NOTE: sorry this post is late! Apparently I set the scheduled posting settings wrong.
We are almost 1 week into Camp NaNo (which, for those who don’t know, is a more flexible version of NaNoWriMo. Click the links for more information) which means, given my goal of 30,000 words, I should’ve written 5,000 by now.
I’ve written 1,000.
Now, I know it’s not too late to catch up, and I’m certainly not going to quit, but damn I’m mad at myself right now. I have been productive, I’m not just sitting around twiddling my thumbs, but considering I’m on break from Uni right now, I should be making progress in leaps and bounds, and I’m not, and it’s infuriating.
My project of the month is Demon’s Run – which induces mass guilt over ignoring Tiger’s Eye, but I haven’t been able to make progress on it for a while now, so I think the switch of attention will be good for me.
So, we know what I haven’t been doing. But what am I doing?
Well, (in the spirit of procrastination), I began crafting my Ultimate Character Planning & Tracking Worksheet. This form is a compilation of questions and info sourced from dozens of other character planners and writing resources, to create one that covers all the bases. I don’t know if anyone would be interested, but once it’s complete (which, it’s very close to being) I’ll be A: making a blog post about it, with file attached; & B: making a website page for it, as a more permanent marker on my blog, under For Writer’s.
The thing about this form is it’s not just your standard ‘fill in the blanks’ outline to be completed at the start of a project and likely never looked at again. I wanted to create a document that I can use to track my character information in. I don’t know about your guys, but the bottom of my writing documents have at least two pages of frequently referenced information reminders; it gets messy really fast. Especially when I add in chunks of writing to come later on, and I put that below my notes, making finding their place in the document frustrating at times, like say, when editing.
The character planner / tracker doesn’t need to be filled out all at once before you start work on your novel. Some people work that way, that’s cool; I honestly believe if I used this form like that, I would have a very good understanding of my characters when I go to write. But I’m more the ‘discover as I go’ type, so I can add details to this form as needed, to be sure it’s not forgotten and I won’t need to scroll through an entire chapter from last week looking for the one sentence that references some obscure detail – only to find I wrote it in the chapter before.
Even more than that though, one of my issues with character planners (because I admit, I don’t really use them) is not knowing what to write. I’ve tried using them on occasion and found my answers to come up as repetitive or basic, and come out without any new insight into my character. That’s why my Ultimate Planner has information and resources included. True, it makes for a really big document (it’s currently 20 pages long) but it means I have reference points for answering questions. The bottom of the document has lists of habits, mannerisms, personality traits; of archetype information. There are links scattered throughout to website references and resources, random generators, more information on terms (in case I forget what a god damn foil or ficelle is), and so much more. The information is as comprehensive as I could make it.
Because when writing characters on other planner sheets, I often find I rely heavily on what I can think of at the time. There’s nothing to prompt unique personality traits and habits, and my characters become very cookie-cutter.
My favourite thing about it is that I can customize it easily. Many planners are one long list of questions and answers and it’s messy and boring. I’ve divided this into sections, individual tables. There’s a Timetable section – useful, for school characters. Less so for adults. So when desired, I can just delete the section. There are some extra boxes if I later want to add more questions (not that it’s otherwise hard to do) and should there be any extra details, each section has an Other box.
Overall, I’m super happy with how this is coming along. I can tick or highlight or embolden or delete any ‘preset’ answers, and because I’m going to be sharing it, other questions have answer prompts or explanations – in case, say, the difference between ‘Goals’ and ‘Dreams’ isn’t clear, or ‘Fatal Flaw:’ isn’t self-explanatory. I really wanted to add the navigation pane, with Headings to jump to each section of the document, but unfortunately it doesn’t work for headings in tables, which aside from making no sense, is irritating. That’s all right though.
On a less productive note, I’ve also been researching a whole lot of literary terms and publishing information. I know, I know, I’m a long way off publishing. I really am. But I find it motivating to look to the future, it’s exciting. I found some publishers seeking genres / categories I wasn’t familiar with, and learnt a whole lot of new terms. Adult Fiction vs. New Adult Fiction, ‘upmarket’ fiction, and the difference between commercial fiction and literature.
This sparked off a whole lot of research into literature, and how to determine the difference between literature and commercial fiction. I’ll be writing a post on it some time in the future, so keep an eye out for that.
That’s about all for this week. I had a bout of inspiration tonight, but I put it down on paper, so we’ll see how much I wrote once I type it up.
Demon’s Run is currently 11,158 words long. Fingers crossed I hit 40,000 by the end of July.