Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

10/27/2017

NaNoWriMo Prep – Templates and Worksheets

Filed under: Fun,NaNoWriMo,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Trying to get all your ideas and characters organized for National Novel Writing Month? I can help!

It may not always be obvious, especially to those closest to me, but I love being organized. What’s probably more obvious is that I played a lot of role-playing games growing up. I think it’s safe to say almost every hopeful writer or professional geek my age or younger played Dungeons and Dragons, or something similar. But, for me, the best part of that was always before the game started when we were making characters and filling out their character record sheets. I absolutely loved thinking about all the things they might buy at the market for use in surviving their adventures. And, along with that, describing their looks, their clothes, their family relationships and other background details. Not everyone did all of that, but, like I mentioned, it was just about my most favorite part. And, now, it’s one of my favorite parts of writing. Unfortunately, it can also become one of my favorite distractions from actually writing. Don’t let that happen to you! But, also, as you’re planning your novel, it’s good to try and think about who’s going to be in it, what they’re going to do and where they’re going to do it. So, toward that end, I’ve got some, hopefully, fun novel planning worksheets, or “printables” as the fancy kids call them these days, for you.
First, from the All Freelance Writing website, I’ve got an article by Jennifer Mattern which collects her favorite Novel Planning Tools and Worksheets. It’s a short list, but it’s also a great place to start if you’re just looking for the bare minimums to get you started.
Much more complete is the list of links gathered by Eva Deverell in her Creative Writing Worksheets post. Frankly, it’s a pretty complete list and you could stop there without worrying about missing out on anything, even if you do have to chase them to all their respective sites.
If you’re a more visual guy, like me, then maybe you should try this collection of “pins” at Pinterest titled “Novel Writing Worksheets”. It’s got a lot of “printables” besides the planning worksheets that might help, especially if you find yourself needing a little help creatively in a crunch.
My personal favorite, however, is the group of Evernote templates for planning your novel (or story) at the Evernote blog. I’m 99% sure I’ve mentioned these before, but they’ve updated them and added a few. If you use Evernote to plan and organize any other aspect of your life, I highly recommend that you take a look at these templates. They’re really well done and should cover any creative writing need. Seriously.

The next question is, of course, what are you going to use to actually write your novel?
If you go with Word, William Shunn has some free, downloadable templates that will let you get started with a pretty standard manuscript format. If you like Word, but don’t want to pay Microsoft for it, check out Libre Office instead. It’s a free, open source alternative to Microsoft Office and it includes a very good replacement for Word called Writer. And, I even have a basic manuscript template you can download and use for Libre Office Writer, also free.
If you want to get fancier, there are a lot of alternatives, but Scrivener is specifically written for fiction writers and is often offered at a discount to people attempting NaNoWriMo. And, while I have absolutely nothing against the creator of Scrivener, there is a free, open source alternative called Plume Creator. I don’t have any real experience with either of these, but I always favor the free, open source alternatives whenever possible.

For myself, while I used to mostly work in whatever word processing package I was currently using, I’ve gone to pretty much only using straight text. I made that change for a number of reasons, but I was heavily influenced by an email exchange I had with Steven Brust about his writing tools. I was surprised to find out that he wrote exclusively in emacs. I found out after a bit of digging around that he’s not the only one. Vernor Vinge, a brilliant science fiction author, also uses emacs to write his fiction, though it’s less surprising to me since he also teaches computer science at the collegiate level. So, now, while I’m still working on the actual text, I just use my favorite text editor, which in my case is the same tool I use to write Perl code and edit server scripts and web pages, UEStudio, which is an extension of UltraEdit, a tool familiar to serious programmers. Incidentally, keeping everything in straight text with out any formatting not only limits distractions, but makes for the most compatibility between systems, which, ultimately, is why I decided to make that change.

This post originally appeared at the Fantasist’s Scroll.

10/20/2017

NaNoWriMo Prep

Filed under: Fun,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Next month is National Novel Writing Month. Are you ready?

I suppose a better first question is actually “Are you going to participate?” I, for example, am not. I tried it once, several years ago, but ever since then I’ve just been too busy, and too out of practice writing fiction, to try it again. But, I do think about it every year when it rolls around. This year, rather than post things like story starters during NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d post them before, giving the brave souls who are up for the attempt a running start. So, here we go!

First, of course, I’m going to suggest the Fantasist.net Writer’s Resources, because if I can’t promote my own site, what good is having one? On that page you’ll find links to my Story Starter, my World Building Resources and my sad, old Conlang page. Though for conlang resources, I’d suggest going to the Language Construction Kit at Zompist.com or VÜlgÅr, a language generator, which is everything I wanted mine to be and more. In fact, I actually paid the roughly $10 to get the bigger, better version and upgrades!
Those resources sure ought to be enough to get you started on most of the crunchy stuff you might need to get an idea and prepared for writing a novel, if you aren’t already.

Second, though, I’d like to suggest the Bookbaby NaNoWriMo Survival Guide, which has several links to helpful resources, mostly on their site, including some information about publishing your book if you’re a NaNoWriMo “winner” at the end of the month!
Also, while you’re getting ready, you can read through Medium’s coverage of NaNoWriMo, which I’m assuming they’ll do again.

Thirdly, if you haven’t read it, No Plot, No Problem!, which is the original guide to National Novel Writing Month by the founder, and a great way to get your thirty day novel writing experiment launched.

And, finally, there’s the NaNoWriMo website itself. It is quite literally the place to get all the information about the event. Also, it’s a great place to get support while you’re working on your novel!

Come back next week to see if I manage to find even more NaNoWriMo prep tools for you, or have something totally different!

This post originally appeared on the Fantasist’s Scroll, one of my other blogs.

10/13/2017

My Luckiest Friday

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

At least once a year, I try to write about Friday the Thirteenth.

Mostly, because, while other people seem to find it unlucky, I don’t. At least, I don’t find it any less lucky than any other Friday on any other date. If anything, I find myself feeling luckier than normal when everyone else seems to be feeling less lucky, hence the title of this blog post.
Besides, when I get stuck for topics, as I sometimes do, this is an easy enough post to whip together again.

Back in the old days, before the internet or Google or smart phones we use to answer every passing question, I used to assume that Friday the Thirteenth was considered unlucky due to some Biblical association, like since Judas was effectively the Thirteenth Apostle or some other Apocalypse-related numerology that I hadn’t bothered to dig into before or something similar. It’s not a big stretch, really, since so many superstitions seem to tie back to some obscure custom related to religion. But, I’ve since found out that nothing could be further from the truth. Apparently, Friday the Thirteenth is considered unlucky because of its association with the plot to suppress the Knights Templar, according to this article on GlobalPsychics.com. No, seriously! And, I quote:

The modern basis for the Friday the 13th superstition stems from Friday October the 13th, 1307. On this date, the Pope of the church in Rome in Conjunction with the King of France, carried out a secret death warrant against “the Knights Templar”. The Templars were terminated as heretics, never again to hold the power that they had held for so long. There Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay, was arrested and before he was killed, was tortured and crucified. A Black Friday indeed!

So, there you have it, Friday the Thirteenth is a global conspiracy, though, for a nice twist, the Knights Templar or Freemasons aren’t behind it, but, rather, the victims of it! Which I appreciate, incidentally, because I am both a Freemason and, via another Masonic body, a Knight Templar, ironically. Although, to be fair, that same web page I link to there also goes into the fact that 13 is generally considered unlucky due to the number of people at the Last Supper being, you guessed it, thirteen. But, aside from the number, which is considered unlucky in a lot of ways, it’s the association with the suppression of the Templars, which happened on a Friday, that makes the day unlucky historically.

Personally, as I already mentioned, I usually have better luck on Friday the Thirteenth, but, then, I always have been a little out of step with the world. Besides, I’m not a very superstitious person, so I generally don’t buy into most of this nonsense.
Oh, and if you’re not buying the Templar story, here’s a link to some alternate ideas why everyone else is afraid of Friday the Thirteenth.

Oh, and in honor of the upcoming NaNoWriMo, next week you can look forward to some hopefully helpful information about National Novel Writing Month and getting started.

10/6/2017

It’s Filled With Stars!

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

In this case, I’m talking about nebulae that you make yourself.

Not anything that Dave saw aboard the Discovery or on the other side of the Monolith, but rather a beautiful web-based tool for “drawing” your very own space background. It’s called Neonflames, which is an accurate enough description and it’s really easy to use. Just go to that link, click on one of the big circles of color, then click, hold and drag your mouse over the blank, black screen. What’s left behind in the wake of your cursor is procedurally generated star-filled nebula. Change colors and add as much as you’d like, then you can either click the “Share” button to upload your creation to Imgur.com, or click “Download”, like I did, to save your nebula to your computer so you can share it any way you’d like, or even make it your computer background.
It’s simple, pretty and kind of relaxing on a Friday when you should be working but aren’t.

And, yeah, I know this is a little weak, but I was traveling this past week, so this is the best I’ve got.
Go see Blade Runner 2049 tonight! And I’ll see you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

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