Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Another False Start

I did it again this week. The beginning of my story was one thing, while the story itself was something completely different. In my defense, however, if this story was a lot longer I might still be able to bring it back around to where I started.

When I begin writing a new story, I try really hard to make the first sentence “pop”. I want to grab your attention right out of the gate. A lot of good writers do this. If you can seize hold of your reader right away you have a better chance of keeping them involved when things slow down.

In this story, I set the scene as my hero lining up to take a shot at something. I didn’t say what it was, just that the fate of the world rested on his shoulders at that moment. And it was all because of something that had started just a few days ago. The rest of the story was told as a flashback, remembering how he had met the woman who had put him there, in that place, with that responsibility.

The problem was that it was supposed to be a short story, and what I wanted to tell was more like a James Bond blockbuster. There was no way I could fit all that into under 10,000 words. So what it ended up being was just a beginning scene. I kind of wrapped it up at the end, but there is so much more to tell in that story. Unfortunately, the rest of it will have to wait until I have more time to spend on it, along with all the other stories like it that I wrote this year.

Which brings me to my next question: What will I be writing next year?

This year of writing a story a week has definitely been interesting, as well as productive. But I’m getting tired of these quick and dirty tales, and would really like to dig into something with some more meat on it again. I want to write another novel.

However, this time I don’t want to just start writing and see where it takes me. I want to take some time and figure out what the story is before I start. I want to know who my characters are at the beginning and where I want them to be at the end. I want to decide what the story is trying to say about life, the universe, and everything before I put my fingers on the keyboard. And, perhaps most of all, I want it to be outstanding.

The stories I have written so far have been okay. I like my characters, even though I have been told that they are so similar it is hard to tell them apart. And even though I put them in danger, there can also be a bit of deus ex machina involved in getting them out of trouble. It makes the story less believable and makes disengages the reader.

I’m not sure what I’ll be writing yet. I could take one of the shorts that I have been telling you about this year and expand it. Or I could write something completely new. It could be horror, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, or paranormal romance. Or maybe I might try writing something a little more serious. An attempt at real literature. Something that you might see on Oprah’s book club.

Actually, probably not.

The first step is probably going to be the characters. I think they are the most important part of the story, even more important than the plot. The plot, of course, would be next, but it would fit the characters and the arc I want to take them through before the end. Those two things will help me decide what kind of genre I will be writing.

I guess that’s about all I have to say this week. Congratulations to all of you who participated in NaNoWriMo this year. I wasn’t one of them this year, but speaking as a winner for the last three years I know how hard it is. And even if you didn’t finish I still think you deserve recognition. Hooray for you!

See you next week, and keep on writing!

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The Treaty

Last week my story was about a man trying to work out a treaty between the normal world and the supernatural one. The ongoing war between the humans and the monsters was a nasty business and humanity was losing. But there were some in the supernatural community that only wanted to be recognized with the same rights and privileges as the human citizens, and since they were backed by some pretty powerful creatures our hero was willing to go along with it. This theme was probably inspired by the civil rights issues that our country has been struggling with in recent months, and when it popped out onto the page I decided it was worth following. While I might be a straight, married, middle-aged white male, that doesn’t mean that I can’t support the rights of EVERYONE to have the same privileges I enjoy. I am a firm believer in non-discrimination. I voted for Obama twice and right now my car is sporting an “I’m ready for Hillary” bumper sticker.

Unfortunately, the story was actually pretty rambling and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s another case of a seed of an idea that needs time to grow and be redone in the future. Maybe I’ll work it into something else someday. At the end of the story (or scene, really) our hero is left alone with the queen of the fae, who wants to seal the deal with sex. But since he has heard stories about mortals losing their minds after sleeping with her he tries to get out of it by saying she can only have him if they get married first. He never expected her to accept.

This week’s story is supposed to be a Halloween-themed horror story. I had an idea for it yesterday, but didn’t write it down right away so most of it slipped away. I think it was something about an ordinary man being targeted by a body-stealing immortal spirit. So far my beginning has this ordinary guy (yes, the word ordinary is being overused, but it’s on purpose) meeting a very extraordinarily beautiful woman. I think she is going to be the one that initiates the process that will lead to his downfall, but I haven’t quite worked out how yet. I guess we’ll find out by the end of the week.

In other news, I hit a milestone of 150 days on my writing chain for the Magic Spreadsheet last week. I’m still going strong, but I have to say I’m getting a little tired of forcing myself to write every single day. Which is probably one of the reasons I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Another reason is that I don’t really have a project to work on. While I could continue to write my short stories and count those toward the NaNoWriMo goals, I have only been writing 400 words a day and I still remember how difficult it was over the last three years to get those 1667 words per day in for the month of November. Maybe I’ll participate next year.

That’s about it for today. If the goblins don’t get me I’ll be back again next week for another update. Have a safe and happy Halloween, and keep writing!

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I Think I’m Getting the Hang of This

It only took me nine months. Three quarters of a year. Thirty nine weeks.

I think I’m finally getting the hang of writing short stories. Of course, since very few of them have been read by anyone, I may be way off base, but at least I’m getting a lot of practice. I finished this week’s story on Wednesday, then wrote another one on Thursday and started one more on Friday. I haven’t finished that last one yet, but I’m starting a new one for a new week anyway, and if I finish that one early I’ll go back and work on the other one again.

My story last week was about a challenge. It was really just a prelude scene to a much longer story, but that’s okay too. It was about a man who is approached by an older man in a cafe. There have been several murders involving young women, and they were all found in a state that suggests demonic sacrifice. The man is challenged to save another young woman by going to a remote location and figuring out how to use magic. Not the trickery and illusion of the stage magician, but real, honest-to-god magic like in the fairy tales. And at the very end of the story, I hint that the old man presenting the challenge is actually an older, time-traveling version of himself.

I am really thinking of expanding on this and writing the rest of the story, but it won’t be this year. Instead, I’ll just add it to the pile of other story ideas that I have come up with during the last nine months and let it simmer in the back of my head until I’m ready to take it to the next level.

On a different note, October is practically here, which means that NaNoWriMo is closing fast. I probably won’t be participating, as I don’t think I’ll be able to write 50,000 words of short stories in 30 days. But I’ll be thinking of all of you as I plod along, and I’ll definitely be hitting my keyboard next year. Probably with one of the previously mentioned ideas.

That’s about all I have time for today. See you next week!

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Too Much Story

This week I had the problem of having too much story for my goal. I am only writing short stories right now, and it didn’t take me very long to figure out that the story I had started was not something that could be told that quickly.

I started by showing my main character standing at the sink and thinking about everything that had just happened to him. I spent a few paragraphs talking about how there are secret things lurking just beneath the surface, and how at any minute they can pop up and ruin your life.

And that’s when I made the big mistake. I wrote the following sentence:

My house was a wreck, my car was in the police impound lot, my wife had taken the kids to stay with her sister, and my dog was missing.

So now I had to write a story which covered all of those things. A SHORT story.

Did I pull it off? Not so much.

While I did end up with a story that had at least mentioned all of those things, I actually never got around to wrapping things up into a full circle. The story kind of works, but it really needs to be a LOT longer.

I’m going to count it as done, even though it sucks. Like I said, I did get at least something in there for everything I had mentioned in that sentence. And the last sentence of the story provides a nice ending point. I could certainly do a lot more with it, and the situation brought up in the opening paragraph is totally left hanging, but that part could simply be removed in edits. Or, I could take what I have as a starting point and blow it up into a complete novel. I’m really tempted to do that, possibly for NaNoWriMo.

In other news, I’m still going strong on both the Magic Spreadsheet (82 days in my chain), and on DuoLingo (33 days in a row). I still only know 165 words of Spanish, but at least I am continuing to practice, and hopefully some of it is sinking in.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back next week to fill you in on yet another story in the growing Dirty Little Freaks anthology. See you then!

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The Prisoner

Last week’s story was different. At least for me.

I decided that I would write a story about a girl who was being held captive in a remote house. She never saw her guards, but she got fresh food on a regular basis and a daily assignment to keep her occupied. Other than the fact that there was no way to leave, it was a pretty comfortable prison.

But it was still a prison, and she missed having contact with other people. Especially her boyfriend. And after getting an assignment to write his obituary, she decided she couldn’t stick around any more and planned an escape. The story ends on the night that she makes her attempt, and, of course, that’s when something new popped into my head which turned the entire story on it’s head.

I realized that maybe the reason there weren’t any other people around was that there weren’t any other people. Maybe she wasn’t being held prisoner, but instead was being kept, like a zoo might do with endangered species. She might have been the last person left alive, and either machines were caring for her, or she had been taken to an alien zoo. I left the question hanging at the end, but I am thinking that when I edit this story I will need to work hints of it into the earlier parts so it doesn’t hit the reader completely out of the blue.

A big thing that made this story different for me was that I wrote it as a series of diary entries. I’m still using the Magic Spreadsheet (over 50 days in my chain now) and I figured that it would be easy to write one entry per day, which it was. There were a few days when I cut the entry short, but I tried to work it into the story in such a way that it seemed like a natural stopping point. But something that came out of that experience was that now I am considering writing something shorter for this week.

You see, by using the Magic Spreadsheet, I am making myself write at least 300 words a day. And since I am writing one story a week, that means that each story has to be at least 2,100 words. The final word count is actually more like 2,500. Before the Spreadsheet, I had some stories that were as short as 500 words, and quite a few that were less than 2,000.

I know that when I started using the Spreadsheet I knew that this was going to be an issue. At that time I had said that if I wrote a shorter story I would get my words in by either adding to or editing some of my older work. I think I’m ready to do that now.

This week, I’m going to write whatever comes to mind for my story, and if it is short, for the rest of the week I’ll work on something else. Maybe I’ll continue last year’s NaNoWriMo story, which wasn’t actually finished, even though I hit the word count goal. It has been a while though, so first I’ll have to read through it to remind myself what I was doing.

Or maybe I’ll start editing the YA superhero story I was working on last summer. I finished it before NaNoWriMo, but it’s just a first draft and maybe it’s time to start edits. I just finished reading EX-Heroes, by Peter Clines, so my mind is kind of in that mood anyway. If you haven’t heard of EX-Heroes, it’s something along the order of the Avengers meets the Walking Dead, and it’s pretty awesome. there are several other books in the series, and they have been added to my to-read list.

So that’s my update for the week. I’ll be back next Sunday to let you know how it went. See you then!

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I Feel Good!

I did it! I finally managed to write a story that wasn’t dark and disturbing. And the best part is that I have ideas on more of the same.

I actually finished Dirty Little Freaks #11 on Monday. Way ahead of schedule. And I didn’t have to go to the dark side to do it. It’s a little over 1200 words about a boy who goes exploring by himself and finds something wonderful. I used all first person, with no other characters, so there is no dialogue and no need to introduce himself, so I didn’t even have to come up with a name. However, I am planning to write more stories with this character, and I have decided to call him Trevor.

Trevor was out looking for the perfect tree for his tree house, and while he was exploring he became so in tune with the world that when his rope broke and he fell down, it triggered a vision that allowed him to see and manipulate matter at the atomic level. This allowed him to heal his injuries and walk away from his accident with no ill effects. But this is just the beginning. I’ve got four more stories planned that will chronicle how his powers develop over time, and those will be followed up by a novel-length adventure.

I’m calling him the Alchemist, and I am excited about this idea. I already have a rough plot drafted for the next four short stories, as well as the beginning of the novel. So now it looks like I have at least two possible ideas for this year’s NaNoWriMo, and if these short stories continue to inspire me like this I will probably have several more by the time November comes around.

I’m planning on spending the rest of this week continuing to plot out Trevor’s novel, and maybe make some refinements to the idea for his next short story. These ideas are enough to keep me going for the next four weeks, so I won’t need to worry about what to write for a long time. I’m not sure if I will write them all now, or spread them out over time. I guess that will depend on whether or not I get another idea that I can use instead.

Well, that’s all for today. I hope your writing is going well. If not, don’t worry. That’s what edits are for!

See you Sunday!

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And Now, For My Next Trick….

Going along with my theme from last week, I’m going to try to write a little bit of classic fantasy this week. Probably something with goblins in it. I’m not sure exactly what the story is, but I did have an interesting dream this morning that might be appropriate.

As for last week’s story, the best thing I can say about it is that it is finished. To be brutally honest, I think it sucks. But as we have all heard, it’s okay to suck. While the story itself is awful, it does contain within it the seeds of something better. Maybe even this year’s NaNoWriMo project, if I don’t come up with something better before November rolls around.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. I’ll be back on Wednesday to let you know how it is going.

Now go write!

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Another NaNoWriMo Win!

Sorry for the late post. I have been relaxing after the hectic pace of November. I haven’t done any writing in the last two days, and to be honest, it feels weird.

As you can see from my little sticker on the right, I have won another NaNoWriMo. That’s three years in a row I have managed to write 50,000 words in the month of November. This year I actually made it to 61,322 words, a personal best for me.

But the story isn’t finished yet, and to tell you the truth, it’s not even close. I am trying to decide whether to keep writing, or to take a break and do some more outlining work before I start up again. It would probably be a bad idea to keep going without knowing where the story is headed, but I think I can eke out a few more days worth of writing before I will have to stop.

I’m going to keep thinking about it, and maybe I’ll do a little more writing tomorrow. But not tonight.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with another update. I hope you all had a good November, and I wish you the best in this holiday season. See you soon!

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Still Writing

As you can see by my nifty NaNoWriMo word count meter, I’m still writing. As of Wednesday evening I have over 56,000 words written for this novel. I also think I might have an idea on how I can end the book. Or at the very least a good cliffhanger.

When I was planning this story, I simply could not comprehend how the Republican party had turned so fully against common sense. It seemed that everything they were doing was an attack on the American people. And so, like any good Christian, I assumed that they had been possessed by demons. That was a basic premise of my idea.

However, after I started writing it, I found it more focused on my heroes and less on the demons. Even with all of these words written, the demons are only mentioned a few times and never actually seen. There is no proof of any kind of demonic influence, only a statement by one of the Norns (from the Norse mythology, a little like the classic Greek Fates).

Today I was working on planning a raid by the rebel forces. I decided to attack the Dane County Coliseum, and I had to decide why. What I came up with was that the wealthy people in power have converted into something like the ancient Roman Coliseum, where gladiatorial and sexual events are held on a regular basis to entertain the elite. After the recent laws regarding the Castle Doctrine and the Republican war on women, I figured that kind of perversion would be something that many of them approve of if they had the power to enact it.

The rebels want to attack for two reasons. First, to take out some of the sick idiots running the place. They expect the Governor (who I hope will be indicted soon in real life) to be there along with several other political figures. Secondly, they want to film the depravities being conducted there and broadcast them to the public, hoping to incite outrage in the people and get more of them on their side.

My idea is that when they attack they will find more than they bargained for. They will find that after the fights and orgies are over, the demons come in to “clean up” by eating any surviving prisoners. No witnesses, right?

I think that might be a good way to end this book. I would have the big reveal of the truth behind the devastation of America, and the promise of more battles to come in the next book.

The other option, of course, is to do the reveal and then just keep writing. I could just keep going until the whole story is done, then break it up into sections for publishing, like Tolkien did with the Lord of the Rings.

I guess I’ll have to keep thinking about that. In the meantime, I’m going to try to keep up my pace until Friday, the end of November. Then I’ll verify my word count on the NaNoWriMo website to become an official winner. What comes after that, I’m not sure. I’ll probably need a break, because I’m running out of my pre-planned outline, and the story has changed so much from that anyway that I should probably take at least a few days to plan out the next phase of the story.

That’s all I’ve got for tonight. If you are participating in NaNoWriMo I hope you have either finished or are almost done. And if you didn’t join me in this month-long adventure in writing, there’s always next year!

See you again on Sunday. Good night!

PS: Now go write!

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Achievement Unlocked!

Yes, I hit the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words today. I am technically a winner.

However, that doesn’t mean I am done. Far from it. This story just keeps going on and on, which means I have to keep writing until I get to the end. Or at least until November 30.

I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s the fact that I had such a good idea of where the story was going to go when I started. Or maybe it’s because when I was planning it I was thinking that the idea was too big for just one book. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a better writer than I was for my first NaNoWriMo two years ago.

Whatever the reason, I feel that my writing has improved, and I am finding things in this story that I never planned for. Things that build it up into a stronger story. Things that make it longer than expected.

The longest story I have written so far was just over 60,000 words. At the rate this one is going it may hit 100,000. Let me give you an example.

When I wrote my last post my main concern for the following day was to get my hero out into the world and introduce him to someone who could train him. I thought it would happen right away.

I was wrong.

Instead, he got up in the middle of the night and met a young mother with a crying baby. He helped with the baby, reminisced about his own kids, and realized that the real reason he needed to be part of the rebel group was so the baby would have a future.

The next day, I wrote about what he had for breakfast, and the people who served it to him.

The day after that, I introduced him to his trainer, but then took the rest of the time traveling to a spot where they could train and getting him to see the magical world around him.

It wasn’t until today when he finally actually used the magic. At the very end of today’s scene.

That’s an awful lot of words written, and a lot of it is probably irrelevant, and will get cut in the editing. But then again, maybe not. As I said, the first scene with the baby gives him some motivation. The second scene with the breakfast introduces a secondary character that could become important if I want to introduce a little bit of romance. Or humor. The third scene was a good way to set up the way that magic works. And a big portion of today’s scene throws in some spiritual conflict, as well as a problem regarding the use of power.

So, lots of good stuff, even if it seemed to drag on when all I really wanted to do was to get to the magic training.

As I mentioned, even though I have hit the goal for November, I am going to continue to write, at the same level that I have been (daily goal of 1667 words per day). However, I’m not sure what I will do when I finish the month. I may continue to write, if the mood is right and the muse is there. If things stall out, though, I’ll probably take a break and review what I have done to see where I may have gotten off track and plan where I need to go next.

I’ll check in again on Wednesday. Keep your word count up! Now go write!

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