Monday, October 31, 2011

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Entry!

Hellooooo everybody!

Say, have you ever heard of National Novel Writing Month?

- Image Courtesy of National Novel Writing Month Website

Well, as the hastily located and posted image hints at, I will (again) be participating - or competing, as I call it - in this event! To sum NaNoWriMo up...Well, its November, and in November participants are to write a novel of no less than 50,000 words. It doesn't have to be good, it just has to be. And that's where the fun begins!

You see, yes, you could (according to what I read last year when I tried and failed...More on that later!) just write "word" fifty thousand times. It would count, because at its core their "word verification" is just a word counter! But...That's not the point. That's a chore. That's a real shame. Its not like you win anything more than some pride.

No...The point is to get over problems like "writer's block" by going "I have a deadline I must reach." With a month to write (though many outline in advance), I consider it more of a competition with myself. I never have problems sketching out ideas and where I want to go. My problems lie more in the "writing the parts of the book I don't consider exciting but know are vital." Well, that and keeping track of a flash drive as I write in alternation of two computers. Therefore, what I need is a kick in the rear!

NaNoWriMo is that!

So, yes, this year I am participating. And, I will use this blog when I have a chance to update it! I have other friends that are doing it to; if they want, I'll offer updates on their progress, as well! That'd be fun!

Well, with about 45 minutes to go, I'm gonna go grab myself a glass of water and some nice, good...Sleep. I have work in the morning. I intend to kick some serious rear end on this one as I write---Oops, no title yet. Haven't started. Barely even know what I'm gonna write...G'night!

Obligatory Word Count: 0.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Writing a Trilogy, Part One

Howdy folks, and welcome to another Ramble about Writing! I promise this - it'll be a ramble, and it'll be about writing! And, as per the title, it'll be about writing a trilogy. Lets go!

What Are Some Fantasy Novel Trilogies?

When I first started writing, well, I was young. I was heavily influenced by the earliest Dragonlance novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, as well as the "Last Herald-Mage" novels by Mercedes Lackey. While my style and subject of sci-fi writing was much different than theirs, my ambitions were similar.

In 2005 I released my first novel. I proudly declared that it was a "Volume One." I had a clear plan of where Volumes Two and Three would go, and I even had plans for short stories! Oh, wait, no...I actually wrote those! I had notes on what would be coming, notes on what I'd already written, and grand schemes for how I would set about collecting new ideas to include without tainting the old.

I left the story off on a cliffhanger, put the first book out, and started on the second. As we speak, or at least on the same day that I'm putting this article out, I'm working on the third!

What Are Some Problems with Writing a Trilogy?

Now, you have to factor in some extenuating circumstances when you inevitably ask, "Wait, its 2011 and you don't have the third book out, yet?" A death in the family'll do that, although I shudder to ever use that as a rationalization for my delays. Oh, its not that I didn't hurt; rather, its that the hurt was just part of the problem.

My weakness, or one of them, is organization. My desk, which I'm ultra-proud to have by-the-by, is covered with, among other things; scattered post-it notes, legos, a microphone, plenty of Coca-Cola cans, a loose-object holder (mostly empty) and a lamp. Over half a decade ago, in 2005, I didn't have half of this level of organization.

I had a text file with novel-notes - I can't open it because I don't have a copy of the appropriate program.

I had a notebook - I lost it, got another; lost that, got a third.

I had crystal-clear ideas on what I wanted to do - With time and with other things in my life, it got fuzzy.

I needed to come up with some plot-hole fixes - The above three problems crippled this endeavor.

The bottom line here is that, maybe - just maybe - I wasn't ready. Oh, its not that my skills at actually writing weren't up to par. They've improved, certainly, since then! But they were never the issue. The real problem was that I wasn't as prepared to write as I thought. And, so, that's my number one thing to suggest if you're planning to write a Trilogy - be really fucking precise.

Oh, I haven't taken this advice in full, quite yet. I'm hoping to, I really am. But will I? Well, lets just say that I plan to re-read my own books to really get in touch with the old material. But if you want to be a better writer (at least, in the execution segment of the art) than me?

Some Pointers On Writing a Trilogy

First of all, organize your notes. I'm talking "If you have a file cabinet, use it" organization. Folders seem nice, but unless they're large binders (and even then), all it takes is one mis-placing and you're in trouble. When I got my second notebook I thought "gee, its nice and awesome and I love it. I'll never leave it out of my sight." Then, after using it so often it was an automatic in the back of my mind, I lost track of it. Folders? Yeah, I've done that with them, too. To boil it down: Dedicate not just a folder or book to your writing, but an entire area!

Next, well, really make sure you have the length of a Trilogy and that you have it broken up properly - and I mean really, really properly. Oh, I do! But my first book was 120,000 words. My second one hovered at 100,000. The third will be shorter, in large part because my prose has been refined over the years but also because of one simple problem - The immediate circumstances almost always look larger than further-off ones. I planned on three separate books worth of events, but when I look back on the story it seems the first contained a lot of less-effectively-described situations (a consequence of being younger and less proficient at the art of writing), while the second is much better written but with comparatively less things happening. The third is (I should hope) going to be even more pleasantly written, but I'm finding that my challenge is more in wrapping up plot threads neatly than in describing situations.

Finally, I suppose the best advice I have is to really know what you're getting into. Writing is not easy. In writing this article I realized I've spent about 15-20 minutes more than I thought I would. My hands hurt from typing (cheap shot jokes go here!). Coming up with witty/poignant/enlightening/dramatic dialogue requires practice, and describing characters consistently or introducing scenes with a sense of realism can be a nightmare. If you notice all of your places devolve into a single motif, you might need to actually go to a different real place. Working on an idea that you're really excited about is fun, but once that initial excitement dies you're going to need something to sustain your writing.

That's what preparation is for.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

About Ramble About Writing!

Hi everyone!

This is mostly just a place-holder post. Its also a place to introduce myself, and to maybe talk a bit. For those who don't know me, I'm Jesse Pohlman. Some "vital" facts? I'm about to cross the bridge to twenty-seven years old. I'm from Freeport, New York. My mother passed away six years ago. I've been dating my girlfriend, who I now live with, for nearly two years. I love skiing, fencing, roleplaying (including, yes, World of Warcraft), swimming, and frisbee. My favorite bands include Silversun Pickups, Nirvana, Placebo, and Garbage. I currently work as a one-to-one Teacher Assistant for the Freeport School district, as well as a senior lifeguard for the Freeport Recreation Center. I also, currently, have someone chainsawing a bush apart, right outside of my apartment.

As I am foolish enough to presume by the fact you've gotten this far, I'm also a writer. I don't mean this in a "oh, Jesse writes once in a while" sense. I mean, "Oh, Jesse wants to make a career out of this" one. To that end, you might ask "What have you written?"

What has Jesse Pohlman written?

To begin with, I'm a self-published novelist. I actually put out my first book, an action-packed, science-fiction novel, in 2005. Its called Pillars of the Kingdom, Volume One: The Forming. Its sequel, The Search for the Four, came out in 2009. Its next installment is in progress, clocking in at over 9,000 words; not much.

I also recently completed a novel called "Physics Incarnate." Its currently under consideration by a publisher, and if that one doesn't accept it, then, well...I'll find another.

My novels aren't exactly what I'm famous for, however. Most notably, I write "The Weekly Freeporter," a blog about my hometown. Its how I got into blogging in the first place. Its over a year old and is nearing 100 posts! That's kind of an accomplishment!

Jesse Pohlman - Too Little Time

By now, you've probably gotten the sense that I do a lot of writing. Perhaps even too much. For example; I manage a small website called Liberty Free Media, a journalism/philosophy/etc website. Its got a number of people who have submitted work to it, and I hope it continues to grow.

Finally (or is it...?), I've run a chat room/forum based roleplaying community called Hellestar since I was little. While many folks have come and gone, some people I've played with have been in my life for more than half of it. If I began roughly around the age of 12, well...You do the math. Roleplaying is probably where I started my writing obsession. Its probably swallowed months, if not years of my time.

I say that like its a bad thing!

The bottom line is that I'm a creative person. The bottom line is that this space is going to be used to discuss what that creativity means, and how it is progressing. I hope you'll join me in listening in!