Monday, 25 June 2012

Microsoft OneNote

I discovered a program on my computer last month which, after trialling it, I’ve decided is an excellent program for writers.

Microsoft OneNote is an organisational tool I think is similar to a whiteboard – it’s a big (seemingly limitless) white space that you can write on and draw on anywhere on the page. You can insert pictures, links to other Microsoft documents, and even highlight text. It’s one big drawing board.

I’ve been using Microsoft OneNote for my Untitled YA Fantasy Idea, and I love it. You can have several different workbooks, and within each workbook you can several different tabs, and within each tab, you can have several different pages (the “whiteboard”). OneNote allows me to neatly arrange all my information and contain it in one document (as opposed to folders within folders, and hundreds of word documents (which I’ve had previously).

I have a workbook for each WIP, and within each workbook, different tabs for different topics. So, in UYAFI’s workbook, I have a tab for plot, a tab for characters, a tab for setting, etc. Then, within each tab, I have different pages – a page for each character under the “characters” tab, and a page for the different cities, forests, rivers, etc. in the “setting” tab.

I’m not saying Microsoft OneNote is better than the programs out there that were specifically designed for writers, but it comes with most Microsoft Office packages, so most people should already have it installed on their computer. This is awesome for cheap and lazy people like me. If you have the other Microsoft programs installed, I’d definitely check out OneNote.

Friday, 22 June 2012

New WIP!

So, first of all, I want to make it known that I had planned to post during the week. Well, at least I had planned to post on Wednesday. Honest. Somehow, the week just got away from me, and I didn’t have any time to write the several posts I had for this week and next week. Heck, I barely had time for this post!

But anyway, I’ve completed my final exam now, which means I’ve finished my semester at university! I’ve got three months until I fly out to Germany! Excitement! Nervousness! Exclamation marks!

I have decided though that I want to write a novel set in Europe while I’m abroad in Germany. After much debating internally ("Do I put UYAFI on hold for nine months? Even though I’ve been working on for ages? Is this really a good idea?") I’ve decided to put UYAFI on hold and work on a brand new idea.

I’m still working out all the details, but it involves a plot to bring down the US, a couple of terrorists, and a CIA agent who must go rouge to clear his name. More excitement! More nervousness! More exclamation marks!

I want to know your thoughts now. Am I crazy for tossing aside the project I’ve been working on for months? Let me know!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Oh, Friday

Oh, Friday, I’m glad you’re here. Now that you’re here, it’s only one more sleep to the weekend, and only one more sleep until relaxation.

I’ve had a pretty rough week. First, my friend gave my brother and I the flu – that’s enough to classify the week as “sucky”, right? My friend had it first, followed by my brother, and I followed a day behind the cycle. So my friend would have a terrible symptom, and then my brother would get it, and I’d get it a day later. First it was a sore throat, then a runny nose (climaxing to virtually having water running out of one’s nostrils (yeah, I know: eww gross!)), and then a chesty cough. Not fun. Especially when you can see your brother develop it, and know you’re about 24 hours away from it.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had an exam on Thursday. (Dear Girl Sitting Next to Me, I’m sorry for making gross noises for two hours. I couldn’t help it.) Despite the foggy feeling in my head, I think I went okay. I’m just glad to be done with it.

And finally, today. It was pretty quiet all day at work… until I was about to leave. After I finally left (thirty minutes later!) I had to pick up some shopping Mum had ordered online, complications arose… and it took way longer to get home than I thought. Hungry + tired + hot +late home = Irritated Matthew

So, yeah. I’ve had a crappy weekend (and now MS Word won’t stop telling me about sentence fragments. I’m a writer; I can do what I like!) Fortunately, I'm going to a theme park on Saturday, which will hopefully let me forget all about this week.

But, how’s your week been? Have you had an awesome week, or was it less-than-average, like mine? Let me know in the comments section!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Looks Can Be Deceiving

There are quite a few unique characters at my university.

There’s this big guy who always has long (straightened) jet black hair, and he always wears black. Black jeans, black shirt, black leather jacket. His jacket is covered in stitched-on fabric badges that kinda look evil looking. Satanic even (although perhaps that’s a little bit of an exaggeration) (Not that I've looked too closely at the fabric badges). Overall, he definitely looks like a guy you don’t want to meet in a dark alleyway… or between two rows of shelves in the library.

Then there’s a woman who looks absolutely batty. She only ever seems to wear nightdress-like things or a Dorothy-from-The-Wizard-of-Oz kind of dress. Her hair’s always tied up in two long pigtails – the type you see on stereotypical farmers’ wives, hicks, bogans, rednecks, etc.

While these two people certainly look like a stereotype, they certainly don’t fit any stereotypes I know of. Scary Dude in Black is always looking for textbooks in the library, or being quite studious in general. To top it off, the other day I saw him eating a health-food bar. It’s not exactly the food of stereotypical goths. And Batty Farmer’s Wife is one of the most intelligent and nicest people I’ve ever met.

Can you see where I’m going with this? People all around us are not always as they appear. Our characters shouldn’t be either.

And yet, our characters usually are. The mean and snobby cheerleader. The evil knight with black armour. The nerdy schoolboy with thick glasses and a face full of acne.

But why do they have to be stereotyped? Why can’t the cheerleader by friendly but kind of dorky? Why can’t the evil knight wear gleaming silver armour? Why can’t the nerdy kid be pimple-free and wear contacts?

I haven’t read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series yet, but I’ve heard/read that he really twists stereotypes. The good guys wear black, while the baddies wear white. Just a simple little change like that makes his characters unique.

So, there’s some food for thought. Tell me what you think. Should stereotypes be shunned, or do you think they can serve a purpose? Do you have any stereotyped characters? Let me know in the comments section!

Monday, 11 June 2012

BIG News!

So, do you remember earlier this month, when I said I had some big news?

I’m…

Okay, I’ve got to build some suspense before I blurt out my good news. How’s your day been? Are you having nice weather in your part of the world? It’s a public holiday in Queensland, not that I’m taking much notice of it. I’m still studying, and I’ve got to work today. All right, enough suspense and time-wasting?


...

...


I’m going to Germany!

[pause for dramatic effect]

My university has a student exchange agreement with several universities across the globe, including several in Germany. I put an application in earlier this year, and it’s now official! I’m going to be studying abroad in Germany!

I’m doing a winter semester, which means September to February! (It also means I’ll forget what “warm” is, but I’m trying to forget that fact!) I’m super-excited for this opportunity, even though I’ll have to leave behind all my friends and family (but not you, dear reader. We’ll always have the internet). Admittedly, I’m nervous about living in Germany for five months, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I’m glad to be able to do it.