November 21, 2006

The Inside is the Outside

Brief updates, since I haven't in a while.

So I left off last night at 31,700 and a bit, which certainly puts me well on the downslope (wordcount-wise, but not for plot, which is really just now picking up). The good news is that the book itself feels less broken in some ways than maybe all of my previous efforts, which I guess is the kind of progress I ought to be making.

This also steels my determination to go back to The Vasty Deep as my next big project. It's become increasingly clear that the next incarnation of that book is going to be a different and sleeker beast than the first one was; one of the good effects of the first person/present tense style I'm using in Black Feathers Fallen is that it corrects in some measure for my tendency to wax poetical in the narration. With greater immediacy comes less sense that I'm telling a story, I think, and I'm less tempted to fall back on tweeness to get the point across. Maybe because there's someting about the delivery that feels less, I dunno, artificial in the first place. Hmm. We'll see how it goes as it goes on.

Shifting the gaze upwards from the navel: I should point out, for those of you who haven't already seen, that Patrick's been making much better documentation of his progress (for NaSoAlMo) this month than I have, on his new blog; and that Andy's been writing again, after too long away, and seems to have catapulted himself right into unlikely celebrity.

Tomorrow night we're off to WV for our first Thanksgiving at home in five years, which may even end up being worth the nine or ten hours in the car it's going to take to get there. Me, I'll be sucked up into The Novel for most of the long weekend, but I've promised to surface from time to time for food and socialization. Still, I'm hoping for Many Words to be coming my way in the next few days, and maybe that way I'll have a chance to update again before Slachtmaand is over. Because if there's one thing the world needs more of, it's pretentious amateur writers dissecting their processes right where everyone can see.

November 07, 2006

NaNoSeconds, Part IV

Whee! I am woefully behind! This will, I hope, be corrected for as of the the upcoming three-day weekend; in the meantime, another set of helpful hints for myself and all the rest of you.

Everything I Need to Know About Plot I Learned from Running RPGs

1. No outline survives contact with the characters.

2. You don't have to have every room mapped out if you keep a couple of generic encounters handy.

3. However, if something is on the map, you had better be prepared for when someone inevitably decides they need to go there.

4. Don't make the supporting cast more interesting than the heroes; they'll keep drawing your attention at the protagonists' expense. This is fair to no one.

5. The search for fortune alone is probably the least interesting thing for the heroes to be motivated by.

6. If you don't give them something to fight, solve, or negotiate with at all times, the characters will get bored and wander off on their own.

7. If you come to a place where nothing much is happening, you should sum it up briefly and move along to the next good part.

8. Someone will want more firepower unless you come up with a very good reason not to give it to them.

9. At least some of the characters will discover that it's to their advantage to act like thugs at least some of the time. This is more interesting if you allow there to be consequences for it.

10. Archetypes are best used as a starting point for creating individuals.

11. Someone will inevitably want to try something not covered by the rules. It's more fun if you don't always say "no."

12. When things threaten to get out of control, remember that you are in charge.

13. The people you are trying to entertain have read the rulebooks, and probably the adventure scenario too. You don't have to throw something unexpected at them, but if you don't, don't be upset if no one seems surprised.

Redefeat Wishworld, Revisited


Later, ETA: Good work, everyone.

November 02, 2006

Doc Tidings

Okay. After some consideration, I think I've decided that the best way to share my work-in-progress this year is through Google Documents' handy Viewers feature, which lets me invite people to look at the text without me having to do much of anything except keep the damn thing updated (which I'll be doing anyway, since Google Docs is also functioning as one of my backups).

Some of you were in the first round of my testing this feature, which went sort of okay, and in which I learned that the sharing process is slightly... quirkier than it seems at first glance.

So, here's how this will work. If you want in on watching me write this year's novel in all its stumbling first-draft glory, send me an email at You'll need a Google login, which you already have if you've got a gmail account of your own, but which you can associate with another email if you don't. This means you should let me know what address you need me to send the invite to, since that will be the one you log in to Google Docs with. (And if you don't have a gmail account and want one, I have a whole pile o' invites to give out.)

Er, I hope that's not terribly confusing. Google Docs is in beta right now, so it's still got a few creases, but it's actually a pretty neat way of saving and passing around text.

Oh, and: 2100 words at the end of Day One! Yeah, baby, yeah!