A to Z 2013 : AFTER ARMAGEDDON

(An A to Z 2013 Challenge Entry)

It’s April 1st and it appears this A to Z event isn’t some cruel April Fool’s joke...

So, the challenge begins! I have no doubt this is going to drive me mad, but felt it would be great practice and should open some doors to connecting with fellow bloggers. I’m curious of how the appeal will be, being I chose to focus on my journal/personal blog instead of my fiction blog. I also passed on picking a specific theme; something that would have heightened interest and made everything worlds easier.

With no theme, the topics will be random. I do, however, plan to blog a little about my writing projects intermittently. They will be sprinkled throughout the chaos that is about to ensue.

As a first time participant, I’m just going with the flow, all the while attempting to avoid becoming completely frazzled. The concern of keeping up with not only my own blog entries, but those of fellow bloggers, is a real one. Knowing that others are diving head first into the same murky waters, though, is comforting. At least I’m not alone.

No map, compass, or survival skills? Sounds good, let’s do this!

Write What You Know

I figured the most fitting place to begin would be with After Armageddon. It is, after all, the reason I stumbled upon the A to Z Challenge to begin with, so it would only seem fair. 

After Armageddon is a story I began to partake in once NaNoWriMo came to an end. Taking a break from my NaNo story, I thought blogging would be a great way to keep actively writing until the dreaded rewriting process. The idea for this story has been with me since early 2008, and was technically imagined as a TV series. For a period of time, I contemplated dabbling in screenplays/scripts, but never went through with it.

I am uncertain how common it is, but I see all my projects in visualized movie format — playing out in my mind — needing only to figure out how to write what I see. Considering I was deep within a writer’s block funk, the fruition of those ideas were rarely birthed. I created some simple outlines, but never advanced beyond that.

Eventually the idea resurged and I wanted to explore it, only this time in novel form. Instead of attempting to jump right in and tackling it, I thought I would write it over a period of time as a blog series. It wouldn’t be as daunting if piece by piece, rather than a full blown assault; easy peasy.
I was mistaken.

I feel most at fault was my departure from one of the Golden Rules of writing: write what you know. While I don’t fully agree — I think going outside your comfort zone helps you learn and grow, even with writing — I can completely understand how it makes things easier. I’m more accustomed to writing Fantasy/Adventure, and creating the world the events take place in.

After Armageddon is a Post Apocalyptic Fantasy/Sci-Fi based story taking place on Earth. A story that I can add various creations to, but want to retain a sense of realism. Sense of realism... I’ve a feeling that statement will completely bite me on the ass with what I have in mind for After Armageddon. Regardless, this lack of knowledge on various topics has me researching a lot of things, which eats up a lot of time.

It was during this research that I came across Shannon at The Warrior Muse. She had up an article/blog entry talking about writing post-apocalyptic stories. It was a lot of help, and I subscribed to her blog, which in turn lead me to hearing about the A to Z Challenge.

Another factor creating a challenge is that I didn’t start where planned. When the idea came to me, it was end of this story. It was something that I wanted to create and from there worked backwards. Eventually the story spiraled into more than I had anticipated; expanding well beyond the “end” I had envisioned. I feel a starting point is important when you tell your story. After Armageddon was meant to take place specifically in the not so distant alternate future, accompanied by a series of flashbacks throughout.

I got wrapped into a few specific scenes, though, that I really wanted to write. They take place before the main bulk of the story; essentially what would have been the flashbacks. This made things more difficult, but I found (thankfully) that doing this opened up a flood of ideas for the story — from additional characters and events to plot connections later in the series. With the third chapter, I‘m slowly attempting to shift into this other section/timeline of the story. We will have to see how the transition goes.

So, with the fear of not writing realistically, researching, entering uncharted territory, and other life contributions my pace has been hindered. I’ve finally released the third part and hope to continue regularly, albeit a bit slower than desired. Having just shifted the series to my own blog — originally posted on a collaborative blog — and having such a long delay since the last post, I assume I lost a handful that were keeping up on it.

That brings to light the other most important factor I seem to constantly forget. It’s for me. I love others reading and critiquing/discussing my writing, but ultimately it’s for myself; to keep doing what I am passionate about doing. Practicing and plugging away, finally after so many years of lost time. I’m treating the blog series as sort of a rough draft. That is why there will be random edits made over time. One of these, I’ve a feeling, will be the timeline. Others will just be minor grammar/spelling edits.

As for writing what you know? I’d like to believe I know people, and my stories are all very character driven. So, while I may not know much about military protocol, complete effects of earthquakes, and alarm system capabilities when power is lost, I feel those things will be background to what is most important: the characters.

What’s Your Story About?

This is a question I heard a lot during NaNoWriMo. It makes sense, right? You’re writing a story, and you’re interacting with other writers doing the same. Why wouldn’t you ask that question? As logical as it sounds, I’ve always had a strong sense of avoidance to it.

It’s like I have the defense mechanism of keeping my ideas safely guarded and secret. This isn’t necessarily because I think my ideas are amazing, but more that they are mine. Sharing these ideas would mean having to share some of myself. Also, I hate spoilers and feel that I will somehow give something away. It makes no sense, but it is what it is.

I can only imagine the scenario if I ever attempted to pitch my book for publishing:

“Well, you see, this thing... this event takes place. The story takes place X amount of time after said event, and these characters are striving to survive,” I’d begin.

“What exactly is the event? What happens? What happens to your characters along the way?”

Silence.

“Uh... stuff... and then more stuff... you see?” Met with blank stares. “Once you read it, you’ll completely understand!”

Yeah.. I’ve a notion that won’t go over too well. What can you do? If there was a trailer for the series I’d want it reminiscent to earlier M. Night Shyamalan movies; Vague yet intriguing. I hate how so much is spoiled in trailers nowadays!

Anyway, it has to be maddening for one of my brothers who I’ve signed on to be my soundboard. The conversations aren’t so much different from the above. Even worse is I know he’s likely to read it at some point, and hate ruining anything. He will bring up one point/topic, and I will say that point/topic is explained or irrelevant because of X, Y and/or Z which have yet to be revealed to him. Oh yes, it drives him mad! Muahahahahaha!

I’m getting better with it, I swear. But... but no pinky swear. Just saying.

What I can say is that the story is set to be gritty and geared towards adults. Violence, blood, and vulgarity will be prominent. There are religious themes, and like most of my writing, various theories/beliefs are intermixed.

Uh... So WTF is Your Story About?!

To be honest, I haven’t exactly ever come up with a fitting synopsis of After Armageddon. While I know the endgame, The inner workings are still very much a work in progress.

Essentially it’s a story about a cataclysmic event that changes the world as we know it, and how those that survive must adapt and cope with this change. Specifically focusing on a handful of people as they fight for their lives and quite possibly the future of the world; some by choice, others by circumstance.

Sound pretty generic? Yeah, I thought so too.

So you see, this event takes place... and stuff happens. But guess what? There are people in it! Not only that, but they have to survive through the aftermath of said event!

*Sigh*

I'm working on it, I swear! But... you know... not pinky swear. That’s serious business.

If interested in checking out what I have out so far, just remember it’s always best to start from the beginning.

The Early Arlee Bird Gets the Worm Word

Upon registering to the A to Z Challenge I was informed who it was exactly that begun the challenge: Arlee Bird. He has been there from its humble conception, building it up and helping it metamorph into the beloved event it is today. Each year, more and more participate and now there is no going back!

It just goes to show how a simple idea can spawn great things and bring such a wide variety of people, of different backgrounds, together. Its a beautiful thing really, and is a reason I like a lot of these types of events. Regardless of our upbringings, beliefs, passions, we all have a connectedness. This is one of the ways we ignore those differences and engage with one another. We write! We encourage one another! We curse the letters X and Z!

So I’d like to give thanks to Arlee Bird for creating such a fun event, and I look forward to giving it my first go. I plan to participate from here on out; year after year.

You can visit Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out! Good luck to everyone participating!

Que the Interactions

I’ve come to notice a handful of blogs place questions at the end of their entries. I’ve also read articles stating it is a great way to engage your readers. It seems clumsy to me, but I am attempting to follow suit...

Have you ever strayed from “Write What You Know” when writing a story? If so, how have you managed the challenges it presents? Are you secretive/hesitant about sharing your story ideas or do share with wreckless abandon? Does anyone actually take pinky swearing as seriously as I do?