NaNoWriMo Is Approaching

National Novel Writing Month is about to start up again, and I plan to participate just as I have for the last two years. 

For those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, the goal is pretty simple: write 50,000 words (approximately 200 pages) during the month of November. This works out to be about 1,667 words a day. A challenging goal, but one that I am capable of meeting, as my wins in 2010 and 2011 prove.

This year will be a bit different for me than the previous years.  In 2010 I wrote an initial draft of the second novel in my Gods Among Men series, …Demiurge, Unbound,…. In 2011 I focused on creating a draft of the backstory surrounding my most dynamic character, Artemis Arrowsmith.  In both cases I focused on a narrative that flowed from one scene to the next.

This year my plans are more scattered and random. I have some specific scenes in the first book, At The Lady’s Behest Comes…, that need a rewrite, such the opening paragraphs. Also I have decided to alter the opening few chapters of …Demiurge, Unbound,…. And there are a variety of scenes I have yet to create which I need in the second, third, and fourth books of my series. 

NaNWriMo provides an excellent opportunity to jot down quick first drafts of these scenes that I can later rework into useable material.  At the very least, the exercise of writing these scenes will help flesh out details that fill gaps in my rough outline.

In addition, I plan on writing down a lot of mythology that currently exists only in my head.  For example, I can specify:

  • Details about how magic works
  • The true history about Demiurge and the Lady
  • Delve into the wars Demiurge and the Lady fought against the Daemons and the False Gods
  • Explore details about the religions that have grown up around Demiurge and the Lady
  • Flesh out the cultures of the Gogs and Magogs

And so forth.  This material I will clean up and include on my new and improved website under the World menu. 

And I also hope to use NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to create a series of musings I can later turn into blog posts. I have a variety of subjects in mind, but will let the whim of the day determine what I focus on.

These are my rough plans for the 2012 NaNoWriMo challenge.  I think I have plenty to write about, but the lack of a strict narrative I think will create new difficulties for me, as will the additional demands on my time. Check back in December to see how well I managed. Hopefully I’ll have a new winner’s certificate to post on my site.

Where I’m At

I am sitting on my back porch, under an umbrella, consumed by a contemplative state of mind that has been circling me for some time. 

The chaos of the holidays gave a welcome relieve from the routine of writing.  I have a tendency to fixate on one idea and hound after it.  Just before the holidays, at the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I finished a major edit of the first book, At the Lady’s Behest Comes….  In the euphoria that comes from completing a major task, I rushed off a query letter to an agent.  My urge to act rashly sated, my calmer brain has had time to grind on the problem of going from author’s draft to published work. 

For the record, the agent never responded to my query letter.

Good Marketing Trumps Writing Skills

One thing made clear in conversations with published authors is that the decision of who gets published is made on business merits, not artistic ones.  To get noticed by agents and publishers, an author needs to show they understand that fact and are prepared to market their own work.

Time spent building a brand is time not spent writing.  But thanks to two years of NaNowriMo I have a reasonable working draft of most of the second book, and chunks of what will be in the third book.   It is a good time to broaden and bifurcate my focus,   especially if it helps me acquire a decent agent or publisher.

Creating An Online Presence

The first step to presenting a good image to agents and publishers is to have a professional looking website.  Boring is better than bad, but of course cool counts for something.  My current website is a glorified blog with links to sparse content.   Closer to bad than boring. 

I am by trade a computer programmer, but almost all my work has been on the Windows PCs, not the web.  Developing applications for Windows keeps a roof over my head, and so that is where I have focused my skill set.  I have recently took up the study of  HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.   They are skills I must master anyway if I am ever to move over to web development, and doing a simple site that would better represent me and my work is good motivation.

But before you build a web site, or any application, you must have a concept of what it will contain, and how it will display that content.  For example, there should be a landing page with a nice graphic and clear options to take you what content is there. 

Uh…Graphic?  What graphic?  What precisely is this graphic and where the heck and I going to get it?  I know my artistic limits, and graphic design is not my strong suit.  Is this the point to talk with someone with professional experience?  How much money would that cost?    

Content Is King

An “about the author” page is needed, with a picture of me that isn’t blurry and which won’t frighten small children and farm animals.   A high standard. 

Putting my chapters online are a given; but what is the best way to get the user to the desired chapters with the fewest clicks and choices?  

Should I put up documents about the world?  Maps, explanations of the language the wizards speak, background mythology, and the like? 

Should I include information about the characters?  Is so, how much should I reveal about them, their history, their story arcs, etc….  Should I try to get pictures drawn of the characters and  display it next to their bio?

Should I do the chapter readings or not?  I enjoyed doing the first two, but they are time consuming.  The more I learn about how to manipulate the audio the more I play with edits and the longer it takes to complete.  Is it time well spent on something that will attract visitors/readers?  Or is it more spinning my wheels and creating obstacles  for myself?  Slowing me down when I should be speeding up? I’ve held up finishing the reading of the third chapter until I resolve this debate.

Kathryn has started creating music for my story.  Originally to put at the beginning of the chapter readings.  I like what she has done very much, and will certainly include MP3s of it on the  website eventually.

The Call of Writing

In addition to all of these thoughts, I am also preparing for the Magic City Writers edits to my eleventh chapter, …Cause All to Cry ‘Havoc’.   I do not doubt that there will be significant edits after their review, and I will likely use that as an opportunity to revisit chapters twelve and thirteen. 

And from there I might well lose myself in work on the second novel, …Demiurge, Unbound,….  Time spent writing is time not spent building a professional online presence or searching for an agent or publisher.  But it does move me closer to having a fully completed story, even if it is an imperfect draft like the first novel.  That might be the strongest selling point of them all.

I would greatly appreciate the thoughts anyone has on how best to address some of the choices I face.  I am a stranger in a strange land, and am uncertain how best to proceed.

Where I’m At

I am sitting on my back porch, under an umbrella, consumed by a contemplative state of mind that has been circling me for some time. 

The chaos of the holidays gave a welcome relieve from the routine of writing.  I have a tendency to fixate on one idea and hound after it.  Just before the holidays, at the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I finished a major edit of the first book, At the Lady’s Behest Comes….  In the euphoria that comes from completing a major task, I rushed off a query letter to an agent.  My urge to act rashly sated, my calmer brain has had time to grind on the problem of going from author’s draft to published work. 

For the record, the agent never responded to my query letter.

Good Marketing Trumps Writing Skills

One thing made clear in conversations with published authors is that the decision of who gets published is made on business merits, not artistic ones.  To get noticed by agents and publishers, an author needs to show they understand that fact and are prepared to market their own work.

Time spent building a brand is time not spent writing.  But thanks to two years of NaNowriMo I have a reasonable working draft of most of the second book, and chunks of what will be in the third book.   It is a good time to broaden and bifurcate my focus,   especially if it helps me acquire a decent agent or publisher.

Creating An Online Presence

The first step to presenting a good image to agents and publishers is to have a professional looking website.  Boring is better than bad, but of course cool counts for something.  My current website is a glorified blog with links to sparse content.   Closer to bad than boring. 

I am by trade a computer programmer, but almost all my work has been on the Windows PCs, not the web.  Developing applications for Windows keeps a roof over my head, and so that is where I have focused my skill set.  I have recently took up the study of  HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.   They are skills I must master anyway if I am ever to move over to web development, and doing a simple site that would better represent me and my work is good motivation.

But before you build a web site, or any application, you must have a concept of what it will contain, and how it will display that content.  For example, there should be a landing page with a nice graphic and clear options to take you what content is there. 

Uh…Graphic?  What graphic?  What precisely is this graphic and where the heck and I going to get it?  I know my artistic limits, and graphic design is not my strong suit.  Is this the point to talk with someone with professional experience?  How much money would that cost?    

Content Is King

An “about the author” page is needed, with a picture of me that isn’t blurry and which won’t frighten small children and farm animals.   A high standard. 

Putting my chapters online are a given; but what is the best way to get the user to the desired chapters with the fewest clicks and choices?  

Should I put up documents about the world?  Maps, explanations of the language the wizards speak, background mythology, and the like? 

Should I include information about the characters?  Is so, how much should I reveal about them, their history, their story arcs, etc….  Should I try to get pictures drawn of the characters and  display it next to their bio?

Should I do the chapter readings or not?  I enjoyed doing the first two, but they are time consuming.  The more I learn about how to manipulate the audio the more I play with edits and the longer it takes to complete.  Is it time well spent on something that will attract visitors/readers?  Or is it more spinning my wheels and creating obstacles  for myself?  Slowing me down when I should be speeding up? I’ve held up finishing the reading of the third chapter until I resolve this debate.

Kathryn has started creating music for my story.  Originally to put at the beginning of the chapter readings.  I like what she has done very much, and will certainly include MP3s of it on the  website eventually.

The Call of Writing

In addition to all of these thoughts, I am also preparing for the Magic City Writers edits to my eleventh chapter, …Cause All to Cry ‘Havoc’.   I do not doubt that there will be significant edits after their review, and I will likely use that as an opportunity to revisit chapters twelve and thirteen. 

And from there I might well lose myself in work on the second novel, …Demiurge, Unbound,….  Time spent writing is time not spent building a professional online presence or searching for an agent or publisher.  But it does move me closer to having a fully completed story, even if it is an imperfect draft like the first novel.  That might be the strongest selling point of them all.

I would greatly appreciate the thoughts anyone has on how best to address some of the choices I face.  I am a stranger in a strange land, and am uncertain how best to proceed.

Crossing the Finish Line

2011_Winner_Certificate_filled_out

Above is the certificate I won for finishing NaNoWriMo.  I crossed the line a day early with 50,0042 words.  Considering how many thousands of words I was behind a week in, I’m justifiably pleased with having finished early.  

Below is another picture I can also proudly display.

Winner_180_180_white

I spent almost all of this NaNoWriMo writing down the backstory of perhaps my most dynamic character, Artemis Arrowsmith.  This material will appear in flashback scenes in the second and third books. 

Last year I wrote much of the second book for NaNoWriMo.  All told, between what I wrote last year and this year, I have over 300 pages of material for the first-draft of that novel.  I plan to spend the next year turning that into a completed work.  I’ll keep you informed of my progress.

That’s all for now.  Have fun everyone.

Crossing the Finish Line

2011_Winner_Certificate_filled_out

Above is the certificate I won for finishing NaNoWriMo.  I crossed the line a day early with 50,0042 words.  Considering how many thousands of words I was behind a week in, I’m justifiably pleased with having finished early.  

Below is another picture I can also proudly display.

Winner_180_180_white

I spent almost all of this NaNoWriMo writing down the backstory of perhaps my most dynamic character, Artemis Arrowsmith.  This material will appear in flashback scenes in the second and third books. 

Last year I wrote much of the second book for NaNoWriMo.  All told, between what I wrote last year and this year, I have over 300 pages of material for the first-draft of that novel.  I plan to spend the next year turning that into a completed work.  I’ll keep you informed of my progress.

That’s all for now.  Have fun everyone.