NaNoWriMo 2018 Build Up

Building up to this years NaNoWriMo has felt a little different to other years. Partly because I want to win again this year, last year got a little derailed by real world stuff. It’s also because I’ve decided to do NaNo differently this year. I was going to work on a military science fiction story I’ve got in mind. It would have been my third attempt at getting it off the ground but I’ve realised I’m not ready to write it yet. Aside from the fact I’ll need to do some extensive outlining I haven’t decided how I want to tell this story. There’s also the case that I don’t feel like I’ve got the experience and skill set to write it yet. I’d like to get a couple longer, completed stories under my belt before I tackle it.

Then I decided to rewrite my vampire story from a few years ago. This is a collection of ten stories that are all tied together, serialised I guess but they’re all in the first person perspective and for what I want to do with book two I need to change format. Now at one stage I was going to just rewrite it as a novel but then I thought I’d just write all the episodes in the third person point of view. That wasn’t sitting right with me though, some of these stories work really well as told from first person. So I spoke to my Beta readers and decided to do a massive edit, and keep some stories that are told from that first person point of view while I’ll adjust others so they’re told from the third person. I think this will work really well for this collection and give me a lot more freedom for future works in this universe.

With having changed my mind twice now, and not really having anything that I can get to 50k ready to go I’ve decided to work on short stories and novellas. If I try to run with an idea for a longer piece from one of my ideas I know it’s just going to crash and burn and I’ll spend the next five years faffing about with it to try and get it close to how I want it (PE3 is a prime example of this). This way I can be a lot more flexible. If I get stuck with one, I can move onto another one. If a story really isn’t working at all I can do the same. On the other side of that, if something catches fire I can just run with it and see where it takes me. It also works if I come across a submission call that takes my fancy as well (last year I wrote a story for Burdizzo Books second annual 12 Days of Christmas 2017 anthology during NaNo).

I’m hoping this way will help when I hit the mid-NaNo slump, and if life gets in the way it won’t be as difficult to keep putting words out because I won’t be having to think too much about bigger arcs and so forth.

There’s not long to go now, and I’ve got PE3 to be getting done before then. So I’m going to almost have a mini-NaNo before we kick off on the 1sr of November.

I hope all you other NaNoers out there are getting as excited as I am, and your preparation (however you do it) is going well.

Good Morning, Tuesday – 6/6/17

So my plan to start writing my new novel has hit a little bit of a speed bump in that I thought I’d copy and paste all the details into Scrivener and BOOM! I could start writing. Yeah, it’s really not working like that. I’m having to think out my outline a little more than I had done, which has already sparked a few more ideas in how I’m going to write the story.

The outline I had I think is pretty good, but I’m having to think it through a little deeper now. Instead of having a scene which is listed simply as ‘s/he looking at CCTV as the rain came down’ Now with that scene I’ve assigned a character to it and with the character profiles I’ve created events that happen in that scene will work better and create a lot of conflict as the story progresses with this character.

So far I have only got the first chapter laid out. I was meant to go to the cinema last night but that has had to be postponed till next week, but I’m going to see Wonder Woman tonight with another friend. So I won’t get anything more done on it today, but I will be working on another outline during my lunch break and I’ll be back on this main one tomorrow.


No words today, in fact I deleted 7200 words from the fanfic piece. I am repeating to myself ‘it makes it stronger, it makes it stronger, it makes it stronger’ and it does. I’ve cannibalised dodgy scenes and made them better and hopefully it’s made the story work so much better.

I’ve done a few notes for a couple of anthologies I’m planning to submit to. I’ve also done some work on the outline for a future story as well, and I’ve had a great world building detail for an alien species for mine and Owen’s sprawling universe we’re working on.

I’m wrapping for the night. I’m beat, it’s been a busy day at work and I’ve half chilled out this evening and half done some editing. I’m not being as productive as I’d like but I feel I’m picking up the pace a little.

19th April 2017

I’ve only written about 500 words today, half on the fanfic piece and half on the short story I’ve been working on.

I was working on the fanfic tonight, while watching a bit of TV, but it was more editing than writing. I added a few words at the end of the scene I’d been rewriting and the next one was more editing than writing.  This is something that I’m hoping outlying will help me with. I seem to have to go back and do a lot of gap filling with my writing and that’s got to add to the time it takes me to get a story done. I know I can write pretty fast (three NaNoWriMo victories in the last three years), but I’ve got to learn to write a coherent first draft.

I’ve got a couple of short story anthologies I’m going to try and submit to, so I’m going to get this short story wrapped up and then focus on those anthologies and get the stories written. I am brainstorming and scribbling down ideas for them but I want to make some time to focus on them properly in the next week or so and give them the proper attention they require and deserve.

It’s been a busy day at work, and a slower but busy evening with writing. I’m feeling beat, but I’m feeling energised and enthusiastic. 

(I’ve not proof-read this, so please excuse any typos). 

Good Morning, Good Sunday! 16/4/17

Good morning! Well, it’s another Sunday morning, the dog is snoring at my feet, and the cat is nowhere to be seen (probably stretched out on a bed somewhere). I can hear the birds singing in the garden but that is all the sound I can hear right now. I live in a rural area and this time of the morning on a Sunday is quite often very peaceful (as I said that a car went pelting up the road at a silly speed). Anyway, this last week has felt somewhat slow, writing wise. I’ve not written a huge amount of words but I have written everyday and have averaged about 300 words a day (I’m not including yesterdays words in that). So I’m pretty chuffed with that. It’s felt like an odd week where I haven’t got much work done, but I was quite pleased when I saw that I’d done that much this week.

This last week has seemed to have gone by in a flash, but aside from Wednesday when I had a Write-In, I’ve not had an especially busy one outside of the day job. That said though, I only really had Monday and Tuesday night’s to write. I did do a few words at the Write-In, but not many. My brother and his family have just moved house, so on Thursday night I helped him move a lovely sofa they have, which wasn’t easy but we got it out the old house and into the new one. That took a bit of doing. And then on Friday we moved the bulk of his furniture. So Thursday and Friday I didn’t get a lot written, but I wasn’t expecting to because of helping my brother out. Last night I just flaked out, but I did write 600+ words in the morning before I went to work.

This week I’ve got today to get some work done, and tomorrow is a bonus day. As it’s Easter Monday we get a Bank Holiday (same with Good Friday), so no day job. I’d like to have put a big dent into my FanFic piece. I’ve barely touched that this week and would like to make some serious progress with it.  The majority of the work I’ve done this week has been on the short story I’ve been playing with. It’s over 3000 words now and I like a lot of it, although I’m not sure about how strong it is. It’s a story in Owen and my Assembly universe and at worst it’s a great character piece which is letting me flesh out a character we’ve got plans for in the future, and at best something we’ll put out one day, probably in a collection.

I am thinking through to NaNoWriMo a little. I know November is a long way off but it’ll be with us sooner than we know, and I’m seriously considering writing the zombie piece I’ve just done the primary outline for. I’m thinking of this story because I always assume I’m going to be able to do more than I can during a year. It’s about seven months till November and I’m not sure we’ll be able to get The Space Watch locked down by then, I’m also going to try and submit to some anthologies this year so I’d like a little time to be writing for them as well. I’ve also got one Assembly story I’m working on the outline for, and I’d like to get another couple of outlines done for next year. I’m also thinking like this as a way to start planning what I’m writing. I’ve tried to do that a couple of times but it doesn’t play out like that. Partly because I wasn’t outlining at all, or anywhere close to the depth of outline that I need to have. So, if I decide to do this zombie story for NaNo this year then I know I’ve got over six months to spend more time on the outline, I don’t think I need that amount of time but I’ll know what I’m doing and what time frames I’ve got to work with.

Having that amount of time will also give me time to work on any submission calls I come across, as well as some short stories I want to work on in addition to outlining and planning future pieces.

I’d love to be smashing out a thousand words a day and writing where the wind takes me, but I’ve been doing that for many years and it’s not working for me. I’m hoping this steadier, more prepared, approach will prove fruitful.

Snoring like a steam train!

A Lesson Learnt Hard

A few times I’ve said here that I’ve got to stop diving in head first into writing a story as soon as the idea pops into my head. I always run out of steam when I do this, always. Outside of short stories, I can’t wing-it.  That’s what I’ve done with Penal Earth, and the same thing that happens all the time happened. I ran out of steam, I got stuck and I couldn’t write my way out of it.

Lesson Learnt.

Now, I’m working on a zombie story that I’ve been playing with for some time now. It’s not one that I have tried to write yet, simply because I couldn’t find a feel for it. The other day I got a snippet of an idea for it and since then I’ve been making notes and trying to figure out a timeline. I’m not sure I’m going to do a chapter by chapter outline for it. I did this with The Space Watch, and it was one of the most crushing experiences I’ve had as a writer. I had no intention of doing that again, but I’m not going to close that door just yet, it may be a case that with The Space Watch I found it hard because its a story that’s been written a few times and I was kind of done with it at that time. It felt very much like a chore, and it wasn’t until I’d began to write it and I deviated from the outline that I really got stuck into it.

I’ve got a pretty good idea of how the story starts, but I’m also thinking about putting together strong characters. I’ve already got a few bits and pieces of the people who seem to be building up to be the main characters from the outlining that I’ve been doing, but I need to sit down and get some work done on those individuals and those around them. I’ve also had some good ideas about the state of the world as a whole.

This zombie piece is just one of a few projects I’m working on outlines for. Owen and I have a lot we are looking at doing in the next couple of years, and I’ve got solo projects that I’m quite excited about but I’ve got to get this outlining lark, down. If I don’t then I’m just going to keep running out of steam and repeating the same mistakes time and time again.

Focusing On The Process

I recently wrote a short story in the universe Owen and I have created. It was based on two characters that we have a little history on but we haven’t gone into much detail with and as an exercise I thought I’d write their story. This is the story that I wrote on my phone (I think I mentioned that here) but it didn’t work. I think the core of it is good but it’ll need a lot of attention to bring it up to where it needs to be. I knew how it was going to end, but aside from that I had no real idea of how I was going to get to the ending.

When I printed it out to see what shape it was in I saw just how disjointed it was, so I decided it would be best just to rewrite it (yes, I seem to be mainly focusing on rewrites at the moment). Something I’ve learned of late is that I’m not anywhere near prepared enough before I start writing. So I’ve been working on brainstorming some the stories I want to work on in the near future. Most of them are collaborations with Owen at the moment and I’m hoping this will help us when we get down to the actual writing stage. We can spend time adding the details to a brainstorming file and start to develop the story as we go. Something I’ve noticed about when I’m writing is that my first drafts change quite a bit from start to end. Mainly in tone but I also want to add more detail to earlier segments while I’m many chapters past them.

I’ve also found that I write better when I’m writing longhand and that’s something that I’m going to try to do with first drafts for a while now. My plan is to write out a story, making notes along the way and then read through once I’ve got the draft done, making further notes as I go. So, in theory, when I begin to type it up (which’ll be my second draft) the story will have a direction that I found as I wrote but might not have had at the start of the story.

I’m really hoping that raising my level of preparation will help when I come to write the actual story.