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NaNoWriMo 2015: Update 2

Just a little over half way through NaNoWriMo now and as of first thing this morning I’m at 48,609 words. If I was doing a normal NaNo count I’d be finishing today. Since I’m aiming for 69,000 that leaves me with 20,381 words to go. Not too bad although I’ve been slower the last week or so. It’s definitely not a level of writing I find sustainable.

I finished Mycroft 5 and have tentatively called it The Knight Who Started a War but I think that’s going to haev to change. As much as I like it it needs to be shorter I think.

As is normal I’ve learnt some intersting things. Not least all the symptoms of hypothermia. But the most unexpected – It seems protégé is the maculine form and for a female student you would call them a protégée. Had no idea about that until two days ago.

The hope is to finish Mycroft 6 by the end of this week or the beginning of next (I might actually take the weekend off). Then finish off a few other bits and pieces to get me towards the 69k I’m aiming for. Either way there’s still a fair amount to be written so I best get back to it.

NaNoWriMo 2015: Update 1

I know I’m only a few days into NaNoWriMo but here’s an update of where I’m at so far.

Somehow in only two days I’ve managed to get about a third of the way into Mycroft 5. Still not a clue what the title is but I’ll probably figure that out soon.

As often happens my character’s keep surprising me and even themselves. Amelia turned out to be claustraphobic and it turns out Mycroft and Sherlock can sort of work together, but there’s evidently some history there I don’t know about yet. Daniels, the chauffeur, is also even more awesome than even Mycroft realised, and I even discovered that Mycroft does have a sense of humour! Who knew!

Research wise I plotted one heck of a route thanks to google maps. One of the most amazing tools as a quick way to be able to explain places. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have access to such a detailed map of pretty much everywhere in the world. Here’s a link for those interested. Yup Russia is involved.

Over the next week I want to get this novella finished so I can take a day off to plot the next one, as I have no idea what happens except for a few series related scenes. It does sorta need its own plot as well. After that we’ll see. I’d like to be about this far into the next one in two weeks time, maybe a little further. It all depends exactly what trouble Amelia gets herself into between now and then!

NaNoWriMo Update 4: 2014

So it seems that I keep losing Tuesdays and always find myself thinking it’s Monday until far too late to blog. I think that says a fair bit about my mental state at the moment.

I have now finished the second of two Mycroft Holmes Novellas. As I suspected the second wasn’t quite long enough to tip me over the edge of 60k mark I was aiming for but I’ve got a few other bits and pieces I can write this month to take me over for the monthly total although I won’t be using it as part of the validated word count on the official NaNoWriMo website.

The last weekend I took off, however, and I definitely won’t be working too hard this week so we’ll see how high the monthly count actually gets. I’ll post it next week as it will probably be my highest monthly count ever.

In terms of the Mycroft novellas I’m going to let them sit for a few weeks before I begin the process of second drafting them both, but that will probably be done quite easily in December and then handed off to my editor. For now I’ve got a bunch of other stuff I simply have to work on but I’m finding myself quite kean to delve into more in the Mycroft world so who knows what I’ll work on after this. More Mycroft isn’t technically on my schedule yet but I don’t like ignoring the inspiration if its tugging me in a specific direction wo the schedule could go out the window entirely.

For now though, time to get back to the other stuff I neglected while writing the last three weeks.

NaNoWriMo 2014: Update 3

So I’m almost three weeks into the month and I’m almost there. I’ve written a total of 49,227 words so far this month, leaving me with only 10,773 to go to hit my target.

Mycroft 2 netted me 32,252 and I’m at just under 17k for Mycroft 3 so if it’s as long as its prequels Mycroft 3 should take me over the 60k mark nicely, although that does seem to be where I might hit a snag. At my current place in the plot I’m only expecting Mycroft 3 to get to about 25k which would leave me 2-3k short of my target word count. Right now I’m not sure about the best way to solve that problem, but there’s a chance it won’t be. I’ve never been amazing at estimating word counts so I could be wrong.

I definitely don’t intend to add filler to Mycroft 3 just to make the count although the plot is the simplist of the 3, probably why it’s coming up short, so I could try and think of a good twist to add somewhere. Alternatively I could settle for not hitting the 60k. I’d have finished the books so my task would be sort of done. My other option is to start something else or continue one of the other projects I’ve got on the go, which I think will be the most likely.

Research wise, Mycroft 3 has been the easiest of the books. It’s mostly winding down on plot threads I’ve created in the previous two and focuses a little more on the relational side of things. Mycroft might even finally decide he likes Amelia. That’s all stuff I don’t need to research so other than looking a little more into a martial art I’ve been able to just keep writing.

My aim is to try and finish Mycroft 3 this week. That leaves me with somewhere between 8-10k to write in 3 days so I’d best get back to it.

NaNoWriMo 2014: Update 2

It’s Tuesday again and still November so I’m still busy writing away. Well actually I’m not, but that’s because I’ve taken a day off. The second Mycroft Adventures novella is finished as of yesterday evening. I’ve written over thirty-two thousand words in just ten days. My aim for the month is still sixty thousand so I’ve got almost twenty-eight to go.

The Mycroft novella really took on a life of its own and really wrote itself which was a pleasant feeling. It’s also given me plenty of ideas for sequels so I think there will be at least five or six of them. The next of which I will probably start writing tomorrow or the day after.

Research wise I did quite a bit of random stuff for the second half of the novel as well, including looking into rare Russians coins from 1897 and more map searching in London for accurate times to different locations. Finally I wrote and borrowed a few more riddles.

So far it’s been a very good NaNoWriMo and I’m hoping writing a third Mycroft story will make it even more awesome.

NaNoWriMo 2014 – Update 1

Well so far I’m ahead of target (although I forgot that I was meant to blog this yesterday). As of right now I’m at 13288 words and a good way of the plot  into my Mycroft novella. I’ve also updated the side widget to show where I’m at and you can probably see that I only plan to write about another 20k of this story. I haven’t decided what I’ll do after that so I’m expecting to need a couple of days right in the middle of November to decide what I’ll be doing to hit that 60k mark I’m aiming for.

At this point in time I’m considering starting on the third Mycroft story but it is the haziest part of the plot in my head (the two stories after are very clear in an annoying sort of way). It would be the most satisfying way to spend the rest of NaNo though and probably the one most in keeping with the rules, but I could work on Victorious Ruin instead. I at least have that vaguely plotted out even if it’s a bit slow going on the writing front. And for the fans waiting eagerly for Victorious Ruin, no matter what I decide it will be what I finish once I’ve done NaNo.

But back to how it’s gone so far. For the most part I’m actually sticking quite nicely to my plan and the plot notes I have to hand, although Mycroft is up to quite a bit more than I originally visioned. That’s probably a good thing because this story was going to be a bit weak on his side of things otherwise. International Crime stuff is very new for me so I’m quite literally making that bit up as I go along and hoping it won’t fall apart before I reach a satisfying conclusion of some kind. If I need to I can add in hints and clues that make Mycroft look clever during the second draft.

In terms of surprise elements. I have riddles. Wonderful Mycroft riddles. I wasn’t expecting this at all and it was just a series of ideas that snuck themselves in and led that way so they’re there to stay. Probably the only surprise so far but a good one.

I tried to do as much research as I could before I began but I’ve also had to pull up maps of London a lot and scout out areas. There’s a little hommage to one of the Sherlock writers, Moffat, in there for people to spot and I’ve had to look up quite a few things to do with stalkers and the sorts of things they write in letters. That was a little creepy. I also need to research a disease or condition someone elderly might have that requires constant supervision but I’m going to leave that for after NaNo, for now I just have (Disease) wherever it should be mentioned, which is only twice so far.

With all that said I should probably get back to the writing, and probably watching V for Vendetta, because it’s the 5th and in Britain that means bonfire’s and fireworks and possibly a Guy called Fawkes. enjoy if you’re celebrating that this evening or at the weekend!

How to prepare for writing lots in one month (or NaNoWriMo)

Yup, it’s almost that time of year again when a large chunk of the world wide writerly community goes crazy in the attempt to cram as many story telling words into one month as possible in the aim of having actually got their ideas out onto paper so they have something to work with and polish up, no matter how crap those original words are.

Now I’ve managed to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge the last three years running somehow (typically 50k words in one month) and I’m of course up for doing it again as it tends to be my most productive month of the year even if I’ve come close a few other times. I have found the best NaNoWriMo’s though are the ones where I actually put some planning in and knew what I wanted to write in advance.

I’m not much of a planner, in fact I come much closer to the pantser type of writer, but for November I’m much more of a planner than normal. Instead of having a few scribbled plot notes of scenes in my ideas notebook to go on and mostly ignore, for NaNo I usually spend the last couple of weeks in October mulling over plot details. Important character decisions and the main scenes where important matters happen or dialogue is said are the things I focus on.

This usually leads me to the plot points I’m not sure on yet. By thinking over the scenes and what might link them it forces me to decide on stuff that needs to happen that I normally leave until I’m writing the book. This can be minor details like what someone is doing in a scene while a conversation is happening or it can be a big detail like the motive for an action or even the entire plotline for a less major character who needs to be given more detail. It can even lead to me realising I need another POV character or something as fundamental to the writing as that. I also find it helps me do my research in advance. Knowing the science, history or forensics before the scene is written usually helps me imagine it that much quicker.

As a pantser I often don’t plan too much because I don’t want to take the fun out of writing, and I know other pantsers say the same thing about why they don’t do detailed plans, but whatever your method and whatever your reasons, to get the wordcount at the end, it definitely helps to have thought through enough that there’s no stopping to work out important details that could have already been fixed.

The final thing I try and do to get me off to a good start is harness the part of the book I write best. I know from my own writing habits that the first 25% of any story and the last 10% go the quickest for me. I love delving into a new plot and I love getting close to the end, so I harness this for NaNoWriMo, especially if I’m stuck. I almost always start something new for NaNo (the rules say you’re meant to anyway, but plenty of people cheat) and push myself to get ahead while writing that 25% because I know I’ll find it easier and it will provide me with some grace if I get stuck after.

I’ve also been known to give up on the story I started for NaNo and write a complete shorter work to give me a boost. I did this last year and wrote the first 39k of Sherdan’s Country before switching to write the entire 21k of my novella in the Kiss anthology, which I penned down in only 6 days towards the end. With the little bits I did in the few final days I entirely rescued my NaNo target and smashed it by over 10k, hitting almost 62k by the end of the month. Technically I cheated. I didn’t quite get to over 50k in one story, but I had a completed novella and was over half way through the novel I originally wanted to write and that’s a success for me.

This year I’m going to start with my Mycroft Holmes Adventures 2 novella and then when I’ve got that done, if I’ve had time to plan 3 I’ll try and write 3 as well, if not continue on with finishing Hearts of the Seas 2, Victorious Ruin. Whatever I write though I’m aiming for at least 60k. I’ll be blogging about my progress each tuesday through November for those who want to see if it goes according to plan or not.

NaNoWriMo 2013 – update 1

So I’m doing this challenge again, just like  I did both of the previous two years. I’m writing Sherdan’s Country, as you can see from the progress bars to the right. This is the third book in this series and has been very easy to write so far.

I’m at 19k as of now and still going fairly strong. I’ve slowed a little, but I think it’s mostly because I’m writing a chapter I’ve not plotted at all at the moment. I only realised I needed it yesterday evening as I was going to bed.

So far there’s been a few surprises for me, especially on Anya’s side of events. She’s acting on impulse a lot and it’s proving quite interesting to write.

Sherdan is the one I’m most proud of. Since Sherdan’s Prophecy he’s grown a lot and I’m really enjoying writing from his point of view.

As NaNoWriMo is going so well I’m seriously considering trying to write the entire book this month, not just the 60k I was aiming for, but I need another couple of 4k+ days to make me really confident about going for such a mammoth number of words in only one month and I’m slower today and not available to write this evening so we’ll see.

I’ve also got quite a few events mid-month which will swallow some of my time as I get closer. Most notably the print launch of book 1 and 2 in the Sherdan series, Sherdan’s Prophecy and Sherdan’s Legacy.

It’s a very Sherdan themed month.

For those who want to keep track themselves you can find my NaNoWriMo stat page here. I update that several times a day with my progress.

NaNoWriMo Prep

Yup, it’s almost that time of the year again. In just over two weeks I’m going to be trying to National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge of 50k words of a new novel in one month. I’m actually going to aim for 60k as I’ve done 50k the last two years and want it to remain a challenge.

As such i’m in preparation mode and I thought I’d share some of the things I do to try and get ready for such a momentous task. I’ve found that planning before hand helps to make the task a success.

For the most part I try to avoid social obligations in November. There’s always a few, but I try to see peeps before or just after and this year I’m even taking a week off with my fella (this week in fact) to spend time with each other before I disappear down the writerly rabbit hole. Telling people you are trying not to do too much social during also helps because then they know what you’re doing and you can garner extra motivation from the fact they will ask you how you’re doing and they will know if you fail and have no good reason.

I also make sure most of October is dedicated to doing anything that might get in the way, like other deadlines and other stories that are part finished. The last thing you need is someone nagging you to finish something else. Same goes for the chores. Try to get on top of the washing piles, the cleaning and anything else you don’t want to be distracted by when you’re writing (I’ve even heard that some people do their christmas shopping so they don’t leave it too late but I just do mine in December).

Also I try to minimise the things that might call to me to procrastinate, like games, books and other entertainment. I won’t start a new series of anything on tv in October, unless it’s going to be mostly over in november or I really can’t watch it at a later date. I also won’t buy any new games unless I know I can finish them before November. I won’t activate any subscriptions to any MMO’s and I try to get my final book in October read before the start of the month, especially if I’m enjoying it. (If NaNo goes really well I start allowing myself some downtime with these things again but usually only books and I’m very disciplined on the time I allow myself)

Finally the day or two before I take off from everything but thinking over the plot for the books and writing plot notes on anything I think I really have to add. As my book will also be a sequel I’ll also read the rest of the books in the series to get myself immersed in the world and characters again and think over the first line. Sometimes it takes me ages to write that first line so if I’ve already spent hours thinking on it when I get up on the 1st I can just sit down and write the line I’ve already partially worked out.

NaNoWriMo 2012: Update 2

It’s the 26th of November so time for update 2 (yes I know this was due two days ago and the really observant of you saw this go live as a blank post on Saturday. I forgot about it until too late to do anything about it on Sunday)

So far I’ve managed a total of 47,391 words, comprising of over 21 chapters and 67 A4 pages of text. In the second week of Nano novelling I managed to write 14,619 words, about 1k more than I wrote in the same week last year. As I expected my third week was a low week. I had hospital tests as well as a trip to Cornwall for a couple of days and it meant I took two of the seven days off from writing and had really low counts for two of them so I only got 6,127 words written, 3.5k less than the same week last year. According to the stat calculator on the main Nano website I’m due to finish tomorrow at my current average per day, but I think I can write the last 2.5k today if I really crack on.

I still feel really positive about the story as well. There’s even more good dialogue and the plot is moving along nicely. I’m going to need to do some editing of a few particular events and maybe swtich some chapters around but so far it’s still moving along the plot nicely and still looking like a reasonable 75k novel give or take a few k.

Originally I actually hoped to get 60-70k written this month but the low word count from week three has made that pretty much impossible now. If I feel inspired all week I might hit 60k but I think it’s looking more like 55k or so, meaning I won’t finish the book this year but I should manage to in January.

I’ve also finally decided on a title I like so this year’s NaNo Novel is Sherdan’s Legacy and as you’ve probably noticed there’s now a little progress bar on the right for it, along with all the other in progress books. I have a feeling most of next year is going to be devoted to finishing novels.