The Slow Camp

The energy levels are low today.  It may have something to do with not getting a good night’s sleep; it might have something to do with taking my shot last night and then sort of semi-blissing out for a few hours after that.  Whatever it is, it’s really kicking my butt, and coffee doesn’t seem to help with this lethargy at all.  Not to mention I’ve got about a million things rolling about my brain this morning . . .

First off, let’s get a bit of interesting news out of the way.  I mentioned a while back that I wasn’t going to do Camp NaNo, that I had too many things to do to worry about going to camp and hanging out with other writers.  And then . . . I had a friend talk me into doing camp with her.  No, really.  I didn’t start writing until Day Six, but I set a goal of twenty thousand words, and by the time I struck camp I’d written twenty-two thousand, eight hundred and fifteen words.  At the rate I was going I would have cleared twenty-five thousand words with ease–which means you now know how many words I’m writing a month:  about twenty-five thousand.  And since I’m at around seventy-five thousand words for Act Two, and I began writing in earnest at the start of May, my numbers work out correctly.

"I lied about doing Camp NaNo.  Yay!  Now to get back to . . . writing."

“I lied about doing Camp NaNo. Yay! Now to get back to . . . writing.”

I finished Isis’ scene with her being informed of what was happening early in the morning, ending it with her telling one of her minions to go wake up the headmistress and have her come to the Security Center because she needed to speak with her.  The next scene started with the headmistress not being all that hip about getting called in–not because she wasn’t used to being on call at all hours, or having to wander into the Great Hall in her night clothes.  No, she was a little anxious about getting called into the Security Center, because in eleven years of administering the school, this had never happened.  She took it to mean something bad was about to happen–

She’s probably correct.

But my first scene came out to about twelve hundred words, and I’m hoping that, at least at the start of this chapter, that’s the norm.  I know some of the chapters are going to get wordy, but of late I’ve averaged about three thousand words a scene, and doing a bunch of one thousand to fifteen hundred word scenes would be nice.  It’s a psychological thing:  the more scenes you right, the faster you think you’re writing the novel.

Today will be a bit busy–I’m heading out to the movies in a while because I have a thing for raccoons with big guns–but I will get in my writing tonight.  I may even finished up the current scene and start the next, which takes us over to the Cernunnos Coven tower, where two kids are noticing something strange going on.  What sort of strange?

You’ll just have to wait and find out.

The Characterization Dilemma

Last night was an interesting one.  Not because I was writing–I was, I wrote a new scene, and finished the chapter, so another five hundred fifty words in the pot, as well as few other changes to make the story have more sense.  No, this had to do with one of my beta readers.

I saw them on line last night, and they told me about the reading so far.  And it was not . . . good.  Basically, they got through the first three chapters and they couldn’t read any further.  Not because it was bad, mind you, oh no.  But it was slow, there was too much time being taken with the characters doing, you know, talking.  It didn’t make her want to go on and read more, which she said would mean that no one was going to read it because–boring!

She’s used this argument on me with the last novel of mine that I asked her to read.  You have to get a hook right away and pull the reader in.  I’ve read that before as well.  I asked her to start with Part Three and read that, and she read the hook from the first chapter and said, “That’s what you need, so get rid of Parts One and Two and start with Three.”  Sure, no problem:  that’s only eighteen thousand words, I’ll cut it right out.

I knew what she was getting at, however, because I’ve heard other writers talk about the same thing.  I explained that the first two parts are set up for what happens in Part Three, that you see things being set into place before the trigger is pulled and there’s some massive shit going down.  I explained that if you don’t have this, then when you start seeing things happening, they won’t make much sense.  Her position was, as a reader, she didn’t care, she wanted to get into the story, and if she couldn’t get past the first ten thousand words, she wasn’t going to read the other forty-three thousand.

It’s a characterization thing.  I’ve read about it before, particularly in television writing.  Most of those writers will tell you that if something running long, the first thing that goes are character building moments, because you need the car chase, because that’s what the viewer wants.  This was the same thing I was hearing last night:  please removed this boring set up stuff and get the reader into the action.  I even told her that she was saying this, not that it really mattered.

When I first started this short novel for Camp NaNo, I even considered including it in my current story.  I jettisoned that idea because, yes, the story is fifty-three thousand word, and should I add that to what I’m now writing, I’ll have a novel close to one hundred thousand words.  It wouldn’t be the whole fifty-three, either, because I’d likely kill ten thousand or more words to get it fitted in.  Still . . . that takes what I’m working now and pretty much guaranties I’d need to rewrite what I’m working on at the moment.

Maybe what I need are . . .

More Readers!

 

Time and Too Much

Last week in the hotel, and it’s starting off bad.  Too much on my mind last night meant tossing and turning most of the evening, and this morning I feel the pressure to get so much done today.   Emails and phone calls will shoot out today, and the way I’m looking at things I may take half a day Friday just to get everything done that needs doing.

For I have items to pick up and get into place.  I’m shooting to get my furniture delivered on Thursday, and today I’ll know if I’ll have an internet blackout in the apartment come Friday.  Yes, it’s likely I’ll be working out of internet hot spots for a few days while the monopolistic provider decides to get someone over to do their thing.

Did I mention you’ll actually be able to see my place from Google Streeview?  You can, but you gotta look up.

Moving twice in a month, and this move across town is more stressful than getting out here.  The first time it was drive and rest.  This time I’ll probably be busy right up to the moment when I’m in the place Friday.  At least I found a nearby Target and J. C. Penny’s.  Ohhhh, more nail polish!

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about writing.  Yesterday I took a short ride–well, not that short, probably drove sixty miles when I was all over.  Headed south along the river and past Three Mile Island–yeah, still there, still cranking out the power–then shot over the river to York and then back up to The Burg.  I thought about things, about stories and characters, but I’ve thought about these things so much I can’t seem to get anywhere with it at the moment.  I have some editing to finish, and after that comes the move, and once I’m in place is when I can think about the story that’s coming in November.

I know what that story is, but there’s something lacking:  something in the plot.  Once you get past the magic of what’s happening, once you understand the rules, what then?  What’s going to keep people reading?  I believe I have the answer, but it involves moving things in the story time line around a bit.  This I can do because I can.  My story, and the characters will just have to like it.  What are they going to do otherwise?  Find another story in which to hang out?  Ha!

If The Con doesn’t get me wired up this week, I’ll start plotting out the time line.  I’ll order some tunes from Amazon, throw the CDs in the computer, and kick it old school–if 1995 is old to you–and work on my NaNo.  When I’m finished with that, I’ll edit another story.  When I’m bored with that, I’ll load up and head over to Strawberry Square and cop free wifi to do my updates.  And when I get home and I need relaxing, I’ll go out on the balcony and watch the sun go down.  And think of a girl I know who could sing me away.

Maybe this is the start of a great week . . .

Ride the Camp Kaiju Ashore

I’m told that today is the day that the Camp NaNo winner goodies are in the truck and heading up the dirt road, but I don’t see the damn thing yet.  I’ve checked the site twice this morning, but I must be way too early (it’s six forty-nine AM right now), because the truck isn’t here, and the goodies are lacking.

Or maybe Jason got the drivers last night while they were having sex.  You can never tell.

I’m considering what to do with said goodies, because there’s only one I wish to use, and I probably won’t be able to use that one until the software is released, maybe next month, maybe in October.  The last two NaNos those goodies have gone unused and eventually vanished into the aether, though I once gave a friend my Scrivener fifty percent off code so they could enjoy the software, which they put to good use.

Maybe this year I’ll hold my own version of The Hunger Games for the code.  Call it The Hungry Writer Games, and accept submissions for best and most creative death scenes written in five hundred words or less.  Spend two weeks getting them, then narrow the submissions down until there is only one person left standing, who then rips me off for my goodies.  May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor, penmonkeys.

Enjoyed the movie yesterday.  Plenty of jager on kaiju action, and the beatdowns were brutal.  And may I point out that a mecha head, like the bridge atop of the saucer section of a Federation starship, is the dumbest place to put your cockpit.  Sure, it looks cool riding around in the head, but when all but two of the jager pilots died, it came because the head is right there just asking to be abused.  Head shot, head shot, head shot . . . Guillermo del Toro obviously thought the BattleTech hit table was a load of crap, or he rolls boxcars with loaded dice, cause he showed little mercy to the cockpit crawlers.

Also, when they were fighting in Hong Kong I sort of got an idea where some of the action was taking place, ’cause I kept recognizing landmarks there.  It’s been a long time since I was last in the Fragrant Harbor, but I still look at the place on Google Maps, and dream.

After returning from the movies, however, my novel Couples Dance was on my Seagate drive telling me that it’s not going to edit itself.  Yeah, those lazy ass characters, they won’t do anything on their own, so I gotta pull it up and get in there and do some work.  Now I’m getting into the longer chapters, and Chapter Five is around thirty-six hundred words, so I expect to get about half way in and stop . . .

Right.  How did that work out?  About an hour and a half later I was through the whole chapter, having re-written here, deleted a few things there, and ended up adding a new Scrivener status:  “Recheck Revision”.  Because I found some tense issues, and I want to breeze through it again and make sure I’m not bouncing about in time like a faulty TARDIS.

No, I leave my time travel for my science fiction novels, not the erotic horror . . . or do I?

Pack Up the Camp

According to the work count genie on the Camp NaNoWriMo page, I have fifty-three thousand, one hundred eighty-one verified words for my Camp story, The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring.  According to this statistic, I have not only met my word count total, but I’ve “beaten” the fifty thousand total that is the goal of all these NaNo events.

I wrote throughout the day, because life kept me busy, so between prepping dinner and cooking it, eating it, and cleaning up after it was over, I’d roll up here to my computer and start typing.  A hundred words here, a couple of hundred here–and when you’re through with the typing, you’ve written another fifteen hundred words and put said story to rest.

I’ve been here before, but this time it felt as if I’d never reach this point.  The whole month of July has been a grind, and seeing how I’ve written eighty-six and seventy-one thousand word novels during the last two NaNoWriMos, this time I felt as if I could take a break and do something shorter and simpler–

Oh, yeah.  What was I thinking?

Originally I believed the story would run about twenty-five thousand words, and I went doubleplusandthensome on that estimate.  Maybe that’s why I felt worn out by this story, because it just went on and on . . . though that’s more the fault of the writer and not the story.  The story consists of the words I have in my head that I put into the computer.  The characters aren’t writing the damn thing; if they were, I could wake up every morning, look at my Scrivener project, and say, “Oh, isn’t that nice?  Jessica wrote out her second confrontation with the headmaster.  And Erywin threatened to kick his ass.  Thank you, ladies:  now I have a few more free hours to spend playing games.”

That never happened.  If it had, there probably would have been fewer deaths.  Maybe.  Hard to say, since I’ve created some bloodthirsty characters in my time.

So, that’s three new stories, almost one hundred forty-seven thousand words, written this year.  With two novels and a novella completed this year, I’m not about to dive into anything new.  The next thing on the menu is to finish editing Couples Dance and get it published, and if there is any time left over before October rolls in, then I’ll start polishing Fantasies in Harmonie so I can get it ready for publication.  But no new work, not until November–

By then I’ll know if I’m writing my novel as part of NaNoWriMo, or if I’m going to say “The hell with it,” and just write.  While the NaNo thing can be conducive to productivity, I no longer need it to get my ass started on a project.  I don’t need to produce fifty thousand words in thirty days, because I have done that, and can continue to do so when necessary.  I can track my word counts, which I normally do anyway.

I write because this is what I want to do, because this is what I want to become.

It’s easy to do, you know.  You only need sit and do it every day.

 

The Hell-Bound Pony

For this title I want to thank Meredith Woerner of io9.com, aka Unicorn Farts, for today’s title.  I’ll neither discuss unicorns or farts, but as I read her weekly reviews of True Blood–or as it is sometimes called, “Sookie’s Magical Fairy Vagina”, which would make a hell of a lot better title–there was a line she delivered in her last review (as of this post) that made me laugh.  Which is something I seem not to do much of these days.

By this time tomorrow my Camp NaNo story, the first part novel of The Foundation Chronicles, should be finished.  Sometime tonight I’ll write the last chapter, get another twelve or fifteen hundred words in the bank, type, “The End” at the bottom of the document, back the novel off to my Seagate drive, and consider it fin.

Another novel finished.  Give me that Fluttershy cheer . . . (deep breath) . . . yay.  Since the start of this year, good old 2013, that’s two novels written, one novel published, and a novella thrown in for good measure.  In terms of new material we’re talking about one hundred and forty-five thousand new words:  thrown in the blog and a few articles here and there, and we’re adding another one hundred and twenty thousand words.

That’s a quarter of a million words this year.  I’m tired.

A section of my mind is thinking, “Okay, what’s next?”  That should be getting one of my short novels in shape for publication, because I need to get something else out there, start cutting into this backlog that’s building up on my computer.  But there’s a section that’s screaming at me to take a break, to step away and do nothing for a while.

Yeah, right.  I know how that works, because it’s happened before.  In the past I’ve said, “Oh, I’ll set this story aside and come back to it in a month.”  Next thing I know, it’s five years later, and while I’ve gotten very good at driving the Nordschleife on my computer, I’ve not looked at said story once.  It lingers on, like some creature on life support, waiting for me to either rescue it from oblivion, or pull the plug.

Today I was going to blog about something that I felt bothered me, then realized–why?  Why bother?  Not write, of course, but why rant about something that I don’t care for, but no one else will give much of a shit about.  After a bit of reading and thinking, I decided that if I write about the monkey that seems to have crawled onto my back, I’m indulging in a bit of the insane, time wasting crap that has occupied my mind of late.

No, what I should do is finish my story, then think about what comes next.  Think about what in the future, and not what’s pissing me off, or what’s bothering me, or what sort of annoyances I can drop like a bad habit instead of hanging on to them and allowing those little things to bug me for no other reason than I want to be bugged.

Saddle up that one trick pony and ride that sucker straight into hell.

And enjoy the scenery along the way; I understand there are some painted roses I should see . . .

Power Line Math

I guess when you depends on energy to get your things written, you better hope your energy is coming uninterrupted.  Most days this isn’t a problem.

Yesterday it was.

I was just starting in on afternoon writing when the power went out.  It was just after two PM, and I had to do a  quick “Open up the laptop and save and bring it down” move before things died.  I work on a seven-year old laptop, and the battery is pretty much crap; after forty-five minutes I’m looking at a cooling hunk of metal.  So if I don’t have a power source, then I best save what I have and move on to something else.

Power was out for two hours:  it think it popped back on around four-twenty.  Power up the computer and start in on writing again–  Then it was time to go out to dinner.  So save off what I’d written after about twenty minutes, which wasn’t very much if you’re asking.

Go eat, return to the house about six-ten and . . . no power.  Utility people are right across the street replacing our power box.  The juice is back on in the house at six thirty-seven, not a big deal, so I get into writing again . . . and reading a few things here and there, and chatting, but nothing out of the ordinary, right?

Finally settle into writing about seven-thirty, and I’m going along, struggling with lines, and–out go the lights, a little after eight PM.  Save what I have, shut down computer, go outside and relax in the cool air.

And thinking about what I wanted to say.

I knew the discussion my two on-stage characters were going to have.  I’d even worked out what would be said for more than a few days.  But when it comes to showing the scene, to saying what they need to say, I’m holding back.  The words I want to say don’t come as easily as before.  Particularly with this story, which I’m trying so hard to have come out, in my mine, good.

Sitting in the back yard I thought about what was being said, how people felt.  I had a lot of math coming up, stuff I worked out earlier in the day concerning numbers for the student body, and spilling that out was going to come fairly easy.  Breathing deep the gathering gloom–yes, Moody Blues there, who I once saw play in the late 1980’s–I worked out the conversation in a way that made sense, and that didn’t puzzle me now.

Power was back on right around nine-thirty, and it was back up, power up, write up.  I wrote things, I made conversation, I showed body language and sensed emotions.  I’m not necessary happy with that last part, because I feel things didn’t turn out as I wanted; some of the feeling seem forced.  So I have the file up now, and I’ll give it a quick peek to see if there’s anything I can change.

I want this story finished; I want to move on to the next thing.  This weekend feels like a good time to wrap it all up.

If the power stays on, it might actually happen.