End Camp NaNoWriMo Update

When I started Camp NaNoWriMo this month, I thought I’d get at least 25k written. I was realistic and knew 50k wouldn’t happen without the usual level of support NaNoWriMo has. However, life had other plans, as it so often does. I changed my word goal to 10k because I honestly thought I might reach it. Unfortunately, I haven’t reached that goal either. But hey, 6k words is still better than 0 words, so I’ll take it.

My Glee binging session didn’t happen, but re-finding the joy of reading has overtaken my priorities a bit, as has work. A friend suggested I try (YA) romance stories. I’ve always enjoyed romance stories, so I picked one I’d been drawn to and bought it. Honestly, I’m low-key addicted, craving to know what’ll happen next. This is such a good thing for me because I’ve been struggling to read in recent years, either losing the motivation to keep going or realising I don’t enjoy it for whatever reason and stopping.

You win some, you lose some. But at least I got some words written.

How did Camp NaNoWriMo go for you?

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Mid Camp NaNoWriMo Update

I always feel like life somehow knows I wanna do (Camp) NaNoWriMo and decides to throw me several curveballs, just to keep me on my toes. Unfortunately, what that ends up doing is hitting me mentally and forcing me to stop writing for a few days. Additionally, I always have plans, so trying to write around those plans can be a struggle.

However, this month in particular has been tough. I’m still trying to be in a healthy mindset but I’m not there yet. Maybe in a week or two, depending entirely how work goes.

I still wanna write this story, but I don’t know how much I’ll get written in this allotted time. My life is a mess right now and fixing it is a struggle when some of it is difficult to fix and others of it is a mindset issue.

Hopefully, I can at least reach 10k by the end of the month. If I could reach that, I might feel slightly better. But I have rediscovered Glee and I fear a binge session might be on the horizon. Hopefully, I can push that aside and do some actual writing.

How is your Camp NaNoWriMo going?

Camp NaNoWriMo: July 2019

I have spent so many years debating what story to tell and proceeding to try to tell the story only to start again. And again. And again. Usually, it’s a fantasy story. I just can’t seem to find the right character to carry the narrative in its entirety. For a while, I did take a little break from writing fantasy and focus on this band story I started years ago and never went back to. However, as I was plotting, I struggled to make the plot captivating enough and have a strong story arc.

Which is why I have now combined the two ideas.

In the past, I’d incorporated the band into my fantasy stories as secondary characters. However, I always found they wanted to tell the story and become primary characters. Or at least, one particular character did. So, I finally let him lead the story and drag along the other three. He has a very distinctive personality and it’s great for helping carry a narrative.

This particular story is bringing four band members into a fantasy setting. I’m using ideas I’ve used in other stories in this story, including an idea from a literal dream I had. Hopefully, with this particular combination, I’ll be able to write to the end of a first draft.

Here’s to Camp NaNoWriMo and whatever else it brings!

Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo?

I’m back

Apologies for my long, unexpected absence. A lot has happened in the past few months, and it was never my intention to let my blog fall to the wayside. However, while I acknowledge this blog is still a writing blog, I can’t deny that I struggle to keep it strictly about writing when I’ve been writing sporadically at best in recent months.

I like blogging. I wouldn’t keep coming back to it if I didn’t. But trying to keep a blog going constantly is a struggle, especially when your life is a giant mess. My life, a bit like this blog, has been through several fresh starts, but none have stuck… yet. Writing has been the only constant on both this blog and in my life. But committing to one topic? And posting about it weekly? That’s tough.

I’m planning on participating in Camp NaNoWriMo in July, so for now, I have at least one blog post planned. Making a blog post about my weekly word count might not happen since I never feel like I have much to say about it. But talking about how the project is going before, during and after might be a good blog post to do.

However, beyond July, I might resort to a monthly blog post, but whether it’ll be sporadic or not depends what’s going on in my life. Additionally, I made a conscious decision this year to live in the moment more. I spent much of last year taking photos, obsessed with taking the ‘perfect’ picture to post onto Instagram (or for GuruShots). I grew tired of taking photos, then choosing the ‘perfect’ pictures and uploading them to my photography Instagram account, or doing the same with concerts and holidays onto my personal Instagram account. I had the realisation that nobody really cares about my holidays as much as I do, and even though I’m supporting musicians by posting them on Instagram, most the big concerts I went to didn’t need support. They’ve got millions of fans, so they won’t even see my post. What is the point? Whereas with a cappella groups, it’s important to support them since it’s a very niche genre to support and they appreciate any support they get.

Having this realisation has helped me live in the moment more. I’m not living through a lens or searching for that ‘perfect’ photo and waiting to take the picture… mostly. It’s a working progress. I’m seeing the world for what it is and not feeling obligated to post about it. Although, that being said, living in the moment is difficult when your life is a giant mess that doesn’t have much stability, and the world is in a bleak state right now, so seeing the world for what it is is quite difficult at times.

When you first begin blogging, most tips suggest writing about a topic you know about. Hence why I always wrote about writing. However, there is more to me than just writing. I know about history. I know about travelling. I know about heritage. I know about family. I know about a host of topics. Sure, I won’t be an expert in most topics, even the ones I’m familiar with, but writing about them might be fun. Or writing about topics I’m interested in exploring more could be fun.

What I’m saying is, life is unpredictable. It hardly ever goes to plan, throwing you curveballs to learn from, whether good or bad. This blog has definitely never gone to plan. I keep promising to update weekly, then it falls to the wayside and I start again. I’m honestly surprised I still have people following this blog. But if my writing is unpredictable, as is my life, why should I constrain myself to one topic?

So, as of this moment, this blog will become a monthly blog post about whatever I want it to be. And if I don’t post in several months? What does it matter? It’s my blog after all.

Here’s to the future and whatever it holds!

Story Plots

All writers are told, at some point, that every story has been written. Whether it’s from a well meaning colleague or a trusted friend, it can leave you unmotivated and questioning why you’re writing in the first place.

George Booker filtered down the various stories into 7 plots, Blake Snyder filtered down to 10 plots, Ronald Tobias filtered down 20 plots and Georges Polti filtered down to 36 plots. If you’re a new writer searching for a plot, or you’re just searching for a new plot, these basic plots should help.

While I can’t give as good an explanation as the writers themselves, I can offer a brief description and you can find out more information online. I’ll also provide examples, so you can look at that example and see how they use that particular plot.

George Booker’s 7 Plots

  1. Overcoming the Monster – can be a literal monster or a metaphorical monster; a literal monster is usually a made up creature, such as a Yeti or Frankenstein; a metaphorical monster is usually mental health based, such as the protagonist in Fight Club.
  2. Rags to Riches – the most obvious example I can give is Cinderella, where a female was born into poverty and forced to work for her stepmother but marries a handsome prince and becomes rich.
  3. The Quest – typically going on a long, strenuous journey to accomplish an important goal, such as Frodo in Lord of the Rings in which he has to destroy a ring to rid the world of evil.
  4. Voyage and Return – the protagonist travels somewhere to gain something, like gold, and returns richer, such as Pocahontas, where the travellers discover gold and return rich from their findings.
  5. Comedy – consistently funny throughout and aimed to be light hearted and fun, but dependent on what type of humour; The Mask is good for over the top, slapstick comedy, whereas The Office (UK) aims to be more amusing than laugh out loud funny.
  6. Tragedy – the story revolves around a protagonist’s life going terribly and usually ends with a death, if not several; Shakespeare has several tragedies, such as MacBeth, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet.
  7. Rebirth – a protagonist usually undergoes a life-altering experience and is reborn as a better person, such as Bucky from the MCU, or the protagonist literally dies but comes back to life, such as Supernatural where the two main protagonists are constantly dying and coming back to life again.

Blake Snyder’s 10 Plots

  1. Monster in the House – depending on the definition of monster, it could either be a literal monster that kills people in a house, such as Supernatural, or it could be creepy dolls or ghosts or distorted human beings, such as Krampus.
  2. Out of the Bottle (wishes and curses) – either a protagonist seeks out someone to grant them a wish and it’s a curse instead, such as Supernatural, a protagonist acts selfishly and is therefore cursed, such as Beauty and the Beast, or the protagonist accidentally stumbles upon someone who’ll grant them wishes, such as Aladdin.
  3. Whodunit – the classic murder mystery stories where a detective, such as Hercule Poirot, or else a stranger who has no connection with the law, such as Sherlock Holmes, must find out who killed the dead character through a series of clues.
  4. Golden Fleece (journey; quest) – like the name suggests, a character must undergo a journey/quest to accomplish a goal, such as finding the Golden Fleece.
  5. Rites of Passage – as the title sounds, it’s a story where the protagonist goes through a rite of passage, such as puberty or marriage; an example would be Harry Potter who goes through puberty while trying to stop evil.
  6. Institutionalised – this one is a guess; there’s a regime/society in place but the people revolt against it and win, such as The Hunger Games where Katniss rebels and there are two winners instead of one.
  7. Buddy Love – a story revolved around friendship; it could mean going on an adventure together, such as Paper Towns, or learning the importance of friendship, such as Mean Girls.
  8. Superhero – a human that has superhuman abilities, which doesn’t mean it has to be the typical comic book superhero, such as All My Friends Are Superheroes; however, the examples that come to mind are definitely the comic book heroes I know and love, such as the MCU or the DCTV-verse.
  9. Dude with a Problem – the protagonist has a problem and spends the whole story trying to solve the problem, such as The Good Place, where they seem to have constant problems they must overcome.
  10. The Fool Triumphant (underdog) – the superhero genre has been very good at showing a character who has all the odds stacked against them only for them to come out on top, such as Spiderman: Homecoming.

Ronald Tobias’ 20 Plots

  1. Quest – typically going on a long, strenuous journey to accomplish an important goal, such as Frodo in Lord of the Rings in which he has to destroy a ring to rid the world of evil.
  2. Adventure – an adventure is different from a quest in that an adventure doesn’t necessarily have a goal they must accomplish and can instead just be friends partaking in an event, such as Pitch Perfect.
  3. Pursuit – usually associated with crime stories where the police pursue a criminal, such as The Bill, or the protagonist is pursuing the antagonist for a specific reason (or reasons), such as A Ticket To The Boneyard.
  4. Rescue – usually involving someone being kidnapped, such as Taken where one of the protagonists’ family members is kidnapped and the protagonist must rescue them.
  5. Escape – usually involving someone being kidnapped or trapped and they need to escape, such as The Maze Runner in which a group of teens must escape the maze.
  6. Revenge – usually when someone close to the protagonist has died and they want revenge on the antagonist, such as The Punisher.
  7. The Riddle – a character is given a riddle to solve and potentially must do so within a set amount of time; it could also have to do with prophecies, such as Kung Fu Panda 2, since they often need to be deciphered to make sense of them.
  8. Rivalry – the protagonist either has a rival they have always competed against or they get a rival they will compete against for the whole story, such as Bride Wars.
  9. Underdog – the superhero genre has been very good at showing a character who has all the odds stacked against them only for them to come out on top, such as Spiderman: Homecoming.
  10. Temptation – the protagonist is tempted by something that will change their lives, which sometimes involves sex, other times involves giving the protagonist what they want, such as in Star Wars when Anakin is tempted and swayed by the dark side.
  11. Metamorphosis – see transformation below
  12. Transformation – the protagonist undergoes a change that transforms them as a person, such as Bucky or Loki from the MCU.
  13. Maturation – the protagonist matures as the story progresses, such as Harry Potter who matures throughout the series as he goes through puberty.
  14. Love – two characters fall in love gradually over the course of the story, such as To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, or it could show different types of love like platonic love between friends and/or family.
  15. Forbidden Love – the most obvious example is always Romeo and Juliet, since their families are at war and hate one another, but they both met and fell in love.
  16. Sacrifice – the protagonist has to sacrifice something that leads to a certain result, such as in Supernatural with the Winchesters sacrificing themselves all the time to prevent an apocalypse from happening.
  17. Discovery – a protagonist discovers a life-altering secret or truth that changes their life, such as Mamma Mia where Mia finds out who her potential dad could be.
  18. Wretched Excess – I’ll be honest, I have no idea what this one is, so read Tobias’ book for further information.
  19. Ascension – the protagonist changes position in their life from ordinary person to extraordinary, such as in Mean Girls where Cady Heron goes from new girl to popular girl.
  20. Descension – the protagonist loses their high position in life and goes from extraordinary person to ordinary person, such as Thor where he goes from next in line to the throne to being exiled to Earth until he learns to be humble.

Georges Polti’s 36 Plots

I’ll be honest, most of Georges Polti’s plots are very specific since he analysed classic Greek texts and French texts. I’d highly recommend reading his book as he’ll probably give detailed explanations behind each of the 36 plots he mentions. Or you could check out the brief description given on Wikipedia.

Use these plots as you see fit and follow the basic premise to lay the foundations for your story. Then comes the rest of the story, which will take a while but it’ll be worth it in the end… hopefully.

Let me know if any of these descriptions are wrong and I’ll edit them as necessary.

Which plots do you like best? Which plots do you use most?

Writing Tips

As with any beginner at anything, you want as much help as you can get before you begin the task at hand. Naturally, one of the first questions that always gets asked to any published writer/author is, ‘do you have any writing tips?’ After all, if they were published, they must know what they did to get there, right? And if I mimic them, I’ll get there too, right?

Not necessarily.

A lot of published writers/authors figure out what works for them and sticks to it, sometimes obsessively. They treat it like a job instead of a hobby and tell you so, then they might proceed to give you writing tips.

However, the usual writing tips you hear aren’t necessarily right and here’s why:

1. Follow the writing rules.

For new writers, the writing rules are pivotal, just like learning how to bake a cake for the first time.

At first, you need to know the recipe to make the cake, then you learn to experiment a bit here and there while following the recipe, and you finally learn to read the recipe for basic guidelines but you create your own recipe with your own spin on the recipe.

Writing is the same. You follow the writing rules to begin with, then you learn where you can experiment with the writing rules, and you finally learn to write using and breaking the rules as and when necessary and put your own spin on your writing.

Yes, follow the writing rules while you’re still learning and experimenting, but these writing rules are mostly guidelines to help new writers.

2. Write ‘x’ amount of words for ‘x’ amount of time.

This is very much down to personal preference, the lifestyle you live and the type of person you are.

Some writers might tell you to aim for 1,000 words per day. Other writers might tell you to aim for an hour of non-stop writing per day. But again, like I mentioned, this depends entirely on you. If you struggle to find an hour to do non-stop writing, or you can only just write 100 words per day, don’t beat yourself up. Writers often say these numbers because that’s what they aim to do, but in no way should you feel obligated to copy them.

If you can write 10 words per day during that 10 minute time slot you have, use it. Because as most writers say, ‘some words are better than no words’. You can edit whatever words you write down, but you cannot edit if you have the words written down.

3. Write in the morning.

Most successful writers throughout history tend to write in the morning, so the general advice goes round that you too should write in the morning. But once again, this depends entirely on your lifestyle and the type of person you are.

A few examples would include:

  • Waking up at 6am to go to work and not returning back until 7pm, at which point you want to unwind for the night and not fret about writing, so you leave it for the weekend
  • Being a night owl who gets their inspiration during the night when everyone’s asleep and the ideas/words just flow out, and then it helps you sleep cos you’ve gotten some words out
  • Trying to balance work with adult responsibilities with a social life, which usually results in your writing having to constantly be pushed aside for whatever life throws at you, meaning you could go weeks without writing

4. Always carry a notebook around with you.

I agree with this writing tip for the sentiment, but carrying around a notebook means constantly carrying around a handbag that fits in a notebook, or remembering to put the notebook in the right bag.

Society has changed in recent years with technology advancing far beyond what anyone expected. Sure, the novelty of carrying around a notebook and pen is great, especially for us stationery addicts, but practicality wise, it doesn’t work.

Every smartphone nowadays has a notes app. Taking out your phone and typing down some ideas is far easier than trying to jot down ideas, especially if you’re in an environment where the handwriting is likely to be shaky at best. Plus, you’re more likely to be on your phone while waiting for appointments or travelling, and instead of strolling idly through social media (dw, I’m guilty of this too), you could open up the notes app and write some words. That way, you can feel a little better knowing you actually wrote something.

Important tip: BACKUP YOUR WORK! (Too many people have lost work due to unexpected computer malfunctions, so back it up!)

There are plenty more writing tips out there, but these are the most common I’ve seen and heard, and you should take them with a pinch of salt. They’ll probably be personal preference if they do share any writing tips outside of ‘follow the writing rules’. Write in the way that works best for you and keep writing.

What are some writing tips you’ve heard you disagreed with?

My Notebooks

Are you even a writer if you don’t have a large collection of notebooks?

My collection of notebooks from over the years

As any stationery addict will tell you, hoarding notebooks is a big problem. Then you tell everyone, including yourself, they serve a purpose to justify buying yet another notebook. In my case, this problem is only amplified when the only thing I want for my birthday/Christmas is stationery, so really, my loved ones are the problem. Or a small part anyway.

I separated my notebooks into four piles for the purpose of this blog post, but usually they’re one giant stack underneath my desk. I have no other place for them… for now.

Feelings notebook

This notebook isn’t a favourite by any means, but it is a super important to me personally. When I was going through a very bad time in my life, I wrote down my thoughts and feelings in the hopes it’d go away or become easier to manage. It didn’t really work, but the sensation of writing did take my mind off panicking. Plus, it’s good to go back and read through what I experienced and see how I’ve grown since then.

Celtic design notebooks

The larger notebook is my absolute favourite notebook I’ve ever bought, but I face the issue most notebook hoarders have: not wanting to ruin the notebook. The cover has this gorgeous Celtic design with gold sections and the pages look like ancient parchment paper, making it near impossible to start using this notebook. I’m trying to find something magical to go inside, but nothing feels worthy enough.

The smaller Celtic notebook I own I was convinced to buy by my aunt… I think. It’s a complicated cousin situation (something removed?) and I’m not trying to understand it. I was torn between buying so many notebooks that day but the Celtic one stuck out to me, and even my mum conceded it looked pretty. Whilst this cover isn’t as gorgeous as the other one, I still adore the design, and just like the other one, I haven’t found a purpose for it. Yet.

Harry Potter notebooks

Just like most people my age, I have an eternal love for Harry Potter, so why not buy several notebooks to continue that love? Although, funnily enough, out of the four Harry Potter notebooks I own, I only bought one. The rest were bought by my mum.

I’m 99% certain I can find a use for the three notebooks my mum bought me.

Hufflepuff is my Hogwarts house, so naturally, I bought the notebook. But since this is a Hufflepuff notebook, I don’t want to ruin it. I’d rather preserve it as a Hufflepuff notebook than write in it. If I do find a purpose for it, I will definitely use it. However, I’m finding that very unlikely.

Draft notebooks

I struggled to write a draft of my story, so I figured I’d give handwriting it a go. I’ll be honest, while it got the story down easier, I did change details as I went along and it lacked any kind of detail. Also, hand cramps were an issue. Still, it was fun to handwrite down my story whilst watching something in the background on Netflix. I managed to fill a large portion of the notebook too, which I’m proud of.

I’d actually handwritten a draft before in the Winnie the Pooh notebook. One of my best friends used a bigger version of this notebook and I adored it. However, the pages are quite flimsy and one or two fell out, which isn’t ideal. This was a very early draft of a story I did, if not the very first draft. I had fun writing it down and getting the basic story down, whilst also writing around the little doodles. It was refreshing and easy to bring around with you and write. This was back before I had smart phone, so writing on a phone just didn’t work.

For now, I’ll stick to those notebooks. If you’d like to see more of my notebooks, comment below.

Are you a fellow stationery hoarder? Do you have several notebooks that you collect and never use? Or do you use all the notebooks you buy?