Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo Ignition

Hey, everybody, I've got a new post over at The Vanishing Blog this evening. It's my review/impressions/explanation-of-why-it's-amazing for Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Yeah, yeah, I know. A bit overdue. Deal with it and go check it out!

Here we go. We're back for another full week of posts.

More importantly, we're back for NaNoWriMo - the National Novel Writing Month.

Hopefully it'll be another successful year so I can start a win-streak (or whatever).

Anyways, on to some content.

I am excited about this. For those of you who aren't sure what NaNo is, you can go to the official site for the full information. For those who just want a summary, it goes like this: NaNoWriMo is an international initiative to encourage all those of us who have said "I'd like to write a book" to actually get up and DO IT. The challenge is to write 50,000 words entirely within the month of November, and for those 50,000 words to comprise a complete book.

Now, of course, there's no way for them to measure this, but it's really in your best interests to be honest. You're only cheating yourself, after all, by pretending to write a book instead of actually writing a book.

For those who are curious: 50,000 words in November is 1,666 words per day if you write for all 30 days (7 days a week, and all). It's 1,923 words if you take one day off each week (which some writers recommend; for me, it'll be Fridays). And it's approximately 2,273 words per day if you only write 5 days a week; so let's go ahead and bump it up to 2,500 words per day after assuming that you'll take Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday off to spend time with the family.

Okay? Between sixteen hundred and twenty-five hundred words each day, depending on your writing style. For those of you who have done it, you know it's possible. For those of you who already write every day outside of NaNo, you know this is a piece of cake. For the rest of you, looking in from the outside: this is hard work.

So, let's share some helpful pointers.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Suddenly Feel Very Overhwlemed

Today was registration for classes next semester.

Well, qualification, today was the day that I registered for classes next semester. Unfortunately, due to several complications having to do with transfer credits (namely, that I haven't done anything with them yet), I'm a bit behind most of my friends. So, while everyone else has been gleefully celebrating their schedules for the past two days, I've had to wait until this morning to register.

Naturally, this has led to complications with scheduling the final semester of my college career. But that's not what I'm planning to talk about today. Sorry for the diversion.

Instead, I have exciting news!

But first, a picture:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Projects Update: Game Design

Hello, everyone. Just a few notes today, nothing fancy.

First, and perhaps most importantly, I've updated the story structure post with what is, in my opinion, the most useful tool for learning basic story structure that I've ever seen. I'm actually surprised I didn't include it in the original post. *sigh* What a forgetful, imperfect man I am...

Anyways, it's there now. So you can head over to Monday's post to learn about "The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet," from his highly effective book Save the Cat! (Confused? Amused? Go check out the post!)


For the rest of today, I'm going to talk about games. Board games. I guess video games, too, but mostly about board games.

See, I love games. I love playing games, but I also love creating games. This goes back almost as far as my love for storytelling, when I tried to make a Super Mario RPG card game that was basically a re-flavored ripoff of the Pokemon card game.

I've gotten slightly more of a clue since then.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Introduction to Professional Creative Writing, Part 2: Story Structure

Goodness, where does the time go? You let things slip away for a day and soon the whole week has left.

Oh, well.

Shall we get back to this?

Today, I have some links (once again, predominantly from Writing Excuses) to share that discuss story structure. This ranges from basic, three-act systems to more complex considerations of why we use structure.

So, without further dawdling, some links:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

College and its Effects on Writing, Part 2

Okay, I'm back now. Time to talk about networking.

This is one of those things that, I feel, works out best when you don't realize it's happening. When you think to yourself  "man, I suck at networking," I like to think that means you're probably doing it right.

For example: how many people do you know? Think carefully now, and don't just stop with the obvious answers.

Sure, you know your family. You know your close friends, the folks you hang out with all the time and share secrets with. Those are easy. You also know your coworkers, to an extent. And maybe even a few of your classmates, a bit. Those are also fairly obvious. But you also know your teachers and the guys on your sports team and the folks in your gaming group and in that show you were in and at that group you attend and the list goes on.

The list probably stretches into the hundreds if you really take some time to think about it.

Again, though, that's the easy part. Here's where it gets fun: how many of those people do you think would spot you a buck if you asked them to? How many of them do you think would write a letter of recommendation for you? At the very least, how many do you think have a good impression of you?

That's enough. Chances are, someone you know is going to be successful. So yeah, if that's your entire goal behind networking, you're done. Someday.

But let's take it a step further...

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Follow-up to "That Big, Awkward Post"

So, this is going to be another one of those posts where I put myself out there. Certainly not to the degree that I've done recently, but still, following through on things is good. Right?

(Also, in case you don't know, THIS is "that big, awkward post," so far as I'm concerned.)

Today I stumbled across a blog post by thriller novelist Wayne Arthurson, wherein he talks about sharing. You should go read it, it's good. And it sums up a lot of my feelings about blogging and celebrity transparency and public image and stuff like that.

For those of you who are either too lazy or too busy to read his post, I'll summarize: sharing is good in moderation.

The slightly more expanded summary: he's not going to tell you about his family on the internet, but he will tell you about what his interests are.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

College and its Effects on Writing, Part 1

So, I was sitting in a coffee shop in St. Charles, MO yesterday and thinking about an ongoing debate I had been having with a former friend who lives there. The debate was whether or not it's necessary to attend college in order to be a professional writer. Now, obviously, it's not necessary. There are many and more writers who have been successful without attending college, but it's still a discussion that does and will continue to happen.

Phrased a different way: what's the point of going to college if you want to be a writer?

It's a question I asked myself before deciding to attend University, and it's a question I've asked myself several time while I've been here. Now that I'm approaching graduation (on time!), I figure I should be able to take a moment and reflect on this question again.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Introduction to Professional Creative Writing, Part 1: Getting the Work Done

So, I've had a few people at school express interest in making money as creative writers. Some of them asked me specifically for information; some of them simply expressed their interest during general conversation in my vicinity, so I offered my encouragement that it is, in fact, possible to earn a living by writing.

Now, these interactions got me to thinking, "Y'know, I've done enough research into this topic that I guess I am qualified to give advice -- or at least point folks in the right direction."

I'll admit I feel a bit weird offering advice on how to earn a living as a writer when I haven't exactly made a buck at this myself, but I am confident in the advice of other, successful writers I've read and listened to for years now.

So, here I am, presenting the advice of wiser men and women for your digestion:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Looking For Help -- English Honors: Antebellum

Hey, new project: English Honors.

I decided today to try and pull together an extended creative writing project for Honors in the English Degree, as I'll be graduating in the Spring. The proposal is due this week, so I'm pulling together some initial plans and thinking about some of the things I should consider as I approach this project.

First, a basic overview: my goal is to present plague-era medieval Europe in a creative piece of fiction in such a manner that it feels like a post-apocalyptic journey story (The Road, Mad Max, etc.)

Unfortunately, despite my general interest and familiarity with both the genre (post-apocalyptic) and the history (plague-ear Europe), I haven't actually read/watched anything the specifically fits into either of these categories.

That's where all of you come in. I'm looking for recommendations (from anyone, really) of things to read that would help me familiarize myself with the two above topics, with an eye toward using this list to form a foundation of "research" for my Honors project.

If anything springs to mind, or if you have any questions about what it is I'm doing, please leave a comment below.

Thank you. Until next time...
-josh k.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Equality, Humility, and Other Fine Things

"Nobody cares how smart you are -- they care how willing you are to treat them like equals."
                                                                                      -Holly Lisle

Yes, I think I'm better than you. It doesn't really matter who you are, it's safe to assume that this is the case.

I'm sorry. I know it's not true, somewhere, but still I think it.

Yes. It's an issue. One of many -- don't worry, I'm not about to be perfect anytime soon. Unfortunately, it takes me a while to get around to noticing these issues -- at least, it seems like a while to me. And even when I do notice them, it doesn't mean I'm able to fix it.

It's this...pretension, delusion of grandeur, self-importance, pride, etc. that really prevents me from writing, in several forms.

I can't write in private, because I'm trying so hard to be better than I actually am.
I can't write here in public, because I'm so afraid of revealing to the world that I'm so damned pathetic.

It's not the time, or the inspiration, or anything like that. Not really, at least.

Nope. It's pride.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Right, so...I need to stop making promises.


Hello, everyone. As I'm sure you've all figured out by now, Runic is not going well.

In fact, it's not really going at all.

You see, I apparently have this odd writing quirk where I make grandiose plans, prepare for those plans, promise people that I'm going to follow through on those plans...and then completely switch my plans to work on an entirely different project at the last minute (...or one month past the last minute, in this case).

It's a psychological disorder, I swear. I think I need counseling. :P

So, anyways, I'm not going to be rewriting Runic this semester. Unfortunately.

There are a variety of reasons for this, and I could get into them, but the most important one is this: I'm a lazy, undisciplined, selfish fool. AKA, I'm a bad person. But we all knew that already, so I'm not sure why this is such a surprising revelation.

Back on track with the post, now, yes?

I am writing now. I've switched to another older project: a short story I started last summer but am now expanding into a novel (it needs to be, honestly). It looks like it's going to shape out into a tight, character-focused, five-act tragedy. know, the kind of stuff I've been doing all year, more or less.

In fact, let me share with you a few brief thoughts on the matter that I sent to my girlfriend in a text:

"2,271 words. Reached the end (more or less) of the old stuff. Learned some new things about the characters involved and decided on a way to fit the story into a beautiful 5-act structure. Ready to dive into new stuff tomorrow."

(Too bad it's too long to be a tweet. I like the condensed nature and reporting tone.)

So, yeah, that's what I'm working on right now. As I have said before, hopefully this springboards me into writing other things, but I'm not going to make any promises.

Until next time (whenever that may be).