Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Post-NaNo Wrap-up

Now that November's almost officially over and NaNo along with it, I just wanted to go over what I was able to accomplish and what I learned from four years of doing it.

1. My first drafts top out at about 50k. I've won NaNo three years in a row and I always stumble to the finish line. My story peters out at about 45,000 words and I frantically add a sentence here or there to cross the 50,000 threshold. I think every time I've done it, my word count ends up being less than a hundred words over the winning amount. I think no matter what I do, I focus more on the desired word count and rush through the story to reach it instead of letting the story develop organically.

2. It doesn't matter if I plot or pants it. The first two years I went into NaNo with a basic idea in mind but no real plan. I knew a few things I wanted to happen, a few characters I wanted in it, and maybe a scene or two. Both times, I was able to stretch it out to the desired length. This year I went with an outline, one a lot more fleshed out than my disastrous first NaNo attempt in 2012, and I still barely ended up with a win. It's telling me that putting a lot of prep time into a story or not doesn't matter as much as taking my time to write it. After editing my first win, I was able to extend it out to 75k words, which is a length I'm happy with.

3. I'm an ass hole when I do NaNo. I wrote a lot of the story at work in my free time, but I would spend some nights at home writing if I had a busy day. With the wife dealing with the baby most of the time, I'd stay up late to write, but I'd get an attitude with her if she wanted to do something for herself. While NaNo is important to me, it's not important enough that I should shovel my duties in to her so I can accomplish it. It wouldn't be so bad if NaNo was in February or even January, but November's too busy with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

4. I don't write as much when I do NaNo. Don't get me wrong, NaNo is a great way to words on the page, but since it focuses almost totally on writing one month of the year, it's difficult to keep writing the rest of the year, at least for me. I hold off on writing as November gets close, hoping not to burn myself out before it's over. And during NaNo, I can't focus on anything besides the writing, like modeling or art stuff. Granted, the rest of the year is supposed to go towards editing that novel, with January being full od support and tips, but still consolidating all of that into one month instead of promoting it year-round, makes it hard to continue once the month is over.

5. I don't get a lot out of NaNo. I'll be honest, besides that bar graph, I get no real motivation to work on my story from NaNo. They post a lot of pep-talks, even though I noticed fewer this year than the previous ones, but I never read them. They encourage word sprints and write-ins, which I never participate in. I have a few writing buddies there, but since all of them are in my critique group, we update each other on our progress outside of NaNo's email service.

This is leading me to think this might be my last NaNo. As long as I give myself a deadline to write a first draft, I can push it out any time of the year. And there are much easier months to do it in. Times when family events are disrupted or put on hold. I can be more flexible with when I have to work and when I can take a break. And I can adjust the length I want to shoot for - or just ignore the length entirely and write the story the way I want.

"How does this all apply to Old School Evil?" I'm sure you're all asking. Don't deny it. The first Old School Evil is totally complete and has taken me two years to finish it. That's a whole year longer than I originally planned, since I had no idea how grueling editing could be and how many rounds of beta-readers I needed to go through. But it's done, and hopefully I can hasten the process a bit.

I've got the first draft of Old School Evil done from last year's NaNo. I'm hoping to have it done by May 1st, 2018, giving myself 1.5 years. However, instead of building on a decent first draft like the first book, I'm not really happy with book 2 and I'll need to rewrite most of it from the ground up. I've got a much better idea of what I want it to end up like, but it'll take significantly more work to get it there.

This year, I wrote a spin-off book that is set in the Old School Universe but won't crossover much with the main Old School Evil story. I'm not in a hurry to get it finished, but I don't think it will take as long to polish since I do like the story. I'm going to hold off on it though so I can do the third book in the Old School Evil series. If I split my time writing it and editing the second book, Maybe I can have both done sooner than later, but I'm trying not to put too much of a deadline on anything besides finishing Old School Evil 2. And without focusing all my attention on November, I'm hoping I can be more productive than before.

Monday, November 28, 2016

November's Dying

As we come to the end of November and National Novel Writing Month, I want to take some time to talk about what happens afterward, what the next step usually is and plans further out. I will be making a post on the 30th detailing what I was able to accomplish this month and where I will be going from there.

Next Monday, as we move into December, we'll be getting to our last four Villain Retrospectives and once the new year hits, we'll be starting something I think will be a lot of fun.  For now though, I'm going to recharge after a stressful Thanksgiving and the even more stressful Christmas season.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It's over!

Clocking in at 50,062 words, my NaNo entry, Keystone: A Novel is complete! Man, I'm typing everything wrong here, my fingers must be sick of working. Now to relax until December starts because that's when the real work begins.

Monday, November 21, 2016

NaNoWriMo Progress Report - Week 3

On the final stretch now! Broke into the final 5,000 words last night with a 3,000 word rush. I'm in the midst of the climax now and the protagonist is a paragraph or two from being defeated. I think it'll only be another 1,000 words before the end of the scene and the rest will be a (I'm guess) pretty lame resolution. When I was making up the outline for the novel, I don't think I ever touched on what happens after the heroes win. I'll pull something out of my ass, and if my first book is any indication, I'll rewrite the whole ending anyway.

Back at it!

Monday, November 14, 2016

NaNoWriMo Progress Report - Week 2

I had a stumble over the weekend but I'm hoping to come back strong today. I was able to break through the 30,000 word threshold yesterday in a late night rush to get the daily 1667 and only got 105 words over it.

I have nothing left in my outline to do besides the climax, so I'm trying to fill in a lot of extra details and events. I'm adding a few characters into the story that originally were only going to be mentioned as being inactive - background information and stuff. I think they're a good fit for the story and will provide for an exciting battle.

I added in another character whose power only works when he's got a full bladder. I really don't like the power at all, so I'm sure it's going to change later on, but it seemed like a decent fight or flight power mechanic. I'm working on making it a reasonable power though.

Back at it if I'm going to try to cross 5K again!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

NaNo Update - Milestones

I'm not going to do a whole update to my NaNo novel, but I'm proud to say I hit two milestones yesterday.

First, I passed 25,000 words yesterday. I was going to hit it eventually, of course, but this is the fastest I have gotten this far. I hit it ten whole days quicker than I did in 2014. Over half way done and still two thirds of the month to go.

Second, I wrote over 5,000 words. I've never written that many words in one day and it felt great to cross that threshold.

I generally track my writing progress in Excel, but I missed most of the days last year.  It wasn't a terribly productive year, though, so I don't think there were any major milestones I made over the previous year.
I also track my writing progress in Habitica, an awesome gamified to-do list, and yesterday I was able check off all of my writing habits, earning myself a huge amount of XP.

That's enough of an update, back at it!

Monday, November 7, 2016

NaNoWriMo Progress Report - Week 1

I really should work on this graph some more.

First week of NaNo is almost complete and here's where I am so far. The black bar represents the total words I've written each day, while the reed is the total words in the story so far. I started out really strong on the first, which has been pretty common for me the last few years I've done this. Besides the fifth, I've been able to stay above the 1667 daily word count. That's the amount you'd have to write daily to get to 50k on the 30th. I only wrote 1400 that day, but the rest have been at least a few hundred over so right now I'm about 5,000 words over the estimated amount needed by the 6th.

Still need to write today, but I think I'm good for a few thousand. As far as the outline goes, I think I'm staying pretty close to what I had planned and I'm not rushing through it either. I've still got a couple other big fights to write and the climax is quite a ways off. I've got a few characters to come up with, but I think I can figure out what I need to fit the story just right.