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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Dragon Con and 21 days to a novel


 

This year at Dragon Con I attended several sessions in the writer's track. It was epic. And really difficult to decide which one to highlight here. There was a fascinating session on serial fiction which I may revisit in another post. A pg-13 panel on like, love, lust. I learned a lot about publishing, the current landscape of the big presses and indie presses, the realities of self-publishing, and some marketing tips. I also attended a fun panel on tropes, one on middle grade books (yeah! That's me!) and several on character development. I won or received over the weekend six books which I am diligently starting to read! Yes, reviews will come.

And here is one of my roommates for the weekend: 

Now... to the session on "21 Days to a Novel."


However, my favorite session was Michael Stackpole's "twenty-one days to a novel. It is NOT like the November "write a whole book in a month" marathon. Rather, it is the prep work for a novel. For the outliner, you end with a solid outline. For the panther, you end with some great character development and some signposts of where the story is going. 

I should be clear, that the material with good explanations and examples are available here.

Or visit his official website here: https://www.stormwolf.com


It is definitely worth checking out and seeing his full model. Here, in my blog, I am going to post (for my accountability as much as anything) my attempt at it.  Ready? Here we go. A story I've been working on called "Runes." 


 

Day One: Five Little Sentences (30 min)

·      Write five sentences about a character (your MC). Each sentence about a different area choosing from things like job, education, love life, physical health, emotional health / mental health, hobbies, family, etc…

 

Mickey (Mykyta) was adopted from the Ukraine.

Mickey is smart, but because he is learning English often gets placed in remedial classes.

Mickey expresses himself in art.

Mickey shows people he loves / likes them by giving gifts.

Mickey is an outdoorsman.

 

Day Two: Five Little Paragraphs (45 min)

·      Write two to three more sentences on each of the above sentences. Now you have a paragraph (well… 5 of them… I just wrote down two of his in-class examples)

 

Mickey (Mykyta) was adopted from the Ukraine. He was aopted at the age of ten and is now twelve. His parents died due to Cherynoble and he lived with a distant aunt (babushka) in a solitary farmhouse in the countryside. English is very hard for Mickey because the English alphabet doesn’t seem to have any life to it like Ukrainian / Russian letters do. Mickey thought everything in America was free because everyone had so much of everything. He has struggled with that aspect of living in a new land.

 

Mickey is smart, but because he is learning English often gets placed in remedial classes. Mickey never went to school, since there wasn’t one near his aunt. However, she taught him to memorize long passages and various recipes and formulas. He doesn’t know what many mean, but he is able to pretty quickly look at something and remember it. He also loves Ukrainian folklore as it reminds him of his aunt and mom. They both told him stories before bed.  This helps him a lot in drawing. His adoptive parents were aide workers and his adopted dad is ex-military.

 

Mickey expresses himself in art. He is constantly sketching or doodling in the margins of his text books, scratch paper, desk, and even nearby walls. It often gets him into trouble. He has a knack for drawing people in such a way as they look better (like a snapchat filter) and the images often seem alive. Mickey is not only talented at drawing and sketching but also woodcarving, though he seldom has a knife and wood to work with.

 

Mickey shows people he loves / likes them by giving gifts. When his adoptive parents give him lunch money, he buys his friends and himself ice cream rather than his own meal. Because he is a child and has no real money, he often draws pictures of people he sees and gives them as gifts. People like the drawings and it makes Mickey happy to see them smile.

 

Mickey is an outdoorsman. In the orphanage, kids were always outside. Mickey’s favorite part about being outside is discovering new places. He especially likes to be around trees and woods. He is not afraid of animals and often chases or picks them up if he catches sight of one. 

 

 

Day Three: Five Contrary Sentences (30 min)

·      Write a single sentence in each of the above five paragraphs that is in OPPOSITION (the dark side of the issue OR if it is bad, then the silver lining)

 

Mickey (Mykyta) was adopted from the Ukraine. He was aopted at the age of ten and is now twelve. His parents died due to Cherynoble and he lived with a distant aunt (babushka) in a solitary farmhouse in the countryside. English is very hard for Mickey because the English alphabet doesn’t seem to have any life to it like Ukrainian / Russian letters do. Mickey thought everything in America was free because everyone had so much of everything. He has struggled with that aspect of living in a new land. While Mickey likes America ad having a family he realizes he is forgetting Ukraine and the language.  

 

Mickey is smart, but because he is learning English often gets placed in remedial classes. Mickey never went to school, since there wasn’t one near his aunt. However, she taught him to memorize long passages and various recipes and formulas. He doesn’t know what many mean, but he is able to pretty quickly look at something and remember it. He also loves Ukrainian folklore as it reminds him of his aunt and mom. They both told him stories before bed.  This helps him a lot in drawing. His adoptive parents were aide workers and his adopted dad is ex-military. Mickey’s smarts end when it comes to girls his age. He never understands them.  

 

Mickey expresses himself in art. He is constantly sketching or doodling in the margins of his text books, scratch paper, desk, and even nearby walls. It often gets him into trouble. He has a knack for drawing people in such a way as they look better (like a snapchat filter) and the images often seem alive. Mickey is not only talented at drawing and sketching but also woodcarving, though he seldom has a knife and wood to work with. Once in a while an image will have a light not from the sun or lightbulb but bubbling up below and beneath the page itself.  

 

 

Mickey shows people he loves / likes them by giving gifts. When his adoptive parents give him lunch money, he buys his friends and himself ice cream rather than his own meal. Because he is a child and has no real money, he often draws pictures of people he sees and gives them as gifts. People like the drawings and it makes Mickey happy to see them smile. Sometimes there are people he can not draw better.  

 

Mickey is an outdoorsman. In the orphanage, kids were always outside. Mickey’s favorite part about being outside is discovering new places. He especially likes to be around trees and woods. He is not afraid of animals and often chases or picks them up if he catches sight of one. If you weren’t outside at the orphanage it usually meant you were being punished and locked in a room.  

 

 

 

Day Four: Five More Little Paragraphs (1 hr)

·      Write TWO more sentences regarding the Contrary sentences done in step #3 for each of your five paragraphs

 

Mickey (Mykyta) was adopted from the Ukraine. He was aopted at the age of ten and is now twelve. His parents died due to Cherynoble and he lived with a distant aunt (babushka) in a solitary farmhouse in the countryside. English is very hard for Mickey because the English alphabet doesn’t seem to have any life to it like Ukrainian / Russian letters do. Mickey thought everything in America was free because everyone had so much of everything. He has struggled with that aspect of living in a new land. While Mickey likes America ad having a family he realizes he is forgetting Ukraine and the language. He is afraid he will forget his original parents. He already has forgotten why his birth father went to Cherynoble when everyone knew it was dangerous.

 

Mickey is smart, but because he is learning English often gets placed in remedial classes. Mickey never went to school, since there wasn’t one near his aunt. However, she taught him to memorize long passages and various recipes and formulas. He doesn’t know what many mean, but he is able to pretty quickly look at something and remember it. He also loves Ukrainian folklore as it reminds him of his aunt and mom. They both told him stories before bed.  This helps him a lot in drawing. His adoptive parents were aide workers and his adopted dad is ex-military. Mickey’s smarts end when it comes to girls his age. He never understands them. He is often confused by their questions, statements, giggles, and frequently doesn’t see when one is poking fun at his expense. There is one particular girl at his school who talks to him all the time but Mickey doesn’t know she likes him. There is another girl who is super popular and wants Mickey to draw her picture all the time.

 

Mickey expresses himself in art. He is constantly sketching or doodling in the margins of his text books, scratch paper, desk, and even nearby walls. It often gets him into trouble. He has a knack for drawing people in such a way as they look better (like a snapchat filter) and the images often seem alive. Mickey is not only talented at drawing and sketching but also woodcarving, though he seldom has a knife and wood to work with. Once in a while an image will have a light not from the sun or lightbulb but bubbling up below and beneath the page itself. These scare Mickey. He often feels he is tracing rather than drawing, like there is an image already engraved on the paper. He knows sometimes this is just what he looked at before transferred, though he doesn’t know the word transferred. However, sometimes he senses the image is already there, even if he draws something else on top of it. So, sometimes people he draws will have Ukrainian symbols or patterns around them (or on them like tattoos).

 

 

Mickey shows people he loves / likes them by giving gifts. When his adoptive parents give him lunch money, he buys his friends and himself ice cream rather than his own meal. Because he is a child and has no real money, he often draws pictures of people he sees and gives them as gifts. People like the drawings and it makes Mickey happy to see them smile. Sometimes there are people he can not draw better. He calls them foxes because he remembers there were often foxes in his mom and aunt’s folktales. The popular girl is one of these. Her face and hair even resemble a fox when Mickey imagines it on the paper. He has started to draw her twice and then torn up the image. He thought finishing it would be very dangerous.

 

 

Mickey is an outdoorsman. In the orphanage, kids were always outside. Mickey’s favorite part about being outside is discovering new places. He especially likes to be around trees and woods. He is not afraid of animals and often chases or picks them up if he catches sight of one. If you weren’t outside at the orphanage it usually meant you were being punished and locked in a room. Sometimes there you were not fed. When Mickey would be locked up, he wuld take a piece of chalk he always carried with him and draw the outside world on the walls so it wasn’t so scary. He still carries a piece of chalk or pencil with him everywhere. It is one reason he likes long hair, so he can keep a pen hidden in it.

 

 

 You read this far? Awesome! Here are some Dragon Con pics for your enjoyment. 







All pictures were taken with cosplayer's permission.


 

Day Five: The New Kid in Town (1 hr)

·      Repeat Steps 1-4 for another character. Don’t think now necessarily about hero/villain. Just another character in the story. Below is one example but you would do FIVE for the character.

 

Willa is the most popular girl in school. Ever since kindergarten she has sought to be the center of attention. She is always a lead role in the school play and this year became a cheerleader for the middle school team even as a sixth grader. While she is not a “mean girl,” she definitely does not want to share the spotlight. Willa also adores being a teacher’s pet. So she is always looking for opportunities to help the students who have special needs, take messages to the office, or make sure class runs smooth for the teacher’s lesson. She always gets the teachers a nice gift at Christmas and the end of the year.

 

Willa’s family has a lot of money. She is an only child and her parents spend much of their resources on her. She regularly has new outfits, gadgets, and accessories. She was the first girl in class to use makeup and only uses high dollar brands. Her parents regularly throw a back to school party at their home’s pool. Every kid in the class is invited and gets back to school swag. However, Willa’s father is first generation wealth and most of Willa’s relatives are very poor. Most of them work for the metal fabricating company her father owns. The others typically work construction and cash only jobs. For family gatherings, Willa’s parents usually cross town to the other family’s houses rather than meet at their place.

 

Willa spends a lot of time on her looks. In addition to her makeup, Willa has regular hair appointments with her mom. In fact, makeovers, salons, and such are the core activity she does with her mother. Willa regularly asks to go to the bathroom during school to check herself in the mirror. She also subscribes to several feeds on Instagram of famous models she thinks she looks like and hopes to mimic. Willa is obsessed with hentai (sp?) tattoos. She gets them anytime she can. In fact, most days she has several on her arms and legs that are peeling off or in various stages of disrepair. Her mother says it is not becoming a young lady, but Willa loves to look at them.

 

Willa is a reader. Reading is the activity she does with her father. He has read to her every night since she was a child and continues to do so. Currently, they are reading through his favorite series, The Chronicles Of Narnia and are on The Voyager of the Dawn Trader. On her own time she likes to read graphic novels. Because she is so popular, reading has actually become a cool thing at her school. Willa often pretends to read slower than she actually can. While she has made reading more popular, she does not want to come across as a total geek so she often intentionally stumbles over words or phrases when reading outloud in class.

 

Willa volunteers at an animal shelter. Once a month her parents take her to the “Floppsy Ear Animal Home” to work with the dogs. She grooms them and bathes them as well as plays with the animals. She would take them all home with her if her parents would let her. However, her mother is allergic to dogs so the only one they own is an allergenic maltese. Willa has to take her clothes off in the garage after working the shelter and run them in the washer before she can see her mother. It is a sign how much her parents cater to her that she is allowed to go to Floppsy Ear regularly.

 

Day Six: What Do You Want to Do When You Grow Up? (1 hr)

·      Develop two short term and one long term life goal for each character. Here you want to consider goals that might conflict between characters.

 

 

Mickey: ST#1 – Get a fancy sketch pad and better pens

            ST#2 – Make his parents proud of him by not getting in trouble so much at school

            LT#1- Know enough English to get a role in the spring play. The school play was the first thing he saw the spring before when he arrived from Ukraine.

 

 

Willa: ST#1 – Be the first girl in sixth grade to kiss a boy

            ST#2 – Be the star role in the spring play

            LT#1 – Get a picture of herself in a professional model magazine

 

 

Day Seven: The Only Thing You Have To Fear (1 hr)

·      What fears are keeping the character from achieving goals (what changes will he/she have to make to achieve the goals)

 

Mickey: ST#1 – Get a fancy sketch pad and better pens

                                    à Afraid to ask parents for money for it after all they have done

            ST#2 – Make his parents proud of him by not getting in trouble so much at school

                                    à He is worried that when he has art ideas he will forget them. Once in Ukraine when he couldn’t draw for three days he found he had a form of writer’s block once he got to draw again.

            LT#1- Know enough English to get a role in the spring play. The school play was the first thing he saw the spring before when he arrived from Ukraine.

                        à He is afraid when he says things in English and messes up people will laugh at him and make fun of him.

 

 

Willa: ST#1 – Be the first girl in sixth grade to kiss a boy

                        à She doesn’t want to be labeled as a “easy girl” or even worse a “slut” (a word she heard her dad say once). 

            ST#2 – Be the star role in the spring play

                        à She knows that Candace, everyone calls her “Kay,” is a better actress than her. If she tries out against Kay and loses it will destroy her.

            LT#1 – Get a picture of herself in a professional model magazine

                        à Her parents say she is too young. She needs to find a way to do it without them knowing or getting in trouble for sneaking around. 

 


Day Eight: Three's a Crowd (1.5 hrs)

 

Diedre Diedre : “Diedre ”

            Diedre  comes across as a sweet girl but really is fairly devious. At school is her safe place to be herself, away from her family. She likes that everyone there thinks she is calm, nice, and a good student.  However, she struggles in English and is remedial English. She often cheats off other students. She does this almost unconsciously without any real moral examination of her motives.

 

            Diedre ’s family get her to steal stuff from the local BuyMart. Her dad is a con artist and uses his daughter’s young personage to do some of his scams. Her mom is always looking to steal and claim “free stuff.” Diedre  has learned to use her cuteness as a tool to get what she wants. Those who have caught her are usually convinced it is her parent’s fault and not hers that she is a trickster. Diedre  sometimes wonders who her real self is. She spends so much time doing the cons with her parents she wonders who she would be if she was her own person.

 

Diedre  is obsessed with comic books. She is always reading graphic novels, comics, and picking up anything with art in it. She likes to see what other students are reading, especially if it is art based. She watches a lot of Anime and draws anime faces all the time. Her parents got her a “how to draw” book a while back but half the pages had been torn out and used. People think she is really good at drawing, but she only really knows how to draw two faces. She is a bit ashamed when people ask her if the one she is doing is the same as the one they saw before. It is, but she uses colors and such to differentiate it. She is scared to try new drawings because she likes the compliments she gets and knows new ones will take time to learn. She always prefers the easy way to success rather than hard work.

 

Diedre  is obsessed with foreign foods. She loves tacos, general Tzo’s chicken, Tai food, and Itallian but not Americanized Itallian. She always asks her parents to take her to restaurants that serve foreign food. Her parents oblige because often these are easier to steal from than ones where the management speaks English. She hates cabbage. Sometimes when dishes have cabbage in them (like Borsht) she breaks out in hives. She isn’t allergic, it is all mental.

 

Diedre ’s favorite things are things that have no value except to the person she steals them from. She has little interest in diamonds, money, or anything with value. She loves the feel of someone’s favorite sweater, another kid’s treasured art pens, someone’s lucky socks for play recitals, or even a teacher’s most used coffee mug. She doesn’t have anything that she keeps as a treasured possession because she is afraid someone will take it. Perhaps, that is why she likes others stuff so much, vicariously enjoying those life moments through them. Her room is cluttered with other people’s trinkets.

 

ST Goal: Get something from the new Ukrainian kid. She has never had something a foreigner loved in her collection. She thinks it will be exotic.

ST Goal: Find a way to get back at Kay. Diedre came to school in a shirt her mom swiped from Goodwill. It was one Kay’s parents donated from Kay’s “old stuff.” Kay asked her about it and embarrassed Diedre.

LT Goal: Do a big con all on her own rather than just help her parents.

 

Day Nine: To Whom It May Concern (1.5 hrs) (write a letter)

·       Willa, You have pretty eyes. That’s first thing I noticed. I love to draw eyes. For sure. But you asked me to draw you. I like your eyes but can not do that. I know it seems not very nice. I mean, I draw everyone. I draw people who don’t even ask me to draw. And I give them drawings a lot. So when you asked with your nice smile and pretty eyes I thought, “Yes.” But sometimes when I try and draw faces and whole people I get a feeling. It feels like if I do this thing then something will happen. I am not sure. But I think it is a bad feeling. You may say, “He is just weird.” What is word? Superstation? Superstitches? I am unsure. But if I do it and something bad happen I would feel really bad. Especially if something happened to your pretty eyes. Please not be mad at me now. I will try again maybe. Mickey.

 

Day Ten: He Said, She Said (1.5 hrs) - Write a conversation between two of your characters:


 

Willa: Mickey. Mickey. Mickey. Hey. Don’t go down the stairs yet. I want to talk to you.

Mickey: Okay. I just going to class. Only short time before class will start.

W: Hey, I like, got your message. I sent you a text back but you never responded. What’s the matter, your parents take your phone or something.

M: I’m sorry. I can no be on phone after say nine o’clock.

W: Yeah, I have that rule too. I just sneak down like at 9:30 and get it. My mom never asks in the morning and if she does, I just tell her I woke up early and wanted to check something. You should do that too.

M: Okay.

W: Anywho, so weirdest text ever. Like, really made me L.O.L. You know, laugh out loud. What do you say in Russian? I guess it would be different letters? Maybe like D.F.J. or something weird like that. Anyway, you got nothing to worry about. This face is made for modeling and you have the best art in the school.

M: I said to you very serious thing.

W: What you said, silly, is that I have pretty eyes. Like, two or three times.

M: Um…

W: You know eyes like this don’t just like happen. I get up every morning and put my face on. That’s what my mom calls it, anyway. “Putting my face on,” is what she says. She’s cute in a dorky mom sort of way. Just like you are cute too.

M: Yes, but- 

W:Yes! So you know you are cute. Good, that’s the first step to really making something of yourself. Gotta know who you are and be confident in that. My mom always says you can’t let other people tell you who you are. You define you. And I know who I am. Like, I’m the girl who gets her picture drawn when she asks. And I’m Asking Mickey. I want these eyes on that paper.

M: But I think-

W: Exactly. I think so to. That’s what I like about you. Neither of us are going to let a silly superstition get in the way. We are leaders, you and I Mickey. Those hands of yours have drawn almost every girl in our grade and I’m next. 

M: You are next.

W: Exactly. And who knows, if you play your cards right… Oh, you like probably don’t have cards where you are from… if you, like do it well and stuff you just might get to see these eyes closer when these lips give you a kiss.

M: No, I-

W: On the cheek, like, of course. Anyway. You always take the bus home. Not today. Today you stay after school. Okay. I’ll skip cheer practice and you and I can go out to the big tree in the back playground. Then I’ll get my mom to take you home. She’ll do it if I ask, easy, easy.

M: But my mama told me to take the bus. 

W: She’ll be fine. Remember, you and I – We are leaders. No one tells us what to do. Now, you better run or you’ll be late for Social Studies. Me, I have music. I’ll just tell Mr. Leonard I had to go to the bathroom and can be late as I want.

·       

 Still here? Awesome! Here are some Dragon Con pics for your enjoyment. 




All pictures were taken with cosplayer's permission. 


Day Eleven: Body Language (1.5 hrs)

·       

 

Day Twelve: Where Are You From? (1 hr)

·       

 

Day Thirteen: It's a Cruel, Cold World (1 hr)

·       

 

Day Fourteen: Making The World A Better Place (1 hr)

·       

 

Day Fifteen: A Day In The Life (2 -2.5 hrs)

·       

Still here? Awesome! Here are some Dragon Con pics for your enjoyment. 



All pictures were taken with cosplayer's permission. 


Day Sixteen: White Knuckles, Brass Knuckles (30 min)

·       

 

Day Seventeen: You Break It, You Fix It  (2-2.5 hrs)

·       

 

Day Eighteen: He Did What? (3-4 hrs)

·       

 

Day Nineteen: Again, In Slow Motion and Reverse Angle (2-2.5 hrs)

·       

 

Day Twenty: What a Tangled Web We Weave (2 hrs)

·      

 

Day Twenty-one: Start Here, Go 'Til It Ends (Till you are done)

·     Okay - I made it!! Would love to hear your feedback for any who took the time to read this post in full. 


 And, of course, my absolute favorite Dragon Con Cosplay....






 





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