• Tag Archives D.C. Menard
  • How To Dress For All NaNo’s Eve

    As some of you may know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the month where we are challenged to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This will be my third year participating and I’ve come to view October 31 not as Hallowe’en, but as All NaNo’s Eve, a celebration similar to Hallowe’en in that we dress up and eat candy but also stay up so we can begin writing as soon as midnight hits.

    In the spirit of All NaNo’s Eve, I will share with you my costume and how it came into being. This year I went as my all time favourite writing program: Scrivener.

    To begin, open your Scrivener project and select the most visually appealing chapter:

    Then create your scene cards, binder, and meta-data and arrange them on your clothing:

    Cork Board
    Project Window

    Now you’ll want to create a handy template to help you as you paint the Scrivener logo on your face:

    Put it all together, and you’re ready to head out to your local NaNoWriMo Midnight Kick-Off!

    Once you have returned home from getting a head start on your novel at the kick-off, sigh wistfully as you remove the paint from your face with wet wipes and go to bed so that you may awake refreshed and ready to write once more.

    Also: because writing a novel in a month isn’t crazy enough, I’m doing a blog post a day in the Epic Month of Blog Posts challenge. To see the full list of those who are participating, check out the side bar at Epic Robot Danni.


  • It’s Not Bragging If It’s A Short Story

    I brought it on myself really. There’s no denying it. After all, I’m the one who chose the number for the latest writing challenge sent out by Danni… how was I to know that it would turn out to be so, well, challenging?

    Here’s what I apparently chose:

    “A Twist of Truth”

    Tell us a story from your past.


    1) It must be a true story, but it can be any story that you want to tell.
    2) It does not have to be completely accurate.  Think of this more as a dramatization rather than a biography.
    3) The story cannot be from your POV.  In other words, it’s your memory, and your story, but it should be from the POV of someone else who was there.  (This could even be the family pet, if you’d like)

    Ignoring–or perhaps allowing for–the fact that rule 2 offers some leniency, I’m faced with a dilemma. In any story of mine with actual conflict told from the other persons point of view I either a) come off as looking like a terrible person, b) look like I’m trying to be sensationalist, or c) both. A corollary to b is that I’m afraid that anything interesting about me will come off as trying to make a political point somehow.

    If I’m completely honest with myself, I’m a little afraid of the soul-bearing involved in this. That sounds weird coming from me, I know. After all, I tweet and blog pretty freely about my trans experience, my ADHD, and to some extent even my faith(though I still hold back there sometimes for fear of being too ‘evangelical’.) On top of that, my short story for the previous exercise was nothing if not a morality story that pretty much came down to ‘good Christians don’t throw their kids out of the house for being trans*’ and Fallen Things is nothing if not my soul refracted into a multitude of characters. I have no issues sharing these with the group, so why am I so hesitant now?

    Partly, revealing myself through my characters is safe because it’s not ‘really me’. I can hide myself in the bit that are pure invention. And on the other side, revealing myself through my own perspective is authentic. I know how I feel or think I feel about the things I’ve experienced and the things I’ve done, but I can’t be certain how others perceived me in the same event. I’m terrified enough of getting my sister ‘wrong’ that I won’t even give a character her name. Actually, most close friends and family are off limits for names, for just about the same reason. I don’t want to get into their minds and get it ‘wrong’.

    All of this of course just underlines why I have to write this. If it makes me uncomfortable, that’s just one more emotion to tap into for my writing. It’s one more thing I need to face so I can grow in my craft, and thus become a stronger writer. I may have to drag myself through this story kicking and screaming, but I will do it.

    Is this something you’d have trouble with too, or would you have no problem with it? What other sorts of topic or situations are challenging for you to write? Don’t be shy, tells us all about it in the comments.

  • The Long And Short Of It

    Some of you on Twitter may have noticed me blaming my friend Danni for the current predicament of some new characters of mine. I stand by the statement that it is all her fault, both their existence and the fact that I’ve thrown another character out of their home at a young age, and in the rain no less. You see, our critique group has sprouted a writing aspect, and last Monday she sent out the first short story assignment(s).

    Now I find myself bemoaning the fates of my characters, pulling my hair out over the most appropriate use of gendered pronouns in this context, and trying to find the right shape for the Morality Hammer I’m beating my readers over the head with. (It has been decided that Morena Baccarin would be the perfect shape for a Morality Hammer.) I also find myself contemplating the difference between the first draft of a novel and the first draft of a short story.

    I think–though I’ll let my group inform me whether I’m right about this or not–that I write a much cleaner first draft with a short story than I do with a novel. This is hardly surprising of course; after all, a thousand words into a short story puts me half or two thirds of the way through, while a thousand words into a novel is at best a chapter. I have a much shorter arc to deal with, and in the same amount of space I’ve had to establish and develop setting, character, and plot. I’ve gotten to know the players very quickly, and if I need to go back and change something I only have a few pages to tweak. It keeps things simple. With a novel, changing something can mean dismantling whole chapters in order to maintain structural integrity. (And it just occurred to me that if folks built houses the way I write novels, there would be no chance of structural integrity what with putting up drywall and painting before the framing is even half finished. Never mind that doorway I cut out, boarded up, and moved two feet to the left only to put up a beaded curtain and a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign.)

    Anyway. Let’s get back to the subject at hand, which if I remember correctly, is short stories. In some ways, it’s easier to produce a clean first draft since I’m working with a much shorter narrative, but in other ways it’s harder to produce a first draft at all. Like I said above, within a thousand words I’ve already had to have some major plot and character development. I have to find out where our story is going that much sooner. Each detail is that much more important, and must be orchestrated with that much more finesse. It’s enough to drive a writer mad.

    That said, I’m now just over twelve hundred words into this story, Morality Hammer and all. The end is written in my head; I just need to type it up. Now if only I could figure out what to do about these pronouns.

    How does writing short stories compare to writing novels for you? Do you have a preference? How about other forms of writing? Poetry, scripts… tell me your tales!

  • Where I’ve Been, and Where I’m Going

    I may be a little late to the New Year party, but I still think this is the ideal time for a look back at what’s happened in 2011–especially during those months of silence on this blog–and to look forward to what I have planned for 2012: The Year Where Things Happen.

    A lot happened for me last year. My career and employment prospects went up and down like a mad rollercoaser; my trans history began to be just that, a history, rather than a daily struggle; writing became central to my life, giving my a greater drive and purpose; I began to face and manage my ADHD which brought focus to my drive.

    I also found God, or maybe He found me. Either way, I’ve been delving into my theology like never before, finding that if I can ignore the vocal factions of fundamentalist bigots calling themselves Christians, there’s actually a solid and powerful message of acceptance in the faith itself. It’s made me question my beliefs about a lot of things, but rather than changing my values, it’s strengthened those I already held dear, principally: love each other.

    2011 was a year of discovery, a year of finding out who I am and what I want to do with my life. 2012 will be a year of action. It will be the year where I put myself out there and Make Things Happen.

    I’ve been working on my novel, Fallen Things, for over a year now. In the next few months I’ll be putting on a final push to polish it up and get it out the door. It’s being cranked through the Critique Machine with my group, A Bitch Of Writers. And if you’ll take a peek at my friend Danni’s blog, you’ll notice a little counter on the side bar. I’m participating in her Epic Year of Querying, and therefore have no choice but to get Fallen Things out to agents.

    I’m also putting together a portfolio on this site, showcasing my cartography and graphic design work. I’ll be adding to it over the next few weeks, but until then you can check out the land of Felsirq.

    Also in the next week or so, I’ll release the details of an experimental publishing project that’s just waiting to be funded and developed. If this goes well, and I have every intention that it will, I’ll be able to devote more time to my creative aspirations, and write a book in a way I’ve never written, or seen a book written, before.

    2012 is the year to take risks, make mistakes, and create something glorious along the way. I plan to do all of the above, and lucky you, you get a front row seat to it all.

    Any grand plans for 2012? Who else is jumping in feet first, and damn the torpedoes? The year is young; let us bask in the glow of optimism and Make Things Happen!