March Writing Update

At the end of this weekend, I should be around 50,000 words into The Sovereign of Tel. I hope to be finished with a decent first draft by the end of April. I am not completely happy with it right now, but I’m soldiering on anyway in the hope that I can patch it up in a rewrite.

My coolest achievement for the month is this nifty spreadsheet to keep track of my word totals. It does nifty gradients and everything. I set a 7,500 word goal for Monday through Friday, and originally I set a 5,000 word goal for the weekend, thinking I would obviously have more time to write. Well, perhaps counter-intuitively, it turns out, after a week of a day job and writing, I don’t seem to have the energy to write a lot on the weekend. So now I’ve shifted it back down to the regular 3,000 words. (I can’t remember where I read it, so I can’t give credit, but somewhere I read that setting a weekly word count goal might work better than a daily word count goal. So far it’s working for me.)

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I have also planned out my writing schedule for the rest of the year, and hopefully every subsequent year. I will write a novel from January-April, take May off, then write a novel from June through September, then take October off, then do NaNoWriMo in November, and take December off. The idea is to write as many novel drafts as I can.

With this Tel book, I tried to outline everything in the book from beginning to end, so I wouldn’t get to the end and find myself struggling to figure out how to tie everything together like I usually do. Well, it didn’t work. My outline wasn’t detailed enough, and I still don’t know how to tie everything together. So lesson learned: Either a) Spend more time outlining the ending, or b) Just plan on “discovering” the ending no matter what.

I did a more detailed outline because I wanted to find out if I work better as an “outliner” than as a “discovery writer.” Outline writers plan everything out beforehand and work from that. Discovery writers basically make it up as they go, and fix continuity problems in a rewrite. Thus far I’ve been more of a discovery writer, but I wanted to try outlining.

As it turned out, I still deviated from the outline. So I guess even with an outline, I still want to “discover” things. On the other hand, an outline is very useful for giving me at least a framework of what’s going on, and at least a fuzzy idea of where things are going. When you’re staring at a blank page, it’s really helpful to bring up the outline and re-remember what’s supposed to be happening.

So I guess I’m sort of a half-outline, half-discovery writer. It seems like I outline to the point in the story where things need to start getting resolved, and then I start discovering. It’s kind of a frustrating way to work, actually.

February Update

Time for another fan update. Because real writers do that, or so I’ve read.

Last time I mentioned a short story about a magic sword with a bad personality. Well, I got bored with that. I was trying to write it from the perspective of the sword, which sounded very cool in my head, but, well, it didn’t work out.

I did, in fact, write a short story called Lucas the Jewish Vampire, which I thought was hilarious, but it will probably not be as funny when I go back to revise it. (In it, I learned that vampires are afraid of rabbis… who knew?)

I also wrote a very short story about a harpy named Margway, who was a side character in my NaNoWriMo novel Kubak Outpost. The short story is the chapter I had envisioned to introduce her character long before I had decided on the Kubak story. In it, we find out she had lost her son in a tragic accident, and her husband died in battle (mainly from grief over losing their son), and then she was driven out of her home eyrie, so now she wanders the land, bitter and alone, looking for her true purpose in life. As it turned out, none of that was relevant to the Kubak story. But I thought the harpy race has been sorely under-represented in fantasy literature.

Speaking of Kubak Outpost, I think I have decided that instead of splitting it into two different novellas, I will attempt (later) to patch it all up into one novel. I think I just need to move some of the elements from the second half up closer to the beginning.

Before revisiting Kubak, though, I began a new fantasy novel, part of my finish-two-more-novels-before-November master plan. It was going to be set in a world with big floating creatures that served as transportation between mountain cities, but as I outlined and re-outlined and re-re-outlined the story (something I don’t normally do, incidentally), the flying stuff didn’t come into play at all, so now it’s just set in a regular old medieval city, where the Elahi aristocracy breed and train their Buhite servants, sort of like dog breeders. What could possibly be more uplifting than a story about the human capacity to fully degrade and de-humanize another species?

Oh, and I installed WordPress on my site, so I won’t be using Tumblr anymore. Now you can see my witty Twitter updates and my witty blog posts in the same place!

Update

I like to keep both of my fans informed of my work, so here’s what I’m doing.

This month I have been working on revising my NaNoWriMo 2011 novel, and it hasn’t been going very well. I finished close to half of a second draft, wherein I rewrote a lot from scratch, but I had to stop when I sensed a rather major flaw. I like the characters and I particularly like the character relationships, but there is unfortunately a startling lack of plot around them. In fact, the plot that I had intended to be the main focus of the novel back in November doesn’t start until about the halfway point, which I’m pretty sure is not the way these things are supposed to work. Breaking it up into two different novellas is the only way I can imagine rescuing it. I have patched together the first one as a third draft, but it still needs considerable work before it turns into a Three Act Story.

In the meantime I am going to start a new project: A short story about a magic sword.

After that, well, I’m not sure. I just finished watching all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I’m pretty sure is the quintessential template for urban/paranormal fantasy, so I have a few ideas in that area. I want to write something that undermines all modern vampire tropes. For example, one of the vampires might be sort of a Jewish hypochondriac, like Woody Allen, with one of the super old school vampire “powers” like severe OCD. Unfortunately, given the absolute glut of vampires, werewolves, and zombies in urban fantasy right now, it’s impossible for me to believe that such a concept could be sold. But it would still be fun to write.