Monthly Archives: October 2012

NaNoWriMo starts in…3 days?!?!

It blows my mind how quickly the time has gone. I mean come on, it feels like yesterday when I said “NaNoWriMo? That sounds fun. But it’s four months away – I’ve got plenty of time.”

Apparently not.

You see, I thought I would have planned much more by now. I thought I would get detailed character bios done, a fairly detailed plotline in place, a map drawn out, and so on. But what have I actually done? Two character bios and a meagre plot concept.

Yeah.

But who cares? That’s part of what NaNo’s about: not really knowing where your story is going to go, and wondering if and when you should add new characters or kill present ones. I’m hoping to draw my map by tonight, and a more fleshed-out plotline would be nice, but it’s definitely not essential. I’ve got OpenOffice installed on my computer (I’m writing this on my dad’s PC), and if you don’t know what that is, I highly suggest you check it out – it’s like Microsoft Word, only FREE! Here’s the link to install it (I promise you, it’s legitimately free; there’s no bugs or stuff like that, and if there are, then they get fixed anyway): http://www.openoffice.org

So I’m alright. I’m okay. It’ll be fun, trying to juggle writing 2000 words a day, writing a blog, uni work, and just general life.

Things are going to change for about a month

It’s true, otherwise I’d never be able to manage everything that I have to do. So, here’s how it’s going to work for the month of November:

1.) I will be posting only once a week (probably Monday, as it’s the best time for me).

2.) The content of my posts will be purely about NaNoWriMo, but I assure you things will be back to normal in December.

3.) Because of no. “2.)”, regular updates will be posted on both the Writer’s Cabinet’s Facebook page and @writerscabinet’s Twitter account (more on this later).

4.) I will, however, be posting another film review in early November (Skyfall), but this will be counted as a bonus post.

Get the most out of November

I know some of you are participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo, so I’ve decided to create an event on the Writer’s Cabinet’s Facebook page which you can all join, at least if you’ve already liked the page – if not, please do so! It’s here:

http://www.facebook.com/writerscabinet

The event will involve lots of motivational pictures, and anyone and everyone can share their current wordcount and their actual work, if they want to. But please join the actual event, as that is where everything will be posted:

http://www.facebook.com/events/419546628105009

So what are you waiting for? Join the event, and we can all share the excitement of November!

N.B. I will also be using my Twitter account, but it won’t be as often. Still, join it anyway – I’ll be posting exclusive stuff on both Facebook and Twitter!

Questions?

Feel free to write in the comments below if you’re unsure about what I said, or if you have an idea which will possibly make Writer’s Cabinet an even more enjoyable experience. 😉 Seriously though, if you have any questions or ideas, go ahead and write them below!

I think that might be it…at least, until next Monday’s post! By then I should be well into my story, but remember that key word: should! Remember to join the Writer’s Cabinet’s Facebook Page and Twitter feed, and I’ll see you all next week. 😀

‘Looper’ Film Review

Looper

Director/Directors: Rian Johnson

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, et al

Rating: 15 (U.K.)/ PG-13 (U.S.A.)

Release Date: 2012

Stars: 4 (Very good)

I hope you like time travel and telekinesis, because if you don’t, it’s doubtful you’ll like this movie. The movie’s plot revolves around loopers – trained assassins which kill targets from the future. However, only gangs are able to use time travel in the future, so when they need a body gone, they zap them back to the present day (in this case, 2044), where a certain looper takes them out. Loopers have only one rule: kill the target.

Even if the target is you.

The plot becomes reasonably complicated after this moment, so if you can’t get your head round paradoxes, forget this film. I’m trying to keep writing as few plot points as possible in this review, as I know people hate spoilers, and I loathe them with a vengeance myself. So without further ado – is this movie worth watching, and if so, how badly?

Well the opening scene is great, and if anything, a little shocking. Now ‘shocking’ doesn’t mean scary or “wow I wasn’t expecting that”, but it’s very sudden, and frankly, very well done. Yet whilst I didn’t say that this movie was scary, it is a little grim. One scene in particular, for me (which involved an older version of someone having something nasty done to them), wasn’t extremely pleasant to watch, which brings me to the review’s second point.

This film wasn’t at all what I was expecting. If you watched the trailer for Looperand thought, “Cool, that looks like a great action film,” I wouldn’t at all blame you for thinking that. But you’re wrong. Almost hopelessly wrong. This film is more of a slow-burner, and can be quite dramatic and moving at times. But whilst there are only a few action-filled scenes, that definitely does not stop it from being a good film. On the contrary, actually. The acting is superb, and there are three people in particular that stick in my mind: Sara (Emily Blunt), Abe (Jeff Daniels), and last but not least, Cid (Pierce Gagnon). I really want to focus on Gagnon for a minute. The sheer excellence of his acting in this film is extraordinary: he’s funny, charming, and basically, great. And to top it all off, he’s younger than me! I hope this little guy gets more acting roles soon, because he’s one good actor.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Also, kudos to the make-up department in making Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt look so similar. Sometimes it’s quite scary seeing them so much alike (I lied, the film is scary!), but it just adds to the entertainment factor of the film.

But, as always, there are negative points to this film. For one thing, the whole concept of gangs in the future and why only they can use time travel is totally ignored and forgotten about in the film; it was only explained in a sentence, and whilst I understand that it wasn’t an integral part of the film, it would still have been nice to have a bit of clarification. Secondly, there is unnecessary nudity (I mean that. There is absolutely no  point in seeing a woman’s top-half in this film) and swearing. While I understand that my view of swearing in films is highly different to the views of others, there were scenes where I’m sure the writers were adding swear words just to make the film ‘gritty and cool.’

Overall, though, a fantastic attempt at creating a witty yet dramatic film about time travel, unlike other silly attempts which only focus on the time travel aspect. I understand that this review is posted too late for you to see Looper in the cinema, but maybe, just maybe, this review was instead meant to be seen so you can all buy the DVD when it comes out on store-shelves!

Writer’s Cabinet’s Dictionary Series: Advertising

Hi guys! Well I’ve been wanting to do a long-running series about ‘words’ for a long time, and I pondered several ideas – this is the series I came up with. Basically, whenever I can, I’ll be looking for a word which takes my fancy from my dictionary (Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, Concise Edition) and writing a post about it: the word may spark a story which I’ll write; maybe it’ll remind me of an experience I once had, or a post about the art of writing. Whatever it is, I’m hoping every single word will be of worth to you. And now to begin the series! 😀

 

Advertising n the promotion of goods or services by public notices; advertisements; the business of producing adverts.

This will be more of a rant than a debate, but I’ll try to keep it as toned down as possible. 😛 When I saw this word, I didn’t think of adverts from the ’50s, with their nicely coloured posters and lovely smiling families. Instead I thought of today’s money-making ploys, and the way in which they do that, from TV adverts to huge billboards across towns and cities.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Why is the world so horrified that under-age drinking and casual sex is invading our streets and homes when they seem to do so little about it? Yes, there are groups that discuss these topics, and yes, some people manage to make a difference, but they overlook the little things (or big things, depending on your point of view). Fashion stores are advertising ‘the now’ clothing for children as young as five or six – some so revealing and horrible that it’s no wonder paedophiles lurk on street corners. Music videos – either online or on the television – are stuffed with scantily clad ladies and six-packed men, and the lyrics…well, the lyrics can be some disgusting that you might as well sing “Come and have sex with me all night.” With supermarkets and other such companies advertising cheap wines and other alcoholic beverages, is it any wonder that so many youths these days try to buy them? Clubs and pubs seem to be in our everyday conversation nowadays, and with youngsters being naturally curious, why wouldn’t they want to find out for themselves what all the ‘fuss’ is about? It’s sickening that people try to blame the pubs when they don’t even care about the money-makers hiding behind their dollar bills.Advertising is becoming alarmingly worse, and it’s not happening slowly. I wonder when the law will be changed so that 14 year-olds can have sexual intercourse legally (although stupidly nobody does anything about it when it happens illlegally), or when underage drinking is not considered to be breaking the law.This generation seems to think that we’re the most intelligent and prosperous, but the simple fact is that if we don’t straighten ourselves out quickly and efficiently, the next generation will be a bunch of sex-driven, alcohol-induced fools, and that isn’t far from the truth now.

That’s my opinion, but do YOU agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Update on my arguably boring life…

Well hellooo; I didn’t really have much time to prepare a post for all of you lovely people here today, so instead I’m going to give you an update on my life in general. My university degree is going well (Creative Writing), and there are a couple of fairly easy assignments due in the next few weeks. I am enjoying the writing aspect very much, and I’m doing things which are out of my comfort zone – this should hopefully improve my writing. NaNoWriMo begins in eleven days, and I’m still nowhere near finished with my planning, but it doesn’t truly matter, because it’s all part of the fun, right? 🙂 That’s pretty much all that’s interesting in my life right now, which is a little disappointing for you, so here’s a random picture for you all:

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

The point of this photo, and whether it is necessary or not, is extremely debatable. 😛 Hope the remainder of your weekend is great! 😀

 

 

Falling Flames: a 50/50 story (Part 3)

Before we begin, may I apologise for not publishing a post yesterday – if I’m honest, I was just too lazy! Anyway, what a predicament Jasmine is in! Her mother seems to be dead and her two choices are going to the temple or continuing on. But which will she choose? Ready? Here we go!

_______________

Jasmine was exhausted, and carrying her mother on her back did not help. But she could not go up to the temple; it was too far. The climb looked horrendous and overhanging thorns and weeds determined her decision even more. She would continue on.

*

The sun was scorching both earth and flesh. At least, that’s what it felt like. The sun was at its highest in the sky, and still Jasmine had found no sign of people; no house or cottage was in sight. Her lips had cracked and split over an hour ago, but all she could do was wipe off the blood; there was no water to wash her mouth with. And then she saw it.

A thatched roof rising above the hill.

She thought it was a vision. A mirage, even. But it was there, almost eager to welcome weary travellers.

Or dying travellers.

Jasmine suddenly had a burst of strength and speed, and she limped quickly towards the thatched roof, her mother bouncing limply on her back. She reached it in a matter of minutes, and she nearly cried when she saw what the thatched roof was.

It was a small cottage, complete with a vegetable patch and wary cat. Bits of broken carrot and lettuce scattered the cramped yard, and trees shaded the entire area.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

‘Help!’ she sputtered, cracking her lip again from the effort of even moving her lips. ‘Somebody help us! My mother is…’ Jasmine glanced backwards, looking at her mother. Deathly still. ‘My…my mother is unwell!’ She hung her head.Scratches could be heard from inside, followed by a creaking of the front door. It swung open.

An old man appeared in the doorway. He was average height, but with a very short, scraggly white beard. Several teeth were missing from his welcoming smile, and a silver dagger was held in a brown belt at his hip.

Jasmine’s body realised what it had accomplished and she collapsed onto the fine-dusted ground. She could feel the weight of her mother on top of her, as useless as a corpse. Jasmine swallowed, wincing from the pain it caused. Maybe she was a corpse.

Gradually, everything faded to black.

*

The next thing Jasmine knew, she was lying in an ancient wooden bed wrapped in several blankets. She checked her lip. It was painful, but no blood caught on her fingers and they seemed moist.

She looked up.

The old man was sitting in a chair next to her, quietly rocking back and forth. He smiled. ‘Well it’s nice to have you back, child.’

‘What’s happened? Where’s mother?’

‘Stay calm, child, or you’ll tire yourself out.’

‘Where is she?’ Jasmine repeated.

The man’s face suddenly contorted. ‘Stay calm or I’ll leave you for the crows!’ He sat back again. ‘Now to answer your question, your mother is fine…in a way.’

Jasmine’s eyes widened. ‘In a way?’

‘Yes. I noticed she’s been in a fire, and it’s done some damage.’

‘And what exactly is damaged?’

_______________

50/50 question: will Jasmine’s mother be disabled in some way, or will it be more supernatural? Heads it’ll be disabled, tails supernatural!

*Bad voiceover impression* What is wrong with Jasmine’s mother? What exactly were those falling flames in the sky? Join us next time for another episode of Faaaallling Flaaaaammmesss!!!! 🙂

The Writer’s Creed – a poem

This post is simply a short poem which I wrote today; it may not be epic or especially serious, but I trust you all like it anyway. 🙂

I ponder why we like to write, and why we like to read,

Is it because we have, somehow, an unrecorded creed?

Maybe this creed will tell us all of what we need to know

concerning words, and nouns and verbs, and writing what we know.

Oh! if there was a writer’s creed, rules which we could obey,

Commands of when to use a word, a sentence, or a phrase.

It would be so much easier, if writers could thus pride

in a creed which was omniscient, a writing coach and guide.

 

I know of such a writer’s creed, it lives within our minds –

A talent which is granted us, a skill God has assigned.

It is our vision which is our creed, our library.

 All we read is stored and kept, even Great Gatsby!

We use some data that is stored – it shapes our writing voice,

Ah! it is so, how can it not? In this we rejoice.

For whilst we practice writing rules, presented to us by others,

We could just as easily break them by entirely going against what they say; for example, by having far too many syllables in one line of a poem without it even rhyming.

 

© Thomas Kitchen and Writer’s Cabinet, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Kitchen and Writer’s Cabinet with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What are you planning to write in November?

Well the wait until November is nigh on unbearable for me – only 19 days until I can begin my first NaNoWriMo novel! I wanted to share with you all today about what I plan to write during the month of November, although I expect my novel to veer off the expected plotline quite harshly with every passing day. :P. So here it is, my amazing (I say that sarcastically) novel:

After discovering a blood-smeared diary that may hold the answer to where his true family lies, a small-town sheriff decides to risk everything he has in order to find them. With the help of a woman survivalist and her dog, he trails across a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a persistent force hot on his tail.

But trouble soon rears its ugly head; the sheriff is captured and beaten, leaving the woman to face a difficult decision: endanger her life trying to rescue the man, or turn back and leave him for dead…

Sorry the picture is so big. I hope you like the sound of it, though – if you want, you can leave feedback in the comments. 😉

 

But I do have something else to talk about in today’s post, and it’s to do with Writer’s Cabinet‘s Facebook Page. During the month of November, this blog’s Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/writerscabinet) will be full of motivational quotes, pictures, and other fun stuff to keep you motivated whilst you write your novel. I will be posting my own endaveours on there, and you are free to do the same; we can comment on each other’s work and basically have a good time.

So if you haven’t liked the page yet, then please do, and join the actual event as well (http://www.facebook.com/writerscabinet?ref=hl#!/events/419546628105009). Obviously the more people who participate in this, the better, so get liking! Hope you’ve all had a great week; see you Monday. 🙂

Facebook Page and Twitter

Hi all, just wanted to say that the blog’s Facebook page is now active (http://www.facebook.com/writerscabinet), and will receive regular updates with pictures, motivational quotes, and exclusive content. I’ve also signed up to twitter today (https://twitter.com/writerscabinet), and that will also receive pictures and regular updates, including exclusive content. However, my twitter account will not just be a Writer’s Cabinet account, but it will also be an account which I update with stories from my own life, whether that be writing, university, whatever. So from now on, unless something major has happened in my life, all my personal reports and tales will be posted on my twitter account. Thanks for reading!

How to prepare for NaNoWriMo

Hey everyone, I trust that everyone is having a good week so far (I will be posting an update about university in a few days’ time). But today I want to talk to you about NaNoWriMo. Yeah I know what you’re thinking – “This again? Hasn’t he talked about NaNoWriMo in loads of his posts before this one?” Well it is true that I talk about it a lot (don’t judge me, I’m just excited!), however this time I want to talk through it properly, and even if you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, then I’ll tell you that, too. Basically all I’m saying is stick around; it might be worth your time.

 

NaNoWriWhat?

NaNoWriMo is abbreviation of National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November – next month, in fact. But what do you have to do? In a nutshell, you have to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of Novemeber, but you’re not allowed to write scenes beforehand; all you’re allowed to do is outline your plot and create characters, which is basic stuff before you write any novel. If you want to know the full details of this amazing event, then their official website will tell you everything that you need to know: http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/about/hownanoworks.

 

That sounds like fun.

That’s because it is! NaNoWriMo, for the people who have entered 2012’s event, is going to be as enjoyable as it is challenging. In the 2011 event there were 256, 618 participants. Can you guess how many managed to win? At the end of November, only 36, 843 of those participants won – that’s a meagre 14% success rate. But before you get all glum and consider not entering the challenge, consider this instead: is NaNoWriMo all about winning?

The answer, of course, is no. You see, the event is more than just trying to achieve that 50, 000-word mark. It’s also about testing your abilities, seeing if you can write every day, and even just simple practice. Have you ever wanted to do that certain novel but never got round to it? Well NaNo can help. And who says the prize is achieving that 50, 000? I think for a lot of people the prize would be getting the novel started, or just having a go at something entirely different. Whatever your motivation, just get stuck in. Try and reach the 50,000, sure, but don’t sweat it if you can’t make it; don’t worry about winning.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

I’ve decided participate.

Good for you. 🙂 There are two major groups in NaNoWriMo: pantsers and planners. Pantsers (seat of your pants) enjoy starting the event with no idea of the characters they’re going to use, or where the plot is going to go. Some just like beginning with a simple concept and going from there. And planners…well, planners plan.

I was a pantser when I was younger, but I never managed to get past the first few paragraphs of any piece of writing. Then when I decided I wanted to write a novel and not faff around, I succeeded, ending up with a novel which is currently in the second-draft editing process (my science-fiction teenager novel, Craft: Aftermath). But having said that, it does depend on what works for you. If you want to experiment and try pantsing your novel, then go for it. I’m not going to stop you and neither is anyone else. Having said that, whilst pantsing is okay for shorter pieces of writing, being a pantser when writing a novel could become a problem. Just something for you to think about.

 

How do I prepare for the big day?

This does actually vary depending on the answer you gave in the above ‘Pantser or Planner’ question, but we’ll say that pantsers are pretty much ready to go and planners need a bit more time before they begin. So how do you do it? Where do you start? Where should you get the idea for your NaNoWriMo novel from?

Well at least deciding your novel is easy, at least if you’re already a writer. Writers are going to have many ideas in their heads anyway, so just write a few down, flesh it out a bit more, add a couple of characters, and you’re all good. But what if you’re not a writer that just wants to have a go? If you fall into this category and start panicking, don’t!Just relax and remember why you’re doing it. It’s for fun, remember? Take it easy and try to think about any fun ideas that you’ve wanted to turn into a novel. If you’ve got one, then use it and begin to expand it. To do this, I recommend the Snowflake Method – it’s the one I used for my first novel (although I did change it to suit my own style) and it worked particularly well: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php.

Yet if you don’t have an idea in your head, you might think you have a problem. Don’t think that. Instead, try to think about what you like – books, TV shows, films, magazines. Is there anything you’ve truly enjoyed and want to write something similar? Then have a try; if you fancy writing a crime novel then read articles online, or books about/around that subject. But just remember that if you’re writing to have a bit of fun and you’re not trying to get it published, then don’t freak out if your plot and character plan goes completely down the toilet hole! When I wrote my novel I’d planned for a good three months before I began, but even then some strange scenes and surprises arose from my writing. Just go with it and have fun.

Concerning the other problems you may have, a lot of the answers will be readily available on the official NaNo site, which is here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/. There are forums for both worldwide and for your own region, so you’ll find what you need!

If you have any others questions about NaNoWriMo, or just want to say that you’re participating, then you’re welcome to leave a comment below, but this won’t be the final NaNo post before November! 😛 Don’t forget to Like, Share, and Follow! 😀

Writing is Insane!

“Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.”

                                                                                                                – Graycie Harmon

How true this is. In writing, whether that be short story or novel, there must be characters, and those characters must have flaws. If you don’t create your characters with flaws, then there will be no drama, no tension, and no obstacles to get in their way. It doesn’t matter if the flaw/flaws are internal or external – what matters is that they must be weak. These characters are humans, just like us. They are made of flesh and blood, no matter how much you think that they’re actually made of titanium.

An insane asylum must have insane people for its cause to be worthwhile. If it does not, then it is worthless. So it is with writing; if you don’t have flawed characters in your piece of writing, then you might as well throw it away. Keeping an empty asylum up and running is a waste of money, and so is buying a book with flawless characters. People want to read about others which are just like them, with the same problems and situations as them. It doesn’t matter if you are writing a fantasy novel or romance novel – writing a book about people means writing a book about people’s problems.

Maybe you’ll go insane halfway through writing a book. That’s fine; every writer is a little bit insane, anyway! 😀

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

However, don’t let your inmates escape. Flawed characters are good and scarred characters are good, but there is a cut-off point: don’t flood your readers with so many character flaws that it overwhelms them, or seems unrealistic. The better the balance, the better your asylum; you’ll learn to make your own asylum stronger with every character that goes a bit wild and escapes!

So be the doctor in charge and keep your inmates in check. After all, you’re spending most of your time with them! 😛

Earth is the insane asylum for the universe.”

                                                               – Unknown