March 9, 2008

Word Count, Then Sleep

Posted in Writing tagged , , at 10:34 pm by lifelessonsfromwriting

Here’s the word count:

Current word count for [untitled]: 27, 520

And the sleep will be putting in an appearance as soon as I get to bed!

March 7, 2008

Internet-Zavvi

Posted in Writing tagged , , , , at 11:31 pm by lifelessonsfromwriting

So, I’ve got myself a full time job at Zavvi, a videogame/movie/music retail place. Whoo.

Of course, this means that I won’t have nearly as much time to write, but I knew that would happen eventually. I’ve made good progress so far, and I’ll be happy if I can keep up some of that momentum. We’ll see how things go; I’ll start doing word count targets again once I get settled into the new job and know how much time I’ll have.

As for the book itself, I’ve started to become more aware of the pacing in the story. For the first 22,000 words or so things were moving along pretty rapidly, but I want the story to slow down a bit more in the middle before gaining speed again for the climax. World building is something I’ve always enjoyed, but this is the first time I’ve really tested myself to see how good I am at it. While I doubt many readers would be confused as to what’s going on at this point, there are a lot of details I could probably expand on. Right now I’m planning on doing that further along the middle part of the book (around 30-40k words), but I could well find that I need to do more of it in the earlier stages too. The second draft is certainly going to be a challenge, but right now I need to focus on getting the first one done!

And I still don’t have a damn title. Really, I have absolutely no idea what name to give it. The first chapter is called ‘The Prince Is Dead’, but that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

Current word count for [untitled]: 25,877

Forgot to update this! Last night’s grand total was 26,810.

Writing Bonanza

Posted in Writing tagged , at 1:34 am by lifelessonsfromwriting

Well, I figure I’ve made up for not writing while in England. Take a look:

Current word count for [untitled]: 25, 645

I feel pretty good about that.

March 1, 2008

System Failure

Posted in Writing tagged , , at 10:52 am by lifelessonsfromwriting

So, I haven’t been writing much since coming to England for a few reasons. One is that my aunt’s house was extremely crowded and noisy up until yesterday (she has a five year old son), and the other was that I ended up with painful stomach cramps from something I ate over here.

My aunt is gone now (I’m minding the house for her over the weekend), which means that I should get a lot more writing done. I won’t be setting word count challenges for myself, though, beyond ‘500 words a day, at least’. It will be interesting to compare how I do now with how I did when I was setting daily targets for myself.

In other news, I have a second blog now. You can find it here.

February 26, 2008

Scientific Progress Goes BOINC

Posted in Writing tagged , , , , , , at 10:09 am by lifelessonsfromwriting

Berkley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, that is. I’ve been loaning my spare processor cycles (of which there are many – seriously, OpenOffice is the most taxing thing I ever run) to the SETI@Home project. I’ve always said that I want to live long enough see life on other planets discovered, if it is indeed out there, so I might as well lend a hand.

I overdid it a bit with the writing last night, in that I went nearly 900 words over what I had intended and stayed up until 2.30am to do it. Luckily I’m not working at the moment thanks to a distinct lack of having a job, but that’s not going to last much longer if I can help it. I figure I need to get as much writing done now, while I have no other obligations, as I possibly can.

I started writing [untitled] (it will get a name, I swear) on February the 14th. It’s now the 26th, which means that I’ve been working on it for a whole twelve days. If you divide 20,000 (my target word count for the day) by 12, you come out with the following number:

1666.6666666666666666666666666667

Well, I thought it was interesting… (Hey, maybe that should be my title, with the subtitle ‘Seriously, don’t get your hopes up.’ Do you think a publisher would go for it?)

Current word count for [untitled]: 19,031.

Target word count by the end of the day: 20,000

Current word count for [untitled]: 20,010

February 22, 2008

Word Count Works

Posted in Reading, Writing tagged , , , , , , at 12:00 pm by lifelessonsfromwriting

So, for the past few days I’ve been setting myself a challenge here by putting how many words I’d like to have written by the end of the day. I wasn’t really expecting it to work, but much earlier this morning I really put it to the test. Basically, due to a number of issues (none of which were all-encompassing laziness, I swear), I ended up with nothing written at 1.1oam. I was tired and really, really wanted to go to bed, but I had promised myself that I’d write about 500 words first. What to do?

If I hadn’t set myself a target for the day, I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t have written anything at all. Instead, I ended up writing well over what I had intended. (We’ll not say anything about the actual quality of that writing…)

As the title of this post suggests, the ‘word count’ method seems to work for me. With that in mind, scroll to the bottom of this post and gaze upon the truly epic target that I’ve set myself today. Or alternatively, read my little rant first:

This is probably the dumbest book I’ve seen for a long time, and I once tried to read ‘A Million Little Pieces’. The title, the subject matter, the fact that Russel Brand is on the cover…it really hasn’t got anything going for it. The original manuscript should have been ejected into space as soon as Brand finished it.

Predictably enough, it’s a best seller in Ireland. I suppose the picture on the cover helped potential buyers identify with the author. Either that or they thought they were looking at a mirror and decided they could do with a new one. It’s a sad day when people are entertained by the self-indulgent rantings of some jackass who got famous despite looking and acting as if both sides of his brain melted together from drug overdose.

In other news, Why People Believe Weird Things is a very interesting read, although I’m a bit too framiliar with some of the topics to learn anything new from several of the chapters. Since Ireland seems to be enjoying a bumper crop of what could charitably be called ‘weird things’, I might pull a Shermer and cover one or two of them here.

Current word count for [untitled]: 14, 423

Target word count for the end of the day: 17,000

Current word count: 17, 038 (Success! And now, I’m going to sleep!)

February 18, 2008

The Incredibly Convoluted Life of ‘Story’

Posted in Writing tagged , at 5:59 pm by lifelessonsfromwriting

Before I started writing seriously, I always assumed (like a lot of people, I think) that writing a 350 page novel is a fairly linear, straightforward procedure. The writer comes up with a plot, a bunch of characters, some interesting and witty dialogue and a good ending, then writes it all up and sends it off to the publisher.

Of course that’s not how it happens at all (unfortunately), but one thing that still takes me surprise is that the ‘finished product’, a story or novel, might bear almost no resemblance to what the writer originally set out to do. A friend of mine was surprised to learn that writers frequently change endings, cut characters, remove or add subplots and even change main characters right up until the book is actually finished, and even afterwards.

As if to drive this point home, I recently went through a bout of something like this with my current story that was a bit more convoluted than what I’m used to. Here, in abbreviated form, is the timeline of my as-yet untitled novel:

Mid-2006: I wrote half of a novel with two alternating storylines running parallel to each other, with one given more focus than the other (let’s call them plot A and plot B). Halfway through, I ran out of steam because I had made the mistake of trying to write an idea rather than a story (trust me, I’ll be talking about that again).

2007: Several months passed, and I continued to keep both of those parallel storylines in mind, intending on writing the whole novel again at one point – but properly, this time. In late 2007 I actually worked out the story from beginning to end, in rough form, and was determined to write it.

2008: In late January I actually started to rewrite the novel, but decided to take out plot B entirely (remember him?). Plot A was always more important anyway, and I know exactly how it will go. Unfortunately, I found myself constantly staring at the screen of my laptop, knowing exactly what I wanted to write but completely unable to find the words for it. When you’re on page 15, this is a bad sign.

Since this has happened to me several times before, but never with stories I was this excited about, I was a bit annoyed. In a fit of what I can only imagine was temporary insanity, I threw out plot A, merged plot B with another, fairly undeveloped story idea I had at the time, and decided to write that instead. That was about two weeks ago, and I’m still at it. My current ‘plot B’ (the entirety of the novel) bears almost no resemblance to the original ‘plot B’ from 2006. It’s set in the same fictional world, but even that has been changed hugely.

I’m fairly certain this would come as a big surprise to my non-writer friends, simply because it seems so convoluted; almost as if I’m making things difficult for myself on purpose. Unfortunately, that’s just how writing goes. If anyone reads this and has got similar stories, feel free to post them in a comment. The weirder the better!

Current word count for [untitled]: 11,859

Target word count by the end of the day: 12,500

Current word count for [untilted]:  12, 796