Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: Camp Nano

The Saga of the Camp Nano Project

I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month. Up until the last week of last month, I wasn’t sure I’d be doing it. I’ve been expecting a writing downswing to hit. It hasn’t yet, so I’m going with the flow and writing.

My original intent was to work on a story set on Obryn. This was a new project that spoke up about two weeks ago as I neared the end of Dagjhir’s first book. The MC of the new project will appear in his life later on, and the new story is her backstory. I originally intended when I realized she’d be appearing later just to gloss over her backstory, but I wanted to know the story of how she ended up heading to the capitol in the first place. This combined with a character concept who’d been drifting around my mind for a few weeks, and a new antagonist with a vendetta.

So I was all ready to write on this story for Camp Nano. I’d been writing on it already, and was somewhere close to my goal of having 15 plot cards ahead of where I’m writing done, and I was pleased with the wip as it had already gone. Once I had the basics of this story, it leapt to my mind nearly complete, so I was making a lot of progress on all aspects of it, including worldbuilding for it.

Then my enthusiasm for it fizzled out. Rather suddenly, too. I started one day with eagerness to work on it, made no progress on it despite that, then fell to reading old incomplete projects in search of something better to do. In fact, I thought this might be the beginning of a writing downswing. Then someone who’d returned to FM made a post about her return, and it hit another vague story idea that had been floating around for about a month.

Abruptly, I had three characters and the basics of a new plot with a great deal of enthusiasm for the new idea. This, by the way, happened on Nano Eve—June 30th. Which meant I had nothing. And this story was set on a whole new world.

But it’s what I had enthusiasm for. I set up a new file for it in Scrivener, naming the world Rumere and set to getting the notes in my head down. I named the goddesses, my characters believe in, the country, listed characters, sketched the mages’ uniform, and got two plot cards on it just on Thursday. On Friday, I spent the day away from home and sketched another outfit—civilian woman’s—and came home to write a scene.

12 July 2016 UPDATE: Well, the original project I had for this kind of fell through. It wasn’t completely well thought out, so my creative mind decided it was time to focus on something that was better thought out. I’m now working on a different project and have changed my Nano. I’ve updated the links below.

So I’m working on various projects for my Camp Nano project this month.

It’s Almost July!

And I’m not prepared.

I haven’t been working on TPOM3’s outline enough to get it finished over the past few weeks due to the distraction of other stories. I think I have maybe five or ten more plot cards left to get for the outline, maybe a few more.

Today, I did a bit of work on the outline, though. I finally figured out the interim scenes between the numbered cards and those cards I’d “numbered” with ## to indicate that I didn’t know their precise placement in the outline. All I did know was that they came at some point after a few more points of conflict for my MCs, and I got those cards today. This enabled me to officially number those cards, and now the count stands at 90 cards. I expect at least five more cards to finish off the book, possibly ten, but not much more than that.

For prep, I have the scenes plot-pointed out in detail, so it should only be a matter of ensuring they’re logical for the characters and situation, then basically copying everything into official plot cards with any necessary adjustments made. After that, it’ll be a couple scenes to wrap up the entire trilogy, with a vague pointer toward what my characters are going to be doing over the interim between the ending of TPOM3 and the beginning of ALON1, which I’m very much looking forward to getting into . . . just not right away. I need to do prep work on it, which means naming a number of characters and writing up plot points. I also need to figure out where ALON1 ends, and it’ll likely be a bit of a cliffhanger like the ending of TPOM1 was, which I don’t mind. Sometimes I have all three of ALON’s books clearly in mind, other times, like now, I can grasp only the very beginning of the entire trilogy.

But for now, I’ll be happy if I’m able to complete TPOM3 during July Camp Nano.

TPOM3 in July

I’ve decided to finish up TPOM3 in July for Camp Nano. It’s the second run of the summer series of National Novel Writing Month, and TPOM3 is a project that desperately needs to be completed. It’s been on hiatus or otherwise languishing most of the time since October of last year, the last time I spent any substantial amount of days writing on it. I managed a bit in January, then again in May, but not nearly enough to get it done.

In going over the outline I have now, I learned that I have nearly the entire ending plotted out. I have to reorganize a bit—I think Géta gives in to something too easily—and fill in the blanks I have with more war-conflict scenes. Right now, the Bremmans surrender a bit too quickly. I want them to drag the conflict on (because they’re led by stupid commanders who don’t know what they’re doing) until they’re forced to give up because they keep losing battles (it gets much more difficult for them once the Imperial Army shows up) and they can’t send or receive messages due to the solidity of Imperial Mage shields around their camp. They’re expecting reinforcements, but those reinforcements get held up at the border by the contingent of the Imperial Army who was sent to prevent their arrival at the border post.

So I know what I need to do. I also have plot points written out for the ending, which help. I’ve got most of a month of time in which to get this endgame plotted out to my satisfaction. Things are looking good.

And, best of all, I’m excited about the prospect of finishing TPOM3.

April 2015 Camp Nano Winner! (And May “Plans”)

Camp Nano April 2015 Winner!

April 2015 Camp Nano Winner’s Banner

April’s primary goal was to participate in Camp Nano, which I did. I was a bit concerned at the end, because I hit a block in my writing and ended up having to cut a fair portion of v1.2 of Masks. I wouldn’t have done this except that the block was such that I could not convince myself to write on the project until I “fixed” the issue I saw. I did save all I’d written from the first, and I added that with my new words on v1.3 when I validated the novel.

I liked the way the Nano people changed the camp system. It was nice to be in a cabin with people I know, who at least posted stuff to chat even if they made little or no progress on their Nano projects. I think my cabin met the cabin-wide goal count mainly because of one of our overachieving writers wrote around 100k over the course of the month. Without her wordage, our cabin wouldn’t have met its goal.

I’m letting Masks rest for a bit now. In part because real life is going to intervene next week with my partial hysterectomy, and in part because I’m starting to feel a writing downswing coming on. I intend to go with the flow on this and do what I can but not push myself. The plan is to do a lot of reading. My hope is that by going along with it since I’m mindful enough to feel it coming on it won’t last as long and I’ll be back to writing about the time I’ve recovered enough from my surgery to spend more time at my desk.

Things I plan on fiddling with throughout may include Tricks and Traps, the second in a series of novelettes/novellas featuring a mercenary team, set on Elindu—actually, in the Heartland there, where Masks is set, though they’re set in different eras. I’d like to get a good number of plot cards on Whispers on the Wind (Shi’u’s story) as well; this is something I really need to get crackin’ on because I want this to be my November Nano project. Also, I’m considering working some on Degrees of Subtlety because I read through it the past couple days and I’m finally seeing things I need to in order to make progress on its outline; in fact, last night, I spent some time moving the unwritten cards over to a new file so I can rework what I have of the outline, though I’ll probably be brining in a number of the “discarded” plot cards over into the new outline; and another thing I need to do is spend some time working out the plot points for this story, which I feel I can do now since I’m seeing things more clearly.

I know that sounds like a lot for a month when I’m not going to push myself, but it’s where my creative mind’s been flitting the past week or so. I’m just not holding myself to any hard-and-fast goals for the duration.

Distracted

I’ve been taking it easy with my Camp Nano project, Masks this month. I set the wordcount goal to 25k and haven’t been freaking out if I don’t write on it for a few days. This, I think has been a good thing, because it’s allowed my creative mind to relax. If you look at my Camp Nano stats, you’ll see I’m at the end of a surplus of wordage, though, and part of the reason for that is because I’ve gotten distracted.

Over the past week or so, I’ve taken a tour of most of my incomplete fantasy works, mainly because I got hit with a desire to read them. As is sometimes the case when I make a tour of my wips, I had a desire to read only those which were incomplete. Over the duration of this tour, I came up with ideas for some of my wips, and I felt a vague desire to write on one or two of them, primarily Unwritten Letters.

So that’s what I’ve been doing the past few days. I had about 27 plot cards outlined ahead on UL, so I’ve been taking it slowly and doing a scene every two or three days. I intend to write on Masks tonight, but it’s been good to get a break from it. I’m thinking Maybe, if my mind still wants to play with UL when the next month of Camp Nano comes up, and I’m able to make progress on plot cards for it, I’ll write on UL for that month.

It’s felt good to get back into Merolén’s head. It’s a story that makes me glad I’ve started outlining my stories, even if I don’t do complete outlines for them all at first. Because of the outline, I’ve been able to bring romantic subplots into the story, and I don’t think I’d have been able to do so if I were writing it without the outline. Basically, what I’ve been doing with Merolén is my best to surround him with romances, because, from the first, I’ve seen Unwritten Letters as a kind of romance in absentia. The reader knows things that Merolén is unaware of, and that’s been fun too. I like giving the reader tidbits the MCs either had no knowledge of whatsoever, or have only partial or faulty knowledge of. It’s supposed to heighten the tension—and that’s another thing that the outline helps with.

As for Masks, part of the reason why I’m not writing as much on it is because I’ve left behind a major subplot that I can’t seem to resurrect. I want Eirni to to be a lot more resistant to working with Yavaniel, and it’s just not working out that way this time around. After this month’s Camp Nano, I think I’m going to go through and do some heavy editing, because if I try to continue with things as they are much longer, I’m not going to be able to make any progress on it at all. It should be easy to fix. I just need to read through the wip and pinpoint places where Eirni can be an ass, to put it bluntly. I’ve always seen Masks as mostly Eirni’s story than Yavaniel’s, primarily because Eirni has a lot of growing and changing to do over the course of the investigation. I’ve also been toying with the idea of including the pov of one or more of the conspirators, and I need to figure out how the ringleader is going to make the conspiracy an act of vengeance on someone who she believes ruined her happiness when that red herring has little to do with what they’re actually doing. I may have to change things a great deal. It’s going to take some thought, and I’ll probably have to cut the story back to the point I cut it before in order to make all these plot points work like I want them to.

I don’t really mind all this work on Masks. It’s a totally new genre/subgenre for me. Fantasy, yes, but also a mystery, and I’m enjoying all the work on it. This is part of the reason why I’ve always wanted to write a mystery story. It’s been fun, and that, to me, is what counts most. It’s always been my view that if I don’t have fun writing these stories, my readers won’t have fun reading them.

Masks and Music

I’ve said before in previous posts that I typically work up a pretty extensive playlist for my stories. Usually, I’ll find these just listening to my computer randomly play songs. Once, I went through the entire list of music on my computer and created a list—for Unwritten Letters, if I remember right—by picking the songs deliberately, andI at first hated the list, but was driven to listen to it in order to make progress, which was a weird experience.

Masks has proven very, very different, though. I’ve been able to find only two songs which work for it when I want the boost music gives me for writing. I had them listed on my Nano page last November. One, which I don’t listen to much, to be honest, when working on Masks is “Time Space” by Chang Jing; I don’t know why it works, but if the other song just isn’t working or I can’t stand to listen to it, “Time Space” does the job—it’s an adequate patch.

The song I listen to most for writing on this project is “Heavy In Your Arms” by Florence + the Machine. This song has a mood and a feeling that just resonates with me and the story in such a way that I find myself able to do my little hyperfocus thing and get things done on Masks. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to work past the “I can sing along to this song!” enthusiasm I occasionally have when I first turn this song on, but once I do, I’m able to come up with plot cards and write to it. I’ll even take myself to my bedroom and really focus on the Masks by having “Heavy In Your Arms” playing on my mp3 player while I lay with my eyes closed.

That’s what’s odd about this story. I can’t seem to find any other songs to make this story go. It’s either one or the other, and I much prefer “Heavy In Your Arms,” to the point where if I can’t stand to listen to it, I don’t work on Masks at all.

I suspect I’ll have a similar issue with other books in the JID series. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a different song to push me along in each book, though, instead of being stuck listening to “Heavy In Your Arms” for them all. That would soooo suck.

And I thought it sucked being stuck with the same list of songs I have for the Discordant Harmonies series. At least that’s a variety!

Return of the Creative Mind

Since hearing in the first week of February about Bryce entering the hospital and his subsequent death, I’ve completely lacked any creative urges. It’s been all I can do to keep up with my blog posts as well as I have. But earlier this week, the dam broke.

The biggest issue with the original manuscript of Masks was that it meandered. In reading through it a few weeks ago, I realized I had no idea what I was doing with it. What I mean is, that while I had an idea of the overall story, I had no conception of how to get the story I intended to write, so I was questing around, via prose, for the point of the story. Taken on its own, the original manuscript reads fairly well; it’s strong, technically speaking, and it has voice and is interesting, but it’s bloated. It’s clear, to me, in that manuscript I had little idea just what I was doing with the story.

Unfortunately, my creative mind’s hiatus began about the time I realized this, so I couldn’t do anything to fix it. In any case, I think it was too “soon” to fix things anyway; my mind would have needed time to consider how best to fix the bloating issue, come up with better ideas for plotting, and, generally, give me a much better line to follow on the whole thing.

In Masks, I have the main plot thread of them solving the murders of the Maireadi people working on the Jodalur side of the wall, and several subplots. The first, and most important subplot to this particular novel, is Eirni’s reaction to having to work with a Mairead himself; he holds certain prejudices and will be the character doing the most changing throughout the story, so I began the book in his pov and consider it mostly his story overall. There are a number of other subplots going on in this book, also, and I intend them to span one or more other books in the series: Yavaniel and Arua beginning the adoption process to form a family; setting up Eirni’s relationship with the Temple of Eolith for a couple later novels and to merge in part with another subplot when trouble strikes Yavaniel’s home life; I’ll be setting up some worldbuilding facts, such as the one regarding Kaatje-Kalamren resistance to magic for a later novel (though I’m not sure just which book I’ll need that information for; all I know is that I will need it); Eirni’s continuing close friendship/brotherhood with his very first partner, Famir, who retired from the Constabulary Force when he lost a limb. So, lots of stuff going on in this first book, and I haven’t mentioned all of the subplots and future main plot threads I’ll be establishing in this book.

Last week (not the week this Friday is in, but the week previous), ended hard. First my firstgen Nook developed issues, and I had to replace it, then, on Wednesday, my desktop computer crashed and had to be taken in for repair, which I did this past Sunday. I spent most of last Friday huddled in bed because I couldn’t deal with the stress of facing the computer problems on top of the rest of the week.

This week, I had a breakthrough on Masks. It was fantastic. I finally have all the conspirators in line, a massive list of plot points and their subpoints I want to make sure to hit in the outline and wip, and I solved a major plot hole that developed with all the reworking I’ve done so now my Fantasy Sleuthing Duo will be even more challenged to solve the crimes. I’m really looking forward to writing this in April Camp Nano, which I’ve joined since they fixed my only real complaint with the event from randomly selected writing buddies to having “cabins” where we can join friends.

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