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  • I think rather than planning these out regularly the best thing to do is just do them when I have free time, ie right now xD

    Challenge 7 - The Great Plot-hole Quest

    Now that you've had a bit of time to reflect on the outline you began in challenge 5, I'd like everyone to interact on those a bit. Post your outline on the club's wall, then everyone go around commenting on each others' pointing out plot-holes.

    This can be as simple as asking a question about a character's motivation, or as fundamental as noticing a systematic problem with a novel's entire setup (although if you decide to point out something like that, please be sensitive - it's very brave to expose your not-entirely-formed ideas to critique).

    I think this is really important because everyone has different instincts and intuitions. There are probably aspects of your plan that entirely make sense to you because of some experience you've had or some bias you just can't shake. If we merge all of these instincts, I am sure we will be able to correct for any big problems.

    I'm envisioning threads of discussion below the posts on the wall, but it's probably also a good idea to collate everything into a post in your journal/log/etc in the forum.

    Have fun everyone!

    (ALSO: If your outline is quite long make sure to enspoiler it so the wall doesn't get too cluttered. Spoiler code looks like this: (spoiler) (/spoiler) but with square brackets instead of curly brackets.)

    BluesClues Hmm, guess I better hurry up and finish my outline.
    Oct 17, 2017

    ExOmelas It maybe doesn't have to be finished. In fact, if the reason that it wasn't finished was because you weren't sure where to go maybe this would help ideas form. Of course if it's just cause you've been busy then yeah I guess that's different
    Oct 17, 2017

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  • Totally not a way of procrastinating from doing my reading...

    Challenge 6 - Structure

    A lot of the stuff I cover from now on will have been looked at in the Spark to Story workshop I ran, this is one of those. But since I live in a very inconvenient time zone and not too many people were able to attend, I'm hoping this won't matter over much.

    A lot of my favourite stories have extremely interesting structure. Recently, I read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which has a present-time character telling the story of his past, but with occasional interludes from the present (I'm not sure they're quite enough to merit a hundred pages of present-time at the start, but that's by the by). There's also another two of my favourite novels Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, who uses a historian-like narrator figure to make you feel like you're reading this in the world of the story, as well as The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin, which alternates between the main character's present and past and brings the past up to where the present started right at the end. All of these stories would have had the same essential meaning had they not included these techniques, but who knows if the latter two (especially Strange and Norrell) would have ended up on my list of favourite books.

    What these things do is add another layer to the story that doesn't take away from the plot. It occurs at the same time as character development, often in fact contributing to it. I therefore think it is a really really important thing to explore.

    Obviously you don't have to have interesting structure, since stories can happily exist without it (eg Harry Potter), so even if you just want to think about what you could do but not actually do it, I'd consider this task complete.

    I don't have an ATLA example because a discussion of structure would have to be so holistic, so here are a couple of techniques I think it would be worth exploring:

    - Anonymous narrators whose character is important to how you view the story
    - Flashbacks and flashforwards
    - Changes in perspective
    - Are you writing in first or third person? Why that choice?

    Hope this helps,
    Biscuits :)

  • Hey all, I'm going to a debating competition all weekend so I should probably outline challenge number 5 just now.

    Challenge 5 - The beginnings of an outline

    Hopefully you should have a lot more details about character, setting etc in your head by now. But I also expect they're kind of a mess of thoughts. It's quite intimidating to get from there to an orderly outline, so Kays has come up with a couple of techniques.

    1. Draw your outline as a graph. There's definitely something about this in the NaNo workbook too and seriously if anyone knows where I found that the first time I would loooove a link. Anyway, I think there's a couple of ways to go about this.

    (a) Your vertical axis is how fast the plot is advancing. This means the climax of the story would be right up at the top with possibly a big drop signalling a cliffhanger right after it.

    (b) The vertical axis is how good things are for your protagonist. Basically think of it as measuring their happiness up and down.

    2. Write everything important that you've thought of in order, but leave big gaps in your list. Then in between write in smaller letters (though size is not essential if you don't know the bbcode for it) what happens between those events. How do you get from your beginning to the setup of your main action? etc

    I understand that Kays' workshop is going to be about this kind of thing though so if these ways of outlining don't work for you make sure to drop by for that and see if anything there is of more use.

    Hope this helps :)

    BluesClues Psst is there a time and date for @Kays' workshop yet so I know when to have my butt online (if possible)?
    Oct 12, 2017

    ExOmelas I'm fairly confident it's Friday 20th but I haven't payed attention to the time since I'm out that night anyway xD
    Oct 12, 2017

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  • Alrighty everyone, the pad for the next workshop is live! I hope to be starting in about half an hour but will wait a while for people if necessary.


    ExOmelas @LadyLizzLovelace @DFMaolMoire @Steggy @Hattable @ThemagicalEbonyFox @DragonNoir @DemonGoddess @BlueAfrica

    Hey guys, just so you know the pad is still open and there's a full list of challenges at the top. So for those of you who were only able to participate partly, those and a couple of sets of completed challenges are there for you to go look at whenever you like.

    I also wanna encourage yous to go round each other's and ask questions/make comments. I was doing this for everyone but presumably everyone will have different intuitions and therefore different things to bring up.

    If you have any further questions for me please don't hesitate to ask either here, in an onsite PM, or on the discord (where we have a specific PlanMo room).

    Hope you all had fun :)

    Oct 11, 2017

    ExOmelas also @ScarlettFire
    Oct 11, 2017

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  • Back again!

    Challenge 4 - Side Characters

    Side characters are really important that they be just that, characters, not just sidekicks. It can be difficult to devote enough attention to them to make them realistic when they're not your main focus, so that's what this challenge is for.

    I've stolen this character questionnaire from this NaNo prep workbook on the actual website but unfortunately I don't remember where it is to link you to it. I got the questionnaire itself from a WFP I had it saved on (oddly enough for an Advanced Higher Computing project, long story).

    Spoiler! :

    Eye colour:
    Physical appearance:
    Strange or unique physical attributes:
    Favourite clothing style/outfit:
    Where does he/she live? What is it like there? --
    Defining gestures/movements:
    Things about his/her appearance he/she would most like to change:
    Speaking style:
    Pet peeves:
    Fondest memory:
    Special skills/abilities:
    Negative traits:
    Things that upset him.
    Things that embarrass him:
    This character is highly opinionated about:
    Any phobias? --
    Things that make him/her happy:
    Family (describe):
    Deepest, darkest secret:
    Reason he/she has kept this secret for so long:
    Other people's opinions of this character:
    Favourite bands/songs/types of music:
    Favourite movies:
    Favourite TV shows:
    Favourite books:
    Favourite foods:
    Favourite sports/sports teams:
    Political views:
    Religion/philosophy of life:
    Physical health:
    Dream holiday:
    Description of his/her house:
    Description of his/her room:
    Any pets? --
    Best thing that has ever happened to this character:
    Worst thing that has ever happened to this character:
    Three words to describe this character:
    If a song played every time this character walked into a room, what song would it be?

    It's quite long and I should be studying so I'm not going to go all the way through it for an ATLA example but I would like to highlight my favourite question in the questionnaire:

    If a song played every time this character walked into the room, what would it be?

    Sokka: One Week - The Barenaked Ladies
    Katara: Ain't It Fun - Paramore
    Aang: Year 3000 - Busted

    (Any ATLA fans feel free to suggest alternatives :P Also can anyone think of ones for Zuko and Toph? I'm thinking MCR for Zuko but not sure what song and just no idea for Toph.)

    Hope this helps :)

    BluesClues Omg Sokka's is perfect.
    Oct 11, 2017

  • Hey everyone, sorry for the silence on the challenges (a debating competition threw me off schedule both during the competition itself and the rest of this week as I try to catch up). I'm going to make up for this by posting about challenges 3 and 4 today!

    Challenge 3 - The Villian

    I would say that your antagonist is your second most important character at least. It would even be possible to argue that they are the most important because typically it is the villain that is the driving force behind the plot tension, the reason why your hero can't succeed in their aims. Therefore, I think it's really important to put a lot of work into building up your villian.

    There are two sides to any story, so in order to make your villian a person rather than an obstinate brick wall, I want you to write about their aims, characteristics, flaws and fears from their POV, preferable in first person. Of course, if you get into a good flow, you're welcome to write more, but those are the basics I think everyone needs to get down. Stories are so much more compelling when the reader's loyalties are conflicted.

    For example...

    Hi, my name is Princess Azula and I'm going to win this war for the Fire Nation. My father is my hero and it is my life's ambition to prove my worth to him. I always get the feeling that the rest of my family is a disappointment to him: my brother can't even catch that goddam Avatar and my mother... My mother is the biggest disappointment.

    I would describe myself as an ambitious person, as I've discussed, but I also do care about my friends. Ty Lee and Mai have been my friends since childhood and though I don't always understand them I know we'll always be a team.

    Well, my mother claims that my biggest flaw is that I'm a "monster". I prefer to think of myself as a victor, of course, but maybe I do get somewhat narrow focus at times.

    God, really? Well, if I had to pick a fear I guess I'm afraid that the little Avatar kid will beat us and we won't be able to bring in the great age of the Fire Nation. He's determined, him and his little friends, determined to stand in the way of the world's progress.

    I also think it would be fun to write this as a lament if you're feeling poetic/lyrical, but that's just something for fun.

    Hope this helps :)

    EDIT: Forgot to mention, if your villain is an abstract antagonist eg the protagonist's inner self-doubt, here are some challenges for that.

    What is it about this abstract concept that is in direct conflict with your character's goals?
    How does this conflict affect your character?
    If it's an external thing eg capitalism, how does it affect the world of the story?
    How do other characters see the concept? Do they also feel opposed to it or are there varying opinions?

    BluesClues Oooooooooh in first person.


    Oct 11, 2017

    ExOmelas I mean it's not a problem, just something I thought of just now. Also my fault for not doing this over the past couple of days xD
    Oct 11, 2017

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  • zaminami
    Oct 9, 2017

    Can someone give me a template or something for the Worldbuilding question?

    I'm still having trouble.

    DragonNoir I mean, I would give you the one I used but it's very complicated. I can give it to you if you dare...
    Oct 9, 2017

    zaminami Sure I don't mind complicated
    Oct 9, 2017

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  • Hey all, hope the challenges are going okay and that Kays' workshop went well :) I (Biscuits) have been away for the weekend but I'm back and ready to dive back into the world of NaNo. I'm pleased to present the second workshop of the month, From Spark to Story.

    The first workshop being the Idea Jam and the third being about plot outlines, I figured it made sense to look at what happens in the middle. It's not always clear exactly what to do, and often there isn't an exact solution that applies to all cases. So on Wednesday the 11th of October at 7pm GMT join us as we look at character, world-building and style. After those three topics I'll open it up to the audience to suggest other areas we could look at, since it is such a flexible and personal process.

    It is a long journey from that first idea to a completed NaNo project, but the PlanMo club is here to make sure you don't get lost.


    BluesClues Psst. Here it is in your time zone, kids.

    Oct 9, 2017

    Atticus November? Not October?
    Oct 9, 2017

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  • zaminami
    Oct 7, 2017

    Come jam with meh: PlanMo Help

  • Can someone jam on the old Jam thing? I need someone to talk to lol

    DragonNoir I mean, I could if you wish
    Oct 7, 2017

    zaminami thx
    Oct 7, 2017

  • Hey everyone, how's planning going? Given that it's now the 4th of October, I thought it would be a good idea to spotlight the second challenge.

    Now that you've thought about the world for your story, it's time to think about the story itself. And where else to start but the beginning? For the second challenge, we want you to tell us about what your opening scene is going to be like.

    There are probably a couple of things to keep in mind. The most important is this: what key plot point is going to take place? Your plan may be loose at this stage and details may change, but what is the one thing that has to happen in that first scene no matter what? (It would also be reasonable to consider this as "first important scene".)

    You maybe also want to think about how you can introduce your setting in a non info-dump-y way. The best way I can see to do this is to plan your character's actions to include interactions with the setting. Especially if your setting description is hidden in plot advancement, this can help it to feel nice and subtle. For example:

    "You don't understand, Uncle, I have to catch the Avatar!" Zuko snarled.

    Uncle Iroh flinched and turned his head away. He hated the way Zuko's face twisted up like that, all too much like his father's. Iroh could tell from the heavy breathing that Zuko had not relaxed so he continued to stare out across the southern ocean. But after a moment the longing for the warmer climes of the Fire Nation got too much and he had to return to the conversation at hand.

    And yes, if anyone is wondering, imma be using A:TLA for all my examples this month. What I've tried to do here is introduce where they are - the ocean near the southern water tribe - as well as where they come from - the fire nation - and what it's like there - warm. But I've tried to merge them into Iroh's sorrow about the present situation so that it doesn't feel like I'm just listing facts at the reader.

    Lastly, you gotta give your reader some characters they can get on board with. They don't have to be likeable; they just have to have a hook. Here Zuko is not likeable, but Iroh's sorrow suggests that maybe he was at some point, which was interesting for me at least and resulted in me watching all three seasons in very quick succession.

    If you have any questions about this feel free to comment on this post or PM me (BiscuitsLeGuin). I would assume @Kays is also okay with being contacted but just in case she happens to be busy or something I'll let her confirm that herself.

    Hope this helps!

    BluesClues AtLA <3 totally onboard for alllllll the examples
    Oct 4, 2017

    Virgil I'm okay with being contacted as I'm not too busy! :3
    Oct 4, 2017

  • zaminami
    Oct 4, 2017

    Hey, can someone delete the conversation about if "fite" or "fight" is spelled right in my forum? I want to keep my forum clean... thanks!

    ExOmelas Will do this now
    Oct 4, 2017

  • This will be my first time trying to do NaNo. Any tips for completing it?

    zaminami I dunno

    this is my first time to :3

    Oct 3, 2017

    Atticus I'm in the same boat
    Oct 3, 2017

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  • I *really* want to do NaNo BUT high school has sooo much homework.. also I can't write two things at the same time but... I am going to plan for it and *try* to do it! I already have an idea in my head so now I just need to plan it out, but I also have a feeling that it will end up being a long story, and I might not be able to write it in a month, but all the same, I will try!

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
— Anne Lamott