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2 Days until it begins – National Novel Writing Month October 29, 2011

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Where I live, Nanowrimo starts on a public holiday. This is a good thing. I always try to get a head start in the daily word count because inevitably something will pop up which will mean some days I don’t write.

The difference this year is, I WANT something to pop up that means I can’t write my novel. Yes, you heard… or rather , read me correctly. I want something to pop up which means I am too busy to write the novel.

Yes, it was a brave move, and the right move, I still believe it was the right move, to be a freelance copywriter. It’s just not bearing many fruits just yet. One project briefly flashed into life, and then just as quickly disappeared due to budget cuts. Other ideas have surfaced which need to be thought upon before committing. And other projects, well there were some delays, I will just say that. This has put me in the position of willing and able, but not doing. So, if, as many people have been telling me, it is going to pour, not rain, then I will be too busy to write the novel. Then I will be stressing about finishing the novel in between writing reports and brochures and web pages and suchlike. That’s what I want.

But, until then, I will try to enjoy playing around in the sandbox of my magical steampunk verse. I use the word ‘try’ because I know my own mind. In years gone by when I have had the 9-5 job and written my sci-fi epi, I did enjoy escaping to that place and writing of a ship crew against the corporate MAN, trying to survive.

Now part of my mind is going to nag at me saying- you need to be earning coin.

ARGH! It even makes it way into this blog post!

So, with two days left, what do I have? I have a map! YES! It’s no where near as pretty as what you can get online at the cartographers guild, but it will serve for me. It has the general geography that I NEED. It has the city, and it has the plains leading to the hills. Beyond the hills it has deserts and sparse, desolate valleys. Then it has the tundra, which lead to the second and more imposing set of mountain ranges, where my frontier town lays. And that’s all I need.

I know there are frozen wastes to the north, with active volcanoes. I know there are tropical jungles and tracts of desert wastes to the south, and people ride dinosaurs there. I know there is a massive inland sea further to the west. But for THIS story, they’re not important, so they are not on my map. But, I know them.

Some people go to outrageous lengths to create a world, and then, because they have put so much effort into making that map, and that world, they feel the need to share every facet with the reader. I know I have a little bit of that in me, so part of a self-constraint was to only map the areas I knew my story would take. That and I suck at drawing maps, so the less map I had to draw, yay me!

But I have 2 characters ‘from the south’. They dress different, and their skin is darker. But pretty much that’s it. There is no interjected history about them and their race or culture. They’re just – from the south. I have some ‘mountain men’, giant creatures with blue skin. You could call them trolls, I guess, but I’m not. They’re mountain men. They are tribal, and have their own language and culture. But am I going to dump all that on the reader to say- how cool was this idea?!?! Nope.

Now, if, in book 2, our intrepid adventurers are forced into Mountain Man country, well, that gives me a chance to explore that culture. If, in book 3 theres something of value in the south, then you know what? They can go exploring the vast deserts and oasis kingdoms of the south.

Until then. I am going to assume that every character in my world knows enough to get by and say no more. If the reader doesn’t, well, that’s too bad.

Plus it means I don’t have to draw those maps until next year!

Am I ready to write novel number 10? Yes I am. I am really looking forward to stepping away from 5 years of sci-fi, and into a new universe, new characters. Its going to be fun.


4 simple ideas October 22, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in books and reading, writing.
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I was directed to this site by various means, the most obvious was someone sending me the link to click on… obviously.

A simple four-item formula for turning story into fiction

And so now I share it with you.

I am glad I have found it before I start Nanowrimo, so I can keep it in the back of my mind while I write. Each chapter, something will happen, the characters will move from one space to the next space, each chapter.

I am going to keep that in mind.

I also like the idea of reusing characters. I like making characters, and being encouraged to reuse them because readers remember them and have an affinity or attachment to them makes sense and is a good idea.

Just a quick stop here. I am building my world. There is just over a week to go and things are heating up.

Creeping Closer To November. October 18, 2011

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Traditionally, for me, October is the month of plotting and planning. It is where I flesh out the characters, the situations, the plots and locations for my November Novel through the National Novel Writing Month.

I am a little bit behind schedule, but I dont mind. I have a meta plot, starting here, going through these locations here, and ending there. It needs some refining, not so much, as I do enjoy the wriggle room while I write, but sure, a little refining.

I have created some characters. I surfed the web for pirate crews and shipping manifests, and created my air ship crew. Still don’t have a name for my Captain yet. But that will come. I started creating the Cabal which controls the evil organisation and I started creating the Royal Family.

What I have discovered is, that while plotting and planning, more ideas have sprung forth. So, Royal Family. I decided that politically, my land will be under the rule of Royalty. This gives me the chance to have a Royal Navy, Royal Army, knights and fiefdoms and political intrigue and marrying for favour. I have thought that one of the young members of the Corporate Cabal might be wooing a young Princess with hopes of combining his industrial might with Royalty, to be the ultimate ruler! (That needed an echo effect)

I have also thought of introducing a Royal Spy Service, run by the youngest Prince. See? Ideas just grow just by having a King and  Queen and their children.

And the Cabal? Five people, or rather four people plus a special member, each with their own school of magic, which fits into my world. So I have now defined the magic I am going to use, and how common some are, how some people think Divination is just tea leaves and entrails,card tricks and flashing lights; Sorcery is alien and evil; Sigil Magic is ‘just writing’. Hmm..I’ve heard that argument before, about professional writing; about copywriting. I guess I can ‘write from experience’ there . . .

I still don’t have a map. I sort of do, started drawing one in pencil. But I found some great ones online, so I will be ‘referencing’ them instead 🙂 I know locations. The city is a location, not named yet, but its a location. It is built in the floor of a massive crater, and the smaller crater just to the west is where the well-to-do people live. And there is a smaller chain of craters heading west. There is a Monument Valley style environment, and a frontier mining town, and mountains with snow on them. I need some sort of reference material, since wind directions and weather patterns become important in my story. I still have 2 weeks…

The big thing is, I don’t have a title for my novel yet. I have no idea what to call it! I know it can have a working title, but I don’t even have that.

So, what I have left to do is- finish up on the characters, what they look like, who they are, what their names are. Come up with some ship names, place names and street names. Think of some business which would be around in my world, such as Cartography and Map shops. I saw on the other day and thought- with a wild frontier, this type of service would be invaluable! A novel title. Should be a piece of cake.

You put your write hand in…. October 2, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in Copy writing, writing.
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This blog was due to go up on Wednesday, but I held out until today. Why? Because I was told by my second client I had done work for that he would pay me on Friday. So I wanted to wait until today, check my bank and then say – I am now a paid freelance copywriter. No, it’s not much, it was a small job and I discounted the hourly rate a lot, but it was a job, we sat down, we talked, he told me what he wanted, I suggested some ideas, wrote them up and sent them to him. He discarded half of what I wrote, moved the text to where he wanted them, changed something I wrote and sent it back to me. I told him what he changed was not good because it repeated a key word which makes the word have less power.

I have yet to see the final product, but he was happy and he paid me. The above proceedings are typical client actions, I think. You need to be less precious about your work. You present, the client may not have got across to you their vision, and change it. Once you’ve handed the copy over and they say – I like it, it is theirs. You may see it in the future and wince, but it is no longer yours to concern yourself over. This is a lesson I am learning.

But yes, I have been paid, for a job, which I scored through the networking group. I am hoping there will be more soon.

I am still in a bit of a grey zone, however. I jumped right in, two feet first, not knowing how deep the water I was jumping into was. I left my job, felt empowered by this. Encouraged by many, supported by the most important, and off I went. I created a database, refined my templates, wrote some web copy, and joined a networking group.

Then it didn’t happen so very fast. I know, in the back of my mind i need to be patient. And I am, well I am trying to be. I had some money to live on. Paid for web hosting, the electric bill, the rent. Oh, not so much money now. Am I doing the right thing? Lets call some temp agencies for some fill-in work. Lets comb through job ads to see if there is something I can do, make some good money maybe?

But during the past week… I met with, composed and sent off that job.

I attended the induction meeting about how to sell yourself to the group, how to pare down all the noise about stuff and nonsense to know what it is you want to do, why you want to do it, and how to get it done. I became a member of the BNI Group, with a name tag and everything.

I met with another member from the networking group, a photographer. We chatted while he took my picture, all professional and studio shiny good. He handed me an A4 pamphlet which had been created for him, before a copywriter joined the group. He wasn’t too happy with the copy and asked me to re-write it. What would I do?

I then met with a couple who are printers, graphic designers, working in the digital and print design world. From the induction meeting a concept was shown to me – that of the power group. Find those industries which truly complement yours, and work with them. Printers are the next step along from a copywriter. Often someone goes to the printer and discovers they need to go back one step to get copywriting done first.

It was a great meeting, we talked business opportunities for each other, what I could do for them, for myself, what they could do for me. It was thrilling. It was a big moment, the moment where I shifted gears. Or, more like the moment I put the clutch to the floor in preparation of changing gears. I sense things are about to pick up, in a massive way.

And then I got paid….. shake it all about.

Creatively? It is now October. This is traditionally my month of Plotting and Planning for November. Did I do the full 30 days of world building? Nope. I got stuck on the map. Stupid map. But, I figured out currencies, government, evil organisation, that yes, I can have 2 suns for my world (thank you NASA), weather patterns, some divinity. So, I got some good stuff out of that exercise.

Now it is time to create the characters, the races, the monsters and wild animals. And the map… Now it is time to have major plot points, and link them. That is how I work. What major events I want, in chronological order. How I get from one to the other, I don’t mind, but getting there I will.

And I have to think of a title. I can think of hooks and shout outs in the advertising world. But a title for a novel? Tricky.