Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Ten Steps to Writing a Story

I wrote a post about some sites I found helpful for writing. I remembered because I was searching for that one thing I found that perfectly suits me. I just remembered I found it on Pinterest. Then I found it on my blog. Now I realize I need to summarize, for my own need of simplified instructions. Go here for the full article by Randy Ingermanson, Ph.D. I say ignore the time suggestions (even he isn't strict on them). Just let it take as long as it needs.
    1. Write a one sentence summary. [Nameless Main Character Concept] [does a thing] [to accomplish a thing].
    2. Write a paragraph based on that sentence.
      1. Write a sentence for the setup.
      2. Write a sentence for each disaster. (3ish)
      3. Write a sentence for the ending.
    3. You're gonna get to know your character. Basically, you're doing the first two steps for each character and then some.
      1. Character name, age, eye color, hair color, other basics.
      2. A one sentence summary of their storyline, and then a paragraph summary
      3. Their motivation, goal, conflict, and epiphany.
      4. From this point, you're good to continue to the other steps, but you'll add the following as their characters and story inspires you: One-page descriptions and character charts.
    4. From the step 2 paragraph, write a paragraph from each sentence.
    5. Take each paragraph and expand it to fill a page.
    6. Make a scene list in whatever way works for you.
    7. Write a few paragraphs of each scene. Lay out the conflict. Stream of thought is ok. Include dialogue and descriptions as they come to you. Keep a notebook on you or add notes on your phone as thoughts come to you when you're without your scene list. Ideas care not for timing.
    8. This is also a good idea:
      "I used to write either one or two pages per chapter, and I started each chapter on a new page. Then I just printed it all out and put it in a loose-leaf notebook, so I could easily swap chapters around later or revise chapters without messing up the others. This process usually took me a week and the end result was a massive 50-page printed document that I would revise in red ink as I wrote the first draft. All my good ideas when I woke up in the morning got hand-written in the margins of this document."  ~ Randy Ingermanson, Ph.D.
    9. I think at this point you've done the majority of it. You've written a book. Next you're basically just putting the glue on that'll hold the puzzle pieces together. Making things flow into each other.

    Thursday, January 16, 2020

    Cutie Mark Crusaders

    I love My Little Ponies. I'm forty. No shame. Now that I've confessed that, let me also confessed that the show helped me. In the current iteration there are these three younger ponies (age isn't specified, but they are smaller than the "adult" ponies and are still in school) that are desperate to get their cutie marks, so they start trying to do all these things in hopes that one of those things will be "their" thing.

    Spoilers ahead. They finally get their marks after they help another pony get his. Their purpose in life is to help others find theirs. I  wonder if that's mine. Coaching is a trend right now, but I don't feel that's exactly it. Maybe it is, and I'm scared. But really, what I want to do is use this brain of mine that is constantly overwhelmed with all sorts of ideas.

    So I got back on Guru and decided to put myself in most of the categories as a concept designer. Sketching, outlining, and lists. I mean I do this often. I've designed cities, even. I know I'll never build a city, but I still design them.

    Maybe others will pay me to come up with ideas for their projects. I'd do it for free if I could. But, we live in a world where you need money to survive.

    Thursday, October 17, 2019


    We have an image of our planet from space. We're exploring other planets. There are sciences dedicated to understanding the deep inner workings of our world. From the vast to the very specific, you'd think there's nothing left to explore.

    However, if my time getting caught up in the links of wiki are any indication, there is always something new to explore. If my time looking at old books is any indication, there is so much we've yet to know of the past.

    In trying to find my personal brand, I tended to focus on the future. What can I create? What can I do to leave my mark? What can I do to make my community better?

    But I am so curious about the present and the past. Why not explore what was and what is? These explorations could bring to light old and current things (with proper crediting of course). These explorations could inspire new ideas.

    I've wanted to take a long exploratory road trip for awhile now. I've thought of ways to sleep in my car (there are solar powered AC units to put in your car, by the way) and mentally prepared for the lack of my usual comforts. However, this has yet to translate to actual actions.

    However, I think if I have encouragement, I might actually do it. Some fans would help, but money would help better, so I'm setting up a campaign in FundMyTravel. I'm not expecting anything from friends and family, as I understand their situation.

    What's Your Point?

    Oh, right. (Also, you're welcome that I made a header so you could skip the rambling as I know I do a lot.) Let's explore! Let's document and take pictures so scientists can see what might need more sciency exploration. We go, we find something interesting, we document and post it, and move on.

    There's more to do for the bigger idea, but for now, I want to just go out myself and see if it's even viable, and get others involved where we can gather so much information it does need a database sort of website.

    Pantser to Planner

    I was, and still am partly, a pantser. That's a term I only discovered this year or last, but it fits.

    It wasn't working though. I was writing, but there was nothing really going on. I knew there wasn't really a goal, then I figured one out. Vaguely. I didn't realize how vague until I broke down and finally searched for how to outline.

    On Pinterest, I would get tons of suggested pins about outlining or planning and I ignored them because I've done well so far. (I haven't.) It might even be that the lack of discipline stems from being unprepared when the inspiration strikes and I just start typing until nothing else comes to me. There is a place for that step... but I didn't realize that until I finally did my search.

    I found a few articles and I will explain my initial thoughts on how I plan to combine and make use of these suggestions. I didn't make note of who the ideas came from, but I'll do a quick reopen of tabs and provide links of the sites where I found the articles.

    https://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/ - Really loved this one. It goes well with how my brain works. I tend to get a big general idea first, and this helps expand while still narrowing things down in a way I can plan what I want to write with little actual structure.
    https://jerryjenkins.com/ - Basically this goes along with the first one, in that, always carry a notebook. And something to refer to when you sit down to make the design documents. (I also like to hoard most of my rejected ideas along with all my self-proclaimed brilliant ones.) Also some good tips on villains. I don't agree with most of his methods. I do believe writer's block is a thing. However, for some people, he may have some good tips, but my problem isn't setting up a place to write or finding time, etc. Snowflake Guy is a lot more lenient with his take it or leave it. (Not sure if Mr. Jenkins is "strict" about his methods, but even if he is, you can take some, leave some, etc.)
    http://ken-mcconnell.com/ - Mostly just used this for technical tips. I've been using draftin.com because it's simple and fast to load. I may still use it in some instances, but I think I need to start putting it in an actual word processing document and Google Docs is the answer for me.

    I could have kept looking, but the Snowflake Guy really got me in my sweet spot. I still had the other tabs opened to articles from the other two, but I just scanned them at that point.

    Now how do I use this information in my own recipe for no more writer's block?

    Well, for one, I already know that when it comes to actual writing, I do better at a keyboard. For jotting notes and ideas, I prefer to handwrite. The fabulous thing about Snowflake is jotting notes and starting small. He even specifically says it could take weeks in this process. I didn't realize I had pressured myself with a vague (but urgent) timeline. This is giving me permission to take a notebook to a coffee shop, chill and think, writing only when something comes to mind to write. Which, helps with that too. He gives a structure. Step by step.

    I have an idea for the story. It's been there many months. A year. I just remembered I actually started it for NaNoWriMo last year. I think. Um, anyway. The other day I completely deleted (but it's in draft so I know it's not gone forever and my hoarder muse is happy) and started over. I actually changed the whole backstory for one character. Deleted some minor characters.

    When I decided to delete some of the characters, somehow it was more comforting to realize I was basically like that jagged glowing line thing that erased Rory from history. I'm like the Doctor. I'm the only one who will ever know they existed...

    I read the bit about starting with one sentence, "I was like, 'I have that!'" Except I got stuck at, "War for Home is about two people who..." and I pushed out "try to"... and realized how badly I needed to do this.

    So step one is going to hang out at coffee shops and let my mind wander about how to finish that sentence. It might take a long time. That's ok. That sentence is the building block.

    After that there's expanding and character work ups and then scene worksheet. I'm going to chill. I'm not on a deadline and I know I can't do anything without the first sentence, so it's ok to take as much time as needed. Even if I come up with other sentences for stories in the meantime. Even if I end up writing other stories and finishing them before I get that sentence.

    This story is inside of me begging to be let out. But without conflict, there is no story. I LOVE traumatizing characters when I roleplay, so why is it so hard when writing an actual non-collaborative story? I did it before. Or did it? Maybe that's why none of them were ever finished.

    Even the one that was the furthest I've ever gotten, even came to an end, but still felt... empty.

    I know I am capable of very sick villians, and pretty graphic situations. I need to make these characters braver than I am. They will go out and risk themselves.

    So, my causes for writer's block:
    • Lack of preparation (easy fix)
    • Fear (it's spooky season, so now's a good time to face it)

    In other news, I've decided teeth are weird.

    Wednesday, July 24, 2019

    YOU Thought of It: That's What Counts

    From the first time I sat at a desk and grew bored (or procrastinated), I would take random office supplies and make stuff. From school, avoiding math, to temporary work when I was only there to answer a barely ringing phone.

    30+ years later and I realize... that's friggin product and package design!

    So as I type this, I am going to do a little research. I'm sick and tired of trying to find a job. I do a weekend gig through the temp agency. Living with my parents is a HUGE help and I really appreciate them. But I also want to contribute. Not just to the house, but to the world.

    I am chock full of ideas, and some of them are even good. I already have a natural tendency to create things from other things. Folding, cutting, molding, etc. Maybe I have considered doing this stuff before, but I'm not sure why I never went through with it.

    The thing with product and package (even prop) design is that it can be patented. Aka I can patent them and sell the patents... or something...

    I have no idea, but I know I have, along with my mom a few times, come up with ideas that are actually useful.

    "Well, if it's that good, someone else already thought of it."

    Yeah. That's the crap I told myself. Why can't I think of something first. Where was my esteem?

    If you ever think that, stop it. Maybe you are that creative and imaginative. Work to make it happen. Even if you're not the first one, it was original as far as it was new to your mind. That counts for something. It means there's more in there. So, go, imagine and dream and better tomorrow.

    Oh, and listen to people even if you don't think them intelligent enough. I don't think imagination needs intelligence. Intelligence is needed to communicate the idea, but when the idea person has a hard time expressing it, someone needs to be able to work to understand them.

    Saturday, June 8, 2019

    Humble Beginnings

    I kind of fell into graphic design. I was volunteering to run presentations, and I got a little ambitious about making the graphics for those presentations look less boring. I did some research, and to be honest, I had a natural eye. I mean, not to sound arrogant, but why do people need to be told that contrast is important? Do you not see that you can't see... Sorry. College math gives me anxiety attacks. We all have our skills.

    I still can't remember how I learned what I did before the internet. I remember even college courses that I felt wasn't really showing me what I needed to learn. I finally did learn all that stuff, either from the internet or when I went back to school and took a class specifically in graphic design, as well as other art classes.

    However, for whatever reason you may not want to do that. Maybe you're not wanting to go into graphic design as a career, but you want to do your own marketing. Maybe you just want to do it for fun.

    In any case, there are plenty of places online to look.

    I am going to recommend you check this out: https://crmrkt.com/17wpX1

    I am in their partner program, so of course I would love for you to purchase something so I can get a bit of commission. But if nothing else, sign up for 6 freebies a week. You actually see them over on the sidebar.

    So go! Learn. Create.

    Thursday, April 18, 2019

    I'd Rather Get Paid for Being Mundane

    Microsoft Office is the best out there, which is why it's still going strong even though Google has made free options for making documents. Some of us just don't want to spend money when we don't have to. If you're a small company, you really have to watch your money.

    So there's Google Slides. First, let me share ideas on how to use Google Slides:
    • lobby slideshows of ads, announcements, etc.
    • trivia for classrooms, parties, etc.
    • visual aid for teaching employees how to use new software
    • safety meetings or other business meetings
    • family album set on a screen during holiday dinners

    I used to work heavily in Microsoft PowerPoint when I was on the AV team at the church I went to. I haven't touched it in years. Even for school assignments, they allow us to use other programs. Microsoft Office is worth the money, if you have it. So is Adobe. The other issue is: I have no real use for them.

    I am still called upon for design by family, however, as well as the occasional inspiration will hit. So there's Vectr for when I need to design something that needs to have no background. Canva is my main goto for making media posts. 

    I gave up trying to be a graphic designer. 
    • Other graphic designers came around. I was no longer the best by default. They were more educated and/or experienced.
    • I was resenting that no one wanted to pay me for it. At the same time, I didn't like the idea of asking for the amount of money I'd need to be able to live off the venture.
    • I learned I prefer the more mundane tasks of secretarial work if I have to care about making money. 

    Ten Steps to Writing a Story

    I wrote a post about some sites I found helpful for writing. I remembered because I was searching for that one thing I found that perf...