Tag: Fiction

A Novel Writing Tool

If there’s one thing I haven’t talked about nearly enough around here, it’s Fire Emblem.

Nah, just kidding. I talk about that way too much.

But I don’t talk about my Senior Honors Project as much as I probably should. Doing so would probably encourage me to make more progress than I have been.

Though that said, I’m here today to talk about the progress I have made, because I have honestly done a good bit outside of hunting for a mentor to approach once the semester kicks off. Like I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I wanted to ensure I had some sort of basic product to approach my future mentor with as a showing of faith.

That’s meant interacting with some writers to know exactly what a fictional novel’s book proposal might look like so I can emulate it.

But that’s also meant working on actually starting to lay out and write my novel. Characters were the most difficult hurdle for me to get over, as I had a general idea what kind of plot line I wanted to go with but no serious image for who would be going through it.

Since passing that hurdle I’ve made it a good chunk of the way through my book’s first chapter. I’m hoping to at have at least two done as an example of the eventual overall product.

Outlining has been rather important to me on this current venture. I’ve attempted to write books before you see, but most of them falter when I get less than a chapter in because I don’t actually have a clear idea where I’m going with it. Usually my outings have begun with a vague idea of something that sounds cool with no substance around it.

Also they’ve usually started with the amnesiac protagonist cliché.

I’ve come to see the error of my ways. This book does not start that way, I assure you.

To help avoid a faltering in my progress and keep my thoughts better organized, I’ve turned to a new tool that mom introduced me to after using it for her editing work.

She actually wrote her own blog post about this ‘Master Outlining and Tracking Tool,’ but I wanted to give it my own separate endorsement because it has been a really great thing for me personally and I figure it might be for some of you out there too.

The full, in-depth explanation of how the tool works (and a place to download it) is here on the creator’s website. It undoubtedly does a far better job explaining all the intricacies than I could right now in my Hollow Knight-ed daze, so it’s worth going right to the source.

But I figured I shouldn’t cop-out entirely on this blog post by just pointing to other blog posts. After all, there are many different things in this outlining tool, and I’ve primarily been using only a few of them.

Most notably, like I mentioned, is the story outlining stuff.

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Surprise, an actual sort of sneak peek of part of what I’m planning. Don’t tell nobody, though!

It’s honestly hard to explain how invaluable this kind of section is for someone like me. Out of all the words of advice that the Daily Titan’s advisor Bonnie has given out for improving writing in the three years I’ve known her, the one nailed into my head the hardest would have to be the idea that a story should be able to distill down into a sentence.

There are so many stories for the newspaper I’ve written that have been far better once I knew how I wanted to focus them down.

Thus I’ve been approaching my basic outline here with the same mindset. If I’m able to distill the story down into just a sentence, both for the overall product and the individual chunks of that product, then I can more easily stick to one idea and run with it.

Then there’s the characters, both keeping track of how many are floating throughout the story as a whole and accounting for individual details of the characters in question.

This tool offers both:

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I haven’t personally written out the details for my characters yet since I’ve been focused on the outline. Consider this a secret surprise for later!

There are lots of other things that are helpful in this tool as well.

Tabs to keep track of what different plots are intersecting when.

Tabs to track word count per chapter.

Tabs to organize what chapter hosts what information.

It’s just… Really good stuff. I don’t know what else to tell you guys.

Check it out, use it if you need help keeping organized like me, support the creator… And thank my mom. Because she’s great and finds some cool writing/editing stuff in her free time.

The Aftermath of Creation

The Aftermath of Creation

Having just wrapped up the second season finale of Westworld, HBO’s killer hit about robots populating a Wild West theme park that slowly come to some semblance of consciousness, I can’t help but sit here and just…

Stare blankly at the wall. Because holy shit.

I’ll be honest. After the absolutely wonderful first season and everything the show did to subvert any and all ideas about what was happening through unreliable narrators and timeline fuckery, I figured the second season would be way more straight-forward and focused on the repercussions of the first.

Also on samurai. Because all of the promotional material leading into the second season featured glimpses of Shogun World, a feudal Japanese-themed park adjacent to West World.

Those portions of the season set in Shogun World were just as amazing as advertised, by the way.

But that’s beside the point. What I’m getting at is the fact that the second season of the show wound up once again subverting my expectations by creating an absolutely beautiful loop of events through multiple timelines and a twisted web of character actions and motivations.

The writing in the show is absolutely beautifully well-done and leaves no thread unresolved. Except for those that are clearly setting up events for season three, but that’s a more spoiler-ridden discussion that I’m not planning on going into since we’re so fresh off the episode’s release.

If you are interested in marinating in the world of spoilers and mind-blowing writing loops, I do have some solace for you. That’s a world that is adjacent to what I’m looking to chat about today.

See right after the Marvel-esque post-credit scene, my dad decided to try to look up some answers as to what the hell just happened. He came across this very timely article by The Wrap where some questions were answered in strikingly specific detail by one of the show’s co-creators.

I would imagine they might want the crazy speculation trade to run rampant for a few days to drudge up more interest, but I can’t argue about having tangible answers.

Reading through the small interview got me thinking about the fascinating dynamic that’s created between an artist or creator of any kind and those who take in the created work.

After essentially melting into a pile of my own brain goo after watching the constantly evolving and ramping finale to the show, it was almost jarring to watch one of the co-creators treat the exact same content with such a casual, omnipotent attitude.

But then it occurred to me. Of COURSE she’d be almost unreasonably casual about it. She’s known what was going to happen since before the physical show itself had a single frame recorded. All creators know what their works look like well before it’s observed by the public at large.

As someone who creates stories himself, both non-fiction stories and fictional ones (in my head at the very least), I suppose I’ve experienced the exact same thing. Seeing people come to see an article I’ve written is something that has made me feel really proud, even excited.

Despite the fact that it’s at a much smaller scale than a HBO hit series.

That scale is hard to imagine, but must be incredibly satisfying to experience. Thousands of people, hundreds of thousands even, all in the same place I currently am as a fan, all flooding the internet with messages of bewilderment and craving the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the content we just absorbed.

It must be insanely gratifying to not only watch those people come in, but to be able to provide them answers that have been in-the-works for not just all the weeks leading up to the show’s finale, but the months of production before that.

For a show like Westworld, that level of gratification is certainly warranted. I wish nothing but the best upon those who brought such a beautiful creation into the world for everyone to experience.

Especially one based on a cheese-y 70’s flick. Because the way that original idea became this new phenomenon is an incredible transformation in its own right.

The whole idea of bringing something into the world for others to experience that’s full of hopefully surprising developments has gotten me thinking more about my own personal works as well. Over the next few weeks I’m likely going to be working more on the proposal for the novel I’m going to write as my senior honors project, and I might just be posting things around here about that to gauge interest, acquire feedback or simply store my ideas for the future.

So stay tuned for that, if you’re interested in seeing what I’ll be cooking up!