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Ok, so it’s the first round of 2014! Whoo! I started with A Round of Words in 80 Days during the last month or so of the last round of 2013. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to say that even in the short time I’ve been involved with this group, I’ve gotten some very positive benefits out of it. I’m finding that it is easier to keep a goal if I have to tell other people about it, but since there’s no pressure to reach a set word goal per day, it’s also easier to forgive myself if I don’t meet a particular goal. Being able to ‘talk’ out loud about what I’m working on and get feedback has been very helpful. If this is your first time with AROW80, welcome! For the folks I met last time, howdy again!
This will be my first full round and I’ve come up with a list of goals that I hope to be successful with this time around. Further information on these projects can be found on this post, under my Current Projects Index page. So, with crossed fingers and a hopeful heart, here goes my list in order by the project’s current priority (the goals are not in any kind of priority order, they’re just what I think needs to be done for that project):
DEFCON: FADE OUT – Top Priority:
Finish writing the complete draft of Defcon: Fade Out – Since November 1st, 2013 I’ve averaged about a chapter every six days. I’m currently on Chapter 11 of a projected twenty so I’m looking at about 56 days if I can maintain the same momentum.
Type up the complete draft of Defcon: Fade Out. Luckily, I type about 90 words a minute so this will be fairly quick. In theory.
Give the typed-up draft to people to read.
Build a blanket fort in which to hide while draft is being read by friends so I will have a secure place in which to shake like a Chihuahua standing on Jello during an earthquake from nerves.
Complete Character Checklists for all of my POV characters and major secondary characters. This is something I should have done a while ago, but I find that characters tend to create themselves while I write. (I’ve got a whole word document full of links various checklists for character creation and worldbuilding to choose from, thankfully).
Complete a couple other worldbuilding checklists for things that have an impact on the series as a whole. Ditto that these should have been done earlier but c’est la vie.
Begin plotting out books 1-3 and 5 and figuring out what other sorts of checklists I might need to complete for them.
GEM CITY: — Secondary Priority:
Type up drafts of stories currently residing in my thinky thoughts book.
Complete Character Checklists for main characters, especially William Cartwright, the Shamus Who Has No Shame.
Complete Species and Religion Checklist for the Deros
Plot out at least one story set in this ‘verse.
BUTCHERS’ BILL – Tertiary priority; probably going to be held over to Round 2:
Print out original drafts and give it a read over, see what can be salvaged and create a scene inventory.
Complete Species Creation Checklist for vampires so I can establish the rules for what they can and cannot do in this ‘verse.
Complete Character Checklists for main characters (sensing a trend, are we?)
Plot out book incorporating some new ideas I’ve had for the plot
Look into potential research sources for new plot ideas.
KINSTEALER – Back Burner: This idea still needs to percolate since currently there’s not much to it than a bunch of very nebulous thoughts and concepts. I’m considering writing this one as a Young Adult novel, but I’m not sure. We’ll see how things go. As should be expected, a variety of checklists need to be finished for this ‘verse.
Complete individual project pages
Read the books on writing that I got for myself
Not freeze during the cold snap that’s lasting until Tuesday around here.
*with apologies to Europe, the band* “It’s the final check-in!!” *guitar riff!*
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I came into AROW80 late in the game, having found out about this writing challenge from Chuck Wendig’s TERRIBLE MINDS blog, so I don’t have any real quarter-long goals to talk about, but I am looking forward to the next round and seeing how well I can do at a longer term writing challenge. I have learned a few things about myself as a writer in the short time I’ve been with this group, mainly that I seem to work better when I have people to report to about what I’m doing. And that being told that my ideas are interesting is the best ego-boost ever. *lol* I’ve also learned that I can work on more than one project at a time without being completely derailed and ceasing all work for ever and ever on one or the other project. This pleases me no end, since one of my fears as a writer is that I don’t have the attention span necessary to finish a project. Particularly long and involved projects. I’ve also noticed that I’m drawn to projects that require a lot of world building. I’m not sure if this is subconsciously a way to avoid working on the actual writing of the stories or an attempt to recreate a world as in-depth as some of the fanfic universe I’ve written in. I’ve always had a soft spot for meta-materials – books about story universes, about TV series, things like that. Possibly, it’s a mix of both.
How I did on my goals this last time ‘round: I got the chance to sleep in today, which is great because for the next few days I will be back to a hectic schedule that is unkind to the sleeping in. On the plus side, I do have a fridge full of food which will make the schedule considerably less hectic since it makes it easier to find something to eat.
The scene inventory I mentioned in my last Check-In did help in starting a rough draft of Chapter Nine based on old scene. Which is good, though I kind of hate a lot of what I’ve written for it and I’m wondering if maybe it would be better suited to earlier in the book. For the time being, I’m just bulling on through and getting the chapter out so I can move on to the next chapter.
Holidays have been good; I got a Barnes and Noble gift card from the girlfriend’s mom and I’m looking for suggestions on writing books if anybody has some good ones to suggest. I hope everybody had and will have a great holiday season. I wish you and your families all the best in the months and years to come.
Continue working on Defcon: Fade Out with the ultimate goal being Chapter Ten done by midnight on New Year’s Eve, if not before. Considering my work schedule this week, I’m a bit doubtful that this goal will be achieved, but I am at least taking a stab at it.
Work on creating pages for my WIPs. This will be the first time I’ve ever done this – particularly for my own original work — and if folks have suggestions about the kind of stuff that should be on those pages/things they want to see/things that should NEVER go on a WIP page, I would be ever so grateful. I already know that The Semi-Quasi-Mostly Official Handbook to the Gem City Universe will go on the Gem City page and I have some ideas for the other pages as well. The ‘verses I’m working on include:
Defcon: a potentially five novel series set in a world where, in 1983, a nuclear war was accidentally sparked by a massive asteroid strike in the Kamchatka Peninsula in the former Soviet Union. The series takes place at various points in time after the nuclear war and follows a group of characters through the slow process of recovery. The idea was to write my own take on the cheesy post-apocalyptic men’s adventure series I read when I was a kid in the 1980s, only with slightly more realistic takes on things like radiation effects and cultural changes. But also including some weird crazy science because a girl should be able to have a few genetically-engineered ape/human hybrid organisms in her post-nuclear future, right?
Butcher’s Bill: Another alternate history where when, in 1755, the physician Gerard van Swieten was sent by the Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa to investigate claims of vampires in Moravia (part of the Czech Republic) instead of ultimately finding that vampires were nothing more than “ a vain fear, a superstitious credulity, a dark and eventful imagination, simplicity and ignorance among the people” he discovered that vampires were indeed a real and potentially serious problem. The novel itself takes place in America in the present day and follows the activities of the members of Tomescu Disposal Services, a vampire hunting firm, who work the third shift. The vampires in this world are based more on the vampires of folklore rather than the fictional vampires like Dracula, Lestat and Edward Cullen.
Gem City: a world where more or less all of that ‘comic book stuff’ is real and where William Cartwright is the Shamus Who Knows No Shame. William works as a private investigator, taking on the sorts of cases that other PIs won’t. His reason for doing this is that his parents were costumed villains who were murdered by a vigilante superhero after their latest court case was thrown out on a legal technicality. The philosophy behind this story world is the idea that the rules need to apply to everybody and that being the good guy doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want and that even bad people deserve the protection of the law. It’s also a chance for me to goof around with superhero tropes.
Kinstealer: This is the runt of the story-idea litter. About all I know about it is that it features a scruffy space pirate-type guy who helps fight Cthulu-like aliens and who annoys the other space pirates by flaunting one of the basic rules of their society. The world is based, loosely, on the space opera version of our solar system. In a way, it’s an alternate history wherein the point of departure is that this is a universe where the canals on Mars are real and there are swamps on Venus and interplanetary travel is commonplace enough for there to the space pirates. Inspirations include C.L. Moore’s “Northwest Smith” stories, the Starwolf novels by Edmond Hamilton, Heinlein’s juvenile novels, and, in particular, Alan E. Nourse’s Raiders from the Rings. Not sure how Lovecraft will fit in – this idea pretty much literally came to me in a dream and there were some kind of eldritch horror in the dream but the character was more interested in not being found guilty of violating the ethics of his band of space pirates than worrying about them. There’s probably something in that.
Miscellaneous Plans for the Interim:
Survive the next week at work, which will amount to eight days of work before my next weekend (next Thursday and Friday). It’s not the work itself that’s so rough, but the combination of my and the girlfriend’s work schedules conspiring to make sleep a rare and highly prized commodity.
Start eating healthier/cooking at home more and getting in some exercise. Which would probably be easier if a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses wasn’t sitting next to me.
First things first, I wanted to share this post I found over at Tumblr for a couple reasons. For the linkphobic, it’s a scan of a couple comic book pages that depict a group of normal human beings confronting a superpowered baddie. The group is led by a little old lady, who throws a brick at the baddie and yells “No pasaran!” This is awesome enough in and of itself, because all too often in superhero stories we don’t see the bystanders doing anything but acting as victims and scenery in the stories and in this scene, we see the everyday people standing up to a baddie. It’s a nice reminder that while a story may focus on the Avengers or Batman or Superman, there are other people who exist in that story universe who are still significant in their own right.
The other awesome thing is that someone, not (to the best of my knowledge) anyone connected to the writing of the comic said “This lady needs a name” and proceeded to not only create a name for the character but also an entire backstory created around the name. An awesome backstory that takes this background character who little more an extra with a few speaking lines, into a fully developed and realized character.
It’s also an excellent example of how to create a character based off of a few, basic pieces of demographic information and a willingness to stretch one’s imagination and add a bit of flavor to a story.
Defcon: Fade Out: As I mentioned in another post, Chapter Seven is DONE! Haven’t started writing/editing Chapter Eight yet, but that is still in the pipeline
Gem City: Spent more time doing background worldbuilding type stuff, including figuring out how power levels work — mainly to try and keep things within the realm of the realistic. Using a list of fictional powers from Wikipedia, I divided them into three very rough categories (physical, mental and metaphysical) and then sorted powers into the different groups. Metaphysical is the holding area for any and all powers that are practically magic/completely unrealistic. These are very, very rare in the Gem City ‘verse. In fact, the ratio goes 75% of all powers are physical (enhanced strength, being able to rapidly heal ala Wolverine, etc), 20% mental (telepathy, telekinesis, etc) and 5% metaphysical (able to stretch like rubber, control ice or fire with your mind, teleport, etc).
ALSO! I figured out how Will (the Reverse Batman) lost his parents and how their death motivated him. It clicked while I was reading The Law of Superheroes.
I’m still listening to Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. If you’re interested in reading and/or listening to it, do NOT do so while you are hungry. You will die of starvation. The only book that’s worse to read when you’re hungry, is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, wherein we learn that 19th century farmers ate an entire Vegas casino buffet for every meal.
Started reading Of Mice and Men and while the kid is done reading it for school I think I should be a good girl and read it all myself since it’s a classic and I’ve never read it. (BTW, the kid is taking her exams this week so if y’all could send a few good vibes her way, that would be appreciated!)
Defcon: Fade Out: Finish Chapter Eight; print out drafts of other chapters so that the work can progress.
Gem City: Fine tune work on powers, type up draft of short story, create character backgrounds for the main characters I have so far. Continue researching — mainly The Law of Superheroes and some other books that I have handy, some mine, some library books.
Kinstealer: Listening to Dan Carlin’s podcast, Hardcore History as background research. Not sure where it’ll eventually end up, but there’s a vibe going on.
Wrap Christmas Presents and bake brownies for the girlfriend to take to work. Also help the kid study for her midterms.
And, for fun of it, here’s a poll!
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