Week Two of NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo, Writing

It’s been 14 days and 26,281 words and I’m still hitting my daily word count.

This month is turning into a marathon writing exercise. I don’t feel like I’m working on a first draft, more like an exploration of the concept.

World building – My setting is a near future with no game-changing technological advances. The world building has more to do with with speculative developments based on current events and trends. I need to work out the chain of events, both macro and micro, that brought the characters to where they are when the story begins.

Character Discovery – I still don’t have a handle on my major characters. Part of the problem is the world building. I don’t know exactly what my characters have been through before chapter one so I don’t know how they relate and respond to what’s happening around them.

Plot Development – I suspect I’ve written the wrong type of plot for my concept. Again it goes back to the world building. If I could understand understand the extremities of my setting better, I could find a story that delivers the most entertainment.

Tone – This story is serious and dramatic, not what I usually write, nor what I’m best at. Not much can be done about that, though. I love the concept and there’s no way to do it other than dramatically.

Honestly, I’m sick of this. But I will not quit.

First Week of NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo, Writing

I’m seven days into National Novel Writing Month and I’ve hit my word count every day. 2,000 words dailywill get me to my goal of 50,000 by the 25th, the day before I leave for Thanksgiving.

NaNoWriMo Logo

The experience has been less than exhilarating. I have my doubts about this story, the plot and the characters. I’m not writing well. None of the flair is there. It’s like watching a bad play being performed by amateur actors who can’t remember their lines.

And even if I get the manuscript in shape, I don’t know if I’ll be able to sell it. I have to be the right writer, querying the right manuscript, at the right time. And how likely is that? Not very.

And yet…reread the first paragraph. Even on days I don’t think I have the time or inspiration – which has been all of them so far- I’m still writing.

To the outside observer, dedication can look like futility, and pursuing the dream of becoming a published novelist can be indistinguishable from spending hundreds of dollars at Starbucks. We all create our own fictions to give life purpose. I have mine and I’m sticking to it.

My ancient version of CS5 died last week. I held onto it as long as I could, staving of the inevitable expense of the Adobe subscription model. I’ll have to sign on soon enough for work purposes but, in the meantime, I’m enjoying a return to traditional media.

I’m drawing monsters this month.

I already had everything I needed to get started, supplies I’d tucked away with the promise to myself that I’d get around to working with them eventually. So promise fulfilled.

Also traditional media make me feel like a real artist. These are the tools I learned on. Truly old school. Because Photoshop offers so many shortcuts, I started to think my skills were atrophying. But no, my drawing ability hasn’t diminished a bit.

In fact, I was surprised at how fast pencil and paper is. Building up a sketch is easier for me on paper than on a tablet. The feel of graphite on paper is more satisfying as well.

Still, I appreciate Photoshop for the ease of experimentation. Working digitally, I can draw a figure, then try a few backgrounds to see what looks best, resizing and reframing along the way. I sure as heck don’t want to go back to painting with water and brushes. It’s too messy and the materials are more costly.

It’s Inktober and I only have a week left to get a seasonally appropriate drawing done. If I do, I’ll post it here.

Drawing, News & Events, Process & Aethetics

Advice to Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers from Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors.


The Z key on Hemingway’s typewriter was broken and that’s why the letter Z never appears in any of his work. Constraints inspire creativity! Try writing your next novel on a calculator. – Ursula Le Guin

Write for androids like you write for your human characters, except for looking around for their car keys. Androids always know where their car keys are. – Isaac Asimov

Newbie writers need to spend more time hanging around in public restrooms. I didn’t write Necromancer; I found the complete manuscript in a men’s room stall at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. – William Gibson

Whenever I’m writing about a monster, I imagine that monster cooking a delicious tuna casserole. Even if it doesn’t end up on the page, just having that idea in my head helps me give my horrors dimension. – Stephen King

Write the story that only you can tell. Like about the time you murdered that hitchhiker. – Neil Gaiman

A dozen publishers passed on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone before Scholastic picked it up. That’s just the business. But your manuscript is probably getting rejected because of all of the typos. – J.K. Rowling

Sometimes I imagine one sci-fi reader asking another, “Do you like Dick?” And then I laugh, every time. Every. Time. – Philip K. Dick

Whenever you write a story set in the future, know that you’re going to get it wrong. That said, I guarantee you that in a hundred years no one will know how to use a fork. – Robert Heinlein

Everything you need to know about human nature, you can learn from getting a PhD in anthropology from Oxford University. It’s something every writer should do.– George R.R. Martin

For the past ten years I’ve been working on a story about a roboticist who builds a robot, and when the robot is naughty it needs to be spanked. That’s my idea so don’t steal it! – Ray Bradbury

Don’t use a ten-dollar word in a publication that only pays five cents per word. You’ll go broke that way. – Robert Silverberg

A sure sign of a novice horror writer is a story about a scary puppet. Never write about scary puppets. It only makes the Great Puppet God angry. – Dean Koontz

I cannot overstress the need for a writer to also be a reader. I had been writing for three years before I learned to read and, once I knew what all those letters meant, that’s when my career took off. – Arthur C. Clarke

Try writing in different formats. If you usually write novels, try writing the warning label on an over-the-counter cold medicine. If you usually write short stories, try writing a maritime trade agreement. – Frank Herbert

NaNoWriMo 2019

NaNoWriMo, Writing
nanowrimo logo

I’m doing National Novel Writing Month this year, writing the first draft of my third YA novel. This is an ambitious goal, as I have other projects happening and will lose five days in November to travel.

Bradbury Boy Scout

This year, I’m coming prepared. I have a full outline, character profiles and research on all the settings. Ideally, I’ll be able to write without stopping. But I know from experience issues will pop up that will need additional thought and research.

The Novel

Working title: Golden State Warriors

Setting: In the near future, the number of homeless on the west coast climbs into the millions. The homeless live in roving tribes with their own identities and cultures mashed up from the traditions of street gangs, crusties/travelers, Native Americans and other outsider and disaffected groups.

Main Protagonist:  Cochise is a young warrior, eager to prove himself.  His tribe, the Golden State Warriors live in constant conflict, either with other tribes or the “Federales” the common term for the State of California authorities.

Problem & Goal: After causing his tribe to be expelled from San Francisco, Cochise tries to make good by volunteering to steal medicine from the Oakland Soo, a rival tribe camped in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. He is captured in the attempt and made a slave. Living among them, he falls for Doxy, the daughter of Tyrus the King, the tribal chief. Now he must escape and convince Doxy to leave with him.