Archive for November, 2011

My Nanowrimo Challenge

I’ve been swept up in this November insanity for a long time now.  This is my ninth year participating.  When I first started, I was a junior in college, double majoring in two different engineering degrees, and I would fit in my words in between my classes and occasionally writing deep into the night to catch up.  I’ve done Nano around working full-time and taking graduate engineering classes.

I know some people feel the need to switch it up.  I am not one of those people.  I like my first drafts viable, something I can tweak into something potentially sell-able, something that other people are going to want to read.  50K in a month is a reasonable goal.  Each story has its own quirks, its own issues, and is a journey all its own.

That being said, this year I am attempting 100K.  Part of this is because I’m only working part-time, and so I have more time than usual, but most of it is because I couldn’t pick what I wanted to work on, and the extra free time allowed me to say, “Oh, why not just do multiple books!”

We will see how it goes.

If you’re doing Nano, don’t be put off by the people who are going for 100K, 150K, 200K (or more).  Even though there is a large group component to Nano, in the end, it’s still your challenge.  Do what you need to do for you, not anyone else.  There’s nothing wrong in playing within the rules if they work for you.

This year, I wanted to try two in one.  Thus far, it’s been interesting.  I may get to 50K and declare it a year anyway.  I may get to 50K and decide I don’t want to switch to the other story because I’m having so much fun with the first one.

Here’s the thing: anything goes.  Have fun.  Just write.

Subgenre Study: Time Travel

Squiders, I am bringing this to you even though I have overdosed on candy and may die.  That’s how dedicated I am.

Time Travel is generally considered a subgenre of science fiction, but there’s been some controversy lately.  You see, Einsteinian physics state that time travel is impossible.  No can do.  You’d have to destroy the universe to do it, and that’s just not worth it in a lot of people’s eyes.  (Those fools!)  As such, some people are now clamoring that Time Travel be considered fantasy, since it’s not scientifically plausible.

Those people are tools, by the way. As we discussed in Hard Science Fiction, not all science fiction has to be scientifically applicable.  (You know what else is theoretically impossible with current physics? Faster Than Light travel, the backbone of Scifi series all over the place.)  Intent and feel, as always, are important when determining genre.

So, Time Travel, a common trope that science fiction writers love to exploit over and over and over…whether you can slingshot around the sun to rescue some whales, fly through time and space in a police box, or whether your genes determine that you can puncture the fabric of space-time.  (I’ve read a couple of books now where people are genetically predisposed towards time travel.  It’s like the best of scifi’s two favorite tropes, time travel and genetic modification.)

Time travel can involve people from the past going into the future, people from the future going into the past, or people from the present going whichever way they want.  They can bounce around in their own lives or visit the span of human history.  They can influence events or merely watch.  They can go by machine, ship, genetics, or their own minds.

Often time travel is mixed with alternate history and alternate universes.  (All of which are awesome.)

And for those of you that are sad that science says it’s impossible, well…Einsteinian Physics has some problems, and some of the new physics show that it might be possible.  (New Physics also like multiple universes.  New Physics is awesome.)

What are your favorite time travel tales, Squiders?  I highly recommend the rather excellent The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger if you haven’t read it.

Nanowrimo: Week One Tips

Well, friends, November is upon us.  All that planning you did (or didn’t) do during October, all the excitement and the anticipation…and now it’s time to go.

Don’t get bogged down in the beginning.  We’ve talked about beginnings here in the past, but the simple fact is that most people never get past them.  You’re excited, November comes, you sit down to write that scene you’ve been picturing in your head and…it’s terrible.  It didn’t come out the way you wanted it to.  Your characters are flat, your plot is asinine, if you have one at all, and you know no one will ever want to read your book.

It’s really easy to get stuck right here, trying to get your first scene to work.  Ignore this urge.  No matter how bad you feel your beginning may be, keep going.  The story will eventually start to flow, but only if you push on.

If, on the other hand, your beginning is great, your story is flowing, you feel amazing — good for you!  Keep it up!

Each book is going to be different.  Some will flow from your fingertips so fast you wonder if someone was channeling it through you.  Some you will have to fight every scene.  If you get ahead here in week one, don’t sit back on your laurels.  You may run into difficulties up ahead.  If you’re behind on word count, don’t panic.  You can catch back up.

This early in the month, it’s important to remember to keep writing and to try to get some writing in every day.  Scope out your local write-ins, make some writing friends.  This is going to be a fun month.