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Tag: augnowrimo

Writing Update (A.K.A. Pew-Pew-Pew-OMG-BOOM)

So, AugNoWriMo came and went. I only got halfway through my goal, but if you added in all the writing I did for work, I would have easily surpassed it. But no, usually for these writing-a-novel-in-a-month things, I only count fiction so I’m content to just say I “failed” this and only got halfway.

However, I did manage to finish a short story to submit to the AugNoWriMo anthology. In some ways, finishing a piece is a lot more satisfying than just pounding out a kazillion words with no ending. It’s called “Unnatural Neighbors” and it’s about a hacker who gets shipped off to a backwater planet on a new assignment because she did something she wasn’t supposed to. The whole story revolves around whether or not the hacker’s new landlord actually killed his last tenant. So it’s more like a cozy mystery masquerading as sci-fi. And while there are genetically modified creatures and laser beams and pew-pew-pew-OMG-BOOM moments, most of this takes place in a freakin’ tea house. You can’t get more cozy than that.

Labor Day Weekend is also the time for the 3-Day Novel Contest. In previous years, Labor Day Weekend did not overlap with August so I didn’t have to worry about two writing events happening at the same time. But this year, no such luck. The last two years, I officially did the contest and actually submitted my work. This year, I decided to do this unofficially because I knew I would be busy and I haven’t had a chance to do any planning.

My goal, when I had done the 3-Day Novel Contest previously, was to write a 30k novel. Because it has overlapped with AugNoWriMo, I’ve decided to modify my goal to simply writing at least 30k over the three day weekend. And I’m counting the words I wrote for AugNo (but only the words I wrote on August 31) in that goal. So as of this writing, I have 20k more to go.

This morning, I did some outlining rather than writing. I’m more of a planner than a pantser in temperament and I’ve found that planning, even a little bit, beforehand allows me to write faster. I’ve outlined a retelling of the fairy tale Prince Lindworm. But while I’m a fan of fairy tales, enjoy reading other people’s retellings, and have plenty of ideas for retellings on my own, my follow through rate is rather dismal. So we’ll see if I crash and burn in the next two days.

A Month of Short Stories

After novel writing in July, I decided to write a bunch of short stories during August (totaling 50,000 words) for a change of pace.  It was easier and harder at the same time.  Easier, because I think of myself more as a short story writer rather than a novel writer, and harder because I am also working on another writing project (i.e. the dissertation) which for a myriad of reasons is more important.

At any rate, I managed to reach the 50k mark at 8:30 PM yesterday. (Whew!)

One of my short stories will probably appear in the upcoming 2011 Augnowrimo anthology sometime in the next month or two.  It’s called “Out Are the Lights.”  A photojournalist is paired up with a Hunter S. Thompson-esque reporter he doesn’t particularly like for a story on rare earthworms. But they get more than they bargained for.  It’s written in male first person, a point of view I normally don’t do.

Anyways, there’s just one last leg of this binge writing to go before I have about a month to prepare for the main Nanowrimo event.  Over Labor Day weekend, I will be doing the 3-Day Novel Contest.  I’ll be frantically outlining today and tomorrow before plunging into the story.

And hopefully, I’ll emerge after the long weekend still sane.

A Closing and an Opening

I finished Temperance and the Devil around 8 PM on the last day of July. Which was sort of surprising, really. I wasn’t quite sure where or when the story would end, just that it would. I had semi-expected it to end a bit later if the story arc ran a bit long. But then again, it might not. That’s one of the problems with writing without planning. You have no idea where you’re going next or when the end will be in sight.

But end, it has. I’m a bit relieved, mostly because by the middle I felt rather directionless. Half the time, I had the urge to just put it off and come back to it later. But with a month-long binge writing contest, that would just be giving up. So I am finished and I am glad. And in one respect, it turned out rather well. In the Major Arcana, there are twenty-one numbered cards and the Fool. In this story, there are twenty-one chapters and an epilogue. As the villain might say, “Perfect.”

* * *

So, August has begun. Which means Augnowrimo and another round of Camp Nanowrimo. I think I have a few themes pinned down now. They have to be themes and not an actual plot, since I’ve decided on doing a series of interconnected short stories. I’m tentatively calling the entire project “Islands of Ice and Snow” which will mostly be about isolation, hoarding, or maybe even literally, islands of ice and snow.

I have a couple of ideas, but we’ll see how it goes.

Starts and Fits

I have about ten thousand more words that I need to write before Sunday for Julnowrimo/Camp Nanowrimo, unless you count all the short stories I have also been working on at the same time.  In that case, I’ve already finished writing 50,000 words.  But my goal is to get that many words on one story this month, so I guess I’ll keep chugging along even though the words at the moment are trickling out of my head like treacle.

As for next month, I still don’t have any concrete ideas.  But I’m contemplating doing something that is not strictly a novel so I don’t feel burned out as the days progress.  Maybe a series of short stories that are somehow connected.  A choose your own adventure story.  Interactive fiction, even.  Or perhaps something that doesn’t have a recognizable narrative structure.

Catching Up

There isn’t much to say on the writing front except that I’ve been pretty busy the past week working on other things so I haven’t had much time to really devote to Temperance and the Devil.  This weekend, however, I’m trying to catch up.

I’ve also been trying to brainstorm for ideas to use in August.  So far, I haven’t had much luck.  I might end up writing by the seat of my pants next month, too.

* * *

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15:

Instead of getting disturbed by Death’s comment about his scythe, Cherry was laughing. “Oh, that’s a good one. You must be one of those anime fans.”

“Anime fans?” he asked. “What does that have to do about anything?”

“Dave was just telling me the other day that Babel was going to be holding one of those anime conventions this week. My boyfriend isn’t really into that stuff, but several other students in his department are and that’s what they’ve been talking about for the past month. He says that they dress up in strange costumes and everything. I bet you’re here for the convention, aren’t you?”

Death shrugged.

“Oh, don’t be shy,” Cherry exclaimed. “You can admit your geekiness to us. Heck, I’m dating a geek. We have nothing against geeks. Don’t we, girls?”

“I have nothing against geeks,” Tem said as she paused between bites. “But I don’t think he is one.”

Lani nodded. “I bet he ate geeks for breakfast.”

“No,” said Death as he watched the waiter place a salad in front of him. “I actually had scrambled eggs.”

Chugging Along

So, nothing much to report on my progress for Camp Nanowrimo and Julnowrimo except that I’m plugging along on Temperance and the Devil as much as I can, seeing that it’s a weekday.

It’s kind of strange how characters become more, well, lively the more you write about them. This is the case with the Devil, also known as Lucifer “Luc” DeVille, who is beginning to steal the whole story. I’m currently in the middle of chapter six and I know there’s going to be at least two explosions in a strip mall before the Devil decides to take a break for lunch.

Meanwhile, I’ve started to collect possible story ideas for August. One idea I have is to do a series of fairy tale retellings in the framework of the brothers Grimm traveling around collecting folktales. I think there was a movie that did this too, but I have my own twist. It will be set in outer space.

* * *

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5:

And then Florence did something strange. She knelt down and wiggled her finger. “Here kitty, kitty.”

Luc didn’t care for that. He bared his fangs with a hiss and his eyes began glowing a bright red.

“Yargh!” Florence stumbled backward, her watering can falling out of her free hand to land in one of the terracotta plant pots. “That thing is possessed!”

“Surely you exaggerate. He just hasn’t had his beauty sleep yet.” Luc backed away from Florence and began twining himself around Tem’s ankles. “He’s really quite friendly. Sometimes too friendly. Maybe you need another cup of coffee.”

“I don’t need coffee. I know what I saw!”

“Whatever. You can call the local priest and see what he has to say.”

“Maybe I will!”

Another Close Finish

Maynowrimo, another one of those binge writing spin-offs, is now over and I can say that I squeaked by with 50,377 words.  I can say with some confidence that it was mostly procrastination.  I started out in the month of May hoping that I would be regularly writing, but lab stuff, as usual, got me sidetracked.  So I ended up writing about almost 40,000 words over the last three days–almost 10k on Sunday, almost 20k on Monday, and about 11k on Tuesday (yesterday).

I’m pretty drained after that writing marathon, so I guess for about the next month, I’ll turn my attention to other things.  However, there are other writing things after June that I’m vaguely contemplating about:

Last year, I did Julnowrimo (in July) and Augnowrimo (in August).  After August was over, I felt pretty burned out and semi-vowed that I wouldn’t do it again.  But then again, real writers write every day and it sort of seemed like I would be wimping out if I didn’t do it again.  However, this year is complicated with Camp Nano, the summer version of Nanowrimo that is also organized by the same people.

As a municipal liaison, I sort of feel that I have some sort of obligation to organize some things in my region.  This may also involve setting up write-ins which can be kind of tricky since the people in charge of Camp Nano still don’t know whether or not this is going to be for July or August or both.  In any case, it will involve some time committment from me.

I’m also thinking about the 3-day Novel Contest in September.  I’m really toying with the idea that I might actually submit an entry this year.  You know, with all of the last minute writing that I’ve been practicing lately, it shouldn’t be too hard to write a coherent novel in three days, right?

Barely Finished

On the last day of August at 11:15 PM, I finished Augnowrimo at 50,504 words.  It was extremely stressful.  For pretty much the entire month, I was behind on my word count which has never happened to me before.  This is definitely not something that I’m going to let happen this coming November.

One failure for the month was in never starting Pomegranate + Hellhound, the novella that I had planned out the month before.  Instead, I ended up writing a patchwork of shorter works.  Which was just as well, I suppose.  I never really found myself in the frame of mind to actually write the novella and quite possibly, my word count could have suffered even worse had I tried.

As for the bits of short stories that I did write, all of them except for one are in no shape to be read by anyone else.  They need some extensive editing.  But to give you an idea of what the stories were about, here are a few of them:

1. Bluecap stumbling onto the domain of the queen of the kobolds
2. An intergalactic detective investigates a crime at a museum of space junk
3. A woman inherits a scary house on the East Coast with a mind of its own
4. A scavenger discovers the remains of a sky city in a lake of caustic water

The one short story that I did finish, In the Hall of the Mountain King (inspiration and summary in a previous post), had to be edited during the month because of the Augnowrimo anthology submission deadline.  Honestly, I’m not sure I want to do this sort of thing again.  That is, the editing and writing at the same time bit.  It is hard going from one mindset to the other. (One thing Nanowrimo has taught me is to compartmentalize the writing process.  If I just write, I don’t have to worry about editing, thus I’m able to finish the rough draft.  If I’m editing, I don’t have to worry about finishing the story, I just need to polish.)  And yeah, the deadlines within deadlines is enough to give anyone a complex.

The Augnowrimo anthology is something that the organizers for the event puts together. I’ll probably post some information on it when it becomes available.  As far as I know, my short story will be one of the thirty short stories in the the anthology.  And they’re all from different genres.  I don’t think anyone makes a profit from the anthology as it’s going to be sold at the price of the production costs.  So I may as well make an electronic copy of my short story available somewhere on my website when the anthology does come out.

So the next project?  I just realized that the 3 Day Novel Contest is this weekend.  I should be excited, but it’s kind of making me cringe.  At the moment, all I want to do is anything but write.  I’ve pretty much had no break since the beginning of July*.  However, I have an idea about using a cancan dancer as a main character.  We’ll see how much outlining I can do before Saturday rolls around.

*I’m sure professional writers will roll their eyes and just see this as whining.  After all, they write all year round.  Theoretically anyway.

Scribbling Done Yet Not Done

I am still behind on my ultimate Augnowrimo goal, but I’ve got to tell you, I am quite relieved that I’ve finally finished the short story portion of that goal.  I have never had a story give me so much trouble before.  I probably had around ten to twelve false starts before I really got going and even when I did, it was like jabbing pencils into my skull.

Creativity, unfortunately, is not a smoothly flowing stream.  Sometimes, the words just don’t come no matter what you try to do.  The really crazy thing is that I’m only doing this for fun.  I’m not sure what that means.  Maybe that I’m a masochist.

So what’s going to happen to this short story?  Well, it’s going to be edited during the rest of the month (while I’m doing some catch up on some other story) and then submitted to the Augnowrimo anthology.  Just for fun, of course, as I’m never going to see the profits from the sale of that book.  I think I’m mostly doing it for the infinitesimal chance that someone’s going to read it.  I’m not sure if that chance will be larger or smaller than if I had just posted it online as almost no one reads my online novels anyway.

A bit about the short story: The title is In the Hall of the Mountain King and is based loosely on the Norwegian fairy tale and Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt except there are no dairy maids and no worm-shaped trolls. (As this is set in the same universe as Sign of the Wyrm, my Julnowrimo project, I’m not having wyrms or worms as bad guys.)  But while my Julnowrimo project was set in Victorian England–or an approximation thereof–this short story is set in the present, in Idaho.

Idaho?! you might be thinking, Are you mad? It’s the least interesting place to set a story. Well, some people might think so.  I thought it would be a challenge.  And it certainly proved to be one.  The story itself takes place in a made-up town called Tangent which is based on a real location: Wallace, Idaho, the self-proclaimed center of the universe.  If you’ve ever been to Wallace, you’ll know exactly why I chose that place as the setting for the story.  It’s surrounded by mountains and one can easily imagine it as the home for trolls that have been transplanted to America.

The main character, traveling east to see family, is stuck in Tangent when a snow storm blocks off the mountain passes.  That’s when weird stuff starts happening and she begins to believe that there are trolls living underneath the mountains.  I view it as a fun adventure story rather than anything serious.  I mean, at one point, I even considered having one of the protagonists haul in a cannon to blast the trolls in the fight scene. (Instead, I used a variation on the chandelier* falling from the ceiling gag.)  I like the short story form.  It’s the length of story I originally started out with.  But I was just sort of tired of all the serious and depressing short stories that are currently out there, so I decided to write a silly one instead.

*No chandeliers, real or virtual, were destroyed during the course of writing the story.

Midpoint Malaise

An update on my Augnowrimo project: It is still going in fits and starts and is looking more like a collection of random objects rather than a coherent whole.  Yes, I’ve managed to write every day, but it isn’t very much.  Thus, I am extremely behind.

I don’t know what it is about this month.  It’s not that I don’t have any ideas.  It’s just that I don’t feel like I have any good ideas.  Or even any terrible ideas that are so bad that in a way they’re good.  I’m in a creativity slump and this is not doing anything for my motivation.