Tag Archives: Book

NaNoWriMo was here – 2015 After Action Report

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You fail only if you stop writing.”

– Ray Bradbury

To me, this is the key to have a successful NaNoWriMo. Finishing the 50.000 words in one month, like I mentioned in my previous post, is less important than not to give up on your writing and to keep building the skill.. NaNoWriMo 2015 is over, so thank you for playing if you did. If you didn’t, then join us next year. It’ll be fun. I super promise.

In any case, this year has been quite a learning experience. For one, the world has been annoyingly distracting with work drama, life drama and terrorist drama around the world. But it has also been a productive November. Although I didn’t make it to 50.000 words on my story this year, but I did get a lot further than I thought. 28.000+ somewhat intelligible words have been added to my novel, not counting character bios, world notes, questions, outline and miscellaneous research, which is far beyond what I expected. I also learned that statistics are useless, if you’re not consistent with you counting and writing. I write in Word, Google Docs + Google Keep, in Scrivener and in a notebook. If I can give you one piece of tangible advice, DON’T DO THAT. Pick a tool and use it. That way you won’t get surprised on word count.

I also came up with a new creative project for the blog: a weekly series that I’ll start the first week of January, and also have fun titles for several books in potentia. And jokes, I wrote a lot of bad jokes. So all in all, I’m very positive and looking forward to write more.

And should you need another famous quote on writing, then:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

– Ernest Hemingway

So back to bleeding daily. But what do you think? Was my November wasted or worth it?
Did you do NaNoWriMo and finish? (if so, well done!). Let me know!

And for the last time is 2015… The NaNoWriMo song.

NaNoWriMo is here – I got distracted

That’s life isn’t it. You set a goal, make a plan to get there, get your hopes up, then NaNoWriMo kicks off, and you immediately get distracted, the plan gets shot down, you adapt, you improvise, get distracted again, make small concessions to your goal, adapt some more, realize that it’s harder than you remembered, make bigger concessions, sob in misery and despair, wipe away your tears, and then suddenly it’s day two. Or five. Or ten. Or as it turns out; day twenty-two.

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Current word count

And I’m in fact behind on my word count. And that’s okay. And if you’re behind, that’s okay too. It would be nice to be able to say that I wrote a novel in a month and be looked at with awe, get showered with compliments, beer and sandwiches, but in reality that’s not the case. And that’s okay. This is the main point of this post: it’s okay to fail at NaNoWriMo.

Because what we’re building is a writing skill, with writing habits and a trust in our ability to put pretty words on a page and/or screen. We can worry about deadlines when we have actual paying jobs as writers.

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Not representative of actual cast. Clearly.

So if you’re like me, take stock and make a sensible plan for the rest of November, and then focus on solidifying that skill past November. Currently I have 17.000(ish) words down, a solid outline for act one and two with notes on act three, a list of named characters with their internal relationships mapped out, and nine writing days to go. My goal for this last period is to exceed 25.000 words, which means I need to put out 600 words a day. It’s manageable and will give me that nifty badge on my profile.

And then the work goes on. You keep working on your habit, your skill, and soon you’ll have a novel done. Or you’ll kill it and start something else. Or stop because you hate it. And all of those are OK.

But what do you think? Did I waste my November? Let me know.

And now… The NaNoWriMo song.

Showdown: Book vs. E-reader

SONY DSCE-reader and book will have to find a way to co-exist. I spoke with book and it’s clear that it’s jealous of e-reader’s portability and adaptability, but snorted derisively its limited resolution and inability to display colour. E-reader responded by downloading the full bibliography of Stephen King and blowing a raspberry. Then book turned off the WiFi just to make a point about needing an infrastructure to function, but e-reader thought little of this as it perused its library of 598 books for something less snooze-worthy to listen to. Book then distracted e-reader with a full page glossy colour print of a turnip, and then punched him squarely in the screen. I left before it got ugly. E-reader ended up with a scratched screen and book without a back cover. Sigh… Kids these days. Continue reading Showdown: Book vs. E-reader

The Bath and The Book

castlekaticeditedThe relationship between the bathtub and the book is a complicated one. On one hand it’s unquestionably supreme relaxation, on the other hand an continuous frustration-filled process of milieu management. Sure, the idea of lounging in a gorgeous bubble bath, sipping a glass of Merlot, surrounded by artistically streaked wax candles on every non-flammable surface, and reading the latest and greatest from your favourite author is amazing. But is it? Is it really…? And note: this is my own experience so you may agree or disagree. Continue reading The Bath and The Book

The Deification of Books

20130622_132048Books influence my reality. Or at least my perception of reality. It becomes more intensely packed with potential excitement, packed with elements of joy and hope, and sorrow and shock, and promises to fill me with truth. The content of any given book might not be the truth in a philosophical sense, but the book itself and the printed letters inside promise something that is true. Whether it’s true, as in aligned with reality, is a different question. It’s the inherent a promise that resonates with my inner self. Continue reading The Deification of Books

Book Project Update #6 – Working in Bursts

Working Title: Dave’s Hammer.

Current Word Count: 12091 words

Goal for next Monday: Another 3000 new words!

20131125_205838_Richtone(HDR)So… That worked pretty well. I actually managed to add the promised 3000 words to the book. Alas, I must disappoint you since I will refrain from sharing any finished work, simply because its not finished. Its the first version of the first draft. Getting from draft to an actual product is going to be interesting. The most likely outcome would be a quick giggle at my expense due to lack of proper (refined/finished) grammar and a confused narrative. Giggles my well-shaped posterior.

It was refreshing (and surprising) that I managed to actually get 3000 words on the page this week, five hundred of which were generated while waiting for my flight out of Stansted. While I have been in worse airports, Stansted is notoriously boring. After visiting the whiskey store and annoying the Super car Salesperson, who seems to think that “wanting to make all my friends jealous by winning a Super-car” was a prospect worth pursuing, there really is nothing to do. Unless you like shopping and eating crappy food. So its a good environment to focus on some writing and brainstorming.

So the conclusion this week: I do my best work in short controlled bursts.

And tagged on to that: Inspiration comes from the strangest of places. Like my wall pictured above. Oh, and London probably helped.

Until next week….


And I changed the structure/format. The narrative is much more plastic now.


Book Project Update #5 – Killing Darlings

Working Title: Dave’s Hammer.

Current Word Count: 8701 words

Goal for next Monday: 3000 new words plus more structure, structure and structure!

Slumped over dead!

The past two weeks were tough, just look how I am slumped over. The narrative took over my brain and the tone was set for a stronger and more engaging plot. As words appeared on screen and notes were taken, the story was pruned for unnecessary b-plots, erroneous ideas and stale characters. Today we mourn the loss of Mary and Molly (their fictional identities are being withheld for the sake of their non-existing loved ones), two characters that were conceived as opposites of personality, origins and intent. Two characters that should have seen both sides of the conflict, seen the fear and joy of winning and losing the fight from so divergent perspectives, that their stories could have filled their own separate books. But the narrative has taken Joshua and his colleague to places I didn’t expect, so for the sake of the story, Molly and Mary have to go.

I have conceded to myself that the issue probably lies less with the ability of the characters and more with my lack of skill writing a convincing female character and complicated plots. Currently my protagonists are (dimwitted) males, an old mean hag, and a dog (it’s a very good dog, mind you). I’m pretty sure I have the dog and the males down, and the hag is just a hag. An old bitter woman assigned to a job or task, that she fulfills to satisfaction but doesn’t really like. Not central in the way that Mary could have been. For now she and Molly have been placed in the “Potential” bag of ideas.

I have also taken to use Evernote extensively for on-the-fly research. For anyone with a smartphone/computer, it makes it simple to quickly create a notebook for your project and organize your notes, links, pics, research, not-entirely-thought-out plots and ideas. Just a thought!

Next week I might post an excerpt from my opening scene. In any case there will definitely be an update of a fascinating and engaging variety.

Book Project Update #2.5 (The non-update)

Not mine, but love XKCD

Working Title: Dave’s Hammer.

Current Word Count: Nothing new. I’m sick!

Goal for next Monday: Complete overview of plot treads and 2000 new words.

So the fact is; I haven’t been writing. I was struck down Wednesday with a stomach bug which somewhat dominated my time. It’s not an acceptable excuse, but nothing to do about that now. But I haven’t been idle. I have been thinking (I know, its hard work. Love it!) about my characters and the relationship between the character and writer. Boiling it right down to basics, then any character you write is ultimately a mirror to how the writer thinks his or her character should/would/can/ought to interact with the world.

It’s a problematic process and can stump even the best of content creators. You can be an excellent orator in other ways, but once you take up the viewpoint of a fictitious entity the flow of creativity can dry up in no time like the crust of cheap store bought pizza. How should you write new and exciting content, keep you characters real and engaging, while still conveying a complete narrative? Take the situations below?

  • How does Romeo react to facing down a fairly miffed fairy while climbing to meet his Juliet?
  • How will Waldo react when he is finally found by Homeland Security and accused of being subversive to American society?
  • What should Darth Vader say, when Luke offers him cookies to join the Light side?

So, here is how I see it: 

Dave (one on my characters) is a canvas for me to paint a production on, he is an empty vessel to be filled with meaning and agency, or he could be a subject to be explored. What Dave is not, however, is real. Down the line, after I’ve taken him to hell (or heaven) and back, added scars to his soul and patina to his personality, he will feel real. But he will never be real. He is an expression of some other bit of me (and the people I base him on, which would still my interpretation of them). And regardless of how much care I put will be putting into making him, he is still faking it. He is still just a projection after all. He does not represent me (since he could be a horrifying racist and misogynist, which I am not), but does emulate my thoughts.

To make it worse, a writer wants to be original. To create something fresh and new and vibrant with awesomeness. Pheeew! Its no wonder the pressure is on to perform, even if what you write is only ever read by your mother. And is there a nifty little piece of advice to fix this? A net little trick  that let you delve into the souls of your characters?

Put succinctly: No. 

Put less succinctly: Hell No.

The character is in your head. The only way to get to get it out  is to work with it. If this is writing up a character sheet and rolling for stats, then do that. If its writing a long back story with tons of little details that explain every little creepy character detail, then do that. If its going for  walk and think, then do that. But in the end, it comes back to the story.

And that needs to be written.

By you.

Further reading:

John Scalzi puts an interesting spin on it in his Star Trek parody RedshirtsNot only is it hilarious. Its also thought provoking and essentially revamped my approach to character development. Whether I’m justified in claiming that is up to you, but to me it worked.