Of Dragons and Swords: 188K –> 200K. La la laaaaala…. Getting closer, and closer… Still not there, though. 10K to finish. I hope I can stay within this limit. I have the two major end scenes in my head though (I’m having a bit of a Castles of Sand and Stone struggle, in that I’m about to kill characters I really like, so I’m reluctant to go into these scenes… but I’ll get there. I hope).

Of Rats in Darkest Corners: 71K –> 71K. Not much of a word count increase (there actually is, but I’m keeping these scenes out of the official WC, in case I change my mind and throw them out). But I’ve added the bit I struggled with (one of the POV characters’ introduction, which was kind of important, but I didn’t know how to originally set up so that it fit the rest of the tone of the story). So, yay!

Crossing Roads: 53K –> 56K. And yes. Halfway in, our MC isn’t invincible anymore. I’d set it up from the beginning, but I finally got to this scene. Luvya, Curse!

Castles of Sand and Stone: 78K –> 84K. Got through a very sensitive for me spot. I hope I handled it well? Readers will tell. If they ever get to reading this story.

Dancing with Demons: 30K –> 31K. Tiny addition, but this isn’t an “active” story, so I won’t complain. A step forward is a step forward.

The Journeyman: 50K –> 51K. Yup. Neckbreaking progress. Well, there was potential neckbreaking in this progress, so does that count? I’m liking how the characters are coming along, though, so, score!

Gain of a Man Less: 19K –> 19K. There’s a bunch of things going on with this story. Not making it official on the diary yet (afraid I’ll jinx it?), but there’re eyes on this, and I’ve been working a ton on edits and the story themes/plot. Just a small word count increase lost in the rounding of the WC, but that’s because I also killed a scene.

Counter Central: 6K? –> 6K?. More brainstorming on this one. I’m REALLY liking it. Kind of tempted to throw it in the “active” mix. Won’t, because of Gain of a Man Less, but tempted nonetheless.

The Chasm: 0K –> 1K. The opening scene was bugging me, so I put it down. Not 100% happy with it, but it’s on “paper.” Will probably end up either re-writing it, or at least editing it a bunch. Not the time of this story yet, anyway.

Trajectory (Screenplay): 66/120 pages –> 117 pages. FINISHED. And sent to a contest. Yay! (first round of results expected second week of January)


Since August 14, 2015:

Of Dragons and Swords: 175K –> 188K. Ended up scrapping quite a bit of writing as I tried a couple of different directions for one scene, and the last attempt may also get scrapped. But it’s, well, moving, so that’s that.

Of Rats in Darkest Corners: 69K –> 71K. Tiny motion that I’m not sure I’ll keep, but I worked through a couple of things that were bothering me before. I also got a bit of an “ah-ha!” moment with one of the POV characters, so happy noodles!

Crossing Roads: 49K –> 53K. Not a huge jump, and some of it may need to get reworked. But the story’s moving forward, so I can’t complain!

Castles of Sand and Stone: 71K –> 78K. Pretty happy with the addition! Still moving slowly, especially since I’m due to kill off two notable characters and I really love one of them, and that will be tough on me again. But that’s been the theme of this story (in more ways than one), so, moving on.

Dancing with Demons: 29.5K –> 30K. Is 500 words worth recording? Well, maybe no, but it was a fun tiny segment to write (some nerdy fun with technology).

The Journeyman: 45K –> 50K. Not unhappy with the bump, and the story’s moving, but I still don’t seem to have much inspiration for it. Even if I do think it’s one of my stronger stories, both writing and concept-wise. It may need a bit of help with the storytelling, in the sense of cleaning up some of the introspection, but other than that, I really have no complaints about it. Other that I just don’t seem to get into it well enough for quicker progress.

Linking Rings: 17K –> 19K. Worked through a major snag (kinda needed to move on with the story). This one isn’t an officially “active” story, but the idea how to handle the problem did strike me, and I thought I should work it in. It’s actually a story I’m pretty happy about, and I have much plans and hopes for it, but since it’s somewhat low in current WC, I figure it should sit until I start finishing some of the stories that are further along.

Gain of a Man Less: 18K –> 19K. Another tiny step forward, but I got the characters to their next scene. Another not high priority story that I have high hopes for. Again, it’s sitting at the back of the line due to its low current WC.

The Turn of the Wilds: Bent Steel: 51K –> 53K. Added a fun action scene (well, not so fun for the POV character, and he’s still in a whole lot of trouble, but it was fun to write). The TotW series has gone through a concept revamp, and I’ll need to work quite a bit on the first book before I return to Bent Steel officially. But that scene will definitely stay, no matter what changes I make to the rest of the book, and it’s always fun writing competent characters in deep trouble, so it was a good break from everything else.

The Continent Series: Empty Spaces: 2K –> 4.5K. I know I shouldn’t be working on this story. It’s book 2 of a series that I’ve barely touched in the last several years. BUT. Oh, that “but.” I’ve thought about the story concept on and off lately, and it offered a good opportunity to scratch an itch to write technobabble for a bit. Furthermore, I’m quite happy with the addition, because it offered some world-building opportunity, and I love world-building!

The Price of Loyalty: 1.7K –> 1.9K. Yes, 200 words. I’ve shattered all world records on word count per year! I originally wasn’t even going to include this, but the truth is that I’ve been thinking about this story quite a bit too. It won’t see the light of day any time soon, but it’s a concept I’ve loved for a long time (very challenging, which is probably why it’s never seen much word count) and maybe some day I’ll have the confidence to dive into it. Until then, here’s another 200 words on this story.

Sake of the Pack: 12K –> 13K. Another story that has been sitting, waiting for me to get over reservations writing it. But I did open it back up for nostalgia’s sake, and it got a bit of a bump in word count. Pretty much finished the next scene. There’s still quite a bit I need to figure out on it, and I’m still somewhat intimidated from the scope of it. I once said I’m not a good enough plotter to tackle the concept yet. Has anything changed since then? I’m not sure. But considering how many other stories I still have to work on, I really have no reasons not to let it sit for a while longer.

Broken Circles: 112K –> 115K. Hah, I actually had to open the story to see where that progress came from. So, yeah, I actually added a very important set of scenes that I’d managed to forget about in the last few months. Surprise! Not unhappy at all, though. The scenes do push the story forward quite a bit.

Trajectory (Screenplay): 61/120 pages –> 66/120 pages. Tiny movement. (I actually have about 72 pages on it, but the rest are possible inclusions, not official ones) The main progress was in figuring out the end scene, though it’s not written yet (I had trouble visualizing how to keep the actions of the MC true to her character while making the planned ending work).

The Chasm: 0K –> 0K. I have not officially started writing it yet, but I’ve done some brainstorming. I figured I’d include it in the update, since it’s a sweeping update. It’s a YA story in an old, old secondary world of mine (Dead Men’s Stand is in the same world). I kinda knew what I wanted to do for a while (about seven years ago, I wrote something that could have been a prologue for it, if I didn’t think it was too spoilery). But the opening is now starting to take shape in my head, and if I ever get the time and inspiration, I may write it down.

Locked Land: 6K? –> 6K? Another concept update. I’ve got a major jump on the world concept and on the plot! A long time ago, when a beta reader of mine saw what I had on it, they suggested some interesting possibilities for the plot. I thought they were very cool, but took the story very close to some existing stories by other authors. The story wasn’t a priority anyway, so I let it sit. But I recently got to thinking about it. And I’m excited to report that I’ve not only figured out quite a bit about the world and the story, but I’ve stayed true to its concept and have not veered towards other people’s IP. I have not put any of my new thoughts into scenes yet, though. And I’m not sure how much of the existing writing I’ll end up using, so I’m putting the question marks at the end of the word count.

Remnants: 1K? –> 1K? I actually tried another beginning for that one, but I probably won’t keep it either. I still love the concept, so I’m not throwing it out, but it’s not this story’s time yet.

Counter Central: 6K? –> 6K? Another “sitter” I’ve thought about lately. So I made a lot of progress on the concept, which I’m VERY happy with. But I won’t bring it back into focus, even though I think some of the themes may be pretty current.

I’d love to say that about sums it up, but, no.

I’ve revived my attempts at short stories.

One is in the works, at about 2.5K. It’s a high-tech story heavy on themes, so it’s taking me a little longer to iron out the end.

Another two are in the brainstorming stage. I’m not sure if I’ll put effort into writing them anytime soon, but I like the concepts, so I don’t think I’ll let them die either.

So, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the distinction lately. (yeah, I know, I should be writing, not thinking about useless stuff — but it is what it is)

I’ve always considered myself a pantser because, well, I am, and I know that’s what works for me. But in light of my stories that are slooooowly coming to an end, I’m starting to formulate a little bit of a different definition to my approach. What I’ve written are really outlines — extremely detailed outlines, with developed scenes and all the nuances that go into stories. But as happy as I may be with some of the settings, characters, themes, or even with the voices and atmospheres, etc. etc. — what I’ve written is still an outline in its heart, because the story is still hidden in the scaffolding I’ve used to get to this rough draft.

Some of my “outlines” have flowed better than others — I have a couple that are around the halfway point, that will need very little reorganization and editing (at least for now; there’s no guarantee that I won’t decide to change the storylines as I get closer to the end). Others will need the Machete in its full capacity.

The realization has come with my creeping forward on Of Dragons and Swords. The closer I get to the end, the clearer the story becomes, with the details filling in and tying together. It’s actually a very fulfilling process, slow as it may be. And I think it’s partially been as slow as it has, because instead of treating the story as the outline it has been and simply building on it, I’ve tripped up on it not flowing quite right yet. With every little step forward, my notes on what needs to change in what’s already written grow, but so does my confidence that I can turn this into a good story. Why? Because I’m now realizing a lot of what bothered me before was only scaffolding — stuff I needed to put on the page to keep myself going in figuring out the story, that really doesn’t belong in the story itself. I’ve spoken about this concept before, but never with this clarity. I’ve only been plotting. It may have taken a very long time, but I’ve also ended up developing the majority of the bits and pieces that will end up in the finished story.

It’s only a process.

So, maybe we’re all outliners — but some of us do a large chunk of our writing while we outline?

Since about the start of the year:

Of Dragons and Swords: 170K –> 175K.

Of Rats in Darkest Corners: 63K –> 69K.

Crossing Roads: 45K –> 49K.

Castles of Sand and Stone: 66.5K –> 71K.

Dancing with Demons: 28.5K –> 29.5K.

And … because, pineapples:

Trajectory (Screenplay): 0/120 pages –> 61/120 pages

… and there isn’t much I can say for myself.

The stories have mostly sat. I ventured into script writing (revamped an unfinished short story), but the air got zapped out of it when I read an article bashing flashbacks … and the script is structured around flashbacks. Ah, well. Maybe it will liven back up when my brain processes the whole flashback mess. Maybe not.

My “good ol’ stuff” … a little bit of progress on Of Dragons and Swords (yeah, I know, I’m sick of hearing about it inching towards the end too). Tiny progress on the other two “young protagonist” stories, Of Rats in Darkest Corners and Castles of Sand and Stone. I also nibbled on TotW: Bent Steel, Broken Circles, Gain of a Man Less, and Linking Rings.

The TOTAL, however, works out to be about 15K words written in six months (sans the script, which is probably another 10K). So I don’t really think it’s worth a more detailed word count update.

So, NaNoWriMo went well for about the first week or so … then I fell flat on my face (due to real life stuff).

I got in about 16K total for November, on Of Rats in Darkest Corners alone, before it happened. (Of Rats in Darkest Corners current WC: 63K)

Then, since the start of December, I’ve done some nibbling on a few stories. Nothing worth even updating WCs for. But I’ve been brainstorming on stories instead, and I’m not unhappy about some of the newest decisions.

I’ve been talking about splitting up the two monsters (Broken Circles and Of Dragons and Swords) into three parts each (in about 60-80K segments) for some time now. I finally “modeled” what these splits would look like. And I think they may actually work!

The first part of Broken Circles would consist of all sections before the Team gets split up (up to the end of the Feat). The second would contain the individual endeavors, and the third would be everyone working on the same world problem again, from the new perspectives they’ve gotten in the second part.

Of Dragons and Swords doesn’t split as cleanly, unfortunately. I’m thinking of having a “cadence” to them (of MC leaving and returning, each time with a new perspective). Word count-wise it works, but each end would be after the new arc starts, which I don’t know will work for sure. Broken Circles would have a little bit of that too, but its ends would be more akin to hooks, and not like I plan on doing for Of Dragons and Swords, diving right into the next arc and stopping when it’s already starting to build up.

But I guess I’m willing to try it anyway.

Which means that I may end up first doing the splits and diving into editing each of the first two parts of the stories (which are, for all practical purposes, already shaped, though they need work to bring to the quality I hope they can be). And as long as I stick to the plans I have for each story, I may be then able to finish the third parts much easier too.

I’ve also done a lot of thinking on Turn of the Wilds and the overall story. I’m actually glad it went on hiatus, because where I’ve stopped ended up being the ideal place to have the ah-ha! moment I had on it recently. I’ve pretty much figured out its overarching theme. It’s a pretty huge deal, since I was struggling with wanting there to be more to the morphology of the world than just “wouldn’t it be cool if.” So, now I think I have that! The biggest problem: I really liked the individual book titles I’d come up with (Tarnished Red, Bent Steel, and Scarred Flesh). They worked nicely for how I’d planned the original stories. Now, however, the books won’t be as focused on one individual character per book, but will be more evenly spread between the larger cast (Bent Steel had already gone there — that was one of my concerns with it). Anyway. I’m glad I had my little creative epiphany on it. I’m still looking at a mountain of work, but I think I have a clearer direction, and hopefully a bucket-load of inspiration … when I get back to it.

Against all odds, Dancing with Demons also got a look lately. This goes along with my desire to give my fantasy stories a bit of rest. (Dancing with Demons is a space opera-ish story) To be honest, I’ve been missing the free-for-all pseudo techno-junk babble. It was fun reading through. And it’s still a fun (for me) story. I don’t know when I’ll pick it back up next, but I’ve been working through some of its current knots (in my head), and maybe it will get some love (read: bump in WC) in the near future.

I guess we’ll see.

The promised word count update:

Of Dragons and Swords: 161K –> 170K. Still taking its sweet time. I’m a little frustrated with it, but there’s enough in there that I like that I think it’s not a waste of time. Its fate will be either a major overhaul and trimming that keeps some of the existing scenes, or reworking it into three parts. I’m still not sure which one it will be. I’ll figure it out after I get through the end.

Of Rats in Darkest Corners: 43K –> 50K. This year’s pick for NaNoWriMo. We’ll see how that’s going to work. But I’m not unhappy with the progress so far. For a while I feared there were too many pieces, but they’re finally starting to fit together.

The Journeyman: 42K –> 45K. I’m liking where it’s heading, but, to be honest, I’m back to feeling burnt out on it, though I’ve hardly worked on it this year. Go figure.

Castles of Sand and Stone: 65K –> 66.5K. Another story I like and think it’s heading in the right direction. I did consider it for NaNoWriMo this year, just by virtue of practically having an outline for it and a successful 50K being almost a guarantee I’d finish it. But this has always been a slooooooow progressing story, and I decided I didn’t feel like working on a fantasy novel this year.

Dancing with Demons: 27.5K –> 28.5K. Just one new scene. It’s not a story I’ve got in focus right now, but I did randomly get the urge to work on it once these past several months. Not unhappy with the addition, either.

I also did some editing / tiny additions to Crossing Roads, TotW: Bent Steel, Broken Circles, and Linking Rings. I do wish I wrote faster, and devoted more time to writing … These are all stories that I hope I’ll finish one day (and that they’ll be readable).

Anyway … that sums it up, I think. Seven long months, not enough progress with writing, unfortunately.

Hard to believe it’s April already. I’m so very behind on my plan. But, ah well.

Quick recount of last month:

Of Dragons and Swords: Officially burnt out, and still no end to it. I’ve decided to put it aside for a while, before I start completely hating it. (Of Dragons and Swords current WC: 161K)

Broken Circles: Small addition. Did a bit of rereading on it too. Not unhappy. (Broken Circles current WC: 112K)

The Journeyman: Wrapping up the last scene. Second plot object about to be “on screen” and I’m thinking I need to pick an interesting aesthetics for it (and then go back and change the first plot object’s appearance accordingly). Should be fun. (The Journeyman current WC: 42K)

Gain of a Man Less: Gave the beginning to an alpha reader. Got a bit of an ego boost. Also, a tiny, tiny finishing touch that I’m really happy about. Life’s good. (Gain of a Man Less current WC: 18K)

Of Rats in Darkest Corners: Added another scene with a Crazy. Finalized that I’m shuffling some of the friendships around and I think they work better now. Yey! (Of Rats in Darkest Corners current WC: 43K)

Not much new … I’m managing to put down words on Of Dragons and Swords, but that doesn’t seem to mean much for this story.

So, about 45K ago, I had all types of hopeful thoughts and, more importantly, I was heading into the “big fireworks” at the end of the story. I had exactly ONE transition scene I wanted to do before the climax and resolution: MC sees something, reacts to it appropriately, big fireworks begin. But then the transition didn’t seem quite right, so I added a little more. And a little more. Then I felt one scene that I figured would take no more than 1K should probably have a little more to it, so I added a little more. Then I had to bring in the entire deviation back to the original path, so I added a little more.

So, 45K later, I finally set off the first firework. In a sense, it’s a relief, because for about two months, I feared that I’ll never get here. On the other hand … I do not want this story to be longer than 120K. I do not want to break it up. I don’t hate the new additions, though I have a nagging feeling the original plan was maybe a bit more impactful. I have no idea. I haven’t been going back and re-reading large chunks of the thing to figure out how well the flow works. I’ve just been glancing at the Machete on the wall, promising it great feats of glory and carnage in its near future.

So, really, the saga continues.

(Of Dragons and Swords current WC: 150K)

Since this story has taken such a long time (and, miraculously, I’ve been able to work almost exclusively on it), I’ve been allowing myself to think about (and read) my other stories. I did do a small addition on Of Rats in Darkest Corners. More importantly, though, I’m really hopeful about it. Shortly before NaNoWriMo, I did a ton of work on the plot and the setting, and I’m kind of itching to go back to it and finish it. I don’t regret not picking it for NaNoWriMo though, even if, assuming similar productivity and none of the expansionist tendencies, I could have had a finished “high hopes” novel by now. But I’m learning so much about writing and about myself as a storyteller in Of Dragons and Swords, that I’m glad that I’ll approach Of Rats in Darkest Corners with this newfound knowledge. Well, it, and all of the other stories I have ahead of me. Which is a ton of stories.

I so wish I could write faster.

A long, long time ago, I started to write stories because I had stories in my head, and writing them seemed like the natural progression from playing them out to myself with color pencils, chess pieces, dolls, playing cards, or whatever else I had in my reach.

The discovery of writing as a medium for my stories came as a result of a class assignment, so my first written story did see a (captive) audience. For a very, very shy child, I was strangely unmoved by the fact I had to read it out loud in front of my classmates. I wasn’t proud of the story, nor was I ashamed. I think I was at that time so fascinated by the fact that this writing thing was FUN, that I didn’t have the capacity to consider anything else around me (that, and I had just pulled my first-ever all-nighter, so I was probably not quite fully awake either).

This was the last time anyone saw my stories for the next decade or so. I wasn’t writing for anyone else. I had stories in my head, whether or not I wrote them. And writing, with its many challenges, was fun. So I wrote. Read More →