NaNoWriMo Begun (In My Own Way)

NaNoWriMo logo with various writerly instruments (journal, typewriter, notepad, etc.) on a wooden background.
Image Source:

So, this will be a shorter blog post, but I wanted to let people know that I’ve have begun NaNoWriMo as I said that I would.

Year of the Shadow–Novel

What I did last Saturday night was to take my idea for a novel and simply sit down and break it up into a chapter-by-chapter outline. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to sit down and write out my ideas from Chapter 1 to Chapter 25 (the final chapter). Now, do I now if the book will have 25 chapters? No, of course not–this is just a skeletal outline of what I hope the book will be. I only have a protagonist and an antagonist. I’ve not even begun to think about other secondary characters that I will need to populate the novel. I have an idea for the first chapter (a really cool setting and set-up), but not for chapter 2 or following. I don’t even know old Tana (my protagonist from “Ship of Shadows”) is at the time of the story. I know she’s the captain of the ship (The Outrider) and has been so for a while, but that’s all I know at the moment.

Now What?

My next goal is to 1) do this same work for the Graphic Novel that I’m working on with “Ship of Shadows.” Without knowing where I’m going, it is so very difficult for me to actually get through the writing of the piece, but if I have a plan, then the writing just “works” (for the most part). 2) The second thing I want to do is to take my chapter-by-chapter outline and write up a half-page up to a page “rough” draft of the chapters. It will probably be half a page, maybe even less. My goal for November is simply to get a strong “rough draft” by the end of the month. With a “rough draft,” I hope that I can then start (in December) to just come up with a 1st draft of each of the chapters (with some dialogue, characterization, world-building, etc.) with the goal of 50,000 words by November 2020 (which is the NaNoWriMo goal).

Doing What Works for Me

So again, I simply can’t do NaNoWriMo properly in the field of education–there’s just too much to do (grading, class prep, reading, papers, etc.) that have to be done during the month of November. However, what I can do is plan. This is something that I’ve been guilty of not doing in previous years. So I can’t devote time during this month–I can, at least, work out a “game plan” and then work on it during the rest of the year. Even if it is NaNoWriMo 2020 (or not at all, if the rules don’t allow writing done during the year which I think they might not), I’ll still have 50,000 words down towards my goal of writing a novel. Getting the first draft down is the hardest part for me (the “rough draft” is the easiest and most fun), but once I have that down, as I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I very rarely abandon a project.

So, slight pat on the back to me for starting on the chapter outline, but I can’t get complacent–I’ve still got miles and miles to go.


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:

  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)‚Äď
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

NaNoWriMo 2019

NaNoWriMo Calendar--Calendar with checkboxes and word count.
Image Source:

So, I’ve discussed National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) on the blog before, so I won’t belabor the point too much. For those who might not have heard about it, it is a way of tracking your progress through the month (in terms of Word Count) for a novel. I believe that the Word Count is 50,000 words produced in the month of November in order to count towards getting recognition that you’ve completed NaNoWriMo for that year.

While admirable, I’ll likely never “complete” NaNoWriMo because, as I’ve pointed it out in previous blogs on the subject–November is the exact wrong month for me to try to accomplish such a lofty goal (at least while I’m in school). I have far too many school-related activities to do to even begin to work on a 50,000 word draft. Just this week, in addition to prepping a class, I need to grade 38 Annotated Bibliographies and Daily Writings, I need to research and write my own Final Project Proposal and Annotated Bibliography for the class I’m taking to turn in by Nov. 3, and I need to take care of the several school-related things (like applying for an Honor Society by deadline) that I’ve slacked on doing while prepping for Friday’s exam.

So I don’t have time to do NaNoWriMo, right?

NaNoWriMo 2019–Well, Sort Of . . .

While I don’t have time to really invest in writing the full draft of a novel, I do have time to sit down and jot down a handwritten “rough draft” of a novel. As this is, for me, “Year of the Shadow” where I write long projects based on my short story, “Ship of Shadows,” I have a strong idea for a novel featuring many of the characters from the short story. I began writing out the skeletal form of the story, but stopped at Chapter 5. I was just jotting down 2-3 sentences per paragraph, but I wanted something more substantial. What I didn’t realize is that what I was doing was developing a “plot outline” where I was emphasizing the events, but I was also creating character “hooks” that I could use to start discussing the characters.

In beginning of November, I plan to write out this plot outline again, this time going all the way to the finish of the novel. Then I plan to do the same for the Screenplay and the Graphic Novel. As a matter of fact, I think that’s why I’ve stalled on the Graphic Novel. I really want to get Tana’s “backstory” in the graphic novel, but I didn’t structure it that way and now I think I need to go back to issue #2 and rewrite it, so that it is a flashback scene, so that when she actually tries to save a fellow crewperson, we see the motivations behind the actions rather than me trying to tell it through “captions” above the panel.

Summertime and the Writing is Easy

The perfect time for NaNoWriMo, for me, would be the summer. In the summer, I have much more “free” time and I can use that for writing (even if it is in shorter bursts than I’d like). Even though NaNoWriMo doesn’t work so much for me in November, I can use it to get a “Rough Draft” of the novel together (and the same for a screenplay and the graphic novel).

Even though in January, I plan to “switch” to a different project for my “Year of . . .,” that only means that I plan to start thinking about a new story that I’ve published and how I might be able to expand them out and touch on the backstory of characters and figuring out the sequel for the story. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t actually be working on a 1st draft for the longer pieces. My mind is good at doing “2 things” really well. As I mentioned in the gaming post, I can really do well in manipulating two different modes/registers at the same time. Any more than that, then my mind says too much, don’t want to do it.

This is what I want to avoid–getting too many projects going at any one time (& not finishing any of them). It would be awesome if I can get to next November and have what NaNoWriMo promises: a finished 1st Draft of a novel (and other projects). Once there’s a 1st draft, then 1) I’m invested and am much more likely to see the project to the end and 2) it is far easier to critique a product rather than an idea. Write now, all my longer projects have been just “ideas,” and you can’t critique ideas because you can always change it to make better–to match your vision.

So, to sum up, my goal for this NaNoWriMo is to, instead of using it as month for novel (and other longer writing projects), it is a time to “plan” out those projects and set those plans down on paper and to use the next 12 months, until next November to get those 50,000 words written.

So this is MY 2019 NaNoWriMo Challenge: 1) Rough Draft of Novel “Ship of Shadows,” 2) Rough Draft of Graphic Novel “Ship of Shadows,” and 3) Rough Draft of Screenplay of “Ship of Shadows.” If, at the end of the month, I’m able to get these done, then I’ll report back on the progress. If you never hear anything else about this until next year, then you’ll know that I didn’t get it done.

Hey, at least I’m honest! ūüėČ


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:

  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)‚Äď
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Writing a Novel: DSRV Outrider

Drafts 0-1 with advice for each one on writing novels.
Image Source:

So, one of my colleagues has written a novel and wants help to get it published. Now, I’ve written and published quite a few short stories (I just got a new email from the editor of Storyhack updating me on the progress of HawkMoon), but as long time blog readers know, writing a novel is one of my lifelong goals (one of the items on my “bucket list,” so to speak). Not having actually worked on a novel, I’m giving advice on basic storytelling, but I’m not able to give specifics on novel writing, having never actually completed one.

Those Who Can Do, Do; Those Who Can’t Teach (Not true!)

You don’t know how much this cliche’/idiom burns me up. I hate this sentiment because it ignores the fact that sometimes those who can do, can’t/don’t actually do well). So, knowing full well that movie writers have external pressures (studio notes, etc.), it still rankles that the writer of X-Men: Last Stand got to write Dark Phoenix, and based on the reviews, the latter movie made many of the same mistakes as the former movie (I haven’t seen it yet, so I’ll reserve my judgement). So, this sentiment that people who can’t do things become teachers is so very false–sorry, I’m going off on a tangent here that’s probably better suited for another blog post. My point being is that even people who are allowed to do things (like write screenplays in a closed guild system) aren’t always the greatest at doing things.

I feel that I in order to teach writing a novel, I need to follow the advice in the blog post from a couple of weeks ago: To Begin, Begin. I’ve always wanted to write a novel and a major impetus for coming to grad school was to use the dissertation to get comfortable writing longer 100+ page documents, so I figure this is as good a time as any to try to start (“in the background”) writing a novel.

DSRV Outrider–Writing a Novel to help a Novel Writer

In keeping with my “Year of the Shadows,” the novel will be based on my “Ship of Shadows” short story. I’ve already have a “pre-production” idea of the action and character’s growth. The next task I think will be to actually sit down and write a rough draft of the story that I see so far in my head and continue working on this process until I have the full draft story in mind.

The problem with novels is that I (usually) have a beginning and a (sometimes) an ending, but I rarely have all the parts in the middle figured out and I hate writing “with gaps.” I like to know all the pieces/elements of the story before I start writing (its more fun for me that way), but with a novel, I rarely have all the pieces. I’ve been doing research, however, this time around, that I hope will help alleviate some, if not all, of the “gaps” that occur when I try to write a novel.

My collegue is very good with characters, but is (admittedly) less familiar with storytelling conventions. I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite. I know quite a bit about storytelling and the elements that make a good story, but I am still learning how to create compelling characters–ones that others want to read and not just ones that I like and ones that feel real and alive and not simply vehicles for the plot to hang on.

I won’t bore you with details, but I will just say that I hope that I can use the research and the rough drafting for my novel to aid my grad school colleague, who is further along in the process, to give solid and helpful advice so that she can get her novel published, while at the same time, learning new techniques that will help me become a novelist as well.


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:

  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)‚Äď
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Finished EdgeDancer (Novella) by Brandon Sanderson: Mini-Review (Non-Spoilers)

EdgeDancer Cover From the Stormlight Archive.  Image Source: Amazon

Word Count (What I’m Writing)

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3041¬†
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

0. ¬†Zero. Nada. Zilch. That’s my level of production since Tuesday of next week. ¬†What happened? ¬†Bad day on Wednesday and a realization that I’m¬†still not focusing on enough on characters when I sit down to “plot” out my stories. ¬†To be fair, school and reading for school interrupted as well as I should write after class (about 4:15), but usually end up spending the time in the sun outside watching¬†YouTube videos instead. ¬†

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3)
  • For School:
    Rhetoric in the European Tradition by Thomas Conley (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
    Rereading the Sophists: Another book on the history of Rhetoric
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer¬†over the summer break before classes started again, but¬†BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on¬†Oathbringer. ¬†I finally found a copy at MTSU’s library and I’m reading it now. ¬†X¬†gives a history of Rhetoric. ¬†Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover. ¬†Now, with¬†Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¬ĺth of the way through. ¬†Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel. ¬†Difficulty is auto-leveling to its hardest difficulty (Tier One status) and it is slowing down my progress in the game as enemies take more hits to die, but you take far fewer hits to die. ¬†Difficulty is¬†currently set to ADVANCED–the game’s doing, not mine. ¬†Very¬†irksome when all you want to do is finish the game.
  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.” ¬†As I’m writing this, I haven’t put any time into this game as of this weekend because of E3.

A Bite-Sized Interlude

So, last week I finished EdgeDancer by Brandon Sanderson after a bad day of classes (I won’t go into the particulars, but it was one of those “Bear Eats You” days). ¬†In a nutshell, I thought it was a good story. ¬†It is one that I wish that I’d known about¬†before buying/starting¬†Oathbringer by Sanderson as it is a prequel of sorts and it delayed my beginning¬†Oathbringer until I finished reading¬†it. ¬†It is part of the new trend of authors releasing “side” stories in-between entries in the mainline series. ¬†Tad Williams has done it–in fact, I still haven’t had a chance to buy the actual ¬†new”mainline” novel in his¬†Osten¬†Ard series because I only just bought his novella and finished it earlier this spring. ¬†To my knowledge¬†Elizabeth Moon hasn’t done that with her Vatta series, but¬†Diane Duane has done it with her¬†Young Wizards series (and for this one, I bought the mainline entry, not realizing that their were two side stories available that I’m going to have to go back and get at some point). ¬†In the mid-80’s,¬†EdgeDancer might have been a full novel as it clocked in at about 200 pages. ¬†However, as¬†Oathbringer is approximately 1,000 pages in length (and is in the general range of Sanderson’s¬†normal length), this book is only about 20% of what the author is capable of writing.

A New Character and a New Power

EdgeDancer focuses on a new character, Lift and her new abilities. ¬†I’m actually not sure if we’ve seen Lift before–I somewhat feel that we might have seen her (or maybe it was the characters she interacts with) in an Interlude to the main story, so if she isn’t completely new, please forgive my memory (I haven’t read Bks 1 & 2 recently). ¬†I found the story to be pretty good. ¬†The main character’s characterization was excellent and the setting was well done. ¬†I felt the ending seemed to veer slightly as it has a misdirection that I’m not sure¬†completely works (no spoilers), but the resolution of the story was strong enough that I immediately jumped into¬†Oathbringer. ¬†I love Lift’s powers and can’t wait to see if they will be worked into the mainline story. ¬†The antagonist of the story was well done, if off the stage for most of the story and I have to say that even with the ending lurching wildly, I did still enjoy the final confrontation scene.

Overall Grade: B (Above Average): ¬†This story is a good set up for¬†Oathbringer. ¬†Is it necessary? ¬†No, but it is fun and if you enjoy the world of the¬†Stormlight Archive series then it gives you a new character with new powers in a setting we haven’t seen much of in the series. ¬†It is available in either a standalone volume or in a large volume,¬†Arcanum Unbound with novellas from his other fantasy series.


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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.


Finished Rereading Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time #13) by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Tower of Midnight (Wheel of Time #13) Book Cover.  Image Source: GoodReads

Word Count

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 2428¬†
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

I didn’t manage any new words on any of my major projects–I didn’t even manage a blog post. ¬†I realize this is where I’m¬†sabotaging my writing, so I’m redoubling my efforts to write at least 250-500 words each day on at least one of these projects. ¬†

Currently Reading

  • For Fun: Edgedancer¬†by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novella)
  • For School: Rhetoric in the European Tradition by Thomas Conley (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
  • For Research/Personal Development: Great Aircraft of WWII¬†by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer¬†over the summer break before classes started again, but¬†BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on¬†Oathbringer. ¬†I finally found a copy at MTSU’s library and I’m reading it now. ¬†X¬†gives a history of Rhetoric. ¬†Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover. ¬†Now, with¬†Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Finally Finished

So, this past week, I finally finished rereading¬†Towers of Midnight, the 13th book in The Wheel of Time Fantasy series. ¬†This series was started by Robert Jordan in the early 1990s, but he sadly passed away. ¬†Brandon Sanderson was asked to complete the series based on the notes left behind by¬†RJ after his death. ¬†I can’t remember if I’ve done a formal review of the books based on fact that I’ve already read them, but I won’t do a full one here, just a shorter one that tells why I like the book.

Secondary Characters

If the previous book’s focus is mostly on Rand (the main protagonist of the series), then this book focuses more on the two side characters who also act as protagonists,¬†Perrin and¬†Matt. ¬†RJ & BS do the time-honored tradition of splitting up the characters and having them go their separate ways. ¬†This book checks in on the pair and offer resolution to their separate storylines so that they might be unencumbered by dangling plot-lines for the final epic battle that RJ & BS are setting up for in Book 14 (the final volume). ¬†In this case, the book works, although even though we spend quite a bit of time in both characters’ heads, it still feel like this one is more about¬†Perrin than¬†Matt. ¬†I think that it may be because the author may identify more with Perrin¬†than¬†Matt, but whatever the case, this is what makes it feel slightly unbalanced to me.

Not Sure at First

When Brandon Sanderson first took over the reins of the series, I was hesitant to read the final books because I wasn’t sure how they would turn out. ¬†I actually delayed reading them until all three were out because 1) I hadn’t read anything by BS yet, so I didn’t know what his writing style was like and 2) because of the mixed reviews on¬†Amazon. ¬†Some praised his characterization and said it matched the “spirit” of¬†RJ’s original books, while some were disappointed in the way the books were characterized. ¬†For me,¬†The Wheel of Time was always more about the characters than the world (at least, in the later¬†WoT books). ¬†Jordan had a dense style, and while that was sometimes helpful to “world-building”, ¬†it was also sometimes off-putting and (dare I say it, a little dry and boring). ¬†It was his characters and traits that really stood out, from one character’s tagging on her braid when she was angry to one character also being an absolute flirt while claiming he knew nothing of the opposite sex, Jordan’s ability to create characters was amazing. ¬†After I read Sanderson’s¬†A Way of¬†Kings, Book 1 of his¬†Stormlight Archives series, I had enough confidence that he would treat Jordan’s characters right and so I dived in and I’m glad I did.


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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

What’s On My Bookshelf: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (Signed Copy)

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Book Cover (A Knight in Armor), Image Source: (Click for more info)

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 113
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1084¬†
  • Project Independence Word Count: 1723¬†
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12 (+1)

Summer Reading

So, I bought Brandon Sanderson’s novel¬†Oathbringer (Stormlight Archives Book 3)¬†for my birthday to read as a reward for finishing the Spring Semester. ¬†This semester was so challenging that I was actually tempted (and actually tried) to read¬†Oathbringer before the semester was over. ¬†However, there is a prequel novella called Edgedancer¬†that¬†BS suggested reading before diving in Book 3 proper. ¬†Luckily, MTSU’s Library had a copy and I’ve started reading it in preparation for book 3 in the series. ¬†Today, I wanted to have a quick look at another book on my bookshelf,¬†The Way of Kings¬†(Stormlight Archives Book 1), which I was fortunate enough to have signed by Brandon Sanderson when he came to¬†LibertyCon here is Chattanooga several years back.

The Way of Kings

Brandon Sanderson’s work is one of the few of the “New Generation” of fantasy writers that I like. ¬†Even though¬†George R. R. Martin has been around since the 80’s, his¬†Game of Thrones series kicked off a resurgence of the¬†GrimDark genre. ¬†To be clear,¬†GrimDark has¬†always been around–Stephen R. Donaldson,¬†a few of¬†Piers Anthony’s¬†early Sci-Fi works–not his YA or Fantasy, per se, and¬†Dave Duncan–are just a few writers that immediately spring to mind whose works that I’ve read (and disliked) because of the¬†GrimDark elements ¬†Most writers of Sanderson’s generation are (of course) seeing the popularity (and dollar signs) of GoT¬†and are ¬†trying to emulate his success with their own versions. ¬†Sanderson, however, tells a very different tale–one that, while having its own¬†grim elements, eschews¬†GrimDark for a more hopeful and elegant premise. ¬†The hero is flawed, but not in a “antihero” sort of way, but more in that he keeps trying to protect, but it all seems to come to naught and he is so very tired of not succeeding. ¬†In an era of “Me Too”¬†GoT clones, this was very refreshing. ¬†The world was very well built and I like the way Sanderson plots (he thinks up big, “set-piece” moments and then writes to those moments). ¬†The ending has a bit of twist and ultimately it was the hero and the ending that sold me on the story.

Life Before Death

So, the above heading is the “creed” of one of the forgotten orders of (this world’s) “knights” in the book and is what Brandon Sanderson inscribed on my copy of the book when he came for¬†LibertyCon.. ¬†He was very nice and must say that I enjoyed meeting him. ¬†I was, surprisingly, tongue-tied but mentioned that that I was a librarian when I asked him to sign my A.R.C. (Advanced Reader’s Copy) version of the book that I had been given by another librarian a year (or two) earlier. ¬†He was very respectful and said that he enjoyed meeting librarians and the the A.R.C. was fairly rare in that there weren’t many printed and signed my copy. ¬†It is¬†still a treasured addition to my collection even all these years later. ¬†I can only hope that, if ever I reach my goal of being a published speculative fiction novelist, that I am as gracious and nice as Brandon Sanderson was during that event.

Anyway, that’s all for today. ¬†If you’re in to Fantasy in any way, I would¬†highly recommend checking out this series, starting with¬†The Way of Kings. ¬†It is an awesome start to an awesome series by an awesome author!

Here’s hoping you have a good week! ūüôā


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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.


What’s All the Hoopla About?


So, I’m a little late today as I got up a bit later than normal. ¬†I would normally do the blog either during breakfast or shortly afterwards, but today (in addition to picking up my car–yay!) I needed to reset my password to¬†Hoopla, a service that my home public library,¬†Chattanooga¬†Public Library subscribes to and that I have access to by being a member.

What is Hoopla?

Hoopla is a streaming service that is¬†more than just a traditional streaming service. ¬†It allows you to borrow (for my institution) 10 items per month. ¬†Notice that I said,¬†items, not movies or TV shows. ¬†It does have movies and television, like¬†Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. ¬†However, it also has¬†comics/graphic novels,¬†ebooks,¬†audiobooks,¬†and¬†music (!). ¬†I’ve used it before and really liked it. ¬†What it lacks in terms of terms of hit releases (very few major releases), it makes up with breadth–there are a¬†lot of good genre materials embedded within each of the categories.

Summer Hoopla

So, while I’ve got a ton of work to do over the summer, in terms of getting ready for my summer classes this summer, I’m going to try to catch up on reading some of the comics/graphic novels (& books) that I’ve put off over the school year. ¬†They have quite a few¬†Marvel¬†graphic novels,¬†Star Wars, Star Trek, and other properties (again, books and graphic novels, mostly, not so much with movies/television). ¬†Still, now that I trying to integrate Popular Culture into my scholarship as a Pop. Culture scholar, I actually need some pop. culture to go with my scholarship.

I would encourage you to check out Hoopla if your library has a subscription.  If not, then you might want to see if your library has something similar.  It is a really useful service that I plan to investigate more over this summer.


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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.


Writing a Scene

Infographic for 5 Ways to Write a Scene, Image Source:

So last week I began to create a tentative “Bible” for the world of the novel. ¬†It wasn’t much, I just put down on paper some of the ideas floating in my head and fairly hastily sketched out the ideas for the world that I needed to know such as the history, important people, and the important institutions of the world. ¬†Again, nothing major, but all of it is helping me to refine my process of thinking about the larger world and Skye’s relationship within it.

This week, while I finally have decided on how Skye should look, I still don’t have a clear handle on her personality, so the consultant and I decided I should write a scene with her in it. ¬†I know next week is going to be hectic for me so I actually wrote out the scene write after I the session. ¬†I’m not sure that it accomplishes my goal. ¬†It is an action scene, so it has Skye doing a lot of things and being clever, but she doesn’t really say a whole lot, nor does she really emote.

I think I’m going to have to try to find time to write a non-action scene that is heavy with dialogue as well to see what that looks like. ¬†I can’t seem to find the emotional resonance with her character. ¬†I’ll see what the response is next week, but I think the action scene doesn’t show enough of Skye’s emotions or feelings to really give an indication of who she is and how she acts in real life. ¬†I really need to know more about her personality and what makes her tick in order to do this story correctly.

EDIT: While search for a heading image for this blog post, I came across this interesting Infographic about 5 ways to write a scene. ¬†Considering that Infographics was one of the “genres” that I taught this semester, I thought it only appropriate to include one in my blog post–also, since I’m still having issues, maybe if I try writing a scene in each of the 5 “ways” that the graphic suggests, maybe by the end of the process, I’ll have a better understanding of Skye’s personality and who she is as character and person.

Building the “Bible”

Star Trek VoyagerBible_Recdotarts.jpg
Cover for Star Trek Voyager Series Bible, Image Source:

So this is the post that I’d intended to write yesterday about the progress on my novel based on my time in the Writing Center. ¬†This will be a shorter post, but hopefully informative. ¬†Basically, we dived a little more into the character of Skye and I discovered that I don’t really write “deep” character sketches. ¬†I write them on a surface level, so over the weekend, I plan to revise the character sketch and add in more details if possible about Skye and her personality. ¬†I also hadn’t settled on physical characteristics for Skye yet, but I think that I have now, so I’ll add those in as well.

My consultant wanted to know more about the world and how the “rules” of the world operated. ¬†I told her about some things, but she suggested that I, like Tolkien, commit them to paper instead of trying to hold them all in my mind’s eye. ¬†I told her that I’d tried to do that earlier in my career. ¬†There’s a term that series TV uses for it: “The Bible” for that series. ¬†Most Television shows (& some movies and graphic novels–probably even some novels) have “Bible.” ¬†I know that¬†Babylon 5 had one as I heard about it through a history site of the show. ¬†Apparently, the¬†B5 used to sell copies of the show’s “Bible” during its run, but now that the show (& I’d assume the fan site) is no longer active, it is unavailable. ¬†I even went to eBay to see if someone might be selling a copy that I could purchase just to see how it was put together (no luck though–at least as of a year or two ago when I last looked).

My consultant decided that I should go ahead and try to create at least a nascent “Bible” of the world, the politics, the history, etc., just to get all of my ideas out of my head and on to paper. ¬†Even if I never use them in the story, at least I would have them down and “codified” on paper in a tangible way so that I could refer back to them as necessary and so the consultant might be able to read them and understand both the backstory and the motivations behind the various people, institutions, and world that I had created. ¬†So that’s my homework for this week: to create a nascent “Bible” that begins to explain/explore some of the concepts that I’ve created for my world.

Finally, we talked a little bit about how the story (plot) is developing.  It is Science Fiction, but as the protagonist is young, we talked about how it could be a Young Adult story (or perhaps marketed as Young Adult).  We talked about some of the possible advantages and pitfalls of the YA market at the moment, and discussed some of its conventions.  We decided to wait and see how the story evolved organically before deciding where and how the story could be marketed, but even at this early stage we are looking at the audience for this story and trying to decide which audience is most appropriate for it.

Anyway, that’s it for this week. ¬†So sorry for yesterday’s diversion, but when life throws a curveball, I fell compelled to play the umpire and call it as I see it. ¬†Not sorry for the baseball reference, however, as the World Series has just wrapped up–wish I could have seen more it, but maybe next year.

Baby Steps To a Novel

Chapter One of a novel on a Typewriter, Image Source:

So, yesterday I took my first steps to trying to complete a novel. ¬†Regular readers of the blog will note that I’ve tried before (without much success) to try to write a novel, but this time I’m using my university’s Writing Center to help. ¬†I’ve worked in the Writing Center myself all last year and I have a friend and colleague who is working there now who has agreed to a “Writing Partnership” with me–a fancy term for a standing appointment to talk about writing over the course of the semester. ¬†Generally, they are used for long term projects (thesis, dissertations, etc.), but they can also be used for just improving one’s writing in general. ¬†We talked about what I wanted to do ultimately (short-stories or novels) and we decided that writing a novel would be a good way to “grow” as a writer. ¬†Then we discussed the idea I had for a novel and what the next steps should be going forward.

Character Sketch
So, my homework is to complete at least one character sketch–the main character/protagonist–and have it ready by the next meeting. ¬†We talked about who the main character is (Skye–which longtime readers will remember from earlier blog posts) and what is her personality like. ¬†If possible, I’d like to write a character sketch for her father as that is her major familial relationship in the book, but based on school work and obligations, there may not be enough time for that. ¬†We spent quite a bit of time talking about the importance of characters and how they should act appropriately–something that I don’t think that I always do well because of my interest in the plot. ¬†Hopefully, I can really nail Skye’s personality and be able to create a convincing character arc for her.

Plot Outline
I also need to produce a plot outline for the next meeting. ¬†Again, one mandatory, but two if possible. ¬†I have “story map” that I use that is a 1 page “synopsis” of the characters, setting, plot, climax, and resolution. ¬†However, I’d like to also provide a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the story as that is where I always seem to break down when writing the novel, but I may find that that might be better suited to do after we talk about the character sketch/synopsis of the novel. ¬†In any case, I do intend to do what Brandon Sanderson noted about how he writes novels on his podcast, Writing Excuses, where he notes that he writes down big tentpole scenes as he’s generating ideas for his novel. ¬†I think that the tentpole scenes, in addition to the synopsis, would be helpful to do before trying to tackle the larger, chapter-by-chapter breakdown.

November is National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo). ¬†I’ve never really tried to do anything for the month because I always had school (or a ton of things to do in the month of November), but as I’m in the midst of trying to write a novel and as the Writing Center will be holding a “Write In” on November 17, I guess I’ll give it a try. ¬†I don’t know what the outcome of all this will be, but I’ll blog about the process here to hopefully inspire other writers (aspiring or practicing) and maybe provide, tangible techniques and tricks to my fellow writers out there as well.

Wish me luck! ūüôā


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