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05 November 2011 @ 10:16 pm
Progress and process  
Five days into NaNoWriMo. I'm dragging myself up a mountain but managing to stay on pace. My first paragraphs were bland dumpy bullshit. My draft has since shaped up and begun to show actual promise. I'm taking my time. I lightly edit as I go - moving development around, rewording absolute garbage when I've made my word count goal and have the time to revisit. Previous years were a scrappy dash to the finish. This one's the start of a long haul.

My goals for this project are twofold. First, to ride my enthusiasm for the project and the NaNo challenge to produce a sizable chunk of useful raw material. Second, to learn how to sit my ass down and write a novel. I normally work in short form by the whims of my inspiration, which is annoying when I can't seem to figure out how to finish a stalled project. Short form also accustomed me to write concisely, selecting highlights to base brief scenes upon. A novel requires me to expand upon material that would be condensed in a shorter work. Not to pad it with filler, but to include bonus detail and show a sense of time passing. I expound and sketch, rambling on with that stream of consciousness I enjoy out of Stephen King. Chuck Palahniuk reminds me to unpack snippets of character thought that can be shown rather than summarized. I don't adhere to his advice strictly, as summary thoughts can be effective in specific contexts. But I do keep it in mind, and it gave me a shot of inspiration on a downer of an evening.

My outline is my savior. I've already taken advantage of both its structure and flexibility. I also have an excerpt to share - the introductory scenes for my three main men. This is presentable enough for this phase, but not polished by any means. Read for ideas, enjoy the prose that turned out well, don't mind the parts that need a few rounds of Bondo and a belt sander.

Arise - Introduction (Unpolished Rough Draft)
 
 
Current Mood: awakeawake
Current Music: Dethklok - Awaken
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
The Heavy Metal Matador: GTA Cao Renrydain on November 7th, 2011 01:21 am (UTC)
Thank you! My more recent work has been long-winded and utilitarian, more about getting ideas down than interesting turns of phrase. Though I'm sure I'll find more to fix when rewrite time rolls around, it's encouraging to hear that some of my rough stuff is within reasonable distance of polished.

For me, novel planning is about knowing the overall plan and enough specifics to keep it going. I write out of order, sometimes sketching scenes without knowing their exact place in the time line. The first arc is about Jin and Huan's job dissatisfaction, setting up Jin's LO-OVE interest (who's actually going to be relevant later), and Tao making some move toward spreading out his business interests. I had ideas for specific goings-on, like a night out at karaoke and a meeting with a prospective business partner, which gave me enough concrete basis to write something usable. Even if I didn't know what the guys would be talking about at karaoke, I could fold it in later.

This also leaves room for surprises - I have an idea of the sort of conflict or development I need, but I might not know exactly what form it will take. For example, I wanted to show Jin having a sense of frustration at unethical clients. He wound up firing one, getting chewed out, and pondering the possibility of quitting.

I would suggest keeping on with the word vomit and treating it as an idea farm for a new, planned draft of the same story. That's just what I did for my 2005 NaNo, which eventually gave rise to a good story that I want to finish when I can get back into psychological horror mode. Good luck!
Skurtchasorskurtchasor on November 7th, 2011 04:18 am (UTC)
I'll be happy to help out when it comes to bondo and sander time, but I am enjoying it so far. Especially Huan's arc. Keep it up!
The Heavy Metal Matador: Huang Zhong Damn Kidsrydain on November 8th, 2011 04:56 am (UTC)
Thanks! Huan is the lulziest point of view by far. He gets plenty of horrible awesome lines later on as well. The other guys will be more interesting when I get more interactions going. Tao was in Huan's end of town just now, so I just made them bump into each other for some catching up and poker. I HARDLY KNEW HER Ah, the joys of convenient coinkydinks.

The initial state of this manuscript will be the OH GOD phase that's pretty much what would happen if my brain could use a toilet. I used to show people raw NaNo products, if nothing else but for the amusement and curiosity. I've gotten much better at self-editing since then, so I trust myself to make a structurally sound v2 rough draft for friends and cultural consultants. I'll do lots of public tl;dr about the process as I work on that, so you'll have plenty of warning prior.
Skurtchasorskurtchasor on November 9th, 2011 05:16 am (UTC)
Rear window defroster? I hardly even know her!
I think I like Huan precisely for this reason. Tao's opening doesn't really define his personality at all (I'm sure he gets fleshed out later), and Jin is somewhere in-between.
The Heavy Metal Matador: Frylockrydain on November 9th, 2011 05:47 am (UTC)
Re: Rear window defroster? I hardly even know her!
Yeah, that doesn't surprise me. Assclown Limited 3rd is naturally more distinct, and Tao's opening doesn't show anything more than Competent Go-Getter who also happens to be into the ladies. Character page presence is a pain in the ass without dialog, action, or substantial thoughts.

I found it easy to get into Jin and Huan's temptations, frustrations, and coping mechanisms early on. Tao has them, but they don't start to show up until part 2 of that day at work, where he pwns Cheap and Lots and has an actual conversation and stuff. The best I can do in this time frame is splat it out where it fits and then go back and make the opening more interesting.