Month: November 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Do We Have a Winner?

It is the last day of November, the last day of National Novel Writing Month.

Well, I won.

I validated my manuscript on Wednesday at 72,454 – about 190 words more than Scrivener told me. I have continued writing since the story is not yet done, and last night I crept past 75,000 words. In theory I could add more words today, but I think I am about done – I have no writing time available this lunchtime and plans for the evening, so I might manage another thousand words or so, but nothing that would get me close to 80k, say.

I have three chapters remaining to write. It’s possible that I can get those done over the weekend, but given how my weekends generally go I expect I will still be working on those early next week.

Once that is done, I will insert this new material into my existing manuscript, then print it all out. That is going to be a slab of paper.

But the main thing is that this gets me writing again.

Congratulations to all those who have participated in NaNoWriMo – it doesn’t matter if you reached the goal or not: if you wrote anything, you now have a few thousand words  that you wouldn’t have written otherwise.

Now, write some more.

Update: in that way the body has of letting go right after a period of stress, I have come down with a cold. So, no writing today at all – my final validated word count stands at 75,229.

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NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 29

Words for the Day: 2,569
Total To Date: 75,023
Chapters Written: 30 / 33

Interesting day today – I didn’t have a good morning session and no time at lunch, but the writing time outside of that was very productive. I like the way the heist chapter went, although it will (of course) need work to even out the style.

And it’s hard to argue with a 75k total.

I might manage 2k tomorrow, but not much more – again, no lunchtime writing, but my evening will be taken up with game night so that will be that. Final validation when I get home from work, I think.

It’s been a good November, I would say!

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NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 28

Words for the Day: 3,896
Total To Date: 72,454
Chapters Written: 29 / 33

A slight caveat on the word count totals – those are from the NaNoWriMo word count validator, and come out about 200 words higher than Scrivener tells me.

Yes, I have validated my word count even though I am not finished. I wanted to be sure that nothing sad would happen later in the week to stop me getting the win.

Hurray! I am a winner!

It has been a funny day. Yesterday I wrote a new version of a scene which finally made sense. Today I wrote a new version of a scene which completely fell apart – it had its moments, but I would say that it is quite possibly the worst rendition of this scene that I have put to paper.

Anyway, tomorrow will be fun: it’s a heist. That scene will probably stretch into Friday too, since I have a lunch meeting both of the next two days that will probably curtail postprandial wordsmithing.

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Where Do Ideas Come From?

There is a turn of phrase that I often hear in writing circles: filling the well.

When you have been writing for a while and the ideas are running dry, it is time to immerse yourself in media and fill the idea well back up again.

This turn pf phrase nicely reflects my own experience as a beginning writer: I started writing when I had read so much that my mind felt like the ideas were brimming over. It also reflects the fundamental truth of all art, which is that we borrow other people’s ideas and expression of those ideas, putting our turn on those ideas to produce a unique work.

Having raw ideas is never enough – you have to live with those ideas, think about them, write them down and throw them away and write them down again. The first time you write anything it is going to be bad – there are different degrees of badness to be sure, but first drafts are usually barely readable let alone publishable*. Working over these ideas and the forms of words is essential.

Every author will come up with different ways to develop an idea, but on top of that we each have our own voice, our own writerly idioms and style. Style is another thing which takes time to develop. These two iterative processes are why ideas alone aren’t worth selling – it’s the expression of that idea, the work that is put in by the writer which is what the reader wants.

I shall summarise all of this with an equation:

Ideas = (Influences + Time) * Iteration + Voice

Where do your ideas come from?

[*] there are counter-examples to this – The Exorcist, for instance – but these counter-examples are also vanishingly rare and you cannot plan for them.

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NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 27

Words for the Day: 4,015
Total To Date: 68,558
Chapters Written: 27.5 / 33

My pace seems to have increased, if anything – two 4k days in a row. I might manage that again tomorrow, but probably not Thursday or Friday since I have lunchtime engagements.

The most excellent thing happened in the writing today. I was writing another version of a scene I have written four times already in different forms – it needs a rewrite because the parameters of the scene are different this time – and suddenly I find a tiny detail dropped into an earlier chapter that makes the whole scene actually make sense for the first time.

I mean, this is a scene that appeared in the very first version of this story in 2005, and it finally makes sense in this third draft of the full first volume seven years later.

This writing game is fun.

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NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 26

Words for the Day: 4,052
Total To Date: 64,543
Chapters Written: 26 / 33

This was a strangely productive day. Looking back on how I felt while I was writing, this did not feel easy: the chapters were all new in plot areas I don’t fully understand, but it apparently produced a lot of words pretty quickly. My 8×8 maze tracker is now completely full – I have added some more squares along one side on the one at home.

Apart from filling my tracker, the big news today is that I finished three chapters. I was part way through one yesterday which ended up being in excess of four thousand words, but the other two were both less than 2k in length. With that surge of chapter completion, the average chapter length is now 2,482 words which would project a finished length of 81,919 words. I am guessing I will get another 8 – 10k by end of week, which will put me up around 72 – 74k for the end of the month.

Here are a few random details:

  • MCs #2 & #3 have officially had their plots intersect now.
  • One of the chapters I wrote today was called “A Ridiculous Plot”.
  • Tomorrow we return to visit someone we haven’t seen for a while.
  • I have now used the same name for three different female servant characters.


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NaNoWriMo 2012: Quantity Surveying FTW!

Five days of November left for NaNoWriMo and I find myself in more or less exactly the position I predicted on the 14th: I have won the NaNoWriMo challenge, but I am going to run out of time.

Thanksgiving was a bit rough on word count – I managed about 700 words on the day itself – but the thing that really slowed me down was switching narratives.

I have three MCs that I am following, and this month has been about writing new material for each narrative around a conspiracy plot line. Coming up to Thanksgiving I was writing the crisis-ridden ending of MC #2’s act two (or thereabouts – I am not big on following formal structures) and that kept me moving through the short day on Thursday. But come the weekend I was jumping into MC #1’s narrative, a brick wall of the aftermath of his act two crisis but that crisis is not being touched. So I am writing the emotional stuff without any connection to this MC’s emotions.

I have a handle on it now, but Saturday and Sunday were rough.

So, let’s see where I am in terms of rates and comparisons.

Rate of word generation

  • day 13 word count = 31.129 = 2,394 words per day.
  • day 25 word count = 60,491 = 2,419 words per day

If I keep writing at that pace, I will reach 72,570 words for November.

I am quite surprised that this rate hasn’t dropped.

Rate of chapter completion

  • day 13 chapter count = 13 chapters = one chapter per day
  • day 25 chapter count = 23.5 chapters = a little less than one chapter per day

What’s happened here is that the chapters have been getting longer. On the plus side, I am not splitting chapters into new ones as often.

If I keep completing chapters at the new pace, I will have 29 chapters – which will leave four to complete in December. That will probably be about another 10k or so.

Projected Word Count

Average word count per completed chapter as of day 25 is 56,757 / 23 = 2,467

Project word count for 33 chapters is therefore 81,433.

However, I may end up with more than that since the incomplete chapter I am working on now is already past 3.5k.

The Plan

In the last article I presented to options for what to do about finishing in November:

  1. keep writing at the same pace and just take the time I need to finish the story I want to write
  2. shorten chapters artificially to ensure that I complete the plot arcs in the time, but that will require adding a lot more content on the edit.

It seems pretty obvious that I am going to go with the first option. As I say above, I will likely have about another 10k to write in December. I think I should be done in a week, but I will not be able to devote the same time to the writing so the basic pace will slacken a bit.

How do you feel about the way November has gone? What do you have left to do?

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NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 25

Words for the Day: 3,522
Total To Date: 59,136 60,491
Chapters Written: 23.5 / 33

I stated the day wallowing in a bad place, unconvinced that I could reach 60k today. I am done with writing for the day unless I can grab another hour before bed tonight, but 60k may actually still be achievable after all.

The actual content today is a bit unconvincing, but there are moments in there. I am pleased with an architectural description I have come up with which makes the palace complex make a lot more sense than it did before. I would like to visit the Scriptorum of the Abbey – it would be an amazing space: a six or seven floor high room set into the face of a cliff with more windows than wall on the Chasm-ward side so it is like a single glass wall to let in the light.

So, a nice day and a decent enough end to a Thanksgiving weekend which was generally more productive than I had feared in might be.

Now on with the rest of the day!

Update: Wrote for another hour or so in the evening before bed to get another good chunk of words and hit the 60k mark. Not quite at the end of the chapter, though, so this is going to be a long one.

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NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 24

Words for the Day: 1,603
Total To Date: 55,614
Chapters Written: 22.5 / 33

Sluggish start this morning – I am switching to another MC’s narrative, but I am jumping in to a later section which is touched by the plot changes and figuring out what I am writing about has been difficult.

Better session this afternoon with some kind of actual point to what I was writing, but still a bit light today. I had hoped to reach 60k before Monday, but that seems unlikely now.

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NaNoWriMo 2012: Day 23

Words for the Day: 2,608
Total To Date: 54,011
Chapters Written: 22 / 33

An interesting chapter today, because although it has a character development within it the actual point is to describe elements of the agriculture on my world which have an impact later.

And now MC #3 is trapped until the dawn while his fellow apprentices bad mouth him to the boss. Poor sod.

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