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. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo – The First 6 Days”
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.
I finished Sleep Zone about a month ago. It’s now ~15k words long and would be counted as a “novelette”. If you are interested in reading it, let me know in the comments and I’ll provide you with a link. I haven’t published it yet on the blog. Not sure when I will do that.
In the meantime I have also finished a short story in a fantasy setting – I submitted this to an “open submission” about a week ago. I’ll know more by the end of the month. However, I have heard that on such occasion hundreds of stories are submitted, in this case for 2 + 5-7 slots. So chances are my story won’t make it.
Right now I am preparing for NaNoWriMo (or: National Novel Write Month). The goal of this is to write 50k words in the month of November along with thousands of other writers. I got started quite late on my pre-writing. All I know right now is that it will be in the science fiction genre, set in the not-so-distant future with both dystopian and cyberpunk elements. It will probably not qualify as young adult, even though dystopias lately seem to be all young adult (Divergent, Mazerunner, Hunger Games – if you check those that were made into movies).
I have a couple of characters that are already begging me to let them talk. Since I am more on the discovery end of the “discovery-vs-outliner” scale, I won’t be able to build a complete outline ahead of time. But I do need to have a general sense of direction and a solid setting. I am struggling with the latter. Some ideas are already fixed in my mind but I still lack a certain central element also known as “plot device” or if I don’t have a good idea a “Mac Guffin“.
Oh and since they are now out of stealth mode: come join Write On (I should have invites or you can request one at their site) and read my stories there 😉 I will probably post raw updates of my NaNoWriMo progress there as it is being written or I may not.
I just finished the first draft of a completely new story two days ago. It was supposed to become a short story and some people will still count it as that with about 13k-14k words (different algorithms get to different results). It is called “Sleep Zone” and it’s a “25-minutes-into-the-future” Science Fiction setting. The world is a much safer and better place due to a wonderful new technology called SleepZone, which law enforcement have been using to simplify their work. Ocean, a young journalism student, is looking for the police officers responsible for her brother’s death. Through a lucky – or unlucky – incident she meets someone with connections to help her. I am currently working in removing the worst blunders, plot-holes and grammar errors from this story. In a couple of weeks it will be ready for critique by a couple of first readers.
I’ve also spent quite a bit of time listening to Writing Excuses. I do this when I go running. Suddenly going for a run is much more appealing and less boring! I am nearly done with Season 2. And today my signed copy of Shadows Beneath, the anthology to the podcast arrived. Yay! Finally a package from the US that made it through without incident. It’s a beautiful book, but I’ve already been into the digital version that’s included with the book. It contains four short stories one by each of the podcasters and it also includes the initial brainstorming sessions, the first drafts, the work-shopping sessions and a merge of first and final draft to show differences. I’ve already learned a lot from simply reading the first of the brainstorming sessions. Of course I read all the stories first, couldn’t resist.
And I am already thinking about my next story. I may start out with an ending this time. Usually I develop a story from a setting, in which I place characters from which I try to derive a plot. I have a hard time creating great conflicts that lead to good endings. So I may start with an ending. Today’s Writing Excuses episode gave me a good idea with their writing prompt of the day. And I can’t tell you, because the end should be a little bit of a surprise, if you know ahead of time … 😉 I also plan to force myself down to 5-7k words for real this time.
It is done. I have finished my last editing pass of the novella I started writing in August 2013: Child of Ceres. Final word count: 31570. It was supposed to become a short story to find out, if writing in English was my thing. It got just a little bit longer.
The novella is set in a fantastic world, where humanity lives scattered among the safe havens of the arks and is ruled by the descendants of the Gods. The arks are surrounded by the Wastes and humanity is under constant pressure from the Wastes’ monstrous inhabitants. The protagonist is Calyndra, a young priestess, descendant of the goddess Ceres, who has a secret, she struggles to keep: despite what she – and her mother – have been telling everyone, she does not have control over her powers like a true Godchild. What are the consequences of keeping this secret? What is the cost for those close to her? Far from home, as a political hostage at the dogal court of Eluvrien, Calyndra is all but alone among the scheming courtiers. Continue reading “Child of Ceres – A Novella”
I am writing in the past tense. I keep running into the same issue. Do I write “Tonight my mind was distracted, …” or do I write “That night, my mind was distracted, …” or simply “My mind was distracted, …”
The same goes for “Now, however, I was really scared.” I could just as well write “At that moment, however, I was really scared.” There are a dozen other options.
At first I feel like using “Tonight” or “Now” or “Here” is ok. But when reading the same paragraph later, I think: well my story is being told so much later, it is not the same night, so it should not say “tonight” and also the story surely is not told in the same location so it should not be “here”.
I wonder if this is due to writing in first person perspective.
Project status: Today I plan to skip the 10k mark. At this precise moment, I have just passed the 9k words. I am working on the fourth scene. The most difficult scene so far was the third, because I am not an expert on medicine … and I think I have to “up” my estimate at how long this novel is going to be. If 10k words is the first half of the first chapter of the first act … 90k is a very low estimate for the whole project.
I am also still working on the long-term motivation of one of my major villainous characters. It may not become relevant for several chapters, but I would like to have a clearer view of this character’s stance.
Well there are at least a thousand more words to write today and my pace is picking up. Yesterday, I wrote 2000 words easily. The first day I barely managed 500.
This Monday I started writing on the big project. Codename: Transmitten. This time writing is very different: first I already know that this will be much longer than Child of Ceres (current estimate is around 90-100k words for the first draft). And, additionally, I have a more or less complete outline planned out. Of course things will change during the course of the writing, but that is to be expected. Also I hope that I learned a few things – comma rules for one – from the previous project.
In fact, I am already finding it much easier to write than last time. I have – in three days – completed a first draft of the first two scenes (~4k words or 6-7 PDF pages) and both of those feel much smoother and better thought-out already. There is a lot to correct language-wise. But I am more confident that the actual plotting is more solid this time with all the planning that went in.
However, I had to change the second scene quite a bit from my previous plan, because I had changed the ending of Child of Ceres to lead to a major new conflict that I had not yet included in my outline.
I am still happily using Scrivener; there’s a new version that allows custom meta data properties, more export formats, document references, custom icons and a bunch of other niceties. I was mostly waiting for the custom properties to be able to add timeline properties to each scene. The very detailed timeline I made for the first “act” came in very handy already. Maybe my plot is too complicated 🙂
Something new I started yesterday: a list of words I capitalize. One of my early readers criticized my use of capitalization and she was quite right: not only did I capitalize too many words, I was not consistent as well.
Last but not least: I have an idea for the cover for Child of Ceres and once I made that or found someone to help me making it, I think I will release the novella into the wild.
When I decided to finally start writing for real instead of just talking about it, I wanted to start with a small challenge and decided to write a short story. For some reason I had real trouble working out something I wanted to write about and so decided to write something based in the same world as the larger project I was planning.
Since I knew there was going to be a longer story set in that world, I went along my timeline and picked an event somewhat before the main story. So basically I wrote a prequel to the main story first. Often prequels are written after the fact. Mine was written before the main story. I still managed to write it like the main story had already been written and now my short story, that became a novella, contains too many characters and too little character development for my protagonist.
The first happened because there was already such a large pool of interesting characters available to pick from. The second because I could not very well make changes in the character that are supposed to happen in the main story. And after looking over the story I find, that I can’t fix it – especially not the first part. Not without such a major overhaul of the story, that I could just as well start over.
These two issues will be less pronounced if the main story is already written when I release the prequel. So now I am facing the decision – well not right now but hopefully in the near future – what to do with “Child of Ceres”? Do I write this off as beginner’s mistakes and release it into the wild without immediate follow-up or do I wait …
Currently, when I have time to work on my writing, I am creating the outline of the novel. I am already into the final act. I need to create outlines for a few more chapters and then I’ll be able to start writing. But I am guessing that won’t happen before late April – due to circumstances. Yesterday I wrote a teaser. With “Child of Ceres” there was this moment when I was asked what my story was about and I had no answer. To avoid a similarly embarrassing experience, I wrote down my answer for this one and maybe I’ll publish it here once I’ve had a chance to look it over and run it by my primary test subject.