NaNoWriMo 2019: A chilled time

So I’m still not busting out those monster word counts, and that’s okay. I’ve done plenty, this is highest ever NaNoWriMo word count, I’m on course for 160,000 words in one month.

That’s one full adult sci fi novel, three children’s fantasy stories, one long sci fi short story, plus three sci fi short stories, and a horror short story. In fairness, one of the sci fi shorts and the horror short I’ve only just commenced in the last few days, so they’re unfinished and what I’m working on in the run up to the 30th November.

Still, I like to think of that as an impressive haul. Not to mention the challenge of hitting 50k in 5 days, and doing a 20k day.

Yes… I’m the saddo who had a badge made to commemorate his own achievement – I think the word is vainglory

Of them all, the children’s fantasy stories are my favourite. So much so I’m doing the plotting on the first, because I’m going to rewrite it in a second draft. I’m going to be using my Fabula cards to do the re-plot. So between alternating writing on two short stories, I’m also working on that re-plotting.

First of all, I’ve mapped all the scenes in my first draft:

Scene map, it spirals out from the centre, because I’m weird and make strange design choices (just look at my maps lol)

Now, I’m populating my Fabula setup with post-its, filling out the heroes journey proper.

The original first draft, which I wrote in a single day (the 20k day), had the most barest planning, which largely consisted of some story cubes, and I just wrote the hell out of it.

Ogre/troll trojan horse, portal/whirlpool, feast, sailing, throne, demon, woods, cottage – and if you go top row left to right, middle row right to left, and bottom row left to right, that is exactly how my story went…

And that was an amazing challenge, but the second draft I’m trying to get more serious about. All the stuff I learned about my story from the first draft will carry over, I’m going to drop some unnecessary elements, some waffling sections and try to get to a tighter plot. I also need to develop a sub plot or two in there, there is kind of one that was setup for events in the second story, but it wasn’t very strong.

I always intend on getting to second drafts, and editing my novels, but I’ll be honest after the initial burst of creativity in writing something, I’m nearly always ready to move on to something else. I can’t help myself, I’m addicted to the new and shiney. However I’m making a strong commitment to myself, that this year, this December, there will be a second draft to the children’s fantasy novel, and I’m hoping that we’ll get into the sequel, or at least the planning done for it.

I still want to do the same for the first novel I wrote for this year’s NaNoWriMo, the Sci-fi piece, as I genuinely do think that’s got legs and could develop into something I’d share – but the children’s fantasy story just seems to be closest to my heart, so I’m going all out at that.

So my next few posts are going to be about how I approach the plotting, and second draft. Because it’s something I don’t get round to, it’s a new area for me. One thing I do love, is learning new skills, so I’m going to share that love along the way.

Happy writing everyone, I hope those of you taking part in NaNoWriMo are having a good final week. If there’s anything I can do to help you, give me a shout, (short of writing your last few words for you that is, I’m good with ideas, names, and if I give you advice its usually to make you think about your own way).

Rules Are Meant to be Broken

So… I started off with a challenge to myself, that when I was stuck on a project, stressed, or just looking to write for no rhyme or reason. It came with a simple set of seven rules to follow, though more like guidelines. So three entries in, I broke a significant portion of them. Here’s the guidelines, they’re fairly simple

  1. Write
  2. No editing
  3. No revisions
  4. Quality, verbosity, fidelity, consistency – none of these words apply
  5. Quick and short
  6. Share
  7. Move on

So, the third entry is here, it went badly. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I just fancied writing a battle scene, a few hundred words, but I lost control of the narrative.

Continue reading

Post NaNoWriMo Challenge Plans

So following NaNoWriMo this year, win or lose, I’ve decided on a challenge to continue writing and build on whatever momentum I have, (or lost during November if it doesn’t go well).

I’ve got dozens of stories in my drafts that I’ve never finished for one reason or another, I’m going to go through them and finish a couple a week during November. Some of them are years old, and the original ideas and goals have faded from my mind, so it will be interesting to see where I go with them.

So Completionist December is going to be a thing. Of course that will be followed by Editing January, where I take a run at a second draft of my NaNoWriMo story, (editing is soul crushing, so usually doesn’t happen, maybe I’ll change it up and redraft and edit last year’s NaNoWriMo instead, for similar reasons as completing all those short stories, it’ll be interesting to see where I take it). I’m not planning further than January, because while at the moment I’ve got the writing, (and blogging bug), who knows where I’ll be come February onwards.

So things to look forward to, in the meantime I’m concentrating on planning and preperations for NaNoWriMo, and Block Breakers (short stories) for practice.

Aha! Found You!

My muses have elected to return to me it seems. I suddenly have the ability to write again, and am doing so with gusto working on a new project. I know, I have lots of unfinished projects I should be working on, but I’m just enjoying writing right now.

So the new project, it’s currently titled Journals of a Space Corsair, and is a sci-fi piece. Inspired by the concept of the Bio of a Space Tyrant novels by Piers Anthony, which I read recently, and once I finished reading those books, I also read Michael Crichton’s Pirate Latitudes, between the two of them, this whole science fiction universe of mine was inspired and created in my mind. What’s more is I’ve been able to put it into words, something I’ve struggled to do for the past eighteen months.

It’s a nice feeling, not too many words just yet, but just passed the 20,000 mark in two weeks so that’s a comfort.

The way I’m doing this project is blog posts, it’s an auto-biography, so I’m going to write it as a series of confessionals, the man’s story in his own words, detailing his good deeds, but mostly his crimes, the lifestyle he led, and the suffering he brought and received. The hardest part is not giving in to my tendency to make the character a flawed good guy, or to have the character swing from bad to good. I’m trying to write something that reflects a man, and not an archetype from a TV series. That isn’t to say there isn’t an arc, in fact there’s a pretty big one, and my aim is the character goes from illegality to legitimacy, and then back to illegality. Times are turbulent, wars rise up and allegiances change.

I do feel the need to acknowledge Piers Anthony, and Michael Crichton, as their books are a massive influence on this story, it was their books that really lit my imagination on fire.

From Michael Crichton I tried to take a sense of how pirates actually operated, and in many ways how the new world worked, the trade routes between the colonial lands, the stopping off points like Jamaica, which I’ve tried to translate the spirit of into worlds and space stations.

From Piers Anthony, obviously I’ve tried to take the format, the fictional autobiography of a significant figure in future history, I’m also borrowing some of the technology he mentions in his books, the travelling via a beam of light, over massive distances, which is as reasonable a way to explain interstellar travel as any. Of course it is fraught with its own difficulties in a story that takes place in real time, with politics, wars, and tactics – I can’t really afford it taking decades to travel from one planet to the other. Instead, I shall embellish the idea with faster than light energy – so it takes days and weeks to travel between the stars.

I think it is important to acknowledge where a story comes from – it is not my intention to plagiarise these amazing authors, but they have inspired within me a tale which I think is unique and distinct in its own right. Besides when it comes to science fiction, it’s never easy to come up with easy ideas for propulsion, and story telling in general tends to form into archetypes. I think that’s one of the advantages of writing an account of a self confessed bad guy, while not ground breaking or unique, it is a point of view that is carried far less often than that of a hero, heroically battling to save the world.

My intention is to post up a chapter (and if I write it right, it will be more of a self contained short story, which feeds into the overall tale), every fortnight, detailing a significant memory of this space corsair. I won’t be launching it right away, as I want to build up four or five chapters ahead, this gives me a nice cushion with which to edit the stories (because while the muse does flow, it tends not to check the grammar for me, nor does it worry about the annoying inconsistencies of writing large pieces of work in small bits). Also, my sister’s baby is due next month, I’m on holiday in Prague in August, and I’m off to the British Science Festival in Birmingham this September, so there’s plenty to interrupt my schedule.

Speaking of the British Science Festival, I’m really looking forward to it, it feeds a lot of knowledge in my science fiction, such as the power system for the ships in my story – I learned that from a presentation I went to on fusion energy, I always favoured the methodology employed in the tokamak fusion generators, rather than the method involving lasers, purely because it seems to me that once such devices as ITER are operational and producing massive quantities of energy, we would be able to learn from this and scale the process down to have a device that can sit aboard a starship and produce the kind of energy I need for propulsion, FTL (faster than light) travel, and of course the staple of most space based science fiction, the weapons.

I am genuinely excited to be writing again, and long may it continue. Nanowrimo is in November (it’s always in November, hardly a surprise there), and this year I’m going to ace it. Mark my words.