A special Nanowrimo Spotlight: The Journeyman’s Letter!

November 18, 2015

A surprise change of pace today, friends and followers! Instead of an interview, I wanted to link you to today’s episode of the Parsec-award-winning podcast, “The Journeman Writer.”

Today’s installment is a must-listen for anybody doing Nanowrimo, any writers, probably anybody with creative aspirations at all!

The Journeyman Writer 125: A Letter To You

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So far, Goal, and a little Motivation…

October 4, 2012

Well, I started reading through Debra Dixon’s “Goal, Motivation & Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction” this morning. It’s not a long book – a hundred and sixty-some pages, eleven chapters and a few appendices. I’m already finished the first two chapters – an introduction, and the chapter about goals. And I’m about halfway through chapter three, about motivations. (You only get one guess what chapter four is 😉 )

So far, it’s great stuff. The one thing I’m slightly disappointed in is that Debra doesn’t try to give a long example list of possibilities for character goals etcetra, but what she’s doing is at least as good – she gives some in-depth examples from touchstone movies like The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca, and a lot of helpful guidelines about what a goal needs to DO to be effective, why they work and why they might not, and so on. I’m learning a lot and loving it.

And my Nanowrimo idea is starting to come together already. I’m thinking of doing a science fiction YA story about a teenager living on a distant planet, who finds out that his parents have mortgaged his life to a corporation to finance their little souvenir stand; if they don’t pay off the loan by his eighteenth birthday, he’ll have to go up out of the tunnels to the forbidding planetary surface and work for the Corporation there. And he doesn’t believe his parents can raise the money in time, so he has to do it himself. That’s a strong goal, right? He’s motivated by not wanting to die young, working for the Corporation, and dreaming of doing more with his life, seeing the galaxy. There’s urgency, because if he can’t raise the money in time, the corporation doesn’t have to sell him his freedom.


Nanowrimo is one month away.

October 1, 2012

Well, it’s October, and among other things, that means it’s time to get ready for National Novel Writing Month! The forums have been swept clear in the annual autumn cleaning and the new website rolled out. I’m still not sure what I’m going to write this year, but I found a delivery slip on my doorknob this evening when I got home, so hopefully I’ll be able to pick up ‘Goal, Motivation, Conflict’ and another great book from Gryphon press to help fire up my imagination. I also snapped up Holly Lisle’s ‘Create a Character’ workshop book from Amazon, since the big sale was held over for a day and a bit. 🙂

Still really excited about being an ML for this year, and a little nervous. It’ll be a fun ride, that’s for sure.

So let’s see, what else has been going on? I did quite well with my September goals, all except for posting a full polished story up on fanfiction.net, which just took too much time. And I haven’t settled on my October to-do list just yet, but I put in more time this evening on lesson 18 for ‘How to Revise your Novel.’

I’m excited. Did I say that already? Are you excited?


Still waiting for Goal, Motivation, and Conflict

September 28, 2012

As I mentioned, I really enjoyed the Dragon*Con panel by Debra Dixon about ‘Goal, Motivation, and Conflict’ and it reinforced a belief that I already had that this was stuff I needed to understand more to take my writing to the next level. I didn’t rush right home and order Debra’s book, but I remembered to place my order over two weeks ago.

And I haven’t heard anything since, which is starting to make me feel jumpy. I sent back an email inquiry today, just wondering if they had any news on shipping or when I could expect delivery.

I want to have a while to read this book and let the big ideas sink in, then start using them to figure out what I’m writing this year for Nanowrimo. And time is starting to draw somewhat short – there are only a couple days left in September, after all.

Is anybody else feeling anxious about Nanowrimo already? I’m not usually jumpy about it, but between the GMC thing, which isn’t an approach that I’ve used before, (though I remember being exciting about snowflaking my Nano too,) and signing up as an ML, I’m both really excited and nervous about chomping more than I can chew this time.


Goal + Motivation + Conflict =…

July 25, 2012

In going over what I learned at the workshop in Kansas, I keep coming back to something that I heard about on a Storywonk podcase – Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. It’s a good concept about how to make your narrative craft better, and I think that’s where I need to be focusing some of my attention in what’s left of this summer, possibly in connection with Camp Nanowrimo August. But I’m also not sure where to go or what to do to hone that aspect of my craft.

I’ve done a Google search on those terms, and found a bunch of interesting stuff, but unfortunately a lot of it seems to be pretty superficial – defining the terms, going into a few details about how to use them, but stopping at a screenful of information – which is about the right level of info to absorb in a blog post, but most of these places all have just about the same screenful, which is frustrating when I want to dig deeper. For the record:

  • Goal – what your character needs to have, concretely.
  • Motivation – why he needs it, on a more personal level.
  • Conflict – who or what prevents him from getting it. (Or her.)

Have you heard of these terms? Can you suggest a course that I can take, or a website where I can really delve into the mysteries of GMC, preferably with exercises and worksheets and lots of crunchy examples? 😉


B is for Writing Buddies

April 2, 2012

My 2012 A to Z challenge is showcasing Script Frenzy.

Writing, especially writing a 100 page script in 30 days, can be a lonely thing. Sometimes you really need friends to help you through it, to cheer you up when you’re down – or to motivate you with the fact that they’re clearly ahead of you in terms of page count.

That’s what the Script Frenzy writing Buddies system is for. You can tag any other Frenzier as a Buddy of yours, (even if you hate each other, actually, though you probably shouldn’t be a jerk about it.) Once you have your list of buddies set up, anybody who looks at your profile on the site will see your army of Buddies – and how many pages each of them has written so far.

You can find buddies in a lot of ways. You can search for other writers through the search menu of the Script Frenzy site. You can buddy people who’ve sent you a FrenzyMail. Or you can buddy people who you see on the forums – especially people who replied to a forum post that you wrote.

And then you see who can get to 100 pages first.

Who’s your best Writing Buddy?


Action scenes.

April 1, 2011

A is for Action, as in writing action scenes. Fights, stunts, anything that has your characters moving, struggling, in fear for their lives. Writing for some genres can do without the action scenes, but they can add a lot to fantasy, science fiction, and thriller genres, and of course, for adventure writing it’s just unavoidable. Action and adventure just naturally go together, don’t they?

I’ve had a bit of a knack for writing action scenes for a long time now, and found it a bit surprising when I first heard other writers saying that they had a hard time with them. They say that when you can do something well naturally, it’s a bit hard to dissect it and figure out just HOW to do it in a way that you can teach to someone else, but I think that I’ve come up with some useful tips for writing action scenes. By the way, a lot of these are phrased for fight sequences, because that’s the way a lot of them seem to go in my stories, but you can probably apply the same ideas to death-defying rescues or horrible accidents or what have you, with a little tweaking.

  1. Start from motivation. Figure out what each character wants in the scene. Does the hero just want to stay alive, is he dead-set on getting the amulet back, or does he want more than anything, to beat the shit out of the bad guy? Is the bad guy out to kill your hero, or is he play-acting to further some deep scheme of his own, or creating a diversion so that his henchmen can trash the hero’s house? Figuring out what’s motivating the actors in the scene, and how they tend to react in tense situations, will inform all of the action.
  2. Sort out the space, where the characters are, where they go. If you have trouble visualizing this mentally, then sketching it out in a graphics file or on paper can help.
  3. Read the rest of this entry »

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