in which I reflect a little bit on 2017 and where I’m looking forward to all that’s ahead of me in 2018.
2017 was an interesting year for me. I started with My Peak Challenge, I continued working on my novel and I learned on a lot of new and interesting things.
It’s not always been an easy year, but that’s all part of life. I’ve made the decision for myself to look at the good that happened.
My Peak Challenge
My Peak Challenge is both a physical challenge as a mental/creative/anything you like challenge. I’ve worked on my physical challenge (Yay, I can now eat bananas and pears and my asthma has gotten better!) and will continue to work on that in 2018.
I’ve met an incredible group of peakers here in the Netherlands who are amazingly supportive. With them I’ve done fun things like Mermaid Swimming!
We have done a lot together in 2017 and I’m very much looking forward to everything we do in 2018.
New & Interesting Things
I’ve learned several new things about history, rituals and about world building. There is so much to learn from history and from current events, plants, animals and such. It’s incredible! Did you know, for example, that we can now help wild animals who’ve lost a limb or part of a scale?
And there is so much more to learn! Keep an eye for these amazing tidbits of information that just might rock your world!
I’ve worked a lot on my novel in 2017. It was mostly world building and that’s okay. I discovered I was sometimes stuck on a story line because I hadn’t worked out a few things good enough in my world building. I’ve developed my complete story line for book one. The story line for the other books is something I’m going to work on when the first draft of my first book is finished.
And I’ve been working on my map. I can show a small preview, but you’ll have to wait for the full version, cause I’ll show that later on!
This is just a small portion of the entire world. I will not tell you which part it is just yet. You’ll have to wait and see!
You will see more of my world building in later posts!
Like I said, you will see more later. There are two things I can reveal to you today:
The new book series title
My plans for 2018
I won’t do it in a normal blog post. Nope. I’ve decided to give you a video in which I reveal both. Have fun!
What are your writing or reading plans for 2018? Share them below in the comments!
It’s that time of the year again. Autumn is slowly showing signs of breaking through, which means NaNoWriMo is almost around the corner. Are you participating? Let me know!
What is NaNoWriMo?
The National Novel Writing Month is an international writing event where you write, in your own favorite writing place, 50.000 words of your novel. It starts November 1st, 12:00AM and ends November 30th, 11:59PM in your own timezone.
NaNoWriMo offers you the possibility to just write, ignoring all mistakes you make (shut out that inner editor!), just keep on writing. It helps you to get into a daily habit of writing.
Additionally, there are literally tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of people participating at the same time. You will get support through the forums, Facebook, Twitter and more!
HOW much do I have to write a day?
50k words translates to 1,667 words per day. I know, it’s a lot! I’ll give you tips on how to break this down and start a daily writing habit before November 1st. If you have any tips, share them here!
In the Netherlands we have a Kick-off party for NaNoWriMo every year. This year it’s not possible to have that on November 1st because that is on a Wednesday, so we’ll have it on the last Saturday of October.
Are you preparing for NaNoWriMo2017? I am. Luckily my preparations seem to go at a steady pace. Are you looking for things to prepare? Perhaps the Magical World Builder is something for you besides outlining.
Okay, so, yesterday I didn’t report any progress, but I did make progress. After some bad news I received, I just wasn’t in the mood to write about it anymore. Now I’m doing better so I thought I’d share my progression with you.
One of the things on my checklist is to finish the outline of my first draft of my first book, since I’m still writing that. Today I finished that outline! It also became quite clear that I’m not yet halfway with writing my book, but that’s okay. Once my first draft is finished, I can always edit and remove things I don’t like 😀
Later on this month I’ll make the outline for Book 2. First, I’ve got other things on my checklist to do.
NaNo goal adjusted
I had originally thought to start with book 2 on November 1st. Now I think I might not have finished the first draft of book 1 yet, so I’ll continue with that first in November. Once that’s finished I’ll continue with book 2. #Challenge
Magical World Builder
The above picture hardly looks like a proper world, now does it? Let’s see, there’s a castle, a LOT of ocean and apparently some mountain ranges . And the rest is empty…..
Rest assured, this is NOT the map of my world. There will be so much more on my map. And my map will be much bigger than this. There is so much to include.
And World building is so much more than only drawing a map. A map is handy to see if your characters should go north instead of south. It would, after all, be a shame if they end up way deep in the south when the city where they needed to be is way up north. Could be an interesting story line telling your reader why they ended up in the south, but all in all, a map could come in handy.
But that is not all what world building is about. It is one aspect. But there’s so much more, like the government system, the culture, what kind of clothes do your characters wear, what kind of industrialization is there (if any), etc.
To build my world properly I’m going to follow the steps in Stephanie Cottrell Bryant’s Magical World Builder. The PDF she created about this is chock full of information. And for those who want to “get their hands dirty” there’s a full 30-days exercise to build your world. And that is exactly what I’m using.
Once I’m finished with that, I’m definitely going to check it against the Game Of Thrones Wiki to see if there are other interesting things I may already have in the back of my mind, but not yet in my story bible yet. And perhaps things that haven’t been included in my world building just yet.
A story bible is something that every author, if s/he makes one, does the way it’s best for him/her. In the past I’ve kept all my notes in one box. They usually got all jumbled up together. I can tell you, that really doesn’t work!
I’d like to choose an option that’s also more environmental friendly. And thus I turn to a digital form. In Scrivener I can store a lot of information, including photos, which can be very useful. I also want an option to check things online when I’m not at home. And I’d like to share my world with you while I’m creating it and for you to read once my books have been released. That is why I have decided to have an online story bible, right here on my site. I will go through my World building exercises almost daily and I will share the information with you here. Of course I will only share information that doesn’t give away spoilers. I can’t give away the clue to the story before it’s been released, now can I? 😀
I can give you a tidbit of what I’ve been working on the last few days.
There are many different people in my world. And each group has its own funeral rituals. Some may seem very similar to our Earth rituals, while other are different. Seers have other rituals than Dragon Riders, while Commoners have rituals that may seem more like earth rituals
My world is a pseudo-medieval setting. This means there is no industrialization, nor technical advancement as we know it. But there are different things that may hint at what we have. Take communication, for instance. Seers will usually use a special bowl with a certain ritual and herbs to establish a communication link. There are, however, also a few seers, from old families, who have inherited special communication devices through which they can communicate with other seers who have a similar device. How this works exactly and how they attained this, is something that will become more clear in the story. If you’re lucky, I might share some more information about it in the future.
History of the Dragon Riders
Each people has its own history, like we all do. One of the things I wanted to have a bit more clearer is the history of the dragon riders. Why is it that dragons allow people to ride on their backs? Why is it that dragons might defend their riders at all costs? What is their benefit in this relationship?
These were among the questions I wanted to answer, inspired by questions several of my Twitter followers asked me.
Later on I will share more details about their history. For now I’ll leave you with this tidbit:
People were hunting down dragons for their rumored treasures and because they killed their livestock now and then. And then a change came about.
These are all things that came up the last few days. Even though I wasn’t going through my Magical World Builder exercises, that’s okay. This is all important information and I’ll fit it in my story bible nonetheless. After all, this process is all about getting to know my world better, so that my story becomes a really lively story, something that comes alive before your eyes.
Are you world building? Perhaps even using the 30-day exercise of the Magical World Builder from Stephanie? Share your experiences in the comments!
How are you doing with your preparations for NaNoWriMo2017? I hope everything is going well! I’ve worked on my outline again and I’ve done some more world building. Things are looking good!
Incredible what a day at work can bring. That is, if you’ve got a job like mine. I’m an interior cleaner. Yeah, it’s not the greatest job in the world, but hey, it pays the bills. And a very nice side effect is that I can think about my story while I’m doing my job. How nice is that? It’s exactly what I did today.
Although I’ve written stories without any outline, I felt from the start that with this story, or rather series of books it is turning into, I NEEDED an outline. I just didn’t want a fixed outline that wouldn’t give me any freedom. Which is something I’m kinda used to from high school and college. It was something I HATED!
When I found “NaNoWriMo for the New and Insane” by Lazette Gyfford, I found my solution. Not only does she give a hilarious, mostly accurate, view on NaNoWriMo, she also presents a, for me new, way to make outlines: the phased outline.
A phased outline works with key words and key phrases. Perhaps even a quote you’d like to include in your story. And that’s it. A couple of dozen words can turn into a full chapter in your story. And that is what has happened for me ever since I started using that method.
A few sentences, sometimes not even more than 15 words can turn into whole chapters of thousands of words for me. Apparently a little spark is all I need to go on.
As you may have seen in my checklist I still have to finish my first draft of my first book. That’s okay. I don’t mind that. Although I’m slowly starting to realize I might not be able to finish it I do get more and more ideas for both my world and the stories within it. At the moment I’ve added several phases to the outline of book I. Nothing yet for book II, but for that to happen I need to have at least the outline of book I finished. At the rate it’s going now, I hope to have the outline finished in a few days, cause it’s developing fast!
While I was at work today, I’ve also come up with several additions for my world building. At the moment I can’t tell you any specifics, but I can tell you that a few things in my book and my outline now make more sense. Not because I made the world to fit around it, but because the world grew like this and the book and the outline turned out to fit neatly in the world with perhaps a few small changes, but nothing “life changing” sorta speak.
Suffice to say that my world turns out to be older than I thought and the civilizations turned out to be older as well. And there were more civilizations before the current ones. The current ones grew from the older ones, as you see happen often, of course.
For today, this is it. I’ve made quite the progress and I’ll continue to make much more progress if things keep going the way they are now. And I’m happy with it.
How do you build your outline? Do you write each and every change? Or are you more like me? And world building, how does that go for you? Do you imagine a large new world filled with wonders, adventures and dangers for your characters to travel through? Or is your world more or less like Earth? Let me know in the comments!
Do you struggle with the progression of days, weeks, months or even years in your story? I knew I had to have a system for this, to keep everything in order while I’m writing my books. For this I tested Aeon TimeLine. See why I chose this program to use for the future!
We’ve got a little over 30 days to go until November 1st. There’s still a lot to do for me, but there’s one thing I can check off my list: Testing Aeon TimeLine. I needed to know if it would answer all my needs in writing projects. Here’s what I found.
As a writer I can write in many different genres. My heart has always been in Fiction. Fantasy fiction to be precise. It wasn’t until I was writing Chased that I found the need to have a tool that would display a timeline properly, instead of a rough timeline on paper. At times it simply became unreadable because I wanted to cram so much information in it. So, I made a list of what I need in a timeline tool. I need a tool that:
displays events in chronological order
gives me an overview of my characters in each event
shows me if my characters can actually be in a certain event given the time they need to travel to the location
lets me include new events in between other, already existing events without making a mess of the timeline
will allow me to include more information than simply the event title, like location, roles of the characters in the scenes, perhaps even emotions of the characters
keeps track of not only the timeline of book one, but also the timelines of sequels all in one document, in one handy overview
potentially can include multiple kinds of arcs. I want to include not only the story arc, but also the character’s arc so that I know if s/he will make any personal progress, have a personal growth
Armed with this list, I started my search for a good tool.
I’ve looked around for timeline programs and systems. None of them seemed to be the solution for my needs, until I was pointed to Aeon TimeLine. I decided to give it a try, especially since it has a very nice trial period of 30 days. The site comes with good videos and support articles that will help you get started. It also has a nice overview of the programs features and that convinced me to try it out and see if it would be the answer to my needs.
A chronological order is something you’ll basically find in every program or system. It’s usually the base of a timeline, so it would be very strange if a program or system wouldn’t have this possibility.
Character overview per scene
Aeon TimeLine has a very good overview for that.
This overview even shows you what kind of role your character has in the particular scene, for example an observer or a participant, or whatever role you set up. And if there are multiple characters in one scene, you can see that easily in this overview. Ideal!
For me to see if a character can actually be at a certain location, it comes in handy to know how much time has passed in the story. Aeon TimeLine has the possibility to show you how much time has passed between scenes and thus give insight on the possibility of a character being able to make it to a certain place. In the image below I’ve set the overview to Group by person.
If you click on the image it will open a larger version in a new window. If you look there, you’ll see on the left hand side how much time has passed for the character Poirot between the scenes displayed. That gives you the possibility to check for inconsistencies.
Include new events
When I’m writing or making an outline, I find myself coming up with new scenes that might fit better in between scenes I’ve already written or perhaps even in a scene I’ve already written. On a traditional Pen & Paper timeline this would mean I’d gradually make a mess of my timeline and eventually had to start over because of this exact same mess.
With Aeon TimeLine, however, I find that I can easily add scenes where ever I want, I can move scenes around and much more all without making a mess of the timeline. Ideal for someone like me. Especially since I have the tendency to think up scenes when I’m at my job and find they fit perfectly…. in between other scenes or perhaps even before all other scenes.
On a traditional timeline you’ll often only see the “Title” and that’s about it. I’d prefer to have more information. And Aeon Timeline offers exactly that.
In the above picture you can see that participants are shown in the expanded view of the scene.
In the above picture you can see a the date, a summary and even a picture that’s included. Although I might not include a picture in my timeline, having a summary, character information and more is very helpful!
Sequel Timelines included
In the timeline settings you can not only have Arc as options to display, but you can include more. In my case I’ll be including Book I Arc, Book II arc, etc. That way I can keep everything neatly in one overview, while at the same time keeping everything separated as it’s supposed to be. And this also gives me the possibility to plan events for later books, that might play already during the timeline of the first book. I could perhaps reference to it or it might be foreshadowing or something else. Either way it’ll definitely help me to keep things running smoothly.
Syncing with Scrivener
Now, this is something I haven’t done yet, but it’s a default feature in Aeon Timeline and that’s a BIG plus. Not only will all the information be ported to Scrivener, but when you change things in Scrivener, you can update your timeline as well. Aeon Timeline will point out doubles, errors and such, so that you are aware of those and can fix them. How great is that?
My own Calendar
When you write fiction you don’t necessarily NEED to have a calendar, let alone a calendar created especially for your story. BUT…. I kinda just want it. If only to make dates like “Year of the Earth Dragon, 1st of the Moon Month” or anything else I’ll come up with during my world building.
Then again I might not come up with anything and just skip it all together, but with Aeon TimeLine I have the OPTION to make my own calendar and use that for my timeline instead of our earth calendar. And I love that I have that option.
In fact you don’t even need a calendar. Aeon Timeline only needs a starting date. If you prefer not to work with dates or anything like that, but only events, you can do that. You do need to set a first date, simply because the program needs a starting point, but from there on you can totally ignore the date thing and create something of your own.
Multiple kinds of arcs
In a story you always have a story arc. That’s the progression your story goes through. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a story, but only a bullet list of events. On top of that story arc, there is the progression of your characters. In the ideal situation your characters go through a progression as well. They grow through your story, through everything they encounter, every adventure they have. They learn, the adjust, they dreams or life goals are met or perhaps adjusted and they go through personal growth.
Perhaps they learn to work together with others, where they would never have done before they entered your story, or maybe they’ve learned to deal with certain emotions which they ignored before. There are a lot of things a character will go through. In Aeon TimeLine you can reflect that. And that’s ideal!
I’m sure there are lots of things I haven’t run into yet about making a timeline. And there are probably several things in Aeon Timeline that I haven’t seen yet, but in the end, this seems to be the tool for me. I’m also quite sure I’ll not only use it for my current story, but also for all stories to come in the future. So, even though it’s $50 it’s worth the money for me.
Mind you, it might not be the answer to YOUR needs, so you might have a different opinion 🙂
Do you use timelines for your story? If so, how do you make them? What do you use? Do you include any extra information? And how do you combine it with your word processing program? Let me know in the comments!
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How far are you with your preparations? I’ve made some progression today! Follow me on my journey of preparations towards November!
With a little over 31 days to go, I’ve worked on my preparations for November today. And I have made progression!
I’ve made quite a list of preparations, as I posted yesterday. Today I worked on the first goal:
Complete the outline of the 1st draft of book I
Even though this story has been in the making for over a year, I still didn’t have a finished outline. So, working on this is quite essential.
It’s not easy to finish an outline for the first draft, while I already have lots of ideas for the second draft of this same book. Because of those ideas, I decided to pretend to continue with the story as if several things already had happened. Things I still have to write. Scenes that will be in the second draft and not in my first.
That decision made it easier to continue with my outline for the first draft. As a result I’ve added six scenes at the beginning of the book to the outline of my second draft (yep…. you read that right!) and added some information for more details (like: tell something about the life in the city, tell something about the surroundings, etc). I’ve noticed those were things I had almost left out. Which of course doesn’t work.
Additionally I’ve adjusted several phases I hadn’t written yet and added about five scenes to the outline of my first draft. With these adjustments I’ve written in some things that actually haven’t been touched in the first draft yet, but will be present in the second draft, so that’s okay.
That’s it for today
Even though neither outline is finished yet, I’ve made a nice progress, so I’m happy with the result. Especially since today was a day of Grocery shopping (yeah, those things have to be done….), friends who visited and a sleep in because I was still tired of the weekend in Scotland. I really need to catch up before November starts!
How about tomorrow?
Tomorrow I’m going to continue on this path. I really want to get more into the outline. And I hope to do some more world building. I’ve drawn a very rough map for my story and I hope to be able to work on that a bit more with Inkarnate.
One thing I’m definitely going to do is test Aeon Timeline, if only because my trial period is coming to an end in a few days. I want to have it tested before that.
How are you doing with your preparations for NaNoWriMo? Have you made any progress? What are you most looking forward to in your story?
It seems like a long time (32 days at the moment of writing), but it’s here before you know it. This year I’ve decided to take the route of the PLANNER instead of the PANTSER/PLANTSER with a bit of pantsing built into it. Which pretty much means I’ve got a lot to do still.
What is NaNoWriMo?
But let’s start with what NaNoWriMo actually is. Basically the National Novel Writing Month is an international writing event where you write, in your own favorite writing place, 50.000 words of your novel. It starts November 1st, 12:00AM and ends November 30th, 11:59PM in your own timezone.
So, a NATIONAL event is INTERNATIONAL? How does that work?
Well, in the beginning….. there was a group of friends in the USA who wanted to challenge themselves to write a certain amount of words in 30 days. It didn’t take long before more people joined them.
And soon after it was a truly National event, it became an international event, because writers from all over the world joined in this event. They kept the name, but it truly is an international event.
To NaNoWriMo Prep or not, that’s the question. For me, I’ve found I need some preparation to make sure I’ll be able to complete my NaNoWriMo goal. Even though the story I will be working on, if all goes well, will be a sequel to the story I’ve been working on this past year, I still have a lot to do. There are things I need to have in my possession to write, not limited to my computer, cause that’s what I’ll be using to write. And there are things I need to keep me going through November, be it food, inspiration or otherwise.
My NaNoWriMo Prep
A few things are important:
Food & Drink (you gotta eat and keep yourself hydrated during this event!)
NaNoWriMo Survival Kit
I’m going to keep a checklist here to see how far I’ll get in my preparations.
Create Care package (after October 15th) (In the Dutch forum we’re doing care packages this year)
Update Scrivener (last week of October) (If you use Scrivener, be sure to update it before NaNo starts!!!)
Optional (loads of this is already in the back of my head. I just need to put it on my digital paper 🙂 )
Finish history of the Dragon Riders
Finish history of the Protectors of the Realm
Finish history of the first True Seers
Finish the Parabataì history
Finish the Soulmates basics & history
Finish Seer Council Description
Finish Dragon Riders Council description
Create timeline based on outline (adjustable during writing)
Make a start with the story’s languages:
Seers: Based on Scottish Gaelic (maybe mixed with some Latin)
Dragon Riders: Based on Irish Gaelic (maybe mixed with some Latin)
Common Tongue: English
Specifically for: Rituals, Names, etc.
Conclusion & Accountability
Yeah, I know. I said I would report my daily word count and I didn’t. That was not good. Luckily I have been writing, but it was mostly world building and some small scenes for later books.
Now that it’s almost October, I’ve decided to allocate several hours a day for my NaNoWriMo Prep. And as you can see in the list above this also means writing.
I’ve got a lot left to do, but I’m confident I can do it. Now that the MyPeakChallenge gathering in Scotland is over and I don’t need to do any preparations for that anymore, I can devote my time to my writing. Now all I need to do is do all the preparations BEFORE I watch any of my favorite television series.
Leading up to November 1st, I will record my progress on my preparations here. Let’s see how far I can get before the writing frenzy starts! Are you with me?
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how do you prepare? Are you a planner or a pantser or perhaps something in between? What are you favorite writing tools? What are the things you absolutely can NOT do without during NaNoWriMo? Leave a comment below!
Yesterday I promised you that I would keep track of my daily word count. So, without further ado, here’s my accountability for today.
I have a (relatively) normal daytime job. I start at 6AM and work until noon. But that’s not writing, if that’s what you were thinking. No, at the moment I work as an interior cleaner. Not the greatest job, but it comes with one major benefit, at least for a writer. I have plenty of time to think about my story.
I have written a phased outline which contains keywords and key phrases per scene or chapter. I’m not one to write a detailed outline. I like to give myself the freedom to deviate from the given plan, freedom to write as I go based on, let’s say, guidelines.
Like I said above, my job gives me plenty of time to think about my story. Today I have mulled over two scenes that initially seemed quite easy to write. Easy for my Daily word count, right? Wrong! As creativity dictates, nothing goes as planned. So… while the original was quite simple, the execution proved to be more difficult. The scene in my head had more body when I got home and started to write, but also a lot more to take into account for further scenes and to check in earlier scenes.
Luckily I didn’t spend my writing time on developing the scene more. That is what I do during my work. Make no mistake, it’s not that I write the actual text in my head. I just have a better idea of how I want my scene to flow, which characters need to be there and what information needs to come out.
Daily Word Count
After lunch I could finally start writing. After all the thinking I had done, I had expected it would be quite easy to actually write the scenes. It wasn’t though. I had expected to have at least one scene completed by tonight. I didn’t though. There is still a lot more to be written, I’ve only covered part of the scene. I’ll get there.
But I did sit down and wrote. Even though I didn’t make the word count I decided to have as a goal yesterday (2,000 words), I did manage to write:
So, I’m very proud of myself. It seems setting the deadline on August 31st is the thing I needed to keep writing now that Camp is over.
Have you been writing? How did it go? Let me know in the comments!
After a month of CampNaNoWriMo in which I wrote way too little to finish The Infinity Saga, I decided I needed to think about deadlines. Originally my deadline for the first draft was “This year.” Well, that’s pretty broad, isn’t it?
Enter “The Deadline”
At the beginning of this year, as part of MyPeakChallenge, I decided I wanted to finish my first draft “This year”. Well, “this year” turns out to be broad. Too broad to be specific.
Now that CampNaNoWriMo is over, I looked at the progress I made. I had started Camp with the idea that I would work on World Building and perhaps write a few additional chapters.
It turns out I wrote 10,000 words. It was mainly the story and additionally some world building and some additions to my outline.
This, of course, is progress, but not as much as I hoped for.
Camp is a rather free thing, unlike NaNoWriMo where the goal has been set for you. In Camp you set your own goal. And I think I made mine too easy. I gave myself too much freedom. Instead of a lot of writing, I’ve been distracted. Granted, it gave me some new ideas, but it didn’t progress my story just yet. That is why I decided, today, that I need a firm deadline. At least something that feels like a firm deadline to me.
The new deadline
My new deadline is August 31st. It’s my birthday. And what better way to celebrate my birthday than to have the first draft of my story finished? It would be amazing to have it finished! I’ll just need to remind myself that the first draft doesn’t need to be perfect. Your first draft is messy, incomplete, might not be completely functional, but it is there.
I already have ideas on how to improve everything I’ve written so far (besides the obvious: I need loads of fantasy names!), but I’m sticking to finishing my first draft first.
Daily Word count Goal
And with that deadline comes a daily word count goal. The average fantasy story has about 100,000 – 125,000 words (give or take a few thousand). To make sure I’ll make that and have something extra to work with, I’ve set my daily word count goal to 2,000 words (give or take a few hundred).
To help me achieve my goal, I’ve decided to keep a writing record here on a daily basis from now on. I hope it will work for me.
So, today I wrote 1,990 words. Finished one particular tough scene, added another and I might have to include yet another scene before this chapter is finished. But that’s okay. I’m getting there!