Friday, 1 September 2017

Bite of the were-rabbit

New game! I'm writing a story driven by Twitter polls and a prompt taken from one of the daily writing events.

Chosen prompt word: alone. Here we go with the story... 

Sertundeth Park wasn't dangerous. Not normally, anyway. Callibor Nim had cut through the park every day on her way home from Wannabeahero School, and she'd never had a problem. Unfortunately, today someone had decided to turn out the lights.
     The lampposts in Sertundeth Park gave out infra-pantz light (which was designed to be used in areas so affected by dark magic that sunlight refuses to enter). To human eyes, the light was a dim purple but the park creatures had to wear paper bags on their heads to avoid being blinded. Today, however, something had gone wrong. Callibor was only halfway home when she was plunged into darkness. She immediately stopped dead, opened her school bag - ziiip! - and took out her knife.
     Callibor's parents had bought her the best knife they could afford. It had a golden handle and was a foot long. Callibor's headteacher, Commander Arnda, said it was more like a short sword than a knife. It had 17 special features, including stun, fire blast, death ray, and cat. Callibor hunted for the flare setting. By the time she'd found it and the blade had burst into silver flame, it was too late. A were-rabbit had spotted her.
     Were-rabbits were the most terrifying of all the were-creatures (although the were-rabbi - hybrid offspring of the autocorrect demon - was almost as scary). The were-rabbits bred like, well, rabbits and their murder burrows occupied every square inch of space beneath the surface of Sertundeth Park.
     Although Callibor was normally quick with her knife, this particular rabbit was too fast for her. Before she'd even managed to yell in surprise, it had jumped up and bitten a large chunk out of her forearm. Giggling to itself, the were-rabbit bounded merrily away, leaving Callibor to collapse in pain onto a park bench.

What happens next? You decide! 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

2017 is the year of 'The Edit' !

Not sure everyone would agree with this, but I think creative writing breaks down into two very distinct stages:
  1. Free-writing (manically splurge the words and ideas from your brain to the page)
  2. Editing (turn the free-write splurge into something a human being might actually want to read)
Last year, I was definitely buried neck-deep in the first stage. The whole year was one long manic frenzy of typing. Somehow or other, I managed to produce a million words of free-writing. And before that, through a mixture of writing and plotting my fantasy series, I'd produced at least another million words.

What I'm trying to say is: I seem to have written a lot of words.

This year, 2017, I'm going to lock myself away from the world - as much as feasibly possible - and start on stage two: The Edit. I'm planning to dive headfirst into all those words, grab a handful or two, and then somehow shape those words into something readable. And then I'll do that again. And again... until I either:
  1. Turn into a gibbering puddle of Mark 
  2. Die in the attempt
  3. Produce a novel
  4. Produce several novels
  5. All of the above
So... please send love, luck, and cookies. Definitely the cookies. 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

A million words in 2016 (December)

I'm writing a million words in 2016!

Below is the progress diary for December (I'll be updating it as the month goes on). If you're interested, here's the intro, and here are the diaries for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November.

The red number in the right-hand column is the total word count. Please wish me luck in watching that number tick up to 1,000,000 over the rest of the year!

The Million-Word Diary: December

1st Dec993,187
Last year, NaNoWriMo worked really well for me, which is actually why I started this "million words in 2016" project. But this year, unfortunately, I didn't quite get into the NaNo mindset. The start was a big messy rush (thanks to me being dumb enough to take part in a race to 50k) and then I hardly wrote a thing until there was another rush at the end. That's a real shame because one of the best things, I reckon, that NaNo does for a writer, is to enforce a regular writing habit.

This little graph-gadget thing shows just how many writing days I missed during November: 

NaNoWriMo progress-tracking-gadget-thing-whatsit

The green squares show the days when I hit the NaNoWriMo target of 1,667 words per day. The orange and yellow represent the days where I wrote a bit but not quite enough. And the reds... well... they mean I did absolutely nothing.

There's a lot of red :-(

Even though I managed 103k for NaNoWriMo this year, I only managed to write a decent amount on just ten of the thirty days. Ten out of thirty. That's a pretty terrible record!

I checked the NaNo forums and apparently it's quite common for people to attempt to be cocky by rushing to 50k. Many of them - me included - then find they lose motivation! Thing is, as you write your novel in November, you update your word count on the NaNoWriMo site, and the progress bar turns green when you hit 50k. That results in something the overachievers call the "green bar blues". When the bar turns green, it gives a real sense of accomplishment... and that means a little switch in the brain flicks over to "I have finished and therefore can STOP!"

Motivation was low anyway, but it took a nosedive after I hit 50k and the feeling of apathy still hasn't quite gone! Ah well, I guess the only thing I can do is try to learn from this for next year. I'll probably still try to race to 50k (mainly just to annoy the competitive people!) but perhaps this time I'll be more prepared for the green bar blues.

No words today (I think I deserve a bit of a break after yesterday's 22k!) so the total's still 993,187.

2nd Dec993,346
The plot of my children's novel is getting darker!

In my current draft, when Crimble (a dragon) meets Calvin, she finds that the poor kid has a nasty magical injury that's threatening to turn his body to stone. No one is particularly sympathetic to Calvin and, because the injury is seen as impossible to cure, they're basically all just waiting for him to die. And this is why I'm saying the plot's getting darker: I've just realised that in the scene before Crimble meets him, Calvin is digging his own grave. His teacher doesn't want to move Calvin's body when he finally turns to stone, so has asked him to dig the grave and use it as a bed in case he dies in his sleep. How's that for dark? :-) 

I really love it when a story reaches the point where it kinda tells itself. I'm not shoehorning this "digging his own grave" thing in - it's just a natural consequence of the current plot that naturally arises from Calvin's predicament and the relationship between him and his teacher.

One weird little flash fiction today (about a spaniel who likes eating frogs) gave me a tiny word count of 159 words, so the total's now 993,346.

28th Dec996,899
The problem with being close to the end is that it's very easy to feel like you've actually finished. I can't believe I've left it this long to start on those last 7k words. Ah well, I'm back in the game now. Today I began a short story based on this writing prompt:

Write a scene that involves a safety pin. Use the word "delegate".

It's not the greatest prompt ever, but it resulted in a fun little tale about a guy who's told to move a giant safety pin that's bigger than a building. The whole thing got very complicated and resulted in all manner of random shenanigans. Luckily the shenanigans are fun (fun shenanigans are the best shenanigans) and so I'm quite enjoying the story so far. As usual I'm just throwing a few characters together and giving them a problem to solve, and thankfully a good ending has already arrived in my brain. Hopefully it'll be enough to see me through the last few thousand words. Can't wait to get finished so I can start editing and submitting again!

Today's word count was 3,553 which means the "million word" total is now 996,899. Nearly there!

29th Dec1,000,680
This safety pin story is wonderfully silly. God knows who will want to publish it, but I'm sure it'll find a home somewhere eventually. I'm about halfway through it, I reckon, and today it helped me push through another 3,781 words. The million word target has been reached at last! Total word count is now 1,000,680 with a couple of days to spare!

31st Dec1,002,141
It seemed appropriate to add a few more words on the final day of this crazy year of writing. I have to admit, it was a bit of a halfhearted effort! I'm quite drained by the whole project, however I'm definitely looking forward to getting stuck into a bit of editing. Next year I'm planning to start submitting for publication again - poems, flash fictions, short stories, anything really. Maybe even the novel, providing I can work out Crimble's life story properly. And if I force myself to keep submitting, then that means I'll have no choice but to keep pushing through the edit process (after all, I can't submit unless I've given the text a good workout). Here's to 2017 and, hopefully, a bit of success at getting a few more publications out into the world!

Today's word count was 1,461, so the final grand #milwordy total is 1,002,141. And, just for the sheer geeky joy of it, here's the final graph from my magic word-count-spreadsheet :-)

366 days. 1,002,141 words!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Local fame! Hooray!

Turns out that if you get placed in the Bridport competition, they do an article in the local paper. Page 25 of the Swindon Advertiser, no less! Haha, this obviously means I'm now incredibly famous and rich :-)

The facebook post got lots of likes. Over 200! That counts as viral, right? No? Oh... :-(

And here's the picture in case the facebook-post-embed thing isn't working:

Okay, I know it doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it's nice to get a bit of an ego-boost occasionally! :-)