Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Turning things around!

Last night I wrote over a thousand words. Boy that feels good. Not only did it feel good to get a scene out of my head, but it turned out really good. I think that after editing it will be really good.

On top of exceeding my daily goal I learned something about myself and they way that I write. That lesson, as far as I am concerned, is worth it's weight in gold. What was his lesson you might be asking yourself. I learned about implying aspects of my character through the story instead of doing a brain-dump.

I also learned something about the Narrator of my story. He is definitely NOT me. :) Suddenly as I was sitting and watching the screen, my fingers took over and the voice of my narrator became audibly clear in my head. My fingers danced over the keyboard and I was entranced by the story that was being written. I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed the voice of the narrator. It was a really cool experience. I think that I am beginning to realize why authors LOVE to write.

It is so exciting to see the ideas that well up inside my head find relief as they are typed, word by individual word across the screen of my computer. Unfortunately, if you have not attempted to write, I doubt that you will understand this unique experience. This fact is sort of a downer. I unsuccessfully try to share with others my excitement. I try because the excitement lingers on the next day, but when I share it, it falls on ears that just do not understand what I am trying to express.

Oh, well. Perhaps I have learned three big lessons.

Anyway, here is my check-in: 18,085 words.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Bad week for writing... On second thought, it was just a bad week!

Ok, so reporting it time.

This past week has been terrible. Altogether I wrote almost 1,000 words. Not that great! However, I did deal with a lot of things that got in my way... (I know, I shouldn't be making excuses already!)
  • I had a the largest load of deadlines at work that I have had in almost a 2 years.
  • I had several large projects that needed to be done at home including building a wall in my basement (images to come later) and finishing the trimwork around the floors in my kitchen.
  • My neighbor died in a motorcycle crash and the neighborhood has been rallying together for thier family.
  • And lastly, I got a terrible sinus-infection. Augh!

So, all things considered, I feel pretty good about getting almost 1,000 words written for my book. And I plan to make it up over the next few weeks.

On a positive note, I worked out some very important character details in my mind. I also finished another fantastic book by Raymond E. Feist called Krondor - Tear of the Gods. I also will begin to use the "Marshal Plan for Novel Writing" to reinforce what I have already written in my novel and hopefully improve various facets of my story.

So, here is my check-in: 17,080 words. I had better get crackin!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fantastic writing software for Mac

I can introduce my new favorite tool with one word; Scrivener. Lets just put it this way. I have known that I needed to write this story for a couple of years. Now, using this tool, I am confident that I can!

If you haven't heard of it, I'm not surprised. I heard about it on Mur Lafferty's "I should be writing" podcast. Afterward, I searched for writing software for mac and found several options. However, the one I liked best also happened to be one of the most affordable. Scrivener.

I realize that this kinda sounds like an infomercial. Don't worry, it's not. And, I am in no way connected to the author of Scrivener, other than the fact that I am using his software.

I believe that in my first post I mentioned the gigantic task of tracking all of my plot components throughout my 500+ page book. I didn't know what to do. I actually shot-out emails to several authors asking for advice on this topic, and not surprisingly, received absolutely zero replies with advice on how one might organize his/her vast novel writing project. So, I downloaded the thirty day trial for Scrivener. After working in the program for ONE HOUR I was up and running and more organized than I ever thought that I could be. Within that single hour the intense feelings that I had been plagued with, of being lost withing my boiling project, dissipated. As the fog vanished I found that I had COMPLETE control of every aspect of my story. It was all laid out and broken down by part, chapter, and scene.

This is a screenshot of my project before Scrivener rescued me. I would pull parts of my story out and drop them in the back of my working doc. Notes were written everywhere of things to redo, and I spend WAY too much time trying to find scenes that I had written so that I could grab little details to keep the story consistent. To sum it all up; I had a huge mess.

Here is what my project looks like now! As you can see my entire book is plotted out by ouline in the left column. The writing area is next for the scene that I am working on. Next to that is a visual "index card" breakdown of the entire chapter; scene by scene.

After pulling my material into the software and adding notes to scenes that I have not yet written, I have the overarching structure of my novel built and distributed by section and plot arch. needless to say, I LOVE SCRIVENER! I have actually really enhanced my story since working in this software. Being able to see the structure of my story has shown me plot-holes, and areas where I needed to add or remove pieces of my story to make it work better. I believe that this single tool will dramatically affect how much time I spend in the editing process in November. The other neat thing is that I can keep all my files together in one easily backed up file. I can also take "snapshots" to keep track of changes and go back to earlier versions of a scene if I rewrite and decide I dont like it as much as what I had before.

I just cant say it enough. I LOVE IT! I'm not sure how I stayed motivated to write before, as I sat at my computer swirling in frustration and feeling like I couldnt keep track of basic details; details that began to evade me as they mixed in with the whole of the rest of the story.

If you are a writer and work only on Mac's then you gotta check-out Scrivener.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Goals

I have always believed in having goals. My wife LOVES goals and, therefore, she is always trying to get me to list them. Unfortunately I have a bit of a love for being a bit challenging. So, we never really do list them.

Much to my surprise, I found myself wanting to write out my personal writing goals. I think that this might help me to stay on track with my story and have the first draft of the first book finished by my 2010 birthday. Perhaps this might also appease my wife to see me jotting goals down; that or she feel the "goal" conversation should be reactivated :). I might regret this...

Anyway! Here they are:
  1. Finish my first draft by March 26, 2010; midnight (My birthday present to myself)
  2. Write an average of 5,000 words per week (or approx. 850 words a day; six days a week)
  3. Finish my novel with a minimum of 130,000 words
  4. Finalize my world map
  5. Finish all supporting documents that will accompany the books (i.e. the magic system)
  6. Blog consistently throughout my writing process and post chunks of my story that I think are interesting or entertaining
  7. have fun throughout the entire journey of writing my story
So, I have a lot of goals. And most of them are big ones.

These are going to be especially difficult since this is my first novel. I have been reading a lot about novel writing and the kinks that accompany the art. Once such is that, on average, most first time writers take approximately five to seven years to write, edit and sell their first book to a publisher. Following books from published "freelance" writers take an average of three. I want to have the book written and edited (twice), optimistically, by my birthday. However, I am not including that in my goals as I am not sure it is possible with my personal constraints. But, we will see.

If I can in fact live up to my second goal of 5,000 words per week, I am only looking at twenty-two weeks of writing to finish my first draft. That would mean that I would potentially be finished with my first draft by the first week of November. That would leave me with almost five months to edit my novel before my birthday. Who knows, maybe my birthday present next year will be my first refusal letter! Of course this is all based on the assumption that my book truly does end up being my estimated 130,000 words.

Here is my first check-in: As of today I have 16,225 words in my novel.
I haven't really written anything in about three weeks. So, Beginning next week (I need to finish my last bit of research. I will hit the keyboard hard. WISH ME LUCK.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Getting this started

So, I signed up months ago, but haven't done anything since. I assumed that my wife Rebekah would love doing this since she often checks out her friends blogs. But, I guess that she is just super busy with our two little-men; Parker (almost three) and Grant (four months).

I guess I am just going to have to step up and share our family with the world... Of course if you know me, then you know that I wouldn't just do that without an ulterior motive. And yes I do have one. I am an aspiring author (yes, like tens of thousands of others) and I need to begin to get my name out into the wide world. As I have researched novel writing I have learned a lot about the art. So, I think that often I will share pieces of my story on my blog and hopefully catch the interest of people like my who love a great story.

I have worked the plot out in my mind for years, and just about six months ago realized that if I don't get this story out of my head and onto paper, it will never go away. So I began. and thirty pages into my story, halfway through chapter two, I realized that I was not prepared to organize the overwhelming quantity of character details, world building, story plots and arcs, as well as individual character arcs, and much more! I was drowning in the vastness of information that was swimming around in my head and pouring out onto the page. I was constantly jumping around and trying to cordon off and organize the surge of story that followed.

So, I had to stop. I stopped writing with a promise to myself that I would find "tools" to help me better handle my personal conflict with my story. I have been weary about stopping. But, the past 6 months have been VERY well spent. I have learned so much about the writing process for long stories, or if you prefer novels, and now have a very confident feel in again approaching the "job" of writing my story. So, this is the beginning of my journey. I have BIG goals and hopefully the stamina to finish the job. I will probably do several individual posts on several tools that have helped me the most.

I am satisfied that this is a good start. Beginning is always the hardest part of anything. I hope you enjoy my personal take on myself writing my story. Post ya later.


PS. Ignore the pic. Its for my background!