Tag Archives: story bible

NaNo 11: Calendars and Timelines

I suck at timelines. I usually end up with scrawled lists on bits of paper and so far I haven’t inserted a timeline in any of my story bibles except for the one that spans 5000 years (and that’s just to keep track of my vampire family trees). But as I was picking through my day planner while planning my latest (and hopefully ‘the one’ since I have what? A day to get distracted?) NaNo plot bunny, I realised what I needed was a calendar.

So I went to FreePrintableCalendar.net and printed off six months worth.

100_6645 Oh. My. God. So freaking easy to plan out the major events in my book and so bloody logical I have no idea why it’s never occurred to me before. I’ve pasted these into the back of my story bible and once again, I’m filling them in as they come to me.

This will possibly be my last blog post (except for Flash Fiction Fridays—I’ll keep doing those as long as people keep writing for it) before NaNo. I start writing at midnight tonight (but that’s past my bed time, so perhaps first thing in the morning) and I don’t know how much time I’ll have for blogging.

I’ve decided to write under my original fiction penname for NaNo this year. Some of you know it already, if you do, you’re one of the lucky few ;)

Anyway, thanks for hanging about during the lead up to NaNoWriMo, it’s been heaps of fun :D


NaNo 11: Scenes

One thing I don’t do when I’m planning, is detail each and every scene. And I do definitely look funny at people who do. You don’t know every single scene up front before you write your book. If you do, what’s the point in writing it?

Okay, enough snark. Yeah, I’m a pantser at heart, despite the planning. I do have a section of my story bible (the big red green book) labelled ‘scenes and ideas’ though. I divide the pages up by halves or thirds and use that space to just jot down scene ideas that pop into my head, or general story arc ideas. It’s for everything that doesn’t go elsewhere in the book. If it relates to a specific character or the relationship between two characters, it doesn’t go there. But scenes, sometimes the seed of a world-buildy idea if it needs more time to percolate but I might forget the seed, yeah, that stuff goes in the back.

100_6319 I’m allowed to make mistakes here. This part is for those times when I’m doing the laundry or the dishes and suddenly a fully formed scene or part of a scene pops into my head. Rather than forgetting it, adding it to the notes app on my phone, or writing it down on a stupid piece of paper that I’m only going to lose anyway, I grab the appropriate book and write it down.

Then I can safely forget it until I’m writing. I’m thinking that before I start writing this will be a section of the book that will need a thorough read through—likely while I’m writing it will need an occasional peruse, too, so I can either confirm that I’m on track with my idea or to completely cross a scene or idea off if it is going to clash with the way the book is going.

This section will also get a lot of use while I’m writing because I’m always looking ahead when I’m part way through a story, getting ideas, seeing how this action is going to effect the outcome, etc.

Are you still with me? OMFG, we now have a big red book story bible! Yeah, it might look a bit sparse now, but there’s still three weeks? till NaNo. That’s heaps of time to fill it up as the ideas and story come. Remember, don’t force it. It won’t kill you to wing it a bit, after all, that’s what NaNoWriMo is about, and I can almost guarantee that if you keep your story bible with you throughout the month it’ll fill up in the process of writing your novel.

This isn’t all you’re going to hear from me on NaNo ‘11. I’ll just keep talking till it starts and then I’ll likely disappear off the face of the earth ;) If you’re signed up at nanowrimo yet, feel free to add me to your writing buddies—I’m vampireisthenewblack over there—and leave your NaNo username in a comment so I can add you :)

NaNo 11: World Building

100_6321  Not all books need world building. Only two of my story bibles have sections for this—my vampire story, and the spec fic I’m doing for NaNo. Contemporary doesn’t need it, but if there are any rules in your world that are different from real life, make sure you have one. Or if you’re writing something with intrigue or mystery or something where you need a timeline…

Oh, fuck it. Leave space for world building anyway ;)

100_6320So, I break my world building section up into stuff like the rules of your world. How vampires are made, or what happened when the clock ticked over into 2000, or the history of the world (there’s generally something pretty huge way back that’s brought the story into being in my brain), and then I just write down whatever has made itself clear so far. Paragraphs, bullet points, whatever.

One thing I don’t do—and I keep repeating myself on this point—is force it. Let the rules and history and the canon of your world develop in your brain before you go squeezing it out on paper. Think about it. Talk about it, to anyone who will listen and feedback and discuss without telling you you’re mad. Avoid those people ;)

Once your world becomes real in your mind you can write it down. If it’s real to you me, it seems to make sense and I don’t have to do as much retconning after the first draft is finished.

And I’ll do almost anything to avoid the dreaded edits O.O

NaNo 11: What I’m Writing in November

So I had a huge list of possibilities for NaNo this year and big red books with characters and plots to prove it. I had a blog post planned where I was gonna ask for input on which story to write in November (and one of those choices was ‘hit a random plot generator at 11.59pm Oct 31st’).

And then it hit me.

I’d just bought another book in which to unload yet another of my brain-dwelling plot bunnies. And I started filling it in. And I started thinking about the story. And I started coming up with more detail to the story. And I started brainstorming with hubby (yes, I’m allowed to do that as long as I keep any slashiness out of the conversation).

I’m doing that story.

So. No ‘what should I write’ poll :( Instead I’m madly scrambling researching cloud computing and mobile technology. My story is set in 2050, in an alternate earth timeline where everything digital went poof on 1/1/00. Yes, it’s m/m, but the romance seems to be a very small part of the story so far.

You know what’s weird? The big red book for this story isn’t even red. It’s green. It was cheaper :D

Oh, and I’m writing by hand, too. Yes, this can be done legally for NaNoWriMo. Yes, it can be validated. Yes, I can win. :D I bought myself a spanking new ring binder the other day for it, with dividers. I figure I can use the dividers between chapters, keep it all nice and tidy. And I’m writing on pre-punched lined paper (we call it refill here). I figured out I will need at least 90 leaves to make my word count for the month. Yes, I’m a little OCD :p

I want new pens. With different coloured inks. I need to print out some of my character pics (yes, I ‘cast’ my characters) and paste them into my story bible (the big red green book). I need to do more research, follow more cloud and mobile geeks on G+ (if you are one, poke me so I can circle you or otherwise pick your brain).

And I’m bouncy-excited!

NaNo 11: Character Profiles

100_6318 Character profiles are one of the most important parts of my outlines. No, not because I need to know everything about a character before I start writing.

It’s because I have a memory like a sieve. Once again this comes down to my long term outlining. Many of the stories I’m outlining at the moment have been in my head for over a year. Some longer. It won’t surprise me if some of the story bibles I’ve been compiling remain on my shelf until next NaNo, still waiting to be written. Thing is, I think that’s okay. My characters (as well as the story) slowly develop over time. Organically. Naturally. They become real.

But, buggered if I can remember how old some of my characters are. Their histories. Their occupations.

The profile is more for noting important details than getting to know my character. I can’t force the characters (at least the major ones) into being. They live and grow in my imagination often over a very long period of time.

Then there are the characters that I’ve written before. One of my NaNo possibilities this year is the sequel to the first NaNovel I wrote. As I read the book to refresh my memory, I noted down all those little canon details on my characters that I will need for consistency. Another possibility is in the same universe as another of my previous stories, so I have canon details to stick to there, as well. Those were the easiest character profiles I ever filled out. Brand new characters are a little more difficult, but I recommend not forcing it. If you immediately ‘know’ what his favourite colour is, then by all means, toss it in there, but if you don’t, sit back and wait and see. It might not come to you for weeks, it might not come till you’re actually writing the story, or it might never come to you at all. I don’t believe that you need to know how he drinks his coffee or where he went to school. If it matters, it will come.


I set aside a page for each character, even the minor ones (because who knows what might come to light while I’m writing). If a major character has quite a long history (which happens sometimes when I write my vampires) I’ll give them two pages so I can let the bio spill onto the second page if necessary.

The fields I use vary, depending on the genre of the book. There’s the usual name, age, appearance type headings. I’m not sure how much you can see in this photo, but for Vital Depth II which is my vampire story, I have different groups of fields for my humans and my vampires. The vampires have: Name, Other Names, Age, Origin, Position (in the vampire hierarchy), Apparent Age, a bunch of appearance fields, Mate, Maker, Progeny, etc. My humans have: Full Name, Short Name, Age, Residence, Education, Occupation, the appearance stuff, Partner (which means spouse, other half etc), Birthdate, Orientation (because I write gay romance this is applicable), etc. Everyone gets at least half a page for a general biography. But all my books are different, each of my big red books have fields which suit that particular story.

Okay, I think I’m about done here for today :) VampSlash Halloween Fest authors, you can start sending me your stuff from now. You’ve got until the 30th of October to get them in. MAKE SURE YOU READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES.