Cooking for Humans!

Broccoli-Curry Mac&Cheese.

I make a mean macaroni, totally fit for human consumption.

Ingredients: 6 cups water, box of mac&cheese, 2cups frozen broccoli, 2tsp butter, 1/4 cup milk, 1+cup cheese, 2tsp curry powder, 2tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp red pepper (optional)

Supplies: Big pot!, Strainer (optional), container/stirring mechanism (not your hand, humans seem to think this is unsanitary/unsafe)

I start out with a box of mac and cheese, and a couple cups of frozen broccoli.

Boil a few cups of water, like six. Put the pasta and the macaroni in the pot, but turn down the heat some and stir. I sometimes  burn food, and my humans do not like this. I am not allowed to cook at night.

Eight minutes. Boil the macaroni and broccoli for 8 minutes, then strain it.

Put it in a big container, and add like 2tsp of butter and stir it in. You can add the powdered cheese and quarter cup of milk, but you’re also gonna need like a cup of cheese more than that.¬† I like cheddar.

This is the important part: 1-2 tsp of curry powder, 1-2 tsp of chili powder, and some red pepper. Stir in. Can do more, can do less. I like more!

It takes like 15 minutes total, and is super popular among the Alpins that live here. I like to call it “brocurry mac” but that might be a little too brilliant for regular usage. And it sounds like I’m pronouncing broccoli wrong.

-ARG

Making Friends with Humans

Hello Earth Residents!

I’ll just jump right into it- Making friends with humans is difficult at best, and at worst, downright dangerous.

Some many Earth-years ago, I worked as a human-interaction-facilitator, the exact job title of which I choose not to remember. This was not a job that an introvert like myself was suited for.

I’ve since moved on from that position, but I learned many things about humans, and about forming friendship bonds with them. However, before we delve into development of friendship-bonds, we must recognize a couple of innate rules.

Each human is complex and different, and has full rights to autonomy. Every human does not have to like you! In fact, humans not liking you will actually assimilate you better with your own humanity. I believe it’s called “strife.”

The corollary to this is that you do not have to like every human. You do, however, have to respect the human’s right to its opinions, and existence.

When it comes to initiating a friendship bond, first one must infiltrate the social barrier around the human. If you have not met the human, introduce yourself.  Find common ground- which is a euphemism for identifying similar interests between yourself and your potential human friend, rather than locating the physical surface that you share with this human. Such common interests may include human art, human music, or human food.

At this and every stage, both participants must elect to continue bond formation. If the bond does not have mutual consent, it will become unhealthy, bitter, and potentially dangerous. Take caution!

If the social barrier is successfully infiltrated, and the human has consented to your friendship advances by engaging animatedly in conversation, then the friendship-bond will begin to form. It is difficult to measure the bond’s strength. As with many quantum states, it is possible to change the outcome by measuring it. Instead of testing the bond yourself, after several bonding experiences, ask the human to confirm the existence of the friendship bond.

Note: If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with a friendship bond, you have the right to sever it.Some friendship bonds are merely unhealthy, and others are exceptionally dangerous.

Good luck in your bonding endeavors!

-ARG

 

 

 

Alpha Reader Containment Guide

Hello Humans!

In case I have not been obvious about my lifestyle, I write. A lot. And since I write a lot, there’s often quite a bit to read. Most of my projects that need to be read are in first draft form, which means I turn to my trusty Alpha Readers!

So, for the sake of transparency, I’d like to compile a short list of ways that I have successfully trapped my alpha readers into eye-guzzling my work.

  • **Hand kindle, drive at least one hour, do not return for many hours;
  • Place a cat on alpha reader’s legs;
  • Email incessantly;
  • Place two cats on alpha reader’s legs;
  • Smile, softly mention that it doesn’t look like he’s reading, continue smiling;
  • Offer food;
  • Ignore friend until work is read;
  • Full-screen laptop, place in front of alpha reader;
  • Visit alpha reader’s living space, turn objects upside-down in protest;
  • Repeatedly threaten alpha reader with least favorite foods;
  • Roll around on the floor, make whining noises;
  • Tease plot twist, mention they’ll ‘just have to read it’, laugh maniacally;
  • Ask for feedback;
  • Remind alpha reader how excited you are to hear what he thought!

I hope this list is at least moderately helpful. I’ve been informed that at least one of these (**) is probably a little illegal if your human doesn’t want to do it. Try one of the other methods before this.

Good luck! May your alpha readers give you quick, quality feedback.

-ARG

Note: Please remember to release your alpha readers after your work is read, and remember to periodically give them restroom and nourishment breaks. Trust me, humans need these things.

Alpha Readers & Critique Partners

Hello humans!

Today, I’m going to address how I handle Alpha Readers and Critique Partners. To avoid any semantic arguments with myself, these are my definitions.

Alpha Readers: These are the people I send first draft work to, in order to see how they feel about the story, and bounce ideas, plot points, and twists off of them.

Critique Partner: This is a fellow writer whose writing and critique styles mesh with mine. We try to encourage, give feedback, and generally check in with one another.

I have two alpha readers, and I’ve known both of them for a LONG time. Like, 8-12 years long. I’ve been told it’s weird to refer to time lengths in human gestational periods anymore, but that’s 9-16 full-term singleton larvae?! That’s so many!

My alpha readers are two of my best friends, and they give me support and encouragement, as well as super-early reader feedback. I send them pieces of my work, including my first three chapters, and they tell me what they think, what they like, and if the chapters make them excited about reading the rest. I get a lot of influence from these two, believe me. (E.g. One loves puns, one hates them, and I enjoy both reactions immensely.) Alpha readers are great for world-building as well. If I can’t explain the world to these two, then I don’t have any business writing in that world yet.

My critique partner is pretty fabulous too! And Hella fast- I usually get feedback on my work in a few days, max. We check in on one another from week to week, which is a good timeline for us. Some do more, some do less. A critique partner should help with structure, tense, character development, identifying plot elements and lack-of-elements (HOLES), continuity… All sorts of things that you might miss on a first draft. Plus! Critique partners know how difficult and soul-devouring writing can be.

In my opinion, having both alpha readers and critique partners is important to the writing process. Maybe some people can get by without them, but I definitely don’t recommend it. Having this small support system for my writing makes me feel much more confident and competent, and fuels me to improve my work.

Do the thing. Find good humans.

-ARG

First, Write Three Chapters

This is a method that I’ve started implementing in the past year.

Before I’ll commit to any story, I write the first three chapters. Why? Why do this before you outline, before you know how the story’s going to play? This sounds a lot like pantsing. I swear, why did you write a post on outlining if you were just gonna write a bunch of chapters without it?

OK OK OK, devil’s advo-alpin. Time to chill. Lemme ‘splain.

Writing the first three (or so) chapters helps me in a number of ways.

  1. You can get feedback from critique partners, or alpha readers. If you’re bouncing ideas off of people, it helps to have these chapters as a basis to start off. Sure, this could be done with an outline or discussion, but I find that my outlines are messy, and my discussions are messier.
  2. You find the voice for the story. In a recent horror story, I started writing it in first person. After the first 20 or so pages, I realized that third person limited would allow a reader some emotional distance as these horrific (horror-fic!) things occurred. If you’re writing with the wrong perspective, these chapters can help you figure that out earlier rather than later.
  3. You get to know the characters. Sometimes, the way you expect your characters to be can be a little different from how you end up writing them in practice. If you have to make changes to your plot due to character manifestation, catching it before the first draft is hella nice.
  4. You find out if you straight-up hate actually writing the story. It’s one thing if there’s a routine that you’re forcing yourself into, but if you hate what you’re writing that’s a great reason to move on. If you don’t enjoy writing the three chapters, I sure as hell don’t recommend continuing on that story.

If this doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. Every human is different! But always give yourself permission to write, even if it’s not perfect, or won’t make it into the final draft. Perfection is one of those myths, like the holy grail or polite martians. They’re all jerks.

Happy Drafting!

-ARG

The Outlining Process

I’m working on an outline now- generally. Right this second, I’m doing b-loggy things, but my current project is in the outline phase.

I did not remember how much work it is. I suppose I should have- but because it’s been a while since I did proper novel outline, I largely felt like rolling on the floor whining. (No one can prove I actually did though. I’ve had all those videos destroyed.)

Before I even start outlining, I start by writing the first (or any) three chapters of the story. I’ll write a post on this later, but it’s really important to figuring out the general themes, voices, important characters, and eventual length.

After I’ve written those first chapters, I follow these steps.

  1. Spend a BUNCH of hours thinking about the story, talking about the story, and daydreaming about the story.
  2. Open a word document. Remember that a blank screen is not very helpful for outlining novels. Ask roommate for notecards at midnight. Wait for him to get up and answer the door.
  3. Cut notecards in half (if you’re stingy, like me). Write down all the plot points you can think of on these. Crazy emotional points, awesome conflicts, and twists- those get their own little cards. I had thirty or so (correction: 36). Depending on how long your story will be, there could be more or less.
  4. Throw them on the ground! You’re going to pick them up, read them, and put them in an order that makes sense to your story. This can take a while. You might come up with more ideas on the way, or necessary side plots- That’s fine! Just add more cards.
  5. Once you’ve got a good order, look for natural chapter breaks. I’ve seen some authors recommend color coordination for their characters/plots during this phase- like dotting each card with a marker. I didn’t do this, but mostly because I don’t have markers. Maybe I’ll try it next time.
  6. Those cards you can’t get to fit? I very sadly looked over my outcast card, and put it in the recycling. It is OK not to use every idea. Hell, it’s OK not to use half your ideas. It’s your book. Do your thing.
  7. TAKE A PICTURE!! I sent these pictures to a couple humans (roommate, friend, some poor sap who gave me his number), although this was just to annoy them. I like the faces they make. Plus, it helps to remind me of the chapter-breaks when I have to pick up the cards to keep the house-creatures from messing with them.
  8. Now put the cards into a document. I write down all the stuff on the card, and then add notes and thoughts to each one. Sometimes there’s a bunch, sometimes there’s not. Shrug your shoulders to demonstrate that you don’t give any UFOs.
  9. Go through each part of your outline, and think carefully over the scenes that should be in there. This is just an outline, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you find plot holes, address them here (or at least acknowledge them!).

There! That’s my process for creating a story outline. An outline serves as a guide for the first draft (at least in this case), and can be particularly helpful when your emotional state differs drastically from the one in the story- just skip ahead and write a different one.

I hope this was a helpful, human-friendly post. If you have questions, ping me! I’ll attempt to be helpful. Alas, I must return to my own outlining.

Happy Outlining!

-ARG

AH! Welcome to the b-log

Hello Humans!

Whatever brought you here, welcome! I’m Alpin, and I write. I have two siblings, two familiars, and live with two wizards. I’ve decided to start a log to keep track of my thoughts and to interact on a more personal level with the human communities at large. If you’d like to contact me, feel free to send an email to alpinrgeist@gmail.com, or follow me on twitter @alpingeist.

Later, bipeds!

-ARG