NaNoEdMo wrap-up.

March 31, 2012

Well, I got to the fifty hour mark of editing in March about an hour ago, which is cutting it close. I’m tired of editing, pleased with what I accomplished, and a little disappointed at just how much more there is to do – sigh. I guess that’s the way it always goes.

I got approximately six lessons on the ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course finished – I was in the middle of lesson 8 at the start of the month, and now I’m in progress on fourteen. I learned a lot and did some great work with my book in those lessons, too.

I got some great revision done on ‘The Storm Mirror,’ polishing a charming first draft into what could, I think, be a really great finished story!

I also got some good revision done on ‘The Scroll’, especially the first sample chapter. Unfortunately, I found out yesterday that there was no space for me in the CSSF Novel workshop, as the class is being kept very small this summer. Oh, well. I still think I want to revisit ‘The Scroll’ for Camp Nano in August.

Aside from these three, a lot of my editing hours were spent on old fanfic projects, some of which I’ve already tackled in NaNoEdMo of previous years, but I’ve learned a lot more about what makes good writing since then, and polishing these stories up to post them on is good practice in editing for other stories, if nothing else. Also, when I just had to get some editing in on a crazy day, (and trying to do 50 hours of editing in a month makes most days crazy,) sometimes I wanted to be able to work on something I wasn’t too emotionally invested in anymore, and just fire up the MS word grammar checker on the bus home and see what it thought about my sentence style. 🙂

Next stop – the Frenzy! It’s always a little crazy to switch from marathon editing to wildly passionate script writing on April the first.

Nanoedmo update – week 2

March 14, 2012

Well, it looks like the NaNoEdMo forums are back up, and hours logging should be online soon. As for myself, I’ve been plowing along pretty well, counting my time for the Holly Lisle course work and any other editing that I’ve done. I’m up at 23 hours now, which is pretty good for day 14.

One trick that has really helped has been my calendar. For March, I decided to do something a little bit different to keep track of EdMo stuff – I write an E on teh calendar whenever the hours tracker ‘ticks over’ to a new hour, and try to mark at least one E every day. Sometimes that isn’t a full hour per day – I had some odd minutes heading into Comicon weekend that I used up, because I didn’t take a netbook with me on the bus to Toronto and didn’t have that much time to edit after I got home.

But it’s been great to see multiple Es on some days, including the first weekend, and Wednesday a week ago, when I went to the Monastery.

Aside from the Holly Lisle stuff, I’ve been working on chapter 1 of The Scroll, on a revision of The Storm Mirror, and some of my old Roswell fanfics, which I just wanted to polish up a little before posting on — that makes them ideal for when I don’t want to work on editing anything that I feel might be high pressure.

Are there any other EdMo’s out there among my followers? How’s it going? If not, what’s been keeping you busy in March?

Targets ahead of you may be closer than they appear.

March 1, 2012

So, I sat down this evening to get started on NaNoEdMo, and began reviewing some of the many critiques I got on Chapter 1 of ‘The Scroll.’ There were a lot of them, and a lot of mostly-good opinions in each critique, though I had to chuckle about the critter who was so certain that ‘pyjamas’ and ‘omelette’ were typos. Perhaps in the US they are, but I won’t apologize for using Canadian variants!

Anyway, after about half an hour of this, I realized that I could easily get drawn into trying to tweak the chapter so that it would please as many readers as possible, but that wasn’t what I really needed to do at this point. I want to have a sample chapter that will look promising enough to Kij Johnson that she’ll accept me for the workshop, but it doesn’t really need to be spotless for that, and spending a lot of time polishing beforehand might be counter-productive, in that if I go to Kansas convinced that my sample chapters are perfect, it’ll be harder for me to really listen to what other people tell me about them when I’m there. The responses I got from were very positive, overall, and that’s an important point.

And after that, I realized something else. I’d put a bunch of qualifiers in front of ‘what I needed to do before I was ready to apply for the Kansas workshop’, but most of it really isn’t necessary. I was getting confused between what I needed to send to Kij to apply for the workshop, and what I need to have ready in mid-May, assuming that I’m accepted, to send to all the other writers who’ll be coming to the workshop. So, I’m only a few days away from having my application all ready to go – one sample chapter and 5-10 pages of synopsis, and the synopsis is mostly ready. I just need to tweak it to make sure that somebody else can follow it, and not get confused about who one of the characters is, or something else like that I can smooth out with more description.

So, I’m in the interesting and fun position of not having to push to reach a goal because it’s not as distant a point on the horizon I thought. Cool!

National Novel Editing Month preparation

February 28, 2012

It’s only a few days until the arrival of March, and as I have for many years now, I’m going to join in the NaNoEdMo challenge – completing fifty hours of editing work within March. It’s not a very popular event, but I find that taking this time as winter turns into spring to concentrate on the tough work of revision and rewriting is one of my favorite markers on the year-long writer’s calendar.

So, as February winds to its close, I’m putting together a list of editing tasks that I can work out my fifty hours of self-imposed hard labor on. It helps to have a reasonable variety, so that if I get blocked on one project or simply sick of it, I can switch to another one.

Here’s some of what I’ve got lined up:

  • Rewriting the sample chapters of ‘The Scroll’ to send in to Kij at the CSSF – I want to have this ready to go by March 9th, before I head off to the HobbyStar Toronto March Comiccon.
  • ‘How to Revise your Novel’ coursework and exercises on “Won’t somebody think of the Children.” I’ve nearly finished the triage phase of HTRYN, and so the ‘Major Surgery’ lessons are coming up just in time for Edmo!
  • First rewrite of ‘The Storm Mirror’ – I liked a lot of things about the first draft, but it was very rambly, coming in at over 8000 words, and I think that a lot of them can be cut.
  • Third draft of ‘Father Ismay,’ which I’ve been procrastinating on all month. Maybe that was just my subconscious telling me that it was a NaNoEdMo job.
  • Doing quick cleanup on some fanfic so that it’s fit to be posted up on (which isn’t a terribly high bar. 😉 )
  • Doing a critique for, and possibly other feedback for other writers. Good critiquer karma is definitely a part of Edmo!
  • Possibly rewrites of ‘Shuttle Fidelity’ or ‘Project Fast Track’.

Do you have anything particular planned for March? If you’ve got editing work to be done, I do recommend checking out the NaNoEdMo home page. The forums are a bit ghostly and spammy at the moment. I need to try to generate a little good chatter over there. Editors don’t always have time to gabble at each other online, though.

A blogfest double header!

February 13, 2012

Okay, there’s two blogfests that I’m participating in today. First off, the Origins blogfest, where I’m supposed to talk a bit about my origin story as a writer and storyteller.

The first story idea I ever remember coming up with, I was probably six years or so, and it involved – I kid you not, the adventures of a native Canadian boy, living near the site of Sydney, Nova Scotia, before Europeans came to Canada, and an iron mine and blacksmithy. My mother did try to tell me that she didn’t think the Native Canadians mined for iron or worked with it in that time, but I just didn’t care.

There isn’t much more to the story for several years. Coming through my ‘middle grade’ years, I remember being very convinced that I could write science fiction and fantasy if I worked at it, and managed to finish a few short stories on our family computer, a PC-XT clone. One of them involved a murder mystery at a school for wizards, (Pre-Harry-Potter, but I was probably influenced by the Roke School in Tales from Earthsea,) where all the main characters had miniature dragons as pets in brilliant gemstone colors. (So there’s a bit of influence from ‘Dragonsinger’ as well.) And I actually submitted a science fiction tale to a magazine, that was more than a little bit like ‘Wesley Crusher gets a peer group’ – a handful of bright, precocious teenagers all working as unofficial pre-cadets on a starship, and signing up for a space warfare tactics competition as a team.

Okay, that’s enough origin story I think, moving on to Blogfest 2. The Hook Line and Sinker blogfest calls for a 500-1000 word hook, and I’ve got to go with the opening to my new novel idea, ‘The Scroll:’

Will heard something, and looked out beyond the loading dock before realizing that the sound hadn’t been what he was expecting – not a van entering the parking area, but running shoes against the asphalt. For a second he panicked, wondering if the entire plan had gone wrong, if this was somebody from the University sent to intercept the package before he could secure it. But then he spotted the person running around the corner of the building, recognized her, and a smile broke out on his face. He left the museum, went down the stairs and stretched out his arms for a hug. Mandy took a moment to catch her breath before nestling in against one of his shoulders, her auburn ponytail brushing the side of his face. Read the rest of this entry »

Writing characters

February 4, 2012

Well, I just got back from the Brian Henry ‘Writing Great characters’ workshop in Dundas. It was a great day, even though I had a bit of a headache the whole time, and thus plan to put myself to bed very soon.

A lot of the discussion was about stuff that I’ve already gathered and been using, in terms of drawing characters partly from other literary models, partly from people you know in real life, and partly from your own imagination, and about what makes a good character, how to outline or interview a character before you write, how to describe a character or reveal their personality to the reader. I wrote two fun little exercises, both tied into ‘The Scroll’ universe, one a minor character based on an old work colleague of mine, and one discovery scene for Emelia Collins.

Jean Rae Baxter was there as a guest author, reading snippets from her stories and book, and I was interested enough to pick up a copy of her first short story collection, “A Twist of Malice”, and read one of the stories in full on the bus home. She was great answering questions, and had good points to make, although I’m not sure I’m with her 100% about not ever drawing from characters in literature/film/television when devising characters from your own writing.

And I met up with some other great student writers, including Christine, (who I ended up having lunch with,) Steve, and Grace, who I chatted with on the bus home.

Okay, head still throbbing a bit, so I’ll sign off. Must remember to cue up Six Sentence Sunday before I crash into bed.

JanNoWriMo day 23 update

January 23, 2012

Previous update

The writing on ‘The Scroll’ is going pretty well. I’m into chapter three, with a word count of 8,309 to date – not a Nanowrimo level of output, obviously, but ahead of track for my sample chapters goal.

I thought that I wasn’t doing so well with the other goal of ’30 pages’, but once I remembered that the manuscript format I was wanting to use was 12-point font, that made my page count much more impressive.

At this point, I’m just getting into the scene where my main character, Will Peterman, is telling the bosses that he saved the priceless Persian scroll from burglars who were trying to steal it, but he’s not going to return the scroll until he can be sure that it’ll be safe in the museum. I’m not sure that’s going to go over too well, especially considering there’s not so much evidence for his burglar girls.

Stay tuned for a JanNoWriMo wrap-up next week, and keep writing!

JanNoWriMo Day 12 update.

January 12, 2012

I’ve set myself a modest goal for new writing in January – 30 pages or ten thousand words of sample chapters for ‘The Scroll’, (formerly Magic Manuscript, and I’m glad that I got a better title!) I’m also hoping to get a short story or two written before the end of the month, but The Scroll is my official JanNoWriMo project.

So far, it’s going well. My word count is at 4429, and my page count getting on for 11, so I’m more or less where I want to be. And my characters are filling in fairly well, particularly Will, the main character, and Mandy, his girlfriend – also a few people who Will works with at the Royal Ontario Museum. I’m starting to realize that I need to introduce Emelia, the third main character, pretty soon – Emelia is established as a friend of Mandy, but there’s a lot more to her than that.

And Will is starting to get excited about learning what the scroll can teach him! (As am I.) I may need to crack down on the word count a little more after I’ve cleared out a few other projects.

How’s your January word count doing?

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