Done Ready

Since yesterday was a day to stay off my feet after spending a huge part of Saturday walking, it was time to work on the novel.  Yes, NaNo is only a week and a half away, and a certain amount of panic can be felt oozing through my laptop screen, but as the song goes, that’s the way of the world.  To paraphrase Dieter, “This is the part of the show where we panic,” and everyone starts flailing about like extras on The Walking Dead.  It has happened before, and it will happen again.

Since I look pretty strange flailing about, I thought I’d better do something about it, so once I got back from breakfast and shopping, I loaded up the novel.  I’d done a few chapters Saturday–more than a few, actually–but I was at a point where I needed to get in and work out some detail.  So up comes Aeon and I start time lining a situation.  That took some time because I had to look for schools, malls, and hotels in another city, and there was a bit of eyeballing Google Maps to get the local set in my head.  I should get a screen shot of the area for the project–I’ll do that tonight.

With that in mind I fixed out the time line, figuring out an important plot point in my mind for the part in question.  These will snap into place, and I should write them down in the Document Notes in Scrivener.  Just in case they start to slip my mind, like the one that popped up last night which I figured out almost two months ago when I started plotting this sucker out.  Got a place for notes?  Better us them.

Then it was back to Scrivener, and the finishing of the story.  I checked on the sky for a certain moment in the story, then looked up a flight time for another moment . . . and discovered I’d calculated wrong.  So time to look up schedules, time to check time zone differences, and to put that into the mix.  The last thing I checked were trains out of Paddington Station, London, because I’m a glutton for punishment, and with that . . .

With that I Final To Dofinished up the plotting.

Fifteen parts and forty-four chapters–don’t let that “Chapter Forty-Three” fool you, there’s a Prologue–and did I count them?  No . . . one hundred sixty-four scenes.  Figuring a word count of five hundred to seven-hundred and fifty words a scene, I could be looking at eighty-two to one hundred and twenty-three thousand words written before “The End” goes down.  Or it could be longer or shorter.  I’ll see once I start writing.

But for now I’m giving myself a break.  I’ll tweak a couple of things here and there, and set up more notes, and maybe get a screen capture or two into the project, but beyond that The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced is at the end of the plotting and development stage.  I’ve done about as much to this sucker as I can, and if it isn’t ready to go now, it never will.

The new goal for me?  31 December, 2013.  That’s when I finish this.

That’s when this novel finally becomes a reality.

Time Tunneling

I love tunnels.  I can’t explain it, but when I am driving–or, in some cases, walk–though a hole bored through a mountain, I think of the engineering experience behind what is around me, and I’m in awe, Oprah be dammed.  So if I can go through a tunnel, I’m very happy.

This should also give you an idea of how easily amuses I am, but I digress . . .

So more playing last night.  I get a new piece of software and I’m like a cat with a new toy:  I find it incredibly interesting up until the point where my indifference kicks in and I look at it like it’s just something that I used to know.  Until then I ride that horse straight into hell.

Tunnels . . . Aeon Timeline allows you to attach files to an existing even, so if you of Tunnel01are a mind, you can take said information and leave it there so if you’re looking for that extra bit of info, all you gotta do is click and ye shall be rewarded.

Where am I going with this, you ask?  Well, simple:  I want to bury a timeline inside a timeline.  See that “The Big Time”?  Besides being the title of a Hugo Award winning novel, it’s an event that has a lot of different things going on.  How many?  Well, let me click on it and . . .

There you are.  All the detail of Tunnel02that one day–with a little overlap into the next–is there for me to see.  There’s likely a bit too much detail there for most people, but then I’m like that.  I’ve already figured out what’s happening and to whom, and most of the information I’ve put here has come from my Scrivener layout, because, as I’ve pointed out, you can timeline there as well.

But putting out that information in this format allowed me to see where some things were expandable, and there’s something else . . . though I’d thought about it before, I didn’t give it much thought, but I’m doing this event in November, and people are out about the grounds looking for things–and I do mean things–and the thought hit me, “Hey, is it getting dark, or what?”

So I run over to Sky View.

Sky View Cafe is a great place.  It’s on the Internet, so nothing to download.  It is Java based, so you can run it from just about any computer.  And it’s like a time machine, because you can select places and dates all around the world and see how the sky looked at that exact moment.

So I want to so what the sky was like near Rockport, MA SkyView01(which is very close to the school; I could have used Gloucester as well) on 8 November, 2011, at 16:01, which is 4:01 PM for a lot of you.  I plug in my numbers, and I get . . .

I can see the sky, and I know that the sun is dipping below the horizon.  I even know from checking the Sky View calendar that sunset for that day and location was at 16:27, so in about a third of an hour it’s gonna be twilight.  And with this new information I can go into the Inspector, link to the picture, and–hey, there it is:  a little icon of the picture is now set up inside the event, telling me that I Tunnel03have something more that I can click and see if I like.  I can also, if I’m of a mind, take this same information over the Scrivener so I can see it as well . . .

I don’t do this sort of set up just for NaNo:  I do this for just about every story I write.  Only few of them are this big in terms of what I’m trying to cover.  It’s not so much what’s happening, as it is everything in the world that I’m looking at, and that’s a lot.  Sure, looking up when the sun set a few years back sounds like overkill, but then, for the next few scenes, it means that what occurs does so in deepening gloom, leading up to a scene that takes place in almost complete darkness–

In a tunnel.

Told you I like them.

The Moments of Remembrance

It’s been busy time the last couple of days, and starting this afternoon things will get even busier.  I’m starting the move to the new place, and there are only two more nights left in the hotel.  By this time next week I’ll be in the new place probably sleeping as crappy as I am now.  At least there I can go and sit out on the balcony and relax, maybe even fall asleep in my mesh chair.

Everything should be in place tomorrow, and I may even go over after work and test everything.  If it’s working, I’ll be happy.  If not–these things happen.  We deal, yeah?

Meanwhile, back on the timeline . . .

Last night was a time for listening to old music (Guess Who . . . no, really) and filling in some blanks.  A Level Time LineAnd I think I did a pretty good job, as you can see on the right.  Sure, there’s more things to come, but this is coming together nicely.  I believe I have things laid out to where I now see the flow of the story, the plot is in view, and I’m close to putting things into Scrivener and setting up the parts of the novel.  A week ago I wasn’t sure how this would work.  After last night, I see where it’s going.

Which brings to mind the question:  how did you figure this stuff out?  How do you figure out where your story is going?  How do you build your characters?  Where did you find your voice?  They’re all good questions, and it’s easy to explain–

I figured it out by doing.

When I first started writing I had no freakin’ idea what I was doing.  All I knew about writing I got from reading.  I saw how my favorite writers wrote, and I emulated, I copied style and voice.  It’s normal:  professional writers tell you they did the same thing when they started.  It’s only after they’ve wrote a few stories that they find their own style, their own voice.

I believe I have mine:  I’ve been told that my stories and articles are “easy reading” and seem very “personal” in tone.  If so, yay.  That’s what I wanted.  If not . . . give me a few more novels, I’ll get there.

Characters were easy.  I’ve been into role playing since 1986, and created lots of characters, playable and otherwise.  You want a memorable character for a game, you work on their back story.  I used to write these twenty page stories showing how a character got to the point where the game starts; I think the best outline/story I ever did were for two characters I ran in a Cyberpunk game.  By the time I was finished with the game, their bio ran sixty-eight pages, or about the length of my first published story.

The time lines, the mind mapping, the plotting . . . I figured that out by playing with stuff, pulling up programs and just doing things.  Start small and work up, and before you know it you’re laying out a novel.  It’s not something that just jumps out of your forehead like Athena:  you gotta work at this shit.  You gotta read what other writers are doing; find some writing blogs and look for tips.  Buy On Writing and The Midnight Disease and develop ideas.  Buy The Elements of Style and On Writing Well and develop your foundation.

Then write.  Remember all that’s come before, all that you’ve done, everything that felt write and wrong, and just do it.  You just want to wing ever story?  Fine, then write.  You want the level of detail I have?  Fine, go get everything laid out, then write.  You want something in between?  You know what I’m going to say.

Just like any other new job, you only learn by doing.  You can listen to all the advice you like, but in the end you gotta put those words down on a medium for that advice to mean anything.  If you’re writing, if you’re actually creating something, you’re a playa.  If you’re talking about writing and how you’re gonna write and how you’re almost ready to start, but not just yet ’cause you’re still trying to get ideas from people about how to do XYZ . . . you’re a poseur.  I should know:  I did the poseur thing for a long time.

Go forth and produce.  Sure, it’s all crap when you start–

But it’s your crap.

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–

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 . . .

Lady What’s Tomorrow

The tent with the fire over on the Camp NaNo page says there are two days and fifteen hours left before the mid-summer insanity begins.  Said insanity being writing, but why should July be any different for me?  I’m always doing that, though this latest stretch of three weeks without actually writing anything new is one of the longest I’ve gone in a while.

As for my own story, the first two floors of my Great Hall are complete.  It’s a thing of beauty, with it’s old class rooms and dorms and storage areas, the library and its archives, the private rooms and collection areas–and the bathrooms.  At this moment it’s a real place for me, not just something I dreamed up.  I still have a third and a fourth floor to add, but they won’t take up much space.  I may get those in place today, or maybe tomorrow.  But I will get them.

Though now, with the rendering required to produce the 3D version of my structure, my poor computer is working overtime to give me something I can’t view as well as before.  But no matter:  I’m able to get it built, and I can always shut down a lot of other things in order to see what I’m creating.

The thing that has happened as I build the structure is that I’m also building history.  There are a great many empty rooms in this building:  the majority of the first floor is sealed off, the doors locked and the rooms dusty.  Why is this?  Why have such a huge, unused building in the middle of this school?

There is a history building in my head.  It’s been there for a while; in fact, I know how the school started, and who laid the foundation.  I’ve known a little of the early history of the building, and now that I’m seeing it appear, brick by virtual brick, the history is becoming far more clear.

As with the characters, the buildings have their history.  They have a presence, and it helps to actually bring it out and write it down.  Which is what I’ll do, either today or tomorrow.  Since I already have a timeline started for my characters, why not add the school to that document as well?  Then when I need to see when a particular event occurred, and who may have had a hand in it, then I know where to go.

I’ll also write it down inside my Scrivener project, so it’ll be there as well when writing time comes.

All this work has made me happy.  No, really, it has.  It’s freeing to allow your mind to break loose and find things that have been hidden, or even repressed, for a while, and to get them out and make them real.  Even if there are things I never use in any of the stories that would revolve around this school, I know their story, and they have become a part of me forever.

It’s only a matter of time before I pass this feeling to others.

Timing out of Mind

Last night wasn’t bad.  It was a bit tiring, but not bad.  I saw the story expand, but I was just a touch short of the nightly goal, only hitting about nine hundred words before saying the hell with it and heading off tot bed.  The mind wanted to work, but I was getting hung up on something, and I couldn’t seem to get the words out that I needed.  Not so much writer’s block as it was my brain saying, “You know you’re going to screw this up if you try to write it now, right?”  Right.  So I was happy with what I’d put down, and slinked off to bed.

Today will be one of those busy days where I’m doing a bit of running around, but I’m not actually getting anything done–at least none of the stuff I want to do.  I have writing to do, but I’m going to have to fit my thousand in wherever I can find it, ’cause I don’t think I’ll have many opportunities to write today.  Which is a shame, because my mind has been nagging at me since before I work up.

I was having a lot of strange dreams, one of which seemed to do with trying to pick someone to take over an open superhuman opening, hanging with Brad Pitt, and telling someone who I worked with that their manager was a ninja doucherocket, and had been ever since I’d worked with them at my last job.  Then I woke up, and The Muse was there, bugging me.  (Should note, my Muse is not the same as the muse I’m writing about.  The muse in my story is a real goddess; I’m the only one who thinks my Muse is a goddess.)  What was she bugging me about?

Time.

No, not the sort of time we all waste like crazy, but time like one would encounter if you were time traveling.  There’s a simple explanation for this.  During the week I was sick.  Monday I was out of it, but Tuesday I was so down that I had to stay home and crash and burn.  But since last Sunday, when I started coming down with this (now, I hope) dissipated cold, my mind has worked.  What else is it going to do?  I’d love to be able to shut it off, but I can’t.

So, in that time, I came up with two stories revolving around my Transporting series, which I’ve yet to public, but will.  It seems like a strange thing to come up with more stories for that series, because I’ve already written four novels and one novella for it, and I have–wait, let me bring up the document . . . eighteen more stories to write.  Two more would bring it to a very neat, round twenty stories, and it’s not like I have a lot to write already, but, really, do I need more?

To show you how caught up I am in this stuff, I pulled up the timeline I have for the stories–because they cover a lot of time–and realized I didn’t have the reign of one character down in my time line.  So there I go, having to fix things.  Now I have the character accounted for, I have my timeline fixed–

Save for these two stories the Muse is bugging the hell out of me over.

Since I have time to kill before I get out to do other things, I know I can add those stories to my time line, and get my descriptions down, indicate when they’re going to happen . . . yeah, I keep track of all the stuff.  Because I think I can actually get all this stuff written in the next twenty years.

I probably can–

If I get to work.