National Novel Writing Month in Perspective

Phew! So that was a thing that happened. In case it wasn’t obvious from the title I participated in NaNoWriMo this month, and unlike last year, I won! I won in the sense that I wrote 50,200 words, rather than finished an actual novel. I don’t think anything I ever write is going to be finished in a paltry fifty thousand words: Such is the fate of the genre author. I am including short fiction in that by the way. I’m absolutely awful at writing anything under ten thousand words, which is why I don’t submit to many magazines. More’s the pity.

Still, if you did National Novel Writing Month, good on you! Doesn’t matter if you finished or not. If you wrote one thousand words then that’s a thousand more words you have written now than you did in October. Since I wrote a big ol’ web app for the sole purpose of graphing my progress, I thought I’d show them off here. And since there’s nothing you can do to stop me… Well I don’t know where I was going with that, but here’s the graphs.

november2015

As you can see, I kind of rely on a few big pushes to get myself through the month. I also take more days off than I should. I think my goal for next year is going to be to write every day during the month, no matter how few words I log.  This is what my progress looks like through the lens of the NaNoWriMo bar graph:

Graph of writing in November 2015

I spent a good portion of the latter half of the month behind schedule, but I don’t think I ever got more than two days behind.  I’ve had months where I got really discouraged being just a day behind, figuring I’d have to load all that extra writing into one writing session or I’d never get caught up. Key lesson here is that if you miss a day, just make it up over several days and don’t let that bog you down.

Something that those of you who actually follow the blog might have noticed that I started off with very noble intentions of writing a NaNoWriMo journal that I wanted to use to kind of map my progress. That didn’t even last half way through the month. Oh well. Maybe next year? Yeah, probably won’t happen, but I’m always game to try!

So, what did I actually write? Up till now I’ve been a big fan of fantasy. I decided that this year I’d stretch myself a little bit and write some science fiction. I got the idea a while ago for a group of space pirates (think Firefly meets Honor Harrington) manages to acquire a fully equipped, brand new, colony vessel. The universe’s situation is kind of shitty, being pretty much a space dystopia. Companies have a method of colonizing new worlds via indentured servants, using them to build the base of the new world, then just keeping them there indefinitely. Two of the major powers are on the edge of war and things are just generally shitty. So, the pirates decide to keep the ship, and use it to basically start their own world. They grab a bunch of other colonists, and other people fed up with the way the universe works and bugger off.

I got a decent start on a first draft and not all of it I’m happy with. One of the things is that I have to really crank up the challenges the crew faces, but I have to do it in such a way that it doesn’t make their task impossible. For instance, just getting the colony ship in the first place required a LOT to go coincidently right that even I was having trouble buying it.  Of course, that was largely because I was making it up as I went.

I tried experimenting with just about every science fiction trope that I know and love, seeing what worked and what didn’t. I was setting up a pretty big universe, so I don’t know exactly how much I wanted to just dump on the reader, but I had fun trying things out. I had some aliens, had transforming space fighters a la Super Dimensional Fortress Macross (because if I’m going to write a sci fi it’s going to have giant robots), space battles, and I ended up tossing in an Artificial Intelligence.  I also, ahem, wrote a couple sex scenes.

What?! I was experimenting… Phrasing… Trying new things… damn … Look, everyone has their first try at something. I don’t know if any of those will see the light of day, but I figure it’s something I probably need to learn how to do at least decently well. And let’s face it. It is a little bit fun to write people boning.

This story easily had my biggest cast of characters to date and it was more than a little difficulty to keep them all straight. My evil businessman who is going to be the main protagonist ended up being mostly just competent and kind of amoral as opposed to cackling madly in front of a storm. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I ended up spending less time than I should have focusing on the Captain of my pirate ship… I just wasn’t really sure what made her interesting quite yet. In short, that story needs a LOT of work before its ever going to end up on bookshelves, if it ever does.

If anyone wants to read it, I’d be happy to share, but you probably shouldn’t be expecting anything great.

Anyway! It’s December now so I’m going to be getting back to work on WordKeeperAlpha.com and back to work on Impervious. I’ve had a little break and its time to take some of the lessons I learned in November and finish out the year strong. Be expecting more news about WordKeeperAlpha.com in the near future and hopefully an update on the status of Impervious. In the meantime, you’ve had a couple days, get back to writing! Show me those word counts, right down there in the comments. I want to see them!

 


NaNoWriMo Journal Day 13 (delayed): It’s my birthday!

As with all blogging activities, I could be doing better at this whole journal thing. But really, its hard to write more after you’ve been busting your hump to make your word count. 

Right now, I’m a little behind since I took last night off and played StarCraft. What? I am but mortal and subject to temptation as is any man. Still, since its my birthday today I took the day off work and set about catching up.  This is a nice free weekend for me, so I intend to not only make up for my missed words but get back ahead and on schedule.

Today I wrote another 2600 words, bringing me to 20,700 total. My goal for tomorrow is to hit 25,000, and then maybe 28,000 on Sunday. We’ll see how that goes.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the story so far. I’ve got space pirates, transforming space fighters, a la robotech, tyranical interstellar corporations, a budding war between superpowers and I haven’t even gotten to the scenes I’m really looking forward to writing.

I’ve kind of split the story into two big scenes so far: the first was our introduction to the Elusive Raptor, captained by Cassandra Trubedier and crewed by a collection of fun (I’m hoping) privateers.  I even included a rather, ahem, sexy scene in this part. Wink wink. 😉

The next part is about the other main character, Alan Cradey, who’s going to start the whole ball down the hill by being pushed just a little too far. Now, he’s going to start pushing back.  I’m just about to the part where he starts pushing, and encounters the good crew of the Raptor. 

Whew! I’m excited! Its fun to write something new and different. Not that Impervious is boring me, but a little variety every now and again is good for an author? Right. Ok, I’m out, there’s birthday shenanigans to get to. Away!


WordKeeperAlpha and National Novel Writing Month

In the beforetimes, there was National Novel Writing Month.  A spectacular explosion of writing and creativity, it brought author to keyboard like nothing since the creation of the typewriter.   When I first participated it was an interesting experiment to see if I could manage to write a full fifty thousand words in a single month.  By some miracle I managed to do it!  It was awesome!  I felt invincible and was keen to keep using their mighty handy tools and graphs to continue on into December.

But then they disappeared: Gone until next November (or the camp event that’s in the summer but we all know that it isn’t as good.) This, I thought, shall not stand, for I have a need for those motivational tools.  Thus was born the inspiration for WordKeeperAlpha.  Now, just a couple short years after my first NaNoWriMo, its a thing that I created that people actually use.  This is enough to blow my feeble mind.

Now, I would never want people to not participate in NaNoWriMo on their website.  That’s where the magic really happens.  You get together with your fellow authors and keep pushing the words out until you hit your goal.  But, if you use WordKeeperAlpha too, and want to keep track of the words you write in November, here’s a quick and handy guide to getting your project set up.

First, if you don’t have one, sign up for an account on WordKeeperAlpha.com.  Go on, I’ll wait until you’re up and running.  … … Good?  Eh, they’ll catch up.

Next, go to your Goals and Projects page, and click the “Add a project button.” Refer to the image below to add in the information then click “Create”.

nanoproject

Bam! You’re already ready to go!  But wait, you probably want one of those nifty graphs like you see on NaNoWriMo.org.  For that, you’ll need a goal, in fact, you’ll probably want two goals.  First, we’re going to create a repeating monthly goal, which is what will create that nifty graph.  Before we do that though, you’ll have to remove any other repeating monthly goals that you might have, or just edit one.

Use the information below.

nanogoal

Make sure you keep the project field blank.  Due to a problem with the way I originally made the code you can’t have a project selected for that graph, but its something that will be fixed in time for next year’s NaNoWriMo.  This means that all the words you log in November will be displayed on the graph…which is a short coming, I know…but if you’ve got time to write more than one thing in November you really have my respect.

Next, you’ll probably want a repeating daily graph.  Use the information below to create it.

dailygoal

There! You’re done and ready to go for National Novel Writing Month!

Some people have asked me if there’s any way to support WordKeeperAlpha, (yes, they really have) and one of the best ways is to spread the word.  The more users I have the better I feel about myself as a human being.  It’s a sweet balm to my black soul.  But, there’s no financial way to do that yet for reasons.  While I will have something soon, this month, if you’d like to do something for WordKeeperAlpha, instead think about going over to NaNoWriMo.org and making a donation.  Without them, this crazy project never would have happened.

In future years, once I’ve gotten better organized, I plan on doing an actual campaign for them, so for now I’ll just send people to donate to them directly.  The good people at NaNoWriMo.org depend on the donations of all the authors they encourage every year.  So if you’ve got five dollars to spare, go and drop it in their tip bucket, or give them a shout out on Twitter or Facebook.  We want to keep them doing what they’re doing and supporting developing authors into the far future.

Ok, that’s enough chatter from me.  I’m six hundred words into my day’s word count and I have much more left to do.  Later, Keepers.