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Novel-Idea


"Do it right and do it with style." - Author, Designer & Project Lead of the story-driven DLC Gardens of Equestria: This Coming Storm - (Patreon)

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May
17th
2017

EFNW 2017 Epicness · 3:45am May 17th

Just a reminder that I have a Discord server now! Come on over and chat! I promise much SunLight. (And since Tchernobog’s around, there’s a ton of AppleDash. And since Monochromatic’s around, there’s a ton of RariTwi!)

Happy Tuesday everyone!

So, I just did a thing! In the Northwest. And they had this song before it…

Actually, I thought that was seriously clever.

Phew. Cons are awesome, but exhausting. They are both awesomely exhausting and exhaustingly awesome. You know, I kept wondering why I was just so tired all the time at EFNW, until Ebon was nice enough to point it out to me. I think it was Ebon. A lot of the last few days are a bit of a blur…

No, not because of that. I didn’t actually drink (I don’t like the taste of alcohol… and you know, I’m boring and stuff).

No, the real reason was because I ended up hanging out with so many dang people!

I hung out with a couple people from the Manechat Discord.
I hung out with two people from the SciSetDaily Discord.
I hung out with the entire Writing Track staff & guests for EFNW.
I hung out with several small groups of the Writing Guests for EFNW.
I hung out with some of the Fallout: Equestria community.
I hung out with my friend Liam’s local friends.
I hung out with Ebon and Red Kat, both directors on GoE.
I hung out with random people we met on the very last day at closing ceremonies.

That’s a freaking ton of people!

So, time for a few special shoutouts before we get to the con shenanigans.

First of all, major congratulations to RedSquirrel456 for taking first place in the EFNW 2017 Iron Author Contest, wherein an author must write a coherent story from start to finish including editing within two hours! I thought everyone who entered was crazy. This opinion has not changed.

But still! He deserves major congrats! And I definitely do not regret shoving him to his feet during closing ceremonies for everyone to applaud. Eh-heh. Heh. :unsuresweetie:

Second, EbonQuill, my right hand as always. Not only was he instrumental in moderating the GoE panel with me when our original moderator got a little too crazy the night before and had to cancel on us (if his defense, he was left unsupervised), but he also stepped up in a big way and attacked the mammoth amount of stories that came in for the Iron Author Contest.

Ebon constantly pushed himself and threw himself into helping everyone he could… including scoring me a room directly below the penthouse suites (and because of Liam, I became utterly convinced Nicole Oliver was directly above me, though I have zero proof of this). Also, wanted to give a shout out to Spark Chaser, Ebon’s friend who came up from New Mexico.

Also, want to send out props to Corejo, another writer in arms who had way too much fun with us this weekend. And congrats for actually being able to use the Writer Meetup Time to actually write something. (I couldn’t do it).

An enormously-huge-Pinkie-Pie-Party-level thanks for Heartshine. Heartshine was the head of the EFNW Writing Track. It was thanks to her that I actually got to attend EFNW as a Community Guest!

I’ll talk a bit about my feelings regarding that status in a bit, but I also want to give her props for handling all of this while being sick. Seriously, the poor girl got hammered with a cold and still soldiered on despite that! She did an amazing job at the Fallout: Equestria panel on Saturday night (and mentioned Somber’s crime of deciding to “heal” Blackjack with the aid of a batpony instead of a therapist no less than seven times). It was miraculous what Heartshine managed to pull off!

I also got to rub shoulders with a lot of other really cool writers, including (but not limited to), Silver Flare, Horizon, Somber (I even got to poke him to make sure his arms weren’t cybernetic), Titanium Dragon and Xephyr.

EFNW Thursday

There were tons of other great people I got to meet, so many I can’t possibly remember. So let’s have a fun recap of everything, shall we?

First of all, I had a bit of “fun” getting up there. You see, the plane was delayed because the pilot called out sick :twilightoops:. Personally, I thought that was a good reason. Was going to leave at 8. That got pushed to 9:40 for the replacement to come down from LAX. I didn’t really mind. I wasn’t in any huge rush. I had finally decided to read Austraoh (yes, yes, first time, scream bloody murder now). Then they said like twenty minutes later, oh wait! We’re going to start boarding at 8:40 because he’s ten minutes away!

Sucked for the people with connecting flights, but the one cool thing was that the plane was half empty! Plenty of legroom.

This is the first time I’ve been to Seattle in something like fifteen years or so. I forgot how freaking gorgeous the Cascades are. The Pacific Northwest is simply stunning. In fact, once upon a time, I wanted to move up there and might have if I hadn’t landed a job with my dream company in Orange County. I just love the rain. So, it was only fitting that it was raining as we landed!

Okay, let’s fast forward a bit. Ended up meeting up with Ebon, Spark Chaser and Xephyr at the airport. Seriously, SeaTac is more mall than airport. That place is nuts. They had a freaking live cellist in the food court!

Finally, we headed in. We met up with a few others (now it's a bit blurry). Ebon introduced me to the London Fog. Dammit, finally Starbucks has a hold on me.

Eventually headed out with the Writing Track group to a BBQ place across the way. That was actually a lot of fun. Got to chat with Heartshine for the first time. Got my badge, freaked out a bit about being Community Guest again.

On Thursday night, we end up having a bit of a writing group in my room. Cojedo and RedSquirrel have already gone on at length about the epic adventures contained within those moments. Basically, the wifi in my room was at the very edge of the connection, so it was a D100 (and you had to roll a 95-100) to get an internet connection.

Much excitement was had with the dino.

EFNW Friday

So, Friday rolls around. Energy’s high. Folks are excited to be there.

Friday was mostly just hanging out for me. Did some stuff in a few writing panels, but the real gems that day for me was the “Meet the Princesses” panel starring Nicole Oliver, Tabitha St. Germaine, Britt McKillip and (of course) Rebecca Shoichet.

Seriously, Nicole Oliver has a major thing for Discord and Celestia.

I did get Kazumi Evans to sign a gorgeous “recommission” of Moon Dancer, though! I’d asked LunarCakez, who did my favorite picture of cute Moon Dancer if she had a copy of it that could be made into a print.

And after a day or two… this is what she came up with!

Kazumi Evans even said she loved the print! It was cutest Moon Dancer she’d ever seen. I replied “Good! Because one of them is for you.” I told her there was a price tag attached though. She got a bit nervous, but I laughed and told her I wanted to take a picture of me giving her the print as a gift to the artist.

Artist: “*fangirl squeal* SQUEEEEEE!!!”

That… was a lot of fun. Thank Ebon for nudging me to do that.

Another big thing for me was cruising the vendor hall, saying hi to the ones behind Shipping and Handling and BobDraws and having a total freakout before meeting Rebecca Shoichet. I almost asked people to go in front of me. It was that bad. I know, I know. I also managed to knock over everything at her table… twice.

And we forgot an autograph. I only got six things signed. Ugh. I need an intervention.

Then Ebon made me do it again because he got caught in Tabitha’s line and couldn’t get to Rebecca’s line again before they were done for the day.

That night, I learned I suck at writing in noisy environments. Who knew? (I did.)

Gardens of Equestria Panel

I made sure to get some sleep that night. Because at 11:15… Gardens of Equestria had our first EFNW panel.

I’m happy to report that things went really well. We eventually had 50+ people in the audience, had a ton of engagement and participation, people were literally on the edge of their seat for the Chapter 1 Teaser Trailer Reveal (nope, sorry, you don’t get to see it yet!). We had a ton of fun with the reactions of folks when it came to the combat in the Mysterious Cave (I enjoyed just busting out Little Macintosh for the final boss). But more than anything, it was the super enthusiastic applause at the end that really sold me on it. People really enjoyed seeing it. Those of you who happened to be there, let me know your thoughts! I really want to hear them!

I was happy… even if I had to go upstairs and stare at a wall for thirty minutes afterward. Believe it or not, I’m a total introvert. I practically had a panic attack after the panel! Still, it was great!

...I can’t believe I’m doing it [REDACTED]

By the way, if have never gotten the chance, you simply must attend a VA Script Reading. They are hysterical. Tabitha writes these awesome off-the-cuff scripts. This one even had a Rarity song in it because Kazumi Evans is Rarity’s singing voice and she was there! It was amazing and actually rather heartwarming. Very much in theme for Mother’s Day weekend.

Fallout: Equestria Panel

Finally, the last panel came up, which was the two-hour Fallout: Equestria panel. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. After all, I’m not technically speaking a Fallout: Equestria writer. Yes, I’ve written the entire story script for GoE and I’m writing the bridge novel between GoE 1 and GoE 2, but I don’t have anything actually published!

But it ended up going really, really well. I also got to poke fun at Somber a few times (I’ve been waiting to do that for forever). But in the end, it was a great discussion about themes, characters, writing techniques and just passion. The sheer amount of passion in that room was amazing.

This also happened to arrive at my house while I was at the con. (Not this specific one, but I finally got my copy!)

I do hope you all enjoyed that. It was a ton of fun, even if I was almost lynched when I admitted I don’t like sad, dark or tragic stories. And remember kids, telling people that a head injury got you into a fandom is a great way to explain anything!

Major props again to my fellow panelists Heartshine, Somber and Piquo Pie. Hopefully I wasn’t too snarky. Eh-heh.

Finally, I had one of the most surreal moments of my life.

People came up and wanted my autograph. I stared at them. I was totally confused, going like “You must be confusing me with someone else.” But… they wanted my signature. I… I still don’t know why really. It was a very surreal experience. I mean… come on! I’m just me! Who the heck wants my signature?!

Madness. Total and complete madness!

I signed the stuff they offered though.

Still weird.

Tried to write again that night...

Now, Sunday… that was my final panel… one I was really excited for.

Writer’s Block

Now, I’m going to be doing a full blog post on this later, because from the reactions I got during the panel, I think a lot of people need to hear this. We ended up with a bit of confusion too, because some schedules said that Silver Flare and Somber were supposed to be there, some didn’t. In the end, it was just Piquo Pie and myself, but it still turned out awesome.

Writer’s block is a common issue among any creative type. Doesn’t matter if you’re an artist, musician or author. Everyone gets this thing and it’s totally okay. The focus of my topics were about practical exercises. PiquoPie talked about some really interesting ideas regarding the theory behind writer’s block and some unique ways to tackle it (including stuff I’d never heard before). But I’ll let him do a post on his material. Don’t want to step on toes.

First of all, why do I get to talk about this? Well, as many of you know, I’m a discovery writer. I usually have a vague idea of what I want to happen in a story, an even vaguer idea of the ending and a few characters. Occasionally, I won’t even have that. Writer’s block is a constant companion to the discovery writer. It’s always there.

But I’ve also won seven National Novel Writing Months. This last NaNoWriMo, I did 75,000 words for the first time. My daily writing goal is usually around 1500-2000 (though that’ll increase a lot to make up for EFNW). While most of the stuff like Characters, Settings, Worldbuilding, Dialogue and the like are instinctual, Writer’s Block is something I’ve thought long and hard about.


So, I hear you asking, what the heck did you say, Novel?

Well, the first major step to defeating writer’s block is to never get into it in the first place! You want to prevent writer’s block. And here’s some tips on how.

1. Never stop writing for the day at the end of a chapter. Or at the end of a section. Or the end of a paragraph. Or the end of a sentence. I often end in the middle of a word! Why? Because you’ll always have something to write the next day, even if it’s just finishing that one word.

2. Turn off the internet. Put Google Docs into Offline mode. Stay off Wikipedia. For the love of Celestia, turn off Skype and Discord! They murder productivity.

3. Don’t let yourself watch TV or play video games until your daily writing goal is done. It’s always harder to get into that brainspace of writing after doing that sort of thing (at least, it is for me). You’ll also use the classic “reward” system and your games will actually feel a lot more fulfilling since you know you’ve accomplished your goal for the day.

4. Write every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 words, 1,000 words or even 10 words, write something. Every day you miss it becomes progressively harder to find that spot you were at before.

5. Read the section/chapter/scene over again before you start to write. Don’t try and just pick up exactly where you left off. By re-reading the scene (and don’t get stuck in editing; minor corrections and additions are fine, but wordsmithing and restructuring aren’t), you’ll often put yourself back into the space you were when you last wrote, giving you the chance to just flow right in.

6. If possible, write at the same time and same place every day (use the same hardware if possible, too). I know this isn’t practical for a lot of people, but every day on lunch, I shut off my desk computer at work, pull up my laptop, turn on white noise and just focus down for an hour. I don’t let myself do anything else. I race the clock to see how many words I can get done.


Now, sometimes, writer’s block is unavoidable. I want to touch on one major point and then bring up a few other points that brought up during the panel.

1. Let yourself write crap.

Writer’s block is often caused by your inner editor telling you that the words you’re ready to write aren’t good enough. That inner editor is a jerk. He’s only allowed out of his cage at the editing phase and you’re not there! Tie him up, stuff a sock in his mouth and throw him back in that closet. Now, he ain’t gonna stay there (and you don’t actually want him to), but you need to give yourself permission to write terrible words. You have to work through it to find the good stuff on the other side. Terry Pratchett said “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” So, tell the story. Worry about the quality later.

2. Painful Moments in Reality Reflected in the Story

In the panel, someone brought up a question that really resonated with me and I probably spent way too much time talking about this point. Basically, he had planned for a character to go through a traumatic experience… and then before writing that scene, he ended up going through it himself. He was stuck, unable to move.

I think this is caused primarily by fear. Fear that you’re going to show other people that vulnerable, hurting part of yourself. I know this happened to me a couple months back. You’ve heard about The Fallen Tower. You know that I basically funneled all the stuff I was going through into this story. It was intense. It was exhausting. It was also extremely cathartic.

When this sort of thing happens, you need to force yourself to forget that someone may read this story someday. Don’t think about your readers. Think about you. Think about your character. In fact, I’d say it’s more important to think about your character than it is to think about your experience. Because it’ll allow you some distance. And you’ll be able to get that out. It’s going to be hard. No matter what. But it’s incredibly important to do. Writing can really help you get past some of the hardest parts of your life.

3. Changes in Environment Affecting Your Ability to Tell the Story

Another person at the panel had this situation where his primary computer died and he was forced to write on tablets or smartphones. A situation that royally sucks. This is a bit of a double-edged sword. If you can use this, you can train your brain to know “It’s writing time” when you put yourself into specific situations. However, when that doesn’t work out, it can be incredibly hard to write outside of that environment.

I know. I couldn’t write a damn thing at EFNW. Seriously. Terrible stuff. Grahhhh. In the end, this is going to come down to discipline and willpower (and maybe a little prayer). It doesn’t matter if your location has changed, you still have a word count goal to make, even if it is only a page. You will adapt.

...if you happen to know an easier way to defeat this one, tell me!

4. Losing a Character’s Voice

Losing a character’s voice can be caused by a lot of different things. I think one of the most common ways is that you aren’t writing the character consistently. You’re actually writing in a great medium for this. I go by a rule: “I’m doing it right if I can hear it in the voice of the character’s VA.” Sometimes, you’ll need to take a step back, go watch a few Rarity episodes and make sure you get her speech patterns down.

If you’re good at characters, they’ll start to protest when you put them in situations and have them act counter to what they would normally act. It’ll become progressively harder to write. That means it’s time for you to change what you’re doing. The other side is that you’ll just end up directionless and it’s often caused by the same problem.

As a discovery writer, I often come to points where characters go “okay, your idea sucks, we’re going to go off and do our own thing.” If this happens, let it happen. Check it out. See where they’re going. Maybe your characters had way too many hard ciders before showing up to work today and are totally off-base, but more often than not, they know what they’re doing. Learn to trust your instincts.

Now, there are so many other things. And one of these days, I’m going to explore this topic at length. But right now, I think that covers the main stuff. But the key I left everyone with was this:

Find what works for you.

These techniques will often work better for discovery writers than other types of writers, but they can be used by anyone. There are also discovery writers for which this advice is useless. You need to experiment and play with them. Find your own. Figure out your own techniques and share them!

As long as you end up writing in the end.

EFNW Sunday

I felt like I finally earned that “Community Guest” tag on my badge with this panel. From the reactions of the audience, I think a lot of people got stuff out of this. I really hope you did too, even if it was just one little time. I’ve been fighting this battle for a very long time. You don’t have to make all the mistakes I have!

Finally, I just hung out and relaxed. We had an awesome closing ceremony (major props to the entire EFNW staff. This was BlizzCon-level professionalism here. They got their stuff down to a science) and I ended up playing TSSSF with RedSquirrel and a few new friends who were interested in GoE. I ended the day watching Spark Chaser go through the agony of Little Truths, arguing with Ebon about his latest novel and staying up way too late to wake up at 4:30 to catch a 6:20 flight back to Orange County.

That’s not even mentioning the awesome Tantabus costume, the Moon Dancer and Sci-Twi wandering the halls “sciencing” the hell out of everything and anything from Jedi Cutie Mark Crusaders to little robotic trucks, giant plushies, Nicole and Tabitha harassing DuskyKatt about getting a Unicorn Frap and a thousand other things I can’t remember at the moment.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience. I’m already planning on going next year and I think I’m going to help out far more with the Writing Track. It was totally awesome.

Yeah, I think this is a good point to stop. You can find some awesome pictures below!

And while I don’t have everything confirmed yet, I’m just going to say that I’m definitely going to be at BronyCon this year.

...oh boy. That should be wild.

-Novel

Comments ( 11 )

Good job!

i.imgbox.com/4biRyDBC.jpg
Adagio enjoying tea with... friends.

And I got that "Mr. Steal Your Waifu" pic signed by Britt McKillip and Vincent Tong. Yis.

So, do you sign autographs with your real name, or user name? Both? Great post, for the record. I'm on mobile or I'd parse it out more thoroughly.

Loved the SunLight artwork signed by Rebecca and Tara :heart:
Both of them :pinkiehappy:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Just imagine that everyone asking for your signature wants to be able to forge it on legal documents. :V

And as everyone knows, batponies are the best at everything. :B They'll therapy you while mowing your lawn and solving calculus, you don't need specialists! >:B

4535745 And it was AWESOME. :twilightsmile:

4535763 - I signed using "Novel Idea." I have to because of professional reasons. :ajbemused:

4535965 Joke's on them! My signature and my autograph are totally different! :rainbowlaugh:

As for batponies... you've been spending way too much time around Sethisto if you actually believe that. :rainbowderp:
(And for the record, "therapying" me while mowing the lawn just sounds like a bad idea all around. That kinda thing won't end well.)

4535814 I know, right!! Squeeeeeee! :rainbowkiss:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

4536064
You are obviously not familiar with my brand of sarcasm. :B

For the record, I do spend too much time around Sethisto. <.<

4536093 There are so many brands of sarcasm sold here at FimFiction, it's easy to get them mixed up. :trollestia:

Mykin #9 · May 17th · · ·

I'm glad you enjoyed yourself at EFNW! Hopefully I'll see you there next year (If you don't remember who I am, I'm the second guy to the left waving at the camera in the writer's block picture. I'm also the guy who got into the fandom through insomnia, if that helps)!

Anyway, I couldn't remember if I thanked you for the wonderful advice you gave for all of your panels I was able to attend. I got a lot more out of your panels than I actually thought I would and it was great meeting you in person too. Now I just need to apply what you taught me and get my stupid FoE fanfic finished before the year ends... right after I take a nap. EFNW was really tiring this year. Especially since I was fighting off anxiety-induced nausea the entire time I was there.

I regret nothing!

Yaaay! I can't wait to meet you at Bronycon!

Another person I didn't meet! Even if I have good reason.

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