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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Pre-NaNoWriMo Writing Update

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.

Working on a new story: SleepZone

What have I been doing lately?

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.

Here’s a teaser from “Sleep Zone”
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Child of Ceres – A Novella

Child of Ceres
Child of Ceres – A Godchildren Novella by Sonja Pieper
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.
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Weekly Words to Read

Here’s an article on what often happens to strong female characters when they have finally made it into the movie/book.

A round-up of English words you are likely to misuse – consider the nauseous enormity …

I found The Last Billboard – once a month someone can post a message that will be displayed on this non-digital billboard. How cool is that.

Finally part 8 of the Outlander series Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is here and Diana Gabaldon posted a link to the Outlander family tree, for those with ebook editions (like myself) that can’t view it properly. Thank you!

A funny weather story found via npr books – my very favorite tumblr on books.

And I am still looking forward to July 1st when the sequel to Blood Song will finally be published. There is a sample for The Tower Lord on the author’s website.

Tonight and now

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.