For Nanowrimo last year, I decided to tackle a brand new story from one of the ideas I had that I’ve never really drafted. My WIP at that time was incredibly ambitious – for me, at least – and I’ve decided to put it on hold for this new project. However, because of what I’ve learned from tackling that ambitious WIP, I realize there are things that seem to be holding me back from fully fleshing out my new WIP.

The most significant one, I feel, is the fear of world-building. I felt that this time, I’m not going to start on the world-building until I’ve fleshed out the plot. Yet even when I’ve completed the outline of my story, I still find myself afraid to really focus on the world-building. In the previous WIP, I was engrossed in the world-building and not so much in the story, and as a result, I built a story that would serve the world-building rather than the other way around. It was a mess (and still is, actually). Right now, I’m afraid I’d do the same thing again, even though I have a somewhat solid outline where I can pull out the parts that need world-building – and do only those parts. This is something I’m gonna have to tackle if I’m going to complete the story.

Another thing holding me back is fleshing out other characters. This is another fear borne out of my experience with my previous (still unfinished) WIP. That one had a ton of characters with POVs and some significant ones without POVs. For these characters, I know their character arcs, personalities, and relationships with other characters. And because of that, I have far too many subplots. For the new project, I found myself afraid to even touch the secondary characters’ backstories. I feel very little connection – or none at all – to the characters aside from the protagonist. A few of them would need some backstory – of which I have a general concept, but only in broad strokes – to sort-of explain their relationship or interaction with the main character, and I’m just afraid to flesh them out, afraid I’d end up with a runaway subplot and create random characters or conflict or scenes for that specific subplot, even though I know better now.

The last thing that I feel could be potentially holding me back is my resistance to writing in first person. Objectively speaking, I’m starting to believe that a first-person POV would enhance the storytelling given the character’s internal struggle, but I refrain from doing it for a few reasons. Let me start by saying that this story idea was inspired by depressing things, and I believe at that time, I was really into dark depressing anime. And for some reason when writing this story, I somehow wanted to preserve that kind of depressing tone which I feel works well with it being a dark fantasy. I don’t want it to end up being some kind of self-insert but in a depressing way, with me remembering how I felt back then when this idea came to mind. Or, I might mess up the tone because, at the time of writing it, I’m not really feeling depress-y. Also, the main character is supposed to have a personality different from mine. Would I lose track of her personality and end up inserting mine instead? I don’t know. Well, this issue is really just a thought and it’s not a big deal. I’m quite comfortable with third person limited and will continue to tell the story that way. (I also suspect these are all based on my own misconceptions of what it’s like writing in first person.)

If you are currently writing, is there anything holding you back?

I was planning to post an update of my current progress but decided on this topic instead because there’s really not much to update as of now. I am updating my outline based on the 50K+ words I’ve drafted and have grouped and regrouped the scenes into chapters. The outline is basically for me to check if everything flows well structurally without having to read through everything, but apparently, it’s not easy to summarize a scene (in paragraph or list format) and not that much fun either. I also can’t seem to make up my mind on which scenes should go together in a chapter. Right now, I’m looking at about 35-40 chapters for around 70 scenes. I hope to complete the draft and the updated outline by the end of Feb this year. We’ll see if I can accomplish that.

 

I want to set realistic goals, but at the same time, challenge myself. I also want a clear list from which I can refer to at the start of 2021 to see what I have achieved and what I have failed to accomplish. Aside from that, I want to include in my list those that I have failed and keep doing so yearly until I achieve them (unless if they don’t make sense to be redone). And for those that I have achieved, I should either keep it or increase it – although, this only applies to countable goals (like how many books to read).

Now that I have set some ground rules, here are my goals…

2020 Reading Goals

  • Read 50 Books. I thought 50 books would be more or less easy for me, but I actually just barely made it last year. So this year, I’m gonna maintain this goal and hopefully, it’s easier this time around.
  • Beta read 3 WIPs. Last year from September to mid-November, I beta read 2 projects completely, and the first part of another project. More or less, I had a good experience, and so I hope to do the same this year. I’m doing the second part of that project now, signed up for another one just recently which will start soon, and will be looking for a third one once I’m done with that. (FYI, WIP stands for Work In Progress. Also, FYI stands for For Your Information. 😜)
  • Read 5 books published in 2020. I haven’t yet decided which books these are, but I’ll definitely be checking out books that are set to release this year and see what catches my interest.
  • Read 5 indie books published in 2020. I know some indie authors who will be releasing books this year, so I’m excited about those.
  • Read 5 books that won Goodreads Choice Awards in 2019. I expect these “award-winning” books to be excellent, so I’m going to be checking out that list for anything that interests me. And also to update myself as I may be slightly outdated.
  • Read 5 books from my Scribbler subscription boxes. I have been subscribed to Scribbler since mid last year but have yet to read any of the books that came with the boxes. I have a library of books on my iPad so I usually default to that for reading choices. Now, that I have my TBR cleared, I’m gonna check out those Scribbler books. (Scribbler is a monthly subscription box that comes with a book and writerly goodies. Check out their website here.)
  • Read 12 dark fantasy or horror books. My current project, tentatively called “Claire of the Corpses” is a dark fantasy (and horror, if I can help it) story. So naturally, I would like to read books from the same genre, maybe after I finish the draft, while I let it breathe. (I actually did “finish” the draft during NaNoWriMo last year, but I skipped several scenes and so I intend to fill them all up before going into revisions.)
  • Read the books I should have read last year. I talk about them in my last post, and this shall be the year I finally complete that list. 🤞

2020 Writing Goals

  • Complete COTC draft by March. COTC stands for “Claire of the Corpses” which is the tentative title for my current WIP.
  • Finalize TMM revised outline in April (Camp NaNoWriMo). This is my WIP for my 2018 NaNoWriMo project and this outline needs a huge overhaul! Before I even start writing one word of (well, a brand new) draft, I want to produce a cohesive outline that flows well. TMM stands for “The Moonseeker’s Medallion”, though recently I’ve changed the title to “Davathad” (which means “war” in my fictional language). Both these titles are tentative.
  • Finish COTC revisions in July (Camp NaNoWriMo). Hopefully, I can complete the draft in March so I can use Camp NaNoWriMo in July to do the revisions. I don’t want to start revisions right after completing the draft, as I may be too close to it to objectively correct mistakes, find plot holes, etc.
  • Brainstorm an outline for “New Project” in October (Preptober). I want to use NaNoWriMo to work on new ideas. This is the time to set aside anything I’m currently working on and focus on the ideas I have put on hold. I’m not sure if this is a good idea, jumping from one project to another, but depending on the actual progress of TMM and COTC by that time, I may just have to work on one of them for Nano and skip this step.
  • Draft 50K words of “New Project” in November (NaNoWriMo). I do intend to win NaNo again this year.
  • Write 12 new poems. I actually wish to join NaPoWriMo in April, but since last year I wasn’t even able to write 12 poems, I’ll just repeat that goal until I’m able to do it. (Okay, actually that’s a lie, I did write more than 12 poems but some of them are depressing and are about actual people that I don’t want to share them. I guess the goal is really to write and post 12 new poems.) Then, I can think about participating in NaPoWriMo. (NaPoWriMo is National Poetry Writing Month, which is in April. Check out their website here.)

2020 Blogging Goals

  • Post every Sunday. Definitely maintain a consistent posting schedule. Starting today.
  • Post at least 1 poem per month. This will tie in nicely to my 12 poems goal, although I’m hoping for more than 12 poems. I also want to write more haiku and free verse poems this year.
  • Review Witcher books. Witcher is constantly on my mind after having just watched the show. The Witcher books were the books I read after I’ve finished rereading the A Song of Ice And Fire books, like, five times that I had to tell myself to go find another book. Witcher 3 is my favorite video game of all time and I’ve spent more than 300 hours on it. This franchise is quite valuable to me so I thought it should reflect a little bit on my blog by reviewing the books.
  • Post reviews of the books I read for Indiecember 2019. I’m either gonna just repost the ones I posted on Amazon/Goodreads, or write about them a little bit more for this blog.
  • Create a WIP updates page to track my WIP progress publicly. It just makes me feel more accountable and motivate me to work on them more.

Aside from the above, I’ve decided to include some personal goals as well. Typical personal goals are financial goals and fitness goals. So I’m gonna go ahead and give those a shot:

2020 Financial Goals

  • Increase my Savings ratio by 1%. What the hell am I talking about? I’m talking about the “50-30-20 Rule”, which corresponds to Needs-Wants-Savings. Basically, it means that 50% of your spending should go to Needs (such as rent, bills, etc), 30% on Wants (shopping, entertainment, etc.), and 20% on savings or financial goals (like savings, investments, retirement plans, etc.). I began tracking my expenses in June of last year when I just started my new job, and based on that, my ratio is approximately 49-31-20. Which means Needs is 49%, Wants is 31%, and Savings is 20%. It’s unlikely my Needs will change, so I guess I’d like to transfer that 1% from Wants to Savings this year.

2020 Fitness Goals

  • Do plank pose for at least two minutes every day. I’m taking inspiration from my colleague on this as she does it and recommends it. I tried to do it in December but didn’t really do it daily. So I’ll do this goal for 2020 and if I can do it consistently, then maybe I can think about better fitness goals in 2021. I generally don’t like to exercise 😅 so I don’t want to overwhelm myself with fitness goals this year.

 

Do you think these goals are feasible? Am I challenging myself a little too much? Or maybe, it’s not enough and I need to challenge myself more?

 

I mentioned my 2019 goals in this post and it’s now time to check if I achieved them.

Reading Goals in 2019:

Why did I not read those 4 other books? It probably was because the other indie books from the Indiecember prize pack arrived and… I got distracted by them 😅

Writing Goals

  • Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo – ACHIEVED
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo – ACHIEVED
  • 12 Poems – PARTIALLY ACHIEVED 😓 I only did 10 new poems in 2019:

Blogging Goals for 2019:

  • Although, I said in the post that I don’t have any blogging goals, but I did say in this other post that I will be blogging on Sundays starting in September. However, I did not do that consistently so this one will have to be a FAIL. Sigh.

I’m hoping to finalize my 2020 goals this weekend and will be posting them soon.

Did you also have reading, writing, and blogging goals in 2019? Did you achieve any of them?

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Long story short, I thoroughly ENJOYED the show! I was hoping to enjoy it, of course, but, being a fan of the books by Andrzej Sapkowski and the video game by CD Projekt Red, I was incredibly nervous about this show. These were my reasons for this nervousness:

Showrunner’s Agenda. There was some controversy on the casting for this show and the showrunner’s response to this controversy, and how it was being reported in the media. It made me feel that the showrunner, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, may be using this show to insert her own agenda rather than be respectful of the source material, as well as the fans of the books and video games who love it and made it so popular to begin with. I didn’t know if I could trust that kind of person to take good care of this property.

Having diversity is great, but there’s a lot of properties you can do that with (X-Men, for example). You can also create your own original property for it even, rather than try to hijack an already existing one. So my question is: is it necessary and fair to do that with The Witcher? The characters of The Witcher were already diverse, but there’s just not that many black people in that world, for example, so for Hissrich it wasn’t enough.

After being aware of this controversy, I was just disillusioned. I had hoped they’d pick someone who had loved the games and books for years, not someone who came into it fresh and with an agenda.

But I didn’t lose hope. Casting was just one aspect of it. There’s still a chance to be blown away by the storytelling and world-building, in terms of cinematography, musical score, action, special effects, etc. So I was nervous, but stayed hopeful.

The controversy actually helped me mitigate my expectations when I finally did watch the show. So seeing Triss, Fringilla, Vilgefortz, etc. didn’t end up to be jarring, as they probably would have been. Especially for Triss, who was a significant character in the game. And because the world in the show is already diverse to begin with, it didn’t feel off at all, though I admit, I still would have liked to see the old Triss (the one in Witcher 3. Now that I think about it, this wasn’t the first time Triss was changed). Anyway, overall, the diverse casting did not hurt my enjoyment of this show. The actors themselves did well.

Cavill as Geralt. I have seen Henry Cavill in a lot of things, including The Tudors when he wasn’t Superman or that well-known yet. Based on those, I felt he would not be the best Geralt. I was hoping for Nikolai Coster-Waldau who played Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones. It was nice to know that Cavill loved the games and the books and really sought out this role. But the question here is: can he actually play it well?

Yes. The answer is yes. When the trailer came out, all my fears about Geralt were gone.  And when I finally watched the show, I absolutely loved that aside from the voice and accent (note that Cavill is English, not American) (EDIT: on second viewing, he sounded English now, sorry about that), Cavill even captured the little quirks that Geralt had in the game, like his grunting, the way he talks to Roach (his horse), his facial expression and mannerisms. The Superman in Cavill completely disappeared, and all I saw was his Geralt.

Yennefer and Ciri. When the trailer revealed Yennefer and Ciri, I was just disappointed. Also, why was Ciri all grown up? She wasn’t even supposed to be born yet. As much as I loved Cavill as Geralt, I did not like them at all! It didn’t help that the Yennefer and Ciri in the game were already so compelling, in their nuance and charisma, and so the actors featured in the trailer paled in comparison.

Both Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan, who played Yennefer and Ciri respectively, did solid acting in their portrayal of their characters. It took me a while to get used to them because, well, I supposed the bias for the game is just so strong in me. However, by the end of the show, they’ve completely won me over, especially Anya Chalotra whose Yennefer of Vengerberg had great chemistry with Henry Cavill’s Geralt of Rivia.

Nilfgaardian Armor. In the game, Nilfgaard is a formidable empire and it showed in their armor. I feel that the show didn’t exactly capture this. They already had the game to compare to, shouldn’t they have at least enhanced from that, for the show version? I don’t know. But anyway, I got used to it, so I just tolerated it, I guess. Besides, there’s new leadership in Nilfgaard and who knows, we might get a different design in the future. (Also, this is clearly a nitpick.)

I started out criticizing Lauren Hissrich, the showrunner, but in the end, I commend her for producing such a wonderfully realized version of The Witcher. I’m in love with it and cannot wait for Season 2!

This is by no means a complete review of the show. There are so many things I loved about the show that I haven’t discussed here, and things I wished they’d done differently, knowing the source material. I am still deciding whether I should review the show as a whole or per episode. And what about the books? Should I review them as well? Can I even organize my thoughts well enough to come up with any of these reviews?

As I gather my thoughts and decide on that, let me end this post with the official trailer:

In my previous post, I did the Indiecember Writing Tag, answering questions about my current WIP while trying to get a bingo. Now, I’m doing the Indiecember Book Tag.

14-booktag-13xSo, what is this Indiecember Book Tag?

This time, it’s a bingo game for readers. The board now has 24 squares, with the center square as a wild card. Each number corresponds to a question. Use a random number generator (or anyhow you want) to get a number, cross it out on the board, and answer the corresponding question. Do this over and over again, until you get a bingo! The answers don’t have to be about indie books, but I try to answer for indie books as well. Megan Tennant has a video on it, including the full list of questions.

Before I begin, here’s a quick overview of Indiecember:

Indiecember is a reading challenge created by the lovely Megan Tennant in order to motivate people to read indie books and write reviews on them in December. It comes with a bingo board that has 25 labeled squares. For each indie book you review, you can cross out the squares that match it until you fill-up the board in flush style. Or, just cross out a line of squares bingo-style, but for only one matching square per book. Players who win will be able to fill out a form to get entry into a huge giveaway going down in January! For more info, check out megantennant.com/indiecember or her Indiecember YouTube video.

For this tag, I got 14 unique numbers before getting a bingo! Check out my answers below!

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Indiecember is a reading challenge created by the lovely Megan Tennant in order to motivate people to read indie books and write reviews on them in December. It comes with a bingo board that has 25 labeled squares. For each indie book you review, you can cross out the squares that match it until you fill-up the board in flush style. Or, just cross out a line of squares bingo-style, but for only one matching square per book. Players who win will be able to fill out a form to get entry into a huge giveaway going down in January! For more info, check out megantennant.com/indiecember or her Indiecember YouTube video.

23-NUMBER-GRIDx5xSo, what is this Indiecember Writing Tag?

It’s like another bingo game for writers, where you get a board of numbers 1 through 25, each with corresponding questions, and you pick or randomly generate a number and answer the corresponding question until you get a bingo! Megan Tennant has a video on it as well, including the full list of questions.

I ended up with 16 unique numbers that I randomly generated (thank you Google, for providing a random number generator) before finally getting a bingo. Whew!

Anyway, without further ado…

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IMG_0783This is going to be a quick update: I’m proud to report I won NaNoWriMo with a total of 50,195 words! I was planning to update my blog as I go along, but I was just so drained every day that I really struggled to even catch up to the recommended word count even towards the end. Posting a blog update just felt like more struggle. I don’t know why I’m feeling this way, honestly, but I can tell you, if it weren’t for my outline, I probably would have completely lost. However, because I already know the direction it’s heading, writing the story became less exciting to me. Does that make me a natural pantser? Pantsing makes me go off-tangent pretty quickly, though, so that was why I felt – and still feel – that outlining is the smarter move for me. Not to mention during pantsing, when I get a writer’s block… I really get a writer’s block. Outlining means, even when I’m not feeling it, I know what to write about, even though it may not excite me at that time. Is there a nice and sweet middle ground for this? Regardless, I’m definitely learning more about myself and the kind of writer I am. And that’s one of the great things about NaNoWriMo!

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Did you learn something about yourself as a writer?

It’s beyond midnight of Nov 3 (therefore it’s Nov 4 already, here in Singapore) and I just want to blog about a few NaNoWriMo stats. I don’t expect the same kind of progress during weekdays so I’m glad I have this buffer.

 

Day 1

Words Written: 1,773

Total Word Count: 1,773 / 50,000

Scenes Completed: 1

Total Scenes Completed: 1 / 64

 

Day 2

Words Written: 3,395

Total Word Count: 5,168 / 50,000

Scenes Completed: 3

Total Scenes Completed: 4 / 64

Special Note: I got a treat from my husband for hitting the 5K milestone. I got a snack called “Yan Yan” which is a childhood snack that I love but don’t often eat anymore. Yum! I can’t wait to find out what I get for 10K! 

 

Day 3

Words Written: 3,571

Total Word Count: 8,739 / 50,000

Scenes Completed: 4

Total Scenes Completed: 8 / 64

 

Reflections…

I ended up including two characters I didn’t plan for who each only showed up for one scene. I’ve also changed a character’s name (“Trisha”) because it sounded too much like another character’s name (“Tristan”, her brother). It was advised by someone who was nice enough to critique my outline. The new name is still similar (“Kristin”), but not too similar, I hope? Lastly, anything I ended up thinking about on the spot, I just added in “[ ]” even though it’s not actually related to the scene I’m currently working on, but maybe a big-picture thought, or something I want to add or detract from a previous scene. This keeps me from going back to read the previous scenes (and the risk of rereading and editing them). Usually, though, it’s something I want to include later in the current scene.

 

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo?

If so, have you met your NaNoWriMo goals this weekend?

Just a quick update from my previous post:

✔︎ Scene Outline

✔︎ Character Descriptions

✔︎ Aesthetics/Moodboard

✔︎ Writing Music Playlist

✔︎ Milestone Rewards

My husband agreed to provide my milestone rewards! I will be claiming them for every 5K increment. Nothing fancy, just sweets 😊