Just over 2 weeks to go before NANOWRIMO 2021 starts. Are you getting excited ? Apprehensive? Nervous? or just like myself scared to death? It's that time of the year that we either love or hate. In the past I've 'won' NANO a few times but sometimes I've failed spectacularly.
I remember my first attempt, all of 12 years ago now, when half way through I realised that a plot hole the size of the Atlantic ocean appeared. It stopped me dead. I know I should have just carried on, but I was more critical back then. I could have sorted it out in the editing, yet back then it gnawed away at me until I caved in and quit. Not my finest hour... It was four years before I tried again. This time I hit the 50,000 with a couple of days to spare. Sadly it was only half finished and it's stayed that way ever since. Another 'failure'.
The next few years, I hit a streak of 'winning' stories. All hitting the magical 50,000. Still I never went on to finish them. It was like a block that hit me. The month had finished, and I fell out with the story. I pushed it aside promising to return. They still all sit there in my onedrive, all ready to be picked up. The stories planned out still in the mind, as fresh as a daisy but no longer a priority. To be fair though I've only every finished one work of any length. If you look at the rest of my works on these web pages you'll see more unfinished work. NANOWRIMO still makes me want to compete though. I promise myself I'll get better and finish one.
This year I'm having yet another attempt to do NANO and finish the story. Hopefully I'll have more sucess with this one. It's one I started a year ago and then abandoned. So I'm starting again with a better plan.
The beauty of NANOWRIMO is that you get to write constantly for a month. Lockdown wasn't good to me in that respect. Not much completed, never mind completed. Fingers crossed I'll get there this time.
To me a book isn't complete without a map. Narnia is tons better with the map, Middle Earth looks really inviting from the map at the beginning of the book. It used to be a trend in books to put a map to help the reader navigate themselves around a fantasy world. No self-respecting fantasy book would be without one.
As a child I would look at these maps imagining the places in my imagination. It helped to place events in the book as well as being a piece of art. It has even encouraged me to buy books. If there's a map in the beginning, I want to have it. Happily, authors and publishers understand the lure of cartography and more books now have the map in the front.
The most recent book I've finished, Gargantis by Thomas Taylor, even has two maps contained within its pages. At the same time as I was devouring (book review to come), the latest adventures in Eeire on Sea, that I came across a new 'game' on Steam. To call it a game is a bit of a stretch, it's more of a toy that you play with. Yet it's simple methodology reminded me instantly of the aforementioned Eerie.
Put simply Townscaper by Oscar Stalberg is a relaxing and yet fascinating way of building a town. No complex functions, no micromanagement, just an amazingly uncomplicated way to build a 'fishing village'.
I was hooked with the first click of the mouse. It's so simple to put together a village or town and it looks so gorgeous. Left click build, right click remove. Within minutes I'm sat marvelling at the houses I'm creating. Certain clicks bring you arches, hidden gardens and much more. It's all procedurally generated, yet the results are wonderful.
I started to see the applications this could be used for. The quirkiness of the graphics and the reading of Gargantis (by the way read it please), made me want to create my own town, along with a series of inhabitants, yet to be named. I though how it could be used to create a map and base a story, or even a series on the town I created.
Tempus Fugit, time flies, when you're using this game. A couple of hours and I'd filled all the available area with a hotchpotch of brightly coloured cottages and homes. I'd added a couple of lighthouses, a church, and a dock area. It felt good. My soul has been lacking succour the last few weeks and this game was filling me with a warm glow. It sparked the stories inside my head or ideas that should be.
Townscaper is in early release, which means it's still in development. Hopefully, it will be expanded, larger areas, assorted colour schemes (a dull one would be good), a workshop to share buildings. As it stands it's well worth the £5 it costs. A wonderful experience, an imagination sparker or just an engaging way to spend a few hours of your time.
Hopefully, I can go on and make a series of stories, short ones about the life in my initialled named St Olaf's on Sea. Townscaper and Thomas Taylor have inspired me to write something a little different this time.
Reading other people's writing is so important to the writing process. It's one of the first tips I'd give a writer starting out. It really is the best way of picking up tips.
For a start you'll learn new vocabulary, new phrases that'll better populate your works. The choice of words is so important to make your story flow and not be a repetitive process. You'll discover different ways to write. Dan Brown and Charles Dickens are both authors who wrote for the mass market, yet their style is so different. Dickens wrote his stories as instalments, therefore there were lots of hooks to keep the reader buying the next magazine. Brown uses suspense to keep the story rolling.
Reading also opens new worlds up for you. Narnia, Middle Earth and Earthsea are all different. Beautifully crafted worlds that are inhabited by believable characters. Reading allows you to see how to construct your own world.
So a writer must read and read as widely as possible.