Cylon Writing

The Cassandra Project Cover
Preliminary Cover
Like the Cylons I finally have a plan. The project I am working on which was originally titled “Mind Bleed” and was started in October/November 2014 for the NaNoWriMo is still not finished. I had too little time to plan and that fact has come back twice to bite me. The original November draft came to about 53k words. In my ‘deleted scenes’ folder I have another 20k. The current draft begun as the first rewrite. It is now titled “The Cassandra Project” and I am just shy of crossing the 100k mark. But I am labeling the current version as the second rewrite or third draft, because when I got to about the same mark as the original draft I got stuck again. Why? The ending. What I had in mind just didn’t make any sense. And I couldn’t find a way to get there.
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State of Writing

I just noticed that I didn’t update since finishing NaNoWriMo.

Well, besides a six week trip to South-East Asia, I haven’t been idling. I spent a bit of time writing a few flash pieces on WriteOn. But for some reason I dropped out of that community. I let myself get too involved, and it started taking too much time. And I felt I had to concentrate on starting the second draft of Mind Bleed. Because I never finished the first draft of my NaNo novel. I made it to 55k words but not to the end of the story. I got stuck somewhere around two thirds.

So I spent some time traveling. Then some time thinking of what I did wrong the first time around. I found I had done too little planning of characters, plot and setting? So basically everything was missing. I tried to fix that with a month of planning.

It didn’t turn out easy.

I am now just 700 words shy of 60k on the second draft, and I got stuck yet again around the two thirds mark. I could recycle next to nothing from the original draft. I rewrote everything and it became a new story. But somehow I ended up in a different corner with the same result: stuck. A couple of days ago, I unstuck myself by deciding to write the prologue. In my timeline, I have a very well defined set of events that lead up to the current story. It suddenly became easy again to write 2k words a day where before I was struggling to get even a 1000.

Why do I have such a hard time writing the end of my stories?

I am optimistic concerning the prologue. And I believe with that part of the story in place, I can finally fix my main character’s arc. The project also suffers from being too ambitious. I have three viewpoint characters (plus two in an interlude). I am estimating that the prologue-part of the story will take another 6-8k words, and the wrapping up of the story will need another 15-20k.

So lots more to write.

NaNoWriMo: the final stretch

I finished the 50k on Friday. It was a back-breaking – quite nearly literally – day of writing. I wrote about 4k words that day. I just wanted to be able to take a break on Saturday. Here are my final diary entries from the writing marathon that is NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMoDay21

I expect to have to write between 15k and 25k more words to finish the story. Since I haven’t written a word except for blog-posts, emails and the week-end-write-in, I doubt I’ll finish the story in November.
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NaNoWriMo Diary Continued

The ship’s journey diary of my NaNoWriMo Adventures (originally written on the WriteOn forums). Part One to be found here.

I am currently at nearly 31k words and nearing the completion of Act 1 (of 3)

NaNoWriMo 12 Days
NaNoWriMo Progress after 12 Days

Update: I managed to finish Act 1 today, stopping just short of 34k words. My average is back at 2,610 words/day, much more realistic, than the calculation you can see on the screenshot which was taken this morning, when I had barely added words for the day.
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Favorite Online Writing Resources

While doing Nanowrimo, one does need to spend some time procrastinating. So I am finally polishing my list of writing resources.

  • TV Tropes is the best inspiration, it also warns you of the worst pitfalls and clichés.
  • I write in English, I often have to look up words in the dictionary.
  • English has all these beautiful words meaning comparable, similar or even identical things. I love the Thesaurus. Also very useful for colors
  • My favorite writing podcast, just 15 minutes long
  • Just books.
  • Writing Tips and more writing tips.
  • Writers Helping Writers. Wonderful resource with the Emotion Thesaurus and many more.
  • Names and more names.
  • Are your characters all scared of the same something? Fear not.
  • Ask Google anything.
  • The IMDB is a treasure trove of actor’s pictures (as is Google image search), I – like many others – tend to use actors as faces for characters, at least during the outlining phase
  • The single great know-it-all, it may not always be deep enough for a scientist, but for a writer the wikipedia is perfect (and so obvious I nearly forgot to list it)
  • And currently (until end of November 2014): Nano Storybundle (includes awesome Shadows Beneath)

Books on Writing that I can recommend. The list might be longer, if only I read more books on writing.

Most important tools I am using:

  • Scrivener – writing suite for PC or MAC
  • WriteOMeter – a tomato timer for writers
  • Evernote – to keep my research
  • Still looking for a good mobile writing tool for my tablet

Of course the inter-webs are full of great resources you can use in your writing. These are just some of the things that I use the most …

NaNoWriMo – The First 6 Days

Mind Bleed Cover
As I noted before, this year I am doing NaNoWriMo. After some time of brooding about a title I finally found one I liked: “Mind Bleed” – of course if something better turns up, I will change the title again. For now it’s still quite fitting. Here’s the novel’s blurb (although I have to update that I think):

In 2113 mega-corporations rule a divided world. Lys teaches hacking in the Fringe, a destitute ghetto spreading like a tumor around the lavish campus of Quanao Inc. When a student dies of cerebral hemorrhaging in her class, and others complain of head-aches and recurring dreams playing games with a suspiciously familiar stranger, she is stunned. When nobody else cares, she begins to investigate. Lys stumbles upon a nefarious techno-conspiracy linked by dreams to her vanished, traitorous ex.
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Creating the outline

Bio Dixies For the past two weeks I’ve been struggling to come up with an idea for my NaNoWriMo project. While I feel like I am not doing well with outlines I am not a pure discovery writer either. I need to have some idea and some world building to get started with any story.

Child of Ceres was based on an idea that was years in the making and even after that I polished it for at least two months prior to writing even the first page. For SleepZone I spent one afternoon brainstorming weird ideas one of which was “there is a serial cat murderer on your street”. After the brainstorming session it took me at least another week or two, to get started writing. For my unnamed fantasy story I had about a month from “I have a genre but no idea” to the deadline, and I made it from idea to “finished” story in about 3 weeks. That left me with slightly less than 4 weeks for my NaNoWriMo preparations and I started out with no idea at all. I checked out my notes of old ideas and I found that I didn’t like any of them. For most of those ideas I have spent considerable time in the past to try and get them ready to be turned into a story and failed.

So while I was finishing the revisions of the unnamed fantasy story, I started thinking about the next project. Somehow it slipped into my mind that it would be a SciFi story. Then my subconscious weeded out all the SciFi subgenres that do not apply to me: hard sf – never, I couldn’t do the research; military sf – no for the same reason as hard sf, plus I am just not into that; space opera – I like to read about spaceships but I don’t like to fly them; dystopia – lately that one screams young adult at me and I don’t feel like writing YA, at least not right now; so my subconscious went for the grown-up version of a dystopia, also known as cyberpunk. A genre more or less founded with one of my all-time favorite books: Neuromancer and it combines the two things that fascinate me the most about SciFi anyway: future technologies and future social development and how they impact each other.

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