Monday, December 4, 2017

Post-Nano TWIC: even more writing links!

The novel I just finished writing 50,000 words of was backstory for a trilogy I had written in previous Nanowrimos. That is, I wrote the trilogy - three incomplete books - and then felt that better understanding the origins of the people and events would help me finish the trilogy. I wonder if I should have read this first: The complete guide to creating backstory in speculative fiction.
Complicated plots, entirely invented settings and large casts of characters can be hard for a writer to keep track of – and if the writer can’t follow the story, the reader definitely can’t.
So, to get organised, you’ll want to start planning your novel.
The scale and style of planning you’ll do will depend on how you work as a writer. As George R. R. Martin once said, some writers are architects, planning everything down to the letter; some are gardeners, planting a seed and letting things grow from there.
No matter which type of writer you are, you’ll need to think carefully about backstory when you’re planning (or at least planting the seed for) your novel.
Back to my story. One thing I did feels especially ironic as I think about backstory. I came to a part of the story where a shaman makes predictions. I wrote:
“Alexander. Electra & Sterope. Mumblerumblefumble. Jesu. Spiralling storm. …”
and commented next to the text:
Add legit and ridiculous words here.
In other words, I waited to write more so I could write backstory, in a backstory.

Ah, c'mon, I thought it was funny.
Week 5 of Nano, how to finish and edit your story. See that line somewhere above that notes I now have four unfinished books in a trilogy? I need this!
On the subject of slogs – if you’re a writer who just found out that you find it genuinely difficult to write, you have my sympathies. Conceiving of a story and wording that story are different skills, and any given author has a different relationship with them. Writing isn’t usually easy, but it reliably rewards persistence, and, put bluntly, there are only so many words in your story. Keep going and you will get there.
Once your story feels structurally sound, it’s time to start thinking about consolidation. Great stories use the fewest words possible to achieve their goal – even when they’re verbose, they’re verbose for a reason. Look at your story and consider whether it makes sense for two characters to become one more complex individual. Can you deliver exposition while also establishing character? Can you use dialogue to move the story forward? Can your world building make the passage of time feel more natural?
How to write funny: This is largely a dissection of the movie, Thor: Ragnarok but it does get into elements of humour.
Gord Sellar describes the way his novel had charged and limped and charged along.
My coworker Brent Meske finished a novel during Nanowrimo and is right now handing out a few copies for comments. The link doesn't go to any freebie, I just wanted to point out that I wrote half a novel during November and he is well-nigh to publishing one over the same period. "Good for him," I say with jealousy and gritted teeth, "Good for him!"
I have some slight connection to the two writers above, but I don't know anything about Rachel Cusk, except that CBC tells us she is writing a novel without focusing on plot.
For ESL and general writing instruction, here are 20 resources for writing and more. Here are two:

*MakeBeliefs Comix has several winter and holiday themed comic prompts, such as this one.
*Story Starters has a list of holiday picture prompts followed by some lines to help students write stories or poems.
Finally sarcasm can boost creativity.
Gino [a researcher at Harvard]  told the Harvard Gazette, “To create or decode sarcasm, both the expressers and recipients of sarcasm need to overcome the contradiction (i.e., psychological distance) between the literal and actual meanings of the sarcastic expressions. This is a process that activates and is facilitated by abstraction, which in turn promotes creative thinking.”

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