Monthly Archives: October 2013

My NaNoWriMo: the antagonist group

Last time I looked at the characters who are Fiarra’s friends at the start of the story. Today I’m looking at her enemies.

The Antagonist

Known as the Governor (and not to be confused with the pre-plague official governor, who I refer to with a lower case g), the antagonist’s real (but rarely used) name is Entis. She was sent to the island innocent of the crimes she was accused of, following a grossly unfair trial even by her society’s standards. She therefore has a major grudge against the established government. Her goal is to set up an independent nation on the island, which will require the ability to repel the official governor and his soldiers when (or indeed if) they return. After failing to persuade the rest of the island to help with this goal, she decided to use force to achieve it.

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My NaNoWriMo: the protagonist’s friends

In my previous post I looked at Fiarra, my protagonist. Well, from the outset she has four key friends, the people with whom she has lived and travelled since the plague hit and the governor upped and left. Who are they, where did they come from, and what do I have planned for them?

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How important is a novel character’s appearance?

It occurs to me that in yesterday’s blog post about the protagonist for my upcoming NaNo novel, I didn’t provide a physical description of Fiarra. In fact, in a lot of what I write I don’t describe or mention physical aspects of characters much, beyond gender (essential for pronouns), characters’ ages (though these are often relative to one another than absolute) and occasionally general information like height and build.

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My NaNoWriMo: the protagonist

In the run-up to NaNoWriMo I’m exploring the world and characters I’ll be writing about. This time it’s my protagonist.

Fiarra is the daughter of convicts; her father returned “back home” across the sea after completing his sentence – right before it was decided that the island was too profitable to risk harming those profits by bringing convicts back. She was brought up on the island in an odd social position – neither convict nor quite free, she had more rights than her mother but fewer than the servants and soldiers who had come to the island to work for the governor. Her mother died in the plague, and with the cemetery full she buried her just inside the wall encircling the island’s main settlement.

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My NaNoWriMo: the setting

In my previous post, I explained where the story I’ll be writing for this year’s NaNoWriMo came from. In this post (written a bit later than planned due to real life getting in the way), I’ll tell you about the setting and background to my story, and where the elements of it came from.

For the purposes of the core theme – determining what constitues justice in a society which doesn’t have clear fixed legal or judicial systems in place – I knew I needed a society that was recently disrupted and was either ignorant of previous judicial systems or had chosen to reject those they were familiar with. I wanted a certain degree of isolation to give my characters the opportunity to work things out for themselves rather than have a system to adopt – or a potential neighbour to invade them. So my main setting is an island penal colony, where most of the inhabitants are convicts; the isolation comes from a magical plague that saw the governor and his staff flee the island and put it under quarantine to prevent spread of the plague.

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My NaNoWriMo: what I’m writing about and where it’s come from

This year I’m going to attempt NaNoWriMo again. Yay! Why? I like the community of it, the support network, the feeling of being part of something. I like the drive to produce without having the time to go back and endlessly rewrite the first scene over and over. I like the focus on getting something finished, so it can be edited later.I know it has its drawbacks and another year maybe they’ll see me saying “no”, but this year I’ve got something I really want to write and I’ve got the drive to do it.

So what am I writing, and why do I think this is the right story for NaNoWriMo?

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Gearing up for NaNoWriMo

I have decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. That’s not the point of this blog post, it’s the context. I’ve attempted NaNo every year since 2007, and after winning in 2008 and 2009 I struggled thereafter, with last year’s result a dire 2,500. So I know I can win NaNoWriMo, but at the same time my recent track record isn’t very good.

At the same time I’ve stalled with my Finishing Something targets. I wrote 2,045 words on Pilgrimage in two sittings then not a word since. Another project I’ve been working on in the last month met a similar fate. At this point, it’s been a week since I’ve written a word of fiction. Not a good place to be in when, three weeks from now, I plan to start a 30 day stint of writing an average of 1,667 words a day.

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Why you shouldn’t bother writing a prologue

The prologue debate is one that sticks its head above the parapet in writing circles every now and again, and since I’ve come across that debate again recently, I thought I’d take the time to sketch out my thoughts on them.

If you’re a new writer, just don’t bother with a prologue.

Don’t get me wrong, prologues done well can work, but the vast majority I’ve read don’t. And even when they work by themselves, within the context of the rest of the novel they often mess something or other up. Some people don’t even read prologues – assuming that they’re either irrelevant, info dumping, or just plain badly written.

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You Need an Editor (a guest post from Brian W Foster)

Today I have invited Brian W Foster to write a guest post on editing – something he has rather more experience of than I do. So here it is:

My three year old tends to scribble with crayons a lot. My wife and I, as parents are wont to do, exclaim over these works of art and place them prominently on the refrigerator.

I imagine, if you have or have had little ones of your own, you understand this well. Nothing wrong with it. Consider, however, what you would think of me if I decided that these tremendous works of art should be sold on Amazon.

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