Friday, October 30, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 (Including Segways)

Sunday will be the first day of November.
For many writers, that phrase [first day of November] brings forth a mixture of anticipation, terror, joy, more terror, sleeplessness, and a bit more terror.

Of course, for the rest of the human race the first of November is simply… the first of November.

If you know of what I speak, you already know where I’m going. So, instead of drawing it out, I’ll provide you with a vague acronym: NaNoWriMo.

That is, National Novel Writing Month (or more accurately, International). For those of you who don’t know, NaNo [which is what it will be referred to as from now on], takes place during the month of November and the title describes it perfectly. But to be more concise than the title: a bunch of idiot authors scramble to write 50,000 word novels in one month.

Pardon me if I included you in the use of the word idiot, but we all must admit it’s true. Writing a novel in a month sounds ludicrous, and it is.
Today, I’m going to discuss said event, and also throw Segways around because Segways.

So. NaNo. It’s going to be a quick month (especially for us more advanced idiots who are trying to write a novel while preparing for a theatre performance for the duration of the same month), filled with quick scribblings.

Are you ready?

There are two kinds of NaNo writers. Those who outline and those who don’t.
I’m of the former, but I know of many who are of the latter. I love outlines. I’ve got two for my NaNo, one of which is hanging on my wall.
For NaNo, I’m pressing pause on my current project, Agram Awakens, to write a different novel. Which… is the general idea of NaNo, is it not?
The rough synopsis for said novel can be found on my NaNo profile. In short, it’s about a fellow who Died and enjoys making jokes about it. Right up till he meets a girl (silly fellow). I’m classifying it as “futuristic satire”, which is the best description I can really give it. Told in the future, told satirically. Close enough, right?

Let’s press pause and shoot me a comment yes? In said comment, tell me about YOUR NaNo! I’d love to hear about it!

Done with the comment?
Good. Those comments always make my day. *not so subtle guilt-trip*

Now to toss Segways around.
In the spirit (or… anti-spirit in many cases) of NaNo, I’m launching a five part series about Plots. That means all of the November posts and the first post in December will be about plots. I’m pretty excited about them (especially since I’m writing them ahead of time so I don’t overwhelm myself during NaNo… if that’s possible).

So, in the spirit of Segways, I’ll leave you with this question:
What makes a plot worth writing about?

Don’t forget to tell me about your NaNo novel!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Author Interview - Emma

Today I've got a special thing for you. Instead of listening to me ramble on about what you should be doing to your story, characters, or story world, let me introduce to you a different blogger, author, and fellow OYANer, Emma!

Hi Emma, and welcome to Story Forger! Tell us a tidbit or two about yourself, if you don’t mind.

Hi Aidan. Thanks for having me. 
So, I'm Emma, and I'm a teen writer of prose and poetry both. I'm also a One YearAdventure Novel student, and that is something that has definitely influenced my writing. Right now I'm working on my poetry book, Flutterfly, which is coming out next month. I'm quite excited for that.

How/when did you start writing? Why? 

I started writing little short stories in elementary school. Not that I can vouch for any quality of excellence there..As I got older, writing became more neccesary, as an outlet and means of expression. I started OYAN when I was 12 and joined the forum when I was 13, and from there, my writing definitely morphed. 

What are you currently writing? What is it about?

I actually have a few WIPs. My first is a verse novel about ballet culture. My second is a speculative fiction about a falsely utopian society based around contrasting ideas of mandatory euthanias, depression, overdiagnosis and human nature. Whooo. And I'm involved in a couple collective novels. 

Did anything inspire this project? If so, what was it?

I've just been trying a lot to find the beauty in everything- rough calluses and gorgeous sunrises alike. I am driven by need to hold onto these things, I think, because that's where I find life is most current, vibrant and real. (And yes. I know I'm wonderfully, awfully sappy. Thanks for noticing.) 

What does your writing process look like?

Sit down in my bed and grab my laptop. Go on Pinterest. Go on writing forums. Catch up on blog posts. Realize I spent all my allotted free time up already and proceed to bang head against wall. 
*cough* Not really.
For poetry, I try to catch myself in the heat of the moment, in really vivid emotions- and then I make myself stop, scribble down a couple verses or two. It'll probably be pretty bad, but later, when I am editing in a crisper mindset, I'll have that raw emotion already there to turn into something more clean. 
The more I write it in the midst of strong emotion, the easier it is to write it /not/ in those fits of passion. 
For prose, I just force myself to do it, honestly. You have to. You can't always wait for the mood to come, or nothing will get done. I go into a closed off room, turn a playlist on quietly, set a timer and just write. 

What sort of things do you do besides writing?

I enjoy politics, so I'm involved a lot with TeenPact. I love to read, immensely so. And the plague of the teenage world, I do school! Hurrah! 

Who is your favorite fictional character (feel free to list a top three or something)? 

Oh gracious. You do understand this is like trying to make me choose between children, right?
This is a hard question to answer because like...Moriarty is not an admirable character, but he is one brilliantly done. So that leads to the question of, characters that I like as people? Or characters that I like because the author did an amazing job on them? 
(I am starting to say both on way to many Moriarty-eske characters and am unsure how to feel about this.) 
Anyway. Let's see. In no order, Jo March. Lovely girl. Surprisingly relatable. Bean, from Ender's Shadow. I would say Ender, and a couple of days my mind will probably change again, but at the moment, Bean. And lastly, Clarisse, from Fahreinheit 451. 

Do you have any advice for the readers (now is your chance to impress on our young minds your opinions?)

Stop being hypocritical in your reading. If you say a book is stupid, don't buy it, give it name recognition value, check it out at the library, and give it away to a friend. That's defeating the purpose. That might sound obvious, but apparently it's not. 
Read for fun, then read for knowledge and enrichment, and learn how to make that fun.
And let's see...
OH WAIT did you mean people who are reading this post or people who like to read
because I totally took it as the latter. 
Well, for the latter, here's my life tips for the day!
First off, be intentional in whatever you do. 
Second off, be nice to people; it's free for you and invaluable for some of them. 
AND ALSO you should definitely get my book when it comes out. Mmhmm. Great life tip right there, for sure. Yup. Of course. 

Finally, what day of the month is your favorite, what color would you assign it, and how many woodchucks do you suppose it has as pets? 

Is this a question about synesthesia, a parody of a nightvale quote, or purposefully random question in order to make us look like sympathetic and approach human beings? 
But if you must know.
The 8th. Teal blue, the dark kind. 
And how many woodchucks? Easy. 42. 
42 is the answer to everything.

Thank you for stopping by today! Remember to take some of the complimentary coffee and donuts before you… Oh, it seems we don’t actually have coffee and donuts. Ahem. Well, before you leave, is there any way the readers can connect with you and/or your writings?

The donuts, I think I could live without; I'm not terribly disappointed. But coffee? You don't have /coffee?/ What cruel alternate dimension is this? 
Well, at least now readers know a reason behind the randomness of my brain today (coffee deprivation, you see.) 
So yes, I'd love to hear from readers. You can find me lots of places, the links of which I will put below. 
You can send me a message on any of those sites and I'll get back to you as soon as unhumanely possible. (Because I am not human, I am Spock. A poetic, sentimental Spock.)

My blog.
My poetry.
full of storyboards and 'please don't judge my stab wound infographics I'm a writer' posts.
And all the books. Because books are important. 

And you can email me at
Thanks again for having me! Love your blog. Keep it up. 
Emma out. 

[special note: if you (a writer/blogger/what have you) wish to be interviewed, shoot me an [in]formally worded email at]

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bringing Words to Life

Do your words dance?
When you write, does the story come alive and flit through your vision, almost… replacing the words with a vivid image?

It’s hard to do, this lively action. Especially while just writing the early drafts. However, it’s your goal as a writer to create a “movie” in your reader’s mind. They don’t want to see words on a page, they want to see a heroine battling her worst fears, an Ally they see themselves in sacrifice his life for the greater good, smell the smells and see the sights of your fantastically different yet vastly familiar world.

Today, I’d like to spend a small portion of your precious time on this idea of immersion. Taking the words on the page and turning them into a vibrant world your reader can’t put down. Ever.

I like to talk about worlds. I’ve got seven or eight posts buried somewhere in the blog in which I talk about worlds. The setting is important to your story, as equally important as the plot and characters. It’s often the less obvious one of the three, but without it your story is made of dull colors: black against stark white.
Ink and no world, paper as the only background.

The setting is the backdrop to your “movie”. Sure, the focus is on your hero’s quest to reclaim his lost identity. But just because the “camera” isn’t focused on the background doesn’t mean there is none.
Setting is often ignored or weakly introduced in novels. Characters enter a scene on a mission, without time to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind of where they are. From dialogue to action to dialogue to resolution of the scene, we don’t have time to absorb the beauty that is reading of another place and time.

There are some very easy ways to create this vivid imagery, to immerse your read so completely they forget where they really are.

First, slow down. I know the dialogue is important. I know the action scene is important. However, if you take two paragraphs at the beginning of a scene, the setting can become crisp and clear to the reader. We’ll then be content to sit and read your stirring dialogue. Not before.

Have an example, if you want one (otherwise skip to where the word “second” is… not that I suggest skipping, but for you blog-skimmers, this is your queue to skim a bit):
This is a snippet of dialogue from my most current project. I’ve taken out all details regarding setting, including only the pure dialogue and tags:

Taynan shifted, relieving his knees from the strain of kneeling so long.
“When are we finished?” one of the boys asked.
“Hush,” he whispered.
The other boy sniffed loudly and cleared his throat.
“Come,” Taynan whispered to the two boys.

Wasn’t that fun and enlightening?
Please tell me it wasn’t. You’ve got the most important pieces of this scene: three characters, a bit of dialogue, a bit of action.
Can you see where these characters are?
If I told you these three miscreants are crouching in a sewer tunnel, listening to a parade marching in the streets above, would you be surprised?
Let’s try this again:

     He crouched low, the damp ceiling of the sewer tunnel brushing his close cropped hair. Behind him, two younger boys sniffled and coughed. Neither understood how to keep quiet, and both ignored his warnings. Above, on the streets of Imen, pounded a thousand marching feet. A parade for the day of Choosing, when the next heir to the throne would be chosen.
Taynan shifted, relieving his knees from the strain of kneeling so long.
“When are we finished?” one of the boys asked. His darlo voice was already deeper than Taynan’s human one. The boy’s near-black skin boasted the scale-like pattern of all darlo, setting him apart in the sea of humans. Too noticeable, for Taynan’s liking.
“Hush,” he whispered.
The other boy sniffed loudly and cleared his throat. Taynan clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. Much louder and the whole town would hear them, parade or no parade. At last - after an hour of sitting and listening to the stomping of feet - the end of the parade passed over the street: the clattering of hooves announced the final band of cavalry.
     “Come,” Taynan whispered to the two boys. He stood up as much as possible - his back pressed against the mold-covered stones - and shuffled down the narrow tunnel. A thin layer of water hung about the otherwise empty sewer. Every breath smelled of human waste and dead rodents; Taynan’s boots crunched little bones with every step.

Was that better?
Certainly not a piece of priceless art, but it’s decent for a first draft.
Take a moment. Hit pause, if necessary, and give us details. Not useless ones, not excessive amounts. Good, strong details will help your setting go a long way in surrounding your reader.

Secondly (blog-skimmers, this is where you can stop skimming), engage our senses.
Every novel uses our most common sense: sight. Every action in a novel creates a motion which we “see” through reading about it.
Wouldn’t the world be boring if we could see everything, but taste nothing? Hear, smell, and touch nothing?

Our world is interactive. It engages every single sense we have, often simultaneously. What you can see, you can touch, smell, taste, and sometimes hear.
However, writers have this tendency (yes, I include myself in this) to ignore most of our senses. We show readers action; we let them listen in on conversations.
Done. Right?

The best way to engage your reader is to tug at their senses. Make them not only see, but hear and taste and touch.
Instead of just seeing the countryside, let us pour into the reader an account of the character’s skin tingling as grass brushes her knees, the sounds of leaves rustling in the breeze, birds calling to one another. Let us convey the sweet scent of flowers and that tangy, metallic taste of fresh air.

Let us create a moving image, a constant immersion that produces not just sights, but sounds and smells and tastes.

What about you? How do you draw your readers in through settings? I’d love to hear about it, leave a comment and share!