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The scary part

In 2005 I wrote a book. I thought that was the scary part. I was so wrong. Writing an entire novel was terrifying, sure. But was in no way as frightening as letting someone else read it!

scary part

Then last year, 14 years later, I picked that novel up again and was shocked. It was messy, large sections had no place in the story. And some of the writing was abysmal.

I’ve not been completely happy with it for a while and decided to rewrite it completely. I tackled most of it during November, as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge that I’ve done for a number of years. When I reached the final chapter, I stalled.

So much had been changed, and I was more focussed on character motivation, and what drove them. The end needed to remain the same, or mostly the same, but I couldn’t get past that block. So I set it aside again. So many distractions to occupy my writing time, but Lily and Kate were there, at the back of my mind.

Half-term came, another couple of months on, with time at home and a week off work. I had space and time to work on it, so I made myself sit and finish the rewrite! I must have gone through the document 4 or 5 times, and the narrative is now 20k words shorter than it was. But I am happier with it, I think.

So, the really, truly, scary part? Now it’s done, I need fresh eyes on it. So, the unpolished document is now out with a trusted few friends who will read it and, I hope, give me some honest feedback.

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Rewrites are evil

For NaNo2019 I decided to be a rebel. I’ve not been completely happy with the Portal series for a long time, and NaNo gave me the push to start work. Can I say, rewrites are evil.

The best way to rewrite a piece, is to literally start with a fresh document and write the story again. So, that’s what I did. In proper NaNo tradition, I opened a blank document on the first of November and started writing. I knew the characters, the story, this should be easy, right? I even had a new cover, that needs changing too.

rewrites are evil

But no, it was hard, really, really, hard. I came across poor writing, did I really think that was good? There were whole sections of filler, pointless action that gave nothing to the plot or characters. I deleted more than I wrote. Characters no longer exist, characters changed gender, appearance. Relationships morphed into something different. Plot development scenes moved in the timeline. Place names needed to be changed when I realised my fictional town actually exists. Sorry, Wingate. With each change, tiny or huge, came an avalanche of other changes.

The sheer volume of characters proved impossible to balance, so several got culled. Some were simply superfluous. Other characters from later in the story would have been present, so they got an earlier introduction. More had to be given more depth, more identity.

It’s like writing the first book from scratch, again, with someone looking over your shoulder and telling you it’s wrong. The cascade of changes ripples through the narrative, washing away large sections, changing the course of the story.

Rewrites are evil, but necessary. I think I have a better book. It’s shorter, by about 20,000 words. In a couple of days it’ll be ready to send out to the first readers, trusted friends who will give an honest opinion.

I’m half expecting, “you changed it, I don’t like it.” But we will see. With luck, the new edition could be ready for release later this year. Then those snowball changes mean the other books will need to be rewritten too. Wish me luck.

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Making maps

When you’re writing, inventing worlds, exploring new places, you will need to map your world. Making maps means you have an idea of where things are. You can keep track of what’s going on.

If, like me, your drawing skills are sadly lacking, then Photoshop, or an equivalent image manipulation program is your new best friend for making maps!

I’ve been using this page as a guide, and this is the result so far…

making maps

Yes, I know, it needs work, and it’s not finished. But, that gap in the trees on the left? That’s where Fin crashes, lands, the ship. That beach on the bottom left corner, that’s where Sean and Joss end up.

Probably. I might make a different one at some stage, when I work out what needs to be on the map.

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A hopeless vigil – NaNoWriMo 2018 finished.

With A hopeless vigil – NaNoWriMo 2018 finished and won a day early. This is never the end though. NaNo starts the process, and now I have to decide if the story is good enough to carry on, to work on it and finish the book, and then edit. The story, as always, is only half told, with gaps and plot problems. That is the very nature of NaNoWriMo.

I just finished, and won, NaNoWriMo 2018! Woohoo!

Spaceship - The Last of Humanity
Phase:NaNoWriMo 2018
Due:1 year ago
100%

Here is a sample of

A hopeless vigil – NaNoWriMo 2018 finished

A soft knock on her door woke Fin. She’d dozed off in her chair, still going over reports and data.

“Come in.” She called.

The door opened, Scout Reynolds filled the doorway. “We’ve found the signal from a pod.” His voice was laced with doom, but he looked her straight in the eye. She stared back, unblinking, asking the question.

“But?”

“There are life readings, someone is alive in there.”

“But?” She asked again. “I know there’s a but, I can see it on your face.”

He took a breath. “It’s pod 36, and it ditched in the sea. They’re underwater, and we can’t get to them.”

They ran for the control room they’d been setting up with as much sensor equipment as they could get working.

“Scout?” Fin had her back to him, gripping the edge of the desk so hard with her one good hand, her knuckles were white. “Update,” she demanded. She stared into nothing, hoping the news would change.

“No further update. No change.” His voice soft behind her as he surveyed the information relayed to him through the monitors in front of him.

She swore, low and hard. Her hand balled into a fist, hit the desk, making the keyboard jump. “There has to be something we can do.”

He leaned back in his chair. His face was pale, his eyes dark shadows and filled with sharp knowledge. “If there was then we haven’t found it. We can’t get to them. We don’t even know where they are exactly.”

The door to the control room burst open. “I have a comms link. It’s audio only, no visual. It’s patchy and keeps dropping out, but I have them.” Corban held out an earpiece. “Remote link for you, already patched in.”

“Them?” Fin dared to hope, brushed her short grey hair back and forth with her good hand as she pushed the link into her ear. “Pod 36? Can you hear me? It’s Captain Finley Beck.” Her eyes lost focus as she concentrated in the crackle in her ear. She sagged, leaning on the desk, face twisting as the voice she heard confirmed her fears. Gareth Stanton, the only man she would ever have considered.

 

A hopeless vigil - NaNoWriMo 2018 finished

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NaNoWriMo 2018 is almost over

NaNoWriMo 2018 is almost over. November is dying, December is rapidly approaching. Work is chaos, family life is a little more turbulent than usual. And I’m not quite on target. I have 3 days left.

The story so far, has crashed a ship full of colonists, on the wrong planet, separated them and scattered them across an unknown land mass, killed a main character in a freak weather event… I think Fin will be fine, by the way, I like Fin.

The ship ripped a path across the forest, tearing up trees, sending birds flying in flocks, scattering everything in its wake. Rock melted and wood burned from the super heated metal, and the stink of burning flesh filled the smoke.

Torn apart and scorched, the ship creaked as it began to cool. Metal found new, twisted, shapes as it settled. Resting mostly on the lower decks, the dome was still on the top. Shattered and open to the new world, chickens and bees rose through the steam coming from the many holes.

There was no other sign of life outside the twisted wreck.

Inside, on the bridge, Fin slumped in the captain’s chair, blood oozing from her cheek. Eyes closed, still breathing, but her lungs wheezed painfully as she slowly came back to fuzzy awareness. She blinked.

88% complete for NaNoWriMo 2018. Only Three days remain until the deadline.

Spaceship - The Last of Humanity
Phase:NaNoWriMo 2018
Due:1 year ago
87.5%

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