Tag Archives: novelling

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, my America readers! I don’t know about you, but I am lately stuffed with turkey, ham, and carbohydrates of various sorts. It’s a good day for the ol’ red, white, and blue.

With the business surrounding the holiday and some relatives from out of town showing up, I haven’t exactly kept up the ol’ Wrimo pace, but I’m starting up again. Despite the holiday this weekend I’m planning on writing around 15K words from today until then. I’m about 4K in so far and going strong.

Let’s do some more talking about discovery writing for a few moments, shall we?

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Brief Update

The last two days have kind of conspired against me. New dog and little sleep means no writing. Good thing I built up such a hefty word bank!. In fact, I’m well on course to finish a record nine days early, right in the midst of the deadly week three.

Of course that’s not the end of my novel, not even halfway. Given my excellent performance so far, ahead of schedule, I’ve revised my drafting plan. I want to be done with the rough draft by the end of December, a full two weeks ahead of my originally planned completion date in January. That’ll give me a full three months to do the revision, and although I might need more than that, that’s pretty much all I’m going to allow myself.

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And So it Begins

NaNoWriMo 2010 is officially underway. In the last 30 minutes, I’ve written about 1,110 words, almost 1% of my novel’s total estimated length. I just have to do that 100 more times over the next month, plus a little extra on the weekends, and I’ll be sitting pretty darned pretty.

Oh, and all of my planning didn’t cause me to immediately choke. I had this fear all day that I would sit down at my keyboard, write a few paragraphs, and then suddenly think, “Oh crap. I don’t want to write this story!” Then I’d have to start all over with the plot and characters and so forth. But it didn’t, and now I can go to bed happy.

I don’t know if any of the Portland Wrimos are reading this, but since the downtown Portland write-in takes place on a Thursday, I’m not going to be able to attend, which sucks because the downtown people were pretty awesome at the kickoff party. Instead, I’m tentatively going to be hitting the SE write-in on Tuesday in Woodstock. Details are in the forums, as always.

Discovery Writing

I am a discovery writer. Despite some interesting experiences in the last few weeks, I tend not to do well with pre-planning, extensive outlines, detailed character biographies, and most else that doesn’t involve drafting and revising.

I should qualify that a little bit. I think that there’s a continuum of writing styles, from the heavy outliners to the discovery writers. Most people will hover about the middle half of that continuum, where they like to do a little bit of planning a head of time, and a little bit of figuring it out as they go.

The “figure it out as I go” part of the scale is where I feel most at home. In 2008, I abandoned my first NaNoWriMo idea (which I had done a fair bit of planning for) and started an entirely new novel with different characters, setting, plot, and genre on November 3rd. I still won that year and not only was it a blast, but it was one of the better novels I’ve written – in fact I’m revisiting a lot of the concepts in it for this year’s NaNo novel.

On the other hand, this doesn’t always work so well.

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Trying Some New Things

I hit a big planning milestone today: I started work on a detailed outline. I have never done this before writing a story of any length, and I have to say that doing it before writing a novel is a little intimidating. For one thing, it was hard getting started, and for another, I’m really worried that it’s setting me up for failure.

Let me explain a little bit. Just like everyone who writes without outlining first, I always start stories off really strong, then get somewhere between a few thousand and a few tens of thousands of words into them before suddenly realizing that I’m out of inspiration. Up until this point, I’ve kept kind of a mental outline of what I wanted to have happen in the back of my mind, but suddenly, that’s run out like a bad date, leaving me along to pay up the balance of my story.

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A Few Words on Structure

At the heart of my novel (still untitled, by the way) is a solar-system-wide conspiracy involving local crime bosses, interplanetary hypercorps, and even the government. Obviously, if you have a conspiracy, you’re going to want to get to the bottom of it, and you’re going to want regular updates to the effect of “this goes deeper than we thought!”

So, keeping the ABCs in mind (“always be conspiring”), here’s my thoughts: the novel will be divided into approximately four sections, with each section taking place on one body in the Solar System. Each section will end with a revelation about the conspiracy, and with the characters running farther away from Earth.

I’m worried that this will end up being too mechanical, but I kind of like its metaphorical qualities. Throughout the story, the characters get further from Earth both in terms of physical distance and emotional distance. Not to mention legal distance; you don’t unearth chunks of conspiracy and stay buddy-buddy with everyone.

If anyone has thoughts about this, please don’t hesitate to sound off in the comments. In fact, don’t be afraid to leave comments at all: somebody has to be the first one and I know that at least a couple of people have seen my posts. I hereby promise a cookie to the first person (other than my wife!) to post a comment.

Writing a Novel in Six Months

If you Google “write a novel in six months,” you find a couple of other people who have created ambitious plans to do just that, but not a single person (as far as I can tell) who has actually succeeded. I’m not sure if that’s the best sign or not.

Regardless, I’m scavenging from their ambition to create a plan of my own. Naturally, I plan to be more successful than those internet failures, although time will tell.

So here’s the plan. There are 26 weeks in 6 months. October 3rd (tomorrow) will be the first day of the first week. There, it will begin.

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Background to the Project

I’ve been writing for many years. I’m not a writer by profession or education, although I wrote a lot to get a history degree, and my job as an IT administrator does require me to write bullet-pointed documentation and snarky Skype messages. Instead, I’ve written for fun off and on for the last decade, with an extremely variable level of commitment. Maybe once a year I’d try to write something, and sometimes get as far as the second page before taking a 300-day break.

Two things happened in my life that disrupted this cycle. First, NaNoWriMo showed me that I could, in fact, write at least 50,000 words if I put my mind to it and consumed enough coffee/tea/sugar/amphetamines. The second thing was that I failed to get into graduate school.

I spent six months working on getting into a graduate program in history, even working with a member of the admissions board to make sure that my application was as good as it possibly could be, and I still failed. This led to something of a crisis of confidence, and I frankly I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I’d been banking on graduate school for months and when it was gone I needed something to fill the life-vacuum.

But while I was feeling sorry for myself, my pleasant memories of frantic novel-writing were piping up from the back of my brain, hollering at me to remember them.

So I started writing again. I’ve put together a few polished short stories, with the first of these going out to a market near you soon (dear heaven). So I might succeed or fail there. Whatever. Writing short stories is fun but there’s no way that I can achieve my maximum writing potential (as measured in sleepless nights) without writing a novel. And as long as I’m writing a novel, I might as well do it really quickly.

So, I’ve decided to write a full, publication-worthy (to use the phrase extremely loosely) novel in six months. Hey, if Danielle Steele can put out three novels a year and make more money than a Rockefeller, who says I can’t?

This website is a chronicle of that journey. Hopefully, you and I can look back on this first post in three months and laugh, saying how stupid I was to even think that I could be successful. Or something like that.

Anyway, good to have you aboard.