Category Archives: Novel

NaNoWriMo 2010 | Looking Back

Well, it being a few days into December, I finally feel like I have the time to discuss what happened or didn’t happen during my first National Novel Writing Month endeavor. It was a long month, especially with all of my schoolwork included in my workload, but at the same time it seemed to fly by so quickly, probably also due to the schoolwork that was taking up time, the holidays, and Harry Potter.

My writing break-down through November

I can break down my month of writing into four different sections, based on how much I wrote, when I wrote it, and what else was happening at the time, as detailed below.

Week 1 – Sprint
Going into the month, I already knew I had two exams a week after the start, so I planned on writing as much as I could before the weekend, which would be spent studying, so that I wouldn’t fall far behind. And that’s exactly what I did, writing a little over 17,000–a third of the novel–in five days, with over 16,000 of that coming in the first four. I was well ahead of the curve at that point, and would be even after taking a few days to study, which was exactly what I wanted.

Week 2 – Slow and Steady
Once I got past those two exams, I did still have two more to worry about, but since they were spread out, I didn’t completely stop my writing as much as I had previously. This week started with the first write-in at Wanderer’s Teahouse, a nice little new place on Grand River, which was organized by our fearless Municipal Liason and attended by a fair number of local writers. I took a couple days off from writing, mostly because of work or doing homework, but tried to write in smaller chunks over longer periods of time. I had figured out what was going on in the story, and at that point the characters that I had created were really carrying the story, with me just there to move my fingers.

Weeks 3 and 4 – There’s other days besides Mondays?
Since my first write-in was so successful, I decided that I would continue to go back every week to work there for a few hours, knocking out at least 5k in each session. I did, however, get really caught up in schoolwork, since I had somewhat ben neglecting it over the past two weeks, plus I was sort of running out of things to write that fit with the story. Not that I didn’t know what would happen next, but that I was having serious doubts that the story would be finished short of the target 50k. So, I took it much more slowly, giving my mind time away from writing just to think (or not think) about the story. I only spent two days during these two weeks writing, both at write-ins, which caused me to encounter my first dip below the “suggested word count” line.

November 29-30 – I need to finish!
I entered the last two days about 11,000 short of the finish, which meant that I would need to average a higher word count than I had during my first week sprints to get that last punctuation mark down before midnight. I went to Wanderer’s on Monday for the last write-in (which had somewhat fallen apart due to lack of attendance and reserved space), sat down and wrote, then moved to Holmes to pick up some snacks and write some more. When I finished that first day’s writing (at around 0130 on Tuesday…), I had pecked out 8,500 words. Still, that meant that I had three thousand to go, and my fears set in: my story was more or less finished. So, on Tuesday, after teaching my lab, I stayed in Holmes and wrote out a few closing chapters, bringing the saga to an emotional end (both happy and somewhat depressing) for the main characters that had remained alive, and by 2030 I had passed the 50k mark with a few hours to spare!

Closing Thoughts
First, what a rush! Looking back, I wrote a 50k-word novel in fourteen days (with some of my days spilling over into midnight on the next, but we’ll just count those as one), meaning I averaged around 3,500 per day. Of course, since I still took the full month to write it, the average is really half that, but that’s more a semantics argument than anything else. What this means is that, even with schoolwork, writing not every day, taking huge breaks, running out of story, and figuring it out as you go, you can still get a novel out of nothing, just with a few sore fingers, eyes, back, and a lack of sleep.

I met a few very interesting people while doing this, plus found out that two of my friends were doing the same thing at various points during the month (ignoring my roommate who I had started this journey with). Next year, if I plan on doing this around whatever I may be doing, my writing will definitely be a little more consistent, and I’ll probably spend October planning out what I’m writing (all I had done for this one was think, plus write down the names of two main characters, once of which was a computer), just so the end goes more smoothly and it feels like I’m taking things a little more seriously.

So, what next for the novel I named Evolution? Well, if I want to try to publish it, it will take a lot of work, especially in the closing quarter of it, the addition of a few scenes, and some more fleshing out of the characters. In other words, close to a full re-write, the plague of Moonshot and Moonshot: Origins (since I never really named that prequel officially…). I haven’t decided if that’s what I want to do, or scrap it and simply write a new story, so for now it will sit on my hard drive with those failed stories (totaling 101,000 words), right next to my only other finished work of longer fiction, No Exit (bring my total finished word count to 66,000), until I decide what to do.

But I’ll leave that decision for next year. For now, I’m taking a well-deserved break!

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NaNoWriMo Preparations

EDIT 11.30.2010 1938 EST | I’ve won! Expect a reflection post within the next handful of days.

For those of you who don’t know about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), just imagine that what I’m doing isn’t part of an international “contest.”

With October coming to an end, I have quite a few things to look forward two: the end of my second exam season, the end of the semester, Thanksgiving, Halloween, a weekend. November also brings with it a new challenge, especially around my already challenging life, this year: NaNoWriMo. I’ve been writing long fiction on-and-off for five or six years, but I’ve never really finished anything meaningful (aside from No Exit [PDF]). I’ve always wanted to, but I would get sidetracked by homework, editing what I’ve written, life.

Not this year. This year, I’m officially signed up for NaNoWriMo (check out my profile HERE), a month-long sprint to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. Crazy? You bet, but if life was always boring then it isn’t really doing much for you anyway. I’ve known about the “contest” (I quote that, since it really is just a contest against yourself and the calendar) for a few years, but never signed up since other obligations always got in the way, or I felt that they would during November. This time, I don’t care, since I’ve basically finished my grad school applications, I only have fourteen credits, and I have a ton of free time that I just waste. Why not put those lost hours per day to use doing something productive?

I’m taking a slightly different approach than my previous failed novel attempts (and the same approach I took with No Exit) in that I’m not planning anything out beforehand. Well, almost anything, since I have two main characters more-or-less fleshed out and a general idea of how the novel will start (and end, in some regards), so I’m not going into it completely blind. I also have a few ideas for some encounters, just because I think it be cool to write those events. Other than that, I’m letting my frantic typing carry the story through the 2,592,000 available seconds.

For those of you also planning on pecking out 50k words this November and want a writing buddy though the interwebs, add ME as a buddy. You can also find some basic info about my planned novel there as well and track my progress. Also, since I plan on having my only writing be for the novel (and homework…), I won’t be posting here until December. I do plan on having a daily word-count posted on my Twitter account every day of November, plus whatever else I decide to include, so follow me there if you’re interested.

See you in December!

Moon – Beginnings

Spurred by a conversation I had not too long ago, I’ve decided to give an overview of my new story arc, using some of the characters previously encountered in Moonshot but set a few years before. As it stands, I have fifty-some pages written, which is quite a lot for a week writing splurge. I’m hoping to have the same success with this coming week, but only time will tell if that will work out. If so, I’ll have this novel done in two months, much better than the four years for the previous, unfinished one!

Chapters 1 through 3
Nick Sonfend, a young science teacher, accepts a new job teaching middle school children in the Pacifica school (as of yet, no name past that) under the jurisdiction of the Pacifica Education Authority and housed in the namesake lunar colony. He leaves behind his two parents and sister and flies on a transfer shuttle to the Moon. En route, he meets Melissa Lauridson, an equally young flight attendant for whom Nick develops some small feelings but promptly makes a fool of himself. Melissa forgives him, and once they arrive at Pacifica she helps him become acclimated to the colony, from understanding what the color-coded airlocks are for to the idea that “moonlegs” come from more than just a prolonged stay.

Chapters 4 through 6
Nick and Melissa go on a few dates before she has to leave for another few weeks for work (most flight attendants work two flights, back to back, followed by a short leave). Nick gradually becomes more comfortable in the colony and with his new job, even after an awkward meeting in a bathroom with a fellow teacher.

Chapters 7 and 8
Nick has taught his first two weeks basically flawlessly, although there have been some bumps with teacher confidentiality in regards to helping students in the other science classes. For the most part, Nick is happy with the way things are panning out, although he still worries that Melissa may not be as emotionally involved in their pseudo-relationship as he is. Those fears are quelled when Melissa begins her leave, and the two romantically reunite.

Well, the summaries aren’t the best, but I’m not writing a novel based on summaries, am I? I’m beginning to get into the meat of the story, past a lot of the initial character development phases, so the next batch of work should be very interesting… So interesting, in fact, that I’m not even exactly sure where it’s going!

Note: I’m not even thinking about a name for this one yet, plus I’m not reading backwards past a paragraph or two when I start a new chapter. I think it’s much better this way, plus I stay focused on the upcoming story and not what I’ve already done.

Starting over…?

I know that no one, least of all me, wants to hear this, but I think I’ve had an epiphany about my novel and what I want it to be. Right now, Moonshot revolves around a few people living within the already established lunar colonies during the time of the global war on Earth and after. It concentrates on how the people react to the changing situation on the Earth, on the surface of the Moon, and within their own individual colonies.

I just think I should tweak it around a little bit… I’m not going to scrap what I have, but I think writing a story about Nick Sonfend (one of the major characters current) and his life, starting from when he departs from Earth for the Moon following the end of his education and continuing through living in Pacifica up until the beginning of the novel, would make for an interesting story as well. If anything, it will help flesh out Nick as a character in Moonshot in its current form.

Why the change? Well, right now, I’m reading Saturn by Ben Bova. It’s an amazing story detailing the journey of a large (10,000 inhabitants) colony from the Earth-Moon vicinity to orbit around Saturn, both for research purposes and for the radical religious groups that control the Earth’s governments to dispel some of their less desirable citizens, sort of like a futuristic Australia. Saturn, and its sequel Titan, focus on a few of the prominent members of this colony as they travel to Saturn and set up shop around the planet.

Ben Bova has been one of my favorite authors since I first read one of his books (Titan, I believe…) three years ago, plus his style has greatly influenced my current writing greatly. I’ve read many of his books multiple times, but this time I just got a feeling that I should change my own book as well… Maybe it was re-immersing myself in his style and attention to detail?

Anyway, I’ll be writing up some new story soon to see if I should follow this tract. Maybe it will just act as a small distraction until I get back into my first novel? I’ll let you guys know.

Hobby Month Continues…

Well, my last week before working in East Lansing for two weeks is already flying by. Of course, I’m glad it is since I get one step closer to going back to school for good and leaving Mathnasium for good, so I don’t mind that much. Unfortunately, due to the holiday weekend, I didn’t do as much “hobbying” as I wanted to.

For starters, my airbrush will be arriving in two days, if everything is on schedule, so I haven’t worked on my two Valkyries at all (yes, I finished building and undercoating the second one). I built and primed the new infantry models, but that’s it.

I did, however, start painting up my last four Tau Fire Warriors, just to try to clear out my “to paint” box. Right now, the four of them just have a single coat of Codex Grey on the main armor, which isn’t much, but it is a very good start. Next up will be two coats of Fortress Grey on the undersuit, followed by another coat of Codex Grey, picking out some details in black and silver, then a wash and quick highlight. Not that much, plus the models generally look pretty good!

To finish up my Tau army, I have some Pathfinders and two vehicles left, plus whatever I decide I want to buy near the end of summer. My Imperial Guard army has the two Valkyries and the ten troopers to go through, plus the things that I’ll invariably buy near the end of summer.

I also decided to include my novel in Hobby Month, just because it will be one of the only productive things I’ll be able to do at camp. Right now, I have a little over thirty pages to read through and revise before I start typing fresh story. I decided that I would stop (right in the middle of a section, in fact) and revise everything I had before going on. It’s my way of being completely anal about the whole process, a way to double-check that things still make sense, check the timeline, make sure that descriptions stay consistent, plus it will be less work for me once the entire thing is finished! All good ideas, in my opinion…

Summer Breakdown

So, first bit of news: I got the job at MST! This means that for two weeks I will be at Michigan State as a camp counselor taking care of middle school kids. Should be pretty fun, and it will be a much-desired break from my usual life so far. Two weeks away from home? Yes please!

I am still slowly working on Moonshot. I am still revising the chunk of manuscript that I have printed off, mostly because I keep get distracted by other projects or sleeping.

Speaking of other projects, I ordered (and received) Battlestar Galactica Seasons 1 and 2.0. Right now, I’ve watched the miniseries (included in Season 1) and the first eight or so episodes. That means that I still have around fourteen hours of new episodes left. Plus, I may just extend this into a full marathon by watching Seasons 2.5 and 3 (I don’t yet own Seasons 4.0 and 4.5, but will before school starts again).

EDIT: Just ordered both 4.0 and 4.5 today. 4.0 will be here in a few days, while I will need to wait until mid/late July for 4.5 since it hasn’t been released yet.

But lately, I’ve just been trying to enjoy my free time and not worry about things, even though I still do. I’m trying not to even think about the next week, or the next day, unless I have defined plans for something coming up. It’s a lot easier on my mental fortitude to just relax and not think, really. It did get me into trouble at work when I said that one-third of three-fourths was nine-fourths…

Taking a step back…

I thought about a lot of things today, most of which don’t really matter in the long run. I thought about some new models I was going to buy, how I was going to handle revising the rest of my novel, playing sixteenths on the guitar, and a lot of other things. Basically, from the moment I got out of bed around 1300, I was thinking about the future.

The future can be a scary place, especially if you believe that the Terminator series will come true (just watched Salvation tonight), but that wasn’t what I was thinking about. A lot of it was about me personally and what I wanted my future to be.

I looked up the process for becoming an astronaut. You apply either when they open up applications, which occurs whenever they need it, or you apply and wait. I wasn’t exactly sure which track is followed, since I can’t really even try to go through that process now. Then, if you are accepted, you go through two years of training before you are even considered to fly a mission. Even after those two years, if you aren’t selected to be an astronaut, you still have to work for NASA for at least five more years since they have you on contract.

There are just so many questions beyond those big ones that I still need to sort out, but I’d like to be able to sort those two out as soon as I can. The astronaut one won’t happen for another six-eight years, at minimum (I need to go through grad school), however…

I feel better when things have an answer, and even more so when I find out that answer. Maybe that’s why I like Math and Physics so much…

EDIT: Oh, and to get more little updates on my life, you can follow me on Twitter, although I can’t guarantee that what you’ll read will be meaningful…