Sunday, May 14, 2017

First Draft Completed !

I finally finished writing the first draft of my fantasy novel. It was a long road, but one that I enjoyed quite a bit. I haven't written a work this long in many year.  it did feel good to sit down with a long story and let it unfold.

Here are some stats for those who are interested, and for posterity.

Started prep work on August 1, 2016.
Started novel work on August 19, 2016
Completed first draft on May 9, 2017
134,016 Words in First Draft
21 Chapters with a prologue and epilogue that are both about half a page long.

There was a lull in there around December and January where I didn't work very much on the novel. I would probably have finished it in March or so if I had stuck with my schedule from NaNoWriMo. I'm curious to see if the break affected the writing at all.

I ran into my usual problem with long fiction. I started off full of enthusiasm and burned through the first third or so. After that it became a bit harder to work through. The final third was difficult because I had several action sequences. I find those very challenging to write because I am very conscious that I could be overwriting them. I usually end up just throwing down a bunch of stuff and figuring that I can work it all out in the second draft.

This  novel probably had the largest number of main characters in it since my first novel. That first novel was written back in the late 90s and was filled with youthful excitement and insanity. Kind of funny to go back and read now. But I kept piling on characters, and since it was inspired by anime series of the day, some of the characters and plot lines were just bizarre and in conflict with each other.

This time I worked out backgrounds for my eight primary characters, as well as some history about the main location of the story. I think that helped to have that all fully realized before I dove in. I didn't reference my "story bible" too often, but the work spent there made it quite clear in my head.

I am a bit worried that ending might feel anticlimactic. I also think that one of my characters came across as a bit too stereotypical. I'll probably have to do some work with her on the next pass. I'm looking forward to rereading it.

But I'm going to follow Mr. King's advice and let the story sit for about a month or so. I've done this in the past and it really does help when you go back and reread it. In the meantime I think I might work on some shorter fiction. Been a long time since I tackled a short story or two. While I was working on this novel, I actually had a couple of ideas I jotted down (that always happens, and they always seem better then what you are working on at the time).

But first time to celebrate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 - November 29

And tonight I crossed the fishline for National Novel Writing Month. It was a fun ride again this year, and I have to say that I feel like I got a good chunk of my novel completed because I had that driving deadline in front of me. Official total number of words for this year is 51583. But that only represents a portion of the total word count of the book. I had already written about 27000 words of the novel when I started, and doesn't sound the 30000 words spent on the world building and character creation work that I started in August. All told, that is a lot of material for just this one book.

What is great is that I haven't really felt any drag in writing this novel. Each time I sat down to work on it, it really felt like it was flowing pretty good. There were a couple days where it was tough to work, but I still met the minimum word count and was able to progress the story further.

At this point I'm still working away at Act 2 of the story. I'm going to toggle between the protagonists and antaongists as they continue their journey toward the goal. This means I'll continue working on the novel until it ends. At this point it could be mid-January when I finally wrap, depending on how busy December gets.

I will continue to post updates on this blog, but they will be a little less frequent and be more focused on the process of writing this novel and less on the word count goals. Speaking of that, here are the stats for the final night of writing for NaNoWriMo 2016.

Page Start: 177
Page End: 184
Word Count Start: 76163
Word Count End: 79194
Nanowrimo Word Count: 51562
Music:

  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Jeremy Soule
Thank you to everyone who has been reading and cheering me on. Your encouragement means a lot!

Monday, November 28, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 - November 28

So yeah I took some time off from NaNoWriMo. I was doing so well, I figured I didn't have to sweat things too much during Thanksgiving. We had people over, so that meant time spent prepping, time spent cleaning up and time spent recovering from massive amounts of food. So five days without writing a word meant that I felt a little cold when I sat back down at the desk to start back in. But I did a quick bit of rereading the first three pages of the chapter I started and it was pretty easy to get back into the story.

Protagonists are entering some dangerous territory this time and are about to encounter their first major obstacle. I originally had an attack by panther happening in this sequence, but I switched it for something a bit more bizarre. I left an homage to the panther idea as the priestesses discover a strange panther statue that acts as a warning marker.

Today I was listening to The Golden Voyage of Sinbad one of my favorite Harryhausen scores and one of my favorite Harryhausen films. There is also a little homage to this film coming up too. So I thought it was fitting to listen to it while I wrote.

Looking at the word count I think I'm going to meet my goal in my next writing session. That might be tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest. Cutting this a bit close, but I'll still make it.

Tonight's stats:

Page Start: 169
Page End:n 177
Word Count Start: 72625
Word Count End: 76163
Nanowrimo Word Count: 48531
Music:
  • The Golden Voyage of Sinbad – Mikos Rozsa
  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion- Jeremy Soule

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 - November 22

Another day I get a late start, but another day I don't let that stop me. I pressed ahead to finish may action scene. Gotta say that I could see this sequence appearing in a classic adventure film with the antagonists battling a stop motion Ray Harryhausen monster that emerges from the river and attacks. Had some fun coming up with a way for them to escape a bloody demise.

That chapter ends with the leader of the antagonists worrying about the toll the dangers are taking on the groups unity and if he has enough pull to keep them together to achieve his ends. Then I started in on the next chapter focusing on my protagonists as they begin their journey through the jungle to reach the same final location. Of course the path isn't going to be easy for them either. Some of the challenges will be geographical, but I have some monstrous elements in store for them too. Harryhausen creatures all around.

Of cours this meant I had to listen to some Harryhausen music. "Jason and the Argonauts" is one of Bernard Herrman's most bombastic and colorful adventure scores. Fit great with the monstrous creature attack that I started the writing out with, especially the music for the Talos scene in the film.

Stats for the evening:

11/22/16
Page Start: 161
Page End: 169
Word Count Start: 69360
Word Count End: 72625
Nanowrimo Word Count: 44993
Music:
  • Jason and the Argonauts – Bernard Herrmann
  • Fire and Ice – William Kraft

Monday, November 21, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 - November 21

I got another late start today. We are hosting Thanksgiving again, so when I get home from the office I try to get some stuff down around the house. So I was messing around for a good while before I finally had dinner and then sat down to write. I was afraid I was going to end up barely meeting my goal, so I just focused on the task and kept writing.

I was even able to ignore the cat who came in to remind me when his snack time arrived with some yelling and a gentle tap on the arm. But other than a quick break for his snack, I kept writing and writing and writing. I actually passed by target by about 1000 words, which brings me ever so much closer to my final goal for the contest. That's great news, because I'm thinking that I'm not going to get much more writing done this week. We'll have to see.

What helped me keep writing was working on a pretty exciting action sequence, that popped into my head on break at the office. It made for a surprising peril and it actually leads directly into the original peril I thought up for this scene. Back to back dangers really put the characters on their toes. They were fracturing before, but now a couple of them are really questioning what the hell they are doing in this jungle hell.

As for the musical selections, well Goldsmith always writes great action cues. Both these scores deal with characters in and around water, so it seemed fitting for the writing tonight.

The stats:

Page Start: 153
Page End: 161
Word Count Start: 65513
Word Count End: 69360
Nanowrimo Word Count: 41728
Music:
  • Deep Rising – Jerry Goldsmith
  • Congo – Jerry Goldmith

Sunday, November 20, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 - November 20

I had planned to get some writing done on Saturday and maybe even get some more done on Sunday. But Saturday turned out to be a bit of a bust, so I was only able to get writing done today. Still traveling up the dark river with my antagonists. They are getting closer to their goal and things aren't going quite as well as they hoped. There is tension in the ranks, and they are about to run into a big challenge. I'll be tackling that tomorrow. But for today I got to write as the misanthrope for a bit. That was fun.

Not much else to add. I'm still having fun writing, even though i'm still a bit nervous about overworking this section of the story. I'm really curious to see how it reads and how much trimming it will need.

Here are the stats for today:

Page Start: 146
Page End: 153
Word Count Start: 62474
Word Count End: 65513
Nanowrimo Word Count: 37881
Music:
  • Ben Hur (1959) – Miklos Rozsa
  • Dragonheart – Randy Edelman

Thursday, November 17, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 - November 17

Got a bit of a late start tonight so I'm going to keep this one the short side. Had a bit of trouble getting back into the mind of the loathsome antagonist. But once i got there it wasn't too bad. I covered the first peril they run into and then they get to talking about some of the legends around the river they are traveling. One of the concepts in this story is that there are all these stories and legends that permeate this world. But some cultures see the same events in different ways. As they are talking this occurs with one story being about the birth of a glorious kingdom, and the other seeing it a corrupt race perpetuating itself.

I had a good conversation with my wife about one of my protagonists who was feeling a bit one note. She gave me some good insight into the mind of someone who strives so hard because they are insecure about themselves. That element is missing from this character, who is coming across more like a straight up bitch. I think my second draft will build on those insecurities a bit more, giving her a bit more depth and maybe even making her sympathetic at times.

Well that's all for tonight.

Stats:

Page Start: 139
Page End: 146
Word Count Start: 59506
Word Count End: 62474
Nanowrimo Word Count: 34842
Music:
  • Dragon Age 2 – Inon Zur
  • Red Sonja – Ennio Morricone
  • Sword and Sorcery Spectacular – Basil Poledouris