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Everything posted by Manu

  1. Welcome to the march check-in thread for the Worldsmyths Community Writing Challenge 2019! Checking in to update your wordcount You can either tell us the number of words you wrote since your last check-in (words to add), or keep track of your total and post your updated total wordcount (new total) - simply choose the option that is more convenient for you. You don't have to do any calculating, our spreadsheet will do that for you. Simply copy and paste this form - you only have to provide one of the numbers, you can ignore the other one: For those of you who prefer to not reset your wordcount each month, I added the option to tell us your overall total of all challenge months to the spreadsheet. I'm reacting to the posts that have been copied into the spreadsheet with the "Nice" lightbulb emoji - if you think I mistyped ypur wordcount, missed your update, or something is wrong, let me know. If I haven't reacted to your post yet, I simply haven't had the time to update the spreadsheet yet. It would be absolutely awesome if that emoji could be reserved for marking updates, 'coz it will make updating much easier - feel free to use any other emoji if you want to react to someone's post 🙂 So how does this spreadsheet thing work? I proudly present this year's wordcount spreadsheet! It looks a bit different from last year's, because I figured scrolling vertically to get to your own stats is better than scrolling horizontally, like it was last year. In order to access your individual stats, click on the "+" left of your name, and the sheet should expand and show them. Bug reports concerning the spreadsheet can be posted here in this thread as well.
  2. I found this one quite hard to twist, since the most obvious twist is almost a trope in itself: The sidekick is not brave, but simply stupid 😛 So I came up with a more original twist, but it's rather tragic than comedic - the sidekick is suicidal and what looks like bravery is in reality someone who's trying to get themselves killed on purpose. Trying to twist that one to make it a little more funny, here's what I came up with: The sidekick has recently lost a relative and desperately wants to reconnect with them in the afterworld. The problem is: Killing yourself doesn't get you to the afterworld, but to the underworld, so that is not an option. The sidekick joined the hero's quest in order to make their own death meaningful - dying a martyr and for a good cause, achieving both their own goal to get to the afterworld, and helping save the world. Only... it didn't work out as planned, and no matter how risky their actions seem, the sidekick miraculously survives every single time they risk their own life in order to save the hero. Now the hero even thinks they are deeply indebted to the sidekick, and tries to protect their companion wherever they can in return. The sidekick silently curses both fate and the hero, and they are running out of ideas how to get killed. New trope: The evil overlord who wants to destroy everything. Because... well, because they're evil.
  3. Wordcounts should be updated in the spreadsheet until here. @Elena: Fixed it. @Storycollector: The numbers you posted in the last two check-ins (the ones I reactet to with the confused emoji) don't add up (words to add + previous total is not the same as the new total you provided). Please check your previous check-ins and the spreadsheet and let me know which numbers are the correct ones. It's enough if you post either words to add or new total, the spreadsheet doesn't need you to do any math 🙂 @Jedi Knight Muse: The new total you posted on Friday (the one with the confused emoji) is smaller than the total you had before that check-in - I put the other numbers you posted as "words to add" in the spreadsheet, please let me know if it's correct that way. Worldsmyths users have written: 173,516 words so far, that's 10,207 words per day on average! Wow, 10k per day on average, that's awesome! Keep writing, and have a wordy week!
  4. Manu

    Fixing a Character Megapost

    I think I don't get some of these questions, but here are my thoughts: How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? Changing stuff to make the characters more different, if they are important characters - if their voices are too similar, chances are their personalities are as well. Or they're simply too flat, then "they sound too similar" tells me that I should take a break from writing the story, take a step back and flesh the characters out more. If they are not important characters, I'll question if I need them at all and chances are I'll cut one of them or combine them into one person. Or if it fits the plot, do something funny and gimmicky, like making them twins or siblings that are supposed to be similar - obviously, this one should be used sparingly. How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? That's one of the questions I don't get - what problem are we even talking about? Guess I'll have to listen to the episode to get more context. How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive? Same as with side characters that sound too similar - I don't, I'll often end up cutting inactive characters or combining them with a more active one. What function does this character have in a story? Can any other character fulfill it as well? Why do I need to keep this character at all? How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys? Giving them plausible motives. Making them relatable. I'm a fan of gray antagonists - they might be more ruthless (or desperate) than the protagonists in getting what they want, but they need a motivation and a goal, and there are obstacles they have to overcome to reach their goals (which is often where the protagonists come in - either the protagonists happen to be those obstacles, or they have a goal that clashes with the protagonists' goal). How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character? I don't. I'm terribly bored by powerful characters, so I don't write them 😛 Well, at least not as POV characters - powerful mentors, advisors or antagonists are fine. How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting? By making them relatable. Defining their goals, motivation, conflicts, and values. Giving them challenges that resonate with me and hopefully with readers as well. How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot? That's another one I don't get - if a character's interests don't mesh with the plot, why are they there in the first place? I guess the answer would be "add a meaningful subplot or cut the character"? If the manuscript already exists and is finished, the plot obviously gets resolved without that character just fine, so what is that character's function? If there is none, there's no reason to keep the character. (Yep, I'm a plot-driven writer, in case someone didn't suspect that yet)
  5. Manu

    "Said is Dead" and Dialogue Tags

    That is exactly my opinion on the topic as well. Overusing synonyms does a lot more harm than using 'said' a little too often. Personally, I have never struggled with dialogue, it's probably what comes most easily to me (I have to put much more thought in descriptions), which is probably also the reason why my writing tends to be dialogue-heavy. So it's not easy to pin down what exactly I am doing, but rereading some of my stuff, I tend to use sentences that show what a character does to replace 'said'. "Shut up!" She slammed the door. / "What?" XY frowned. Stuff like that. Apart from that, as long as there are only two characters talking, not every line of dialogue needs its own tag, a reader can follow a couple of lines of dialogue even if there are no tags at all, a reminder every couple of lines is enough. Character voice plays an important role here - the more distinguishable the characters' voices are, the longer a piece of dialogue can cope without tags.
  6. I'm finally procrastinating and finding the time to respond to this instead of doing the stuff I should be doing 😛 My WIP is all about twisting tropes, that was the very inspration for it - there is a chosen one, but she dies and another girl (the protagonist) has to take her place, but she has no clue of what she is doing. In the first version, the real chosen one's kid brother was her mentor, teaching the protagonist about his deceased sister, so she would manage to pass as the girl she never knew - simply for having a kid mentor who's younger than the mentee. It turned out to have too little substance to carry a novel length story, so her new mentor is a weird old man who "discovered" the chosen one and became her teacher. He puts a lot of pressure on the protagonist and pushes her into a role she will never be able to fill, so in the new version, the mentor is the antagonist. Oh, and there are the norsemen, who are a quite martial tribe that raids villages ... only that they are stealing lace curtains and lace tableclothing, which later turns out to be protection against a plague of mosquitos that transmit fever and have already killed a lot of children and elderly from the tribe. The final step to peace and security is that the young baron (who is the second protagonist) collects the taxes in lace instead of grain and offers them to the norsemen as part of their peace negotiations. Here's a random one and my twist on it, up for adoption: The powerful artifact There's a powerful artifact that needs to be protected from evil conquerors - only that nobody knows what it does. But it must be important, after all it was the item the king's court mage held pressed to his chest when he died of a poisoned arrow from the evil invaders! A band of heroes is formed to protect the item, get it out of the castle and bring it to a wise old mage on the other end of the country. They face and overcome plenty of dangers on their journey... only to find out the other mage doesn't know what it does either. Returning to the caste empty-handed, they find a little girl and her mother mourning at the court mage's grave. Turns out the woman is the mage's lover and the little girl his daughter, who lived in a nearby village instead of moving to the castle, and the powerful artifact was just a gift his little daughter had given to him. The damsel in distress What if the princess who is kept prisoner in a far-away tower protected by a dragon isn't really a prisoner, but simply likes being alone? Her pet dragon helps to keep unwanted visitors away. If some "hero" slayed her dragon to "rescue" her, I guess she'd be quite pissed 😄 Do you think this thread would work as a forum game - one person posts a trope, and the next has to twist it and post a new trope? Might be fun 😄
  7. Wordcounts should be updated in the spreadsheet until here. Worldsmyths users have written: 111,227 words so far, that's 8556 words per day on average! Keep writing, and have a wordy week!
  8. Not a problem at all, @Mynoris - bug reports were even supposed to go to the check-in thread, as I'm quite busy and not actively following any of the other threads. So for bug reports, either post them in the check-in thread or make sure to tag me if you post them elsewhere, otherwise there's a good chance I'll miss it. I have no idea why it doesn't work, it should be working - the spreadsheet link only gives you viewing rights, but expanding grouped cells should absolutely be covered with that. @Jedi Knight Muse even has ediitng rights and it doesn't seem to work, which makes me think that it must be a bug on google's side. As a workaround, I simply expanded all of them myself now and left them that way - more scrolling (which is why I did the grouping and minimizing in the first place, meh), but the only solution I can think of right now. Let me know if you can at least see everything now, please 🙂
  9. Sorry for the late update, but here are some stats: Worldsmyths users have written: 78,487 words in march, that's 9811 words per day on average! Keep up the good work, everyone! And since I found out the spreadsheet doesn't seem to be as self-explanatory as a spreadsheet geek like myself would have thought, here are some screenshots to show you what it can do - you can access your individual stats by clicking on the "+" on the left next to your username in the spreadsheet: Click there, and voilà: In the columns on the right (where it says Mar 01 - Mar 02 - Mar 03 in the screenshot) you can see the individual wordcount updates - should be the same numbers you posted here 🙂
  10. I added you to the spreadsheet, @Amblygon, @Tigtogiba34, @Storycollector, @M.N. Lanthier and @ZillieR00. It's in alphabetical order for those who signed up before the month started, and in order of signing up for those who signed up after march 1st, so you can find your stats at the end of the list 🙂
  11. Manu

    How to edit book recommendations

    Here's some bookmarks I saved in my browser (and never used, so don't ask me if they're good advice - they seemed good when I skimmed them): One-Pass Manuscript Revision: From First Draft to Last in One Cycle | Holly Lisle: Official Author Homepage How to Edit Your Book in 4 Steps 25 Steps To Edit The Unmerciful Suck Out Of Your Story « terribleminds: chuck wendig Fiction University: At-Home Workshop: Revise Your Novel in 31 Days Books about editing I am planning to read when I find the time: Roy Peter Clark: Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (this one is about improving writing style on a language level, not about the big picture of editing) Shawn Coyne: The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know (seems to focus more on the bigger picture, seems quite technical and reviews say most of the content is available on his blog for free, so might be worth checking that out) Sol Stein: Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies (this is the one I'm probably going to read soonest, as it's already on my book shelf - it was recommended to me two times by people who work in the editing business and the German translation seems to be one of the standard textbooks on editing around here)
  12. I thought it would be nice to have a thread where everyone can post their latest successes and accomplishments - just a nice little chatter topic to pat outselves and others on the shoulder. What have you accomplished that you're proud of and that you'd like to share with the world?
  13. Updated both in the spreadsheet!
  14. I'm sorry to hear about your granddad 😞 I have adjusted your goal in the spreadsheet. I can't edit the list in the first post, though, @Jedi Knight Muse will have to do that. (Decreasing pledges is actually not possible according to the rules we worked out, but since this is a quite special case and the signups are still open anyway, I think it shouldn't be a problem - fellow organizing team members, let me know if you disagree.)
  15. Manu

    Forum Writing Games

    I'd like that! I usually don't enjoy the writing games that focus on playing with our characters (what would your character do, stuff like that) - I'm a plot-driven writer, this kind of games simply is not for me. Others will enjoy those, though, so don't hesitate to start one of these 🙂 Of the games I enjoyed a lot, the predictive text title game comes to my mind (we could play that one using title generators instead of predictive text on phones), and the 2 truths, 1 lie game we played in the past.
  16. I proudly present this year's spreadsheet! Everyone who signed up so far should be in there, names are in alphabetical order. Everyone who signs up between now and the deadline will be added to the end of the list, in the order of signing up. @Jedi Knight Muse I'm still unsure whether or not to join in this month, just in case you were wondering. I might sign up late, or join in April.
  17. Congrats @Elena, and I really like that snippet of the scene you posted, @Jedi Knight Muse! I submitted another short story yesterday - I'm getting better, it was three and a half hours before the deadline this time 😛 With that, I have officially reached my goal of submitting more short stories in 2019 than I did in 2018 - which wasn't that hard, because I only submitted one in 2018 😉 I'll see how far I can get with short story submissions and try to do more - one for each month of the year would be cool.
  18. Manu

    Worldsmyths Million 2019 Discussion

    As @Jedi Knight Muse said, there will be a seperate thread for signing up. We're doing monthly pledges, you'll have to sign up for each month separately, so unless you're planning to write 150k in the month of march, you should also set a lower goal 🙂
  19. Why would anyone assume it's a prologue? The plot continues, there's no skipping of time, just a different POV character because the first one just got unconscious. Quoting myself: I've never come across a single book review where someone said "It bothered me that some chapters were really short". Neither the publishing house I did an internship with nor the literature agency I'm working for now have an issue with short chapters, they literally don't care. Short chapters are fine, they can even be used intentionally for increasing the pacing. I mean... you're the one who needs to be happy with your work, and if it really bothers you, you should go ahead and change it. But from a reader's POV or a publishing perspective, there's no problem with short chapters. The first chapter introduces the main character - she's brave, adventurous and willing to sacrifice a lot in order to save her brother, that's what we learn from it. We also get to know the golems and learn how dangerous they are - do they play a role later? What about the details about Alana's personality? Can you work them into one of the other early Alana chapters? Yes, I would assume Kassel is the main character if the first chapter was in her POV. I'd probably quickly find out she isn't, but I'd expect her to play at least an important role.
  20. I don't regularly run into this problem, but when I do, I simply insert a placeholder and worry about it later ("[He eats, and when he's finished this conversation happens:]" is an example of a non-final first sentence I used). If it helps you to get started, you could simply insert some random stuff that you'll edit out later, like a sentence about the weather. Aaaaand, this just made me think: "Or simply insert some random swearing. ... Wait, this could actually work for one of my protagonists in my WIP... o_O I'm SO doing this!"
  21. There will be a thread for it. I believe we had planned to set it up one week before the 1st day of the month, and it will be possible to sign up within the first week of the month, so 2 weeks in total to pledge.
  22. I just submitted a little short story to an anthology - like, nine minutes before the deadline, lol 😄
  23. Manu

    Adopt a premise/story idea

    That reminds me of Isaac Asimov's Nightfall - I read the novel adaptation by Robert Silverberg more than 10 years ago and loved it. I had almost forgotten about it and just put Asimov's original short story on my to read list, so thanks a lot for bringing this up!
  24. Manu

    Zero drafts

    I've never heard the term 'zero draft', but it sounds a bit like a mix of outlining and brainstorming. I don't think I do something like this, I have a stage of brainstorming where I write down all the ideas that come to my mind before I try to organize them and come up with the conflicts, theme, story structure etc., but it's very disorganized and not close at all to something I'd call a 'draft'. It's more like a disorganized mind map and stuff isn't noted down in the order of events, but in the order they come to my mind and where there is some space left on the paper (or envelope - I do a hell of a lot of brainstorming on the envelopes of the letters I got for some reason). Once I have used my chaotic brainstorming method to note down ideas, I usually quickly start organizing it via a modified version of the snowflake method. So I go from the stage of "wild idea brainstorming" to developing an outline and/or scene list, and after that I continue with the first draft. I usually write chronologically, but sometimes skip scenes when I realize I need to do more research or worldbuilding in order to get it right. I often write a summary of the skipped scene with what happens, bits of information I have researched for it, and short snippets of dialogue or description if I can think of any before I move on - I guess that's the closest thing to a 'zero draft' that I do, but I never did it for more than a handful of scenes. Thinking about it - I don't think it would work for me. The snowflake method has a step where you write a scene summary for each scene, which actually sounds a lot like a 'zero draft'. It's one of the reasons why I modified the snowflake method for my needs, because this part simply didn't resonate with me at all. I think it would make me lose interest in writing the story, because it's so close to a first draft that writing an actual first draft wouldn't feel like progress to me, lol. It's a case of over-planning, I guess - if you plan too much, it feels like the story has already been told and there's no point in writing it down then. I need the earlier steps to make sure my story is going to work structure-wise, though, so skipping those and doing a 'zero draft' instead won't work for me.