So the first week of Nanowrimo has come to an end. There was… I want to say a bit of a hang up I guess, right at the start. In fact after the first three days I had a whole seven hundred words written. And by the end of Monday I was more than four thousand words behind. And I’ll admit I almost performed the virtual equivalent of flipping a table, raising my arms into the air and flipping off the laptop. But I ground it out. Kept writing… and closed the gap. I’m still behind a bit but if I keep up the same pace I’ll probably be caught up by the end of the day. Continue reading
Like I had done after finishing the first draft of the novel I ended up taking a two-week break once I’d finished the second. I took some time to unwind and clear my head. To try, and fail, to forget what I’d written to allow me to come back with a fresh perspective. Then, on Monday, I loaded up the document again and started the third draft.
However, unlike the original editing review I’d just completed this would be more of a… structural review. Wording and punctuation and grammar are the focus of this attempt; not expanding or contracting the actual story. I’m treating this as a complete review of every single paragraph; each gets reread minimum three times, if it doesn’t say what I want or a sentence is confusing it needs to be reworked. I have also come to the humiliating realization that it took me ten minutes to figure out how to spell serene. That sentence took on a whole new meaning, apparently, the guy looked like an amino acid.
I did forego the printed paper copy this time and I’m especially happy about that. I’ve found that I can edits twice as fast now that I’m not reading off paper then reading off the screen and contemplating if I can actually read my hand written notes.
I’ve sent off a few eBook copies of the second draft for opinions on the story. And really pretty much only the story. I knew, as I sent of the copies, that there were mechanical issues that needed to be corrected. But those are easy to address. If the very core of the narrative isn’t engaging no amount of grammatical tweaking is going to salvage it.
I suppose the people I sent the book to are a tad bit annoyed with me by this point. I don’t think they were expecting as many questions from me as I’ve been asking since, in general, I don’t like talking. But the general consensus is the first few chapters are good and that’s about it. Only one person has finished the novel so far, the other have either not started or are still only three or so chapters in.
From my sister, who has completed the book, she said she enjoyed it overall. She liked the characters and the plot, but did have a few issues with some parts: the girl and the sex scene being to big ones. And both of which I knew were going to be issues. The girl… I never settled on an age for her until I’d already written a chapter and a half with her and I’ll need to correct that this time through. The sex scene… I never wanted to write it to begin with. And I have to agree with her, it breaks the narrative flow and would be better served as a lead up to act. It… I guess it’s a jarring transition. Apparently I just write unsettling things and suspense better than romance.
Her big take away though was that one of the minor characters should be in it more often, since he was her favorite character. That’s not going to happen since the story obviously isn’t about him. She found the antagonist to be, in the end, pathetic enough that she felt sorry for him. The protagonist came off as a grumpy drunk who grew enough to start the process of changing his life. The side characters were fun, and she liked how the book ended. So at least it was enjoyable.
She did bring up an interesting suggestion about maybe writing a novel about his first meeting with the protagonist. There is a lot of action going on, I laid out the general plot in the novel itself already, and drunken cynical Mike was fun to write. The only thing is that there is no suspense. You already know that both of them survive and how.
There is also the issue with the title to address… I’ve tentatively changed it from “Perfection’s Trap” to “Seeking Perfection”. Still not happy with it. Although I do know I won’t be taking my sister’s suggestion and renaming it to “Stitches’ Super Happy Fun Time Adventure”. Just typing that out made me feel a little ashamed.
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.
Chapter four is coming along nicely. Much better than the first night of writing it anyway. I’m enjoying the pace and how it was meant to happen. Originally, in all those previous drafts, Kate was introduced in a very… bland way. Much like the original prologue, it was… clinically sterile. You didn’t get a sense of who she was, aside from a girl who had a troubled home life and a habit of skipping high school. I think there was a hint of an artistic side to her but I could very well be imagining it since I don’t think I saved any of those ancient drafts.
As I was writing her introduction I kept some of the old ideas. The home life. The skipping school. As I’ve touched on before one of the major conflicts is between fate and free will. And since Fate itself is a pseudo character, albeit behind the scenes, I figured she would have a… morbid sense of humor. So Kate, on a day that would be her last as who she was, is reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as she makes her own head long tumble-down her own rabbit hole. There are a few other things I have planned, specifically the dream comes up again which becomes more of a… prophesy at that point.
One thing that I’ve found refreshing about writing Kate is her perspective on life. Between Foxworth’s stoic resolve and Emi’s aggressive enthusiasm is a bit of a relief to have someone, relatively, innocent who still has optimism. Optimism despite what life had given her up until that point. And she’ll still have that optimism when her entire world is torn from her. She may stumble, she may fall, but she will always pick herself up.
A while back, when I was looking into the Nanowrimo requirements I figured out how many words I’d need to write on average per day to finish. 1666. It was… a little daunting I suppose to actually have a hard minimum per day that I’d need to write to increase my chances from “not ever happening” to “slim”. On average, the hour I spend writing a night nets me around 600 to 700. But that’s with difficulties, blocks, and (I’ll be honest) moments where I just space out. In the two hours I wrote last night, including the blog post, I hit 1500. With the afore-mentioned spacing out. I’m going to keep at it, the 7-9pm block will hopefully continue to be productive. I didn’t quite get to the solution I touched on last night, but it’ll happen tonight within a few paragraphs.
Now the Nanowrimo. I read an article a while back, this one I believe, regarding the need for science fiction to get a healthy injection of optimism. Now my writing style, the stories I want to tell, are never very optimistic but it got me thinking. The Nanowrimo is going to be, at its heart, a very dark tale. A serial killer at work in the nearish future, a beaten down investigator working through dredges of a cyberpunk styled society. I’m not intending it to be grim dark everyone dies horribly, but it will be dark. And people will die horribly, just not all of them. But I’ve been thinking how in the background, there are little hints that humanity is pulling itself from the quagmire its found itself in. Colonies on Mars, on the Moon. Deep space exploration on the horizon. How humanity is expanding past the confines of earth. How there is a future. And how that future contrasts against everyday life for the protagonist.
Currently I’m planning to work on the novel up until October 27th. At that point I’m going to sit down, probably lock myself down, and plot out the frame-work for the Nanowrimo. I’ve got general ideas down: how the killer works, his style, how I’m going to write his chapters. I’ve also got a rough idea of how the protagonist behaves, his goals and worldview, and how he gets dragged into the search for the killer. I also have a few set pieces in mind. In my usual fashion these are, of course, the beginning and end. The middle… well there are hints of ideas but I need to expand on them.
Over the last few weeks I have also read a few books: Assassins Code by Johnathan Mayberry, Virtual Light by William Gibson, and currently reading my guilty pleasure of Frozen Heat by fictitious Richard Castle. Assassin’s Code was great and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series and it cemented Ghost as my favorite character. For Virtual Light I needed to track down an actual physical copy as, for some reason, Kobo doesn’t have an e-book version (but does for the two followup novels). Still enjoyed it immensely, despite having to go to Chapters. I also have This Book Is Full Of Spiders by David Wong preordered and should be getting it early next month.
The novel progresses. I actually ran into an issue with the planned action sequence in the later bit of chapter two. Specifically around getting a character from point A to point B while still breathing. I actually figured out the problem while mildly drunk at a wedding reception. Using a napkin, sugar packet, and a mustache and a set of lips on sticks. Don’t ask. It wasn’t the most accurate map in terms of scale, but it did give me some perspective that I was needing.
I’ve also decided that regardless of the novels progress I’ll be taking part in Nanowrimo this year. I’ll be going with a serial killer story I’ve been mulling over for quite some time now; but I’ll be aiming for a cyber punk. I have long enjoyed the themes and general feel of cyber punk settings and have been wanting to branch out into that territory for a while. Cyber punk has, since my initiation into the genre, been one of my favorite concepts. Set just far enough into the future that the technology seems possible. Biotech. Augmented Reality. Physical augmentation. These things get me excited; flicking on that incredibly nerdy portion of my brain that loves gadgets and tech.
So things like the whole Google Glass project just make me smile. I mean I know pop up adds are going to find a completely new and annoying existence, but oh do I want a heads up display. No matter how useless it may actually turn out to be. Let alone physical augmentations, if only for artificial limbs being as finely controlled as an organic limb. Or even a way to overcome paralysis. Sure Cyber Punk is littered with evil corporations that control the world and have secret wars with each other. Unfortunately, that too comes closer and closer to reality each year as well. Take the good with the bad I suppose.
Late yesterday I was able to finish off the first draft of chapter one. Due, entirely, to actually getting some time to write over the weekend. I probably could have gotten more done, probably started a good chunk of chapter two, but I spent too long going over notes and a previous draft. I also had an issue where, for whatever reason, I kept forgetting about the coffee the protagonists were carrying. I got up to a part where one character crossed her arms dramatically and I realized that in doing so she would have just splashed coffee in her face. Live and learn. I think I’ll be having a separate document open to keep track of the little details through each chapter. I think I’ll print off the entirety of it tonight and ask my fiancée if she’ll be kind enough to read it over and give me any notes. After I make her corrections from last time, which in all honesty there wasn’t much to begin with.
I also found it enjoyable to just sit down and load up GrooveShark while writing. I’ve got a small selection of tracks in the mix right now but I’m not sure what else to add. Music has never been my thing. Which I’m sure infuriates Kristine, due in no small part to her actually knowing how to play some instruments and coming from a very musically inclined family. But I, on the other hand, don’t care one way or another when it comes to music. For the most part. I have a fondness for video game music. My working theory is because of nostalgia. That listening to their music reminds me of every amazing moment. Or terribly aggravating moment (I’m looking at you Airplane Hostage mission on Veteran from the first Modern Warfare). But I have an emotional attachment to those tracks. I can’t say the same for just about everything else. Though I do enjoy Dragonforce. I also enjoy Bad Religion and NOFX, but Kristine can’t stand the vocals.
In regards to the music though I think I’ll be trying an experiment. I need to find some really… unsettling music. I’m hoping it will get me in the mind-set to craft horrors. Because those will be coming in the very near future. I’m especially looking forward to starting chapter four.