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Media Monday, Written Words Wednesday: Books

Was it all that you wanted? Along with a hype you up pep talk

TWD, that zombie show, or The Walking Dead, had its season premier Sunday night. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. It was worth it.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Just as all was lost the Amazonian Styled Warrior Queen, Carol, came to the rescue. Close cropped hair and all. She’s learned how to handle firearms and formulate plans like an NCO in the 5th Special Forces Group, and goes about her business like an unemotional hit man.

Still wondering what happened to Beth Green? Me too. I’m thinking she’s with this next group of sociopaths, and word has it she is a part of that group. I could be wrong.

The Terminus group smacks of the antagonists/symbols of a Cormac McCarthy novel (have I ever mentioned how I really like Cormac?). That cannibalism thing is in TWD comics, and in just about every novel he wrote. It must be some sort of fetish. High school classrooms probably buzzed Monday morning with adolescent boys detailing how they would have handled things, and if I know teenage boys they don’t think the script writers went far enough with the smack down the residents of Terminus should have received. Seriously. Who leaves an enemy as heinous as that sitting around (George Bush did it, doesn’t mean you have too)? This is war people! Hand out the ammo and get to killin’. But that wouldn’t leave room for conflict, which is what the show is all about.

Do we kill the kid in the barn because he is associated with a hostile group?

Do we kill the people infected with the super flu before they infect the rest of us and we all die?

Do we kill the little girl who went crazy and stabbed her sister to prove a theory about zombies?

The answer? Of course you do. Why? Because that’s the way it goes in a dystopian world of zombie plagues. Without it there would be no conflict. It is the logical answer, but unless the characters questioned the logic, and struggled with it being the logical thing, the story would suck.

I’m still wanting to see Infinite Horizon brought to a screen. It might be too much for television, and budgets may have everything to do with it. But I’m telling all of you that is a great story.

NANOWRIMO

It’s coming up. Each November National Novel Writing Month cranks up. I’ve thought about signing on for it, but it never struck me as something to participate in. What is it? A social media thing for writers? An electronic writing class? After deliberating the merits of the thing, which offer no rewards other than personal, I concluded it is a good thing (I just ripped off Martha Stewart). Here is why:

1. You write: For somebody doing freelance gigs this will give you an opportunity to focus on what you want to do for 30 whole days. It also puts a goal out there. 50,000 words. Vomit your ideas out and be done with it. There isn’t a commitment after that. There is no editor or agent calling you telling you about a deadline, or asking you “Where are you at with the antagonist?” Is there any accountability? Nope. You hold yourself accountable, unless you decide to partner up with another writer and then you check each other every few days. It’s an encouragement thing.

2. You might write something: By something I of course mean publishable. Over 100 works written during NANOWRIMO have been picked up by publishing houses. Any good ones? I must admit I don’t think I have read any of them, so I cannot attest to the literary goodness of the works. Water for Elephants, The Night Circus, Persistence of Memory, and The Darwin Elevator, were written by people participating in NANOWRIMO. They were picked up, after an editing job, and one of them made it to the screen. So yes, you do have the possibility of writing something that gets published. How that happens is up to you.

3. Anybody can do it: You know that Eragon book? That kid, yes he was a kid, wrote it while laid up with a broken leg. Most MFA graduates and instructors will tell us anybody can learn the craft of fiction writing on their own. Those programs are for people seeking the company of like minded people. The same goes for NANOWRIMO. There are teenagers, housewives, teachers, doctors, lawyers, college dropouts, pizza delivery professionals, and everything else scribbling and typing a story. If had been around when Grisham started he would have done it (I’m just guessing).

4. It gives you something to work with: In the end you will have a mass of crap on a screen. Just words. It won’t be good. Hemingway said so, “The first draft of anything is shit.” See, and he got a Nobel and Pulitzer. Once you dump your idea into a first draft you can step away. It’ll be on the heels of Christmas, so that should give you ample time to mull things over. In January come back, hack and slash, grammar check, diagram the plot and characters, rewrite, then review it. Now it’s February, or close to it. Shop it around to an agent, do some query letters, and see what happens. If you never dumped it onto the page you would spend your time returning gifts or spending those ubiquitous gift cards. There is only so much Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks a person can consume. Save it for March.

5. You’ll be a writer: The thing is, if you don’t write you aren’t one. Sure there is that whole get published thing, but in this day that is easy enough to do. Small presses and self publishing make it possible, you just have to research how to go about it. But first you need a product.

6. It’s cheesy: For a guy to do this it is almost ridiculous, but… For crying out loud, there are other guys home from Afghanistan doing it. They will write out some story about them before, during, or after the war and they will shop it around. Trust me, they will. And it will see a press, and it will be reviewed, and it will sell. In all honesty, this is no different than giving yourself a time limit and word goal. With NANOWRIMO you have some sort of social media support group available, if you need it. If you don’t, simply plug in what you wrote, make it available for others to see, get a critique or two. Polish that turd when you’re finished.

So what do you need to get started on this?

Go to the NANOWRIMO website and sign up.

If you want, choose a region. By being in a region you will receive email updates about meet ups. You will also want to check out the forums for the nuts and bolts or craft. There are some good articles regarding plot creation, characterization, and dialogue. You would do well to research these things before November as you will want to simply write to keep up the pace. Go check out other websites regarding craft as well.

Get Evernote. This will help you conduct research, which you should start ASAP. Devote a weekend to it. I did. Make notebooks for characters, plot, setting, and just general information. If you write a historical novel this will be your biggest help. You could just wing it, but I think you will get bogged down.

Do some research about how you want your plot to flow. Put together some story notes, a little about characters, something about setting, and maybe throw an outline of the story timeframe in there.

November 1st, start writing. Shoot for 1700 words per day. That will give you some wiggle room over the next thirty days. Do it for an hour a day during the week, and two or more hours on the weekends. But do it every single day. It will be your part-time job, and words are your money. The goal being to amass 50,000 words in thirty days. Remember this, that is not a lot. 50,000 words is bare bones length. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Great Gatsby were around 50,000 words. Anybody can write that amount.

Hit me up on the NANOWRIMO (JasonHCook, I’m in the Kennesaw, Georgia region). I don’t plan on throwing much up on here, except for a few articles I find during the research phase. For the record this post contains over 1400 words and took me about twenty minutes to write. And that’s with me flipping back and forth to other websites.

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