Organizing My Thoughts

I write. Sometimes I write a lot. When my inspiration is running high, like during a NaNo challenge, I run 2000 draft words a day. That is a respectable pace, so I’m happy with that.  I used to do more before health issues interfered, but that 2k a day is as much as I can physically manage on a steady basis.

Some things, like most fanfic, I only do light editing or fill in missing facts, like the name of a specific space station in the setting.  Some fanfic requires more work to check on continuity in the 100k project. Fun stuff and parodies like a Gilligan’s Island piece go up faster.  But original work, especially heavy world-building make for a whole other kettle of fish. I feel fairly confident in my core ideas, my lead characters, and my overall plot. It’s the rest that I’m kind of wobbly on. I know theme and secondary characters are weaker.

So it’s revision for original works are my problem area, especially as I can’t afford an editor. So I want to have something top notch before I send them out.  A second opinion and noting brain-farts is more important than spelling and grammar at this point. Finding that honest opinion without giving away the cow is an issue. I have two original novel drafts, and I’m reluctant to start another novel until I figure out a better way to revise and finish those novels. I still want a thumbs up or down before I decide whether to seek a real publisher.

globe clear light bulb

old style light bulb, from pxhere

I’m still looking after ten years for a method better for editing than flailing about and running through a piece until the thought of one more pass makes me want more to shoot myself than look at it one more time. I’ve read articles and done classes, and I’m actually happy with a major revision I did last month. That is the exception, and the longer the work, the lower the confidence.

Sadly, several instructors I’ve found who seem compatable, are still in the 20th century, where piles of dead tree pages and huddling over a dining room table chaos is part of the writing package. People today, are more mobile, moving from place to place, and in between meals don’t have that luxury of spreading out and static resources.  Why can’t I apply digital analysis and tools to my work? This is organization and analysis if my work, not the raw rush of creation.  (Yes, I looked at Scrivener and yWriter but the latter just got in the way)  I want a tool that I can drop my finished draft in and let me organize and note things easily. Maybe  notice oopsies like the best friend only has 20 lines but a minor villain was featured for twenty pages.

I think something that lets me tag sentences, paragraphs and scenes with characters/roles/themes with checkboxes, and like a good modular code inherits from the higher level.  I may have to design my own database. It’s been a long time since my last and I am not looking forward to the timesuck. But I really want a better way to revise and work without scattered piles of dead tree pages.


Nano Scorecard

swirlsof neon light

NaNo whirlwind 2017, original neon whirlwind by Creativity103 without change, used under Creative Common 2.0

Well, NaNoWriMo 2017 is over, and I’ve caught up on a little sleep. Between Thanksgiving and an HMO issue, this year was unusually challenging. Oh, I put out 51k of writing, but focus was an issue. The words flew out at times, but too many of those were were ideas that belonged in side stories or a much darker and bleak story.

Health issues during Nano cannot be ignored and don’t care that I am on a deadline.

I wrote a very nice scene for my lead and a character they never met because they died five years ago. Writing was easy that day. I heard a song on the radio and wanted oh so badly to write a songfic, but that would break plausibility so badly, I might as well have written a chapter from Hogwarts. But once the muse grabbed me, the I could not go back to my sketchy outline or notes. So my 51k was fractured, and today I attempted to see how much of my intended story got written and where it ended up.

Identifiable chunks of the 51k:

  • Original story intended +20k. On the good side I got through a section I’d been having problems with for months and have snippets that will be easily expnded later.
  • side story +5k. This feeds my fondness for redemption arcs and gradual/non-miracle change.
  • coming of age story +4k
  • Just plain breaks something A +5k  Might be salvageable for main story but is perhaps six months later in story-line.
  • Just plain breaks something B +2k  Cannot use, as there’s no vampires or staffs of resurrection. I did write a nice insight of a major character so that bit will be recycled.
  • Just plain breaks something C 11k. An AU of the original story. This one has some plot conflict that only needs minor revisions to serve as part of the original story’s climax. It also made a nice character dev event that got similar request from an early reader. That bit will be nearly perfect for the original as well.

For the last three I need to link these snippets into the original’s notes so I don’t forget them. Let’s see, that’s about 47k of my Nano efforts. The rest is notes, ideas, babbling that could not be salvageed into actual prose.

Next year I am not letting other stories jump on my muse.

NaNo ghost

I’m busy pruning back my activity to give me enough time for typing. I’m hoping to finish the story I wrote 50k of last November. I’d written further but kept stalling when I hit combat or other problematic scenes.

Restarting where I’d stopped wasn’t helping on the first, but I decided to start skipping forward. I can write summaries for the parts I’m stuck on and still write thousands of words to continue the story…

Maybe I can get a ghost writer for combat?

Whew, that’s a Big Task!

Now that I’ve had a couple of days to relax after that big sprint that is NaNo, I can look at revisions. The last original NaNo novel, a moderately epic fantasy about empowerment and freedom bogged down, because I could see problems overall, but had no idea what to do and how to start.

Shuffle them words!

Shuffle them words!

This year I decided to work on shorter fiction. Novels end up being like you putting all your eggs in one basket  and feedback (and hopefully) compensation lag way behind. So I worked hard, and finished five collections of mostly flash stories. I might be able to finish another set before the end of the year. I’d hoped for seven, so I could release an omnibus with fifty with the new year. Usually during most NaNo runs, I can write my 2k words plus a few short stories and such as a break.  This year, just NaNo was finished by the skin of my teeth.

I doubt I can sustain the 1500/day that I could do before the arrival of two new roomies. That doesn’t even include non-fiction writing, like blogs and tool/app experiments, and those can’t be cut much. It’s beginning to appear I cannot do any mix of short and long fiction.  Long is so much more labor intensive, and there I need second opinions. But I did make minuscule Kindle sales with the shorts. Which should I put my efforts towards for December? I can’t stop writing for the holidays, or it takes months to regain momentuum. Revising the NaNo w could take all my time for months, but so can the shorts collections treadmill.

Frenzy and log jams and word count, oh, my!

NaNo’s been rough this year. Real life interruptions have been far worse, and word caount much lower than other years.  I have to work even more hours to make up that 1k I’ve been consistently lagging over all. Yesterday I forgot to stop and post my count. Today will look very impressive as it’s more than average.

Worse is that a pause to find the right word or phrase keeps threatening to become a full clock because I’m tired. This one’s gogint o be right up to the buzzer.

…And There’s that Bleh Point

Like many other people on the NaNo treadmill, I find there’s a pattern to my ups and downs during NaNo. I can’t say X will happen on the seventh day or I have to have a block every Sunday when I have a little more open time.  My cycles vary much more on the particular project and the things in real life that get in the way. (Thank you, half grown dane!)

  1. Stage 1: Hesitancy – Is this the right idea? Did I do too little or too much prep, outlining, names, character summaries?  This lasts only a day or so into November, but takes a LOT of October.
  2. Stage 2: Galloping – once I get started, it’s a full push forward. Not that I can do the ten hour sprints I did in ’07, but any slowdowns or stuck moments to fix a plot issue don’t even last over night. This usually lasts for at least a week and usually about a third of the month. As things are generally going well, it’s not too stressful.
  3. Stage 3: Bleh – This is when the writing has gotten harder, and I have outpaced my more detailed sections outline. I know where the story is supposed to end, but some smaller things added in stage 2 have made the transition to the end hard. This is when I get discouraged and depressed. I’ve discovered that this stage is shorter and easier if I’m doing fanfic,
  4. Stage 4: Home Stretch – The last few days of the month or when I pass 50k I’m either winding down because I finished my plot, or I’m pumping out summares and scenes to get me to the end.

I rotate between stage 2 and stage 3 for most of NaNo usually. Now this year I finally hit stage 3 on the 16th. Grabbing enough time to write has been an big issue, and the 2k a day has been worse this year. My project has promise, but I’m already tired.

Good luck to all the other NaNos too!

Time Crunch!

It’s the eve of the beginning of NaNo 2015, and I still have some prep work to scramble for. I want to finish this one last flash story for my October collection. I’m going to be harried for a few days as I have some pressing RL issues, finishing that collection, and starting that 50k words.  Usually, I stop my fanfic writing around the middle of October to do my rough outline and make up some names.

I really really want to so another flash collection every month, to make a backlist, and that may even be a higher priority than NaNo. My original novel length piece, done twice for previous NaNos just sort of crashed because I can only see the edges of something that’s missing.. Alas revision classes and a paid editor are way, way out of the budget, and finding a genre content editor has been an ongoing challenge. That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that trying a different story will work any better. Right now, I’m just more comfortable with shorter fiction, despite my aspirations.

I’m not sure which I should make priority when push comes to crunch. Some years my muse gets on fire and I write my 55k for NaNo and short stories too, but not every year. The medium range goal of publishing my flash collections vs. the longer range publish a novel length SF/F story. Which is more important for me if time gets tight?