NaNo 2021 Prep
These are questions/exercises from "October Novel Prep Challenge" for the 2021 NaNo.
OCT 1 ▼
Every good story starts with a 'what if'. What if a young boy discovers he's a wizard? What if a girl discovers a world hidden inside her wardrobe? What if there was a cemetery where pets came back to life if they were buried there? What if dinosaurs were real again?
In this exercise, imagine your story and your main character(s). Who is(are) the character(s)? Why do we care about them? What happens to them, and why is it a problem?
What if 2 guys accidentally go to an alpaca farm?
What if it was on purpose?
What if the farmer didn't die by accident?
What if they do call the police?
What if they decide to make a run for it?
What if they don't bury the body, but put it in the freezer?
What if they did lots of ridiculous things with the body?
What if the neighbor didn't know or what if he knew all along?
What if the neighbor didn't like the farmer?
What if the farmer had tried to take part of the neighbor's property so the neighbor was glad he was dead?
What if they watch videos to learn about alpacas?
What if they don't leave the farm?
What if they google and find tons of things to do with the farm for agro-tourism?
What if they find a girl they both like?
What if they find a girl only one likes and the other disapproves of?
What if the alpacas all die or get out?
What if they think the llamas are the parents of the alpacas?
What if some other alpaca farmers come to visit?
What if they decide to romance the alpacas and use mood music and offer wine for them to mate?
What if they decide to dress them up for Halloween?
What if they try to trim their fleece themselves?
What if they make them look like poodles?
What if they get spit on?
What if they do a great job with the farm?
What if they get caught?
What if the deputy suspects and is nosing around to help set up book 3?
What if a school comes on a tour?
What if the kids have been studying alpacas and South America and know way more than they do?
What if a senior center comes to visit and they are scared someone else will die?
What if they cook weird parts of food because they don't know any better such as carrot tops?
What if the neighbor comes to eat it?
What if they can't bury him because the ground is too hard?
What if they have to bury an alpaca because it dies?
What if they don't know how to drive a stick?
What if they don't know how to drive a tractor?
What if they don't know how to plant or harvest crops?
What if they don't know how to birth a baby alpaca?
What if they don't know anything about registering them?
What if I teach lessons or information in the story?
What if they decide to learn to knit?
What if they vacuum and wash it before sending the fleece away?
What if they turn out to be terrible or really good at taking care of them?
What if they think they are weird, long-necked sheep?
What if they make a bunch of alpaca jokes throughout the story?
What if they have a few running gags such as the noodle incident every time the neighbor comes over?
What if a gay guy thinks they are sexy?
What if they get jealous about who he was liking, even though they are interested?
What if they start making friends with some of the tourists?
What if they hire the smart-aleck kid to take care of the alpacas because he knows so much?
What if they can't pay him so they pay him in alpacas?
What if they see an alpaca giving birth and think it's intestines are coming out because they didn't know it was pregnant?
What if the more the guys find out about the farmer, the more they realize he wasn't a good guy--slept with wives, made moonshine, etc.?
OCT 2 ▼
Now that you've brainstormed the general story idea, let's identify some story elements:
(1) Setting(s). Where does your story take place?
(2) Protagonist(s). Who is(are) your main character(s)?
(2b) Flaw(s). What is(are) the protagonist's major flaw(s)?
(2c) Goal(s). What does(d) the protagonist(s) want (or want to avoid)?
(3) Conflict(s). What's keeping them from their goal(s)?
(4) Antagonist(s). Who or what is creating the conflict(s)?
(1) The alpaca farm is in the mid-west, possibly someplace like Montana.
(2) The main characters are Cleat and Billy Joe. Cleat is short for Cleatorus, named for his great aunt, and Billy Joe's twin sister is named Billi Jo. They may be Siamese twins joined at the finger or toe and separated at birth. Or maybe they aren't twins and he's named after his sister or named by her because all she really said at that age was her name.
(2a) Cleat sits on the couch's arm with his feet on the couch and/or perches/squats on the couch. He's a flat Earther. Laughs when he's nervous. He's not very smart. Panic lies. Scared of the dark. Has vocal quirk like "anyway." Chews his fingernails and paces when thinking.
Billy Joe learns to cook and loves it, but doesn't know he shouldn't cook with all the parts of the plants. Cooks with tomato leaves, but neighbor thinks they are poisonous and tries to save them by throwing it out or refuses to eat it and is willing to let them die or they cook sometimes that is poisonous and he saves them from eating it. Shakes his leg when he's nervous. He's not particularly bright, but does try to think outside the box. Sometimes calls the animals Mr. and Mrs. such as Mr. Buttons over there seems to be eyeing Mrs. Rose. Sometimes purses his lips and slides his jaw back and forth when thinking. Talks to himself when cooking. Occasionally likes creating a really fancy dinner. Decides to slowly start making the place their own while hoping the neighbor won't notice.
(2b) They are trying to keep the animals alive and not let it be known that the farmer is dead.
(3) The neighbor, Duf, is being nosy, as is the deputy, Nash. There are also farm visitors that cause problems.
(4) The nosy neighbor and deputy who is the brother-in-law of Billy Joe and doesn't like him.
OCT 3 ▼
Draft a profile of your protagonist. Include detailed information such as name, age, physical attributes, occupation, education, culture, religion, family, relationship status, personality, likes, dislikes, strengths, weakness, motivations and desires. Use Google Images to find an image of your character. The point of this exercise is for you to get to know your character inside and out before you write your novel. If you don't know your character, how can you expect it of your readers? Flesh out your pre-story character in detail. Keep in mind that your protagonist will grow in some way during your story.
Cleat: 22, light brown/dark blonde hair, hazel eyes, wiry, tattoo on forearm possibly in Chinese and is always telling folks it means something else because he can't recall what it means, recently quit his job at the Dairy Queen, high school grad, upper lower class and a bit trashy, believes in God, but don't go to church too regularly, gets along with his family but doesn't spend too much time with them--they aren't particularly successful, but do mostly have jobs and he's still floating around trying to figure himself out, single but always looking, easy going and a bit slack--has a tendency to not do things to the best of his ability, likes watching TV (though there's no cable at the farm), eating, hanging out with Billy Joe, and flirting with girls though he's not quite the ladies man he thinks/wishes, doesn't like fresh food at first, doesn't like working too much, doesn't like to get sweaty, he cares about the animals and doesn't want anything bad to happen to them, he's a loyal friend and is friendly to a fault, he's not that smart and doesn't always see how he or his behavior comes across, trusting, panic lies about ridiculous stuff when cornered, wants a girlfriend and wants his family to not think he's such a screwup though he's slower to buy into the farm idea but he definitely doesn't want anyone to find out the farmer is dead
Billy Joe: 23, dark hair, blue eyes, thin but muscular, some junior college, lower middle class family, believes in God, but mostly goes to church on Christmas and Easter with his family, relatively close to his family though he's not necessarily very highly regarded with his sister being a lawyer and a real success as far as the family is concerned and Cleat being his BFF, broke up with a girl a while back and currently thinks they are too much trouble, relatively easy going, but likes things to be done right, he will discover he likes to cook and make really elaborate meals, he ends up buying into the farm life first, doesn't like not knowing what to do, he cares about the animals and is a loyal friend, he is creative and a hard worker and thinks outside the box...though sometimes too far outside the box, not the brightest bulb but smarter than Cleat, can be a bit of a perfectionist about certain things, wants to make the farm their home and make his family proud of him, doesn't want anyone to discover the farmer is dead and is scared of that and of getting into trouble, has a bunch of unpaid parking tickets in another city from where he used to visit a girlfriend so scared of getting into trouble for that so tries to be on the straight and narrow after the farmer dies.
OCT 4 ▼
(1) Describe your protagonist's life in the beginning (""Ordinary World"" or ""Stasis"") of the story. Brainstorm ways you could establish normality through action and dialog to avoid boring your reader.
(2) Describe the inciting incident or trigger (""Call to Adventure"") that prompts your protagonist(s) to embark on this story's journey (whether literal or metaphorical) and face the conflict. This incident could be large and obvious like a death or disaster, or it could be seemingly insignificant, such as an offhand comment by another character.
(1) Both Cleat and Billy Joe have relatively unimpressive lives. They currently have no jobs and aren't in school. Their parents aren't particularly proud of them and they have no girlfriends. Billy Joe has a bunch of unpaid parking tickets because he doesn't have a job to pay them. They don't really have anyone to be accountable to and live their lives as such. In the beginning, they drink too much and goof around.
(2) Their inciting incident is when the farmer at the alpaca farm they are visiting dies. They fear they will be blamed and try to hide the truth while caring for the animals. They know nothing about farming or animals and have to learn along the way.
OCT 5 ▼
Where is your story going? Describe the climax, the point at which everything changes and the tension of the primary conflict is finally resolved. Use the ""What If"" brainstorming exercise to create a list of possibilities, remembering to consider the growth of / change in your main character(s) as a result of this event. The climax can be as hidden and seemingly tiny as that moment when your character finally makes that decision they've been dreading or avoiding for fifteen chapters, or it can be as huge and obvious as an exploding planet. Sometimes, the climax is a little hard to pin down. Was it the moment Ender won his game? Or was it the moment he realized the moving images on his screen were not a simulation, not the game he thought it was, and that he had just personally wiped out an entire alien race?
Throughout the story, the guys are trying to keep their nosy neighbor from discovering that the farmer is dead and that they aren't really farm hands. The climax is where the neighbor reveals that he knew all along that they weren't real farm hands and that he didn't like his neighbor to begin with. He just came over so often because he found their antics hilarious and he needed the comedic relief. Perhaps the deputy also comes to investigate and the neighbor helps hide the fact that the farmer is dead and says the new grave in the back is one of the alpacas.
What if the neighbor calls the police on them?
What if they neighbor had been plotting to kill him anyway?
What if the neighbor's wife had been sleeping with the farmer?
What if the deputy figures it all out?
What if the neighbor helps hide the truth from the deputy?
What if rigor mortis sets in when the farmer is in a weird position and can't be easily buried that way?
What if the neighbor knew all along?
What if the neighbor didn't know and never finds out?
What if they confess and decide to go to the police?
What if the neighbor talks them out of going to the police?
What if the deputy wants to run for sheriff and solving a murder would be the boost he needs?
What if the deputy brings the FBI?
What if the deputy pretends to bring the FBI because he's so sure, but can't get them to sign off on it so he hires some people from elsewhere, but one of them is recognized so the gig is up?
What if the deputy knows about the farmer and doesn't care because he didn't like him either?
What if the farmer was also sleeping with the deputy's wife, who is one of the guy's sisters?
What if they lose the farm in a tax sale?
What if they discover someone making meth on the back 40 and turn him in to the deputy?
What if they decide to quit the farm?
What if the farmer's daughter comes to visit because she hasn't heard from him so she's worried?
What if one of them falls for the famer's daughter?
What if the farmer's daughter is mad because he slept with her boyfriend?
What if one of the visitors stumbles on the farmer's grave?
What if an old friend of the farmer comes to visit?
What if someone with an old score to settle comes to visit with a shotgun?
What if they discover the farmer had this whole shadowy past and he was allowing folks to make and sell meth from the farm as another income stream?
What if the farmer had a still and sold moonshine?
What if the neighbor didn't like the farmer because the farmer took all his moonshine customers?
What if the pastor came to visit because the farmer hadn't been to church for a long time?
What if the pastor came to visit because he was concerned about the farmer being such a tramp?
What if the guys decide to confess and the neighbor talks them out of it?
What if the animals all get out?
What if the animals all get sick?
What if someone comes to repossess the animals because they weren't making payments?
What if there's an Amish knee-breaker that comes to visit the farmer because he owes money or animals?
What if the guys decide to go to an auction to sell the animals, but then end up getting talked into buying a bunch instead?
OCT 6 ▼
Review your notes from the ""Premise"" and ""Beginning"" plot exercises, and tweak the conflict(s) and inciting incident as needed before proceeding with the ""Rising Action"" plot exercise, as follows:
(1) Describe any initial refusals on the part of your protagonist(s) to face the conflict.
(2) Describe the moment when your protagonist(s) makes the choice to face the conflict.
(3) Describe the moment when your protagonist(s) crosses the point of no return and cannot change their mind.
(4) Fill in some of the blanks: How will your characters get from the point of no return to the climax?
(1) Initially, the two characters debate whether they should tell the authorities about the farmer's death or whether they should just run away. They are afraid of being caught if they run away, but also afraid of being blamed if they report it. Ultimately, the choice is taken out of their hands as they get caught up in things such as a new farm tour arriving that they have to show around and the neighbor stopping by and they have to lie and say the farmer isn't around.
(2) The guys were recently watching a movie about the FBI when the "real" FBI (people hired by the deputy to portray them) comes. Something from that movie tips them off or tells them to look at the search warrant or something so they figure out the whole thing is fake. Or maybe they suspect it's all a prank and don't take it seriously to begin with. In any event, they discover the whole thing is fake. OR The neighbor, Duf, comes along and since he doesn't like Deputy Nash, he wants to stop him. He starts asking about the warrant and eventually gets his shotgun. The "FBI" freaks out, possibly after he shoots it, and they leave.
(3) When they tell the deputy that the farmer has gone to visit his daughter, they can't go back and say that he was accidentally killed. They feel guilty and try to make it up to him by doing their best with the farm. Because of their guilt, they start perceiving the farmer is everywhere. The animal staring at them is the farmer. The strange sounds they hear at night in the 100-year-old farmhouse is the farmer, etc.
(4) Much of the story is simply them trying to figure out how to run the farm, interspersed with fears of the neighbor finding out and visits by the deputy who is determined to figure out what's going on.
OCT 7 ▼
(1) Select a desired outlining strategy from the list below.
(2) Review your plot elements thus far and organize them into your outline.
(3) Flesh out your outline by adding more details.
OCT 8 ▼
(1) Identify allies and enemies encountered along the journey and describe how they help or hinder your protagonist(s).
(2) Create a list of characters in a format easy to edit and expand.
(3) Write a brief profile on each character new character.
- Relation to the main character(s)
- Rough physical description or image
Cleat is named for his great aunt, Cleatorus. He's 22 and has light brown/dark blond hair. He's thin, reasonably good looking, though not a hottie. He thinks he's better looking than he is, but this is common in men. However, he's aware he's not a super-hunk. He's drifted around in life and doesn't have an occupation. He recently quit his job at the Dairy Queen. He's best friends with Billy Joe.
Billy Joe is Cleat's best friend. He's 23, but they graduated together because Billy Joe was held back a year in middle school for not applying himself enough. Not a genius, but also not previously working to his full potential, after ending up in the grade with his BFF, he started trying harder so he wouldn't be held back again. Maybe they met when he was held back. His (twin?) sister is Billi Jo. Billy Joe has dark hair and blue eyes. He's thin, but naturally muscular. He doesn't work out for it.
Neighbor (still unnamed) is an older farmer in his 40's. His nemesis was the farmer who died so when he starts to suspect something happened to the other farmer, he doesn't really care. He doesn't let on to the boys that he suspects something has happened or that he doesn't care, so they think he's over there so often because he's snooping on them and trying to figure out what's going on. In reality, he finds them amusing, like watching trained monkeys, and is always curious to know what kind of ridiculous thing they will be up to next. Additionally, he begins to like them and wants to help them succeed. Not to mention, he's not heartless, so he wants the farm animals to be okay.
Deputy Nash is Billy Joe's nemesis and brother-in-law. He's 24 and has been deputy for a few years, but has his sights on becoming sheriff. He's got dark, curly hair, dark eyes, and is thin, but muscularly built with a square jaw and defined facial structure. He's sure something has happened to the farmer and is set on figuring out what it is and how Billy Joe fits into it all, even if he has to use somewhat less ethical means to do so--all in the name of justice.
Billi Jo is Billy Joe's sister--possibly a twin. She's a lawyer and her parents compare him to her. They wish he was more like she is. She's got medium brown hair, shoulder length so she can pull it up to look more professional in a court room. She's attractive. She loves her brother, but wishes he'd get his act together.
OCT 9 ▼
Write a story about your protagonist that takes place outside of your novel. Make your readers relate to him or her in such a way that we would be devastated if he or she were to experience conflict (which, ultimately, sometime in November, he/she will.) The object of the contest is to make your judges root for your protagonist! Simply put: the character we like best wins. If your protagonist is a drug dealer or someone similarly ""unlikeable"" (a.k.a, an ""anti-hero""), never fear! I love Vlad Taltos, the professional assassin. You can make us love your character, too.
OCT 10 REST
OCT 11 ▼
(1) Create a list of definitions (see below) in a format easy to edit and expand.
(2) Optional: Brainstorm and describe an object critical to the plot. Add to definitions list.
In your definitions list, you'll flesh out details that you'll want to remember later for consistency. You won't have to dig through pages of scribbled notes to find whatever you decided about these definitions - they will all be compiled into a neat list
Non-speculative examples requiring definitions:
- a fictional student organization to which your protagonist belongs
- the fictional company or division of the FBI for whom your protagonist works
- the disease afflicting your protagonist, which is a real condition you need to research
- the antique artifact your protagonist intends to heist
Info primarily taken from Wikipedia for research purposes.
Alpaca: South American camelid. Two types: Huacaya alpaca and Suri alpaca. They think something is wrong with the suris. 32-39 inches at the shoulders and 106-185 lbs. Suris better for warmer climates and are about 10% of the alpaca population. Alpacas warn the herd about intruders by making sharp, noisy inhalations that sound like a high-pitched bray. The herd may attack smaller predators with their front feet and can spit and kick. Don't walk up behind them. One example of their body communication includes a pose named broadside, where their ears are pulled back and they stand sideways. This pose is used when male alpacas are defending their territory. The guys think he's doing this because he wants to be petted. Alpacas are often very trainable and will usually respond to reward, most commonly in the form of food. They are able to be petted without getting agitated although this is usually only when the animal is not being patted around the head or neck. Alpacas are usually quite easy to herd; even in large groups. Alpaca and llamas have started showing up in U.S. nursing homes and hospitals as trained, certified therapy animals. They want to do this to make money, but then find out it's a volunteer situation.
Not all alpacas spit, but all are capable of doing so. "Spit" is somewhat euphemistic; occasionally the projectile contains only air and a little saliva, although alpacas commonly bring up acidic stomach contents (generally a green, grassy mix) and project it onto their chosen targets. Spitting is mostly reserved for other alpacas, but an alpaca will also occasionally spit at a human. Spitting can result in what is called "sour mouth". Sour mouth is characterized by "a loose-hanging lower lip and a gaping mouth." Alpacas can spit for several reasons. A female alpaca spits when she is not interested in a male alpaca, typically when she thinks that she is already impregnated. Both sexes of alpaca keep others away from their food, or anything they have their eyes on. Most give a slight warning before spitting by blowing air out and raising their heads, giving their ears a "pinned" appearance. Alpacas can spit up to ten feet if they need to. For example, if another animal does not back off, the alpaca will throw up its stomach contents, resulting in a lot of spit. Some signs of stress which can lead to their spitting habits include: humming, a wrinkle under their eye, drooling, rapid breathing, and stomping their feet. When alpacas show any sign of interest or alertness, they tend to sniff their surroundings, watch closely, or stand quietly in place and stare. When it comes to reproduction, they spit because it is a response triggered by the progesterone levels being increased, which is associated with ovulation.
Alpacas use a communal dung pile, where they do not graze. The guys don't understand why the other farm animals don't do this. This behaviour tends to limit the spread of internal parasites. Generally, males have much tidier, and fewer dung piles than females, which tend to stand in a line and all go at once. One female approaches the dung pile and begins to urinate and/or defecate, and the rest of the herd often follows. Because of their preference for using a dung pile for excreting bodily waste, some alpacas have been successfully house-trained. Alpacas develop dental hygiene problems which affect their eating and behavior. Warning signs include protracted chewing while eating, or food spilling out of their mouths. Poor body condition and sunken cheeks are also telltales of dental problems.
Alpacas make a variety of sounds:
Humming: When alpacas are born, the mother and baby hum constantly. They also hum as a sign of distress, especially when they are separated from their herd. Alpacas may also hum when curious, happy, worried or cautious.
Snorting: Alpacas snort when another alpaca is invading its space.
Grumbling: Alpacas grumble to warn each other. For example, when one is invading another's personal space, it sounds like gurgling.
Clucking: Similar to a hen's cluck, alpacas cluck when a mother is concerned for her cria. Male alpacas cluck to signal friendly behavior.
Screaming: Their screams are extremely deafening and loud. They will scream when they are not handled correctly or when they are being attacked by a potential enemy.
Screeching: A bird-like cry, presumably intended to terrify the opponent. This sound is typically used by male alpacas when they are in a fight over dominance. When a female screeches, it is more of a growl when she is angry.
Females are induced ovulators; meaning the act of mating and the presence of semen causes them to ovulate. Females usually conceive after just one breeding, but occasionally do have trouble conceiving. Artificial insemination is technically difficult, expensive and not common, but it can be accomplished. Embryo transfer is more widespread. A male is usually ready to mate for the first time between two and three years of age. It is not advisable to allow a young female to be bred until she is mature and has reached two-thirds of her mature weight. Over-breeding a young female before conception is possibly a common cause of uterine infections. As the age of maturation varies greatly between individuals, it is usually recommended that novice breeders wait until females are 18 months of age or older before initiating breeding. Maybe there is a reference to the legal age of alpaca mating being 18. Alpacas can breed at any time throughout the year but it is more difficult to breed in the winter. Most breed during autumn or late spring. The most popular way to have alpacas mate is pen mating. Pen mating is when they move both the female and the desired male into a pen. Another way is paddock mating where one male alpaca is let loose in the paddock with several female alpacas. The gestation period is, on average, 11.5 months, and usually results in a single offspring, or cria. Twins are rare, occurring about once per 1000 deliveries. Cria are generally between 15 and 19 pounds, and are standing 30 to 90 minutes after birth. The guys are worried because on TV, baby animals stand within minutes. After a female gives birth, she is generally receptive to breeding again after about two weeks. Crias may be weaned through human intervention at about six months old and 60 pounds, but many breeders prefer to allow the female to decide when to wean her offspring; they can be weaned earlier or later depending on their size and emotional maturity. The average lifespan of an alpaca is between 15–20 years, and the longest-lived alpaca on record is 27 years. They decide to try to have the longest living alpaca on record.
Alpacas chew their food which ends up being mixed with their cud and saliva and then they swallow it. Alpacas usually eat 1.5% of their body weight daily for normal growth. They mainly need pasture grass, hay, or silage but some may also need supplemental energy and protein foods and they will also normally try to chew on almost anything (e.g. empty bottle). Most alpaca ranchers rotate their feeding grounds so the grass can regrow and fecal parasites may die before reusing the area. Pasture grass is a great source of protein. When seasons change, the grass loses or gains more protein. For example, in the spring, the pasture grass has about 20% protein while in the summer, it only has 6%. They need more energy supplements in the winter to produce body heat and warmth. They get their fiber from hay or from long stems which provides them with vitamin E. Green grass contains vitamin A and E. Alpacas can eat natural unfertilized grass; however, ranchers can also supplement grass with low-protein grass hay. To provide selenium and other necessary vitamins, ranchers will feed their domestic alpacas a daily dose of grain to provide additional nutrients that are not fully obtained from their primary diet.
Alpacas, like other camelids, have a three-chambered stomach; combined with chewing cud, this three-chambered system allows maximum extraction of nutrients from low-quality forages. Alpacas are not ruminants, pseudo-ruminants, or modified ruminants, as there are many differences between the anatomy and physiology of a camelid and a ruminant stomach. Alpacas will chew their food in a figure eight motion, swallow the food, and then pass it into one of the stomach's chambers. The end of the third chamber (called C3) is where the stomach secretes acids to digest food and is the likely place where an alpaca will have ulcers if stressed.
Many plants are poisonous to the alpaca, including the bracken fern, Madagascar ragwort, oleander, and some azaleas. In common with similar livestock, others include: acorns, African rue, agave, amaryllis, autumn crocus, bear grass, broom snakeweed, buckwheat, ragweed, buttercups, calla lily, orange tree foliage, carnations, castor beans, and many others. Maybe the decide to plant some flowers in the pasture, but the alpacas get sick.
Alpaca fleece is soft and possesses water and flame resistant properties, making it a valuable commodity. Alpacas are typically sheared once per year in the spring. Each shearing produces approximately 2.3 to 4.5 kilograms (5 to 10 pounds) of fiber per alpaca. An adult alpaca might produce 1.4 to 2.6 kilograms (50 to 90 ounces) of first-quality fiber as well as 1.4 to 2.8 kilograms (50 to 100 ounces) of second- and third-quality fiber. The quality of alpaca fiber is determined by how crimpy it is. Typically, the greater the number of small folds in the fiber, the greater the quality.
Alpacas were the subject of a speculative bubble between their introduction to North America in 1984 and the early 21st century. The price for American alpacas ranged from US$50 for a castrated male (gelding) to US$675,000 for the highest in the world, depending on breeding history, sex, and color. In 2006, researchers warned that the higher prices sought for alpaca breeding stock were largely speculative and not supported by market fundamentals, given the low inherent returns per head from the main end product, alpaca fiber, and prices into the $100s per head rather than $10,000s would be required for a commercially viable fiber production herd. Marketed as "the investment you can hug" in television commercials by the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, the market for alpacas was almost entirely dependent on breeding and selling animals to new buyers, a classic sign of speculative bubbles in livestock. The bubble burst in 2007, with the price of alpaca breeding stock dropping by thousands of dollars each year thereafter. Many farmers found themselves unable to sell animals for any price, or even give them away.
It is possible to raise up to 25 alpacas per hectare (10 alpacas per acre) on very good land, but only 1-3 on poor land. Fiber quality is the primary variant in the price achieved for alpaca wool. Alpacas need to eat 1–2% of body weight per day, so about two 27 kg (60 lb) bales of grass hay per month per animal. When formulating a proper diet for alpacas, water and hay analysis should be performed to determine the proper vitamin and mineral supplementation program. Two options are to provide free choice salt/mineral powder or feed a specially formulated ration. The alpaca's three-chambered stomachs allow for extremely efficient digestion. There are no viable seeds in the manure, because alpacas prefer to only eat tender plant leaves, and will not consume thick plant stems; therefore, alpaca manure does not need composting to enrich pastures or ornamental landscaping. Nail and teeth trimming are needed every six to twelve months, along with annual shearing. Alpacas have only lower teeth at the front of their mouths; therefore, they do not pull the grass up by the roots. The neighbor tells the guys to rotate their pastures.
The origin of alpacas is depicted in legend; the legend states they came to be in the world after a goddess fell in love with a man. The goddess’ father only allowed her to be with her lover if he cared for her herd of alpacas. On top of caring for the herd, he was to always carry a small animal for his entire life. As the goddess came into our world, the alpacas followed her. Everything was fine until the man set the small animal down, and the goddess fled back to her home. On her way back home, the man attempted to stop her and her herd from fleeing. While he was not able to stop her from returning, he was able to stop a few alpacas from returning. These alpacas who did not make it back are said to be seen today in the swampy lands in the Andes waiting for the end of the world, so they may return to their goddess. Maybe the guys tell this legend to farm visitors but get it all wrong.
OCT 12 ▼
(1) Theme. What is the theme (see below) or moral of the story?
(2) Resolution. Brainstorm ways you could resolve the conflict(s) within the confines of the theme.
Abuse of Power: Deputy Nash has some moments of abuse of power, especially when he hires some people to pretend to be the FBI to search the farm. Perhaps he tells the people he hires that he is filming a movie or that he is playing a prank. Just before they find the body, they quit. Nash is often threatening them and in 1 case, breaks a taillight, but it's the taillight of the farmer's truck, so they don't really care. "Should we tell him that's not our truck?" "Nah, it's probably better this way."
Coming of Age: Though the characters are technically "of age," they've never really grown up. Through these experiences, they do. They have to learn to cook, clean, take care of the animals, pay bills, and run the farm.
Friendship: The 2 guys have been friends since middle school and don't want to lose their friendship now. There comes a time where they have reached a breaking point and both want to quit, but one actually does. But then returns for friendship because "I'd rather be without hope and dignity and happiness and clean clothes than be without my best friend."
OCT 13 ▼
Spend at least fifteen minutes clarifying things through ""What If," brainstorming, mind mapping, freestyle writing, lists, drawings or research as follows:
Research: For reality-based fiction, research aspects of your novel that will lend credibility to your writing.
Plant Parts You Can Eat
Sweet potato leaves
Check to see when things are ripe so they aren't eating things they couldn't eat together
Questions the Kids Ask
Can I ride a chicken?
Why are those ones bigger? (Pointing to llamas)
Why do they poop in 1 pile?
What's that one's name? (Asked over and over about each one and then repeated but they give different names the next time because they can't recall the names they gave last time and the kid calls them on it.)
Can you eat them?
What do they eat?
What colors do they come in?
Do they bite? (One spits and/or kicks after this is asked)
Later they correct all the wrong answers so the reader knows the real answers
Questions from Adults
How much does an alpaca go for?
How long are they pregnant for?
How much do you get for selling the fleece (but maybe they call it wool like they guys do and someone calls the guys on it)?
How much pasture space do they need?
Later they correct their answers so the reader knows the real answers
Cleat: What's your favorite color?
Kid 1: Orange and blue.
Cleat: That's 2 colors. Which one is your favorite.
Kid 1: Dad says I'm an Auburn fan.
Cleat: Tough break last year, huh? Okay, so we'll say blue is your favorite color since no one's favorite color is orange.
Adult: My favorite color is orange.
Cleat: No, it's not.
Adult: Yes, it is.
Cleat: Don't be difficult. No one's favorite color is orange. Favorite colors are blue, green, red, maybe purple, or black if you're a weirdo...
Billy Joe: White, if you're a racist. (or... But not white because that's not a color.)
Cleat: That's right, but nobody's favorite color is orange.
Kid 2: I like orange, too.
Cleat: No you don't.
Kid 1: Can chickens fly?
Kid 2: No, they can't.
Cleat: Yes, they can.
Kid 2: No, they can't.
Cleat: Yes, they can.
Kid 2: No they can't times infinite.
Cleat: Dang it! You'd think I'd know better by now! But yes, they can. Here. I'll show you. (Chases down a chicken.)
Billy Joe: (whispered to Cleat) Are you sure about this?
Cleat: (whispered back) Of course I'm sure. They got wings, don't they?
Billy Joe: Penguins have wings.
Cleat: Penguins don't count. They're barely even a bird. They have webbed feet. (or... Penguins don't count. They can't hardly walk. Aren't they a duck?)
Billy Joe: Ducks have webbed feet.
Cleat: Whose side are you on? (climbs ladder and tosses chicken off roof}
Kid 2: See? Chickens can't fly.
Cleat: What are you talking about? That chicken flew.
Billy Joe: Barely.
Cleat: That chicken flew.
Kid 1: No, she didn't.
Cleat: Yes, he did.
Kid 2: That chicken is a girl.
Cleat: What do you know about chickens?
Kid 2: I know a boy chicken from a girl chicken.
Cleat: That chicken flew. See? It's walking around, perfectly fine.
Kid 2: It didn't fly.
Cleat: Let me throw you off this roof and see if you walk around perfectly fine.
Wounded Warrior event...Maybe after flubbing with the 1 guy, they decide to host a whole event and it actually goes well.
Use poor grammar such as "Where you going to? Where you at?"
Include noodle incidents like, "Remember when that guy bought you crab claws? I think this is the same situation" or "Just wondering if this is going to be a repeat of that charcoal incident" or "Remember that time the car put the car in drive?" Perhaps this happens whenever the neighbor sees them coming out of the house or just whenever he walks up on them.
OCT 14 ▼
(1) Review your plot elements thus far and organize them into your outline.
(2) Add a chronological timeline to your revised outline, using whatever measure of time is appropriate in your story. Determine when plot events happen in time (which is not necessarily when you will reveal them in your novel.)
(3) Optional: Brainstorm the best chronology(ies) for your story and work it(them) into your outline.
- Linear Narrative - the story is told in the order the events occurred.
- Non-Linear Narrative - the story is told out of order.
- Reverse Chronology - the story is told backwards.
- In medias res - the story starts in the middle, goes back to explain how it got there, catches up, and then resolves.
- Flashback/forward - individual scene(s) that take place prior to or after the current action.
OCT 15 ▼
Draft a profile of the antagonist(s) you identified in the ""Premise"" assignment. If your antagonist is a situation rather than a person, choose another minor (but significant) character to profile.
Deputy Nash is Billy Joe's nemesis and brother-in-law. He's 24 and has been deputy for a few years, but has his sights on becoming sheriff. He's got dark, curly hair, dark eyes, and is thin, but muscularly built with a square jaw and defined facial structure. He's sure something has happened to the farmer and is set on figuring out what it is and how Billy Joe fits into it all, even if he has to use somewhat less ethical means to do so--all in the name of justice. Having grown up in an abusive household, he understands power dynamics and the importance of being morally flexible when the time comes. He plans to hire people to play FBI agents if he can't get his department or the real FBI on board with his plan to search the farm for clues as to what his brother-in-law has been up to and where Farmer Pete has gone.
OCT 16 ▼
Write a story about your antagonist that takes place outside of your novel. The object of the contest is to make your judges understand and empathize with the antagonist's motivations.
OCT 17 REST
OCT 18 ▼
Describe the cultural, political and/or religious setting in your novel, regardless of whether the cultural setting is fictional, historical, or modern.
(1) What do your societies believe?
(2) In what practices do they engage?
(3) What laws or rules of society are in place?
(4) Who/what enforces the laws and rules and how successful are they?
(5) What technologies are in use?
(6) How does the setting impact your protagonist(s) in their pre-story lives?
(7) How does the setting impact the plot of your story?
(1) This is a modern setting with mid-western values--God, country, family.
(2) Much of the town goes to church weekly, though the 2 protagonists aren't as regular as they should be.
(3) The laws are typical modern American laws, don't steal, murder, commit identity theft, all the things our heroes end up doing, though without malice.
(4) The sheriff officially enforces the laws, but unofficially, Deputy Nash has taken it upon himself to ensure that his wayward brother-in-law behaves himself and manages to find time for additional enforcement of his brother-in-law.
(5) The technologies are typical for today--cell phones, computers, cars, etc.
(6) The protagonists both have had an opportunity for education, but it wasn't forced on them as their town, while it supports college degrees, also doesn't promote them as many of their citizens don't have one.
(7) Because of modern conveniences such as debit cards and online banking, the two "farmhands" are able to pretend to be the farmer, use his funds, and hide his death better than if they had needed to show up at the bank or forge a check to gain access to his money.
OCT 19 ▼
Complications. Identify additional things that could go wrong for your protagonist. You are not required to resolve any problems yet, just create them. Remember: The more hardships your main character faces, the more readers will cheer them on, and the more engaged and invested the reader will be in your story. Brainstorm a list of problems you could throw at your protagonist(s) throughout the story, using ""What If,"" mind mapping (see the resources at the bottom of the calendar), freestyle writing, or any other form of brainstorming you prefer. Hint: Other characters are a great source of realistic strife, since characters often are driven by conflicting motivations.
What if the daughter shows up?
What if they go into foreclosure?
What if they get behind on their taxes and the property goes to tax sale?
What if one of the guys discovers they are a father?
What if a visitor discovers the farmer is dead?
What if the lawyer comes to file divorce papers to the farmer and gets suspicious when he can't be found?
What if the deputy talks the sheriff into getting a search warrant?
What if a visitor dies on the farm?
What if the FBI agrees to search the farm?
What if a visitor tries to sue them for getting spit on?
What if the animals get out?
What if the neighbor tells them he knows the farmer is dead and decides to blackmail them?
What if the deputy decides to blackmail them?
What if the farmer's wife comes back?
What if the farmer has an illegitimate son that tries to find him?
What if the boys' parents come to visit them?
What if the farm is in danger from a wildfire?
What if the well is contaminated from a flood?
What if some of the animals die?
What if some of the animals get sick?
What if the house is haunted?
What if they go to take some animals to the fair and crash?
What if the animals get out on the fairgrounds?
What if the animals get out and eat other people's fair entries like pies and pumpkins?
What if one of the guys gets hurt?
What if one of them goes into a deep depression?
What if one of them is a sleep walker and sometimes goes to cook food and the other gets up to eat it because that's what a good friend would do?
What if the sleep walker goes out and gets into trouble?
What if a dog comes and kills the crias?
What if a disease comes and they have to kill the animals to prevent its spread?
What if they stop by the fortune telling booth at the fair and are told something terrible?
What if one of them finds out or is told he's adopted?
What if Billie Jo decides she wants to leave Deputy Nash?
What if Billie Jo gets pregnant?
What if the guys have to take on a job like Uber Eats to support the farm?
What if someone's parent dies?
What if they build a relationship with a telemarketer or they are harassed by one?
What if the IRS decides to audit the farmer?
What if they decide to make art with the animals and then things start getting out of control with the media wanting to be involved in the story?
What if one of them gets really sick?
What if Deputy Nash frames them for something?
What if someone puts a curse on them--telemarketer or carnie?
What if they get food poisoning? "I always assumed it would be your cooking that would kill me." "Me too."
What if one of them starts having nightmares?
What if they start having dreams that come true?
What if the twins aren't really twins?
What if they win the lottery and it draws media attention?
OCT 20 ▼
(1) Brainstorm possible solutions to your conflict and complications using the list of literary devices below or your own ideas.
(2) Identify a mentor or helper who aids the protagonist(s) in achieving their goals.
(3) Identify any other literary devices from the list you could use to enhance your writing.
Literary Devices List
- Foreshadowing: Hints of something to come.
- Chekhov's Gun: The gun on the wall in Scene 1 is eventually fired.
- Repetitive Designation: An object or fact appears over and over.
- Symbolism: Small facts, objects, or characterizations represent something bigger.
- Self-fulfilling prophecy: Protagonist attempts to thwart prophecy but in attempting, fulfills it.
- Poetic Justice: Good guys are rewarded and bad guys are punished.
- Plot Twist: Surprises the reader with something unexpected.
- False Protagonist: The protagonist dies or turns out to be something other than the protagonist.
- Red Herring: A false trail diverts the reader's attention from what really happened.
- Unreliable Narrator: The narrator has been misleading the reader all along.
- Irony: The exact opposite of what the reader expects happens.
- Reveal: A hidden connection between characters or facts is revealed in time.
- Plot Device: Advances the plot forward, often pushing the main character past a hurdle.
- Object of Power: Either the protagonist wants it, or the object drives the plot of its own accord.
- MacGuffin: Something the protagonist wants for unknown and unimportant reasons.
- Quibble: Following the letter of the law, contract, or agreement instead of its intent, changing the outcome.
- Narrative Hook: Story opening that grab's the reader's attention.
- Cliffhanger: Ending a scene, chapter or story in the middle of action, hooking the reader.
- Ticking Clock Scenario: The threat of impending doom if the protagonist's objective is not met.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: A character speaks directly to the reader.
- Or anything from this list: http://literary-devices.com/
(2) The neighbor, Duf, helps the boys.
OCT 21 ▼
(1) Review your plot elements thus far and organize them into your outline.
(2) Fill in any gaps in your outline template and/or flesh out more details.
OCT 22 ▼
(1) Create a list of settings in a format easy to edit and expand.
(2) Add brief descriptions, drawings, images or Google Maps coordinates (find the location on Google Maps/Earth and record the URL) for each.
OCT 23 ▼
Describe a setting in words. Use all five senses and make your reader experience the setting as if he or she were there.
OCT 24 REST
OCT 25 ▼
(1) Identify your story type and define it with your own nomenclature.
(2) Describe your target audience. Identify a demographic profile of your ideal reader (try using your character profile template!) Explain in detail what aspects of your novel will appeal to this particular audience and why.
(3) Write a synopsis of your novel using the same narrative voice you will use to tell the story.
OCT 26 ▼
(1) Expand or add profiles for one or more minor characters.
(2) Spend some time updating your character list with new information, images, etc.
OCT 27 ▼
(1) Spend at least fifteen minutes clarifying things through ""What If"" brainstorming, mind mapping (see resources at the bottom of the calendar), freestyle writing, lists, drawings or research. You may also choose to use this time to finish a previous assignment that needs more time.
(2) Update your characters, definitions and settings lists as needed.
OCT 28 ▼
You are a journalist. The story of your novel is complete. Interview your protagonist and ask the following questions:
(1) How is life for you now, compared to life prior to these events?
(2) How did the events of your story change you?
OCT 29 ▼
Now that you have spent a month planning your novel, revise your initial premise. Identify the following:
(1) Setting(s). Where does your story take place?
(2) Protagonist(s). Who is(are) your main character(s)?
(2b) Flaw(s). What is(are) the protagonist's major flaw(s)?
(2c) Goal(s). What does(d) the protagonist(s) want (or want to avoid)?
(3) Conflict(s). What's keeping them from their goal(s)?
(4) Antagonist(s). Who or what is creating the conflict(s)?
(5) Resolution. How does it all turn out in the end?
(6) Theme: What is the theme or moral of the story?
(7) Outline: Update your outline as needed.
OCT 30 ▼
Write a story that sets up your plot.
OCT 31 REST
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Baby Names can be hard to pick. Hands-free hygenic toilet seats covers. Dramatic Music rocks.
Vampires are people too. Write Poetry here. Try this Stock Market quiz.
Teaching is a noble job. Get info on Tax Refunds.