Archive for November, 2012

Annnd Done

Finished early. I planned to be done tomorrow night, but I was really on a roll with my writing tonight, so I just pressed on.

So yes, I’m officially a NaNoWriMo winner, for the first time ever. It feels great.

For those of you who are writing in OpenOffice, I HIGHLY recommend using the wordcount validator early, because you WILL end up with a lower wordcount than what OO gives you. Mine was about 800 lower.

What now?

Probably never ever publishing this. But I want to fix it anyway. I’m letting a few friends read it.

First edit cycle (before sending it to the people who want to read it): Change Scott’s occupation in Part 1 to fit the occupation he has in the rest of the book. Also, change Mike’s death date, and Cara’s hometown. I wrote super-fast in the beginning and forgot how I’d even established those.

Second edit cycle: I want to elaborate on Cara’s work-based storyline. Also, I need to flesh out the characters of Emily, Cameron, Jennifer, and Rick.  Need to introduce Phillip earlier in the story (Rick too, probably). And there was this one scene between Kurt and Bobby that I wanted to include, but another scene took its place and I think the other one was better.

Other random things I think to myself: Does Scott not have any friends? I don’t seem to have given him any of his own. Cara has hers, Kurt has his… where are Scott’s?

Where are all those blog posts I was going to include? There are only like, five in the whole book.

Anyway, I’m happy to be a successful WriMo for once in my life.


Home Stretch – Writing Out of Order

I passed the 45,000 word mark tonight. I’ve known since the beginning what my last chapter was going to be, and have been over it a thousand times in my head, but I was seriously against the idea of writing out of order. Well, tonight I got home and just really wanted to write it. So I did. And then I wrote a couple of other chapters, meaning that I’m now over the 45,000 mark, and I know exactly what’s going to happen in the story to connect where I am so far with what I’ve written to be the ending.

What this means is two things. 1) I can’t get caught up on word count, I just need to write and make sure all my ground is covered, and 2) I can no longer count on the final chapters filling out words. Everything I come up with now has to be original.

Also, though, I need to remember: editing comes later.

I’m actually very proud of what I came up with tonight, especially the second scene featuring all three main characters. It’s the first time I’ve captured that dynamic from Kurt’s perspective, and while Emily isn’t a “main” (POV) character, I like what I’ve done with her, but also feel I’ve under-used her. She will definitely be fleshed out a lot in my second draft because I like what she’s become.

Now that my Point A’s and Point B’s are established, all that’s left is to draw a 4,800 word line. Four more days, but I think I can do it in two. Here’s to that idea!


Who do I Write Like?

So, there’s an online application that has you paste some text and it will analyze what famous author shares your style. Since I’m writing from four perspectives, I pasted pages from each character.

Josh Chapter:

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Cara Chapter:

I write like
Gertrude Stein

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Scott Chapter:

I write like
J. D. Salinger

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Kurt Chapter:

I write like
Gertrude Stein

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Maybe it’s accurate, maybe it’s not (I don’t consider my style in Cara’s and Kurt’s chapters to be remotely similar), but it was a fun little experiment.


I am writing this for you – But you may not like it

My friend Aine wrote a great post about her NaNoWriMo project, which is part of a larger series she’s been working on for several years. I’m writing this along the same vein with a different premise but similar conclusion.

I have bad news.

I have good news and bad news.

I’m not writing this book for you. I don’t know you. I have no idea what you’re looking for in your fiction. How could I ever predict it? How could I possibly reconcile your list of “musts” and “musnt’s” with those of every other potential reader?

I am writing this book for you, but you may not like it. Even though I don’t know you, and have no idea what you’re looking for in your fiction, I recognize that you probably don’t either. Who could have ever predicted the successes of many novels? Who polled potential readers before writing about a boy wizard going to school, a girl fighting to the death in an arena, or a Connecticut Yankee traveling through time? Who would have said they wanted those stories before they were published?

I can’t.

I couldn’t.

I can’t, but as arrogant as it may sound, neither can you.

It would destroy me, and everything I am trying to make.

To write this based on what you think you want would destroy everything I am trying to make for you.

So, here is the only guarantee I will ever give you: I will not publish a book I do not love. Because my only audience is myself. I am the only target I am trying to hit. It’s the only barometer I have. If you love it too, well…I sincerely hope you do. But I can’t guarantee that, and I will try my hardest not to be offended if the fruits of my labor just don’t do it for you.

So here is the only guarantee I will ever give you: I will not publish a book that is not the story I want to tell you. Because though you are my audience, this story is mine. You are the target I am trying to hit, but my own satisfaction is still my barometer. If you love it, I sincerely hope you do. If you hate it, then I have failed you, but maybe not others. This book is for them too. I will not be offended if the fruits of my labor just don’t do it for you, but if they do it for someone, then I have succeeded. Because this story is for them too. If this story was just for me, I wouldn’t bother telling it. It’s already in  my head. I’m committing it to the page for you, not for me.

It would be easy, I think, to fall victim to the disease of satisfying the many at the cost of one’s identity. I resolve to keep the pitfalls present in my mind. I resolve to choose plot points based on what I like, rather than what would sell. I resolve to listen to the music in my ears, not the doubts in my heart.

While I write for you, I will not fall victim to the disease of satisfying the many at the cost of one’s identity. Many of you will not be satisfied by this story. But I will choose plot points based on what the story dictates, not what you think you want. I resolve to listen to the music in my ears, and to share that with you in the hopes that you will like it.

I will reach backwards, pulling forward the pillars that have made me what I am. I will reach forward to pillars not yet cemented, tethering them together with nouns, verbs, and adverbs (if too many of those) creating the best thing that I can at this moment.

I wrote this for you, and with you in mind, but not according to your specifications. I will reach backwards, pulling forward the pillars that have made me what I am, and reach to the connections between you, the reader, and me, the writer, and tether universal human emotions together with nouns, verbs, adverbs, and way too many convoluted synonyms. Creating something for you to enjoy, or not enjoy.

That is all that I can promise you.

I am writing the story I want you to read. Regardless of your feelings, I promise you that much.


Writing Through a Block

I was mentally and emotionally drained today. Last-minute “must be done today” project at work that I didn’t find out about until I came in this morning. I finished it, I’m proud to say, and I think I did a decent job.

But the drain was almost enough to make me take a “no writing” break for the day. I’m 5,000 words ahead of the goal, so that wouldn’t put me behind. But I pulled out the laptop and started writing anyway, and guess what? It came more easily.

That could be because I was writing a fairly simple Scott chapter, one that I’ve had in my head for a few days but didn’t want to get ahead of myself. I’ve spent the last three days on a more difficult Cara chapter that was important for story reasons, but hard to write accurately.

Anyway, I guess it’s not that I had writer’s block… it’s that I lacked motivation. But the way to push through that lack of motivation was just to write. And guess what? It worked!


Papa John’s has the Worst Marketing Team Ever

Read it here and elsewhere

The story: Papa John’s Pizza founder and C.E.O.  John Schnatter will be required to provide health insurance for his full-time employees, due to the Affordable Care Act — which he did not support.

How to spin this in your favor: Pass the cost increase on to your customers, at a few cents per pizza without making a big deal about it.

Another way to spin this in your favor: Give your employees even more insurance than the Affordable Care Act requires, and announce that you are raising your prices to care for your employees more than just the bare minimum.

What Papa John Schlatter chose to do instead: Publicly complain about “Obamacare” to your shareholders, and announce that either prices are going up, or employees’ hours are getting cut. Blame “Obamacare” and blame people who voted for the President.

The message this sends to your employees and customers: “I don’t care about my employees enough to provide them healthcare. But since I’m grudgingly being forced to provide it, I’m going to raise prices or cut hours.”

I only have an advertising degree that included one P.R. class and one Marketing class, but I could have avoided this public cluster fuck better than his team did.

In the meantime, eat at Marco’s, they have garlic butter jizz that’s just as good as what you’d get at Papa John’s.


Inflatable Word Counts

“Peter Rabbit is this stupid book about this stupid rabbit who steals vegetables from other people’s gardens. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen… Eighty-three to go!”

– Lucy Van Pelt, “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”

I’m trying incredibly not to artificially inflate my word count for NaNoWriMo by throwing things in that aren’t really part of the story, or that I didn’t write. But it seems to be happening anyway. Part of this is because I’m not telling my story in straight prose. Blog posts, text messages, e-mails, funeral announcements… I’m including them verbatim, because I find that to be an important part of the story. However, I’m also including the header information on the e-mails, texts, blog posts. The reason I’m doing that is to lend visual authenticity to the passages. But it does feel a lot like cheating. Even so, it’s still original content that I’m producing.

I also want to include quotes from famous people at the beginning of each chapter. And I will, but I will not count them in my word count. I won’t even add them to the document until after the story is finished, to avoid accidentally having them counted.

I’ve also decided to write an “Author’s Note” at the end, but as I will most likely be well over 50,000 words before the story is finished, I’m not worried about that being dishonest.

For those of you participating in NaNo this year… what are ways you feel you might be cheating on the word count?

“The end… ninety-four, ninety-five… The very very VERY end!”


Early Christmas Decorations and Other Suggestions

This is the time of year when Americans start hearing complaints about how “it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, why are stores already playing Christmas music?!” Not that I don’t agree with the sentiment, but I think if we’re going to call out one phenomenon, we should call out a bunch of others that are similar in principle. So I propose the following:

When previewing “Next week’s episode”, television networks should no longer add “And then in two weeks and preview two episodes ahead. What if this contains spoilers for next week?

If you set your Facebook profile picture to your Halloween costume, and you still have that as your picture after New Years, your account will be deleted.

No more summer trailers for movies that don’t come out until next summer.

No more summer previews for television shows that don’t start until the spring.

No more pilot episodes for a show that won’t begin airing regularly until a month after the pilot.

No more political party debates, media coverage of primaries, or polls about primary candidates until January 1 of the election year.

No more servers bringing you the check before asking whether you want dessert. (Seriously, what’s up with that?)

The most important message here is that we need to stop jumping the gun and living in the distant future (or past). The second most important message is that Sam watches a lot of television.


Some Novel Music 2: Playlist Links

So, like I wrote the other day, I’m trying to listen to music that captures the emotions of the characters I’m writing. For that, I put together 4 Spotify playlists.

Josh’s List: Emotional High Energy
Scott’s List: Angry
Cara’s List: Wistful
Kurt’s List: Inspirational Religious Music

Word count is over 13.6K, so I guess I’m doing well.

I ended up changing Scott’s occupation from architect to journalist, but that doesn’t require rewriting more than a sentence, as his job has only been a setting so far and not a plot point. It will be a plot point later, though, which is why I changed it.

Kurt is increasingly both hard and easy to write, as I can very easily use the kind of religious lingo that would dominate his inner monologue, but I also have to resist the urge to define the logical rebuttals to his thought process.


The Awkwardness of Trying to Vote at the Lakewood Community Center

I decided to swing by and “vote real quick” on the way to work today. Yeah… that was a bust. I’ve never taken more than five minutes to vote before, but this was my first time at my current polling station.

Here’s how it was:

Click to enlarge