Nano Update 2: A sense of purpose

Here we are at the halfway point. The novel: on track and on time. By the end of today I will likely be a few hundred to a thousand words ahead of schedule.  Everything has been going exceptionally well, especially considering those first few days where I nearly gave up on the entire endeavour.   Continue reading

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Editing

The editing process has been meandering along at a fairly consistent pace.  I finished making corrections on my printed copy of the novel a two weeks ago and have been making those changes as well as expansions to the actual document since.  Currently the second draft is sitting at 20% completed (chapter 4 was just completed yesterday).  I’m estimating that it takes around an hour and a half to go through and make the corrections and changes for the protagonist chapters and about forty minutes for the antagonist’s chapters).  I think, if I actually buckle down over this weekend, I may have the second draft mostly finished.  It may, in fact, be done before my birthday.  After that I think I’ll print out another copy and let Kristine read it over.  I also might look at formating it as an epub document so I can read over it on the go.

So far I’ve been able to work towards goals one and three for this revision.  I haven’t quite hit goal two as Gwen has yet to appear (but will be shortly).  The society theme is a bit tricky to work in and I’ve noticed that most of the observations come from the antagonist.  There are a few places where I meant to include bits and pieces from the protagonist but for whatever reason I didn’t.  The problem, I believe, is the way the view points are structured.  The protagonist’s chapters are a stream of consciousness, essentially, as he experiences and reacts to the events of the story.  And every time I consider adding the societal theme to his chapters it feels like it is shattering the pacing. The antagonist’s are more… of an introspective or philosophical debate.  Slower, methodical, and are generally the musing of a pseudo-intellectual sociopath’s views on his place in society.  Also killing, but that’s a given after the preview of the first chapter I posted a while back.

I’ve also started augmenting the various criminal elements that the protagonist runs into.  I don’t know, I like the concepts of hidden blades that emerge from slits in a character’s finger tips, or a single shot shotgun blast from their wrists, or full cyberware embedded in their skull keeping them connected to the network all the time.  Some scenes will need to be rewritten and certain events need to be tweaked but I like just getting to play around with these ideas.

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.

Having Fun

So I did get time to work on the outline, at least a very high level outline.  I’ve got the first nine chapters and the main plot points resolved and have almost all of the tenth completed.  I ran into a bit of a road block trying to determine how two characters end up at a location.  Didn’t quite figure that out last night, but I decided about ten minutes ago that the point was to get the plot outlined not the details.  So, as of now, the characters arrive.  With the how to be determined when I’m actually writing the events.  Initially I was expecting roughly around twenty-seven chapters in addition to the prologue and the epilogue.  I’m still thinking this is a pretty close estimate but I think if anything the total number will shrink a bit.  I’ll just have to work out the details a bit more.  Like I’ve said the middle portion of the novel is the troublesome part.  But I have three key events that happen, and I know when they happen chronologically.  It’s just linking them together that needs work.  Regardless, I’m going to get back to work on it tonight and I’m hoping to have a completed outline finished before the weekend.  With luck I’ll actually achieve that goal, and depending what I need to get done on the weekend I might get started with rewriting the prologue.

I think I’ve settled into a nice routine at this point, with my week days at least.  I used to watch some podcasts on my bus ride to work in the morning, but I’ve replaced that with reading some of my purchases off Kobo (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo currently).  My lunch hours are set aside to eating and writing posts.  And depending on how much time I have after doing both, I tend to browse through the recent posts under the Writing tag.  I have yet to be unable to find at least one post that was interesting to me on some level.  I don’t really leave many comments but I should, perhaps, change that.  My ride home is also now devoted to browsing through other users’ posts.  I’ve found myself drifting more to posts either detailing the technical or theory behind writing.  Though I often end up going over other’s posts on updates to their writing progress.  I also try to keep up with blogs that I follow but my bus ride is only twelve minutes long.

I have been noticing that I’ve wanted to write.  Not because my phone reminds me at the same time every night to get my ass in gear, but because I’m having fun doing it.  I used to write a lot more; several years ago.  But there was never any fun in it.  It was a compulsion, an almost clinical need to put the words on paper.  I think it was partially to try to get some relief from the depression I suffered through, and even then it didn’t help.  But now?  This reminds me of being back in kindergarten.  Writing that first story with stick figure illustrations to go along with it.  It reminds me of those horrible short stories I wrote in Grade 3, with demons ghosts and vampires.  It’s a feeling like I’m back where I was meant to be despite having lost my way so long ago.

Painting a Picture

My idea regarding the painting story has changed, ever so slightly.  Like I had initially planned I had been contemplating how to do this in such a way that it hadn’t been done before (or at least to my knowledge).  I was coming up short on this.  As I had said before I know of multiple stories that have been told that deal with the concepts of paintings coming alive, becoming reality, or trapping people or things within them.  As usual this realization caused more thinking.  In doing so I started shifting thoughts from horror to more of a suspense thriller mystery story, potentially novel.

As of right now I’m not certain about how long it will actually be.  Initially I had it planned as a short story that would probably have run around two thousand words.  It would deal with a painter, or at least the entire story would give the impression of an artist, and it would have a disturbing twist to it.  As I began thinking about this I started contemplating expanding on it.  Making it about an investigation trying to find this man with several of his tapestries throughout the story.  This concept has intrigued me; while it may not make it into a full-fledged novel the idea of exploring a genre that isn’t solely horror is appealing.  I may in fact suck at writing a suspenseful crime story but it won’t hurt to try.

Delivery

No sooner had I lamented that I didn’t know the release date for the Kobo then I found an article stating that they had shipped mid-last week.  Mere hours later I was home for lunch, only to discover that I had missed the delivery by a few scant minutes.  Thus the afternoon was a battle of my will to stay sane while a tiny bit of my brain threw a tantrum to get my new toy.  That evening I had it hands.  And having had the weekend and a bit to play around with it I have come to one conclusion.  I am impressed with how it handles but there were some annoying things with it.

For the most part I am completely satisfied with it.  The display is great and even though the blue button looks incredibly silly it functions well.  The interface itself is simplistic and easy to learn so that is a plus too.  Now there are certain things that annoy the hell out of me.  One is that every time I push the power button it brings me to a page, usually a book cover, with the text saying to press the power button again to start reading.  When I do so it reboots the thing and asks me for the date and time.  Every time.  It’s gotten to the point where I just don’t care and use the default time.  Why is this a problem?  Well sometimes the device doesn’t set itself properly into the USB connected mode.  Don’t ask me why, but sometimes it will just sit at the I’m Reading page and not say it’s connected.  When it does this, any files you move over won’t be added to your library until you reboot it.  So the only way I’ve found to guarantee the USB connection screen is to press the power button then plug it into the computer.  And it is a minor issue, but I would like to have the ability to set a book as no longer being read.  If there is a way to clear out the I’m Reading log I can’t seem to find it.

However, I have hence stopped messing about with plugging it into my computer to just try reading with it.  For this I selected Heat Wave by Richard Castle, because I love tie in books and I don’t think there has been anything tied to Nathan Fillion that I haven’t liked.  It was not a disappointment.  I found myself substituting in the names for the TV show characters and that only added to the enjoyment.  I then learned that a sequel, Naked Heat, was on the way.  I haven’t been able to track down a release date for it, but I’m hoping its over the show’s break.  Though, it is easier to see why every character on the show thinks that Becket and Castle had a thing going on.