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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

(vol 1) CHAPTER 42: “NaNoWriMo – Day 26.”

CHOP AND CHANGE

Only a few days to go and, while the writing is getting done, it’s becoming a bit of a tangle that might need a little more than a ‘hammer & chisel’ in the edit phase.




DAY 20 – 1367 words

Despite another driver attempting to take me of the road again tonight I managed to get home alive. A good word count achieved even if it didn’t cross the required total of 1667. Still, I have two short pieces completed that I know I can expand more once I get to the rewrite. Our hero meets a several new companions but at this stage of writing all my introductions are quick. I prefer to get stuck in with dialogue and action about ten seconds after people turn up but I’ll expand things and slow little moments down as I rewrite next month.



DAY 21 – 2032 words

Once more I had one of my slow days. And as before a fight scene, similar to the previous one with wolfs and a character death, suddenly escalated. I found myself creating a new monster (or monsters), a sort of mini villain for this part of the story and also I ended up rewriting two characters history’s and motivation.

I don’t tend to spend much time creating my characters in the planning stages of writing. I prefer to have just a basic sketch and about two lines of background. That’s it. I focus more on the story I want to write and let the paper thin characters come to life around it. Sure I can get 20,000 words down the line and discover our hero’s best friend is now driven by the death of his pet dog. But I’d rather go back and change a character to how he or she wants to be than force a character with too much planned details into a situation that they don’t fit.



DAY 22 – 1941 words

I started to wonder if I’d have any time to write today. As morning turned to afternoon and afternoon turned to evening I still hadn’t found the time to sit down with laptop. But, after dinner, I forced myself to not accept a day without any words going down and a muddled through.

Although my characters knew of the catacombs under the temple, I had never intended for them to go down into them. Yet the previous days writing left them with no other option than to flee the fight and seek another way out. But instead of them finding a tunnel and a secret exit on the other side of the forest I thought it would be more interesting for them to find a secret room with a treasure inside. This was mainly because people walking through a tunnel for twenty pages is boring but also because I really wanted them to all head back and discover just who was trying to kill them and why.



DAY 23 – 2030 words

Today went like yesterday but most of that was because I was not going to miss the final race of the 2014 F1 season. Coverage started at midday and I carried on watching long after the chequered flag had dropped when dinner was served. Once my son was in bed and everything was washed up I got to writing and somehow managed to pass my target with lots of plot and dialogue.

I did have an issue with certain characters leaning stuff at a point that I felt was too late into the story, stuff I hadn’t dreamt up earlier. But, like Abraham from the Walking Dead would say, “we don’t go back”. NaNoWriMo is all about powering forward and worrying about the kinks later on. Therefore this will all be worked out and rewritten in the edit.

On the down side, despite taking a crack at this week’s Angry Hourglass prompt for Flash Frenzy, I just found my imagination couldn’t come up with anything and so passed on that writing challenge for the week.



DAY 24 – 1526 words

I started a scene today but lost my way. After 300 words I thought it best not to slow down at this stage and so I skipped on to where I knew I needed that scene to end and just carried on. What I wrote next leads into the final part of this volume for Fallen Swords. It’s all about the mystery surround whole towns becoming mass graves. As I’ve built towards this I’m getting more ideas to plant the seeds during editing. I want more about the politics between two of the states and the civil war that is brewing.



DAY 25 – 949 words

Today carried on from yesterday. We meet a crazy man who has been living around the dead and we finally see what is happening to the people who were unlucky enough to escape the event that is wiping out town after town after town. Is it a curse or a virus or something much, much worse?
I know, but you’ll have to wait until next year.



DAY 26 – 2002 words

The scene that keeps growing had more added today with our main characters taking a big risk in their methods to contact the rebel leaders.



WRITING IS FULL OF SURPRISES

It’s been a real head spinner this last week. The best way to describe it is that the story feels like a map on one of those old RTS games like Command & Conquer. The whole map is blacked out at the start except for a little area around your base. As you move around the world you uncover more and more map. But there always comes a point when the map is fully uncovered and you see about seven different spots that would have been better to start from if you’d known they were there.

When I started the story I had a loose idea with several beats planned out, stepping stones I had to pass over. But as you flesh out characters, introduce new locations and uncover subplots, you see more and more of the world you’re creating and your brain can’t stop giving you extra ideas with what to do with it all.

I know I’ll be using this first draft as a more detailed outline come December. I will start again with a cleaner idea of where I want it all to go. I will slow down, build things in more detail.
Hopefully you guys enjoy what comes out the other side.



ONE DOWN

So as we near the end, there’s time for one final shout out to my NaNo buddies; Caitlin McColl (42396), David Graffham (27285), Casey Rose Frank (40821) and Rasha Tayaket (33651). Hope to see you all on the other side of 50,000 come Sunday. Good luck.

Also a big, big shout out to Adam Nelson (54175). Congratulations on completing NaNoWriMo 2014

See you in seven.



Wednesday, 19 November 2014

(vol 1) CHAPTER 41: “NaNoWriMo – Day 19.”

THE PLOT THICKENS

Coming to the end of week three of this year’s NaNoWriMo and now I’m starting to find the story that wants to be told.






DAY 13 – 2417 words

Back on form today and another of those sessions that feels slow (600 words) then gets slower (800 words) before snowballing towards a rather pleasing 2417. And I didn’t even finish the chapter.

I’m really getting into this new part of the story now. In the opening of this volume, the main character had woken with no memory on a secluded beach. Heading out he finds his way to the nearby town of Fosters End where he has been given the job of cook. Not knowing his past he decides to take his job title as his name.



DAY 14 – 2012 words

Although I hit a nice target during the previous nights writing, the scene itself was far from over. Cook had settled into his new role cooking food for the visitors to the town but it’s not long before the town comes under threat and Cook discovers he has abilities that separate him from normal men.  
This and two Flash! Friday entries too. Another busy day in the world of writing.



DAY 15 – 619 words

The week’s first bad day comes, once more, with what I feel is a legitimate excuse. My son had recently turned two and we’d decided to throw him a party of two halves; friends and kids in the morning and then family in the afternoon. By the time everyone was gone, presents were unwrapped, the house tidied and dinner was finally eaten it was late. So all I managed was 619 words that tied up the large chapter I’d started on Thursday as well as barely starting with a few lines on the next.



DAY 16 – 2080 words

With Sunday being a more relaxing day, I managed a lot of writing. Once my Angry Hourglass entry was out of the way in the morning I spent the evening powering through the chapter that introduced the first of the power players in the new land; Lady Rashett. Her meeting with the second main character was an opportunity to pass into the lands capital too, a truly epic place that will make Minus Tirith look like a garden shed.



DAY 17 – 2123 words

From this point I have a couple of chapters taking place at a secluded temple while several characters come and go. I managed two short chapters that gave the main character of Cook time to develop and take in what he’s seen so far.



DAY 18 – 1839 words

Like several of my writing evenings, this chapter started slow and seemed to get slower. But when you start chopping up the word count goals it all suddenly flies by. I would just push my daily to 1000 but then my total word count wasn’t far from rounding up to whole number. So I’d do a little more. This is exactly what happened until I got to an epic fight scene; two heroes versus a park of oversized wolves. Blood was spilt during this chapter and I was exhausted when I finished the scene. Very happy with it though, very happy.



DAY 19 – 530 words

Which brings me to tonight. I was looking forward to keeping my momentum going but, unfortunately, my car was hit on the way home from work tonight. I’m fine and the car is (mostly) fine. However, with digging out paperwork, phoning the insurance company, having dinner, putting away a home shopping delivery and writing this post, time is slipping away. I managed to hand write the start of the current chapter while at work today so I’m just going to type that up and call it a night. Hopefully I can get my head back in the game tomorrow.



HISTORY WILL CHANGE

Despite the fact that NaNoWriMo is all about writing and writing and writing, with editing told to have the month off, my brain is already looking at what works and what doesn’t. I put a lot of stuff into the story that just randomly starts and I will need to go back and foreshadow characters, locations and plot points.

If you were to read through this draft now I think your brain would explode. The project probably resembles something that was started by a different author each day with almost no back story passed on to help.

Still, I’m enjoying this exploration phase, which is exactly what this is all about. Each chapter is like a fork in the road and it’s only when I get to the end of each one that I know if I want to carry on through with the plan or strike out into brand new territory. The path may continue off on a wild tangent for the rest of NaNoWriMo or, like what has already happened a lot, I might just take a detour, explore off to the left or right for a little bit before returning to the main path.
I guess we’ll see if this works come February next year when I start releasing it.



A LITTLE FLASH(ING)



Before I go I have a little bit of positive news. One of my two entries for last week’s Flash! Friday was award the prize of First Runner Up (AKA 2nd place). This matches my highest position (see IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY – 11th July 2014). Big thanks to judge Margaret Locke for the nice words she had to say about my entry INFINITE MONKEY THEOREM and also well done to the other winners and honourable mentions.



THEIR NECK AND NECK (AND NECK)

So NaNo enters its final third and I’m still sat with a positive word count (1060 words in credit).
Once more a big shout out to Adam Nelson (41905), Caitlin McColl (29486), David Graffham (27285) and Rasha Tayaket (2700) as well as new buddy Casey Rose Frank (30567). These guys keep going which makes it easier for me to keep going.

See you in seven.



Wednesday, 12 November 2014

(vol 1) CHAPTER 40: “NaNoWriMo – Day 12.”

THE PREQUEL ENDITH

Coming to the end of week two of this year’s NaNoWriMo and things are looking pretty good.




DAY 6 – 2067 words

My pace dropped later this week despite a good start on the Thursday. I finished a piece that really develops the main characters back story through a dream sequence showing both current issues mixed in with a tragic event from his past. It was nice exploring that character a little more, finding out his motivation for signing up to the army and what haunts him to avoid the magic that is crucial to his new role and the story in general. As with a lot of things I’ve written over the last seven days, it’ll be fun to go back through the edit and sprinkle more details in now that I’ve discovered them.



DAY 7 – 1085 words

A busy day equals low word count. Thankfully with a nice amount in the bank it doesn’t put me behind target. Everything I wrote today was supposed to be in the last chapter but with the new character being introduced and the character development I’d started yesterday kind of growing out of control, a new chapter that was not in the original plan appeared. It put me a day behind in the plan I’d made but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to dig a little deeper.



DAY 8 – 2053 words

Getting to know my characters caused a big chance in the writing today. It was a nice amount and more than I thought I’d get done. I sometimes have evenings where I’m struggling and pushing for my target when a fight scene or conversation suddenly gets rolling and I’ve gone further than I realised. Which is good, right?



DAY 9 – 882 words

I hit my first wall today. I’d noticed a small (giant) flaw with the magic system and had spent the weekend mulling it over and trying to fix it, knowing it was crucial to the finale of the first act. As I got closer to the ending I got slower. I was not happy with the day 9 word count.



DAY 10 – 1703 words

Another fairly good day with the 1667 target beaten again. I was building up to the fight scene and spent much of the session setting the pieces into position. I’d also solved the magic system problem I was having which led to the inclusion of something that would make the final battle even better; airships. Trust me it will all make sense though I will have a LOT of rewriting to do.

Something else that surprised me was a character that showed up early on in a subplot (that never went anywhere) now seems to have popped up in a pivotal villain role. I was surprised. Again, mucho rewrite.



DAY 11 – 2216 words

This was another one of those slogs that suddenly turned to ice. I was struggling with the battle scene and getting bogged down around 600 words. Then, for no reason, I placed an object in the scene and everything snowballed all the way to  2000+ words an hour later. The battle is loosely wrapped up but I’d say it’s about 80% set. 



DAY 12 – 1104 words

I’ve wrapped up the prequel story and have now moved onto the next act. I’m at the part that was the seed of the idea all those months ago; a man with no memory waking up on a beach and slowly discovering that his homeland is no more.

With a blog post to write (this very one you’re currently reading!) and time getting on, I’ve decided to stop at 1104. It’s in a good place and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in tomorrow if I get the chance. My priority tomorrow will be my son’s second birthday. God, how time flies.



SO IT SHALL BE WRITTEN

The plan from the get go was to write this in short(ish) chapters which I would then post up on the blog episodically starting next year. The idea originally was to have the audience learn about the main character as his memory returned.

However, there was a large back story that I wanted to write too. Something big and bad happens for our character for him to end up like Jason Bourne on the other side of the world. His home land is destroyed and I had an idea how. I thought that the history itself made a good story and wondered if, at some point further down the line, it would be a good idea to write and release it.

The only issue I had with that is the Star Wars prequels. You see, despite George Lucas saying he had the whole sage planned out, a lot of things didn’t add up when you compared the Prequel trilogy to the original. Kenobi doesn’t remember owning droids which is surprising how much time he spent with them in episodes 1, 2 and 3. I know he was old but, come on.

(Calm)

Anyway, this isn’t the place to bash the prequel trilogy. The point I was making is that writing the back story later on can give a writer a whole bunch of headaches as there are so many things that have to add up. If character A says he remembers character B from years ago and then you write a story set ‘years ago’, well, you’d better include that scene where A and B met. The reader is expecting it.

As the prequel I’d planned wasn’t a full scale novel I thought I could spare the first third of my NaNo writing it. That way, when I got into the main story I would be looking back at written history in the same way you’d look at notes. I figured it would be easier to just continue the story from the prequel instead of going back and filling in the blanks.



IT’S ALL ABOUT THE WORDS

I’m still on target (1109 words in credit) and am looking forward to delving into a new contenant and new characters.

Another shout out to Adam Nelson (32651), Caitlin McColl (20082), David Graffham (20293) and Rasha Tayaket (12066). I’m running this marathon with these guys beside me and seeing their word counts help to keep me going.

See you in seven.



Wednesday, 5 November 2014

(vol 1) CHAPTER 39: “NaNoWriMo – Day 5.”

EVERY STORY HAS A BEGINNING . . .

And so it begins.

Since November 1st I have been busy writing my latest project for NaNoWriMo and am happy to say that I’m currently ahead of schedule.



DAY 1 – 2024 words

A great start to this year’s project. As always I like to do my best to keep to the 1667 target per day and I managed that on Saturday before I even got to lunch time. Unfortunately I had another project with a deadline that I need to finish so the rest of the day went on that.

Half way through Chapter One I did start to struggle but then my brain suggested I put a gang of highwaymen into the scene to through up a little conflict and it worked like a charm.



DAY 2 – 1781 words

Another good day despite having to go present shopping in the morning and then to my nephews birthday party in the evening. Still, thanks to the wife for giving me some time to myself to crack on. And as with the previous day I had another writing project, this time my entry for Flash Frenzy, to get done.  Still, the fact that I managed to beat my NaNo target and get other things written gave me a nice little confidence boost.



DAY 3 – 2723 words

I’ve started to fall into a pattern of a chapter a day and Chapter three just got away from me. I couldn’t stop and ended up exceeding my word target by 1100. Can’t say no to extra words.

Chapter 3 was a bit more challenging than the weekends work as I’m now thread a conspiracy into the plot and this had me wracking my brains for a little while. Still, with a little brainstorming, I think I’ve come up with a threat that is much improved over the original, paper thin idea I had.



DAY 4 – 233 words

Every NaNoWriMo has its bad days and this was my first. With my Netbook broken I have no way of typing up anything on my work lunches so it all has to be done at home in the evenings. This is fine on any other day but last night was Quiz Night. Still 233 words are better than nothing and I got a nice little opening to Chapter 4.



DAY 5 – 3242 words

With holiday to use up at work, I thought I might be nice to use two days at each end of NaNoWriMo. So today is the first of those. After waving the wife off to work and dropping my son of at the child minders, I came home, booted up the laptop and got to work. I took a break after the first 1000 and organised my Stephen King collection into chronological order (been meaning to do that for months). After a quick snack I jumped back onto Scrivener and managed another 1000 before getting a call from the child minder to let me know my son had a rash and could I pick him.

After a quick trip to the doctors he’s fine. Just have to keep an eye on him. I managed to get a little more done after dinner but my plan for 5000 words today has drifted away on the wind. Still, I’ve got the 14th and 27th off so there’s still time to accomplish a write-a-thon this month.




PREVIOUSLY ON FALLEN SWORDS . . .

The story itself is coming along nicely. A few of the lightly planned details have now been reworked and defined helping me to go forward. One in particular is the historical event that is the catalyst to the main issue for the world. All I had planned for this event before I started writing was that it was a cataclysmic disaster in the vein of Pompeii or Krakatoa. After finishing Chapter Two I now have a reason for this disaster and a sub plot that leads to its cause.

I’m also enjoying those moments when little C-list characters turn up that you hadn’t planned for in the chapter notes. One such character was the leader of the Bandits who turn up in Chapter One. It’s rare for me to have such a fully formed character pop into my head but he did. I saw his costume, heard his speech and he just ‘fell’ onto the page. I’m tempted to bring him back later because I think he deserves more screen time.



UPDATES

And that’s about it. So far so good. I’m going at a nice, steady pace, despite today’s little hiccup. Fingers crossed I can carry this momentum forward and get another 10,000 under my belt before next week’s post.

Good luck to all those currently taking park, whether your word count is 1000 or 10,000. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and as I mentioned last week, my 2007 entry seemed doomed to fail until I hit three 7000+ days in a row in the last week.

Big shout out to Adam Nelson (15433), Caitlin McColl (5668), David Graffham (6371) and Rasha Tayaket (5689). These four are my current buddies on NaNoWriMo and all four are doing really well in these first few days. Keep up the good writing guys.

See you in seven.