Nanowrimo 2012: Post Mortem


As you can see from the above image I have managed to hit the fifty thousand word goal to be declared a winner.  Huzzah and what not.  It was a bit of a grueling experience at times due, in no small part, to my luck playing out like it usually does.  For example a week where I messed up my back then flowing straight into being sick for a week.  But, thankfully, I didn’t panic and freak out like I figured I would.  I used the weekends as I expected I’d need to: catch up periods.  This last weekend though was the big push which got me well ahead of schedule and let me cross the goal a few days ago.

I think that if I hadn’t had a solid concept going into the month I probably would have gotten stuck around the eighteen thousand range.  For the most part the beginning and end of the novel were all that I had figured out.  The middle, as has always been my weak point in writing next to dialog, had a few solid ideas to start with but was almost entirely just a logical progression through ongoing events.  But, for the most part, it took on a life of its own.  There were situations where I thought I might have written myself into a corner.  How do I get from point A to point B while not making it a plodding narrative.  How can this run be more exciting.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I went with “make a huge explosion” once to spice up an escape.

I do have a few notes for future revisions of the novel.  Specifically themes and certain portions of the prose.  As the working title, “Perfection’s Trap”, suggests one of the biggest themes in the novel is the idea that searching for perfection is a pointless endeavour.  The killer’s obsession with recreating a single perfect moment drives him to kill.  The protagonist’s belief that he’s no longer whole and his refusal to accept the loss of a limb drove him to drink, lose his job, and lose his wife and child.  The world’s obsession with trying to fix the problems humanity caused are blind to the fact that half the population can’t take advantage of the advances and are wallowing in poverty and corporate servitude.

Of the three themes I know I need to expand the world one.  The killer goes through an arc of questioning his obsession but always rages against it despite his inability to point out what his work is missing.  He just knows that the colors aren’t right.  And it plays out to the logical conclusion for him.  The protagonist goes through a similar arc; starting out resenting his artificial arm and drinking himself to death and works his way to the point where he wants to change and in the end accepts what has happened to him.  But the world?  Not as played up.  You get bits and pieces here or there but it is never as in depth as the two characters.

The other is my descriptions.  Part way through, around the thirteenth or fourteenth chapter, I started noticing that the descriptive prose that I like had shifted to something a bit more… generic.  I know I’ll need to go back through and expand on certain sections quite a bit, tighten ramblings here or there, but the main idea is that I need to go back and make sure it feels right.

Of everything I’ve experienced this month writing a sex scene was, by and large, an awkward affair.  I had a discussion with Kristine regarding this and she told me, in no small terms, that if I was to write one it needed to be good.  Now my initial reaction to this was to get to the sex scene and to write “Insert Sex Scene Here” and highlight it in yellow.  Give it to here after the first draft is finished and just see her reaction.  I didn’t do that, mostly because I wanted to up my word count for the day.  A few days later I was talking with my sister and brother-in-law and he brought up how long can a sex scene in a book realistically be?  Turns out, at least for mine, around sixteen hundred words.  So about four and a half pages in a paper back.  And there is no way in hell that is going to get longer than that.

One of the early ideas I had was to have a specific rhythm to the chapters.  Specifically one chapter for the antagonist followed by two for the protagonist.  This worked well until about chapter twelve.  The story hit a spot where, for all intents and purposes, I needed to tell more of the protagonist’s story to set up the next installment of the killer’s.  I went back and forth for a few days, until working out a different way to structure the story, cut chapter ten and moved it to a later point, wrote a different chapter ten and voila.  Problem solved.  For the most part.  I’ll need to wait and see how it works when I actually finish it and go through with a first reading of the draft.

Currently I have three and a half chapters left to go.  With luck I’ll get the majority of that completed tomorrow and Sunday.  The story has reached a point where the action is rapidly rising, the climax is on the horizon, and the denouement will provide some… catharsis, I think, for the protagonist.  I’m expecting it to finish around sixty to sixty-five thousand words.  With the goal of future revisions to up that to around seventy-five depending on what can be expanded and what can be cut.

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Pre-Orders: The Reckoning

Just a quick note to once again show Chapters how pre-orders should be handled.  I just got confirmation from Best Buy that my Wii U was shipping last night.  That is three days before the system is set to release.  It won’t likely show up until Tuesday but that’s not the point.  It bloody well shipped BEFORE the release date, not a day or two after it came out.  I honestly don’t know why it’s so hard for a store, that specializing in a shrinking industry, can’t actual get the concept of pre-ordering right.

Also.  I may have figured out the Nanowrimo widget thing.

Yep it works. Now I’m incredibly embarrassed that I didn’t even attempt this before.  Onward and upward I suppose.

Nano Progress

So.  The page for the Nano progress will, in fact, not be happening.  Due, and this should be a complete and utter shock, to laziness.  That and I can’t be damned to figure out how to work the Nanowrimo widget code into this thing.  I know I should feel a little ashamed with my computer background but I really, really don’t.

Progress.  Yes there has been some despite last week being an entirely painful affair (messed my back up slipping on ice, got sick, wah wah wah etc.).  To be honest I’m actually keeping pace and am on track to hit around 22000 words tonight.  I don’t know if the novel itself will be done around 50000 word limit.  It will reach it but it’ll likely come in around 55000 maybe more.

I went into this project knowing how it was going to begin (because I’ve rambled on about it enough and actually posted it) and how it was going to end.  Everything in the middle has been a wonderous journey through the eyes of a disillusioned drunken private investigator and with the insane musings of the artist and his humming tune.  I’ve settled on a specific rhythm regarding the point of views.  One chapter from the artist’s perspective then two from the investigator.

That’s not to say I don’t have a plan for getting from where the story currently is to the conclusion.  There are, specifically, a few scenes that I’ve come up with that I want to play around with.  For example, the investigator is about to hit the absolute bottom.  He’ll walk away from the case, someone will get killed, he’ll blame himself, and he’ll spiral into several bottles of whiskey and finally crash.  He’ll climb back out, clean up (if only briefly to finish the case) and try to redeem himself.

I think of everything about the hapless investigator, Micheal Malone, that I like the most is his luck.  Specifically how terrible it is.  The guy just keeps rolling with the punches and there’s been a lot of punches so far.  That and he’s not afraid to fight dirty.

Nanowrimo – Chapter One

I apologize for this.  This is the complete first chapter of the Nanowrimo, and has not been edited in anyway.  So if there are mistakes its not because I’m grammatically incompetent I was just in a… stream of consciousness.  Pretty much anyway.  I’m also sorry for… well if you read it you’ll understand.

***

Chapter One


Humming.  Humming bounced off the walls.  It leapt over the antiquated furniture coated with dust and neglect.  Ricocheted off the vaulted ceiling and shook the ancient incandescent light bulbs that ringed a cobweb ridden, and out of place, chandelier; its faux crystals did their best to resonate but coming out as a dull, lifeless tone.

It was a slow, steady tempo.  A hint of wistfulness and longing on its wings.  Sadness and joy.  So close to complete but so far away from finding its missing piece.  The melody lingered; its echo a haunting refrain as it faded out of existence.

The artist hummed another verse as he heaved a large white bottle onto the counter.  The tune paused briefly as he flinched at the sudden stench as he poured the clear liquid into a small, rusted tub.  He scratched his nose with thick, green rubber gloves before his song started again.  

To his right, carefully laid out on black cloth, were his brushes.  Beautiful tools and expertly crafted.  They were an extension of his own arms.  In his hand they would dance across his canvas and carve out his masterpiece with deft, delicate, and deliberate strokes.  They were his path to the perfection he craved.  A gloved hand lovingly, slowly, ran down the closest silver edge.  Tears, of joy or from the chemical it didn’t matter, blurred his vision.  His trembling hand lifted it and dipped it into the tub.

A scuffed and scratched gunmetal case lingered on the floor to his left.  His gaze wandered to it and remained; the song taking a mournful emptiness. With luck, the artist thought, I won’t need anymore.  A shoe, polished to a shine, nudged it away.

Another brush into the liquid that was now tinged pink.  His lungs tightened, burned.  He turned and hunched over, coughing in fits into his stained white shirt.  He gasped.  He coughed.  He relished the pain.

A brush was removed from the solution.  A swatch of black velvet glided over the sleek silver surface.  Dried and polished the brush was placed back onto the black cloth on the counter.  A second.  A third.  Finally the artist took a moment to carefully align his precious tools.  He gave them a reassuring pat.

His eyes flicked to the tarnished pocket watch hanging from cupboards.  Almost time.  His tune quickened into a carefree diddy as a smile slipped across his lips.

His eyes closed.  He held his breath.  In a quick twist he spun towards his canvas.  Hesitation led into anticipation.  He licked his lips and opened his eyes.

The early morning darkness framed the lovers.  They sat with their backs to the viewer.  Her head slightly tilted towards the man; his rigid and straight out towards the night.  They each had one arm raised, elbows resting on the table.  The tips of their fingers lovingly touching in the barest, slightest way.

On the table between the two a half empty bottle of champaign lay on its side.  Biscuits and cheese and crumbs littered the table; its frame a mass of elegant twists and curves culminating into a stained glass top.

An elegant cabinet of oak and glass stood guard next to the window.  Its life long and its finish long worn away.  Smudges and dust clung to the glass.  Two wine glasses were missing from the set; curled around the lovers hands out of sight.  The lovers’ reflections were visible in the cabinet’s glass doors.  Serine smiles and sparkling eyes that screamed complete and utter happiness.

The artist stopped humming.  Her smile isn’t wide enough.  A panicked looked towards the watch.  A wave of relief washed over him.  There’s still time.  He lunged for a brush and ran towards the canvas.  He took the tip of the brush to her red smiling lips and curled it towards her ears in a single strong stroke.  Dabbing he filled in her crimson lipstick.  Heart racing he stepped back, head tilted.  Perfect.  He extended to other side of her smile as well and sighed in relief.  Perfection.

Her auburn hair fell around her left shoulder, curling around her neck and falling down to cover her left breast.  A scarlet dress with a deeply cut v-neck hugged her body.  A long slit in the fabric ran up to her mid thigh.  A thin golden chain slipped hung from her neck; suspending a ruby heart pendant.  Her ring…

The artist’s smile curled back sadly.

He turned his attention to the man in a last minute survey.  Burgundy dress shirt and a silk black tie.  His hair a dark brown, almost black, with the start of salting by his temples was cut short and neat.  The man’s back was rigid, feet planted firmly beneath him.  Black shoes polished into a mirror shine.  The grin of a man who knew with all his heart that he’d found the one woman in the world who could light up his life.

The artist frowned.  Absently twisting his ring behind the thick green rubber.

Satisfied that his work was completed the artist stepped back away from the canvas.  Another glance to the watch.  Thirty seconds.  He could feel his pulse quicken.  His breath shortened.  Adrenaline coursed through his veins.  So close.  I’m so close.  He closed his eyes.  Deep breaths.  He counted down.

His eyes opened to a burst of red from beyond the window.  The morning sky, once a darkened purple, began to blaze.  The crimson fire burnt a path across the sky.  It shimmered in waves, its heatless flames licking downwards to the earth.  It was the very essence of beauty.  A single tear rolled down his face.  His gaze shifted to his masterpiece.

“Oh no.  No. No. No. No! NO!” The red.  The red wasn’t right.  He gripped the brush tighter.  The red still isn’t right!

He dashed forward and tried to cut the red over her shoulders.  It wasn’t the right shade.  It wasn’t the right consistency.  Hazardous thrusts with the brush.  His hands shook nervously.  The lines of red wavy, unsteady, sloppy.  Not enough red!  Deeper thrusts, the brush catching against the frame, grinding.

Her smile isn’t red enough, he thought in horror.

He shifted.  The danced over her delicate slips, drawing a new coat of red across them.  Quick desperate strokes jutted out as a time ticked away in the back of his mind.  Not enough time!  A flick of his wrist and the red folded out.

Sweat dripped down his brow and stung his eyes.  The artist tried to blink away the momentary blindness.  The world came back into focus on the man.  The artist cried out in rage, seeing a slight twitch in the man’s hand.  Their fingers aren’t touching!

He dashed across the room and slid towards the metal case.  He fumbled with the latch and grabbed the syringe and bottle from the foam lined box.  Just enough.  He drew out the cloudy grey liquid and ran back to his subject.  Jamming the needle into the subject’s neck he pushed the plunger.  The man’s hand stopped twitching.

The artist clumsily tried to reposition the hands to their original delicate balance.  To tightly held.  Not quite touching!  He cried out in rage, despair, and frustration as the fire in the sky faded into a shining gold.  Golden beams of light filtered into the room causing specks of dust to glitter in the air.

He fell to his knees a wept.  He’d failed.  Again.  He was so sure he’d make his masterpiece.  So sure that it would be perfect this time.  But the red.  It was so hard to get that perfect red.

Rage overwhelmed him.  Had he not sacrificed enough?  Had he not poured his soul into this work?  Why?  Why couldn’t he complete it?

He pushed himself back to his feet.  The artist tightened his grip on his brush and turned back to his canvas.  An animal roar of fury tore through his throat as he lashed out.  He cut out the man’s face, resenting the red that replaced it.  The tie and shirt were torn apart to let the crimson color flow.  He thrust the brush to its hilt into the man’s throat and with all his strength ripped it across his jaw line.

The artist turned to the woman, her eyes a shimmering scream.  He peeled back her lips.  Carved a deep line from her chest to her stomach.  Slowly, lightly the brushed worked its way back up towards her face; finally resting next to her eye.  Her eye pleaded in silence.  His grip tightened.  The brushed moved in a blur deep into the socket.

The rage subsided, replaced by numb acceptance.  He pulled out his brush and marched back to the tub.  He gently placed the brush into the murky red liquid.  He frowned at the empty metal case on the floor.  I’ll need to get more, he thought.  He sighed.  The artist would need to find another studio and two more subjects.  He shook his head.  He’d been so sure this would be it.  That this time it would be exactly like the image in his head.  That this time it would have been perfect.

He walked back to the woman, lifted her limp arm and pulled the ring from her finger.  He unclasped the necklace.  The artist looked her over one last time in disgust.  The red still wasn’t right.