As one does, I keep running lists on my phone and computer where I record story fragments/character names/seed ideas/bits of dialogue that pop into my head at random times. This weekend I wanted to write something brand new for a little bit, and I was scrolling through these lists looking for something that caught my attention, when in doing so I discovered a cool way to come up with stories!
I grabbed the first thing that popped out at me, which was a brief sentence about a girl wishing she could be a squirrel. I wrote that: it ended up being a few paragraphs before I needed a name and a scene change. I opened the list back up and found an idea for twins’ names. Back to the story: the girl’s twin interrupts her musings with a reason to go back to their house. But what was the reason reason? Back to the document…aha! A few months ago I wrote down “four exuberant cousins.” And voila, the story began to take off, evolving into a pretty neat exploration of unconventional family dynamics.
This struck me as a system kind of like a random prompt generator that generates more than one prompt at a time, only with my own prompts! It’s also very useful because sometimes I forget about things near the bottom of the lists: after all, I’ve been adding to them for years. I plan to keep using this method to grow this story until it takes on a life of its own; it’s a good exercise to try to connect disparate ideas, and something really neat might develop out of it.
Post is late due to BUSY WEEKEND. Why short weeks due to university breaks some how so much more stressful than normal weeks? Over fall break I failed to do work, hung out with my brother who came to visit (we beat Arkham Horror!), and read.
Anyway, I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) this year. I’ve done it many times in the past, and I was musing nostalgically about the rush you get from doing something so literally absurd as writing a 50,000 word novel in one month, sad that I am much too busy to do so at the moment, when I thought…well, you can set your own word count goals. And thus I lured myself into something I will surely regret come mid-November: writing 500 words a day instead of the usual 1,667, and ending the month with a pretty solid novella.
I have a number of just-begun novellas that I’ve never taken the time to devote my attention to, and I’m determined that will change! It’s about time I learned to write something other than novels and flash fiction anyway (I’m a woman of extremes).
The story I’ll be working on literally came to me in a dream one day–it features a god, a disgraced warrior, and a demon army. Two years ago the protag, destined to defeat the demons before they ever reached this realm, absolutely beefed it, allowed the invasion to begin, and abandoned her comrades in disgrace. Now, the war is almost lost, and the god who chose her visits her after years of radio silence, urging her to take up her spear once again.
I’ll probably be posting snippets as we move into November, so stay tuned!
(p.s. my nano profile is evangelinegiaconia should you want to follow the project)
Way back in January I made some New Years Writing Resolutions, and no.3 was “Submit a short story to my school’s literary magazine.” Well, folks, I submitted one, and I was accepted! The release party was last night, and you can now find my short story “Cake” right here, in the 2016-17 version of The Peel, a very cool literary magazine.
I was asked to read the story at the release party, which I did, and I didn’t throw up, mess up, or start laughing uncontrollably into the microphone. The crowd was the kind that snaps when they like a line. It was an incredible experience, and the implications haven’t quite sunk in. I’m a person who’s been published. A published person. P U B L I S H E D.
The story is about a cake (surprised?) and only a page and a half long. It was actually a writing prompt I did last year and buffed up to submit on the last night of the deadline, which goes to show–well, I’m not sure what, but it goes to show something.
And after that brief celebration, it’s back to the despair of exam week. Good luck to any fellow students out there!
Image 1: An attempt at a context-based visual pun
Who doesn’t love to google their name and find out what they’re notorious (or not) for? I tried the other day, to see if this blog would finally show up. It did! Huzzah. But something even curiouser turned up as well, which I’m still thinking about, a little bewildered.
When you google ‘Evangeline Giaconia’, the first item of the second page of google is a a google books link to the “Annual List of Merchant Vessels of the United States, Volume 26, Part 1894”, scanned from a document published in 1895.
One page 131 of this list there is a listing for the Giaconia, a lugger weighing 6,037 tonnes. There is also a listing for the Glendy Burke–with a postscript which defers the reader to the bottom of the page, where a note reads: ‘Formerly British schooner Evangeline’.
I still can’t quite wrap my head around this: my names on two different vessels on the same page of a document from 1895. The listing is alphabetical, so it had to be the postscript that contained the word ‘Evangeline’, or it wouldn’t have been on the same page as ships starting with ‘G’. How wild.
To bring this back to writing, I suppose it’s things like this that remind us that weird, bizarre coincidences do exist, and that maybe we ought to check our suspension of disbelief sometimes when we’re getting a little skeptical. Last night I was sighing in exasperation as Francis Thurton’s gaze just happened to fall on just the right newspaper article in Call of Cthulhu, but maybe I ought to give him a bit more credit. Maybe the world is more cohesive than we think.
Ahoy from the SS Evangeline! We go in search of the Old Ones.
Every Saturday in a small building perfect for authors (read: cozy couches, stocked with tea, and next to a cookie store), I co-host a writing group. Mostly it’s free writing with company, but for the first 20 minutes we snag a writing prompt off a reddit thread and try to beat the clock. Sharing afterwards is the scariest part, and most of us chicken out of actually reading our piece aloud.
Before inheriting the group, I’d never actually done any kind timed writing prompt (AP exams don’t count). Suffice to say, this practice changed me as a writer. I discovered a deep, abiding love of prompts. The high of quick, nonstop writing, the freedom of inventing characters and plot on the fly–all slightly addicting.
But it took me a while to get into the swing of the short prompt and stop writing the beginnings of lengthy plots. (My writing career bypassed short stories entirely and dove straight into novellas and novels.) Figuring out how to tell something briefly and concisely was–and is–a challenge, but one I am getting much better at.
Of course, the lure of the extended adventure still pulls my prompts off course more often than not, but I’ve managed to trim a few of them into satisfactory self-contained stories.
Pictured above: my good intention to write a short story (left) vs. my deep-seated urge to start a new novel (right)