Writing Resources: #NaNoWriMo #Preptober

At some point I should probably look at my page with fave NaNo resources and give it an update, but for now I want to share a new one I just found. I’ve spent the past week or so slowly but surely working on worldbuilding for next month’s NaNoWriMo novel. I intend to write a new-from-scratch draft of my novel Quest for Serentasia, which I wrote for my first NaNo in 2007. I may be including elements of the second novel, Return to Serentasia, which will in turn, perhaps, get its own second draft next year. I am not even going to reread the original drafts first – I know enough of the storyline, and really want to improve it more than proofread it, so I don’t need to reread it.

The biggest problem I’ve had with these two novels is that I don’t have rules for the magic used in the magical fairyland that is home to the kingdoms of Serentasia and Felicimora. My biggest goal for Preptober is to define the magical system, which is going to make rewrites easier and more cohesive. So I have been doing a lot of research on worldbuilding and creating a system of magic for fantasy fiction.

Enter Eva Deverell‘s site. She has a ton of great writing worksheets and resources. Come for the PDFs on magic, stay for the PDFs on every other aspect of noveling. Actually, the amazing worksheets aren’t even why I’m posting, although they are certainly awesome enough to merit a post (and please, if you are a writer then go explore her site).

No, what I am so excited about today is the Novel in a Month Notebook. I will admit that I was a little nervous at first. A cute little booklet whose success depends on my printer’s ability to perfectly print double-sided pages, my own luck in flipping the pages the right way in the printer, AND my precision in cutting all of the pages? No small feat, but I was up for the task. And while I would prefer to buy a perfectly printed and stitched book, I’m really happy with the outcome. I haven’t decided what I want to do about binding (staples? rubber band? string?) but it actually looks really good.

My fountain pen soaked through the first page a little bit, which is a flaw in the system and obviously has nothing to do with the PDF. So I will be using my colorful, fruit-scented, glitter gel pens to fill out the notebook instead, and that’s turning out to be a lot better anyway. 😉 Here’s a quick photo of the notebook as I’m working in it. I will try to remember to post more pictures in December when I’ve filled out a lot more of it.

untitled damsel/knight flash fiction

I’m reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (a-MA-zing book!) and the main character writes fanfic, and reading about writing inspires me to want to write more myself. So this is something I wrote longhand before bed the other night. I doubt I’ll turn it into anything, so I figured I might as well post it here. Unedited, so you’ve been warned.

Side note: I actually did have a professor in college named Dr. Mitchell, and he was a total sweetheart and completely open to creativity when it came to the assignments he gave (I submitted papers in the form of a poem, a short story, and a play, because as a Senior English major I was tired of writing straight papers). So I don’t know why his name came to mind when I was writing this, but I’m leaving it there anyway. Apologies, Charlie. You’re not a chauvinist, nor did you ever, I’m fairly certain, have a pet dinosaur.

They’re wrong, you know? The fairy tales, I mean. You know the ones I’m talking about, where the damsel in distress is rescued by the knight in shining armor. That’s a load of bullshit they tell you in kindergarten that leads girls to grow up believing that:

  1. they need to be rescued because they can’t get out of trouble themselves;
  2. they’re dumb or careless, which is why they’re in trouble to begin with; and
  3. when this alleged knight comes to rescue them, the knight’s armor will still be shiny, like defeating the dragon or witch or whoever didn’t even make him break a sweat. No mud on these tires, no matter how much dirt was between him and this stupid damsel.

And then, what’s so great about it? Why would the knight want to be with a damsel who let herself be carried off by a dragon to a tower with no hope of escape? Why does the dragon keep her locked up? If he’s got such a taste for damsel, why doesn’t he just eat her? Why does the damsel just fucking sit there, waiting to be rescued? What does she see in the knight, anyway? Isn’t she afraid that when the next pretty girl gets tied to the train tracks, he’ll be off to rescue her because his life is so monotonous now that he craves that sense of adventure that he’s lost since he settled down with the first damsel? Or is he just so conceited that he actually took the time to clean his armor after he defeated the dragon just to impress her, like that’s what she really cares about? Fucking asshole.

So you can see why I was less than enthused when my Lit professor announced the next assignment for class is to write a modern version of the classic damsel-in-distress archetype. With a different prof I’d be on cloud nine – finally a chance to inject some feminism into it. But not with Dr. Mitchell, who I swear is so old that after the dinosaurs died out, he still managed to find one to keep as a pet. Dr. Mitchell is in the dictionary illustrating the word patriarchy, or maybe chauvinist. He doesn’t want a modern take. He wants a classic take but with cars and computers and cell phones. Rapunzel in the tallest tower in the countryside can’t get a damn signal – good thing Prince “Let down your sweet hair” saw the glint of the sun reflecting off the screen as she took her millionth pouty-lip duckface selfie of the day! Can you see me now?

I would kill to get an assignment like this in Dr. Shoenbrun’s class – not only does she like when students interpret things differently than “everyone else,” provided there is sufficient textual support examples given, but she also gives bonus points for “creativity and thinking outside the page,” as she puts it. Dr. Shoenbrun would probably drool over my self-rescuing heroine telling off the knight for taking so long to get there. And when the dragon turns out to be friendly. I wonder if she would appreciate my damsel falling in love with the dragon, or if that’s going too far even for her.