So, I finally finished the extended notes/storyboard for the first act of my latest project last night. I’d like to point out at this time that these are extended notes/storyboards for a “short story”. When I first started this, I was shooting for 5,000 words, but now it looks like I might have to add another zero this time around.
Oh well, I’ll just chalk it up to experience. That’s all you can do, right? One of these days, I should remember what my pappy used to tell me: “Measure twice, and cut once.”
Actually, I call him dad.
Nobody in my family is called ‘Pappy’.
…that I know of.
Earlier this year, I made a super-secret promise to myself. I promised that my intentions would be correct before I started another project. Which means, before the words “Chapter 1” appear on paper, there are a few things that need to be taken care of first.
Like, make smaller goals.
Before You Fly, Get Used To The Controls
I was bound and determined to not let a new word processing software frustrate me to the point of abandoning all my other projects altogether. I had to remember that even though goals and deadlines are important, the only ones that exist are the ones I make for myself. Instead of making the goal a completed manuscript, I made a shorter term goal of getting comfortable with the software I’m using. It made things so much easier.
I gave myself two weeks. With the same amount of focus and determination I would devote to a video game, if I at least still didn’t get the hang of it by that time, it would be time to move onto a Plan C.
Learn To Love Your Mistakes
I’ve found that the best way to ensure that your project never gets off the ground, is to never start it because you’re convinced that you don’t know what you’re doing, or that you’ll do badly, and your efforts be rejected, scolded and mocked, and you’ll be cast out of society and forced to live in a cave somewhere.
I’ve also learned that the best way to get over that feeling, is to barrel through your project and not look back. Make all the grammatical errors you want. Indulge in run-on sentences. Meander. Digress. Ramble. Change the Subject. Make shit up. Do all the things that you were told not to do, and then do them anyway. Laugh maniacally as you’re doing it too. It works for me.
Get to the end of a sentence. Get to the end of the page. Get to the end of a thought. Set that as a goal. When you’re done filling your page with nonsense, make a new goal to clean it up.
Erase The Term, “Award Winning” From Your Vocabulary
…at least for the time being.
Get any ideas of knocking it out of the park on your first try out of your head right now. Being a new writer, an unpublished author, one out of literally millions, the chances of you being noticed, let alone published at all are astounding. Just like everyone else. But, if you have made your mind up to make your first project a bestseller, then fine. Let’s say that it makes it.
Did you think that far ahead?
I bet you didn’t.
So, instead of shooting for the New York Times Bestseller List on your first go around, how about aiming a little lower. Like, getting published in the first place. Let’s go with that, and then worry about which summer home you’d want to park your Lambo in later.
Anyway, I followed these ground rules I set for myself, and it resulted in a more robust structure. More to the point, it resulted in a structure. The First Act is good. It could be better, and it’ll probably be improved upon as I go. But for right now, I’ll settle for good. Because, my main goal isn’t just to get this published, it’s mostly to see if I can do it. The story itself is nothing more than a Hero’s Journey, strictly meat and potatoes storytelling. I know I’m covering no new ground, but I just want to see if I can actually do it. Like climbing the mountain just because it’s there.
So, at the end of this act, I have discovered that there are a few more characters than I thought, which is normal. But, I may have stumbled upon something else in developing these characters. In my story, there are these aboriginal type creatures that need to distinguish themselves from the other characters. Their ways are ancient, and so is their language.
I never considered that I might have to invent a new language.
So back down the rabbit hole I go. I’ve been wrestling with how I should go about doing this all morning. Should I just craft a few phrases together and call it good, or should I actually take the time and develop a lexicon like Tolkien did?
Tolkien and I have the same birthday…
…just thought I’d share that.
But, that’s just it, isn’t it? When faced with a one-off and a deadline of ‘Somewhere In the Near Future’, do you clumsily stitch together some gibberish like when Princess Leia pulled a fast one on Jabba and hope the audience doesn’t notice, or do you start from scratch and make something as rich and as real as Klingon? According to an interview for WIRED magazine, David J. Peterson, inventor of the Dothraki language among others, suggests we might have come a long way since Return of the Jedi.
“You’re making the sounds to make up the dialogue. It’s gotta have some thought that went into how the thing works.” [but] “that doesn’t mean the fan community can’t step up and fill in the blanks,”
Not that I’m suggesting that calling all Word Nerds to collaborate with me [ahem]. The details of the language are still in my head and a little fuzzy at the moment. I’m sort of leaning towards a derivation of a Mesoamerican dialect…
…Yeah, I know. Some people golf for fun. This is what I do.
But, I’m excited. I’d like to see where this goes. It could turn into something big, it could be forgotten about. Either way, still excited.
Posting chapter samples soon.