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

November 1st or What the hell did I just get myself into… again!

And here we are.  Again.  Sitting at zero words written with thirty days to go.  Fifty thousands words looking like an unreachable mountain peak way off in the distance.  And here I am just sitting at the bottom with only the faintest ideas of where the story begins and where it will end.  Fun times are ahead. Continue reading

Familiar Yet Strange Faces

It’s been a bit of a struggle getting back into the writing mind-set, especially coming off five or so months of editing.  It’s even harder to stop myself from going back through the previously written chapters and editing them to the nines.  I keep catching myself scrolling back to the previous chapters and frowning and furrowing my brow and making corrections.  To be brutally honest it is an aggravating annoyance. Continue reading

And the breather is over

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.

 

Editing (Continued)

The end of this second draft is nearly in sight.  With two and a half chapters to go I will likely finish first thing Saturday morning, or Friday night if I push myself.  I’m feeling a bit better about the pace I’m going through it, though I think I won’t be making changes on a paper copy next time.  It was nice and all to go through and be able to make notes and corrections in pen, but I’ve essentially edited the novel twice at this point.  I found that, even though I made the initial review, I’ve made many more changes this time as well.

And the edit… I’m not sure.  Things have been fleshed out to the point where I’m happy with it.  Parts are better explained, some thugs are augmented, the killer’s motives are clearer, and the protagonist has a bit of a shift in character.  But… I don’t know.  Parts are stilted and stiff.  I think the next revision is going to have to focus on making the entirity of the novel flow a bit better.

I was experimenting the other day with attempting to create an eBook copy.  I have learned one thing: the best way, at least for this novel, is to export my Google Doc as a html and import that into Calibre.  At least going that route made my chapters actually appear in the table of contents.  Once I get this edition done I’ll probably give out a few copies to some people I know in order to get their feedback as I go through and make my third pass.  Like I said I already know that the prose needs to be tightened (its grown by nearly 4000 words since I started the actual edits), but I need the opinions of other people to make sure the story actually makes sense and is consistent.  I hold to the belief that I’m just too close to the story to be able to be as objective as I should be with regards to the content.  I fully expect to be told that it is a meandering plague of words and that I should feel bad for having typed them in the first place.  But we shall see.

More On Themes

Veering away from that… last post… I’d like to talk about themes.  Specifically the themes that will be rife in the Nanowrimo next month.  As I’ve touched on recently one of the underlying themes is the tug of war between pessimism and optimism for the future (which… after today is a bit more pessimistic).  That is, by and large, one of the biggest and most prominent themes that will be visible throughout the novel.  However, there are a couple other ideas that I’d like to touch on as well.

One, that I’ve put into the working title of the novel, is the maddening search for perfection.  To have this lofty idea of what perfection is; to have either had that one perfect moment in your life or desperately longing for it.  How it becomes a drive, a need, an obsession.  How that obsession can change you if you let it get out of control.  Needless to say, the serial killer in the story will be pushing that heavily but the protagonist will be dragging that anchor with him as well.

The other theme is the need for religion in a technologically advanced age.  Specifically why it would exist.  I mean some people seem to think that because science is evolving, that our understanding of the universe grows, religion will fade away.  While not religious myself, I believe that one of the fundamental strengths of humanity (one of the few things that makes me believe that we can turn ourselves around) is our ability to cling to hope.

Which is important in the novel.  Humanity is on the cusp of greatness; on the verge of expanding our influence past Earth’s gravity well for the first time.  We are repairing the damage we caused to the atmosphere.  But they are also at the awkward point where the average person is still suffering far more than any time previously.  Caught between the derelict past the gleaming future they are stuck in their own Purgatory.  And that’s where I think religion will always have a place in humanity; regardless of how scientifically advanced we become.  If used for its intended purpose (ie not used by extremists to further their own particular brand of crazy) religion is what most people need: faith, community, and hope.

Hope.  Sometimes that’s all that stands between life and death.  And sometimes all you can do is pray that it’s enough.

I have a sneaky suspicion I’m going to wake up tomorrow and realize this is a rambling, incoherent mess.  If so I apologize.

Another Project on the Horizon

I’ve been thinking; one of the few things that I tend to do a lot of.  The novel, as it stands, will likely not be finished before the year like I was hoping.  I’ve revised my goal to by my birthday but I still think that’s a little optimistic.  Especially with my plans to take part in this years Nanowrimo.  However, I’ve been getting back into the nightly writing groove and plan to get at least half of my lunch hours dedicated to it.  Time will  tell but I’m holding onto some misguided optimism that I can keep at it; despite my historic trend of dropping things after a few weeks.

Speaking of the Nanowrimo I have the story lined up and somewhat fleshed out in my mind.  I may or may not have brought this up before (I can’t honestly bring myself to sift through my previous posts) but I’m planning to move forward with the serial killer story that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time.  I still want to pull a cyberpunk noire feel to it but have been torn between third and first person perspective.  At the moment I’m leaning more towards a hybrid of the two.  Brief chapters in the third person, describing the serial killer’s actions followed by the longer chapters that follow the protagonist in the first person.  I think it would give the mix of what to get across: the feeling of detachment from reality for the serial killer and the more intimate story of the protagonist.  I don’t know if it will work out, but I hope that the two different styles will play off each other well.  Giving everything a nice contrast I suppose.

The novel proper continues at what I can only call a slightly faster plodding pace.  Chapter two was finished last weekend, and there is a good start on Chapter three so far.  More action, more plot.  Chapter four will introduce a new character, and give a bit more insight into the world as will Chapter five.  Chapter six is planned to introduce the final protagonist and lead directly into gooey heart of the story.  By the end of chapter six I’m expecting to be around 50000 words, probably a bit more.  It really depends Chapter five, in all likely hood will be a bit shorter than the others as it is mainly lore but with a sprinkle of foreshadowing.

Enough rambling.  It’s time to get back to writing.