Writing Update

Handwritten words aside, I’ve got 2,610 words down. Not a lot but in among everything else, I am quite happy with having got quite a bit written. Using the WAY excel sheet has helped with keeping track and wanting to write even when I haven’t for whatever reason.

I have hit a slight wall with this train scene where it is supposed to be my FMC worrying she is going to be found out as coming from a dark magic family. I think I may have found a break in that wall which may or may not help. On the upside, sort of, procrastinating has helped with trying to refocus on the FMC of who she is. I think I may have lost sight on who the character is so has produced a block on me.

The first was realising that perhaps my FMC is a good Slytherin if she went to Hogwarts. I can’t help thinking that she is probably ambitious, cunning and resourceful, the traits of a Slytherin. I may discover that isn’t true but right now I think I need that guide. Something else that is helping me with the FMC is finding a song that I think fits her. The other day on YouTube, I listened (and my have sang along to as well) a deleted sing from Wicked called Making Good, which I think fits with my FMC:

She has her plans and ambitions. She doesn’t know what she wants to do but she wants to be doing something that will make people remember her as something other than the weird kid from that dark magic family. I just can’t help thinking that this song and the idea she would be a Slytherin will help me.

Pushing On, Keeping Going

Image Source: GoodSearch Images

As you might have guessed from the title and the last post, I am carrying on with my Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m not writing a lot each day it must be said, partly because I have been exploring Twitter and Windows 10. You probably know the feeling. Pretty, shiny new things! Must be explored!

I am very goal orientated in life, as well as writing as I have noted on this blog before and I knew I would need to find a way to keep me going with this story. That’s why I attempted to join Write All Year but it didn’t work for some reason. No e-mail confirmation, nothing. No idea what happened there but I was able to get to the Productivity Goodies page and downloaded the annual word count tracker despite it being eight months into this year and that is already having an impact, just like the word count tracker excel spreadsheet I found on the NaNoWriMo forums.

Maybe it’s the sight of seeing bar chart and pie graphs as well as being able to see an overview of the whole year that is inspiring. Maybe. All I know is that it works for me and whilst it works, I will use it to help me.

I did manage to 1,036 words written overall last night, focusing on the start of the FMC’s journey to school with the MMC and also having the characters talk about apparent pupil numbers on this, the first part of the journey to school before starting to talk about sports. When I got to that point, I was too tired to continue writing and instead starting figuring out a potential magical sport for the school to play along with some other possible sports clubs. I think it’s safe to say JK Rowling did such a good job at creating Quidditch that it made it difficult for my tired brain to come up with anything to do with broomsticks without potential copying Quidditch in some form.

I think I am onto something though so we will see.

Thoughts from today whilst pottering around doing various things included concerns about characterisation and plot. I think my FMC has opened up too early and I need to reinstate her frostiness which leads to plot. She’s frosty in fear of being discovered to be relate to her dark magic family but once she is discovered, everyone starts isolating her, forcing her to become warmer and potentially have to go against her family even more to show she is a good person to her fellow pupils. Also thinking maybe my current MMC might need to abandon her (not sure I like the character any more to be honest) but maybe a new one or two appear, backing her up for some reason. Maybe she defends them from bullies or some such.

Of course, all this is just thinking and I am just going to let my characters and the story guide the writing. I find it’s the best method for me sometimes when writing the first draft.

Are you continuing with your Camp novel? Are you revising or working on something else? How do you keep yourself going and accountable? Feel free to comment below.

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2015: Day 17

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Day 17: 10,328 words

Target, cleared! And still going because there is still more story to be told. Obviously this is because I started a new story during the month and now I am wondering if it’s the story I should have written in the first place.

It is using an idea I came up with years ago, after reading the Malory Towers and Harry Potter series at the same time. Flicking through old stuff recently has made me realise I had a few good ideas as a child and teen but maybe wasn’t able to execute them properly back then. Of course, what I am writing now might not be right but I can try right.

As for what happened yesterday, tipping me over the 10k mark was my characters collecting together their uniforms and asking questions about things, leading to an accusation essentially of sexism and revealing to me that the schools have lessons in being young ladies and gentlemen as well as regular magic lessons. Think finishing school and Hogwarts combined and you kind have what my characters decided to reveal to me.

Still, it will lead to more conflict and drama so that means plot, or at least, that is what I have been told.

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2015: Day 16

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Day 16: 9,674 words

Less than 400 words away from my 10k target. Most of what I wrote was the FMC and potential MMC in the school story talking, getting to know one another before moving to another location that I think might be important. I also might have revealed to myself and the reader the future of the two characters.

So not a lot in terms of story but still enough to get me closer to my word count target. Still it is important I think as it helped me figure things out and get some ideas for later. How things will work out in the end with this story, I don’t know. All I do know is that I just want to write this story and not my other one.

Harry Potter’s 18th Birthday

18 years ago, a book called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling was released here in the UK, which led to the phenomenon today that defines many young people’s childhoods and created a generation of readers and writers, myself included.

Quite timely, today JK Rowling revealed that she is working on a play called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child due to open next year in London. Telling the untold part of Harry’s life, including the story of James and Lilly’s life. Find further details by visiting the BBC News story.

This is to be closely followed by the film version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November 2016, starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne.

Happy Birthday Harry and may you keep fans new and old fascinated for years to come.

A Question about Rewriting

Muslim Beauxbatons student by Celeste Doodles. Source: Celeste Doodles Tumblr Page.

This isn’t a post so much as me asking for advice. I hope folks don’t mind.

I recently started rewriting an old story, a story that I started in college (that’s 16-18 for folks outside of the UK) and only finished in 2012 as part of my NaNoWriMo for that November. The rewrite was inspired by the picture, left, on Tumblr of a Muslim Beauxbatons student, by Celeste Doodles. (If you click on the image, it takes you to the page of the original picture). It got me thinking about my FMC in the story and her appearance.

Now, I have thought about rewriting the story in question a few times, mostly through changing the FMC as well as some other characters but none of the angles seemed to work. As I said, when I saw the picture, it got me thinking about the FMC and her appearance in the first instance. I considered giving her a headscarf and then thought, why is she wearing it. The reasoning I have come up with since after talking to others for her headscarf is to do with vanity but I am also considering maybe giving some underlying spiritual reasoning. (She’s not going to be Muslim as she lives in another world to our own).

From this, my mind turned to other aspects of the character in general. That led to me reconsidering other parts of the story and the new set up that I have developing from those decisions makes it fairly far removed from the original story that I had written over the years.

I know changes to characters and the story are normal during the rewriting process but I am wondering how big changes to the story a writer should make from one draft to another? Should they be far-reaching, heavily changing lots of aspects of characters/story all at once or should the changes come slowly and be introduced slowly over a succession of drafts?

Curious to how others view this issue as I am a little intimidate with how big the changes are whilst also being comfortable with it. It’s crazy.

Chocolate and Fiction

Things happening in my personal life got me thinking about this. Christmas being just around the corner and being almost synonymous with chocolate makes now a good time for me to post about it.

Does chocolate show the light and dark of societal inequality? Source: GoodSearch Images

Food is often read about in books, both to tell the reader more about the characters as well as to fuel the characters. I have been thinking specifically however about chocolate and it has led me to realise the possible symbolism of chocolate in children’s literature (as I could only think of examples from children’s books).

The first story that came to mind was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the obvious one. Now, I want to admit I have only seen the original and remake films of the books and have never read the book. Please bare with me! In the classic Roald Dahl story, chocolate, in my mind, represents childhood and wealth. Charlie Bucket is poor. He buys the chocolate car with the little money he has. He is one child among many. In comparison to the other children who are desperate to get a coveted golden ticket to visit the fabled Wonka factory, he merely wishes to eat the chocolate because it is so rare for him to be able to have chocolate.

The same story plays out in the most recent remake film of the story, starring Johnny Depp. This suggests that chocolate is still seen as a luxury item within modern society and possible divides the haves with the have-nots, an issue that has popped a lot as of late in America and here in the UK. This I find quite extraordinary considering that the book was first published in 1964, the original film released in 1971 (starring Gene Wilder) and the remake in 2005.

The inequalities in society that chocolate could represent in fiction then led me to think about the Malory Towers series. I will grant that the books were set in a different time frame but the same themes and ideas are represented. When chocolate is mentioned in the stories, from the first book with Darrell to the last with Felicity, it is bought as a luxury item and by brand name, Cadbury’s. When a scholarship girl or a girl who is at the school thanks to a kindly uncle or other relative sees another buy some chocolate, they are described as staring or being surprised at the ease at which the chocolate is bought.

Specifically in regards to childhood, chocolate and sweets of any kind are talked about much more often in the earlier books of the Harry Potter series. There is an element of wealth involved as Harry buys practically everything off the trolley that the witch brings down the train. In the earlier books, before the stories become very dark, Harry, Ron and Hermione are very young, childlike. There is a certain innocence in the earlier books that’s lost as they grow older and things get darker, particularly after the third book. The third book is about family. Chocolate is also mentioned as a healing substance in Prisoner of Azkaban and I read Goblet of Fire as the story that effectively ends Harry’s childhood specifically.

Perhaps I am reading too much into things but in children’s literature at least, the possible symbolism of chocolate and what it says about our society seems staggering to me. It is especially so, to me at least, that the stories that have stood the test of time (and being remade for a modern audience) still carries the same message that permeates through our society. Have you any examples in other types of literature? Am I reading too much into it or do you think the same? Don’t be afraid to comment below.