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.

Unpitching the Tent

In all the excitement that was yesterday–you know, with work and eating and trying to write–I completely forgot it that it was the start of Camp NaNo for a lot of people.  If you don’t know Camp NaNo, it’s a far more relaxed version of November’s NaNoWriMo, where you can come, relax, set your own goals, and really have a much easier time of writing than one may find during the insanity of writing fifty thousand words in thirty days.  And it’s also held twice a year, which means you can stretch out that story you always wanted to write over a couple of months.

"And when you're finished, it's up to you if you wanna toss that manuscript on this lovely, warming fire . . ."

“And when you’re finished, it’s up to you if you wanna toss that manuscript on this lovely, warming fire . . .”

My first–and so far only Camp–was a year ago, during the July 2013 event.  I ended up in a cabin with two friend I know from Facebook, and a couple of other people who kinda talked about writing but never really did much, and we . . . well, we set out upon our writing adventure.  (I should explain that in order to give one the feeling that they’re out on a camping retreat, you’re placed in a virtual cabin with other people, and the idea is you sit around in your pajamas and eat snacks and drink hot chocolate, and tell everyone about the great story you’re going to write.  Then you go to sleep and do it again the next day.)

If I give this too much thought, I can pin down where I am today with The Foundation Chronicles to this point a year ago, for it was with Camp NaNo that I started on my quest to Salem.  No, I didn’t start on my current novel:  I actually wrote the prequel to it, The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring, which ended up becoming the point where I brought to the stage some of the characters that inhabit my current novel–and even more importantly, I brought everyone in the school, the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning, and made it a real place.

Don't let the witches fool you, it's really a nice place to send your kid.

Don’t let the witches fool you, it’s really a nice place to send your kid.

That prequel, which was suppose to be a twenty-five thousand word novella, turned into fifty-three thousand word novel by the time the month was over, and that eventually led to where I am now:  continuing to work on a massive novel that just just last night saw me trip over forty-five thousand words for Act Two.  And it’s become something of a real love/hate relationship, because there I time I so want this story over.  I know how it ends, but . . . getting there is taking so much time.

"Just as soon as we get back from my ten mile canoe trip, I'll get my five hundred words in for the day."

“As soon as we get back from my ten mile canoe trip, I’ll get my five hundred words in for the day.”

I’ve run into this with some of my novels in the past.  You start out zooming, full of energy.  Then you slow down a little.  Then you find out that it’s getting hard to start those chapters.  Then you start to feel like there’s no end in sight, and then, when everything is darkest, you realize you’re almost finished, and you don’t really want it to end.

Well, actually, you do.  You can’t wait to slap on “The End” and move on to the next adventure.

Thinking about it last night, this is the first time I’ve stayed involved in a project that’s lasted a year.  It’s really more than a year, though, because I spent most of last June prepping The Scouring, and the work I did there led to the current novel as well.  And I probably spent a good year working on the idea, working out the characters and the location and the story.

And I’m dealing with the understanding that I could find myself dealing with the end of this novel a year from now.

"So you started this during a camping event, and you decides to celebrate finishing the novel by . . . camping?" "Yeah, I'm strange that way."

“So you started this during a camping event, and you decides to celebrate finishing the novel by . . . camping?”
“Yeah, I’m strange that way.”

I will end Act Two and then find the time to start getting another story published before climbing into Act Three.  I also have to consider the possibility of publishing Act One as a stand alone to get interest started in Act Two, which may or may not be a good idea, but it’s a start to something.

Have fun at the camp, guys.  I won’t be joining you because there’s all the stuff I have going on around me–you know, things–and I’ve got a lot of other reasons to keep my tent in my closet this year–

A little over one hundred and ninety-five thousand of them when you think about it . . .

A little over one hundred and ninety-five thousand of them when you think about it . . .

Have fun fighting off the bugs!

From Demons to the Scoured

The first novel I wrote using Scrivener was Her Demonic Majesty, my 2011 NaNo Novel.  It was really the first thing I ever started from scratch in Scrivener, and it was a great experiment for me, because I was learning the software as well as learning how to lay out a story.

The thing I loved most about Scrivener then was the Corkboard, which was a virtual way of taking note cards that represent the chapters and pinning them up in a sensible order.  This was an easy way to outline a story, to set up metadata to keep track of when things were suppose to happen.  I spent two weeks getting the novel outlined, getting pictures set up for characters, developed small bios on characters, even laid out pictures within the binder of places where chapters took place.

You were a great learning experience, love.  I'll never forget you.

You were a great learning experience, love. I’ll never forget you.

A year and a few hundred thousand words later, I was ready for my 2012 NaNo Novel, Kolor Ijo.  It wasn’t as large as Her Demonic Majesty–it was about seventy-two thousand words, compared to eighty-six thousand for Demonic Majesty–but in a lot of ways it was a far bigger story.  It was one of my Indonesia horror stories, which meant it took place in another country.  There was research on weapons and people and creatures, and I needed to get a good idea about the look of the city of Makassar.  It also covered a much larger time frame:  almost a month of time, where as her Demonic Majesty took place over a three-day period.  The one thing I learned how to use this time around were embedded websites that accessible from inside Scrivener.  I hooked up Google Maps to a text file, and when I needed to look streets in the city of Makassar, I’d do a split screen and start looking about in the other side of the world.

My meta information was getting a bit more detailed:  I was keeping track of time frames within each chapter.  There was more happening, more action and interaction.  In short, there was a lot more story even if it wasn’t as long as my last NaNo Novel.

This is what happens when you start dealing with demons on the other side of the world.

This is what happens when you deal with demons on the other side of the world.

By the end of May, 2013, I’d already decided I was going to write The Foundation Chronicles:  A for Advanced, but there were thinking I knew I’d need to work out before I started working on the story.  It was going to end up a big story, with a large cast of characters.  I was also going to move away from the idea of doing a single card and writing information under it as a chapter; I was going to break up my chapters into different scenes, something I’d done with my novel Transporting.

But Transporting was a retro-fitted novel:  I’d begun writing that in Word about twenty years before, and never tried writing something like that from scratch.  I needed some practice to get my new NaNo Novel in shape without having to learn while writing.  I was going to write something before hand, do it as part of The Foundation Series, and play with characters I already knew.  I could write about a part of school history that was never thought out in detail.

This is where I stepped away from the Corkboard and moved into Outline mode in Scrivener.  One of the advantages of Outline mode is being able to see your story laid out, top to bottom, and that allows for a lot more precision when trying to plot out things.  When I did The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring, I wasn’t using time line software:  it had the time line within my outline, laid out on each chapter/scene card.  I was also able to laid out a lot more information on each section and chapter/scene, and see it all at once should I require.

This is what testing looks like when you're writing.

Some call this testing–some call it a bit of insanity.

There is a lot of information there:  dates, times, people, even weather conditions.  When it was all over my Camp story, The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring–which was meant to be about twenty thousand words total–ended up a fifty-three thousand, one hundred word lead-in novel.  I love what I wrote, though I had one person tell me I need to cut the first two sections of the story because it didn’t “move fast enough” for her, and she wasn’t interested in hearing that if I cut all the information, the rest of the story wouldn’t make any sense, and another person told me the battle was “too long” and “they’d never read any batter sequence of twenty-five thousand words”.  But those are stories for another time . . .

This is what helped me reach the point where I could write my current work in progress.  And by the time I was ready for NaNoWriMo 2013, I had other software I could use as well to get work my story into shape–

Milestones on the Scenic Route

A few minutes ago I crawled out of bed.  Actually it was closer to fifteen minutes ago, but let not get too exact.  What was on my mind when I hit the ground and powered up my computer?

The word count of my novel.

Last night I finished up my writing moments with a total word count of 75,197 words.  Since I’d started and restarted Scrivener a couple of times during the day, I wasn’t sure just how much I wrote yesterday–I’m guessing it was about thirteen hundred words, just as I’d done the day before.

I finished November 30th with a count of just over sixty-five thousand, two hundred words.  Fifteen days later I’m just over seventy-five thousand.  A thousand words a day and/or night.  Not bad.  At that rate I’ll be somewhere around ninety-two thousand by the end of December, and I should have this first episode of the story finish before the end of January.

And at this rate I’ll finish the novel as a whole by . . . what?  If this book gets as big as I think it’ll get, I could finish this up just in time to start Camp Nano in July.  I’m realistically looking at another six months of writing to cap it off.  We’re not even talking about editing it:  I’m talking about doing the first draft.

Really, my head about exploded when I considered this.

I think it’s because unlike the other novels I’ve written, this one is happening while I’m in the middle of a lot of other things.  Her Demonic Majesty was eighty-six done in twenty-five days because I could spend all day cranking out three or four thousand words a day.  The same with Kolor Ijo:  I wasn’t working, so seventy-two thousand wasn’t a big deal.  Suggested Amusements is really the only novel I’ve written while working that popped up over seventy-thousand words, and that took me almost three months to write.  Everything else after that was in the high-fifty thousand range, or was a novella.

This story I’m into now is getting back in the range I had for Transporting:  maybe two hundred and fifty thousand words, maybe a little more.  It’s gonna be a monster that’s going to eat up at least half a year.

And I still need to put out other things, because the slush pile is building, and nothing’s getting done on that end.  I’m in the middle of an edit with one novel, and I could do another novella just to get it out of the way, but editing is time, and time is writing.

Christ, talk about a quandary.

What it looks like is this:  I need to step up the game a bit, start dividing my time up and stop with distractions.  Yes, I should still go out on weekends and do things that show I’m really human, because staying in the apartment day and night isn’t good for you.  But I may need to push for twelve hundred words a night, because in five days time that’s six thousand words, and that’s an extra six thousand words a month than you’d have written if you’d written five thousand every five days.  And in three months time, would you have rather written ninety thousand words, or one hundred and eight thousand?

At least I avoided my Robinson Crusoe moment last night.

Wouldn’t that have looked stupid.

 

The Plotting Game

After zoning like a zombie doing the Carl thing yesterday (Where’s Carl?  Not in the house), I sort of hung out at the hotel last night listening to music–yes, I could stream–and thinking.  I’m always thinking, but last night I was thinking about . . .

NaNo.

Yeah, that’s starting.  I know I shouldn’t to that this early, as it’s only 10 September, but it’s on, okay?  Quietly, stealthily, like Kitty Pryde in full-on ninja mode with her dragon friend at her side, I started laying out things last night.  And by “things” what do you mean, oh Cassidy?  I mean I stared laying out the school year the way I know how to lay out the school year:  by plotting a time line.

I’d actually taken some notes a while back on this particular subject, and I knew where the year started, and when it ended.  I knew when the major school holidays and festivals occurred.  I knew when major school events happened.  So it was easy to take a time line I’d already put together for Camp NaNo and throw more things onto that.

I also needed to do a little digging to find out when a certain event happened in Cardiff, Wales, in 2011.  Why would I need that?  Because if you’re coming for a boy who is suppose to go to school there, do you want the mother to say, “But we’ll have to pull him out”, or do you want her to say, “He’s already registered”, and have her say this early Friday afternoon?  The later, of course–at least that’s when I wanted it to happen.  Fortunately there is this magic on the Internet called “Google”, and I discovered when Autumn Terms started in Cardiff in 2011.  Friday afternoon it was.

The rest of the time was going over notes, looking at the dates I selected, and putting them on the line.  It may not sound like a lot of time spent, but it certainly seemed that way.  I worked on the line until about ten PM, then slowly u-gathered my wits and headed off to sleep.  I slept well, but had confusing dreams about people at college who were all being annoying and spinning out over the littlest things.  Not my sort of thing.

I usually don’t start getting my novel ready until October, but last night I was too tired to edit, but not tired enough to roll over and collapse.  The time line has been bugging me for a while–like all summer while–and it’s something that I’ve been giving much thought, but doing little action.  I was coherent enough to think about dates, so why not work on the line?  It also gave me just enough to keep me from sitting around playing game and being on the nod all night, which I wanted to avoid, because that’s never fun.

Now I’m pulling things together, but I’m not under any pressure to hurry along.  I know the steps in the story, and I can see that a lot of things are getting front-loaded.  That’s probably Part One of the novel right there:  meeting the players and getting them to the U.S..  Part Two is likely going up to the end of the calendar year, 2011, and then . . .

Hey, I’m giving too much away–

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.