Saturday, December 6, 2008

Now that I've won NaNoWriMo again...

After an excruciating battle with my archenemy, procrastination, leading up to the most spectacular comeback I've ever pulled off, I won my third consecutive NaNoWriMo victory. In my three years doing NaNo, I've never lost one. I've put too much of my ego into it to allow myself to lose one. The price is that the story I was writing — which I've decided won't be called Points of Authority after all — suffered the complete collapse and fragmentation of its plot. That should teach me not to start NaNo unorganized. But now what?

Here's how I managed to defeat procrastination and pull off my victory at the last moment. The day before Thanksgiving (November 26), I had only about 13,000 words, in fact a bit under. So I wrote 7,000 words to get me up to 20,000. I couldn't write on Thanksgiving Day itself because all that food I'd stuffed into my stomach put me to sleep. The next day (the 28th), I made up for all that by writing 10,000 words. Then Saturday, I realized that I would have to write as many words as I could just to give myself some leeway for the final day. So I stayed up till 5:00 a.m. my time and wrote almost 14,000 words. This is the most I have ever written in a single night. My shoulders, usually sore anyway, paid the price big time. Finally, I pulled off my best writing performance ever in terms of pure productivity: almost 7,000 words in just over 4 hours, with 15 minutes to spare. In the final 15 minutes, as I always do, I converted the manuscript to a text file, uploaded it to the NaNoWriMo word-counting bot for validation, and cheered when I saw those all-important words, "You Won!"

However, one problem emerged. The plot of Points of Authority never came together at all. I remember that my first attempt at a NaNo novel, The Jennifer Theory, split in two and became two completely different novels, the main part splitting off to become Black Science, which would become the second novel in what I would later call the Dictel trilogy (which itself needs a much more interesting name before I start submitting novels to publishers). And I remember the troubles I've had trying to hammer Bad Company into shape, with so little success that I burned out on August 1. So now I'm returning to the earlier novels to finish them up.

In December, there's NaNoFiMo, or National Novel Finishing Month. The recommended minimum word target is 30,000 words, more achievable for some people than NaNoWriMo's 50,000. However, I have a bigger and more important goal: finish Bad Company! I want to get that thing finished and done with so I can set it aside till NaNoEdMo, since both Black Science and Spanner are begging me to return to their plots, which are getting ever more interesting even as I try to focus on BadCo. So I'm going to focus this month on putting BadCo to an end — that is, finishing the first draft, once and for all — so I can write those all-important words, "To Be Continued..." — the last words in the story. I'm taking that name "National Novel Finishing Month" dead seriously.

Right after I put PoA away for the year, I had a revelation: the long "trial of Desiree" sequence I'd been struggling with transformed the structure of BadCo from two parts to three! Here's how the new structure looks:
  • Intro: The God of the Machine
  • 1. Bad Religion
  • 2. Bad Girls
  • 3. Bad Company
  • Outro: Black Revelation
Black Science, I quickly realized, has the identical structure.

I'm using the rock & roll terms "Intro" and "Outro" instead of "prologue" and "epilogue" because of the rock subtext to the entire trilogy: Charlie is a "girl pop" star gone punk; Willa was a scandal-loving New Wave rocker in her teens, long before she became a psychologist; Charlie and Desiree are the daughters of a rock legend; and so on. I'm taking cyberpunk back to its origins in punk rock, for one thing. And I'm using song titles as much as I can, unless I can find or invent titles that are even more interesting.

For FiMo, the first thing I'm doing is taking all the fragments of Bad Company and putting them all back together. Second, I'll excise all parts of the manuscript that I find superfluous. Third, I'm bringing out the index cards so I can rework the plot into shape with the new structure. The middle section, the "trial of Desiree" sequence, is almost completely plotted, though still without subplots; next, I'll plot the first and third sections and weave the three sections together using subplots and multiple threading. This last probably requires that I increase the number of narrators from two (the sisters Charlie and Desiree). Desiree is a special case in herself: because of her problem with borderline personality disorder, she is several characters wrapped up in one, all of them at war with each other, at least in the first two sections (as her cult guru mother goes to the most absurd extremes to keep her out of therapy in order to keep her as totally dependent as possible). When she shifts her dependency from her guru mother to her demon lover (the terrorist incubus), she actually describes her own experiences in the third person, explaining that during this time she's not herself but some sort of alien entity that strikes her as not human at all. I'll keep all the current plot threads, but make sure to weave them together so that the whole novel holds together as an indivisible whole. This is my goal for the month. After having written over 31,500 words in just three days, 30,000 words should be an easy target for me.

Meanwhile, I want to rework the script for Spanner book 1 that I wrote for Script Frenzy. The script seems okay as it stands. But I'm going to eliminate almost everything after chapter 1, and completely rework chapter 1 so that it reads better. I'll need to do page layouts at this stage so that I can work out how the actual comics will read. My goal for this is to finish the script for all of Book 1 before the next Script Frenzy, so I can start Book 2. This month, my goal is to rewrite the script for chapter 1. I may have to create a new event for the climax, considering the political changes that have taken place here in the US since my burnout in August. Still, chapter 1 will remain a complete story (the pilot episode), and the delightful (and maybe even shocking) twist ending will remain intact (rejoice, fellow yuri otaku!).

So I've got my work ahead of me this month. And my muse has finally awoken from her coma. And so I'm happy to say that it's time for me to get back to work.

Back to Spanner’s World...

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