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NaNoWriMo Days 27-28 – and done!

Day 28, and I’m officially declaring myself done. OK, so I haven’t “won” NaNoWriMo, as in I haven’t passed 50k. But it’s an arbitrary total, a nice round number that just about qualifies as “novel length”. What matters, as always, is Finishing the Damned Story.

So yes, I’ve written the closing scenes for the book, and I have a much more solid idea about where I’m going with the story now. Sure, I could go back and fill in some more scenes – but things have changed a little from my original plan, and I feel like it would be a waste of time writing these scenes only to have to rewrite them in a few weeks’ time. I have as complete a story as I need to take into the next stage, which is all I really wanted.

So, I’m out of here! I’m taking a couple of days completely off this project, to read and just catch up on life generally, then at the weekend I’ll start prepping for revisions. Back to the start of the Forth Bridge…

Quote of the day: None. All the best ones are major spoilers, so I’m going to have to leave this blank – sorry!

Daily word count: 2075 + 1276

Final total: 43,813

NaNoWriMo Day 26

Today was surprisingly rubbish on the word-count front – I knew I needed to plan the big action set-piece before I could write some more, but hadn’t bargained on being so brain-dead that I couldn’t string two sentences togther once I was done with the planning :(

On the plus side, I made a first pass at blocking the set-piece using Playmobil figures, just as I did last time. I still had the figures set up from last time, so it was just a case of setting out some boxes on my desk to represent the main locations and moving the figures around, taking photos at each stage to record the progression of the scene. It showed up some potential flaws in my ideas but gave me new ones as well, so all was not lost!

Of course now I want to go and buy more figures, so that I can represent the characters more accurately – perhaps that shall be my reward for finishing this draft!

Daily word count: 0

Running total: same as Day 25

NaNoWriMo Day 25

Not quite so spectacular a writing day today – I was mentally exhausted from yesterday’s marathon and facing the most complicated part of the book, so progress was slow. Still, I made nearly 2/3 of my target, so now I’m down to less than 2k a day to complete the 50k by Friday. I’m calling that a win!

Quote of the day: He stood in the doorway, feet apart, hands braced on the halberd before him. Even more ominously, he wore an executioner’s hood, so like the masks worn by the Huntsmen on their rides. The man’s eyes glinted through the slits in the black leather.

Daily word count: 3,165

Running total: 40,463

NaNoWriMo Day 24

Well, I’m delighted to say that the maths paid off – I managed to squeak over my humungous word count target in time for dinner, so I was able to take the rest of the evening off. As mentioned in my earlier post, I did it in short sprints with breaks in between, and actually managed a better pace than I’d expected – close to my top speed of 900 words per hour. I did start to seriously flag after 4k, though; I had to take another extended break and a soak in the bath whilst I planned the next scene.

Anyway I’ve written about a chapter and a half today, and whilst there are a few shaky parts, there’s also some good stuff in there, so I’m very pleased with my progress. Now all I have to do is repeat the same process tomorrow *gulp*

Quote of the day: “I don’t know why I let you talk me into this,” Mal said as they snapped the manacles around his wrist.

Daily word count: 4,856

Running total: 37,298

NaNoWriMo – doing the maths

Today I decided to do my best to try and catch up, after a rather unproductive week, so I turned to maths to help me work out how much I need to write each day. I’m currently on a little over 32k – let’s call it 32 dead, to keep the numbers simple (always better to be pessimistic in these situations!).

50000 – 32000 = 18000 left to write

18000 / 7 = 2571 per day

That’s just about doable (I wrote 2280 last Monday) but a tough challenge. Let’s assume I can hit the standard 1,667 on a weekday and do more at weekends:

18000 – (5 x 1667) = 9665

9665 / 2 = 4833 per weekend day

That’s also just about doable – I may not have broken 2.5k at all this NaNoWriMo, but I did 10k in a weekend on my first attempt, just because I was desperate to finish – and that was back in 2006 when I was much less experienced.

Now, going back to the spreadsheet I did as part of Rachel Aaron’s 2k-to-10k process, I work most efficiently in 35-45 minute sprints with a short break for the rest of the hour – at this pace, I write 500-900 words per hour. Let’s call that an average of 700.

4833 / 700 = 6.9 hours

So that’s my weekend target – 7 hours a day of intense writing. I’ve downloaded some new soundtracks to inspire me whilst I type, so I’m good to go…

(Of course I may run out of story before I hit 50k, because I only have 6 more chapters left to draft. But if I can keep to the above goals, I might even finish before Friday!)

NaNoWriMo Day 22-23

I have to confess that I haven’t written a word these past two days. On the first day it wasn’t deliberate; I had a busy day at work, with lots of meetings as well as some code to finish off, and a Tai Chi session at lunchtime, so I didn’t have a lot of time during the day to think about writing. By evening I was tired and frustrated, yes, but my real problem was that I knew deep down I still had no idea how to finish this book. I had a few vague ideas, a story arc or two, but nothing visualised – and you can’t write what you haven’t already imagined. At least, I can’t.

On the second day, therefore, I made the conscious decision to plan instead of write. In the morning, I wrote the back cover copy for the book, which gave me an insight into the direction the book is really going. At lunchtime I started writing a summary of the plot of The Alchemist of Souls for my website (for readers who want to refresh their memory before reading The Merchant of Dreams). And in the evening I got out my notebook and pen and started brainstorming the ending, asking myself the big questions: who lives? who dies? who wins? and how? Not just “the good guys win” or some such simplistic answer, but working out what “winning” means.

You’d think I’d have worked all this out already, and I thought I had – but I’d only done so in vague terms. I hadn’t asked myself the hard questions, about what the possible outcomes meant in light of the chapters I’d written so far and the characters I had created. For a final victory to feel real, it has to cost the lives of innocents as well as the guilty – so which innocents was I going to kill?

I still don’t know all the answers, but I have enough of them to allow me to put together an outline and write the last few chapters. I’ve a feeling it’s going to be painful, which is another reason I’ve been stalling. But this is what it means to be a writer, so I have to do it.

Daily word count: 0.

Running total: 32,440

NaNoWriMo Day 19-21

This week has flashed by – seems I’ve been either writing like a mad thing or nose down in the day-job! In consequence my word count has varied from excellent to poor, depending on which end of that spectrum I’ve been immersed in.

I’ve been dotting back and forth as the scenes come to me, rather than writing linearly as I normally do; I guess I’m bored with the dry investigative tone of one side of the storyline and want to plunge into the hands-on conflict between my two factions! Anyway, I now have at least fragments of Chapters 28-30, which is helping me to work out how the climax of the book is going to develop. Some of these scenes are going to need a lot of revising, but that’s the nature of discovery writing.

Quote of the day:

“Shall we kill him?” the other one asked.

“No, he is more valuable to us alive. But we need him subdued—“

Daily word count: 2280 + 1806 + 728

Running total: 32,440

NaNoWriMo Day 18

My least productive day so far, dropping down into three figures for the first time this NaNoWriMo. I’m really not sure if yesterday’s scenes are taking the story in a helpful direction, and I’m starting to panic that the whole second act is a mess. I know, I know – I should be ignoring my inner editor – but it’s hard to shake off the feeling that I’m wasting my time writing scenes I’ll just throw away in revisions.

On the plus side, I did a research trip to a sekrit location that I want to use in this book. Took lots of photos and bought a guidebook, which will help me envisage how it would have looked four hundred years ago. I also decided to focus on this part of the draft for a while and let the problematic bits simmer in the back of my mind. Hopefully something will shake loose before too long…

Quote of the day: “I will teach you things that small-minded pedant never dreamed of.”

Daily word count: 745

Running total: 27,626

NaNoWriMo Day 15

Not such a good start to the day, since I only had five hours’ sleep! Hence I didn’t get any writing done until lunchtime; instead I planned the next scene on the bus to work so that I could make best use of my time in the library. It certainly worked – I managed just over 1200 words in about an hour and a quarter :)

I had hoped to knock out another 500 words this evening, to get me over the halfway mark, but my right arm was just too tired after fencing class for any kind of writing. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the sword’s a damned sight heavier!

Quote of the day: “All she needed was her lockpicks, some rope…and a plan.”

Daily word count: 1204

Running total: 24,523

NaNoWriMo Day 14

Woke up early and by breakfast time had finished off the scene I was writing last night. I’m really enjoying the new PoV I’m writing in the second half of this book, and action scenes always go really quickly for me. Sometimes I think my brain has a vast library of movie clips that it just cannibalises for this stuff, because all I have to do is set events in motion and then transcribe what unfolds before my mind’s eye!

Wrote some more at lunchtime, but realised that maybe I needed to shuffle scenes a bit in this current sequence for maximum dramatic impact. Did that when I got home and then wrote a short scene to precede the lunchtime one. Not entirely sure where that last scene is going, but I can fix that in revisions!

Quote of the day: “The lock was old and rusty, and anyway he had no idea how one was supposed to pick them; it was always made to sound so easy in stories.”

Daily word count: 1960

Running total: 23,315