Archive for NaNoWriMo

Discovery Writing

Posted in Events with tags , , , , on December 1, 2012 by jaclemens

word countI’ve been discovery writing my WIP, and through NaNoWriMo I discovered that I’m capable of writing more than 10,000 words in a month! I didn’t quite reach 50,000 – not even with an 18,000 word head start – but I set a new personal best of 10,831. That represents a 59% increase to my WIP! If I sustain that rate of words per month I will have 50,000 words by February. It’s taken me longer than I care to admit to write the first seven chapters; in the past two months I’ve added eight more! My WIP grew more during NaNoWriMo than my beard grew during No Shave November.

My output for week 4 dropped off a bit, down to 2223 words in 5 days. I finished the month strong with 438 words on Thursday and 1,066 words on Friday. That was my highest single day (not surprising for the day before the deadline!), and only the second time I topped 1,000 in a day. If I could consistently reach 1,000 words a day I could double my monthly total and reach 50,000 by the end of the year.

It’s difficult to predict how many words I can discovery write in a day; in one group scene I wrote four new side characters made surprise debuts. I didn’t know their personalities until I began writing dialogue for them. Their roles could be reduced, expanded, or eliminated as the story develops. Not all of the words I wrote this month will make it into the first draft, let alone the final manuscript. I took some false turns along the way, but those days became writing exercises that informed the back story. My other challenge to increasing my word count is that I am handwriting the story in a journal to get the first person tone right. It’s necessary to the process, but it does divide my time to type up what I’ve written by hand during the day.

I can’t predict how many words it will take to complete my WIP, but I would like to have the first draft finished by March. Thanks to the lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo, that’s only months away instead of years!

Black Friday

Posted in Events with tags , , , , on November 23, 2012 by jaclemens

The third week of NaNoWriMo was my best yet! I wrote 2,900 words in five days! That’s the highest weekly total and the highest per day average (580) thus far. I haven’t exceeded 1,000 words in a single day since day two, but I improved my daily consistency. I’m close to completing another chapter, which will be the sixth new chapter in the past two months. During NaNoWriMo I have added 7,100 words, pushing my WIP over 25,000 words. It’s not the 35,000 words I’d need to be on pace for 50,000 by the end of the month, but it is a 39% increase. With another 2,000 words in week four I could reach 50%. I won’t be out shopping on Black Friday, but, following Utah’s season finale this afternoon, I may go to a certain bookstore to write.

Stamp of Approval

Posted in Events, Fiction, New release with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by jaclemens

I got to the polls right when they opened on Election Day so I could spend the evening at a Brandon Sanderson reading and signing. The event was held at Weller Book Works, and it was my first visit to the new Trolley Square location. I got there early so I could browse and get a feel for the new layout. I’m glad I did, as it is a great set up and because Sanderson volunteered to field some questions before the event officially began.

The appearance was to promote his latest release, The Emperor’s Soul, but he took questions on all of his books. He declined to answer some questions about the Wheel of Time finale, and one woman asked a question on grooming habits that he honestly couldn’t answer. Aside from that he was affable and generous with his time, taking more questions after the reading and soliciting questions from fans as he signed all of the many books put before him (I had him sign my hardcover copy of The Alloy of Law, as it has been awhile since I’ve been able to attend one of his signings). Sanderson is not only a popular author, he’s also a personable author.

Completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series has been a tremendous opportunity for him, but doing so has taken a great deal of his writing time. He was concerned that 2012 would mark the first time he wouldn’t have an original work released since 2005, so he conceived The Emperor’s Soul on a trip back from appearing in Taiwan. He worked on it in the interim while A Memory of Light was in the final stages of editing, and it was released this month in a trade paperback from Tachyon Publications. When I learned of the book’s impending release I contacted Charlene Brusso at Tachyon to request an advance copy, which she sent along with Epic: Legends of Fantasy, an anthology that includes an excerpt from The Way of Kings, and Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia A. McKillip. I got it signed by the author, and he numbered it #45.

Although he was promoting The Emperor’s Soul, he did not read from it. Instead he read from the first draft of the second book in The Stormlight Archive! Now that AMOL is finished he has resumed work on his own mega-series, and we got to hear a section with a new viewpoint character! That was an exciting extra feature for attending the event; Sanderson really goes out of his way to support the brick-and-mortar stores in return for promoting his work. Customers who bought print copies of the book were invited to e-mail proof to Sanderson’s website to receive a free copy of the e-book; he isn’t shying away from digital editions, but he sees the two forms as complementary.

Leading up to the event I listened to the audiobook version of Legion, a novella Sanderson published with Subterranean Press in August. Because audible.com is a sponsor of the Writing Excuses podcasts that Sanderson produces with three other writers, the site is currently offering free downloads of Legion. I took advantage of the offer, and I enjoyed Oliver Wyman’s narration of the story. Legion is about a character with multiple personalities with whom he interacts, and Wyman performs all the voices distinctly without it being obtrusive. The story itself is brief, which is uncommon for Sanderson’s writing. He explained that he originally pitched the idea to Dan Wells, another member of the Writing Excuses team, before deciding to write it himself. It’s written as a pitch for a tv series, so it should be read not as a finished tale, but as a pilot episode. In that vein it succeeds, and I look forward to the series being created.

I finished listening to Legion while waiting in line to have my books signed, so I switched over to an episode of Writing Excuses. It was slightly surreal to listen to a recording of Sanderson giving advice while waiting in line to speak with him, but I couldn’t get enough! When that was over I began reading The Emperor’s Soul (not much in advance, admittedly). That made it difficult to concentrate on writing while waiting for the train, but, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I compensated. I was able to keep my word count creeping up and still find the odd moment to read, somewhat in the manner that the book was written. Inspired by a visit to a national museum in Taiwan, Sanderson created a system of magic that employs stamps that can rewrite the history of an object. What would happen to a person if their history was rewritten? And what if that person was the Emperor? Shai is a Forger facing execution for her crimes, but an assassination attempt on the Emperor grants her a stay of execution for 90 days while she replicates the Emperor’s soul. Sanderson’s magic systems always impress, but this shorter form forced him to leave out some of his own hallmarks, such as a prologue that showed a conversation between Shai and Hoid, an inimitable character who finds his way into most of Sanderson’s novels. He loved the scene, but it did not fit the story so it had to be cut. At the other end the story has no twist ending, which was hard for me to accept. Only when I listened to his explanation on Writing Excuses did I come to terms with the straightforward ending that satisfies the characters’ arcs.

I rounded out my reading of his short fiction with the e-book Firstborn. Originally released as a Kindle edition in 2008, it was later re-released by Tor in a DRM-free format. I purchased it on my nook color and read it on an iPad. I’m not accustomed to reading on digital devices yet, but it was the simplest way of acquiring this particular story. Firstborn is a different venture for Sanderson as well, as it is short form science fiction. It’s a story about a second son who lives in the shadow of his older brother’s burnished star. The firstborn is a military genius with an unblemished record, while the younger brother has nothing but blemishes and blunders on his record. That won’t cut it for the son of a High Duke; greatness is thrust upon him, only to slip out of his hands and shatter on the floor. He tries to live up to the expectations, but he knows his own limitations. Is it possible he might know the limitations of his unbeatable brother, too? This story does have the twist ending I’ve come to expect from Brandon Sanderson, and he never disappoints.

Loss for Words

Posted in Events with tags , , , on November 15, 2012 by jaclemens

Week two of the write more/shave less challenge was a drop off from week one. I wrote on four days instead of five and wrote fewer words per day. As Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal stated on the Writing Excuses podcast, production tends to decline in the middle weeks. My word count for the week was 1680, which is an average day’s amount for NaNoWriMo. The goal is clearly out-of-reach at the halfway point, but I am not discouraged. I have only added 4200 words to my WIP this month, but I have added five new chapters over the past two months. That’s slower than NaNoWriMo pace, but it’s a significant increase over my usual pace! I’m getting into the habit of writing every day (although I missed a day last week), and that is helping to keep the story flowing. As for No Shave November, I haven’t missed a day!

A Week’s Worth

Posted in Events with tags , , on November 8, 2012 by jaclemens

One week into NaNoWriMo/No Shave November and I’m showing a bit of growth in each area. In order to hit 50,000 words in one month a writer would need to average about 1,700 words per day. I had an 18,000 word head start, which means I’d need to average a thousand words a day. After one week I should have added approximately 7,000 words, which would have put me halfway to 50,000; I managed to get 2,500 words written in five days. I did hit 1,000 on one day, but I was well below the mark on the other four. To make up the difference I would need to average 1,300 words a day from here on out. I don’t want to throw in the towel after one week, but I don’t see that happening.

I’m in a similar predicament with my beard – it hasn’t grown out as much as might be expected in a week, but I’m liking the stubbly look. I may not go for the full-grown beard after all. I may not complete either one of my challenges this month, but I’m going to keep at them for at least another week.

NaNoShaveMo

Posted in Events with tags , , , on November 1, 2012 by jaclemens

I shaved my beard for Halloween, but the sight of my own face after so many years is unsettling. Fortunately the timing is just right for No Shave November. I’d be growing my beard back anyway, so the only difference is documenting the daily growth. It’s also NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I haven’t participated in NaNoWriMo before, as it, like No Shave November, requires starting from scratch. I already have a novel in (marginal) progress, so it doesn’t qualify for NaNoWriMo. I’m still going to use it as incentive to reach 50,000 words, however. What will grow faster: the beard or the novel?