Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Write, Stubbornly!

A few days have gone by since the end of June Avatar Blogger Month at iRez. It’s now time to reflect back and share a bit of the experience from a technical point of view.

Undertaking a blogging challenge that lasts for a month is quite an enterprise. Thirty days of writing, thirty ideas, thirty moments when we sit down before a blank page.

At the beginning, the thrill is bigger than the full realization of the commitment we have made. However, after the first few days, the colossal size of this enterprise sinks in. That is when planning becomes extremely important.

Preparing texts ahead of time makes it possible for you to take a break in between posts, especially when you life simply decides you’re not to have any free time to write. That will happen. It’s inevitable.
My strategy was simple. I think!

Given that I use Second Life locations to find inspiration for my stories, whether they are short-stories or flash-fiction, I start with a picture first, an image that opens the door to a large array of ideas I can then select from.

For a short-story, I choose a location. Then I spend time in that sim, I walk about, I talk to the residents, I take a couple of pictures. I then try to organize these pictures in a sequence that becomes a roadmap for the story.
After the locations, it’s time to deal with characters and plot. Who lives here? What do they do for a living? Who are they friends with? Who are their enemies? What kinds of trouble/mischief are/were they involved in? How would they get out of trouble? With whose help? And who would prevent them from being successful?

For more on narrative structure, check Vladimir Propp, for example.

As you can see, there’s a bit of planning needed to write a short-story, but I keep it simple. I take a few notes, especially the names of characters (yes, I do tend to change their names in the middle of the story and start calling Mark by the name of Max, for instance)! I also take a few notes about what happens at each location. Beyond that I just let the story flow. As I’m writing, it often happens that the initial idea for the story takes a completely different direction and I usually go with it (hence the word imprudently in my profile)!

For flash-fiction, I use only one picture or one word/expression prompt. The first sentence frequently comes to my mind fairly quickly. In flash-fiction, it’s important not to repeat ideas, something that happens in long fiction quite often, for example the narrator explains the situation and emphasizes it by adding a character talking to another character about it (the value of this being quite debatable, in my opinion). In flash fiction, there’s no room or time for that!

Also, because character and plot development are less complex, language becomes very significant. I tend to write complex and long sentences, because English is not my first language (Portuguese is). Therefore, I must make an intentional effort to simplify the sentence structure in order to craft a more fluid text. Multiple editing revisions are often needed until I am happy with the result!

I also pay close attention to vocabulary, avoiding repetitions and making use of synonyms. I realize this makes my writing sound a bit formal, but I try to compensate that by using diverse sentence patterns and a good rhythm in the text flow, balancing fast-paced moments - shorter words, action verbs - and slow-paced moments - longer words, adjectives and adverbs.

I’m ready. It’s time to sit down and write, stubbornly!

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