Monday, November 18, 2013

Halfway There and Still Moving Nicely

When I say halfway I mean it both in terms of the month, but also in terms of the story. I just wrote scene number five of my ten key scenes outline.

Along with my stats, which I'm quite satisfied with, I ran across these.

First, a blog post from Pub(lishing) Crawl (which is a wonderful name) on Simple Tricks to Unstick Your Story: The Domino Effect by Susan Dennard. It's a terrific article with this key point:

Do your last few scenes (or maybe even your last 20 scenes–sometimes I have to go pretty far back to see where things begin unraveling) logically connect? Do the emotional beats progress and shift as the events and previous scenes indicate they should? Does the character’s goal shift according to his/her emotional shift?

This is a toughy. At this point I can say that mine do not. I'm afraid that will have to wait for the rewrite.

There is a little blog post here on creating believable characters. The book I read in preparation for this NaNo had me do the same thing. I might try this method cause the other didn't take. I think I quit after one.

Finally, there is 25 Turns, Pivots, and Twists to Complicate Your Story that I found on terribleminds.

All of these are helping me plod along.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Continuing Apace

Yep, things are still going well for this year's NaNo entry. I had a bit of a struggle a few days ago, but the outline helped get me back on track, just as I mentioned earlier.

Looking at this graph, and seeing the overall progress, and more importantly comparing it to last year's effort and the entry previous to that, I'm surprised (and a tad worried) by how well this is going. First, last years graph. I had trouble keeping up obviously. This was the novel regarding the murder mystery that I ran into while touring a refinery (see more here).

The year before that, where I kept up quite well, I wrote like a fiend! This was the moment when I wrote the rough draft of the novel I'm currently revising called Vapor Trail. The problem . . . I'm re-writing that novel right now with my critique group, and I would guess that 75% of what I wrote will not be re-written but instead will just be trashed. I blame the lack of an outline.

So how will this year's effort flesh out? Next year will I see it as I see 2012's entry? As a compendium of nonsense and a waste of a month's writing? Or like Vapor Trail, a grain of a good idea but a lot that needs to be redone.

I believe that this year's work is far more polished than the previous entries. I think not having to worry about where the story and the plot are going (or coming from), by doing just a bit of outlining and planning, I've allowed the story to stay on track naturally, the story has taken far fewer blind alleys, and I think by having that road map it has allowed me to focus on the writing just that wee bit more, and hopefully that will pay off in the re-writing.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Uh oh. I had my first day of not making my writing numbers. The dashboard lets me know when I've hit my writing word minimums for the day. The minimum is 1667 a day. Yesterday, for the first time so far, I didn't make it. I only wrote 700.

I woke up. I just didn't write. I've been waking up every morning. I am awake now. I hope to double my output today so that I can make up for yesterday. The problem . . . I've hit a bit of a wall. The writing isn't as good. The story isn't coming quite as easily.

The good thing is that I have an outline. I'm going to go right back to my outline and write from that. No need to waste time wondering what to write next, or where I'm going. Not with my road map.

So despite not hitting the mark yesterday, I am pressing on.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Importance of Getting It Right

I'm posting a link to an article about the best newspaper corrections. I wasn't going to, but then I read this one and felt compelled to post it for anyone to read:

“Last Sunday, The Herald erroneously reported that original Dolphin Johnny Holmes had been an insurance salesman in Raleigh, NC, that he had won the New York lottery in 1982 and lost the money in a land swindle, that he had been charged with vehicular homicide but acquitted because his mother said she drove the car, and that he stated that the funniest thing he ever saw was Flipper spouting water on George Wilson. Each of these items was erroneous material published inadvertently. He was not an insurance salesman in Raleigh, did not win the lottery, neither he nor his mother was charged or involved in any way with a vehicular homicide, and he made no comment about Flipper or George Wilson. The Herald regrets the errors.”

Miami Herald, 1986

I don't believe it. I think my next stop will be Snopes to see if its true. Or perhaps they got two different stories mixed up and accidentally put the wrong man's name in the wrong story. Either way, here is the link to the others.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Haven't Done This Before . . .

I haven't done this before, but I'm going to promote this link that my NaNo liaison, and more notably, my critique group organizer, Lindsey, has posted to NaNo's website.

This could be the most in depth series of links I've ever seen, and the image above is only a subset of the whole. In it are links to character name generators, lists of names by country, world mapping applications, Pixar's rules for storytelling, plotting applications, and more. I'm amazed by all the links that are there.

Again, I'm promoting this blog on NaNo's forums so I hope that this series of links, which can also be found on the forum, can help some of my fellow NaNo writers.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Although the first line didn't grab me (see here) at least not as much as other Forsyth first lines (here) I will say that I liked the kill list almost as much as I liked some of the earlier Forsyth novels.

One of my favorite novels is The Dogs of War. This one was just as to the point and factual and reads like a primer on project management rather than a thriller. Not quite as good as The Dogs of War, but better than others.

The Pathfinders went back to their base at Colchester and resumed their careers. 

Ove Carlsson made a complete recovery and studied for a master’s degree in business administration. He joined his father’s company, but he never went back to sea. 

Ariel became famous in his tiny and, to most people, incomprehensible world when he invented a firewall that even he could not penetrate. His system was widely adopted by banks, defense contractors and government departments. On the Tracker’s advice, he acquired a shrewd and honest business manager, who secured him royalty contracts that made him comfortably off. 

His parents were able to move to a bigger house set in its own grounds, but he still lived with them and hated going out. 

Colonel Christopher “Kit” Carson, aka Jamie Jackson, aka the Tracker, served out his time, retired from the Corps, married a very comely widow and set up a company delivering personal security for the ultra-wealthy traveling abroad. It made him a good living, but he never went back to Somalia.

Forsyth, Frederick - The Kill List 

That last last last line made me remember this little video I saw about a former sergeant I got to work with and run with in RIP, Sergeant Struecker. If you know anything about the Battle of Mogadishu, it's worth the nine minutes to watch.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day Four and All Is Well

So, I'm on day four and so far I'm doing well. Not great, but well. I'm at 10,206 at the present time and the day is still not yet complete. I might get up to 11,000 by the end of the day. However based on the graph I'm still ahead of schedule.

What I really like, much more than the graph, is the dashboard next to the graph on my novel stats page.

I like the fact that it shows when I'm done writing for the day. The little bar, the second from the bottom changes from blue to green and boom, then I'm done for the day. I keep that in the green and I'm golden.

I love the fact that Octorber's outlining has helped so much. My ten key scenes have really helped me stay on track. I knock out the scene, realize that there is another subsidiary scene then knock that out. Instead of getting side tracked and staying on that secondary scene I get back to the ten key scenes and I'm back on track again. I love that.

So far I can honestly say that this is the best NaNo both in terms of content written and words written per day that I've been through yet. Here's to it staying that way. I can also say that I almost didn't do this NaNo. I was on the verge of passing when I heard a buddy from my writing group say that each year she does NaNo and each year the writing gets worse and worse (paraphrasing) so that all she's left with is a huge jumble. I can relate. I have had the same experience. Additionally the process of going through that jumble and rewriting, editing, and unjumbling it is not fun.

So far the jumble is far far away and I hope it remains that way. Glad I didn't listen. Hope she didn't either.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Not a Bad Start

Where have I been the past few days? Working on my outline. Where have I been today? Working on my novel! And it's not a bad start.

Loyal readers will remember that last year I gave updates on a semi-regular basis on my progress to 60K. If you want to go back and see those updates, for the past few years in fact, you can here.

Based on the metrics on NaNo I need to write 1667 words a day to get to 60K at the end of the month. Today, day one, I hit 2244. I'm ahead of schedule. Let's hope I stay that way.