that if someone endeavored to dig through my notes like Christopher Tolkien is doing with his father's, they would not have much hair left at the end of it. Or I make up harebrained history and mythology right off the top of my head, just to keep the story flowing. "Oops...I need an explanation from where in the individual magic comes...." Voila! Random crap! Currently, I'm trying to develop rites of passage for my dark sorcerers and names to go along with all of it.

The good thing is that I did fully develop the Midhavens backstory for the RPG, so that's taken care of and that's the really important thing (in this story anyway) that could cause a story to break if I changed it. But I've been living with this Midhavens idea for almost two years now, so it's starting to feel real to me.

(Incidentally, the arrival of the Midhavens backstory is interesting in and of itself. I'd had a cold and had taken medicine before bed so that I could sleep, only I took the wrong thing, and the medicine had stimulants in it. I got a half-hour of sleep that night, and sometime that night, as my exhausted and ill body tried to keep up with my overactive and very-awake mind, I made up the Midhavens story. I had to work the next morning and came in to work and furiously typed it up because--as the day wore on--I could literally feel it fading like a dream. So I guess if my stories ever make it into print and into history, then one would not be lying to claim that Dawn was on drugs when she made up the Midhavens story!)

As for NaNoWriMo, last year, I was pretty sure that I would not do it again. I felt liked I'd learned what I needed to learn from it. Alas, here I am, doing it again. It is simply too good of an opportunity. It's a big, official event, so I can put off doing non-writing things and not feel bad about it. Or I can tell people that I need to keep my schedule fairly clear and not feel bad about it, like "Dawn's playing with her Elves again rather than going out and doing things. *sad sigh for all the hopeless Dawnlike geeks*" Instead, it's "Dawn's writing a novel in a month!" (No one has to know that it's more a half-novel, right?) "Wow! *immediately pardoned from non-writing activities*" And hopefully, I'll at least come close to finishing the damned thing so that I can start revising and perfecting my Midhavensverse.
  • (no subject) - callirhoe
    • Thank you! I am having great fun with the story so far...just not enough time to properly write it. ;) Which is why I appreciate NaNoWriMo for giving me motivation and a good excuse to shirk my other responsibilities for a month. ;)

      Focusing myself down to less than epic-level stories has been a huge challenge. *cough AMC! coughcough* The problem here was that it started as a huge world for an RPG...and it's so tempting to run off and describe every detail, develop every culture and give each town and forest its own personality. I have to remind myself, "All in good time, Dawn. All in good time." :^P

      Good luck with your story too! We can gripe together. ;)
  • *ahem* I'm sure you've noticed my post about my NaNo this year... essentially the same story I wrote last year, only Part Two. So, I'm more about skirting the rules than following to the letter. Ah, but technically, I am starting from scratch... LOL!

    50k or bust... *prepares crash mat*
    • As I recall, you and I were neck-and-neck through November last year. ;)

      I'd say that writing a Part II to your story is not cheating. Mine would obviously be cheating--I make no bones that I am picking up in the middle of a chapter, for Eru's sake! :^P

      Good luck!
  • A good way of making up names is using an online name dictionary in an exotic language *and* switching vowels. That gives you exotic names that no one will recognize and a certain consistency you won't have if you simply juggle with random syllables.

    Hope that helps!

    And good luck for NaNo. (I'm not big on rules - let's each have our own NaNo, however we want to do it... and there are so many people writing fanfic for NaNo... isn't that sort of cheating, too? I mean, they don't start with 50K words in the background, but with a whole world and ready-made characters in some cases... I think for most people simply writing 50K is challenge enough. Of course, the problem for you is that this is not much of a challenge... *g*)
    • Thank you! I actually have a book form of that very thing from Writer's Digest that helps immensely. I just have get around to actually using it. :^P

      I'm not big on rules either, but for me, the purpose is more getting my novel finished than getting the icon at the end. (Which I use exactly one place--my userinfo.) And I am competing on much easier turf than someone writing a story for the first time, so it is fair that I don't pretend that I am not by competing alongside writers starting from scratch Nov. 1. I've lived with this story in some form or another for more than a year now; much of what is left is "written" already in my head and just needs to be put onto paper.

      Fanfic is expressly permitted. I considered using NaNo as an excuse for starting my Nerdanel/Feanor "prequel" novel to AMC but decided to finish this one first.

      Of course, the problem for you is that this is not much of a challenge... *g*

      *snicker* Too true! The opposite, actually, is far more difficult: writing something of significance in less than 50K!
  • Lol! I truly enjoyed this ramble of yours... ;) But it also reminded me of the fact that I haven't read your Midhavens novel yet. Are you still willing to share it? Even if I'm busy with RL et all, I would love to have a go at it, even if it will be a slow read. Because I know a few things about your Midhavens universe already, it would be a very pleasant read for ma and it wold also clear up some things I came across while doing the RPG.

    Pingo becomes Pongo becomes Dingo becomes Fingo becomes Fingon...nrgh!

    Lol1 This made me snicker so hard that the guy next to me (I'm in an internet cafe) almost jumped out of his seat. It also kind of reminds me of Teh Bullshit attempt of mine to rewrite the Lord of the Rings, with a Mary Sue-ish self insert. I added stuff to her background story almost every chapter, changing my mind about a gazillion things. Plus, the story started out with her being rescued and falling in love with Legolas. (It is as bad as it sounds, I know... *gags*) As the "plot" thickened, she acquired the hots for Haldir (who also had the hots for Legolas), went back to Rivendell and suddenly felt like pouncing on Erestor&Fin etcetera. Heh, I suppose everybody is allowed to write at least one crappy story like that (though it has it's good parts, I think), only to have fun when reading it later.

    What can I say except happy writing and I hope you won't have to go on drugs again before you finish the entire Midhavens story. ;)

    *loves*
    • But it also reminded me of the fact that I haven't read your Midhavens novel yet. Are you still willing to share it?

      Don't worry, you haven't read it because I haven't shared it yet! When it is finished, I will post it under a special lock in my LJ. People will need to request to be on the list to read it since it contains content that I won't assume everyone will want on their flists. I'll be sure to let you know when I start posting it.

      I can't share WiPs because then I write them for my audience instead of myself, and I become dishonest. That's the only way I can explain it, and it doesn't make much sense, I know. :^/ But the feeling of writing is different; I write to other's expectations rather than my own.

      This made me snicker so hard that the guy next to me (I'm in an internet cafe) almost jumped out of his seat.

      Lol! I laugh at flist posts sometimes and startle Bobby, who rarely gets the humor. :^P

      Honestly, I was doing research for my Elven death/fading essay the other day and looking at an old version of LotR...iirc, Frodo was once called "Bingo." Bingo! Makes me feel like singing, "B-I-N-G-O and Bingo was his name-o!"

      Your story sounds like a lot of fun! There's nothing wrong with writing a story like that, though certain individuals make it seem like the world is ending to write a "Mary Sue" or a self-insert.

      What can I say except happy writing and I hope you won't have to go on drugs again before you finish the entire Midhavens story. ;)

      I hope so too! I so rarely use medication that I have a very strong response to it when I do. That night, I could literally feel my sympathetic nervous system kicking in. Of course, I'm a biopsychgeek and prone to paying attention to things like that. In retrospect, though--as uncomfortable as that night was--I wouldn't have had it any differently, as it gave me this tremendous world in which to play. :)

      *hugs*
  • I think I am going to do Pico-...:) Not NaNo though...at least not a "real" NaNo - I might pitter around with Teh Mae Story of Doom, though.

    I also hate coming up with names. Though usually, maybe due to subconscious annoyance at Tolkien's little naming issues, I give characters a letter or number until I come up with a name. "It's snowing outside," 1 said to 2. It seems like it should get confusing, but it doesn't really. Now, I used to write things and just leave blanks for character names...that got confusing, though I could almost always figure out who was who after reading a bit.
    • Pico's a good idea for students and busy people. I will be honest that my first thought was "Well, what's the point of that?" before giving my inner-snob a strong bitch-slap and reminding her that not everyone has the luxury of writing 10,000 words a day, like she does. ;)

      As for names, I will make up a description like "ebrother" (that was Earwen's brother until kaikias so kindly helped me develop a Telerin name for him) or innkeeperdaughter. When I do find/develop a name for them, it is then an easy Search & Replace in MS Word, requiring very little thought and effort from me, which is always a good thing.

      Or I'll make up a stupid BS name and proceed to evolve and change it nine dozen times, a la Tolkien. :^P
      • *THBTH* You get the thbth icon now. :P And not all of us have the ability to write that much anyway, even if they did have the time. AND some of us don't have muses as cooperative as yours. ;P

        I hate naming, really. That's why I don't write OCs! Yay. And if I ever write something original (yeah right! Like that will ever happen), it will have characters with names from babynames.com or some such place.

        And apparently I have to go visit family over New Years. *goes off to sulk like Feany would in the same situation*
        • There's nothing wrong with taking longer to write or writing shorter pieces than I do. As I've told you before I think: This is actually the trend in fiction right now! An author who can manage thousand-word stories stands a better chance of publication than I do, with my 6,000-word stories.

          Actually, I think that Pico's a great idea: a way for people who can't commit to 50K--or just don't want to--to steal some time for writing anyway.

          As much as I will argue that fanfic is a good writing exercise (because some o-fic authors argue that it is not), o-fic is much harder, for me anyway. Simply because I must start from scratch and work much harder to get that familiar feeling that I get from my universe and characters in Silmfic to where I can create stories with the depth of AMC, por ejemple. (I'm starting to get there in the Midhavens, which makes me so happy!) My point in all this is that--if you wanted to expend the effort to create such familiar characters and world--I think you'd do just fine in o-fic. :) And part of the challenge of less ambitious projects, I think, after writing fanfic, is eliminating the feeling that you must know every detail of your character and universe.

          Okay, now that I've rambled.... ;)

          Boo for New Year's. Personally, I'm advocating for staying home this year, after last year's disastrous attempt at New Year's snow tubing. And you could always come out to Baltimore.... ;)
          • And hey, 5K is only a double drabble a day. ;P That is something that is possible!

            My problem with o-fic is also that, well, I just don't have ideas, really. And those few I occasionally have are really just adapted sil-fic ideas that I figure are "AU" enough to change the names and have them be unrecognizable as Sillmarillion based.
            Actually, I may try a semi-original something for pico-, especially if I perhaps do a double pico-project: one 5K and one 500 original bit. Oh crap, I said that aloud. Shhhh.

            That's very awesome about the Midhavens, though! :)

            And you could always come out to Baltimore.... ;)

            Hee! Oops, I just happened to get on the wrong plane! Pittsburgh, Baltimore, what's the difference? ;P
            • I find ideas in the oddest places. I used to aim for Grand Epic stories; I've since realized that most short stories don't work well that way, so if I find some cool little thread, I just follow it as far as I can.

              Like my latest story was devised in Patapsco Valley State Park with Bobby, wondering what it would be like to walk along a trail in a park and find oneself in a completely strange and new world. Or "The Clash of Earth and Sky" was devised when driving to dive-training and seeing a church with a tall spire and wondering, "Why ever would people invent such awkward and pointless architecture?" For me, it's just a matter of looking at ordinary things in interesting ways. Stories tend to follow.

              Though I guess that's why I write speculative fiction. :)

              Anyhoo, rambling, Dawn....

              Pittsburgh?! Ai! Well, I've never actually been there, but their football team...need I say more?! :^P
              • Lol! Well, I'm so entirely focused on where I'm going and on a random daydream that I usually don't ask these questions of myself! Usually I'm walking back from class pretending that I'm actually on a horse galloping across a field, or jumping a course, or that I'm showing my Prize Baby Lover Dog at teh specialty and getting an award of merit or some other pretty prize. :) And hey, I dreamed hard enough of winning Best Junior Handler at teh specialty that it came true! So I'll just keep dreaming that AoM. ;)

                I think my inspiration comes usually from an object that could have special significance. Of course, I can only think of one example, but whatever!

                I am much better at writing non-fanfic poetry.

                Football team? Oh, you mean the Superbowl champs? >;P Well, half of the trip will be to Erie, but Pitt is the closest airport. Ooh, I know...I'll suggest we drive, and drop the doggies off at some friends who live in DC area...then just take a detour...
                • The Super Bowl champs who are...2 and 4?? Yeah, go Steelers; this season so far has shown why they had to cheat to win in the first place.

                  We can't have dogs in the apartment, but hey, DC's a great place for tourism too.... ;)
                  • Psh...You're just bitter! :P

                    The doggies are staying home anyway. I wonder if my aunt and uncle have realized that I'm not 12 anymore...
                    • Yeah, you could say that. Football is my favorite televised sport, so when teams win through dishonesty (to be fair, on the part of the officiation, and I will not go so far as to say that the Steelers or their management had anything to do with that), then yes, I become bitter indeed. :^P

                      And sadly, the NFL is just a reflection of my view of the larger world these days too. Conspiracies and dishonesty everywhere, preciousss.
                      • Heh, well I must say that there were way more biased calls in the NBA finals.

                        I don't think in ifs anymore, when it comes to sports. "If the ref made this call...", "If the French captain hadn't...", "If this...", "If that..." It's not something anyone can change. Sure, *if* the ref hadn't called bogus fouls on the Mavs, they might have won. But *if* they had come back strong and not acted so discouraged, they might have won too. *shrug*

                        I'm not that big of a sports fan, so...eh.
                        • Ai, now see, you've mentioned the one team sport in which I have absolutely zero interest. I'm not even sure that I knew the Mavericks were a basketball team (and I still don't know what city they represent. :^P)

                          Officials are human like everyone else, and while I would certainly agree that it's best not to think in terms of "ifs"--officials are going to make mistakes, and fans are going to see iffy calls as wrong if they don't favor their team--the NFL is so notoriously bad with this. For one, they are the only major sports organization that does not use professional officials. Their officials are doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs during the week; officiation is a part-time job for them, so you get part-time quality.

                          The Super Bowl was just a culmination for me of a season of downright terrible officiation where teams lost games (and in a season of just 16 games, one loss can be the difference between going to the playoffs or sitting at home) not because of their own successes or failures but because of botched calls. The NFL apologized on numerous occasions to teams, admitting that they'd effed up and lost the game for the team. WTF?? And while I agree that thinking in terms of "ifs" is dangerous, a line has to be drawn. When a team goes out and completely dominates another team as the Seahawks did the Steelers and then loses the game because of--not one--several bad calls, that is problematic. A team shouldn't have to play against their opponents and the NFL.

                          Personally, I think the Steelers shitty season this year is just karma biting them in the ass. And I can't say that I'm upset about that. They don't deserve those Super Bowl rings.

                          I know, you said you don't care about sports, and here I go a'ramblin'. Sorry. Shutting up now. :^P
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