ScriBuJo 23 (En)

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Year’s objectives

We’re getting back to the more optimization-oriented part of the ScriBuJo because it’s a productivity tool before it is a writing tool

You understood the concept behind weekly or monthly objectives, now we’ll cover yearly objective since the ScriBuJo is meant to be used in the long term. On the other hand, if you plan to take a break in your writing activities, it’s useless to fill it: it’d just be full of nothing.

As usual, I will ask you to prepare a nice list for the next time with the projects you want to take on, those you are nearly finished and those for whom you have pre-determined deadlines. You can also note the moments when you know you won’t be able to write (holiday, exams, health check-up, family outings…) to prepare a planning.

If you can’t plan until something as far as December, if you don’t have enough projects for now, or if to the opposite you have too many projects and can’t know for sure which one you’ll be working on durably, you can do your planning for three or six months. In the case of short stories’ anthologies or projects you’re not sure you’ll do, you can just write “project A/short stories 1” on your planning (for instance: « February: Short story 2 ») and write down the title when you know what you’ll be doing then.

ScriBuJo 22 (En)

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Reminder sheet (digest of the things you have to put into practice)

As you followed the latest articles, maybe you found strengths and weaknesses in your writings (maybe you were already aware of them). Even the best writers have their flaws and your goal will be to correct them in revisions. As Hemmingway said so well: « The first draft of anything is shit! ».

If you’re the kind to go less in length in your revisions than me, I don’t know if this page will be useful for you. It’s true that, by spending hours working on your text, you can lose the first draft’s freshness, but sometimes, it’s more than necessary.

It’s up to you to find what works for you and what you like, because it’s a very important but difficult step, especially if the new project you’re working on at the same time seems far more interesting than the one you have to rework on. If you don’t write to be published, the revision can be limited to an orthographic check.

If you have a reminder sheet so that you won’t forget anything you want to check for, you’ll save time.

I developed a checklist that I use for each scene during revision, with everything that I tended to forget – or, to the opposite, to overuse. Here is an excerpt:

  • clearly identifying the point of view’s character from the beginning of the scene and every time it changes
  • describing the place where the scene is happening if it changed from the last time
  • avoiding the talking head syndrome (when people don’t do anything except talking so that they could as well be floating heads)
  • taking off dialogues tags (“he shouted”, “he said”). It’s not about taking off every single them of them, but putting one into each sentence is useless and excessive).

I’ll come back to this later and, anyway, I’ve got two ebooks about checklists that I will present to you later.

There’s no need to do a fancy checklist or to decorate it, it’s for your eyes only. The simpler you keep it, the more you’ll want to use it. At least, that’s how I work and I noted that the quality of my writing was much better afterwards (and that revisions got much easier, too!).

 

ScriBuJo 21 (En)

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Notes about books in your genre

Same story than the last article and the second-to-last article. If you understood what made you react to something in a book, take note of it. One day, maybe you will want to create the same effect or to avoid it, so it will be useful to be able to find the author and the relevant passage rather than searching through the twelve volumes of the Sword of Truth (not that it happened to me, since I always take notes… But I’ll have to reread the first books since I haven’t studied them yet).

You don’t have to take notes for every book you read. You can have a good time with a book that doesn’t have anything particularly noteworthy.

I don’t advise you write a literary critique, either (on the matter of your writing studies, at least: if you want to do it, it’s your life!). The goal here is solely to put forward the things that you would like to recreate or to avoid.

Tomorrow will be the last time you’ll have to do something in matters of writing!

ScriBuJo 20 (En)

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List of books in the genres you write in

Many professional authors, such as Stephen King, advise you read a lot if you are a writer. “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time to write”, he says in his book – On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Making a list of books to read is still the best way to make progress on your craft and to check how far along you are. No, reading the Harry Potter saga for the fifteenth time doesn’t count! However, rereading one volume that you especially liked (or disliked) to attempt to understand what made you feel that way – that is relevant.

If you write in a lot of genres, which can happen, you can create separate lists with fewer titles in each. I will propose a few books in an ulterior post, but you can already comment with your favourite or most hated! Just precise the genre.

As for myself, in the fantasy genre, I would put Dragonriders of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey (especially the first two trilogies; I’m currently reading the rest. All of her books until now are my favourite, especially Dragonsong, but I hate the heroine – though, luckily, she gets better afterwards) and The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.

As for books I “didn’t like” (not that I really hated them, but I mostly read them to know where the story was going and because people were telling me they were awesome), there is the Lancedragon trilogy (Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, Dragons of Spring Dawning), by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, and the Blizzard novels (World of Warcraft and Diablo) by Richard A. Knaak. I like the stories, but his way of narrating… Yiiirk! I ended up forcing myself to read five pages at a time sometimes and I continued out of love for the universes and characters.

You can grade each book according to whether you liked them or not. You can also do so for the titles you remember enough or decide to put them on a “to reread” list to study them. And if you remember the last two articles, you can guess what we will cover tomorrow!

 

ScriBuJo 19 (En)

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Today’s page is closely related to yesterday’s one. If a book was useful to you, you probably got some goods tips and advice from it. You will write them down (summarised, of course) here so that you can come back to them later. That way, you won’t have to dig up the relevant page every time you need it.

Put the book’s title as a subtitle, then your notes were written the way that’s more organic for you: with keywords, dash, complete sentences… Do as you prefer, it’s not a competition.

Some books are impossible to summarise, like the thesaurus collection on characters traits or emotions that I’ve got.

ScriBuJo 18 (En)

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Listing books about writing

If you write seriously (I’m speaking about your attitude about writing, not the genre of your books!), you’ll end up reading books about writing to improve your skills. You don’t have to do that if you see it more as a hobby, but as for me, it’s my job.

I’d advise you make a list of the book that caught your eyes. That way, you won’t forget any title when the time come to buy them (happens to me all the time). You’ll also be sure of what you’ve already read. It’s hard to remember after a while, especially if you’re dealing with ebooks since you don’t often see their covers as a visual reminder.

You can take advantage of the list to “grade” books and keep a record of your opinion about the author. With time, as you learn and practice, some books will be useless for you. Therefore, it’s useless to buy the five books of So-and-so if the first one didn’t help you. Though maybe the others will be aimed at more seasoned authors, and thus more adapted to your case.

In summary, this is a homework page, because learning is never a waste.

ScriBuJo 17 (En)

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This is a direct continuation or yesterday! If you didn’t read it, it’s here.

Now, you’re free to do whatever you want (I know, it’s the concept of the ScriBuJo, but I won’t even give you a plan here, there’s no net). You’ll have to list every useful information about each concept relevant to your universe and fill accordingly. There’s no need to write down everything on the background of a species if everything you need while writing is a quick refresher that they’re smalls, squat, yellow-eyed creatures with blue spiky hair and with hairy legs. On the contrary, if they really, really hate shrimp and spit on every green object they see, you have to write it.

I’ll go over it again in a few weeks, to show you how I make my own sheets, but you shouldn’t forget that I’m an extreme plotter, so I’m a control freak that writes down everything I can. You absolutely don’t need to get that far. That being said, I’ll show them anyway, because it can give you ideas (not only to show off).

The next part will be a little less brainy, more action in the long term, see you!

ScriBuJo 16 (En)

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Each story, each universe have its own rules. In Fantasy and Science-Fiction (as well as Science-Fantasy and such), there is additional data you have to take into account: characters’ species, maybe their classes or functions amidst the group (yeah, I’m a role-player, and proud of it), their culture/planet/region of origin, their religion and everything else that is unique to your universe. Each piece of data, if useful, should be written. You’ll start a list of additional data and – if useful – some sub-lists (my sub-lists are digital).

For example:
Main list:
Races: Hobbit, Dwarf, Elves, Human, Ent.

Sub-lists:
Hobbit: Sam, Pippin.
Human: Boromir, Aragorn.

You may think it’s useless to keep a list of characters species by species. I strongly suggest you complete each character’s sheet with their species and then make a sheet about each species, delving into its characteristic and relevant background. There is nothing more frustrating than having had great ideas that you forgot about or wrote down on a random scrap of paper that you lost – thus having to start from scratch.
Next part tomorrow, with sheets for each class/race/planet/everything you want. Prepare your creative muscles!

ScriBuJo 15 (En)

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Today, a little bit more work, but if inspiration doesn’t come, you can fill it later. But if you do so after the final revision, there’s no use. :p

Depending on how you’re using settings on your texts, you can delve into details or take a few notes. Write one or two things about the place, such as its appearance or its general mood.

Take, for example, a graveyard. It’s something fairly common, but there’s a big difference between a military graveyard that you visit in the middle of the day in a big city and the small-town desolate graveyard that you wander into at midnight.

On one hand, you have lined-up graves separated by clear, clean ways. On the other hand, you can only see shapes, amongst which some strange ones, plants can take over the place and you can miss the main way if it turns and you don’t.

You don’t need to write everything. I’d say you’ll cover the basics with the following list:

  • Name
  • Localisation
  • Notes

It’s really quick, but I only show the pantser and plantser way. A more in-depth post will be done once I’ll have a definitive method to make mine.

And tomorrow, we’ll continue on this way, with an adaptable sheet for your projects!

 

ScriBuJo 14 (En)

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Why change a winning formula? We’ll be doing the same thing than yesterday, except we’ll be talking about places, not characters. It doesn’t seem great said that way, but whether your story is set in real places or whether you create them from scratch, it can be useful to takes some notes. Just knowing where it is to avoid putting Strasbourg in the south of France or Chicago in the place of New York (I’m exaggerating :p but if you’re setting your novel in a foreign place, it’s useful to use a map).

Today, as the day before yesterday, you don’t have much homework: just write a list per projects. You can choose to mention only special places or put them all if they are important. Depending on your way to do it and the meaning it holds, you can choose Hogwarts or zoom into the potions’ room or one of the Houses’ dorm.

As for characters, use one page by project, with enough space to write down the page where you put each place’s sheet. Depending on your page’s size and your writing, you can make one or more columns.

The second part, tomorrow!