Storium; Narrating

I’ve posted about Storium ( before, but for those of you who don’t know it, it is, in brief, an online platform to create stories with other users that resembles (to my knowledge) games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Without all the rolling of dice.

I’ve been ‘on’ Storium since 2014. I say ‘on’ because it’s been rather sporadic. Games have a tendency to stall and fall apart. Generally, the narrator is the one in the quicksand. After all, writing a story on your own is hard enough, and other people, while also bringing much enjoyment, can make things difficult. They have independent thought, for one.

It is hard to plan things, as you can never be quite sure what your players will have their characters do (unless you tell them outright, but where would be the fun in that?). And you cannot go back and change things, because people have already had their characters respond accordingly and the admin (even if everyone was willing) of going back and doing anything major would be a nightmare. So if the narrator gets stuck, the game goes under.

Thus no one in their right mind ever wants to narrate. Right?

Wrong. Narration, with all its pitfalls and glum chances, is quite something while it lasts. There is something strangely satisfying about setting up a world, letting other people loose in it, and trying to act as guide.

So, I’m back. After rather a long lull, I’ve refreshed my membership (you can play for free, but it limits the options you have when setting up a game to narrate, and you can only play characters in three other games at once).

The frenzy of submitting characters and putting up your own games has a certain giddy excitement. Hopefully this time it will have some stamina.

Storium; Narrating

Fictitious Facts; Using What You Know To Write What You Don’t

I started doing something a little while ago with my writing which has, I think, helped me. Simply put, I relate to my own work. If I’m writing an emotionally charged scene, I bring to mind something in my life which brought about a diluted version of the same emotion.

For example, if your character’s whole family has just perished, you might immerse yourself in the feelings you had when your pet hamster died. These are at opposite ends of a sliding scale of emotional intensity, but they are on the same sliding scale.

The same thing works for little details. You can chuck tiny shards of your life into a story, and it adds a genuine air. The downside to this, I find, is I do feel less inclined to share said story. People can tend to over associate author with content.

And finally, whatever you write, write it with confidence. There is a saying among writers; “Write what you know.” Taken literally, I would argue this is in fundamental disagreement with the pursuit of fiction writing. Lionel Shriver gave an excellent speech on fiction, writing what you know, and cultural appropriation, a written version of which you can find here.


Fictitious Facts; Using What You Know To Write What You Don’t

A Writer’s Bookshelf; On The Subject of Psychology

It is time to add another book to your shelf. Today I would like to recommend a handy guide I purchased a while back, The Writer’s Guide to Psychology by Carolyn Kaufman, Psy.D. If you want to write about characters with mental health disorders, or to take a closer look at what might make your maliciously scheming villain capable of committing such atrocities that your protagonist should hate him or her with body and soul, this is where you should look.

Kaufman touches on all the essentials, covering diagnoses and treatment and debunking various myths that have pulled the so called plausibility carpet from beneath the most experienced writers’ feet. The book discusses a full spectrum, from depression and eating disorders to psychopathic villains. Her tone is engaging and straightforward, and surely interesting even for those of you not predisposed to her subject area.

As characters are a fundamental aspect of all fiction (and many argue they are the fundamental aspect), it makes sense that as authors and author-hopefuls alike we should take an interest in and attempt to accurately portray human nature in all its forms.


A Writer’s Bookshelf; On The Subject of Psychology

NaNoWriMo; Ambushed

My gosh, it’s been ages since I wrote on this blog. However, this being the first day of NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d indulge myself. (Really, this is me finding excuses to further delay starting my NaNo project.)

So, NaNoWriMo. It’s back, with as much hype as ever. And yet again, it has snuck up on me, and I’m left with a few pages worth of story notes which have me more confused than when I started. This is starting to represent a pattern.

This year I thought I’d give NaNo a go even though I didn’t have a fully formed idea – just a left over story prompt a friend gave me which I’d never gotten around to writing. I decided this maybe two months back. My thought process went something like this; Oh look, it’s NaNoWriMo … I know, I’ll write that story thingymajig suggested. I should start plotting it. I’ve got plenty of time.

And, of course, voila. Here I am, sitting in bed typing this with my offline Spotify playlist filling my ears and not even a fresh word document opened yet.

I’ll get there. One day. Maybe.

NaNoWriMo; Ambushed

Perspective; Using Focus

Have any of you read Winifred Gallagher‘s book, Rapt? I have not. Which is to say I read the beginning and then the book lost itself among the hundred-something boxes involved in moving countries.

Rapt, or certainly the bit I read, talked about how what we pay attention to shapes the way we experience the world – what you focus on is what will stand out for you. What stands out for you is what you remember. Your memories make you who you are – at the very least, they play a huge role.

Focus is an important writer’s tool – how many times have you heard ‘give the reader select details that will convey the scene’s atmosphere’? Sometimes, though, it’s hard to decide on which details to give. There are so many to choose from.

Try thinking of the things you notice in different moods – what jumps out at you when you’re angry? The blood red of the mug on the coffee table? Perhaps when you’re upset you see all the little details you normally miss – the dust on the lamp, the precise way the pillows are piled on the sofa, the painting hung unevenly on the wall.

Perspective; Using Focus

My Grand List of Book Recommendations; More How-to, Baby Steps, That Kinda Thing

Alright. To be perfectly honest, I was planning on dragging these recommendations out, to get maximum content for minimum research… what to read this week, what to read next week, what you should have read last week.

But, in the end, I couldn’t do that to you, my dear (departed?) readers. Because, hey, we’re all going to be dead for sooooo long. We might as well get our hands on all the good stuff while we can (ie books… lots and lots of books).

So here they are, my faithful guides, my North stars;

I know I told you about that last in one of my other posts, but that book most certainly deserved a spot on my list… do you think it’s okay to thank books in your acknowledgements? I hope so.

Anyways, this last I think I need to mention, even if it’s subject area is more specific, and hence only relevant to some…

And that’s it for now, though you can be fairly assured this won’t be the last you see of my book recommendations. More will, inevitably, need to be added to the list.

Who wants a sneek peek of my soon-to-be shopping basket?

Stay tuned! 😉

My Grand List of Book Recommendations; More How-to, Baby Steps, That Kinda Thing

NaNoWriMo; Beware!

Participating in NaNoWriMo this November? Yay!

Okay. So. Joy and rainbow bubbles aside, it’s a slog. Yep. Slog. Don’t think that you’ll breeze through just because you’re you. Completing NaNo requires hard work, dedication, and a deep passion – obsessions work just as well – for writing.

I’ve been doing some research, and here are a few things  – in no particular order – you should consider – based off of my own experience, and that of other, better versed NaNos…

  • When you’re battling to write 50k in just 30 days, you can find yourself automatically looking for more long winded ways of saying the same thing. Make an extra effort to remain clear and concise.
  • Somewhere between 1am and 4am, your ability to think rationally may wane. At times like these, your story can also start to wane, meandering here and there as your eyelids droop. At the end of NaNo, you’re going to read through all of that and groan. But there’s still hope! You’ve got twelve days – counting today – left before NaNo arrives. Start sketching your rough outline now (if you need some help, check out K.M. Weiland’s ‘Outlining Your Novel’, from the link in my last post).
  • Let your friends and family know what you’re doing and what you’re trying to achieve. Share your progress. In short, help yourself keep your commitment by making it public – or at least to the people you trust.
  • I know this sounds bad, but, just this once, you’ve got to give quantity priority over quality. Quality takes time, and that’s something NaNo doesn’t give you. You can always go back and edit at the end of the month… blank pages can’t be rewritten, though!
  • Stop writing before you run out of ideas. I know it’s hard. But put down your pen – or close your word document (whatever you do, don’t forget to save it!) – and walk away. Think hard about what you’re going to write tomorrow – or, if you haven’t written your daily 1667 words (because that’s what it takes), what you’re going to write in half an hour. Build off what you already know you’re going to write, and things will come easier.
  • Do NOT put your draft away for the day until you have written those 1667 words! This may sound like torture, and the hard truth is that it probably is. But as soon as you miss one day’s work, it’s easier to miss the next day’s work. The more days you miss, the more impossible it becomes to catch up. Just skipping four days gives you a build up of 6668 unwritten words!
  • I know it’s tempting, but don’t reward yourself with a chocolate bar every five hundred words… before too long, it’ll be every three hundred… two hundred… and so on and so forth. Future you will regret it.
  • Don’t reread or edit during NaNo. That comes later – just when you think you’ve actually gone and done it, rewriting jumps out at you and goes “Booooo!”

Feeling lonely and uninspired? The good news is that the NaNo community is huge and enthusiastic. They’ve been building up to this year’s NaNo for the past couple months – ever since the last one ended, really. Check out their NaNo Prep Resources.

NaNoWriMo; Beware!