Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: nanowrimo

2013 NaNoWriMo Excerpt #4

“Do you know the reason we greet people with open hands, Mr. Singh?” asked the man.

They were still shaking hands; Mos deftly turned enough that continuing the shake would be too awkward, and it broke. “I confess I do not. I didn’t catch your name?”

“No, you did not. It is Karl Beagle, of the Independent. The reason we greet people with open hands, Mr. Singh, is to signal that we are not holding weapons. That’s where left-handed people have an advantage and a disadvantage at once. You can’t trust them.”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

2013 NaNoWriMo Excerpt #3

“Stop it,” he said. “You don’t think I have thought of what you’re going to suggest? You’re gonna say that you find certain exercises helpful, that knowing that you have a physical body alleviates the mental pain. That focusing on repeating something helps. That you’ve found some god. Well, let me tell you, I haven’t had a hot meal in five days. And I don’t know why I would continue trying. So someone, anyone, give me a reason to go on living.”

Maybe he thought he was holding the gun to his own head. Maybe that was what he thought.

He pulled the trigger.

2013 NaNoWriMo Excerpt #2

Mos sighed. “Alright.” He turned to the wall of hostages, all pressed up against children’s books. “I’m going to release one of you as a show of good will.”

They were silent, all looked at one another without talking.

“Any volunteers?”

Dead silence still. There were eighteen of them, plus the little child whose life he was continually threatening.

“It might help,” said Rakel, “if you released someone who needs medical attention. I mean, release anyone who needs medical attention.”

“Does anyone,” Mos said carefully, “require medical attention?”

They all seemed fine. No-one stirred.

“Anyone with asthma?”

A man – the parent of the child, perhaps – held up his own inhaler and murmured, “I’m alright.”

2013 NaNoWriMo Excerpt #1

“I can do that, Mos. I can definitely do that, listen to your demands. This happens all the time, you know. What is it you require? A helicopter?”

“Are you mocking me?”

“Would I dream of mocking someone who’s holding a gun to a child’s head? I am a professional, Mos, and we are about to conduct some business.”

“Right, then.” There was a ghastly silence as the static on the line, and the jilt of jewellry, and the creaky sound of sweat pushing its way to the surface of his skin all paused to listen to what he was about to say. “I want a nice, quiet life.”

Read the rest of this entry »

2012 NaNoWriMo Excerpt #2

Another excerpt can be found here: /2012/11/12/nanowrimo-excerpt-1/

(This takes place before that one.) Comments appreciated.


The Information Market bustled. The woman used to take the way through it home because it was quicker.

The ceiling here speckled with stars, also had tiny disclaimers about ‘accurate representation’.

“Young lady!” screamed the man in the hat. He wore a garish reflecting suit and he bought and sold information for a living. He grabbed at the young woman’s neck with his hooked cane and eventually dragged her to his dais, where he knelt with one arm on his knee and looked into her eyes. “You can’t fool me. I know you were there, I saw the incident report with my own eyes. How’s about we make a deal?”

She wriggled loose from his cane (the only way to do this was unfortunately to move forward just a bit, and then duck; the Garish man smiled at her when they were this close) and rubbed her shoulderblades. “How about no, leave me alone.”

“You’re never gonna get a deal as good as this, I promise you. I have some bona fide ancient information, it arrived here from the Divers just a moment ago – I swear, this is the hot stuff! Tell you what, free of charge I’m gonna tell you the first bit, if you just will tell me your name, pretty one.” Read the rest of this entry »

NaNoWriMo is over

The old Romans partied so hard at the end of the year that they had to have a few monthless months between the end of the old year and the start of the new year. Winter was the of the world. The old are not people to look up to.

I got some useful writing done. Certainly, more useful writing than I would have got done, had I not NaNoWriMoed. Now,about 20,000 or more of the 50,016 words I wrote are complete unredeemable bollocks, but a 2:3 useless:useful ratio ain’t half bad, I hear certain actually publisehed people hang around at 5:1. I might be misrepresenting interview snippets to make myself look better.

I didn’t go with The Great Onebyone very far. I had plotted at least 30,000 words and figured I would do that famous seat-of-the-pants thing that many writers do. I seem to suffer from brevititis, however, an at 6,000 words I was almost out of plot. Next year I will bring bullet lists and diagrams. I am still not sure how I managed to write >50,000 words on a single project in previous years, but somehow I did it. If I plan obsessively until next November, I might be able to make one idea stick for that much. The brevititis must be fought back though, so I better plan for thrice as many words as that. (Thank you, Jaymes.)

I inspired people and was inspired. I made friends. I made some terrible puns. I made some terrible puns at friends. I failed at creating trending hashtags on Twitter.

Shout out to Evan and the Ghost Bear, Eros Fountain, the Ministry of Plenty, Tiaxint, and a bunch of other things whose creators I respect a great deal.


There’s a word inside a stone and whoever pulls the word out of there becomes king. Men have spent half their lifetimes conversing with the stone, laying forth their theories and trying to convince the stone they would be just kings, fair kings, loved kings. The scholars argue whether the word is stuck in a stone or in all stones, and so stonetalking’s spread to all corners of the kingdom.

A young man sits down next to the big stone (the one stone) and ignores the three knights quoting poetry at it. “Hi, how are you?”

“Bored,” the stone says.

Of White and Blue

In ancient times, the sky was full of suns, cold and far away. Jealous of their beauty, mankind built their own cold lights on the ground and mirrored the darkening sky. At first, the faraway suns still outshone the earth, but the humans in their cities put more and more blue lanterns by their bedframes and in their windows and to light up their streets. Eventually the sky was not only matched, but its beauty was beaten and the pinpricks of light faded away.

When we developed space flight to visit other worlds, we found that there were none there.

NaNoWriMo Excerpt #1

I am losing interest in telling this story well but there should be salvageable things after the month is over and writing can return to a more reasonable pace.


The Information Market seemed to breathe, or have a pulse. But it was nothing but a layer-3 suborganism and its ebb and flow was no more than that of the ocean.

Its pulse quickened, though. Garish stepped out onto a podium while three or four ghosts of him moved around on the floor like it was some sort of dance. His suits were black and grey now, his hat shorter and flatter. One of his ghosts stopped dead in front of a short hunchback.

“Why hello there, gorgeous,” he said though she hid her face. “How do you feel about a transaction?”

Her hunch seemed to twitch and she turned away. Garish stretched out his cane to poke her on the back with it but she turned around and ripped it from his grip. “What do you want?” There was a veil over her face now.

“How about, I hand you this –” he held up a small information ball like the one he’d given to Rovy a few hours earlier – “which is an extensive guide to dieting and taking care of one’s body. All I want for exchange is a little personal information from you.”

“I’m not telling you anything and I don’t need that.” Her voice was like gravel and grit.  Read the rest of this entry »

Rules of Style

Presented with only this for a comment: these are things I need to remind myself when writing; it does not contain some of the more – to me – obvious writing rules such as ‘no rule is omniapplicable’. List updated as of 30-dec-2015. Subject to change; am still figuring things out.

1: start the story where it needs to be started for the rest to make sense, not earlier.

i. chronology is appreciated. Every scene shall be the obvious choice of scene given the preceding scene. This also goes for sentences.

2: use ‘thought/felt’ as little as possible. [The show-don’t-tell rule. Courtesy of Chuck Palahniuk.]

3: no thesis statements/topic sentences. Do not start your paragraphs with ‘Gullvig was in love’ just to follow up with examples of how in love Gullvig is. Just give the examples directly.

4: do use specific examples and not category nouns, if possible. ‘His car drove into a tree’ vs ‘his ’78 Buick hit an oak’.

i. however do not exaggerate; do not confuse or anger with this.

5: if possible, write what people DO rather than what they do NOT do. What they do not do becomes clear from what they do.

i. to accentuate something a person does not do, make hir do the thing in a previous scene; use repetition to highlight the lack of doing.

1. if it is important to show what someone does not do, there is often a good verb for it. E.g. ‘avoided’ or ‘fasted’.

6: read everything aloud. If possible, get someone else to read your shit aloud.

7: as few words as possible to say as much as possible; verbs over phrasal verbs.

i. verbs over nouns.

ii. and over but; metaphor over simile.

8: on flow and feel: sentences trump individual words; paragraphs trump sentences.

9: obsess over details. Rework until it feels right. Do not put anything up that does not feel right. Do not apologize for this.

i. see everything before you write it. [Another show-don’t-tell rule. Courtesy of Stephen King.]

10: murder-your-darlings. If someone has a problem with your writings, listen to them as if they were your conscience. [Courtesy of Kristina S. who knows me by my old name and was a wonderful teacher.]

i. but treasure some darlings. [Courtesy of Warren Enström.]

11. only use ambiguity when you mean both guities.

i. remove all the almosts and somehows, all the seems and appears tos, and words serving similar functions (anything that vagues stuff) from your manuscript. It is now a better manuscript.

12. be more interesting than esoteric. Hooks are important.

i. do not compromise between interesting and esoteric, though: rewrite until it is more interesting without removing the esoteric elements.

1. no one should have to read a sentence more than once to understand it.

13. the only time the reader does not get to partake in essential information is when that is the point of the story. Style is secondary.

i. write. What. You. Mean.

14. if many explanations are in order, mention once what needs explaining, and explain them calmly one by one.

i. only give things names when they need names.

1. double-check that the name is superfluous before excising it.

15. to establish viewpoint character in a 3rd-person paragraph, mention something simple first before divulging their biases. A section may only contain text from one character’s point-of-view.

16. run freely with the metaphors. Organize your kaleidoscope so that the words belong to the image.

17. any given sentence should, upon inspection, only contain one kind of comma, if it contains commas.

18. it is bad luck to talk about stories you are currently writing. Explaining it removes the urge to tell the story, and you are left with a half-finished husk and no motivation. Guard your secrets like a dragon does gold, until they’re polished enough.

19. delete all instances and synonyms of veryactuallyapparently, and  definitely that show up outside of dialogue, but remember that adverbs are your friends. No-one can argue with lugubriouslyabominably, or borderline. (This rule is not in conflict with rule 11.i; borderline does not vague anything, it places another word exactly on a spectrum.)

20. is this the most interesting time in your character’s life? If not, why aren’t you writing about that instead? [Courtesy of Rich Burlew.]

21. coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating. [Courtesy of Emma Coats. (That whole list is great. Go read it every now and again:]