Saturday, September 29, 2012

Number Shrinking

Hey y'all

One of the things I would like Write Club members to do is to give NaNoWriMo a serious attempt.  If they fail, it won't be because they didn't try, I hope.  Time constraints are often a problem, so as long as they put in a good effort, I won't be disappointed.  After all, 50,000 words is a lot, especially for new writers.

The trick is to do number shrinking.

What we are shrinking is not the amount of writing done, but the perception of how much writing you feel you have ahead of you.  I've figured it out.  The first number is of course fifty thousand.  November has 30 days in it, so divide 50,000 by 30 and you get 1,667, rounded up to a whole number.

That's still a bit longer, isn't it?  Can we shrink this further?  Sure.  Now, I'm a simplistic person, and thus I hate Microsoft word.  I don't like all the extra features, and especially not that red line that appears at the bottom of words you misspell (fantasy writers want to misspell some stuff, Word).  And so I use Wordpad until I want to edit a document with special formats.  And when I got a new computer, I even transferred the old Wordpad over so I wouldn't have to use the new, too feature intense Wordpad.

Thus, the area in which I write isn't shaped like a piece of paper.  It's just a wide area almost as wide as the computer screen itself.  Therefore, I counted the number of words per line and got and average of 44.  Also, I counted the number of lines of text that I could could see at one time without scrolling down.  I got thirty six -- you might get more on your screen, because my screen is kind of narrow.

In any case, thirty six lines of forty four words comes out to 1,584 words per screen.  Thus, writing one screen of text gets me almost one full day's worth of writing done.  Doing the math, it takes only 1.1 screens worth of text to get what I need to fulfill a day's quota of text and thus win NaNoWriMo.  See how that works?  50,000 shrunk all the way down to 1.1.  Surely 1.1 screens a day won't kill me.

However, there are two problems with my figure of 1.1.  First of all, not all of you like to use Wordpad, and your monitors are differently shaped from mine.  This problem isn't too bad, however.  There is no reason why your number shouldn't be too different from mine.  Just follow this process:

    1. Count how many words per line for at least five lines of your work that go across the screen.  Add these numbers together, then for however many lines you counted, divide the total by that number.  So if you counted five lines, divide by five.  Round to the nearest whole number.

    2. Count how many lines fit on one of your screens.  The easiest way to do this is to just type a letter, hit enter, type a letter, and enter again repeatedly.  Let your first letter be a capital letter, and then pick another letter and enter it over and over until your capital letter will go off the screen with the very next enter.  Then simply count the number of letters you have on your screen.  It helps with counting if you made every tenth letter a different one.

   3. Multiply the number of words per line by the number of lines you have per screen.  This will give you words per screen.

   4. Divide 1,667 (that is, the number of words per day to beat NaNoWriMo) by the number of words per screen you got.  This will give you the number of screens you have to complete per day to win NaNoWriMo.

I hope all that math didn't confuse you.  It's not as hard as it seems.  It only involves simple math anyway.  Trust me, if it were complicated I wouldn't be able to do it.  I wish I knew physics.  Then again, I wish I knew everything, so let's just move on.

The second problem with the 1.1 figure is that this entails writing 1.1 screens of single-spaced lines that go completely across the screen.  Due to dialogue, double spacing between paragraphs, and lines that just plain don't go all the way across, that 1.1 screens of full text will inflate to two or, if dialogue goes on a long time, possibly three screens in practice.  However, this isn't all that daunting.  Two and three are still smaller numbers than 50,000, so the vastness of writing that many words in a month has still gone down.

Besides, if I get caught up in the heat of the moment of writing, I find myself writing more than my daily quota.  This should cover me up on the days I might not make it.  So therefore, don't count your words during NaNoWriMo.  If you must, do so only once on the 15th or the 16th, and then one final time on the 29th to give yourself energy for a writing sprint.

Don't count early on, and don't count on the last stretch.  It will discourage you if you do it too much, especially early on.  If you count in the middle or almost to the end, you will be able to think to yourself, "Wow, I really did all that!" instead of "Crap...I suck."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Write Club: Week 3

Hey y'all.  How's it going?

Okay, it's about time we kick this into high gear.  I've been telling everyone to think of a story they want to write, and now I've really got to encourage them to think of a distinct idea they think they can generate story for.  So how do you write a novel when you've got only the most sparing inspiration?  You start with the three basics of plot.

So the three basics of writing are plot, world, and characters.  All of these should be fairly obvious.  Note that I say world instead of setting.  A setting is just a place where an action happens.  "World" implies not only the place, but the cultures, how advanced science is, and how much magic or laws of physics can adjust reality.  It's the entirety of the place where your story is set.

Most people might start with plot.  However, unless you've already been inspired for your plot, it's extremely difficult to build your story off of plot, even if it's plot driven.  For example, a disaster story based on what disaster happens next could end up really shallow.  You have to either decide who your characters are and let them determine the plot, or invent in your mind a reason for your disaster that can be explained by your world.  So unless you're already inspired, don't start with plot.  If you are inspired for plot, then by all means, but you'll have to get to world and characters, or else your story will end up as cheap as the movie 2012.

The key is to get the writers in the group to use these to inspire themselves to write a specific story.  For this, we will remind each other of the ideals we wanted to write, like love, wonder, encouragement, loneliness, and that sort of stuff.  Whatever ideal we want to write should come out in our work.  We must all have an idea of what we want to show to the readers.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Just Some Words

Hey y'all.  I was thinking about words, and sometimes I say to myself that there are no exact synonyms.  Sure, words can be similar, but if there wasn't at least a slight difference in meaning between two similar words, then only one word would exist.  Except perhaps where stealing from other languages comes in.  Like snowstorm and blizzard.  These are technically describing the same thing, but they feel different.  There's a different connotation.  "Blizzard" seems, at least to me, to apply only to very serious storms.  A snowstorm has to be really strong to be a blizzard.

Of course, that's all just theory.  Maybe there are two words that mean exactly the same thing, without crossing languages.  It's just something to muse on.  I like musing.  Anyway, I bring all that up because I was thinking of words that are similar but aren't really the same: words that describe people being smart.  There seems to be subtle definitions to each of them that makes them a little different.  Some of these are official, and some are just my guesses from context.  Why am I ranting about this?  Because I can.  Why not?

Two definitions that are official are the meanings of "idiot" and "moron".  Idiot technically means someone who is as smart as or is less smart than a three year old or has an IQ of 25 or less.  A moron is someone whose mental age is around 7 to 12, or has an IQ around 50-69.  There must be some word that goes in between, but I don't remember what it is.  Nobody uses the words in that sense anymore anyway.

These other ones I'm just going to say come from context.  I could technically be wrong about how I narrow them.  In any case, I know you have different meanings for these words too.  You don't consider them to be the same thing, I bet.

Knowledge is the first word.  Knowledge is pure information.  It's trivia, observations, and facts.  It helps to think of knowledge as several different items, and someone's intelligence is their collection of knowledge.  In other words, intelligence is like a library, and knowledge is the stuff on the shelves.

Smarts, cleverness, and wisdom are all pretty similar too.  All of them have one thing in common, and it's that they are a step above intelligence; intelligence is information, whereas these three words pertain to using information to do something.  They're a little different, though.

Being smart is specific.  Like, you can be smart at, say....nuclear physics.  Maybe you know a crap ton about it, and you run a nuclear power facility.  You know with confidence that you could have prevented such disasters as Chernobyl.  However, you're really dumb with animals (remember, this is only an example).  Your neighbor just gave you a rottweiler, and you're scared as crap at the thing.  You don't know that being calm is the smartest thing to do around dogs, and you don't know that you have to exert your superiority to them for them to behave.  So smart is specific.  It means you know how to handle something specific and make it function.

Cleverness, at least to me, implies sneakiness or even manipulation.  To me it goes along with being socially aware and being able to make people feel or believe something they wouldn't ordinarily.  This is the sort of intelligence that deals with people, not items.  In my head anyway.

Wisdom is a bit more grand in anybody's head, and to me it's wholistic.  Where "smart" is specific, wisdom is overwhelming.  Smart knows how to do stuff, but wisdom knows if it should be done or not.  Wisdom takes other people into account when starting a project, and it considers both people and items.  Wisdom cares about other people and isn't into taking advantage of it.

Maybe this is just me, but I like figuring out words.  Sorry if this was terribly boring, but eh, rant accomplished.  Come on, don't you like to nitpick on words too?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Write Club: Week 2 -- 9/19

For this meeting, I thought I would have to do a recap of last week's meeting.  As it turned out, we only had one new person show up.  I was hoping for more, but this thing is to be expected.  People can be enthused about something, but then their excitement wanes.  Besides, I like having a smaller group anyway because we can discuss more.

For starters, we did a two minute forced write on what fruit that person believes they are.  Why don't you do one too?  I picked blueberry because they're not really blue.  They're very different from what their outside implies.

During this meeting I discussed information, and training your brain to make itself be creative.  The thing is, usually the places that inspire us are not the places where we write.  One member of our club was inspired by the lighting section at Lowes, and another was inspired by gas stations.  But nobody ever writes at those places.  We write at home, in our room or on our couches.  So the key is to force ourselves to be creative in the places that we write.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Write Club -- Week 1, 9/12

Hey y'all.  These are the notes for my first Write Club meeting.  Enjoy.

A. Introduction

Welcome to Write Club.  The first thing someone should do as a member of this club is to determine why they want to write.  Notedly, there are no random decisions.  Each of our choices is determined internally either consciously or subconsciously.  Even if a person purposes to be random, then they've chosen to be random because it suits them for whatever reason. 

Thus, there is always a reason why someone wants to write.  Some do it for entertainment, their sake or others.  Some write to make themselves sound smart.  Others do it for money or fame, which honestly isn't as shallow as it sounds.  You go to work for money, which you need to live, and why not earn money writing if you enjoy it?  As for the fame...okay, maybe that's shallow.  But the most unhealthy reason to write is to blab about other people's faults and pretend you're not really blabbing -- it's okay to base fiction off reality, but always watch yourself to make sure that you're not using it as a means to gossip or get revenge on others.  That's evil and manipulative, and turns you into a bitter whiner.  Don't do it.  Unless your name is Solzhenitzen, and you're writing an honest, unbitter account of a tragic time period, and even then the purpose of the writing is to tell the truth, and not to get revenge.

So why do you write?  Obviously if you've joined my group or are reading this blog, you have some interest in writing.  It doesn't have to be for one of the reasons I've written above.  People are dynamic creatures, and it's foolish to be too narrow about these things, despite human nature to categorize everything.  So why are you writing?  Did just just discover it one day and figure out that you liked it?  Did a teacher inspire you?  Did a famous writer inspire you?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Write Club: Announcement!

Hey y'all.  So as it turns out, I'm going to be doing a small group about writing, and naturally, it's going to be called Write Club.  I'm going to be posting all of the things I go over in the group on this blog, both as a way for members to review stuff and to rant in detail the way I really can't when the group itself is going to be meeting.  Other people like to talk too, and that kinda ruins the plans to rant, y'know?  Also, this is for my internet readers to also drill themselves and connect with my group even though they don't live nearby.

There was a Connections Night at my church where I could do a display on my group and show off what the group was about.  For the record, it's about building up one's creative ability so that members of the group will be able to write even when they feel uninspired.  Writing is like a muscle.  You use a muscle a lot, and it gets stronger.  The main focus on these next weeks of the group (we're meeting every Wednesday) is to produce wordcount.  It's less about editing and publishing and more about forcing yourself to sit and type up some words.  It's the same problem with every writer.  To be a novelist, you actually have to sit there and type it all up.  The computer doesn't pick up telepathic thought.

The main attraction of my display was that I was having little mini contests, and the winner would receive a journal.  I was able to put up three such challenges in the time allotted.  I put them here for you to see and to inspire your own creativity.

1. Finish this rhyme: "Roses are red, violets are blue..."

One of the things that annoyed me about this was that a lot of the people who wrote their answers down on the pads I offered was that they kept writing trite, cute little endings.  Just because we were in a church at the time doesn't mean they each have to be sugary sweet.  I know it's a love poem, but love poems can be creative too.

2. Write a sentence with the words "loyal to fudge" in it.

I was really proud of this prompt.  There were a couple of people who said, "I'm loyal to fudge because it's tasty", but people really branched out for this one.  There was even a guy who wrote a little mini story on his notepad for it.

3. Describe a pizza without saying "pizza".

This one could have been a better prompt.  I just wanted to do a more simple prompt for the purpose of the evening.  A lot of people, unfortunately, simply listed a bunch of toppings -- though one girl described tomatoes as "sweaty", and that was funny.  Another girl put lots of attitude into her writing style, so of course she had to win.  As every creative writer knows, it's not so much about describing a thing that counts, but describing it entertainingly.

So yeah.  Put a comment down if you want to exercise your creativity in the prompts.  It's not a contest, but it will stretch you as a writer, so there you go.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Write Club: the Forms of Writing

Hey y'all.  So I was going through things in my head the other day, and it ocurred to me that all forms of writing generally fall under nine different categories.  Six of these are difficult, and three are easy.  The easy ones are generally where people begin to write, because of course there are no writer prodigies, and only very few try something like a novel before having written anything other than school work.  Most people don't even realize that they have writing as a talent unless they just putter around by accident and then figure out that they like it.

So here's a rudimentary diagram.


Novel     Short Story     Screenplay   


Poetry     Lyrics     Prose                 



 Biography     Analysis     Report