Reflection on National Novel Writing Month

Written: 12/08/2015

 

November was an interesting month for me, and the first time I took part in National Novel Writing month. Today’s ramble will be on the challenges I faced trying to complete this project along with everything else that normally happens.

To provide a brief overview of what was posted –

  • Royal Scales Chapters 9 – 19 was edited and uploaded.
  • Continue Online Chapters 53 – 60 was written, edited and uploaded.
  • First RE:Guards Chapters 1 – 16 was written, edited and uploaded.

The point of this is to share that at least 30,000 words (It’s more impressive if I type it out like that) was edited from one series, while writing a completely fresh story line (RE:Guards, reaching 51,000 words by deadline) and my normal updates for the vaguely plotted/outlined of Continue Online (Roughly 40,000 words). My total word count put to digital ink totaled 91,000 and another 30,000 (ish, I’m rounding for sanity and impressiveness) reviewed and touched up.

The conclusion I make at this point is straight forward – November was a hell of a month. This isn’t even my full time job, but it certainly feels like it at times. I’ll address the challenges by story line -starting with the one people typically show up to read;

 

Continue Online’s Challenges

Continue Online is a fairly ‘easy’ fiction to move forward with. I have a very real target goal in my head to weave the plot forward to. In a lot of ways when I write it’s a matter of knowing the destination, and traveling forth, while trying not to bend characters out of shape or create forced interactions.

First, I have to state that this entire book wasn’t planned or even expected until the close of book 2, where I was going ‘whelp, this isn’t going to work right for overall pacing’. That same issue, pacing, and the elements included in a story crept back up for November. Part of me said ‘People like Hal Pal, I like it (Hal Pal is gender neutral and switches freely between accents). More of this will be covered in a later ramble regarding book 3 – once I’m at a point to digest what happened. (Which will be after one for book 2…I need to time / date these things)

So here I was, in the midst of this unplanned book, and at the beginning of November I was working on “Keeper of Souls” and trying to get the general over plot moving forward. We were just past the halfway mark for the ‘over all story line’ and I wanted to ensure that the end of this book is finally, finally world impacting. That meant typing, hiking up the stakes, involving other elements. (And, no specific spoilers, but the last two releases coming next week should be like ‘Oh, well shit.’)

I’ll admit freely here and now that the whole [Mistborn] concept was almost spur of the moment. I had laid out stuff in the ‘Commencement’ that I wasn’t sure how to use, but needed to tie in. The issue with Grant’s fellow [Mechanoid]s approving was not planned ahead of time, and Jeeve’s issues as a fledgling independent AI were barely a glimmer of possibility.

All those plot points weren’t 100% planned (Barely 10%), but they cropped up during the process of discovery writing – IE as as write, I discover more about the plot, characters, and so on. Yet all those things seemed to feel easier to work in simply because I wasn’t forcing myself to write about them, but hitting keys rapidly. In some regards I believe the pace required by November helped keep CO’s story line moving forward at the very least. Maybe, you can all decide on that one.

On a final note, while doing this I was trying to get Grant to a more stable place, in many ways this entire book has been a transition point, and if none of you have read about the Heroes Journey as a concept, I suggest you do. It really breaks down how most classic tales flow. For those of you into writing as well, take a long look at it. This is something my mom used to ramble about, just don’t tell her I actually listened when I was a child.

 

Royal Scales Challenges

Spoiler Alert – for those who haven’t picked up on it. Should you be ‘unaware’ of what Jay is, don’t read this next paragraph.

This fiction is one that is near and dear to me. In a lot of ways it started in fifth grade when I wrote a tale about roasting one of my friend-enemies with dragon fire. From there the idea that a human could be a dragon in disguise enthralled me.

/spoiler

On the above spoiler, I’ll probably babble about it again when I do a ramble / wrap up for book 1 of Royal Scales. I intend to do one for each ‘novel’ to help myself remember in ten years, and maybe give readers a smattering of insights.

Anyway, this story stems from childhood, which is why it’s so important that I keep editing and releasing chapters. My wife suggested maybe I work on slightly less projects, and wholeheartedly agree, but stopping is hard. I want the story to be out there, and the only saving grace is that I’ve already put digital ink down for this one. I’m not reinventing the wheel or creating from scratch.

That being said, some of the chapters in here were extremely difficult to make it through, for both myself and the editor. 12-18 were basically nightmares where good things happened, but making it flow better drove us to drinking. Briefly, not all the time, we have a child! (Who is awesome and can read, that’s exciting for a 4 year old)

Anyway, I often reduced myself to a weekend goal during November, as a break from the other two works. This is partly why there were bulk releases, because I went through 10k words on Saturday and Sunday in order to take a break from writing fresh material. Oddly this helped me recharge.

 

First RE:Guards

Here’s where things really hit the fan for me. In October I knew that I really wanted to attempt this challenge. As both a personal goal, and an excuse to start something new. There were a lot of ideas in my head, but I settled for testing out the waters on a new concept in my already established world. I took an idea said once as a joke in Royal Road’s Chatango system and started adapting it.

Briefly, for those sane and avoiding the depths of translated works, the RE: genre is as follows. Person X dies in World A, and reincarnates in World B, often with some easily abused skill that lets them stomp everyone else in the face – it’s a whole thing, rest assured. I’m fairly sure there’s even a trope for it somewhere.

My idea, would be to take this concept, and reincarnate some guy as a fireball spell, so the first few episodes are him popping out of darkness and hurling towards an enemy while screaming in abject terror and confusion. I wanted to make it a joke novel.

Either way, this idea was in my head, which helped grease the wheels on creativity a little bit. Royal Road and translation sites are full of these things. I’ve read far too many, and most of them are excuses for creating over powered characters and establishing writer masturbatory harems. Not my thing – but the idea that this was possible gave me something to follow up Continue Online with – a still barely penciled series called “Disconnect the RE:” – a title I’ve now changed to “Our RE:Guards” – because it sounds cooler.

The follow up series will be my attempt at doing a school / fantasy / fiction mashup with virtual reality as the vehicle. I’ll write out an actual synopsis as we get closer, but I wanted to play around with the idea some – hence settling on “First RE:Guards”

I’m losing the thread a bit, so sorry if the ramble is off course.

So in future Earth, virtual reality is a thing – at least in my Continue Online setting. AIs are a thing. And at some people peoples minds may get stuck in the machines – this whole “RE:Guards” concept involve speople who’s sole job is to go in, and drive the trapped person back to reality on a virtual plane. There’s a whole series of vague justifications behind it that I’ll skip over now – but to me, the concept was too cool.

I asked myself though, where did this start? How did the world go from Continue Online’s expected ending point to this virtual rescue operations system?

Enter Pierce, or Perseus Argaive. I looked at this budding concept for a few hours before I realized it was Nov 1st and I needed to get started. The first chapter would be easy – killing him. That’s how all the RE: fictions start.

I tried to figure out a few ‘science fiction’ concepts and throw them in. Biological weapons, Mechanical aid devices, and then put in a human element of frightened children. Doing all those things let me establish the character as kind of stupid but otherwise recklessly brave. Further exploration gave me a person who wasn’t that great with keeping a girlfriend, had family issues (I really need to avoid Survivors guilt as a trope in my next work, I mean Jesus) – and it spiraled from there.

There’ll be more when I do a wrap up for the full book – but sufficed to say I discovered nearly everything about this story as things went on. The whole cat thing? Not expected. The empty black space with green fire behind cardboard walls? Not expected. Ghost kitty? A school dungeon? None of those things were developed ahead of time – and instead added in and smoothed out only slightly. The Overseer’s Log? Added during the last two days.

The hardest part of all of this, was trying to write a story where I simply didn’t think too hard about it, and kept on typing. That was what nearly broke my head.

Anyway, this is getting to long for me so it’s time to bring it home.

 

In Summary

November was a hell of a month. I learned a lot, practiced a lot, and spent many nights scrambling before deadlines.The end result feels very positive to me, and if nothing else it was enjoyable. Next year I’ll be looking forward to the challenge again, assuming I haven’t imploded by then.

TL:DR? – Stuff happened, and time passed. I would do it again.

Thanks for reading.

 

Back to Rambles

 

9 responses

  1. Pingback: Reflection on National Novel Writing Month (Not a chapter) | FrustratedEgo Stories

  2. Pingback: Reflection on National Novel Writing Month | FrustratedEgo Stories

  3. thanks for sharing.

    the concept in guards is interesting. And if I read between the lines…. IB is a Guard as you defined… I hope Pierce will “evolve” into being a Guard. this being, you know to follow your motto in CO and Re:Guards: having humans to help make the link between the machine that does 90% of the actual work and the human customer 😀

    the most amazing thing I noted is… you 4yo kid can read ???? did you drug him or something ? anyway that’s amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, my son learned a metric ton from Netflix goes geared towards early learning, Leapfrog and other stuff along those lines.

      By the end of this book Pierce should successfully be one of the first ‘guards’ who’s eventual goal will be focused on recovering people from cyber space delusions / entrapment.

      I’m still a bit vague on the pseudo science – hopefully I can iron out the reasoning a little to make it vaguely plausible.

      Like

  4. What an accomplishment! I haven’t started on RE: Guards yet but I do look forward to reading it. Do you have time to read anymore? :/ What would be a good way to provide with you some recommendations, if you need em?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Also wanted to say, I think it is interesting that Grant is becoming THE stability. I think that happens sometimes in a perverse way, sometimes, when folks go through really tumultuous times of their lives. Drugs, abuse, heartbreak, severe health issues — when people fully recover, they can come back better, more focused, more empathetic than ever before.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did intend it as a solidification Grant’s years of therapy – at a certain point it does come full circle, where people try to help others survive the things that nearly broke them. AA sponsors are often long time people recovering from prior AA, it’s the same concept in my mind.

        Like

  5. Pingback: Book: The Fiasco C18 released & National Novel Writing Month – FrustratedEgo Stories

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