Final Preparations

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You know these guys are ready for Camp NaNo. 

Happy Easter! We did not make Easter eggs this year, but we did have a lovely ham and potato soup, which was very tasty. Seriously, you should all be jealous of our supper. It was awesome.

Camp NaNoWriMo starts this coming Friday, so S and I are finishing up our preparations. I wrote all of my character prompts, and I have lately been working on a map of the city where much of the story’s action takes place. As I have mentioned before, when I don’t have enough time to do a map from scratch, I sort-of cheat by taking the map of a real city and changing things around a bit. This makes the whole process much, much faster, and it means that the resulting map is likely to avoid serious geographical errors.

Now I’m going back over my outline and polishing it up a bit. Since I have a map of the city, and have named districts and streets and canals and temples, I can write those names into the outline, so I remember to mention them in the text.

I also caught what would have been a minor plot hole. One of my characters reveals his true identity to another character in chapter 15 or so, except that she should totally already know who he is. So that took some careful thought over my morning coffee before I figured out a way to make everything work out right. Morning coffee always makes everything better.

Finally, I “cast” my main POV characters. That is to say, I decided which actors I would use as their physical models. We’ve discussed this before, and apparently some people think this is a terrible idea. I’ve read people complaining about this who say that, “I’ve got this very definite idea of the character in my mind, and if I was thinking of an actor, then it would destroy that image.” No offense to those people, but I think what they really mean is, “I have this very, very vague idea of my character, and if I had to ‘cast’ him, then I would have to start thinking about boring, yucky stuff like concrete physical details.” Anyway, I think the exercise is terribly useful. I found pictures of the five actors I “cast.” Usually I like to have at least three for each character: one head shot looking serious; one head shot smiling; and one full-length, showing their general build and body type. Perhaps later in the month I’ll post some of these.

Good luck with Camp NaNo, and if you haven’t signed up yet, you really should go do that now!

J

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Camp Projects

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A beautiful edit by loveel-who.

So, I’m doing something different this year for Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m rotating through three different projects, hoping to write at least 10,000 words in each, plus another 5,000 of whichever project is particularly exciting me. One is my novel from last November’s NaNoWriMo, my latest in the Oleg Omdahl series, which is part of the Myrcia ‘verse. Then I’m going to be splitting time between two different fanfic projects.

Fiat Justitia
This is book three in the Oleg Omdahl series about a world-weary police detective. This is a big book for Oleg—the case is the murder of his boss and mentor. I love the book, and I enjoy writing it, but it’s long and I’ve been distracted by other writing projects, so I’m still chipping away. However, so I don’t lose my flow and ideas on it, I’ve been dipping into it every other week, and that means I’ve been consistently getting two chapters done every other week. By the end of Camp, assuming I keep up with my outline, I should write three or four chapters, and I’m really hoping for four, because that gets me to Oleg and his love interest finally having sex after two and half books of build.

Existing fanfic series
As regular readers of the blog know, I started writing Musketeers fanfic last summer. I hadn’t really meant for it to happen, but that original story was the beginning of a series that’s now at 53,000 words, and as I’ve planned it out, is only about half way written. The really exciting thing that I’m thinking about with the series is that once I have it finished and posted to AO3, I’m going to go back and re-edit these stories as an actual novel. If I can manage to finish the drafting, that might even be my July Camp NaNo project. Realistically, I’m hoping to get through most of the second half of Act 2 and break my poor lovers up, only to reunite them in May or June.

New fanfic series
One of the reasons I haven’t been getting more written in Oleg and the existing series is that I’ve been writing extra fanfic stories for friends. A delightful friend, the one responsible for the gorgeous edit at the top of this post, in fact, helped me brainstorm a story that I then wrote as a birthday present for her. And then another wonderful friend I met in The Musketeers fandom wrote me a couple of things, and I really wanted to return the favor, so I wrote her a little something. And then I started chatting with yet another lovely friend who offered to do some fanart for me in return for a story. Naturally, when she gave me a couple prompts, I decided that not only did I need to do them both, but I needed to combine them into a single series. I just finished drafting the first of three parts of that series, and fingers crossed, I might get it finished during Camp.

And those are my plans for Camp. Can we get started already?

~S

Packing for Camp

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This is what happens when you’re not ready for camp.

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not referring to the start of Daylight Savings Time and the loss of an hour’s sleep last night. Nor am I referring to the impending Vernal Equinox, which around here serves to divide the disgustingly wet and cold late Winter from the slightly less disgustingly wet and cold early Spring. Nor am I even referring to the most tragic consequence of Spring weather, namely yardwork.

No, I’m talking about Camp NaNoWriMo. As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, NaNoWriMo is in November. But there are two sessions of “Camp NaNo,” which are in April and July. S and I usually do both. And so should you. If you haven’t gone over to the Camp NaNo website and signed up yet, you should do so right now. Seriously, go do it right now. I’ll wait. That’s what web browser tabs are for, after all.

My preparations have been going on for some time now. This is going to be a longer novel, probably between 100,000 and 130,000 words, and there are five POV characters, so it’s taking a while to get everything ready.

I started writing my outline in mid-February, and I started coming up with characters. Some of that was already done, though, because the novel I’ll be writing this April, Written in Sand, is a sequel to my novel from last April, The Last Bright Angel, and the story I wrote S for Christmas, Called to Account. It takes place about 50 years after The Last Bright Angel, but since our wizard characters live 2,000 years, it hasn’t been all that long for them.

Today I’m hoping to finish up my second pass through my outline, fleshing out the description of scenes, so that when I actually start writing, I’m never left staring at my outline, wondering, “How did I think that was going to work, exactly?” Then tomorrow or Tuesday I think I’ll start doing my character prompts. We’ve talked about these before, and one of the reasons I started preparing so early was that I wanted to leave enough time to do them. Only one of my five POV characters is someone I’ve written before, so I want a chance to get to know these people a little before I have to write from their perspective.

So if you haven’t started your Camp NaNo project yet, go do it, and then start planning!

J

Five Times Tropes Were Done Well, and One Time the Trope Wasn’t

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Not my edit of the Mother of the Year on Vikings, but I wish it were.

I just wrote my first Five Times fanfic, a structure popular in fanfic in which you have a character in 5 thematically connected scenarios and then a 6th scenario that’s somehow different. It was a fun experience, and between doing that and thinking about various tropes I’ve been running across lately in my viewing and reading, I thought this might be kind of fun. Or, you know, not. We’ll see!

 

Five Times Tropes Were Done Well
1. Spirited Young Lady in Pride and Prejudice
My book club just discussed this novel, and if there’s anything Jane Austen did better than anyone, it was write a spunky heroine. Elizabeth Bennet, in fact, is pretty much the foundational character of this trope. She takes crap from no one–not her mother, Mr. Darcy, or even Lady Catherine. Yet, she’s always a lady, her spirit undimmed.

2. Spared by the Adaptation on The Musketeers
In the Dumas novel The Three Musketeers, Milady de Winter kills Constance and is then executed for the crime. God bless the BBC for saving them both in the Season 1 finale. Milady had a gun to Constance’s head, and it sure looked as if this adaptation would be following Dumas’s playbook, but then Constance got away, and when push came to shove, Athos couldn’t kill his wife, instead allowing Milady to go anywhere but Paris. (And least until the following season!)

3. Battle Couple on Legend of the Seeker
We finished The Shannara Chronicles last night, and we really were not thrilled with it. Much of what doesn’t work about the show for us is the lack of chemistry between the three leads, who are on a great quest together, fighting for their lives. More than once, we thought about Richard and Kahlan on Legend of the Seeker and how they represent the right way to create a couple battling their way through this world while trying to save it. They have individual charisma and great chemistry together, and it’s a joy to be on the journey with them.

4. Action Mom on Vikings
If you can find me a mother on TV you’d be more afraid to piss off than Lagertha, please let me know. (Seriously, let me know. I’d want to watch that show.) Katheryn Winnick has such presence and physicality to pull off the roll of shieldmaiden that the show really hit the jackpot when they cast her. She’s just fantastic and deadly. And a good mom.

5. Lampshade Hanging on Community
There might not be another TV show in history that pulled off so many tropes so well. And the show wasn’t afraid to admit that. So, the show was going to do a Bottle Episode? Of course Abed had to point out that it was a Bottle Episode. And the tropes always became more fun when the show happily admitted to doing them

One Time the Trope Wasn’t
1. Stuffed into the Fridge on The 100
Some characters are created to die in order to serve the plot and motivate the main characters. It’s why there are red shirts, and that’s okay. But when The 100 created Gina this season just so they could kill her and make Bellamy feel bad about it, they made a mistake, but not simply because they used a trope. No, the mistake was that there were numerous less offensive and more original ways to motive Bellamy. A few eps after the fridging, Bellamy had a confrontation with Clarke in which he admitted that her actions at the end of the previous season motivated him. This current season opened with Bellamy training new recruits, people he felt responsibly for, all of whom would have made more meaningful red shirts than a girlfriend we didn’t really know. Heck, I even have a friend who pointed out a beloved pet would have meant more than the random girlfriend.

I have a feeling I haven’t finished thinking about tropes in the fiction I consume and write. Watch this space for more ideas as I have them.

~S