Posts Tagged ‘Nanowrimo’

Viiictory the Fifteenth

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

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Once again, I’ve completed the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month as part of the National Novel Writing Month challenges – this time, the July 2016 Camp Nanowrimo, and the next 50,000 words of Dakota Frost #5, PHANTOM SILVER!

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This is the reason that I’ve been so far behind on posting on my blog – I simultaneously was working on four projects: edits on THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, writing PHANTOM SILVER, doing publishing work for Thinking Ink Press, and doing my part at work-work to help bring about the robot apocalypse (it’s busy work, let me tell you). So busy that I didn’t even blog successfully getting TCTM back to the editor. Add to that a much needed old-friends recharge trip to Tahoe kicking off the month, and I ended up more behind than I’ve ever been … at least, as far as I’ve been behind, and still won:

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What did I learn this time? Well, I can write over 9,000 words a day, though the text often contains more outline than story; I will frequently stop and do GMC (Goal Motivation Conflict) breakdowns of all the characters in the scene and just leave it in the document as paragraphs of italicized notes, because Nano – I can take it out later, its word count now now now! That’s how you get five times a normal word count in a day, or 500+ times the least productive day in which I actually wrote something.

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Also, I get really really really sloppy – normally I wordsmith what I write as I write, even in Nano – but that’s when I have the luxury of writing 1000-2000 words a day. When I have to write 9000, I write things like “I want someoent bo elive this whnen ai Mideone” and just keep going, knowing that I can correct the text later to “I want someone to believe this when I am done,” and, more importantly, can use the idea behind that text to craft a better scene on the next draft (in this case, Dakota’s cameraman Ron is filming a bizarre event in which someone’s life is at stake, and when challenged by a bystander he challenges back, saying that he doesn’t have any useful role to fill, but he can at least document what’s happening so they’ll all be believed later).

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The other thing is, what I am starting to call The Process actually seems to work. I put characters in situations. I think through how they would react, using Goal Motivation Conflict to pull out what they want, why they want it, and why they can’t get it (a method recommended by my editor Debra Dixon in her GMC book). But the critical part of my Process is, when I have to go write something that I don’t know, I look it up – in a lot of detail. Yes, Virginia, even when I was writing 9,000+ words a day, I still went on Wikipedia – and I don’t regret it. Why? Because when I’m spewing around trying to make characters react like they’re in a play, the characters are just emoting, and the beats, no matter how well motivated, could get replaced by something else.

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But when it strikes me that the place my characters area about visit looks like a basilica, I can do more than just write “basilica.” I can ask myself why I chose that word. I can look up the word “basilica” on Apple’s Dictionary app. I can drill through to famous basilicas like the Basilica of Saint Peter. I can think about how this place will be different from that, and start pulling out telling details. I can start to craft a space, to create staging, to create an environment that my characters can react to. Because emotions aren’t just inside us, or between us; they’re for something, for navigating this complex world with other humans at our side. If a group of people argues, no matter how charged, it’s just a soap opera. Put them in their own Germanic/Appalachian heritage family kitchen in the Dark Corner of South Carolina, on on the meditation path near an onsen run continuously by the same family for 42 generations, and the same argument can have a completely different ambiance – and completely different reactions.

The text I wrote using my characters reacting to the past plot, or even with GMC, may likely need a lot of tweaking: the point was to get them to a particular emotional, conceptual or plot space. The text I wrote with the characters reacting to things that were real, even if it needs tweaking, often crackles off the page, even in very rough form. It’s material I won’t want to lose – more importantly, material I wouldn’t have produced, if I hadn’t pushed myself to do National Novel Writing Month.

Up next, finishing a few notes and ideas – the book is very close to done – and then diving into contracts for Thinking Ink Press, and reinforcement learning policy gradients for the robot apocalypse, all while waiting for the shoe to drop on TCTM. Keep your fingers crossed that the book is indeed on its way out!

-the Centaur

Hashtag #stormofghosts

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

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Once again, starting behind on Camp Nano, but I am starting to get a little traction on the story, thanks to a lot of help from my friends. Of course, the most important thing is taking this week off for vacation, so I’m cutting myself a little slack here – but I plan to take one full day to just get caught up on writing. Hopefully soon. But at least tonight I solved two major problems in the story – how the climax works out, and how and why a couple characters that seemed to get dropped from the story can come back with a vengeance. Onward, fellow adventurers!

-the Centaur

P.S. Upon uploading this, I noticed I made a mistake – I counted writing done yesterday the 5th as being today the 6th (it’s just after midnight). The role of posting about Nanowrimo is to reinforce the purpose of National Novel Writing Month – to provide a public benchmark for your private achievement. Many people are runners, but a marathon provides a specific, external, timed goal at which you have to participate to succeed — and at which you fail if you don’t go the distance that everyone else is at the time everyone else is. My buddy Nathan Vargas worries that this can create a failure mentality, and I agree at that; many people don’t need to be exposed to the possibility of failure, but instead encouraged to success. But as my buddy David Cater knows, a marathon can push you to do things that you never would otherwise – and Nanowrimo can do the same. But that external accountability only works if you externalize it – and that’s why I sign up for Camp Nanowrimo, and why I post my writing goals here. I want to write more than 150,000 words a year – and I rely on all of you to help me do it. Onward!

Camp Nano July 2016: PHANTOM SILVER

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

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National Novel Writing Month is November, but the Camp version – Camp Nanowrimo – has rolled around yet again, and I am returning to finish the final part of PHANTOM SILVER, which will be Dakota Frost Book 5. For my own entertainment, I put together the above cover, which will NOT be the cover of the final book – but it’s teaching me more about cover design.

http://campnanowrimo.org/campers/xenotaur/novels/phantom-silver-273805

Magical tattoo artist Dakota Frost just wants to raise her adopted children in peace, but when a routine film shoot at a haunted house awakens a real ghost and an ancient curse, she finds herself in a race to prevent the devious phantom from hurting her family … if the curse hidden in the family silver doesn’t kill her first.

Sounds exciting! What’s more exciting to me is that after a long conversation with the estimable Gayle Schultz, I’ve found a way to resolve the climax which could only appear in a Dakota Frost book – or maybe in a Jim Butcher book if he got on a lot of drugs. Now I have a destination – time to finish the drive.

Onward!

-the Centaur

Viiictory the Fourteenth

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

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Viiictory! I successfully completed Nanowrimo for the fourteenth time – adding 50,000 words to PHANTOM SILVER, Dakota Frost #5. And, by working hard, I did it!

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Because of work, life, and other writing, I got behind early this month, and had to press hard to really make it. But I successfully got it off my plate one day early. Because Nano’s site counts words differently than Microsoft Word, I had to push a bit past my Word word count, and so saw something I rarely see on this graph: a negative velocity debt, meaning I could write backwards and still end up finishing the count (at least the Word count) exactly on time.

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For a bit late in the month, especially around the 26th, it was as bad as I’ve ever gotten it: 6000+ words behind only 5 days from the end of the month. But somehow I managed to pull it out, setting a couple of daily records on writing … though I never even came close to my absolute max writing rate of 7,000 words a day.

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Strangely, even though Camp Nano doesn’t have November’s holidays, it still works out that most of the writing gets done near the end of the month. Go figure.

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Alright, late, tired, going to bed, more commentary later.

-the Centaur

Life is More Important

Friday, April 29th, 2016

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So after catching up for a while on Camp Nano, I fell behind again … because I and my wife traveled back to Greenville, South Carolina to assist my mother’s rehab from knee surgery, and frankly that’ more important than any amount of word count. The good news is, she’s doing very well, and came home from the hospital yesterday … the even better news is, that my wife and my mom patched it up after eight years of not speaking to each other, a feat which I didn’t think was even possible. What a wonderful trip!

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I lost my momentum the moment I hopped on that plane, and after that it was tough to get it back when I was caring for Mom – you can see the dent in the schedule around the 20th – and getting back on track after that required a full court press. But, in the past several days, I was able to do just that, and managed to pump out 2000+ words on all of the past five days, and double that on three of those. As of tonight, I am caught up.

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As for now, there’s two days left, which I could tackle at a normal pace—though I’ll likely try to finish by Friday so that I can chill out on Saturday and have a nice relaxing weekend.

Wish me luck.

-the Centaur

Reality intervenes, but …

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

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… we may still pull it out. We’ve been in worse scrapes …

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Er … well, no we haven’t, but it’s still clearly possible. More news in a bit.

-the Centaur

Now it’s starting to feel possible again …

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

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I was literally dreaming all night about the chapter I wrote today – I got up several times with tears in my eyes, as one of Dakota’s enemies unexpectedly turned into one of her strongest allies. Fascinating what a fictional world can do to you. But the upshot is, I got 4,000 words done for two days in a row … and have a clear path for what I need to write tomorrow.

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We may win this one yet! Assuming I survive this weekend’s craziness! Which I can’t tell you about, but … aaaa!

-the Centaur

Now that’s what I’m talking about …

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

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4200 words today! Keep that up for 3 more days, I’ll be more or less back on track.

And then I’ll still have 18,000 words left to write this month. AAAAA!

Onward!

-the Centaur

Briefly …

Monday, April 18th, 2016

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Is the novel back on track? NO. But am I up to speed? YES.

Of course, I know I’ll lose more days, so really, to finish, I’m going to need to do even more than the—hork!—2750 words per day that my spreadsheet predicts I’ll need to do to get back on track.

But I’ve gotten a much better groove, the story is starting to dovetail nicely, and some sections which felt out of place have, after a few moves, found a nice home in the story.

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The rocket is taking off, but there’s a long climb ahead.

Back to it.

-the Centaur

The good news and the bad news

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

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The good news is I wrote ~2800 words yesterday, more than I needed. The bad news is I wrote 900 of those words by hand in my notebook (so as to not disturb the other diners in the dark and quiet restaurant with the typing coming from my glowing laptop), and took most of this afternoon’s writing session to get them all typed in. Argh! Still, I’m happy with the results …

“So,” Avenix said. “We have begun to seek out, in all our holdings, other threats—”

I raised my hand. “Hang on,” I said. Filling in the blanks, this ghost had to have been a fae hunter; that’s why they called me. But Avenix wasn’t saying that outright: he seemed to be feeding me my own lines. “You feared a threat to your realm … started a search for dangerous use of magic … then called me to deal with the problem. Did I get that right?”

“Well … yes,” Avenix said.

“Don’t lie to me!” I said, slapping my hand on the table. “What’s your real goal?”

“I am not lying to you,” Avenix said.

“Why would he lie to you?” Nyissa asked. “It’s a reasonable course of action—”

“Are you all insane?” I said. “Do you have no memories? Ten years ago—ten months ago—you’d have all been tearing each other apart, lashing out at everyone in sight, blaming anyone you could get your hands on to deal with your problems. You’d have been at war with Sidhain just because this happened on her doorstep—”

“Not likely,” Avenix said, shuddering.

“Save it! She has a real bad attitude,” I said, “but she’s pretty damn inoffensive for an alleged apocalyptic horror, and I’ve seen you in action against witchhunters! You can’t expect me to believe you’re all playing nice just because I came along!

Sounds like Dakota and Avenix are going to have it out. Onward!

-the Centaur