I've got more to write tonight, so this isn't the official count for EOD on the 23rd. I'm behind at the moment, and I need to catch up. I lost about five days over the last week just being busy hanging out with some cool people and enjoying myself. The days weren't wasted, but now I need to write like mad over the next week. I'm seven thousand words behind where I should be for today. I'm getting back on track though, so I will be at 50k for the end of the month.
I've encountered an issue in writing where I'm not sure how much I can use trade-marked terms. I can write whatever I want, of course, when writing for myself and my friends, but pretending I'm going to publish my work, this isn't something I know much about. When my characters are listening to music, can I name a real artist? When they read a novel, can I use a real one? When they go to a movie or go out to eat, can I use real trade-marked names?
I roughly know the copyright rules in regards works becoming public domain 50 years following the author's death. If I am comfortable with my characters listening to classical music, watching silent films, and reading Victorian novels, I know I can include those titles in my work. I really want to know, however, whether or not it is ok to use contemporary titles without paying royalties.
So far, I have been awkwardly avoiding using the names of things. I have described the music being played instead of naming it and stepped out of dialogue and into summarizing when the characters are referring to a movie title. Is this the only solution?
I've been measuring my progress my another means as well. To give my eye a sense of how the text will set relative to itself on a novel page, I keep my document formatted in the shape of a novel with smaller than usual text editing pages. Sized as they are, my novel pages hold between 190 words (for lots of dialogue) and 280 words (for pure description). This size is based off a random novel I pulled from my shelf. It didn't have the most densely spaced text I had ever seen, but it most certainly was not laid out like a children's book. It was about average.
By this measuring system, my novel just hit 101 pages. Assume 200 pages for 50k words -- not bad. So far, however, I feel like I have only written at most one-quarter of the story I want to tell. If I can survive writing so much, a 400 page novel sounds pretty sexy. This begs the question, can I survive writing so much?
1700 words a day is really not that much. I really shouldn't pacify myself. If I someday want a career in writing, there is no reason I can't continue to write at this rate and hit 100k words by December 31st. Oh yeah -- except I need a day job.
Either way, I'm in for an exciting finish to 2010.
The last three days have been productive ones -- productive for two reasons. First, I found and enforced upon myself the time necessary to write a good deal more than I have in any other three day period so far. Second, in the time I have been writing, I haven't come upon too much editorial stumbling and I have kept up a very reasonable speed. Thus, I am now at 20,000 words. When I passed 14k, that marked this novel as the longest anything I have ever written.
In response to my last post where I described taking the planning time to ensure I was writing something with as much technique as I can put into it, my brother proposed that why go even as quickly as 50k in one month when you could take four months and think it through even more.
This led me to think to about a metaphor for creating. In any creation, you start by designing the skeleton. It doesn't have to be pretty, but it does have to be sturdy. It is the backbone of your creation in terms of dictating in what shape it will stand and how it will support itself. For my story, I have finished the skeleton. It consists of five or six handwritten pages of notes, arrows, and lists.
Next, you must design the muscles of your creation. These are what allow it to move, and in part, the muscles actually connect the bones to one another. The muscles are the flow of a story, the transitions, and the finer plot points. These also need to be much sturdier than pretty.
Finally, the skin. The skin must be pretty, and eloquent, and even breathtaking if you so desire it to be. The skin is the final layer of presentation. It is what a stranger is first exposed to when encountering your creation, and for some strangers, the skin is sometimes all that they are exposed to.
Reading my novel right now, it looks like a blemished and smudged, sweaty layer of skin. That is why I'm not handing it out to anyone because in fact I am only designing the muscles at the moment. I'm adding a faux layer of skin as I write to help me imagine the final product, but this draft is me sculpting out the muscles.
I will return to paint the skin and finish its details, but for now, I am setting a goal for myself to find the time within one month to shape a great deal of the muscles of my story. And to be honest, it's looking like 150k will be a more realistic final length for my novel based on the story I'm getting into.
Two days of too much sleeping and too much partying on the 6th and 7th led to absolutely no writing. I was going to catch up yesterday, but then I ended up getting free tickets to a Metric and OK Go concert. That's a different topic however.
On the 5th, I had written some, but I was 300 words behind. Yesterday, I would have only had to write 5k words to catch up, but delaying that to today left me nearly 7k words behind schedule. Today, I said, I can catch up, and I'm on a pretty good roll so far. I wrote about some action and some sex and I flew through 4.5k words in 4 hours, basically hitting and surpassing my goal of 1k words/hour. I'm taking a break at the moment, but ideally, I'll write another 2.5k words tonight, putting me at the 15k words I should be at for the 9th.
I'm hearing about other participants that are already at 40k words or somewhere similar. In terms of balancing time, I can only respect that because no matter how fast you type or think up a story, 40k words is a lot of your spare time over 8 days.
Looking at my records of writing time, I'm sitting around an average of 800 words/hour in front of a text editor, which means even though I don't have complete records, I've probably spent 15 hours writing over nine days. Given my other commitments at the moment (or lack thereof), it would seem as though if I'm serious about NaNoWriMo, then I am very poorly managing my time.
The truth is, however, that I know I have more than enough time to write 50k words this month, and while doing simply that would still be a great exercise in discipline, I have decided to spend the extra time available to me trying to make my novel as good as my skill and talent will allow. Instead of hitting 50k in two weeks, I'm going to hit 50k in four weeks and spend the extra time planning my story and rounding out my characters.
I worry about the content of my writing. Rules I know, which I'm probably not following:
All dialogue should accomplish two things.
Show; don't tell.
Believeability is in the details.
I worry less if I think of my novel as a more detailed outline than the one I have taking up a several hand-written sheets of loose-leaf at the moment. Right now, I'm brainstorming and typing a 50,000 word outline of the ideas of my novel in the order they will probably appear in the end product. This leaves me wiggle room with regard to the aforementioned rules. I will come back and make sure my dialogue is more than idle banter, make sure I'm showing what I should be (but not more than I should be), and make sure my story comes to life in the details.
Similarly with the massive number of other projects I had for the end of October, I made it through most of the books from my last post in time for NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, I didn't get my entire to-do list cleaned off, and I'm only halfway through Vogler's analysis on Campbellian Heroes.
I had a nice, procrastinatingly slow start to November. I didn't start writing just after midnight as I had intended, but I did find time this evening to struggle through 2.2k words between 6 and 9pm. I didn't write throwing inhibitions to the wind as I had meant to but instead edited, deleted, re-wrote, and re-read as I went. I've begun to hone my narrator's voice, however, so I think I can pick up speed -- hopefully back to my 1k words/hour I expect to be at for narrative craft.
I wrote the meta-frame first, and the vague narration of the story-finder was the most difficult thing to write so far. I'm almost completely certain it will get deleted and rewritten after November. After that, the bulk of my work took me through what I would say makes up half of a clear first chapter -- the 'in media res' opening of the work
I'll be back at the keyboard again tonight, but before I can get much further than chapter two, I need to set aside some time with a pen and notebook and make sure I understand who my minor characters are.
One year and one month later, and it looks like I always end up back on LJ in the Fall. I'm not going to pretend like I'll update regularly, but I've got a use for LJ for the next month and a bit. I'm going to give (Inter)National Novel Writing Month a shot.
I've got a lot to get done before November in order to make sure my desk is clean -- not to mention finishing my Halloween RPG campaign for the end of the month -- and I'm adding to that with a short reading list to poke through in the next week and a bit. Preparing for NaNoWriMo, I'll be looking at:
How Fiction Works by James Wood Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card The Little, Brown Handbook by A Bunch of Editors
They're not all worth a read cover to cover the way I'm going through How Fiction Works now, but hopefully I'll at least have the time to focus on the parts most pertinent to me.
Today, I finally realized that early written work was built upon a tradition of poorly argued points and badly articulated ideas. The writers of history weren't the most intelligent their time had to offer; they were the people who could afford a leisurely lifestyle of studying facts and offering their opinions. An English Literature university course going anywhere further back than a century is the study of bad writers influencing bad writers. Skilled writers in such courses are like gemstones buried beneath mounds of dirt.
Got a pass to a local Career Counseling website through a friend who was signed up. Took the online quiz (I love that shit), and got a list of jobs that fit my likes and dislikes as they apply to tasks involved with each job. Another survey then also rated each job as to how good a match my skills are to that job's requirements. As listed, the jobs are:
1. Artist - Very Good Match 2. Website Designer - Good Match 3. Multimedia Developer - Good Match 4. Director of Photography - Good Match 5. Graphic Designer - Very Good Match 6. Writer - Very Good Match 7. Cartoonist - Good Match 8. Video Game Developer - Very Good Match 9. Desktop Publisher - Very Good Match 10. Interior Decorator - Good Match 11. Photographer - Good Match 12. Animator - Good Match 13. Webmaster - Good Match 14. Special Effects Technician - Good Match 15. Computer Animator - Very Good Match 16. Computer Trainer - Good Match 17. Web Developer - Good Match 18. Illustrator - Very Good Match
Age of consent, drinking age, smoking age -- I think the state should leave parenting in the hands of the parents. I dislike the idea of the "underage" being treated as second-class citizens.
In May of this year, Canada raised the age of consent from 14 to 16 as part of the initiative to "stop internet predators." I think the public associates consensual sex with victimization when dealing with a young adult and an older partner. Where in the instance of choosing is a victim made? Whether or not a 14 or 15 year-old took advantage of his right to sleep with an older partner before, I think maturity comes with responsibility -- not with sheltering and coddling.
In his book, Stephen Colbert jests that children should be given arbitrary rules and not reasonable ones -- that way you're teaching them discipline and not reason. I think children should be taught reason and not discipline. Making an informed decision, I can easily see how a young adult could reasonably argue for his right to become involved with an older partner.
On the other hand, in my city right now, a young adult is currently taking advantage of his right to put an older partner in jail -- because the age of consent isn't simply 16, it's 18 when a "relationship of trust and authority" exists between the teen and the adult. Apparently a 16 or 17 year-old's earned judgment in choosing a partner is clouded in that instance. A teen is not mature enough to clearly choose under the sway of authority until 18.