callistahogan: (National Novel Writing Month)
I WON!

I didn't think I would actually do it this year, but lo and behold, I did it. While it was harder this year, seeing this just brightened up my entire day. (After all, how many people can boast that they got 50K exactly, according to the NaNo verifier, without even trying? Probably not many.)

However, I probably won't write a novel I care about this much for NaNo again. I thought I could handle writing such an important project for NaNo, but... nope, nope, not really. I went through about a week where I didn't want to write, and that was most likely because... well, this is the novel I want to get published. I want to look at this novel when I'm done with it, all done with all the rewriting and revisions that are always necessary, and say, "This is my book and I'm proud of it."

The no-holds-barred attitude NaNo has the power to give people does not bode well with "serious" novels. So no more books in the Yulian universe written for NaNo. If I try, kick me?

Next year, though... I'm going to go into it in one of two ways: either I am going to go in with only a character and write by the seat of my pants, or I'll think of a plot only during October (not two or three years before I finally commit it to paper) and don't think too much.

That said, I don't regret writing Yulian for NaNo at all.

I have 134 pages of novel.

Novel.

I wrote this during a month. And now I know where things are going. My novel has so much more depth, and I know that I can make Yulian a true great novel. I have the bones. All I need to do is fix the bones and then add flesh.

I can do that.

Just not now.

Now? All I want to do now is watch The Starter Wife (my guilty pleasure) and read until my brain explodes from all the greatness.

No more writing for a while.

(And go ahead, watch me write a 3 or 4K story tomorrow. Just watch.)

MILESTONE.

Nov. 10th, 2008 10:17 pm
callistahogan: (National Novel Writing Month)
I REACHED 30K!

I seriously didn't think I would reach it today, but I did. This is partly due to my ingenious strategy of figuring out how many pages makes up approximately a thousand words (in OO, it's between two and three pages, by the way), and then not letting myself stop writing until I've filled that amount of pages. Or, you know, until I finish one page.

This is helpful because, instead of waiting to take a break after a thousand words, I wait to take a break until after a page is done. Then, while I'm taking my break, I can calculate about how many pages I need to fill before I have written a thousand words.

Rinse, repeat.

This strategy is working quite well. I hope to use it tomorrow and who knows? I wrote four thousand words in about four hours (would have taken me less than that, probably, had I not gotten sidetracked by Dancing With the Stars), so I might be able to double that tomorrow.

I hope so.

--

In other news:

This morning in English class, we were discussing Elie Wiesel's Night and somehow it turned into some sort of whole theological debate, about whether God can be paralleled to Hitler or not, whether Moishe the Beadle's words to Eliezer were saying "You are God" or something else, and all of that incredibly dense stuff that people spend lifetimes studying.

I found it interesting, but after the Hitler comment, I spoke up, and I think I made a lot of sense. Of course, I could be wrong, but I just had to say something. There are so many differences between Hitler and God, definitely, and I could write a whole post on that sometime. Oh, and a whole post on a parallel I saw, about how Voldemort pretty much parallels Hitler in ways. I might write that.

Hmm.

*goes off to think*
callistahogan: (National Novel Writing Month)
So today was the first day I've had to juggle both NaNoWriMo and high school. Frankly, I feel I did incredibly well, considering how well I originally thought I would do.

My total word count at the end of today (day 3) is 14,069. I originally thought I was only going to get to 12K, but word wars are the most useful thing I have come across so far on this crazy NaNo journey. Here are my basic word counts for three of the major increments:

5 minutes: 150 - 250 words.

10 minutes: 400 - 500 words.

15 minutes: 500 - 600 words.

I'm impressed with those times, and I hope to see what my average for the twenty minute word war is soon. Maybe tomorrow, because I wanted to do one today and couldn't. That might be a nice goal for tomorrow, along with... say, 18K.

Yeah, that sounds good.

You know, I'm surprised at how well writing has gone today. Granted, I rambled on quite a bit (chapter three took up many more words than I thought), but the thing is, I see that and know I need to edit it. This gives me an empowering feeling, because I know now that this plot is where I want to go, and I know where I need to flesh things out more. It feels so fulfilling to know that I am finally writing the novel I've wanted to write for ages and I am somehow halfway decent with it...

--

All right, onto something else non-NaNo related: the elections.

I can't vote tomorrow.

I know who I would vote for if I could. If you've seen my political posts, you also know who I would vote for if I was old enough.

However, regardless of who you support, I encourage all of you to go out and vote if you haven't already. We must make a difference in this nation and we will so long as the people stand up for what they believe in. Personally, I support one particular candidate. However, the opposing candidate is not only an amazing politician, but a strong person as well.

I might not agree with the views of who gets elected. I wish I could make a difference this election. Unfortunately, I have to wait until four years from now.

This year, though...

This year nearly everyone on my flist can make a difference in the way the votes go (other than the non-Americans in the bunch, to whom I say: Hi! Other than tomorrow or Wednesday this'll be my last American politics post!). I encourage you to do so. But don't do it for me. Do it for yourself, your country, and the values you stand for.

As long as you believe in the candidate you vote for, I will support you every step of the way and others will too, I'm sure.

So get out there and vote.

I'll be wishing I'm right out there with you.
callistahogan: (National Novel Writing Month)
*yawn*

Today was a good day. Before I talk about NaNoWriMo, though, let me just say happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] greatalexanders! Hopefully it was everything you wanted it to be.

And now.

Day Two:

My total word count is 10,179. I could go further—there are only, at most, a thousand words left in this chapter, and only if I ramble on a bit—but I don't think I can squeeze out more words. Besides, my foot hurts and I have to go to bed in about half an hour.

As for my thoughts on NaNo... I'm fairly happy with what I've gotten so far. My characters are obeying me so far and my plot is coming along nicely. A lot of editing will be necessary at the end of this ordeal. I'd prefer not to think of that, though. *grin*

I would write more, but I'm tired.

So off to bed I go.

The next post will be longer.
callistahogan: (Default)
One: I will go insane if I see another word count update at either [livejournal.com profile] lj_nanowrimo or [livejournal.com profile] nanowrimo. News of your word count does not merit a separate post, and I hope someone will make a Word Count thread. My friends list is like spammed with all that stuff. How annoying.

Two: Whee. NaNoWriMo, I love you!

This year, it was a much more difficult start than I anticipated, though. I tried writing at midnight, deleted my beginning several times, but I eventually went to bed after about eight hundred words. However,  once I woke up, I wasn't happy with it. I started over and got 4K in one version... only to give up on it and go to my original. I deleted a bit of my original chapter, but then easily wrote over it. So far, I am very happy with what's been going on so far, but I already know I'll need a lot of editing.

But still!

I wrote 5,101 words today (not counting the 4K of the other version that I scrapped), so I'm really happy. I definitely think I will reach at least 10K tomorrow, even though I have a research paper to do and a 100 word paragraph for English.

How is everyone else doing at NaNo? Is it going well?

Three: Yeah. That research paper. It's due on Monday. I might work on it a bit tonight, but if not, that'll be my second priority, right after getting my 5K in NaNo. (I know, school before NaNo and all that, but you know, I don't care.) Blah.

Oh, and that paragraph.

That'll take at most a half hour (it'll only take that long because you can't use one word more than once, btw), so it's not that bad.

But blah.

I have written too many words today. This post is incoherent. I think I will go to bed a bit earlier today. Either that or do something mindless.

(I will definitely enjoy that extra hour of sleep tonight...)
callistahogan: (Default)
Twenty-five minutes left...

*bounces*

Is everyone else ready? I sure am! :D
callistahogan: (Default)
I find it interesting that the current number of messages in my inbox is 666.

But anyway. I am going to have to get into the habit of blogging everyday or I will never be able to do the NaBloPoMo. Which I want to do in conjunction (is that the right word?) with NaNoWriMo. As well as finish a writing notebook.

Yep, you heard me.

My dad just got back... um, never mind. I was about to say that my dad just got back with a Coke and a writing notebook for me to write in, but apparently it's only the Coke. Even though I find it hard to believe, there were no notebooks at the store, even though I went to the store a couple of weeks ago and there were plenty. There were all expensive too, so he'll have to get me one tomorrow.

Blah.

I really wanted to start writing in one today.

You see, I am reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. It is all about "freeing the writer within," as the subtitle says. One of the things Natalie Goldberg presses is this: Write every day. Don't go into it saying "I'm going to write a novel" or "I'm going to try to write something good." Go into every writing session with this mindset: "I give myself permission to write junk."

This is the basic premise of NaNoWriMo, obviously, but you know, if I went into every writing project with the same no-holds-barred attitude I did with NaNo, do I have any clue what I could come up? No. I would probably end up with junk, but there would be gems in that junk that might end up spouting a bigger and better story.

And there's no way to get to those "first thoughts," as Natalie Goldberg called them, if you don't let yourself just write whatever comes to mind and let go. After all, writing is supposed to be fun. Anyone can write, if they only put their minds to it and just do it. If you write, you will get better. If you write a lot, then you might learn the specific lessons necessary to excel at what you want to write (whether it is the next great American novel, a short story, a poem, or just a school essay) faster than you would otherwise.

Writing is so amazing. As Walter "Red" Smith says, "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." And if you open veins often, then... well, you let people know who you really are. And if you know who you really are, you can write emotions, feelings, and situations better than you could otherwise.

That's partly why I want to write in this notebook. I want to be able to curl up in bed with a notebook and pen and write to my heart's content. It'll be fun to write by hand for a change. Although it'll take a bit to get used to, I can't wait.

Now, if my dad would just get me my notebook, I'll be all set. And feel free to pester me if I don't finish a notebook in a month! *grin*

(Eeep. Speaking of writing, only two days, four hours, and fifteen minutes left until NaNoWriMo starts for me. And I got a friend to do it with me! *squee*

I'm excited, if you couldn't tell!)
callistahogan: (National Novel Writing Month)
At the moment, I am reading both Brisingr by Christopher Paolini and No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty. Brisingr is definitely not the best book in the world (I can look at it and pick up on things I could do better, and I'm a year younger than Paolini was when he started writing Eragon), but I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. As for No Plot, No Problem... well, I love it. It's incredibly inspiring, and it's making me want to start writing, even though I have pretty much nothing written of my outline.

There's one fact so far that has made me go wow, though:

Apparently NaNoWriMo is responsible for more fiction each year than all of America's creative writing programs. Combined. That's absolutely amazing, but I can't say I'm surprised. After all, if there are 35,000 participants (and I know there are more now, because in 2003, there was 25,000) and only, let's say, 20 percent won, that'd still be 350,000,000 words. (Don't take my word for it; my math might be wonky.) And that's only assuming everyone only reached 50,000 words, which isn't true, and that's assuming only 20 percent won, which also isn't true. And that's still not counting the words of people who didn't win...

I find that awesome. For something that only started as a group of twenty-one insane friends throwing caution to the winds and saying that they want to write a novel in 31 days (the original NaNoWriMo was in July), it's grown exponentionally since then. I can't believe it. How can something that small, something that absolutely off-the-wall, grow into a worldwide phenomenon?

It blows my mind.

But that's why I love NaNoWriMo so much—because it's an absolutely mind-blowing activity and once you do it and win you can't stop.

Honestly, NaNoWriMo this year is shaping up to be the funnest yet. I'm writing this novel, this book that I've been wrestling with in my head for two years, and my characters are talking to me, my plot is coming to life, and everyone I have talked to has been interested in it. Not to mention the numerous friends I've made over the past few weeks and who I believe I'll be able to sympathize with as soon as we swing into November and the insanity begins.

*sighs wistfully*

I'm not even halfway done with my outline and I still want November to come. Of course, that also has something to do with the election almost being done (FINALLY), which means I can go back to my normal life and politics will probably not show up in this journal that often.

Yes, I know you're all cheering. :D
callistahogan: (National Novel Writing Month)
I was in a bookstore today.

I didn't get anything, because the book I wanted wasn't there, but I did wander around a bit. Right before I left, I came across The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens. Now, "portable" seems to imply small, right? Right.

Except apparently Christopher Hitchens (or at least his publisher) doesn't realize that.

The book was seriously huge. If I had to make a guess, it was probably twelve inches in height, maybe eight in width. That's not very portable. And it's bright yellow. With a black spot on it. That says "The Portable Atheist" on it in huge letters.

I seriously couldn't help giggling. 'Cause, seriously? Portable? When I think of portable, I think maybe a paperback, maybe the size of a romance novel, that you can slip inside your bag, not a huge book that would probably only fit in one of those huge bags celebrities carry around, the ones by Doone and Burke (bear with me if I got the name wrong; am going by memory because I don't follow fashion). But oh well. At least it gave me a good laugh.

Also, even though I didn't get anything, I ordered Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. Thankfully, it should be here tomorrow if there's no problems with shipping, so I am very excited about that.

--

There are only eighteen days left until NaNo, and I still have a ton left to do. As soon as I get that book, I am probably going to start reading it and outlining like my life depends on it. I desperately need to figure out my beginning, and then my characters will hopefully start talking. Because I have the bare bones of my plot, but everything else?

Needs a lot of planning.

I will probably be doing nothing else but planning for the next couple weeks, but hopefully I'll be done by... say, the 28th, so I'll have time to just get excited about NaNo without worrying about not having enough outline to carry me through 75K.

I can't wait, though. This year is the most important year yet, and I don't want to screw it up. And I can't wait until I get to the middle of my novel because, seriously, it's awesome. :D
callistahogan: (National Novel Writing Month)
Before I ramble on about NaNoWriMo again, let me just say happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] withoutmywingsx! You're an incredibly awesome person, and I hope your birthday reflects that. :)

But onto NaNo.

Yulian is coming along as best as I can possibly expect under the circumstances. I am waiting until I get the four books I requested from the library to outline my plot, but until then, my magic is coming wonderfully, as is my antagonist.

Unfortunately, the one thing I don't want to give out is the way my magic works. I am terribly afraid that, since this is a public journal, someone might come along and steal my idea, and I definitely don't want that to happen. If you're just that curious, PM me and I might tell you the bare bones, but I might choose to withhold that information anyway.

It all depends on my mood. Suffice it to say, however, that I am incredibly excited with how I rethought the magicseriously, I don't want anyone to know what the magic is like until you are holding the book in your hands. That's how much I want to protect it. If I let you know what it's like, it means that I like and trust you irrevocably.

Other than my magic, my antagonist is the only character that is currently speaking to me. He's already given me enough about himself for me to ascertain that he is a very complex character... and doesn't have a name.

I am being serious here.

My antagonist does not have a name. I don't mean that I just don't know it. He really does not have a name. He tells me that he used to have one once, but doesn't have one now. And he's actually being very nice to me. He's told me why he doesn't have a name, how old he is, what his ultimate goal is, and what he would do if he found out what his ultimate goal would do to humanity and the world he knows. He's being a very nice antagonist.

Now, if my main characters would start speaking to me, I'll be all set. Oh, and if they'll tell me where they want me to begin. I have the first couple lines ("People claim magic doesn't exist. They're wrong."), but am not sure if I should use it in the prologue or in the first chapter, or if I should just not use it because it's not something Ellie can say.

But oh well. I have twenty days left, and I will hopefully figure all this out by then.

This is seriously fun, though. Planning my novel, panicking about not being able to reach 75K, doing a little dance when my characters talk to me?

Ah, how I love thee, NaNoWriMo. 
callistahogan: (I write.)
"People who view fantasy as second rate or childish are usually people who don't read or understand it. I like to tell them that good fantasy is social commentary combined with good storytelling—Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, the Oz stories and so many others. Sure, the stories take place in an imaginary world. But those worlds mirror our own and tell us things about ourselves that need to be said and understood. I also like to tell them how often other forms of literature use fantasy as the bedrock of their own stories. Fantasy transcends its own form in wider scope than any other type of writing."

This quote by Terry Brooks is the reason why I love fantasy. I've found that, instead of fantasy somehow being "childish," it's actually more mature. After all, do you know how much work goes into figuring out a fairly original fantasy plot? And how much thought it takes to work out your magic, your characters, your world, and even your language if you choose to invent one?

Let me tell you, it's definitely not easy.

Yulian is not too different from medieval times, but there are so many more elements of my novel. It's not just medieval, it's more than that. My world works differently than the typical goddess-run world (am I the only one who has noticed that most fantasy novels either have a goddess or numerous gods, and only one major religion?), and the magic doesn't work in the typical fashion. I am working on making my characters likeable and complex, but the only one that's coming easily to me is my villain (who doesn't even have a name).

Fantasy... is something I've always wanted to write. I have no clue why, either. Have any of you ever had one of those experiences where you just know you want to do something, but you don't know why? I mean, I know I want to write, and know why I want to write, but I'm not sure why my eyes alighted on fantasy. Maybe it's because my favorite novels are fantasy.

I don't know.

All I know is that after trying to plan out my own fantasy novel, I have great respect for writers like Terry Brooks, J. K. Rowling, C. S. Lewis, Patrick Rothfuss and Naomi Novik, because they put twists on the classic fantasy novel and made it something fun to read. If I get even half as much fame as some of those authors have... well. I'll be quite famous.

And I want to write a book that people like as much as Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Shannara books...

I can do it too.

I just need twists. I want people to be constantly guessing while they're reading my novel. And I can't wait to start writing it. All I need is character outlines, a world-building document, and a vague (or detailed; I can't decide yet) plot outline, and I'll be already to go. I have a four day weekend starting tomorrow too, so I'll probably actively planning tomorrow.

I am so excited. I have such a good feeling about this novel.

(Although it's mixed in with nervousness, which is quite expected, so it's not that bad!)
callistahogan: (National Novel Writing Month)
So my novel this year involves a quest.

This is normally a terrible cliche. [livejournal.com profile] mosinging1986 brought up in my last post that the quest was overdone, and so did [livejournal.com profile] greatalexanders. I've been worrying a bit over that, but over at the NaNo boards, they put the problem with the quest cliche quite succintly:

The motivation.

So often, the motivation of a quest is to cause the main character to embark on an adventure to get rid of the bad guy at all costs, or to get an artifact to help destroy the bad guy. This isn't the motivation of my quest. To put it simply, my characters go on the quest to learn, to primarily find out what happened to the MC's sister. No artifacts are involved, and they really have no clue where they're going anyway.

They just know that they want to figure out why MC's sister ran away. They're not looking to change the world or anything. They just want to learn something. They don't have a grand "motivation" behind it, and they don't even know what they're getting into when they go on this quest.

Now... I know I need to work this out more. I need to figure out to have that quest, but to put a... monkey wrench in the typical idea of one. I'm sure my family and I can brainstorm ideas for this "monkey wrench," but any help is perfect, as always.

I love my idea, though, particularly my idea of magic. I've been reading through the NaNo boards, and no oneand I mean no onehas put the same twist on it that I have. And my villain is turning out to be quite three-dimensional, so I'm happy. In fact, he's not a villain, really, just... uses the wrong means to achieve the wrong ends, but other than that, he has good intentionsas many real-life "villains" do. So that's working out well.

I only have problems with the beginning, the actual quest, the world itself, and my main characters. However, I have a four day weekend coming up, so I'm sure I'll work through some of that during that time. I'm so happy with my idea, I can hardly stand it.

Is it November yet?
callistahogan: (National Novel Writing Month)
I have a question (or questions).

First of all, I know that many of the people on my friends list are vicarious readers. Moreover, I know that a vast majority of those readers go through many fantasy books in a year, books that they both like and dislike. That means that you, my dear friends, are probably the perfect people to ask this/these question(s) to.

And the question(s) is/are:

What do you like to see in a fantasy novel? Also, what do you not like to see in a fantasy novel? What, in your eyes, is the perfect beginning to a fantasy novel?

This will be invaluable information for me as I start plotting my novel, Yulian, so thanks for any help, even if it's only a sentence or two.

(Also, if you can, a few questions related to cliches: what cliches do you like and dislike? Do you like the quest cliche, or no? Why?)
callistahogan: (Book Addict)
Book: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Genre: Urban fantasy
Length: 465 pp.
Grade: C

Amazon Summary: When Clary Fray witnesses three tattoo-covered teenagers murder another teen, she is unable to prove the crime because the victim disappears right in front of her eyes, and no one else can see the killers. She learns that the teens are Shadowhunters (humans who hunt and kill demons), and Clary, a mundie (i.e., mundane human), should not be able to see them either. Shortly after this discovery, her mother, Jocelyn, an erstwhile Shadowhunter, is kidnapped. Jocelyn is the only person who knows the whereabouts of The Mortal Cup, a dangerous magical item that turns humans into Shadowhunters. Clary must find the cup and keep it from a renegade sector of Shadowhunters bent on eliminating all nonhumans, including benevolent werewolves and friendly vampires. Amid motorcycles powered by demon energies, a telepathic brotherhood of archivists, and other moments of great urban fantasy, the story gets sidetracked by cutesy touches, like the toasted bat sandwich on the menu of an otherworldly restaurant. The characters are sporadically characterized and tend toward behavior that is both predictable and slightly repellent–Clary finds out who her real father is about 200 pages after readers will have it figured out. Despite the narrative flaws, this version of New York, full of Buffyesque teens who are trying to save the world, is entertaining and will have fantasy readers anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.

My Thoughts: I wanted to like this book, I really did. Considering I regularly lurk around areas of fandom, specifically the Harry Potter fandom, I had heard a lot about this author and the Mortal Instruments series that she's writing. I had read the first installment of her infamous Draco trilogy, which I liked well enough, and I hoped that her debut fantasy novel would be just as entertaining.

Thankfully, it was, but there were so many glaring faults that I had to push myself to finish this book. While it kept me entertained, it read so much like Harry Potter. The villain seems like a perfect clone of Voldemort, which made me wonder... why not think of a villain more original? Why take the idea from Harry Potter? After all, there are plenty of other villains you could draw from, but it seems like Clare just took Voldemort's backstory (with a liberal dose of Darth Vader from Star Wars) and dropped it right into the middle of her story.

Not to mention the way this story was written. It was easy to understand, which was a plus, but Clare should be banned from ever using another metaphor or simile in her life. It seems like every other page, there was a terrible simile. The story suffered because of this—instead of making it easier for me to visualize what was going on in the plot, I really just felt like the author was trying to insert as many terrible similes and metaphors into the story as she could possibly get away with.

The characters, compared to the writing, were all right, but the main character, Clary (by the way, I just noticed: how similar is Clary to Clare? One letter difference, huh?), was a tiny bit Mary Sueish. As was Jace. I still enjoyed them, but they just didn't grab me. Frankly, I didn't care what happened to the characters. The only one I really felt attached to was Simon, and he really didn't play that huge of a part in the story, compared to Jace, Isabelle, and Alec. The characterization wasn't as bad as some other parts of the novel, but it definitely wasn't the best I've ever read in my life. Just mediocre.

As you can see, there wasn't many things I liked in this book. To me, it was cliched, unoriginal and, frankly, written a bit sloppily. If Clare had put a bit more effort in trying not to use as many metaphors and such in the story, and if she had gotten someone to look over the idea and point out some similarities between her story and Harry Potter so she could fix it, this book could have been amazing. Unfortunately, it just fell short. This is only the second book I've ever given a C grade to, and considering I love pretty much every book I read, this is quite a bad thing.

Taking into account the fact that it wasn't all bad, though, I felt the book moved at a fairly steady pace. There were some slow bits, but it kept me turning the pages anyway. Even though the book was mediocre at best, it kept me from abandoning it before the finish. I'm contemplating reading the second book in the series, City of Ashes, only because I'm interested in the Jace/Clary plot line. However, I'm in no rush. If I never get around to picking up the next in the series, I'll certainly survive.

So, basically, my thoughts were that this book kept me turning the pages, but it's far from recommendable. If you're a huge fan of Cassandra Clare, then pick this book up. If you're not, don't bother.

Next Up:
Angels and Demons and The Purpose Driven Life aren't really holding my interest that well, so I'm not sure. I'll probably go to the library tomorrow to get some more books, hoping that Middlesex is actually in. I might start reading Ice Station by Matthew Reilly, but I don't know.

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