Join me for NaNoWriMo!

Once again I will start National Novel Writing Month. I say start because I haven’t “won” since 2010. So it’s my tenth anniversary! I missed the last two years but I am giving it the ol’ college try again this year. It will be good to get back into a daily writing practice and if you are so inclined you can join me and be my one of my writing buddies!

Here is my NaNoWriMo page: Kardaen

Here is their official announcement on Twitter

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is I’ll briefly explain. It is an annual writing challenge to “write a 50,000 word novel” in one month. The timer starts at midnight of Halloween and goes until midnight of November 30th. In order to stay on pace you have to write 1667 words a day. It can be a daunting task. I know the year I “won” it took almost every free moment I had, and my wife was not happy at me. At all. I vowed I wouldn’t do that to her again, and I didn’t. And it really is about writing every day. 50k words is not really a novel either. That would qualify as a novella. The year I “won” I felt like I had written half a novel. it could be a series of short stories. Or essays. The entire point, again, is to write every day. Nobody is coming to your house to make sure you are following the “rules.” Jut have fun with it and write what you can. If it’s only a 100 words a day, then that is still 3000 words by the end of the month. And that is 3000 words more than you had before you started.

I use it to springboard a new story usually. Sometimes I take an old story out and try to add to it. I haven’t hit the 50k mark in a decade but this might be the year. If not that’s okay, too.

I hope you join me and good luck!

Holiday events, life in the Moody House

I love Thanksgiving!  It has turned into probably my favorite holiday. My wife and I shop together and prep the stuffing and turkey together.  I love cooking with her. After the bird is in the oven we have about 4 hours to relax, and call family.  It would be great if we were all together but our family is spread all over the country. 

Today we watched a Kung Fu movie together, about one of Bruce Lee’s mentors. Grand Master Ip Man, starring Donnie Yen. It was really enjoyable. 

The turkey came out golden brown and perfectly moist and delicious, just like always and all the other fixins were hot, and scrumptious. The timing worked out just right.  We gorged!


Afterwards, I plugged in all my timers for the outdoor Christmas lights today, so the lights are on outside. We did all the prep work a few weeks ago when the weather was nice, got all our clean-up yard work done and all the outside decorations up. 

Over the course of the last few weeks my wife has been bringing out her plethora of wonderful Christmas decorations. She loves to decorate for Christmas and it really makes the house feel very festive. This year she got a great idea from one of her magazines, using candy in clear glass containers to make a beautiful decoration and we went with it. It is one of my favorite new things she added.  Also the White garland is new and both are captured in this shot.

My Nano adventure has been less than prolific but I am making progress. Unless I am struck by some sort of writing miracle I am not going to hit 50k by the end of November this year,  I just can’t  pump out ten thousands words in a day. My brain doesn’t seem to work that way. But I’m not giving up or getting upset about it, I just keep plugging along.

I did get excepted into my Master’s Program!  Yay me! I had to prep a ten page piece for critique.  I’m expecting to receive papers from all the other students in my class to critique before I show up in early January.  I also had a read a book for class, Fated by Alyson Noel, and I just finished it this week.  So, all told, I’ve been busy, with work on top of all that. I liked the book, it’s YA and supposed to be romance but it was light on romance.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and good luck to all you Nanoers out there!

Clear Ether!

NaNo Prep: Writing Rules III – Return of WriMo

NaNoWriMo is merely three days away, and in the spirit of preparation I revamped my Writing Rules again.  This time when I went back to review them I realized that they were a hodgepodge of thoughts with no form.  So I organized them and revamped them and added some new content.  As always I am open to suggestion if you see something wrong or something that needs clarified or plain just doesn’t make sense.

This is kind of long and I have it posted as it’s own page here.

A few years back a friend of mine asked if I could pass along some of what I’ve learned over the past couple of years about trying to write a book.  I’ve tried to distill that info here.
I am focused on novel writing, so all of these ideas may not apply to poetry writing or something other than Novels or Novellas.  Please feel free to add in some comments that will help refine this.  This is all from the perspective of a novice unpublished writer, but I have done my homework, and learned a few things along the way.  These so called “rules” are merely guidelines.  There are no hard and fast rules.
Getting Started: Setting and Characters
There are a couple of ways to do this, and a couple of key ingredients that you need to start.  You are going to need to know the setting…intimately, at least for the actual places your characters will be.  This doesn’t mean you need to include every detail in the narrative, but you, as author, need to know how things work. 
The other key ingredient is the characters.   A strong protagonist and a strong antagonist are absolutely essential.  Other types of characters you might include are companion, or foil, for your main characters that will allow you to showcase certain aspects of your main characters, to bring out viewpoints or details about the background that might be needed to flesh out the world.  Another key character type is the relationship character, which will usually be at odds with the protagonist early and will mend the relationship by the end.
I recommend writing down everything you know about the character.  You don’t want to make them perfect people, interesting characters have flaws.  They need to be balanced.  Try writing a little bit in their POV to get to know them if you are stuck.  You don’t have to use any of this but it may help you understand the pathos of your character better, and they should all be suffering to one extent or another, otherwise, why are we writing about them.
 
A lot of people get hung up on world building.  They really like this part, and I can see the fun and the draw of that, but at some point you need stop world building, develop a plot idea, some characters and start writing an actual story.
Okay, so now you have some characters and a setting what do you do next?
 
Plots and Character Arcs
There are basically two types of arcs, an internal and an external.  The external is pretty straight forward, things happen in the world.  Usually your characters will react to these things and respond, making a new thing happen.  The external character arc is usually what people will refer to as the plot of the book.  A happens then B happens then C happens. 
The internal arc is about how your protagonist deals with things in their head.  The internal character arc is what the book is about.  The internal arc is more about how your character changes through the book, not how things in the external world change.
An Arc is exactly what it sounds like, rising action to the climax then falling action to the dénouement.   You can have multiple arcs and for novels you will have several hopefully.  A short story usually has one. For the longer piece you will have an overarching character Arc.  The big problem that needs to solved.  Inside of that you will have mini-arcs that tell a smaller story within the story, and different characters may be involved with each one.  You need to close each of these off before you end the story, unless perhaps it is part of a larger story arc involving multiple books.  
Each of these little arcs are like promises to the reader, and you need to keep your promises and solve the arcs or the reader will feel cheated.
The axiom is that the closer together you can resolve the external and internal arc and reconcile with the relationship character the more powerful the ending will be, ideally in the same chapter if that is possible.  A really great book for this concept is Wired for Story by Lisa Cron.
There are a couple of well-known formulas for setting up your story arc, for example: The Three Act Play, or the Hollywood Formula or 7 Part Story Structure.  There are lots of ways to skin the cat.
Point of View and Voice
Choose your voice for the story and be consistent. The POV is really going to set the tone for your narrative, so you need to think this through to see who will tell the most interesting story.
You have two tenses and three basic points of view to choose from and you can mix and match these giving you a wide variety of ways to tell your story.  Most established authors that I’ve spoken to or read about tell you to avoid present tense, leaving past tense as the most commonly used method.   Third person narrative is the prevailing approach, but books are also written in first person, Twilight by Stephanie Meyers is a good example, and second person, Halting State by Charles Stross is a good example of this form, but it’s fairly rare. 
There are also variations on how to use the third person in the form of omniscient, objective (primarily used for news reporting) and limited, which can lend itself to a narrator that is unreliable.  Unreliable just means you only see what the character sees and feel what the character feels, whether it’s a true representation of reality or not.  Third person works very well if you are changing the narrator. 
Each character will allow you to tell a different aspect of a story, but you will need to pick the one that tells the story you want or at least has access to all the important stuff.  You can use more than one Point of View character.  But please don’t jump heads in the middle of a paragraph, have the decency to have a definite break before you switch POVs. 
For each scene the POV character should have something at stake.  If they don’t have anything at stake for that scene then someone else should be the POV.  If nobody has anything at stake you might want to rethink keeping that scene.  As a general rule of thumb if you start a scene with one POV and switch, you should try to end the scene in the POV of the one you started with.
Pantsing or Outlining?
There is no right or wrong way to write a book.  The end goal is to have a finished story that makes sense and the reader is able to follow and enjoy.  The two most prominent that I am aware of are outlining and discovery.
Outlining is just what it implies; you make an outline then flesh it in and keep adding layers and detail to your outline in the form of story.
Pantsing, or maybe better known as Discovery Writing, is where you have a kernel of an idea and just start and let the story go where it wants.  I prefer a combination of the two, with a basic outline then start writing and adjust my outline as the story progresses.  Another common way for discovery writing is to get to where you are about what you think is 2/3 done then outline the ending to help you close the loop on your story.
Where do you start the story?
There is an oft quoted idea that says, “Get in as late as you can and out as early as you can.”  But this doesn’t necessarily mean you start like a James Bond Movie.  There is a lot of advice out there that says “start in the middle of the action,” but I’m not convinced that’s the best way to do it.
We need to have enough of a feel for the normal life and even a little empathy for the protagonist before we start blowing up his or her world.
The beginning of the book should grab the reader.   But what it really means is showing us why we should be interested in this particular protagonist.  What is different or interesting about him or her? This is not universal, I know a lot of established authors don’t really follow this advice, but they already have a following.  To hook new readers you need to start out with an interesting passage.  Most editors and agents are going to ask for the first three chapters or X number of pages, but they want to see the beginning, so it should be your best stuff and include what is referred to as the hook.  The hook is just that thing that is interesting about your character or the story that will make someone want to read further. 
There have been attempts to study what makes people keep reading, of course it’s not universal, but if you have an interesting hook most readers will give you the benefit of the doubt and get through the first chapter.  If you hold them that long they will read more chapters until they are invested in the book and finish it.  Most readers are stubborn and once you hook them they won’t give up on a book unless you give them a reason to.
Prelude or not? Most writers I’ve talked to recommend skipping the prelude idea, just start your novel there if it’s that interesting.  It is situation dependent. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule. 
Mechanics
The most important thing is to tell a good story.  It’s more important to tell a good story than to write well, but both are a plus, so learn your craft.
Show, don’t tell.  This means let the action play out; don’t just describe it in summary form.  Action sequences should always be shown.  There are parts of the story you can skim over with broad brush to avoid boring the reader, but too much of this makes the story feel empty.  Ideally you leave all the boring parts out.
Info dumps should be kept to a minimum or broken up into smaller bits and brought out in the right spots, preferably by one of your characters via conversation.
Know the rules of grammar.  You can say anything but punctuate it properly.  An excellent book for the essentials on clear, correct English is Strunk and White’s – Elements of Style
Another great resource is the podcast Grammar Girl.
Read your book out loud to make sure it flows.  Dialogue should be dynamic and not stilted, but written dialogue is not like real talking.  Leave out the “uhs,” the choppy unfinished sentences and stuttering unless you are trying to set a tone or particular character trait.
Minimize the use of strange language.  Too much technical jargon or unusual language is going to lose your reader, just pepper it in to give the feel and style you are trying to portray.  Ease the reader into it and you can use it a little more later on perhaps, once they get accustomed to what you’re doing.
Describe only what is needed.  My personal pet peeve is over-doing the description.  Most of us are not Nora Roberts.  Let’s not fool ourselves or overcompensate by describing every detail of something that really has no bearing on the story.  The idea here is to only describe things that might be different or things the character notices.  I know different people have different tastes on this and some well-known authors still do this, but if you are going to do it just know that I am probably skimming that part.
The Joy of discovery.  Sometimes your characters are going to take you places you hadn’t planned on.  This, to me, is one of the great joys of writing, but sometimes they will take you down a dead end or completely off course.  Then you will have to decide if the new direction is a better story or if it really is just going to derail the entire plot.  Save all this stuff though.  Don’t throw any good prose away.  I keep a boneyard for all my ideas that I can salvage things from later.
Use Active voice.   Passive voice is weak and tends to make you add a lot more words than you need.  It is appropriate at times to slow up the pace, but as a general rule active voice makes things happen in a style that creates action and movement, which will help hold the reader.  There is a place for passive voice and it will require some work to develop a feel for it.
Avoid editing and writing at the same time.  You write with the right side of your brain and edit with the left side.  Your creativity flows from the right side, so try to avoid mixing in left side stuff when you are in the creative mode.  You do use both sides at the same time or you wouldn’t be able to write, but if you avoid going back and changing a lot of stuff constantly while you are in creative mode you will likely have more success moving the story forward.
A good book on helping avoid passive voice and other editing tips is The 10% Solution by Ken Rand. 
I love using the thesaurus to avoid using the same word too often.  http://thesaurus.com/
Where do you get your ideas?
People ask all the time where you get your ideas from, but honestly once you actually start this writing thing as a regular part of your life the ideas just flow. 
Keep a notebook with you as much as possible and write down ideas as they come to you. 
Reading a lot helps, with style and tempo and form.  Read as much as you can.  But I know a lot of authors avoid stuff that is too close to what they are presently working on to avoid too much influence on their story (and lawsuits).
Dreams are often a good source of ideas.
I read lots of magazine articles on the subjects I’m interested in writing about.  For me Scientific American is a great source of ideas.
The web is a great source for ideas as well.  I stay up on news events in my area of interest also.
I love listening to writing podcasts.  My favorite is Writing Excuses. These guys and gal are successful writers and have a plethora of good advice for aspiring writers.
I borrowed an idea from Brandon Sanderson for keeping track of story ideas.  I use a Book Guide.  It is broken down into four sections: Character, Setting, Plot and Boneyard just flesh out the information for each section as you develop more of the ideas.  I find this helps immensely with continuity and just tracking down mundane stuff that you’ve put in the setting or how you spelled someone’s name, or the color of their hair, etc.
Habit patterns
Write as often as you can.  It’s best if you can develop a habit of writing.  If you can manage to get a regular time and place to write that is ideal.  The whole trick is to write, as often as you can.  Then write some more.  Did I say that enough?
Here is an interesting fact: 250 words is approximately one page for determining your novel length.  It takes about 15 minutes to half an hour to do that each day.  If you do that for a year you will have a novel length book.  Obviously if you can write for an hour or two each day you can pump one out a lot faster.
You may find that the more you write the better it flows and the ideas just start coming out of the wood work.  The imagination is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly.
Editing and Reviewing
Get a Writing Partner or two or three.  They write, and can be a free way to get good edits and ideas for where you went off course or just didn’t connect something properly.  Sometimes you have all that story in your head and you make assumptions that the reader knows things, when you haven’t actually made it clear.  A critique group is a great idea also. If you can’t find a local group, then look on the Internet.  There are lots of places to get free critiques.  One of the better ones I’ve used is Critters. Beta Readers can help with this also. 
Once you finish the manuscript hand it off to a first reader, one that is going to give you real feedback, not your mom, who loves you and won’t tell you the hard truth.  Listen to the critiques and make changes if you think their critique is valid. You don’t have to take all, or any for that matter, but listen to what they are saying.
Don’t over edit.  Error checking is great and continuity checking is good, but your editor voice doesn’t have the same view of your work and if you do too much editing you may lose the magic that made your story work.  I read often that the first draft is often crap and you need to edit brilliantly, but the creative part of your story is going to come out on the first pass more than likely, so keep this in mind.  Three or four passes is probably enough to get the big stuff: errors, continuity and first reader/beta reader comments that show stuff that might require some tweaking is probably all you need.  Your mileage may vary here, but the idea is to let go at some point and start mailing out your story.
In the end you will want a professional editor and they do cost money.  If you can sell your book, then the publisher will provide this for you, but if you self-pub do everyone a favor and pay for one.
You’re done, now what?
If you are going to submit your writing to someone, whether agent or editor, follow the guidelines they lay down.    There are people that get picked up that don’t follow the rules but they are not norm.
Have faith in yourself and be prepared for rejection, it’s likely going to happen, a lot. 
Publishing cycle
Traditional publishing is going to take at least two years before you see your book in print.  It could be longer.  Many of them won’t want to publish more than one a year due to their seasonal release schedule and just not wanting to oversaturate, if that is even a real problem.  They also don’t give you a lot of information on sales, and payment can be delayed.  They will often give you money up front though, in the form of advances.  The value of the advance has been going down in recent years as the publishing industry has been in such turmoil, but from what I am reading lately things seem to be leveling off and traditional publishing is profitable again (for them). 
This is where self-publishing has a real advantage.  You can publish quickly, in a few days to get formatting right, and publish as frequently as you like.  I know several novelists that are publishing as many as four novels a year this way.  If you are a prolific writer and don’t want to wait on the traditional publishing cycle this is the way to go.
Agent or Not
There is a lot of discussion on this issue right now.  It will really depend on how much of the business side of things you want to take on.  If you don’t want to mess with any of it then an agent is probably the way to go.  If you can take the time to understand the business and work your own contracts then you probably don’t need an agent.  You can always use an independent editor and an attorney that specializes in book contracts to help you out here.  For more on this subject I would read through Dean Wesley Smith’s website on debunking the publishing industry myths: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?page_id=860
Once you are ready to submit your novel get it in the mail and START ON THE NEXT BOOK.
Self-Publishing
If you don’t have any luck getting a big time publisher to buy your book or you simply just want to, you can self-publish and there are lots of ways these days to do this.  You will also keep a larger percentage of the book sale, and have a lot more velocity in the publishing cycle.  The down side is you have to pay for all marketing yourself and take care of all the business transactions, cover design, tracking for taxes, etc., yourself.
This tidbit is something I found in the comments section of one of Dean Wesley Smith’s blogs:
Put your novel up on Smashwords, which gets you to Sony, Nook, iBook, and other places. Cost: Free
Put your novel through CreateSpace in trade paperback form in POD. That gets it to Amazon. Cost: Free (or $39.00 if you want better distribution into all stores.)
Put your novel through LighteningSource in trade paperback form in POD. That gets it to Ingram. Cost: around $100.00
From what I gather that will pretty much get your books to every English speaking market on the globe.
Good luck on your writing!

Next Big Thing Tag

 

NaNo Prep: The Next Big Thing.  Janice Hardy tagged Jami Gold, who tagged me.   I’m honored that she picked me and I’m going to do my best to answer:

 
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
 
Quoting Jami:
As NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month—write a 50K word novel during November) is all about writing “the next big thing,” I decided this would be a fun tagging game to play.
So have I.
 
What is your working title of your book?  
Clear Ether.  This is the2nd title I’ve used for it, but I think it works.
 
Where did the idea come from for the book?
This is my first novel length work, and I had a couple of idea kernels that I ended up mashing together, (those make the best stories don’t they?) one being about a vampire and the other circling loosely around my experiences sitting alert as a military pilot.  It made at least half a dozen major morphs before it emerged into what it is now.
 
What genre does your book fall under?
It is Science Fiction Adventure with romantic elements.
 
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Okay, believe it or not I already had this figured out, LOL.
 
 
 
 
(Protag)Remie La Jeunesse – Matt Bomer
 
 
 
 
 
 
Anneliese Trahan – Emily Van Camp
 
 
 
 
Chloe Naquin – Alexandra Daddario
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Conall La Jeunesse –  Logan Lerman
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sage La Jeunesse – Chloe Moretz
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sebastian Meijer – Cary Elwes
 
 
 
 
 
I am actually considering doing a screenplay version, but have to cut about 300 pages.  Heh.
 
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Remie thinks that being a vampire is not all it’s cracked up to be, once he outlived his wife and watched all his offspring die one after the other, and is ready to call it quits, until a chance meeting with a hot tempered young female pilot reignites a spark of life in his long dead heart.
 
Okay that’s kinda long, but I cover a lot of ground and that doesn’t even scratch the surface.  It takes place 700 years in the future and we have inhabited 58 star systems outside of our own.
 
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I am going to shop it with a few agents and if that doesn’t work I may try the slush pile at a few book sellers.  If all else fails I may self-pub …  or, I may trunk it.
 
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Another tricky question that on the surface seems simple enough.  I’ve been working on this book for more than three years, but the actual draft that I am currently using took a little more than a year to write. 
 
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I know there are a few cheesy movies that have vampires in space, but this book is nothing like that.  It’s a character driven story.  I know that Jane Fancher has a story, called Blood Red Moon, with vampires, mixed with science fiction but I haven’t read it.
 
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I have wanted to write a novel for about 25 years, and finally put aside video games and made a serious effort to do just that.  It has been a steep learning curve, but I’ve met so many great people on the journey it has made it all worthwhile.  I’ve learned a great deal about writing and publishing in the process.  I think I am closing in on the magic one million word mark and it is all starting to make more sense.
 
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My vampires are not quite the traditional sort.  They are spawned from an alien phage that came to Earth via meteor strike in ancient time and nearly wiped out an entire region in Europe before the survivors figured out what they were.  It has star travel and space battles and poker and romance.  Chloe Naquin is Remie’s actual granddaughter, from the daughter he had before he was turned.  She is the only person he has ever turned into a Nemisi, and she was a quadriplegic until the day he turned her.  She runs a syndicate made up of Remie’s thousands of descendants from his two children.  Of course he couldn’t have any more children after his turning, but he reunited with his wife for the rest of her life. There is lots more.
 
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
 
Jami Gold tagged me.  She is a writer and blogger extraordinaire and I expect she will be famous before too much longer.  She is one of my oldest twitter friends and I’m excited to cheer her on for NaNoWriMo this year.
 
Stacy McKitrick is my writing partner. She just finished the draft on her 5th book and is shopping her stories right now.  We have been working together for a little more than a year and I really appreciate everything she does.  It’s also a joy to share in someone else’s journey.  NaNo Stacy?
 
Jane Fancher is a writer and artist and is back at the writing thing after a hiatus.  She writes Sci Fi and just released Netwalkers: Partners, a prequel to her acclaimed Netwalkers trilogy.  I’ve read it and it rocks. 
 
Karen Woodward is a long time twitter friend and a prolific blogger.  She collects lots of great information on writing on her blog.  I’m not sure if Karen is doing Nano either.
 
Gerry Wilson is a writer and I only recently met her doing a blog challenge (that I am failing) but she has a wonderful way with words.  Gerry, are you doing NaNoWriMo?
 
I am doing NaNoWriMo again this year and I am Kardaen on their website, and my story this year is tentatively called Requiem for Memory.
 
Clear Ether!

NaNo Fail Whale

NaNoWriMo is never a waste of time in my humble opinion. I’m not going to hit the target this year of 50k words in 30 days, but the endeavor has its own rewards.

Last year I had a great idea and I think it will become my Master’s thesis and I had no trouble moving along. It was a simple idea but very open and I knew where it was going ultimately. I‘ve got stuff on the back burner and a backlog of ideas I want to explore but for this year I decided to try my hand at something completely outside of my comfort zone. The original idea was to try my hand at a YA tie- in to my current novel. But once I conceived of the idea it started to develop its own life. I thought it was just going to be in the same vein as my adult fiction, just from a different perspective, but as the idea started to coalesce it began to morph into more of a substantial piece, and basically even though the setting is several hundred years in the future it is not classic SF. It’s actually literary fiction, which is a completely different animal.

What I learned this year is that literary fiction is harder. It requires a lot of introspection and for me at least, has been a lot slower to develop. The story arc for literary fiction is intended to be an internal arc, to see a character mature or change their beliefs in some fundamental way. That is the overarching plot, and of course you can add in lots of small plot-lines that will move the story along.

I can see a lot of potential with this, but it’s not what I thought it was going to be. I love that these things are like a living flame that can be stoked into life, just add a little more kindling, a breath of air, bigger sticks and the thing grows. You have to pay very close attention though or the flame can die. But even as they can grow, it helps to know where you’re going. This story is developing but I’m still not sure where I’m going with it and that is the biggest hurdle. I like the characters, and I like the ideas that are developing, but the elephant in the room with me right now is time.

I have several projects competing for my time and some have real deadlines. Some are self-induced, but one is outside my control. I seriously want to finish my adult novel and get it out there. I have a series of tests that I need to study for, that are incredible time eaters. Time keeps marching on and as it does my stress level is slowly creeping up.

I like the idea that I have something that will challenge me and my skills and it’s something that might actually have something to say and not just entertain. But right now I’m not sure it fits in with my agenda. Ideas are funny things, some are very finite and some are lofty and undefined. This one feels more like the latter, even though I have some concrete concepts developing it has a long way to go to really gel.

All this to say I think I am going to put this one back on the rear of the stove again and let it simmer some more. I like knocking things off my to-do list and I have some low hanging fruit that I can take care of if I just focus my energy. The one good thing about stress is that I tend to get more motivated. The stress has reached a point where I need to act and this is the first step. Epic NaNo Fail, but ultimately a victory in my pursuit of happiness. Good luck to the rest of you working toward your 50k goal!

Clear Ether!

NaNoWriMo Take 2

I can see that NaNoWriMo is going to be interrupting my planned schedule for posting this blog.  I had to fly on Thursday evening, so I tried to sneak in some writing at work, but it didn’t leave me any blog time.  Posting the blog at work has been a near disaster so far.  The LAN we use is hermetically sealed and I feel lucky I can even get to blogspot at all.  I’ve also been fighting a cold and an abdominal muscle injury that is hampering my workouts considerably, but that really doesn’ effect the blog any, just my demeanor.  But all that aside, trying to keep pace with my NaNoWriMo story is the real culprit.  I could have blogged last night, but I’m doing the exact opposite of what I had planned, which is fall dreadful behind, so I hemorraged words onto the NaNo WIP.



I wanted to get out the gate and get ahead.  Being ahead in NaNo is the sweet spot.  The stress is low, you feel good about where you are, and can just enjoy the experience.  I watched in amazement as most of my Writing Buddies racked up 5k and 8k on the first day!  I think I hit 600 on day one.  I took today off to take my wife to the annual craft fair at the local college, but I should have some time this afternoon to try to catch up.  I’m lagging enough to keep myself at least a day off pace.  I just need a good 5 K day to catch up and I know I have one of those in me.   I know because I’ve done it before. It’s a nice feeling to know that, it’s what’s keeping me sane at the moment.   I looked back at last year and I barely made any posts during November, simply because I spent every waking moment that I had free working on my NaNo project.  


There are some valuable lessons to be learned from NaNoWriMo.  The first and foremost is putting your butt in the chair.  Nothing surpasses that one commandment.  It’s very easy to find just about anything else to do, all the while telling yourself that you are brainstorming.  There is more to butt in chair though.  Even that isn’t always enough, you need to eliminate as many distractions as you can.  Hell, even the little word counter in the corner is distracting.  I feel my cheating eyes sneaking to the bottom left corner of the page to check our progress, only to be disappointed.  Why isn’t it moving faster!  I spent a good part of day 1 doing research, stuff that I could have done, should have done in advance.  So even though my butt was in the chair, I wasn’t grinding out words.


So my advice is: 
1. Sit down, preferably in a place with no internet connection and work those little fingers till they cramp up.  Scrivener even takes the word counter out of view, and they even have a PC version beta out now.  I think it goes live on the 7th. 
2. Don’t go back and fix things (unless you must, it’s a personality flaw) keep forward momentum.  It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to keep moving forward.  You will have until next November to revise it and make it shine. 
3. Don’t think it has to be complete by the end of the month, 50K is not really a novel, more like a novelette, which is fine if that’s what you want.
4. Try to stay ahead.  Believe me on this.  You don’t want to be where I was last year knowing I needed multiple 5K days to even catch up, frantic in the last week to “win”.  


If you give it a serious attempt it will help you develop a writing habit.  I read somewhere that it takes 30 days to develop a habit.   I know from practice that more writing makes for better writing.  But don’t think you know everything, don’t stop learning about how to write better.  It is a craft that can be continuously honed.  Now go out there and mandibulate on the keyboard!


Clear Ether!

Habit not so much formed

Well, its now the 4th of December and I haven’t been writing for the last 4 days.  I’m disappointed, but it’s been a busy week this week.  Hoping to get some writing in tomorrow on Vim Dicare.


I’ve been getting into twitter a lot more since NaNoWriMo started.  I am following enough interesting people that its worth it to stop in and see what’s going on.  Just updated my background with some original artwork that I made with Photoshop.  I love me some Photoshop.

NaNoWriMo 2010 is in the can

     It’s over at midnight tonight, but I hit the 50k mark last night around 11:30 pm.  Big win for me!  My first attempt and it was not horribly hard, although there were times I wasn’t sure I would make it.  The entire trick is to be consistent.  I have no idea how people write 15 to 20 thousand words in one day.  My best day was about 3500.  I had several days over 3k and several under 1k. But I only skipped 4 days I think in the entire month.


     I want to congratulate everyone that gave it a shot!  At least you wrote something.  Starting is more than half the battle with writing, IMHO.



     I know at least one person that had 203k.  That’s just amazing!  And in less than 30 days.  I know a couple of people in my region wrote two 50k stories in 30 days, again amazing!  I think some people are writing without punctuation or worrying at all about grammar.  I can’t write like that, at least I haven’t been able to write like that and I’m not sure I want to, but I was finding that I could write more and more near the end. 


     I stopped last night once I was comfortably over 50K, but I think I am probably only about 2/3 done with the story.  I’m really hopeful that this created a good habit pattern.  I’m only 70k words into Vim Dicare and I really want to finish that book next.  I will say it’s hard to step away from Revelation Void now, it was just getting to the good part.


     All in all, it was a good experience that I would recommend to anyone.  It was never too burdensome, on a few days that I was wiped out I just didn’t write, and was able to make up for it on other days when I had energy and the muse was awake.  I did have a good plan for the Thanksgiving holiday, but if I were traveling it would have turned out a lot differently.  My plan for next year is to get a really good start and try to stay ahead of the line all the way.  I know my wife wasn’t pleased with me all the time, but overall she was supportive.  She joked that they need a support group for NaNoWriMo widows and widowers. 


     I’ll post a few more pieces of Revelation Void, but please keep in mind that it was pulled directly out of my rear most of the time.  Stream of consciousness almost, but it is not edited.  I fear that I may have written the most boring SF adventure story of all time, but editing will help pick up the pace.  I just went into detail on some things that would likely bore some readers, but that was where my head was when I was just trying to get some words down.

NaNoWriMo coming to a close

Only 4 days left on NaNoWriMo.  It’s been an interesting experience.  I’ve learned that I am only good for a couple of thousand words a day no matter how much time I set aside.  I don’t have a good answer as to why, except that maybe I’m easily distracted.  I will have a different plan for next year.  This year I have been almost perpetually behind the curve.  I started out just over the line for the first week, then fell back and have been trying to catch up ever since. 


I have less than 8,ooo words to go, so I should be able to do it and I’m not close to finishing the story.  That’s ok, I just wanted to get a leg up on the story, so I would have something to work on after I finish Vim Dicare and the editing thereof.


I think I will try again next year, I don’t think I’ve been too horrible to my family during this time.  Next year the plan will be to get as far out in front early on as I possibly can.  I am also hoping that doing this for 30 days will create a new habit of writing, that will propel me to finishing the first novel. 


Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!