Dawning Through the Night

Believe it or not, last night was the first time in over a month for me to actually get out of the house and go hang somewhere other than home.  Yes, I stay at home and hang in front of the computer all the time–well, not literally hang, because I’m not a bat, or even Hank McCoy.  But I’m always here, working on something, playing a game when I’m bored, or looking for Ugg boots and getting pissed because, one, they are so expensive, and two, they make nothing in my size.

It was dark and windy.  The south winds were blowing all day, keeping it warm enough to let people walk about in long sleeve shirts and leave the windows open in homes and cars.  The moon is almost at the new phase, so it was plenty dark driving along the back roads.

But I didn’t think of scenes, or of characters, or what I should do next.  There wasn’t any need.

I’ve busted past both my goals for my NaNo novel, Kolor Ijo.  Thursday saw me brush past twenty-five thousand words, so I am half-way to the goal of “winning”.  Yesterday, before blowing out of the house to go visit someone, I just squeezed over the thirty thousand mark, which gets me half-way to what I think will be the word count for the finished story.

Except I’m not certain if sixty thousand is the end.  I know I might need another thousand words to finish this current chapter, which is the thirteenth chapter of the novel.  I’ve laid out twenty-six chapters, so now I’m edging up the count, and may be looking at a total of about sixty-two and change.

And the next chapter is going to be a bit wordy as well.

I’m not complaining.  If I get over sixty-five thousand words, or even get up to seventy, then the better chance the novel has of seeing publication, since most houses won’t consider anything below sixty thousand to be worth their while.  So onward today.  I need to finish up an in-story interview, then . . . fight!  Yeah, it’s that time in the story to have a throwdown with the supernatural.  How does it turn out?  Well, I do have Part Three to write, so it’s not that bad–

Or is it?

Why didn’t I think about things as I drove through the night, as I have done so many times in the past?  It’s likely because I don’t need that at the moment.  I know where this story is going, and I know where many of my other stories are headed, so I don’t need to go all head cannon there.

It’s as I told a friend last night:  at this point I know I can write, and I can polish, and I can produce a good story.  What I need is to sell . . .

Notice, that’s not the same as “exposure”.  I have exposure for the most part.  What I need is for that exposure to turn into dollars.  I need to get publishing in to the forefront, and as The Good Doctor said, keep sending out those manuscripts, and not let them get cozy on my hard drive.  Exposure is no longer needed; it’s time to kick out the jams and get that name known to the right people.

I will “win” NaNo, but the novel won’t be finished in November.  I may complete the first draft, but it’s not finished.  There are other stories to write after that, and thing to edit.

I didn’t need to speak in the voice of my characters last night–

Because I know I need to speak for myself so I can start the next phase of my life.

Getting to the Future Without the Past

One day, sixteen hours until NaNo gets going, and people are starting to feel the pressure.  Or, I believe they are, because the comments are beginning to come fast and furious, asking things like, “What are you going to do?” or, “Do you have names for your characters?”  It’s all fun and games until you actually have to start writing, is that it?

Some people are jumping about with ideas that are coming from nowhere.  A few of these ideas are dealing with something often called “Future History”, and involve a lot of “what ifs?” that can’t be answered easily.  In particular, some of the ideas deal with things happening three thousand or more years down the line, which means you’re going to have to do some major research, and head scratching, if you want to come up with an idea that doesn’t suck sour air.

But that doesn’t stop some people.  That doesn’t stop them from taking what we have “now”, and saying something like, “Hey, what if everyone started dropping bombs on everyone?”  (Place pinkie in corner of mouth.)  “But–three thousand years from now!”  Oh, yeah:  that’s going to work.  Just take what we have now and dress everyone like an extra from “Logan’s Run”.  I mean, that’s how it’s done, right?

Wrong.

To put it bluntly, creating future history is a bitch.  I’ve done a bit with another set of stories, and I’m dreaming up one now. And while I can say that I’ve done a bit of homework so that my worlds seem realistic, I can’t say with any certainty that they’d hold up as anything but fantasy.  But I’ve at least given my world some thought, and I’ve tried to make it fit into the realm of possible.

Far too many people, however, begin pulling ideas out of their asses, and putting a different outfit on a well-worn idea won’t make it look any different.  If it’s a bad or ill-conceived idea at the start, it’s going to be a bad one in the end, and no amount of editing short of a rewrite is going to fix your story.

There is nothing wrong with this–if this is what you want to write.  Hey, some people enjoy writing things that don’t make sense.  And this is not to say that I’m completely correct.  One can take historical stories like The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, and use that for inspiration for your future world.  The Project Rho site has a very good write-up on the development of future history, and this is something one should read again and again if you’re going to try setting your space opera off in the future.

But if you have no intention of learning anything, and feel you can keep America pretty much as if after several millennia have passed, you’ll probably have your women flying about in bra brassiere space suits, too.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, other than you’ll end up looking like a complete idiot–and people like me will come along and tell you what a doof you appear.

To put it bluntly, science fiction fans are hell.  After Larry Niven’s novel Ringworld was published, engineering students from MIT wrote papers about how his fictional creation was unstable.  Not impossible, mind you:  from an engineering standpoint, the Ringworld was nothing more than a self-supporting suspension bridge, a modified version of a Dyson Ring, which had been discussed in some circles before.  But there was instability inherent in the structure  and it was this instability that led Niven to use this as a major plot point in the sequel, The Ringworld Engineers.  Had this point not been addressed eventually, Niven–who has had a great deal of experience creating future history–would have come off looking like some hack from the 1930’s.

Creating any kind of future or alternate history involves some work.  Maybe you can get away with some basic ideas in a first story, and then expand upon those ideas in later stories.  But even then, you better have your chops down pretty pat, and be ready to defend your position, or you’ll get walked upon with heavy boots.  And not being able to defend your position does not mean running away, then asking other people the same questions, certain that they know as little as you about creating a new world, so they’ll tell you things like, “Oh, America wouldn’t attack first–it’s their policy never to start a first strike”–and you never feel a sense of shame believing this comment, because you believe that in three thousand years not one freakin’ think about the county’s first-strike policies will evar change . . .

Good luck with that story.  I’m certain your hard drive will keep it warm for years to come.

Game of Mind Frell

Dreams are getting really strange, let me tell you.  Maybe it was my mind getting back at me for slamming zombies yesterday; I don’t know.

Lets put it this way:  I found my dream mind taking me to hang out with character from Game of Thrones, only Westeros looked a little like a cross between a far west Chicago suburban development, and a run-down version of downtown Indianapolis.  Everyone was tooling about Maseratis, save for Tyrion Lannister, aka the (P)Imp, who was driving around in a Bugatti Veyron.

As for me, I spend most of my time hangin’ out with The Mother of Dragons, though I never saw the dragons, and some guy by the name of Mars Serpentcraft, who I know isn’t a character in any of the stories, but who looked a lot like Sean Bean.  In the dream I looked a little like Daenerys, only with red hair and no dragons to keep me company–though I do think I was wearing the yoga pants.

What happened, you ask?  Um . . . I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the phases of the moon, the Daughter of Death was giving me tips on skin care and how to kill people, and it seemed like, from time to time, I had to fight off killer bugs that eventually turned into cooked Cornish hens.

Oh, and I had a Lamborghini Murciélago to drive, so at least there was something good happening.  Though my feet seemed to keep slipping off the brake; must have been the heels.

I have no idea where there was coming from, honestly.  I had a long, trying day yesterday, and I believe that my mind may have been revolting against something that could have been, I don’t know, perhaps logic?  It was something strange to go through, and the fact that it was no only vivid, but went on for a very long time, and involved things that I never would suspect–like The Silver Lady and I heading into town to buy drugs, and getting into a fight over the cost, after which we hacked the dealers to death with short swords.  Maybe it was because they kept saying, in falsetto voice, “Where are my dragons?”  That was pissing us both off like no one’s business.  Let me tell you, this is the sort of stuff I couldn’t make up if I wanted.

This all might have come about, too, because I was actually thinking about a story.  No, not my NaNo Novel 2012, but–believe it or not–a story that would happened to the same characters some years after this current story I’m planing.  Yes, that’s right:  I’m thinking about another story for the characters I’m putting into a story now, but this would be something that will happen to them at some point in the future.

Why am I thinking this?  Why am I planing stories that I might not write for years?  Hey, that’s what I do.  I think ahead; I plan; I get ready.  Plot bunnies, my ass:  I keep ideas at ready, so that when I’m ready, I get them down.

I have maybe twenty-five years of writing ahead of me, so why not have stuff to write?

I mean, it’s either that, or going shopping while covered in blood in my dreams.

Sort of Quiet On the Writing Front

Crazy weekends leading to crazy things.  I caught up on sleep, I did a lot of research . . . I wrote my butt off.  Well, not really.  The butt is still there.  But the fingers got a work out.

It’s always the same:  planing, plotting, set up, and even writing a story or two here and there.  Most of the weekend involved getting the NaNo Novel 2012 set up and ready to go come Zero Hero, but I also found time to write the next chapter in my four-part Halloween story I’m doing over on Storytime Trysts.  It’s easy to find my story:  it’s the one with the title no one can pronounce.

I just check the Scrivener file on this story, and right now I’ve a word count of six thousand, four hundred and thirty.  If I write another two thousand words–which isn’t out of the question–I’ll finish up around eighty-four hundred words.  This could end up becoming my shortest story ever, and still not be a “real” short story.  I’ll cut the difference and call it a short story, because who’s going to argue?

At this point I have nothing to work one, save the development for NaNo.  Which is a good thing, because I don’t want to work on another project at this point.  I did a lot of little projects last year during NaNoWriMo, and while I’ll continue blogging here during the month of November (because who doesn’t want to see someone describing what it’s like to lose one’s mind as they strive to achieve something mere mortal only dream about), I won’t do anything else.  No stories, no guest blogging, no articles.

Just me and my novel.  And the pain that will likely set up somewhere between my eyes.

I have my goals set.  I know what I’m going to write, more or less.  Now, bring on November!

Right.  I feel my body clench ever time I look at a calendar.

NaNo is not for the faint of heart.  You have to, as Chuck Wendig says so ungentlemanly says, “Get to scribbling, motherfucker.”  I’m feeling that, in order to get this novel done the right way, I’m going to need to cut myself off from most of the Internet.  Just reach out and talk to those parts of The Matrix that will bring me help and hope, and screw everything else that does little more than suck at my brain.

What I need:  Google, Wikipedia, Maps, NaNoWriMo page.  What I don’t need:  Facebook, Facebook, Facebook . . . You hear me?  I should just delete that shit off my computer.  Simply put, social media isn’t all that sociable.  It’s too much of a distraction.

Oh, sure, I might check out the NaNoWriMo group and laugh at the members who spend half the day going, “Hey, who’s sprinting?  I need to write 1,000 words–LETS SPRINT!”  Or, you could, you know, just write.  You know?  Fingers on the keyboard, words appear on the screen?  It’s like magic!

It’s also your job.

Writing, despite what some might say, is work.  It’s a lot of work.  You can take pleasure from it, or you can spend a few minutes every hour cursing the day you decided to listen to the voices inside your head.  But if you think you can write fifty thousand words in thirty days and nights of insanity by spending most of the day believing you’re the Tony Stark of the NaNo world, summoning Jennifer and Black Widow and Crimson Witch to help you get that novel out of your mind and onto the page, you’re never gonna get done.

Plant butt in chair, flip on whatever gets the creative juice flowing, and write, baby, write.

Push that front, ’cause it ain’t gonna push itself.

Living on the Time Line

Many, many things happened on 12 October, 2012—most of which I have no intention of discussing. Let us just say it is another of those life changing moments, the ones that test your fortitude, and force you to see if things are going in the correct direction.

In time I may speak of these things. Highly unlikely, however, because there is little to discuss. Time be time, mon, and once the past has zipped by, there’s nothing you can do to get it back.

And why would you want that, anyway? You can’t meddle in the basic fabric of the universe, can you? Onward, suckers.

I’ve given much thought to NaNo Novel, the 2012 Version. I’ve been doing that since Wednesday, actually, ever since I started blogging about getting the book in shape. I have but two chapters to do for my Halloween story—one which is about half written—and then nothing for November . . . save for The Crazy Train. Save for writing our butts off and hoping, against all hope, that what we produce doesn’t end up sounding like something one would scribble, in crayon, upon the walls of a padded cell. Unless, of course, that’s what you’re trying to write; then you’re doing it right.

I have location, people, creatures that go bump in the night. Now I’m getting the plot together. In thinking about what’s happening in the story, I realized that I would need to know when these events would occur. Normally, I scribble down a few notes in Scrivener, and use those as a guide to figure out what I’m going to write.

At the same time, I have this set up, the events leading to the moment when the main character step upon the stage, and the things that will lead then forward. So, yesterday, I began creating a timeline for my novel. I’m using software called Timeline, which is quick, simple, and easy. Doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but for what I need to do, it gets the job done.

This is the first time I’ve gotten into this level of detail with a story. To give you an idea, below is a screen shot of my timeline as of now:

 

 

 

It might not make sense to you at the moment, but I understand everything that’s happening. You might even notice that I have an event labeled, “Ramadan, 2013”. The story takes place in a country where Islam is the primary faith, and since I’m placing my story in the year 2013, I needed to know when Ramadan would be observed—even though it won’t play any importance in the story beyond a mention to one of the characters. A friend who is familiar with the characters said to me yesterday, “I knew you’d have to know when Ramadan happens in 2013.” Yes, that’s me: Mr. I Need To Know Things That Aren’t Even Used In Your Story.

There actually is a reason I needed to find those dates: if the story took place during the time frame of Ramadan, I’d need to have one of the characters fasting, and certain things would need to be done throughout the day. That would be a major screw up that no writer should have to live down.

Unless you’re the sort of writers who doesn’t give a shit, then it’s okay. I’m not that sort of writer.

Plan for the weekend is to finish the Halloween chapter, and continue building the timeline. Right now, I think Part One may come in about fourteen to eighteen thousand words, and if that’s the case, then a three-part story is going to come in short in terms of “winning” NaNo. Eighteen would get me over the line, but what I’m really shooting for is a sixty thousand words, because when it comes to getting your story published, most houses won’t look at anything under sixty thousand words. Just ask anyone who submitted they manuscript to Harper Voyager.

Do the math, and I need to write two thousand words a night. Not day, because I won’t have much time to write during the day, but night, because that’s then only free time I’ll have. Two thousand a night, about three hours of writing. Maybe four. Maybe I’ll write from 6 PM until 11 PM.

Doesn’t matter.

The novel gets written. Because that’s what writers do.