Tag Archives: Deadline

Making Christmas Presents: What I Learned

So this year, for lack of money, I decided to make my Christmas presents. Other years, I’ve thought of doing it, but I’ve had enough money to buy most of them. This year I have more art supplies than money so I went handcrafted!

Well, not entirely. But for those who are considering it for next year: Here is what I learned:

  1. Don’t learn a new craft. If you are serious about making nice gifts, don’t use this time to learn something new. There is no time to learn it properly, then get and the item won’t turn out very well.
  2. Make a list of your recipients. That way, you will make gifts that the recipients will like and you won’t make too many or too few.
  3. Time is the real expense. What you won’t spend in money, you will spend in time. I started making the presents at the beginning of December, after NaNoWrimo wrapped, but the few hours I had after work and the weekends wasn’t enough. Now I promised myself that this year I will have Christmas in July. Right.
  4. People like small handcrafted things better than large bought things. Making a small gift shows a lot more thought and care than buying it, so the things you make don’t have to be elaborate or large.
  5. Shipping will cost. Don’t forget, buying the presents is not the only expense. If you live away from most of your family like I do, you will have to send most of your presents through the mail or UPS or FedEx or whatever. Luckily you can decide the item’s weight and size.
  6. Don’t forget to do your homework. As always, just because you know how to make something, doesn’t mean you have it all planned out. Sketch out your project, even if it’s on the back of an envelope. It will save you time and money and your sanity later.

I’m sure there are a lot more that I haven’t thought of.

On a completely other note, I’m pretty sure that tweeting book reviews is not going to work. I’ve also hatched a plan to started another blog strictly about books.


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Script Frenzy — DONE!


I’ve finished Script Frenzy, and won:

2009 Script Frenzy Winner Icon

2009 Script Frenzy Winner Icon

I got through 97 pages of story and then by putting the “frame” designation (I’m writing a graphic novel script, which I’ll be the only one to see) on a separate line, I got it up to 127 pages. Amazing what the “return” button can do.

So anyway, I’m back to world of the blogging.

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Planning for the Frenzy

Since script frenzy starts tomorrow, I thought I’d share some of the planning I’m doing for the challenge.

First of all, I’ll admit I’m much better at writing prose, since I can describe the picture in my head. As with all of these challenges, I’m not allowed to write anything that would become part of the script (or novel). This year I’m writing an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. If you don’t know the story, this post contains SPOILERS (and I recommend you find a copy of Jean Cocteau’s version and check it out. Don’t bother with the Disney version, bleh).

I know the fairy tale fairly well, in several incarnations, but I want it to read like a novel, with scenes and rounded characters, so I start with notes on the following subjects:

Characters — For the main characters and the main supporting characters, I’ll do notes on their appearance (or a drawing), and notes on their personality. Each of them gets a name, and with it an image of them will form in my head.

  • Beauty
  • Beauty’s father
  • Her seven sisters
  • the Beast
  • Any servants and townspeople, or lesser characters

I take some notes on what motivates them within the context of the plot. For Beauty and her sisters for example, I’ve figured out what they are most interested in (one embroiders endlessly, one stays in bed a lot) and what they ask their father to bring back from town (when Beauty asks for a rose, which gets them all into trouble). I also try to plan a change for the main characters to go through as the plot progresses.

Plot statement — This is to figure out the main conflict and what the characters do. Beauty’s sisters are selfish, so they ask for things their father can’t provide. Beauty solves the payment of the stolen rose by offering herself to the Beast. The Beast wants beauty to break the spell so he asks her to marry him. Normally, I’d accompany this portion with some sort of outline, but since I’m doing a script, I’m including the outline in the actual writing. We’ll find out if this is a good idea.

Moral Statement — This part is what I’m trying to say. For the planning stage, some people find it optional. I think it helps to guide the decisions I make when throwing the words on the paper.

For Beauty and the Beast my initial ideas are:

  • Don’t trust your eyes
  • beauty/worth can be below the surface
  • transformations (especially unexpected)

These may change as I get deeper in.

I’ve also got notes on the roles of the protagonists and antagonists and other bitty ideas that come to me while I’m planning.

Some people don’t like to plan because it stifles creativity. The trick is not to plan too much. Just enough so that all you know who it is and what you are dealing with. It’s dispiriting and wastes too much time to do that stuff in the middle of the throes of a first draft (especially when under a deadline).

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A Strange Interlude…

On Friday, February 20th 2009, I stayed in while I was in Portland. I didn’t take any pictures, so this is an interlude where I post the link of the week.

Script Frenzy is coming up in April. It’s Nanowrimo’s scriptwriting sister — write 100 pages of script (TV, Stage, Movie etc.) in 30 days.

I was debating whether to do it– I’m not as good as writing scripts as I am writing straight prose. I think I will though — a script for a graphic novel. then I will draw it and it will be BRILLIANT!

Script Frenzy

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The NaNoWriMo Post

For the uninitated, NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month.” The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days (the 30 days that comprise November, to be more specific).  50,000 looks like a large number (it’s actually a fairly small novel), but if you break it down into 30 portions it’s about 1,667 words each day. I round it up to 1,700, which is about 2.5 pages with the default settings in MSWord. This is a totally doable goal, especially when writing late at night.

For me the greatest benefit is the deadline. The idea is to submit your typed 50,000 words to the NaNo wordbots by midnight on the 30th. When they’ve verified (no real person reads it) your words you get a nifty certificate and bragging rights.

That is all.

But really, that’s all I need. I get ideas all the time. In the past I would make abortive attempts to write my stories down but after about the first few pages ( I think I got to thirty one time), I’d be working on the next idea — which I wouldn’t finish. NaNo’s 50,000 words is not necessarily going to be the entire story arc (no working on already started works), but even though I don’t finish the story, by the 50,000th word I’m deep enough into the narrative that it is much more worthwhile to keep going than to abort. I try to finish the story during NaNo because if I don’t, I can’t write on that scale the rest of the year.

None of this kick-in-the-seat of the pants thing means that the writing is any good. Many of the criticisms I read and get from friends and family is that quantity doesn’t equal quality and that writing in such a breakneck way really means you’ve spent a month churning out crap.

Which is true. It is crap.

However, I think of it like sculpting. You get a chuck of clay and moosh it into the general shape of the piece. This is the NaNo part the volume, the first draft. Then you take your fingers and prod it until in has the general look. This is the editing. You keep using finer and finer tools until you are outlining hair. Without that first volume of clay, the piece could never be started in the first place.

Believe me, nobody in NaNoWriMo thinks they are writing anything but a first draft. To write a full piece with a beginning and a middle and an end, you need to keep up the momentum, keep the goal in sight.  With the help of an online community,  NaNoWriMo helps us do just that.

I spend all year thinking about this event. I usually write a story I’ve spend the last year or two thinking about. I figure out my characters their motivations and goals. I’m posting this now because I’m lining up my suspects for 2009…

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