NaNoWriMo

How better to start my first blog post in November than to share my experience joining NaNoWriMo?! National Novel Writing Month is the talk of the town, and it sets a great goal for any author of writing 50,000 words in one month. Now, that is a bit steep for me given my current situation of a full time job, grad school at night (plus homework), and my wife is due to give birth to our second daughter in a matter of days. With all that on my plate, my participation would be minimal, at best. But, even with such a large goal of 50,000 words, I realized that joining the movement couldn’t hurt. After all, it’s free!

After signing up at www.NaNoWriMo.org I began filling out my profile. They even allowed me to claim participation in NaNoWriMo for previous years, so I logged THE SOUL SMITH as my composition for 2011. They asked for my synopsis, a sample of my work, and the book cover, all of which I copied over from my website. Then it asked me the same questions for the book I plan on writing for the 2012 NaNoWriMo. Fortunately, I knew I would be writing THE CHROMIUM SMITH, book 2 of my fantasy series. However, I found that the simple, yet complex question of asking for the synopsis of my unwritten book was profound. Trying to convert the story concept from my head into words really helped shape my character motivations, and I found this simple exercise as a very helpful tool for planning my novel.

Another benefit of joining NaNoWriMo.org are the forums and Regions which help you connect with other local authors. I have already found fellow SDSU students to meet up with and organize write-ins, etc. Connecting with other writers keeps you motivated, and it’s not just on the forum boards either. The authors I follow on Facebook and Twitter are constantly asking for everyone’s current word count. The peer pressure keeps you motivated toward writing more.

In addition, the website has a Word Tracker tool (shown below), that helps you visualize your progress and easily calculate your daily writing average to help you meet the goal of 50,000 words.

Upon becoming a fresh, new member of NaNoWriMo, they shared a few tips toward achieving the 50,000 word goal. For those of you that do not have a plan in place, or a story concept in mind, I’ve written a brief summary of their main points below:

  1. Just wing it. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Write every day and soon enough, a story will appear.
  2. Do not edit, just write. Get your 50,000 words on the page and use the rest of the year to edit it.
  3. Tell people that you’re writing a novel. Sure enough, they’ll ask you about your progress. Use that peer pressure of “not wanting to look like a failure in front of your friends” as something to motivate you to keep writing.
  4. It’s okay to feel the urge to quit; just know that it gets easier as time goes on.

It’s All About The Journey, Part IV

As a freshman in High School, I can’t deny the influence that japanimation had on me at such a youthful age. I fell in love with their movies (as opposed to their animated TV shows), which really introduced me to what “EPIC” is all about. Their Epic action sequences, their Epic-sized monsters, their Epic story lines – all opened my imagination toward thinking BIGGER. I’ll list my favorites here: Akira, Ninja Scroll, Princess Mononoke, Gundam Wing,  Vampire Hunter D, and Ghost in a Shell.

However, most of my time spent in High School was spent playing Warhammer. Now as a sophomore, my obsession with Warhammer (and my Dwarven army) led me to meeting a freshman named Skyler. After a few of our Warhammer battles, he introduced me (and our entire Warhammer crew) to Dungeons & Dragons (3rd edition). Skyler was the Dungeon Master (DM) and ran a campaign in the Greyhawk world. The imagination and unlimited possibilities that were involved made this game the best RPG game ever made. No video game will ever be able to reproduce the experiences that occur within Dungeons & Dragons. For all of those reasons, D&D immediately became our new favorite past time. We played every possible weekend that we could all meet. Almost as an extension from my Dwarven Warhammer army, I chose my character to be a Dwarf Cleric. We played for a long while, my dwarf was level 12 (out of 20), and we were stoked with the story line and the development of our characters until disaster struck. Skyler could no longer join us in our D&D sessions.

What did we do? Our D&D crew nominated me to be the next DM. We started over. They all made new characters while I began crafting a story line for them to play through set in the world of Forgotten Realms. This marks the beginning of my experiences as a fantasy story writer. However cheesy or unprofessional you may think this experience is in relation to fiction writing, I will argue against you until the end of time. There is no better medium to try implementing a story line and have real characters with individual personalities and motivations play through it and reveal to you your weaknesses in your plot line. Characters uncover “holes” in the story all the time; in fact, this occurs so often that the DM’s desired outcome will probably not occur because the characters find other creative solutions to complete the mission that the DM did not think of. As a DM, being able to tighten your story and create “hooks” to make the characters interested/motivated to go on a quest is a vital skill to have as a fiction writer. It directly correlates to the skill of capturing the reader’s interest and developing the opening for your novel. In addition, it helped craft my world building skills as well. My world of Thornwall that I crafted for my series of books uses nothing from the fantasy elements of D&D. It is all 100% of original design, though D&D helped me understand what is needed to make a world believable.

I did not know at the time that being a Dungeon Master for D&D would prepare me and my imagination for writing a novel, but when I had first decided to write a novel (which I will tell that story soon enough), I had initially wanted to write a fantasy story set in one of the D&D worlds. I immediately realized that there would be licensing/copyright issues and I had decided against it. I knew I had to write something of my own design, of my own conjuration, from the depths of my imagination in order to pursue a new fresh fantasy novel.

But before I launch my journey into writing a novel, I went to college. College is the place where my reading plummeted, but I kept my imagination engaged through RPG video games. I spent a lot of time playing Guild Wars, Suikoden 3 & 4, and numerous other games. It was only after graduating college with an undergrad degree, becoming a working professional, trying to launch numerous side businesses, and having my first child that I realized I want to write a fantasy novel. . .

(Stay tuned as I describe my writing journey, my agent querying, my online marketing experiences and so forth….)