Sep 30, 2010

GothNo begins!

Oh my word! Less than two hours until GothNoWriMo officially begins!

I intend to get a good night's sleep and then start into some serious typing tomorrow after breakfast.

Best of luck, everyone!

Image courtesy of phaewilk at

Sep 23, 2010

Final tasks before GothNo 2010 starts.

All I really have left to do as regards the pre-planning is writing the Sentence Lites onto notecards (I use Mindola SuperNoteCard). And ... that's it!

I've offered to write up some pep talk emails to help keep me and my fellow GothNo-ers motivated and on track to reach our wordcounts. I have a few ideas in mind, so I'll have some fun putting them together over the next few days.

Only 8 days left till GothNo starts. How exciting!

Sep 21, 2010

GothNoWriMo Pre-Planning Progress 5

Today I looked at limits.

Holly Lisle has covered this topic in her How to Think Sideways course. Randy Ingermanson also covered it in Volume 6, #3 of his Advanced Fiction Writing Ezine on 2nd March 2010. (It's in the second section entitled Creating: Some Things are Impossible where he examines Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and why it works.)

Despite having a number of things to do today, I sat myself down in a coffee shop with paper and pen and worked on the ghost's limits.

For example, I created a scene yesterday whereby my ghost can manipulate physical objects in the house - she uses Deirdre's mobile phone to call Brian. Today I fleshed out this idea with how she was able to do this (the whole physics behind energy-use), and the limit beyond which she could not operate. i.e. she can't make noise (not having a body) unless she uses one physical object to strike another one. This means she can't knock on a wall with her knuckles, for example.

I've lots more examples of limits, but just in case any prospective beta readers are reading these posts, I'm not going to go into any details because that would spoil reading the novella when it's finished!

This was a great exercise to do because I found answers to questions I hadn't yet asked; I was able to link up character motivation with plot and I could see how some of the limits would very likely lead to new, fun scenes to write.

Limits. They're very important because they allow us to become more creative.


As an aside, below are a couple of interesting articles here on the relationship between limits and creativity:

Sep 20, 2010

GothNoWriMo Pre-Planning Progress 4

Today I sat down and dissected my plot cards with the Sentence Lites to find out where there were weaknesses which would lead to bland scenes. Of the seven cards, I found two with weak Sentence Lites.

Scene One:
Delighted to have company in the house, the ghost becomes afraid when she sees something in Deirdre's belongings.

Scene Two:
Unsure how to proceed, the ghost is relieved when Brian shows up at the house.

In these two examples, the text in italics show how weak the conflict is. becomes afraid is passive, although the reader might be interested in the reason behind the ghost's fear. is relieved is also passive.

I amended the Sentence Lites as follows:

Revised Scene One:
Delighted to have company in the house, the ghost pokes through Deirdre's belongings and finds something unexpected.

Revised Scene Two:
Needing live human intervention, the ghost figures out how to use Deirdre's mobile phone and rings Brian, hoping he'll respond and come to the house.

These two revised Sentence Lites are a lot stronger - the ghost is more proactive for one thing, it gives insight into her character, and gives way more scope for a few laughs. (I'm writing for the Creepy Comedy genre.)

Today, I also went through Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways course and made a list of the tools I can use while writing the novel. I'll continue with that list tomorrow and possibly try the LUC technique to come up with one more scene. (I have a few things to do tomorrow, so time constraints might prohibit me from doing the exercise, but if I don't get it done tomorrow, I'll do it the next day.)

Something else I want to keep in mind while I'm writing is the structure. Although I follow and novel structure as it's put forward there, I prefer to keep it simple for the time being as far as the planning for my first draft goes.

So, the tool I'm using is the 8-point arc:

1 - Stasis - the initial state of the MC at the start of the story.

2 - Trigger - something disrupts the MC's life.

3 - The Quest - the MC sets out to achieve something (probably hoping it will set things back on track)

4 - The Surprise.

5 - The Climax

6 - Reversal

7 - Critical Choice

8 - Resolution or a new Stasis

As I write, I'll look at this structure to see what point I'm at in the story, and what point I should be moving towards.

Sep 17, 2010

GothNoWriMo Pre-Planning Progress 3

This morning I worked on the conflict and scenes worksheets and now have seven scenes pretty much ready to be written once October 1st comes round.

I'm estimating about 2,000 words per scene, although I'm not sure how that will pan out once I start writing. But using those numbers, seven scenes at 2,000 words each will take me more than half way to the finish line of my 20,000 GothNo wordcount goal.

Next week, I'll be looking at my plot cards and dissecting them to make sure my Sentence Lites are working as hard as they need to so that when I finally start writing, I won't be creating any boring or static scenes.

It's a first draft, and I'm not aiming for perfection, but it has to be on track otherwise the revision will be a nightmare.

This is the pre-planning process from Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways course. The great thing about the course is that there's a logic to the exercises but you still have the ability to have fun with them and not drain the life out of the project.

Oh, and I am revising my Sentence for the story to:

Fun-loving 1950s ghost plays matchmaker to two young people ... and learns about life and love and happily-ever-afters.

That happily-ever-after bit is one of the key elements of the story.

Sep 16, 2010

GothNoWriMo Pre-Planning Progress 2

So, I've finished all three character worksheets from the How to Think Sideways course, one each for the ghost and the two young people she's hoping to entice together.

I've made a start on the Planned Conflict worksheets, filling in The Sentence as it has been developed to this point. The next few elements of conflict to look at are the organic conflict, the effect on the characters, the effect on the story and the effect on readers. I might start in on this later today, or I might start afresh tomorrow morning. We'll see.

Sep 14, 2010

Pre-Planning Progress 1

Today I used tools and techniques from Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways course to work on the pre-planning.

I used her Dot and Line technique to get some idea about characters and setting. I have some firm ideas now about who my ghost is and her backstory and also the two young people whom the ghost is hoping to successfully matchmake for. :)

I already had my Sentence from last year's pre-planning, and as I'd worked quite a bit on that there's little (if anything) that will need to change with it.

The next couple of tools I plan to use are the Character, Conflict, Time and Scenes modules. I'll start on the Character module this afternoon, depending on time and other constraints.

It's great knowing as much as I do now about my characters. It's helping to flesh out the story and has led me to some ideas about possible scenes to include. And I haven't even looked at the Character and Scenes modules yet. Sweet!

Image from

Sep 12, 2010

GothNo project-planning tools

On the GothNo forum I posted links to four tools that I considered useful for planning writing projects. They are as follows:

The first is an article by Phebe Durand (Lolaness) about using notecards to visually create a plot:

The second link is to an article by Stella Cameron about the six steps to a perfect plot:

The third link is to an article by Larry Brooks called "The Single Most Powerful Writing Tool You’ll Ever See That Fits On One Page":

The last link is to an exercise called The Snowflake Method. I tried this the first year I did NaNoWriMo (and reached 50K) and it worked because I knew each day what scenes I was going to write. (What didn't work so well is that I discovered I'm a writer who does not like to work from a heavily-planned outline - it leaves me feeling claustrophobic! For anyone who does enjoy having an outline to work from The Snowflake Method is a great tool.)

What I might end up doing is using a combination of all these tools to produce a plan that allows me the freedom to write in an inspired way while also knowing in advance what needs to be written each day.

Here's a link to a spreadsheet I also used my first year NaNoing. It was put together by Cameron Mattews at Truckpoetry(dot)net. It's based on The Snowflake Method and for anyone who likes using their laptop or computer to outline, this could be useful:

Sep 8, 2010

GothNo 2010 is nigh upon us!

I got an email a couple of days ago from the GothNo boards, reminding me that there's not long to go before GothNoWriMo starts.

Despite the fact that there's so much going on right now, I am seriously considering entering this year. I was not able to get started on my planned project for last year, but I have my notes (somewhere in one of the many boxes lined up in the spare rooms) so I could give it a go this year. It would be fun!

So, with that in mind, it might not be a bad idea to change the look of this blog in readiness for October 1st!