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Tag: julnowrimo

A Closing and an Opening

I finished Temperance and the Devil around 8 PM on the last day of July. Which was sort of surprising, really. I wasn’t quite sure where or when the story would end, just that it would. I had semi-expected it to end a bit later if the story arc ran a bit long. But then again, it might not. That’s one of the problems with writing without planning. You have no idea where you’re going next or when the end will be in sight.

But end, it has. I’m a bit relieved, mostly because by the middle I felt rather directionless. Half the time, I had the urge to just put it off and come back to it later. But with a month-long binge writing contest, that would just be giving up. So I am finished and I am glad. And in one respect, it turned out rather well. In the Major Arcana, there are twenty-one numbered cards and the Fool. In this story, there are twenty-one chapters and an epilogue. As the villain might say, “Perfect.”

* * *

So, August has begun. Which means Augnowrimo and another round of Camp Nanowrimo. I think I have a few themes pinned down now. They have to be themes and not an actual plot, since I’ve decided on doing a series of interconnected short stories. I’m tentatively calling the entire project “Islands of Ice and Snow” which will mostly be about isolation, hoarding, or maybe even literally, islands of ice and snow.

I have a couple of ideas, but we’ll see how it goes.

Starts and Fits

I have about ten thousand more words that I need to write before Sunday for Julnowrimo/Camp Nanowrimo, unless you count all the short stories I have also been working on at the same time.  In that case, I’ve already finished writing 50,000 words.  But my goal is to get that many words on one story this month, so I guess I’ll keep chugging along even though the words at the moment are trickling out of my head like treacle.

As for next month, I still don’t have any concrete ideas.  But I’m contemplating doing something that is not strictly a novel so I don’t feel burned out as the days progress.  Maybe a series of short stories that are somehow connected.  A choose your own adventure story.  Interactive fiction, even.  Or perhaps something that doesn’t have a recognizable narrative structure.

Catching Up

There isn’t much to say on the writing front except that I’ve been pretty busy the past week working on other things so I haven’t had much time to really devote to Temperance and the Devil.  This weekend, however, I’m trying to catch up.

I’ve also been trying to brainstorm for ideas to use in August.  So far, I haven’t had much luck.  I might end up writing by the seat of my pants next month, too.

* * *

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15:

Instead of getting disturbed by Death’s comment about his scythe, Cherry was laughing. “Oh, that’s a good one. You must be one of those anime fans.”

“Anime fans?” he asked. “What does that have to do about anything?”

“Dave was just telling me the other day that Babel was going to be holding one of those anime conventions this week. My boyfriend isn’t really into that stuff, but several other students in his department are and that’s what they’ve been talking about for the past month. He says that they dress up in strange costumes and everything. I bet you’re here for the convention, aren’t you?”

Death shrugged.

“Oh, don’t be shy,” Cherry exclaimed. “You can admit your geekiness to us. Heck, I’m dating a geek. We have nothing against geeks. Don’t we, girls?”

“I have nothing against geeks,” Tem said as she paused between bites. “But I don’t think he is one.”

Lani nodded. “I bet he ate geeks for breakfast.”

“No,” said Death as he watched the waiter place a salad in front of him. “I actually had scrambled eggs.”

Cracking Open the Story

Yay! I have passed the 25k mark, the halfway point in the 50,000 words in a month challenge.

Basically, I’m writing this story by the seat of my pants. No outlines. Making stuff up as I go along. But despite all of that, the story is at a point where the plot is rolling along whether I want it to or not. That’s because it’s turning into a bit of a murder mystery. And because there are clues that the main characters are finding, the rest of the story will have to follow logically from those clues.

For those of you following along, I do plan on including these characters in the next couple of chapters:
*The High Priestess
*The Lovers
*The Wheel of Fortune
*The Magician
*The Star

As for the rest of the cards that haven’t shown up yet, for some of them, their appearance will depend on where the plot goes. Others won’t be so important.

* * *

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 11:

“What makes you think I’ll do you any favors?”

“If you don’t do me a favor, I’ll rip up your couch cushions and get your neighbor to attempt to set me on fire on top of the remains. In your living room.”

“Is that a threat?” Another Tequila Sunset was placed in front of her, but she didn’t touch it. “I want to know what this favor is before I accept this drink. Will it involve theft?”

“Nope.”

“Murder?”

“No.”

“Torture? Blowing things up? Breaking laws? Giving annoying people wedgies?”

“No. Nope. Nada. And that sounds fun, but not that either. We’re going to be visiting a psychic. I set up an appointment via e-mail for ten thirty in the morning.”

She was nonplussed. “A psychic? They’re all frauds. Are you planning on driving one mental by giving her real visions?”

“Well, there isn’t anything more hellish than seeing things that you know aren’t there.”

* * *

I’m currently working on chapter 12. Here’s the opening teaser paragraph:

The Devil had wanted to go gambling, to destroy fortunes. He had wanted to go to a strip club to wallow in the illicit pleasures of the flesh. He wanted to go drag racing on the Strip just to piss off law enforcement. But no. He wasn’t doing any of these things. Instead, he was at a grocery store staring at macadamia nuts. Macadamia nuts! He could kill someone with those things. If only he had the creativity to figure out how.

Hitting the Gas Pedal with Trumpets Blaring

Many writers enjoy putting together soundtracks before they start work with a particular story. While this may work for some people, this usually doesn’t do anything for me. I just put on some music that doesn’t disturb me too much and get to writing. For example, when I was writing Winter on a Watch Glass, a dark fantasy set in historical Germany, I ended up listening to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” on infinite repeat as I pounded out the last two or three chapters. The music had nothing to do with the story, but the catchy beat was motivation to write.

With Temperance and the Devil, I started with the same rationale. But in the course of listening to different songs while I was writing, I’ve discovered that there are certain types of music that I kept gravitating toward. Swing. Big Band. Motown. Why? I’ve realized that that type of music catches the essence of the story perfectly. Fun and not particularly serious.

Contrary to all this attention to playlists, however, lots of writers do not read books similar to what they’re writing unless it’s non-fiction that can be classified as “research.” I’m this way, too, but it’s less about being influenced by other people and more about just not having any time to do any reading. However, I am currently in the middle of reading John Updike’s last poetry collection Endpoint (I highly recommend it, by the way). One of the poems in the collection, “Her Coy Lover Sings Out”, is a tribute to Doris Day, one of Updike’s early crushes. The poem reminded me of one of the main characters, Temperance, who is a lot like Day’s characters–good girls who are a bit mischievous. It also reminded me of Day’s romantic comedies which resemble the plot of my current work in spirit. It’s such a shame that they don’t do those sorts of films any more.

So I suppose if I were to compare the story–as it is now–to anything, I’d say picture a modernized Doris Day film with lots of swing, big band, and Motown playing in the background while the characters wield magic and iPhones in the foreground.

* * *

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 7, a tribute to the “I Can Has Cheezburger” meme:

Tem had only gotten a hamburger and a small soda for herself. Luc, however, tore into the rest of the food like the demon that Florence thought he was. She stared at him in astonishment before deliberately turning her head so all she could see was the street outside. When she finished her own burger and sipped the last bit of soda, she dumped the trash into the large sack that had originally contained the food. Only then did she look back at the Devil.

The cat sat back with his paws on his belly and burped loudly. Nothing was left of the cheeseburger or the chicken nuggets except for the wrappings.

“You are such a slob.”

“Mrow.” The Devil didn’t care if he was a slob.

Tem sighed. She gathered up all of the garbage and got out of the car to throw it into a nearby trash can. Then she started her car again. “You’ll never get girls that way if you eat like that all the time.”

The cat blinked his eyes, giving her his cute face. When she didn’t respond, he started purring and butting his head against her side.

“You are such a devious sycophant. I can imagine you doing that to a little old lady. She’d think you were such a cute kitty and she’d take you home to coddle you. And then, when she’s least expecting it, you’d tear her face off.”

He purred louder.

“Right. That’s what cats do anyway. Whoever turned you into one had the right idea. At least in this form, you can’t blow anything up.”

He suddenly stopped purring.

She briefly looked at him and then back out at the traffic. “My God, you did blow up something while I was sleeping. I suppose we’ll hear about it on the news tonight.”

“Mrow.” It was a smug vocalization.

Tem decided to take out her annoyance with Luc’s shenanigans on the gas pedal. They made it to Babel’s parking garage in record time. But just as she opened the driver side door to get out, the cat barreled past her and quickly disappeared into the rows of cars.

“If you blow up this parking garage,” she yelled after him, “I’ll never forgive you!”

Chugging Along

So, nothing much to report on my progress for Camp Nanowrimo and Julnowrimo except that I’m plugging along on Temperance and the Devil as much as I can, seeing that it’s a weekday.

It’s kind of strange how characters become more, well, lively the more you write about them. This is the case with the Devil, also known as Lucifer “Luc” DeVille, who is beginning to steal the whole story. I’m currently in the middle of chapter six and I know there’s going to be at least two explosions in a strip mall before the Devil decides to take a break for lunch.

Meanwhile, I’ve started to collect possible story ideas for August. One idea I have is to do a series of fairy tale retellings in the framework of the brothers Grimm traveling around collecting folktales. I think there was a movie that did this too, but I have my own twist. It will be set in outer space.

* * *

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5:

And then Florence did something strange. She knelt down and wiggled her finger. “Here kitty, kitty.”

Luc didn’t care for that. He bared his fangs with a hiss and his eyes began glowing a bright red.

“Yargh!” Florence stumbled backward, her watering can falling out of her free hand to land in one of the terracotta plant pots. “That thing is possessed!”

“Surely you exaggerate. He just hasn’t had his beauty sleep yet.” Luc backed away from Florence and began twining himself around Tem’s ankles. “He’s really quite friendly. Sometimes too friendly. Maybe you need another cup of coffee.”

“I don’t need coffee. I know what I saw!”

“Whatever. You can call the local priest and see what he has to say.”

“Maybe I will!”

A Structure Begins To Emerge

I hadn’t thought too much about the structure of Temperance and the Devil beyond the premise, but I’m building it as I go along. It’s interesting because I’m doing something slightly different with the point-of-view than I normally do. I hadn’t planned on doing it; it just naturally turned out to be so.

I usually stick with one point of view–one character’s point of view–throughout the whole writing process unless I’m stuck in a rut and need to do something drastic to get myself going again. This time, though, I’m alternating point of view with each chapter: one for Temperance and the other for the Devil. It seemed to make sense to do it that way since they’re both main characters.

So I have a vague notion as to where I’m going with this, but meanwhile it’s just mostly banter and shootings.

* * *

Here’s an excerpt of a conversation between Temperance and the Devil from chapter 4:

He took another bite of the ice cream and moaned. If he had his way, he would be eating chocolate every day. Wait a minute. He did eat chocolate every day. Self-control didn’t exist for him.

“Stop making those noises. You sound like a stuck pig.”

“But I am a pig. A happy, happy pig. You should try this. Really. You’d swear it’s heaven.” He spooned up more ice cream and held it out to her. “Come on. Try it. Please.”

“I know why you think it tastes like heaven. It’s because it will be the closest you’ll ever get to it.”

“What, you think I wouldn’t eventually redeem myself?”

“You’ll never redeem yourself.”

He waggled the spoon in front of her. “Try it. Just taste it.” He could sense that she was torn about it, even though her facial expression remained calm. No one could resist triple chocolate. No one. He smiled triumphantly when she finally opened her mouth. He put the spoon in and watched as pleasure steal over her. Yes, Temperance could be tempted. And if he was tricky enough, he’d be doing far more wicked things to her mouth.

She took the spoon out of his hand and went in for more ice cream herself, even as she scowled at him. “Don’t you dare take this the wrong way. This doesn’t mean that I’d be amenable to any other depraved thing in your head.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“You didn’t have to.”

Starting That Summer Writing Binge

Despite all that brain storming in June, I ended up getting an idea about two or three days before the start of it all.  It’s wacky and crazy and not serious at all–but that’s the whole point.  I think it has huge comedic potential, but it could very well fall flat on its face considering the fact that my sense of humor is not the same as everyone else’s.

The first day’s writing was slow, but that was to be expected.  It was a Friday, after all, and I don’t have the luxury of a summer vacation.  But things picked up on Saturday, particularly when I started organizing those writing sprints on Twitter that almost no one else follows.

My goal is to get to at least 10,000 words before the end of this three-day weekend.  If I’m lucky, I’d like to get to 50k a week early so I can start planning for August–because I have absolutely no idea what to write about next month.  None.  Nada.  Zip.

Anyways, I’m also currently documenting this month’s progress on my Nano website.  The project is called Temperance and the Devil.  The tagline is: “She’s a showgirl searching for the perfect drink. He lives for chaos but turns into a cat whenever the sun comes up. The problem is, they’re the only ones standing between Vegas and utter destruction.”  Somebody else said it sounded like a cross between Good Omens and Ladyhawke.  I’ve read the former but haven’t watched the latter so I’ll just let others decide whether that particular combination is a win or a complete disaster.

Plot Needed

It’s a week until Julnowrimo and I’m still not sure if I even have an idea to write about.  Well, I had an idea.  I even had the plot sketched out lightly.  But I’m not sure I want to write about it right now.  Currently, I have a character in mind who is just begging for a story.  But I cannot just put the character in with the plot that I had recently sketched out.  Because if I wanted to stay true to the character, things would be over by the end of chapter three–if that–in one big and literal gory mess.

I have no shortage of ideas, which I suppose shouldn’t be a problem.  The problem is picking which one I want to do.  The easiest thing to do is to choose one randomly and stick to it.  But that method doesn’t give me any enthusiasm.  I don’t write for a living so I can’t just plow through things because it’s something I have to do whether I like it or not.  I do this because it’s a hobby (a compulsive hobby, but a hobby nonetheless) and it’s something I like doing for fun in my spare time.  So it’s a no brainer that I would want to write about an idea that I find exciting.

Back in 2004, when I first attempted to write a novel in the month of July, the genre I chose was the fantasy western.  I have a yen to revisit the genre in the coming month.  The character with my attention right now would fit in very easily.  I can already picture the fight scenes.  But where’s the plot?  I’m sorely tempted to borrow one or two from a spaghetti western.

Another Close Finish

Maynowrimo, another one of those binge writing spin-offs, is now over and I can say that I squeaked by with 50,377 words.  I can say with some confidence that it was mostly procrastination.  I started out in the month of May hoping that I would be regularly writing, but lab stuff, as usual, got me sidetracked.  So I ended up writing about almost 40,000 words over the last three days–almost 10k on Sunday, almost 20k on Monday, and about 11k on Tuesday (yesterday).

I’m pretty drained after that writing marathon, so I guess for about the next month, I’ll turn my attention to other things.  However, there are other writing things after June that I’m vaguely contemplating about:

Last year, I did Julnowrimo (in July) and Augnowrimo (in August).  After August was over, I felt pretty burned out and semi-vowed that I wouldn’t do it again.  But then again, real writers write every day and it sort of seemed like I would be wimping out if I didn’t do it again.  However, this year is complicated with Camp Nano, the summer version of Nanowrimo that is also organized by the same people.

As a municipal liaison, I sort of feel that I have some sort of obligation to organize some things in my region.  This may also involve setting up write-ins which can be kind of tricky since the people in charge of Camp Nano still don’t know whether or not this is going to be for July or August or both.  In any case, it will involve some time committment from me.

I’m also thinking about the 3-day Novel Contest in September.  I’m really toying with the idea that I might actually submit an entry this year.  You know, with all of the last minute writing that I’ve been practicing lately, it shouldn’t be too hard to write a coherent novel in three days, right?