Novel Magna Cartas

For those who are interested, a new page has been put up on Dreamers Cove. Sorry about the delay.

On Thursday I picked up the book “No Plot? No Problem! A low-stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days” by Chris Baty. Chris is the person who, with his friends, started the whole “National Novel Writing Month” way back when. It's filled with advice, inspiration and strategy for the craziness I have decided to participate in this year. It's darn hilarious, too. I was snickering like crazy about the 'guilt monkeys'.

One of the exercises he suggests in preparation is what he calls the Magna Carta I and the Magna Carta II, the formers evil twin. These are lists of what you personally enjoy  reading in a novel, and of course, those things that drive you batty. This is to help inspire you, but also to keep the sneaky little buggers in list 2 from creeping into your writing. And they are sneaky, slimy, slippery, tenacious, devious little things….

So, without farther ado, here is what I came up with:

Magna Carta I: What I like in Novels

  • Strong female characters
  • Characters who are at turning points in their lives
  • A good mix of physical ages of MC’s
  • Well-rounded antagonists
  • 3rd person limited omniscience (from one or more character POV)
  • Loyal friends
  • Ancient and/or lost civilizations
  • First paragraph hooks
  • Mystery
  • Strange/ancient/mysterious artifacts
  • Space travel
  • Mental abilities (but not overdone)
  • Aliens
  • Quirky characters
  • Feisty old people
  • People ending up to be more than they are at the beginning
  • Fun character interaction
  • Poetic justice
  • Foreshadowing
  • Concise scenery descriptions
  • Happy endings

Magna Carta II: The Evil Twin. Things I hate reading in a novel:

  • Omnipotent bad guys
  • Antagonists that don’t get their just-desserts
  • Perfect main characters (or Mary Sue/Gary Stu)
  • Young MC who have no guidance from adults
  • 3rd person omniscient POV (story feels too distant to me)
  • Fate as all-powerful (As in, don’t your choices make ANY difference?)
  • Lucky characters (i.e Gladstone Duck..KILL IT, KILL IT!)
  • Plot holes
  • Violence and/or sex with no point
  • Lots of swearing
  • Beginnings that take forever to get into the plot
  • Misunderstandings that exist only because people won’t talk to each other
  • Romantic attraction between characters that have nothing in common
  • Solutions that come out of nowhere
  • Magic
  • Witches/Wizards or the ilk
  • Demons or the ilk
  • Political Intrigue
  • Long descriptive passages
  • Info dumps (related to the above entry)
  • Too many names starting with the same letter or sounding alike (Can we say ‘confusion’? I knew you could!)
  • Unhappy endings

This weekend is for typing in all the notes I've made all this week. Choose what stays in, what gets thrown out. A new file has now been made for this project in the filing cabinet. Seems silly, but I actually stopped to think about what color the hanging file should be. In case you are curious, it's blue.

Yes, I know. I'm partially insane. 😉

World…um…Universe Building

Final decisions made:
Project genre: Science Fiction
Main Protagonist: Megan, a human teenager
Main Villain: Rannix an adult humanoid
Setting: Multiple Universes
Main Aliens: a space-traveling creature called the Phoenix. Lots of others, but this is the biggie

Not Known:
Working Title: Had one once, but then I realized as the planning progressed that it no longer fit.
Specific 'universe' rules: Have some of the generic, but still need to do a lot of work.
Names for at least 3 planets, and one area of space: This always takes some work.

Need to do:
Create a Universal (or Multi-Universal) timeline
Species code of Ethics for several alien races

Gee, and that's only off the top of my head. Several more pages have been filled up in the tiny memo pad that I carry around in my pocket all day as well as another full sheet of lined paper. Haven't transferred anything into the computer yet, but I figure a lot of that will be happening this weekend. Considering how each day I'm having several revelations about the natural progression and consequences of the 'rules' I've already decided on for the Universe, I have a feeling anything I type down now would end up being changed anyway.

For anyone who needs a nudge in the right direction for planning worlds of their own out, try Patricia Wrede and Write SF for help in world building.

For kicks and to see some of the things NOT to do, check out the Turkey City Lexicon.

TV Tropes has a listing of frequently used plots used in Science Fiction in both literary and multi-media. Some of it is funny, some is groan-worthy, and perhaps it can give you some ideas. Complete with examples under each entry.

SFWA has several great articles on writing both Science Fiction and Fantasy.

By the way, Mother Hen is now safely in Atlanta. Here's to hoping she has a restful time, and comes back inspired. 🙂

National Novel Writing Month

Well, I've wanted to do it for years, but something always happened or came up. But this year, I'm determined! National Novel Writing Month is still a month and a half away, but it's never too early to start the planning. As someone who needs at least a little structure to help fire the creative pathways, I've started the hard planning on a new novel. So far the planning notes alone are approaching 5,000 words, and I've only just started!

As soon as October 1st comes around I'll be registering with the NaNoWriMo website ( and I'll post here what my user name is.

So, who else out there has been foolish enough to attempt this? Any words of wisdom?

Here's to hoping for a great writing marathon!