Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Argh! Still not done.

Well, I got to the 50K goal (actually, the NaNo validator gave me 500 more than the word count on my computer!), but the story is still not done. I think 1.5 chapters plus the epilogue to go. Blah! I guess I'll finish it next week, before I forget what I was going to write.

So I procrastinated more than ever and ended up having to write 3000 words today. Blew everything else off and just sat down and typed, without any food, water, or bathroom breaks! Took about three hours. But it doesn't get any easier for me. I get tired. And my sentences start coming out...

Like this.


Because that's all I can think of.

Because I can't hold more than a handful of words in my mind at a time.

And it makes me feel I am making progress.

Down the page.

If not in word count.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, this year's NaNo. Um. I stopped before I got to the really Oedipal part with Prince Senge. Well, the revelation of it. He's been doing what he's been doing for like half the book now. And as usual, the "minor" characters take over. Why? I think it's because I tend to "play it safe" with the "main characters". I worry about them. I don't want them to take too many risks. I want them to seem nice so people like them. Bah! It's a pain to continually fight this tendency. I guess I could just write the story, then turn it around afterwards to make someone else the "main character". But then if I ever try to write a sequel, it'll be the same problem all over again!

What did I like? Well, I was happy that all my "long long ago" flashback sequences eventually did tie into current events. Writing out the past helped me figure out the ending.

Right, I'm gonna go eat and go to the bathroom now...

Monday, November 28, 2011

I just meant to take a short nap and... all makes sense now. Dawa is the Blind Frogmaker's granddaughter!

Wait wait wait. What? WHAT? WHAT!!????

(I'm retconning the story as I wrote it in 2010).

It's one of those days. I was struggling to figure out how to make my ending less like this:

and more like this:

All right, that was a bit of a nerd joke.

And ok, I'm slightly more awake and calm now. Yessss.... I will write some words today. Yessss.... later... yessss... I'm currently at 45K. Trust me. She's his granddaughter. He's possessing the body of her half-brother. I just have to get over the newly discovered squick factor of him having had a thing for the demon currently possessing his granddaughter's body. Er. Yeah. Maybe I can smooth it out in the revision. Also still in the air right am I going to have this little fact suddenly be revealed? Huh? Ah well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Time to kiss the frog

It's funny what things get into one's novel. Now it's the "Frog Prince" story, with the Bastard Prince playing the part of the princess, and the Blind Frogmaker as the frog. (The Frogmaker retrieved the "golden ball"/terrorists-in-inaccessible-location for him, then was hosted reluctantly/kept prisoner in the royal palace, etc.) In the Grimm version, the princess throws the frog SPLAT! against the wall, but in the popular culture, it seems she kissed him and he turned into a prince. Mine has elements of both. Heh. And the turning into a prince my case, it's more like the frog turns into a prince by possessing his body (hey, he's a demon, that's what they do!)

More generally, we're getting into the last few days of NaNo. So I need to finish this story! For once, I feel that I may actually be close. I've told nearly all the "long ago" sequences. There's just one final captivity-escape-fight-triumph bit for the "now" section. And then...look! Just around the corner! Do I see the magic words, "The End"?! Ha ha!

Also, I've run out of the good Halloween candy. So I must finish soon.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Is it plagiarism if it happens in a dream?

By the last week of NaNoWriMo, it's invading my dreams! Yikes! And worse, in my dream I am flirting with a completely different story idea... and I'm copying bits of something I'm reading (in the dream) into my story. When I woke up, I really wished I could have written down the actual words. I mean, in the dream I was thinking "I can't keep that! It doesn't sound at all like anything I'd write!". Yet it was something my subconscious had made up. I could read the words! See them clearly on the page and mark them up with my dream pencil. So now I wonder what I write like when I'm deluded into thinking I'm someone else?

Can I hypnotize myself into writing something that isn't "me" at all? How can I think of words or sentences that I don't think of?

Actually, I'd be happy just to hypnotize myself into finishing my current novel. *mutter mutter* The closest I get is late at night, when I'm really sleepy, but I force myself to get some words in before I go to bed.

So anyway, still behind, at 39K. Must...finish...novel...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Catch-up time

Not to be confused with ketchup time. I don't even like ketchup. Yick!

So yeah. I'm behind, behinder, behindest. Not that bad, really, but when I could have been done by about now! Bah, humbug. I'm at about 35 K today. I plan to improve that number before I go to bed tonight.

And do I suffer from "fear of finishing"?! That's silly. I've finished short stories, novellas, etc. But finishing a "novel" does make me feel more nervous. Hmm. But I can't until I figure out what happens in the "Now" section of my story. It's not quite making sense in my head yet. I need Nyima and the Bear to head back into town rather than just running off to live out their remaining time in some remote wilderness. Hm. Obviously, Bear must think there's a cure for Nyima back in Kalapa somehow, preferably a cure that involves trying to break into the royal palace, but I'm fuzzy on the details. He knows he shouldn't take her back: she just lopped off Prince Senge's head, for heaven's sake! It's not safe for her in Kalapa!

So yeah. I gotta have all the players in place so I can railroad them into some kind of ending. They're all run by me me me, so there will be no OOC bitching! But now I'm complaining about my own bad plot? GRRRR!

Last week of NaNo, making less sense than ever...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crawling, we crawl along...

Taking a break from typing on my novel for a message from the earworms that brought us chapter *mumble* six:

Double, double, this this (fist, fist, palm, palm)
Double, double, that that (fist, fist, back of hand, back of hand)
Double this, double that (fist, palm, fist, back)
Double double this that (fist, fist, palm, back)

(Alternatively, substitute "Bubble" for "Double"). I love these children's rhymes and clapping games. It's a pity I can't fit any into my novel this year, but perhaps I can have a future story with the Goose Sisters, those demonic/ghostly spirits who make use of such things. My younger daughter came home with this clapping game this week and has been making me play it with her whenever she sees me.

And then there's the Sibelius violin concerto, getting me through those wearisome nights when I just want to plop off to bed. It doesn't seem to get the same exposure as, say, the Brahms, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, or Tchaikovsky violin concertos, but it's still pretty damned cool. Admittedly, I'm not too fond of all those violinish cadenzas they have. To me it sounds like a bunch of lonely violins desperately seeking a mate by showing off their super-violinistic screeches and cries, and I'm not an unattached violin, so it all goes over my head. But other than that, I <3 the Sibelius, especially the first and third movements.

Anyway, lots more to do tonight. Urgh. At least one problem I don't have is thinking of what I need to write next. I always have way more stories I'm wanting to write than I have the willpower or skill to set down. So, onwards with the NaNo!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

25K! After a slow weekend, contemplating cheats...

So, here I am starting the morning at 25000 words, also known as "-7000". Ha. I'm now at the point in my story which I originally thought of (last year) as the "halfway point". Does this mean I'll get to 50K this year and STILL not be done with the story? Probably. Oh well. When I look at what I've written, 50000 words feels like it's hardly anything at all. Blah. For a novel, I mean.

Today I am going to "cheat". Not a word count cheat, but an author cheat: I'm planning to withhold information by not including a scene in its "proper" order. Why? The usual. Create a bit of suspense. I'm ambivalent about this kind of thing when I read books. Sometimes I just think it's annoying (when used over and over for many small things throughout a book) and sometimes I HATE it and think it's just UNFAIR (when used for a major plot point and the cut is slipped in where a cut really doesn't fit in with the flow of the narrative.) Megan Whalen Turner, I'm looking at you!!! (Mainly in The Thief, but in part because of that little trick, I dislike the character even in the subsequent novels).

But I think it's all right in one of these cases of "is she really totally under his control now? Oh noes! Oh whew, it was a trick all along!" People kind of expect a trick anyway, and then they can feel happy and relieved when they're proven right.

After that, it's all a muddle which I hope will sort itself out once I get to writing it. Ha ha. If not, I'll skip back to the flashback "ancient Shambhala" section for awhile, because I know what happens there, more or less. So. Onward! (After I go buy food, take shower, blah blah blah.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Solve a problem, add a problem

And so it goes.

Having Mr. Tumnus poison Nyima and sell her to Prince Senge solved some of my plot difficulties (how to get Nyima into the palace and on site), as it now turns out that Senge wants Nyima to personally execute Chola T'hom, as a sadistic way of saying "in your face!" to his rival. It also pushed Nyima into studying the Blood Attunement Sutra faster, which we'll need later. And explains what happened to Achamo's staff. (Still working on the details. I expect to write out these scenes later this weekend. And I'm wondering if Nyima did let an ancient name slip...the old horror from Ancient Shambhala that may or may not still be accessible.)

The problem is, now Nyima is stuck with an incurable deadly poison (technically, it's a magical parasite called a "Ruin"). Now, Mr. Tumnus (I must stop calling him that) did say "there's a first time for everything", but it's still terribly cheesy if Nyima manages to get cured. I am NOT doing a side trip to a magical biowarfare lab to consult the scientists who created this Ruin! NO NO NO! I utterly refuse. So what, Nyima dies? Bah! Poisons and diseases are incurable...until someone figures out a way to cure them. Happens all the time. The main characters should be able to trade in their drama points to get the cure before they die! I don't want to write a tragic love thing. Enough people die horribly in real life. This is meant to be an upbeat fantasy. (Well, except for the horror-torture-evil and dead-mentor bits. The point is, the main characters survive.)

If Chola T'hom really cares for her, he'll have to find a way to save her! Ha!

Ok, meanwhile, in the long-long-ago fairytale flashback section, the "so they get captured by rebels and Younger Sister is killed" bit now has to be written out. It sounded so simple in the outline, but hashing out the specific details is a pain. Also, it turns out they were doing a census, so I also have to make up random statistics for my ancient fantasyland villages. Gluh.

Yeah. Starting Saturday morning (the second weekend in NaNoWriMo!) at 19K. That's "-5000", as I'm calling it this year. Hope to be at 25K by the end of Sunday. Enough random babble.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 10, Year 7!

Starting off today at -5000 again. *insert usual whining*

So it's my seventh year of NaNo! Scary. Just think, seven years ago... I would have been typing this with an infant in my lap. Well, no. That was before I decided to have any kind of blog (well, it's more just random personal notes) at all. One kid would have been in preschool, while the other had just started elementary school. Seven years ago, this was my second day of NaNo. I had found out about it from a post someone made on some fan forum (I forget which). I clicked on the link and the I am still. At least I no longer type while simultaneously breast-feeding and eating a snack.

In six years...I got pretty good at writing the first fifty thousand words of a rough draft. Ha ha ha. So so useless. Hence, this year, I am writing the second fifty thousand years of my rough draft.

In six years...I find that the main difference between writing during NaNo and writing at other times is that... I write it, as opposed to thinking about writing it, writing a hundred words and calling it a day, planning to write something, jotting down notes for something I intend to write, telling people about a story idea I want to write, etc. etc. etc. The actual quality (or lack thereof) of the writing isn't noticeably different. The actual time spent butt-in-chair writing isn't that bad. (It's the time spent butt-in-chair-playing-computer-games that kills me.) The only force other than NaNoWriMo which can get me to write this much by myself, this quickly, is a Big Finish "writing opportunity" *laughs hysterically*, and those were short stories/scripts, or I likely wouldn't have finished those, either.

Yes, yes, I do write things outside of NaNo, but it just takes me much much longer to do them. To be fair, I do use time before NaNo to think about my story and characters and hack out an initial plot idea. But to be honest, it doesn't require (for me) more than, say, two weeks. I do a fair amount of all that during the writing process itself. (My first year, when I started late, I actually just continued my work-in-progress, which I had coincidentally started in October. I didn't want to try to think up a brand new idea in 0 days. But I only counted words written after I joined for my official word count!)

And yes, I do need to learn to revise my work more thoroughly. At the moment, I can only manage a short story or novella. I quail in horror when faced with anything long. Well, I'll see in January what I can do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Wait wait wait...didn't I just escape?!"

Mr. Tumnus! No! You've poisoned her!

Ok, ok, it wasn't actually Mr. Tumnus after all. It was some random goblin, because random goblins pop up everywhere in this universe. At this point in time, they're supposed to be buying up fantasy weapons for the Queen's R & D department back in Goblinland. (Whoa! Can it be? A link to a story I wrote earlier? And here I was beginning to think that this Shambhala novel was diverging too much from the "established" setting I had made up.)

Actually, it was kind of funny, because first he tried to poison her with the sesame crackers, but she didn't eat any, because her true love had given her some fresh pears before he ran away. Then he tried to poison her with the tea, but she accidentally knocked the cup over when he told her the aforementioned true love had been captured. Yeah. So that's about as romantic as I get. Some women get gifts of jewelry or flowers. Mine just gets Asian pears. Whee! But the Bear is a seer, remember? He KNEW (subconsciously) that the goblin would betray them, and that's why he left her the pears.

Too bad it didn't work, and the goblin poisoned her with smoke instead.

Anyway, I'm getting tired of them getting captured all the time. In fact, I think most of the characters are in captivity at the moment. Any minute now I'll skip to the flashback/ancient history section, and they'll be taken prisoner there/then, too. ARRGH!

And I'm still at -4000 on today's word count. *cries* Takes me forever to get the words out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another day, another prisoner...

Now it's Nyima's turn in the "Argh! I'm trapped in the Matrix!" spinning chair. Mostly wuxia novels seem to do more of the "oh noes! I'm poisoned and dying!" thing, but I haven't had any of that yet for some reason. None of my characters so far are poison specialists, nor do they have their super-duper magic poison/antidote powers working. Hrm. I knew I was missing something. I have people throwing things, using swords, teleporting, seeing the future, flying on clouds (or with their scholar's hats!), using magic folding fans, using telepathy, traveling between worlds, generating random frogs, turning people into frogs and back, using magic tattoos, ghost bombs, etc.

But no cool poisons! Unless you count Senge's perversion of the Blood Attunement Sutra as a type of poison. Which I don't. Oh, there's also the Soul-Ravaging Incense, but you don't have long to use the antidote. I guess that counts as a poison.

Poison! Invent some magical poisons before the month is up! Yes. I will make the next random character someone with a signature poison. [Edited to add: as I can't help thinking that the next random character is Mr. Tumnus, the Narnian's a bit disturbing.]

But never mind all that. I'm way behind. WAHHHH! BEHIIIIND, I tell you. -5000 words or so at the moment. Yeah. Time to get back to writing (words in my novel).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's all going to end in frogs...

They're here, they're there, they're everywhere. Blame the Blind Frogmaker for this. And he doesn't really seem to be blind. It's a case of "I'll take the 'blind' flaw for 10 points, then put 5 points in extra senses, so I'm not really blind after all, ha ha ha!" You know, like all the other Daredevil clones out there, along with the legions of super-elite "blind" wuxia characters.

Anyway, it's day 5, and I'm already behind. I mean, behind even in my tippy-top secret schedule which has me writing 2000 words a day. The 5000-a-day thing was a joke. Yeah. Sure. At least I finished the first section (basically a novella). Thank you, Robert Schumann. Your symphonies 3 and 4 got me through in the end. But I'll probably change my writing soundtrack for the next section! (You don't want to know just how many times I went through the loop to get to 8000 words!)

And to celebrate (or to motivate me to get to work on the next chapter), I'll post the excerpt with the Blind Frogmaker. (Note that at this point Lady Bloodless is possessing Dawa.)

Dawa suddenly realized that the dog had stopped barking. Short on the heels of her realization came the sound of a distant voice, Lopsang's voice, shouting for Moghi.

The sound seemed to galvanize the stranger into action. His axe flashed silver as he channeled his internal energy into it. He hacked at the chains binding Dawa. They came loose in a slithering jingle, leaving Dawa now attached to several separate lengths by the manacles still clamped to her body.

"Moghi! Moghi, don't come out, it's not..." The door burst open in a blast of cold air, followed by Lopsang. His face paled at the scene that met him. His voice dropped from a shout to a whisper. "...not safe."

"Did you think these walls would keep danger out?" Lady Bloodless smiled ironically as he stared at her in horror. With the loosening of the manacles, the power of speech had returned to her.

"Oh, very good!" Lopsang recovered his poise with obvious effort. "This is called 'Luring the tiger away from the mountain.' Moghi, your death will be avenged!"

He jumped to one side, spreading his fan in front of him open to the word "Shield!"

Nothing happened.

"I think," said Lady Bloodless, "you are confused about who will be avenging whom." With a quick twist of her arms, two of the chains whipped out, sweeping down a row of the prayer flags hung from the ceiling. Instead of holy symbols and scripture, each one now held only the outlined sketch of a frog.

Lopsang's eyes widened in shock. "The Blind Frogmaker!"

The gray stranger choose that instant to step around Dawa and reveal himself. A wide grin split his face. His voice came out in a gutteral hiss, "Surprised? No one ever invites the Blind Frogmaker, but I arrive or I go just as I please."

"Yes, I am surprised," said Lopsang. "Surprised that Lady Bloodless scours the dregs of the Hundred Sunless Valleys for her army of terrorists."

Lady Bloodless lashed a chain straight at his face. Lopsang ducked away barely in time. She said coldly, "We fight for the freedom of survival, while you and your traitors defend the right of ignorant peasants to grow fat on the backs of our kind."

/Don't waste your breath! Kill him!/ urged Dawa. She instinctively reacted to their unexpected reprieve with a chaotic mix of terror and rage. She wanted Lopsang dead, for Xie Yiping's sake, but also out of fear that the hunter would trap them again. /Kill him now!/

"Do you forget your history? Shambhala gave you mercy and let you live, yet you repay good with evil! Only in hell is that the law," declared Lopsang.

"Damn you!" snarled the Blind Frogmaker.

"You can try," retorted Lopsang, but the Frogmaker had not waited for his reply. Frogs dropped by the hundreds from the rafters towards Lopsang's head.

Only to be met by an open fan...

...and be scattered as a cloud of dismembered parts to every corner of the room.

...while Lady Bloodless sent chains spiraling around to snag the fan.

...only to have the chains looped around Lopsang's left forearm, then caught in his fist.

Energy streamed up and down the taut chain, clashing in the middle. Lopsang and Lady Bloodless stared at each other with fixed concentration. Lady Bloodless had the advantage of Dawa's energy added to her own, but Lopsang had the advantage of superior energy techniques, using advances made in Shambhala since Lady Bloodless's era.

With his free hand, the hunter pressed his fan, now folded once more, onto the chain, introducing a perturbation into the energy stream. If the wave reached her body, it would jolt her heart into arrhythmia.

/Technique...does...make...a difference,/ came the rueful thought from Lady Bloodless.

/So do numbers,/ returned Dawa.

...because a single frog had penetrated Lopsang's defense.


One was too many.

I don't think he had this many frogs (nor were they so demonic!) when I started. I'm not one of those people who can have a fully shaped character before they start to write. I have a name, a concept, and then make it up as I go along. Any inconsistencies will have to be fixed later.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 3

Starting the day at about 4100 words. I have to finish the chapter today. Probably will end up at around 5-6000 words, which is pretty much what I had planned. When I say "chapter", I mean a mental unit that's convenient for me while planning and writing. Each "chapter" is basically a mini-story, which is why they tend to run long. Once I get around to editing, I'll probably chop them up and rearrange them.

More captivity today. The genre being what it is, it seems the characters spend most of their time either fighting or being held captive. Later I expect to have some "on the run" sections. Not that I'm that fond of writing fight scenes or captivity scenes. It's just what it is. Argh! By the middle of NaNo, I will be wondering what else one could possibly write about. (No, no porn. Not in this story.)

At least the captivity scenes do seem to have relevance to other captivity scenes later. I had to modify the "escape" method used in the later one, when I realized that it wouldn't work (the characters tried it already now and the captors already know about that trick). This may be a good thing, as I think it will make my ending make more sense. (Don't laugh!)

Plan for today: captivity, a rescue and a fight, then a new chapter, which has a magical ritual, a fight, and then ends in captivity (though one person escapes). Why yes, I AM going around in circles. D'oh!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ok, so I lied...

Or I just ran out of willpower points. So much for "5000 words a day." Ending this writing day at about 2000 words. Hrmph. And didn't make it to the end of the chapter.

Random thoughts of the day:

  • Characters seem cool in my head until I start writing about them. Then they're dull, dull, dull.
  • Ditto the action.
  • The demon hunter known as the "Scholar Who Sleeps in Clouds" can turn his hat into a magical hang glider!
  • I like Kit-Kats better than Crunches. And pumpkin seeds more than both. I've been eating those all day long.

I'll try to get a bit more done tomorrow. I will!

Oh...yeah. So that's what it was like...

Otherwise known as, "Day 1 of NaNo! Hooray! Hmm, I'll just check my email and log on to the NaNo site." Half an hour later, "Ok, really, I am going to start typing now." Then, an hour later, "Oh god. How am I ever going to make my word count goal!?!!!! That was only 300 words!?!? Never mind. I have to go buy food now." Another hour or two later, "ARGH! I'm behind already?! Chapter. Finish this chapter. Focus on finishing this chapter."

And now, "Ok, while I try to visualize how this fight scene works out (and what is Xie Yiping doing in all this? He can't do superleaps, so he must have found stairs somewhere) I'll just make a post on my stupid useless blog." So I am. And after I do that, I'll go eat a piece from the Halloween candy stash. Then close my eyes for a few minutes while I work out how to have Lady Bloodless seem to be winning, then lose catastrophically, then transition to the interrogation scene. And don't forget that they capture the van, too, and search it. Vans just don't seem to belong in wuxia fiction, but hey. This story is set in the 1990s, I think. 2003 at the latest. Yes, I did have to make up silly fantasy reasons why people use swords and hand-to-hand combat when guns are available, but it's just One of Those Things. Genre convention. And no, I'm not using light sabers. Oh yeah. Also there's a satellite phone involved. A magically-modified satellite phone. This is important, even though it is a divergence from my outline.

Day 1! And I'm already diverging from my own (revised, 2011) outline! The truth is, I don't have a proper outline. I do my stories by imagining them in my head as a movie/TV serial, then run them back and forth until I'm convinced. Then I write down notes about each scene I've "glimpsed". Sometimes (often) the scenes turn out differently by the time I get down to actually writing them. So. What happens next...hmm...