Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

November 16, 2014

NotNaNo Days 14-16 – A Weekend’s Work

Three very busy days and evenings in a row could have crash-tackled my writing streak. Last night came close, as I blearily tried to focus on my screen at something like eleven o’clock after a slightly boozy dinner party. The only way I could concentrate at all was to plonk myself with an iPad in front of the end of The Fellowship of the Ring on TV and write during the ad breaks. It worked surprisingly well – usually distractions like that punch a hole straight through my writing sessions, but the familiarity of the material seemed to help me kick the lethargy aside for small sprints. I didn’t write much, and I haven’t read back over it so see if it was remotely usable, but it was productive nonetheless.

Big ups to Elizabeth from Earl Grey Editing, who is reading along with the November experiment. Since we’ve passed the halfway mark, I guess I can declare the experiment a provisional success. I’ve written every day so far in November, and through the fiction word count has dipped down to the low 200’s a couple of times, overall I’ve added over 8000 words to my tally. I don’t doubt that I will finish Incidental and Third Violin before the end of the month and probably start on a new story into the bargain. Serpentine Precipice is growing and growing, but I still don’t have a sense of its final size so I can’t predict when I will be done with it. It’s coming along nicely.

Even though I am not doing NaNoWriMo numbers – by the NaNo count I should be at nearly 30000 words by now – I am very happy to writing every day. And I’ve found the blogging – interminable and tedious as it is – to be an important motivating factor. Even if nobody were reading (hi again Elizabeth!) it really helps to know that I keep myself accountable to myself by diarising my progress. There’s been at least two nights where I dragged myself to the chair because I didn’t want to have to admit I’d broken my chain.

Tonight was one of those. So yay, the system works!

Tally: 230 (Friday) + 250 (Saturday) + 470 (Sunday)

Total fiction word count for the month: 8470

“These sheets are hand-written,” said Tommy, shaking his copy like a cocktail mixer. “Who’s the composer?”

“The piece is a gift of the muse,” replied Warren, smiling like Tommy had complimented him on his shoes or something.

“Does that mean you wrote it?”

November 13, 2014

NotNaNo Day 13 – Truncated

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 10:50 pm

I’m dog tired and crashing, so just the stats tonight. I will try to make it up with an actual post about something tomorrow.

Tally: 540 words (on Third Violin)

Total word count for the month: 7520

Kostya waved a lot and danced a bit, playing up to the louts in the audience, who were probably high school kids who were told they had to be there. His moves threw off his timing on a couple of occasions, but the orchestra knew the material well by that time. We mostly ignored his baton and stayed with Tommy’s timpani and we made it through to the intermission without a problem.

November 12, 2014

NotNaNo Day 12 – MGMT

Most of my writing time today was taken up with other office and job hunting work, but I got a decent (if short) stint in first thing in the morning. Today I pressed ahead with Third Violin, which is coming together nicely, and finished off a scene from Serpentine Precipice. I hope I’ll finish Violin by the end of the weekend, or if not then early next week. I also critiqued a few stories and have a couple more on my plate to get to.

The only point of differentiation for today was that I tested out some new writing music. By and large I can’t listen to anything with lyrics in it while I’m writing, because I get distracted by the lyrics. Movie soundtracks are also difficult, because what I thought about the movie bleeds into the writing. But on my pal Evan’s long-ago recommendation, I tried out a couple of MGMT albums. Turns out that easy-listening electronica with vaguely etheral singing is right up my alley. So I will be picking up their remaining works in due course, and in the meantime playing the hell out of Oracular Spectacular and Congratulations.

Tally: 580

Total word count for the month: 6980

That’s the problem with taking an interest in drama. It’s addictive.

November 11, 2014

NotNaNo Day 11 – Four figures!

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 11:06 pm

An earlier start this evening has unsurprisingly resulted in an uptick in productivity – a shade under 1100 words in a shade over an hour. I worked on Serpentine Precipice for a while and then added a fresh chunk to Third Violin. The attraction of the latter is that it won’t be an especially long story; if I work on it regularly I should actually end the month with a couple of first drafts ready for editing.

I’m giving myself an early finish rather than attempting to grind on and make it to a standard NaNoWriMo daily word could (1667 words). I have to remind myself that the purpose of this month is to make steady progress and not flame out. It’s working so far (my streak is out to 13 days) but there’s a long way to go yet. Still a few more nights like tonight should see me easily beat my 15 K target.

Tally: 1090 words

Total fiction word count for the month: 6400

Ticket sales were pretty healthy, judging by the packed-out venues. Country town shows were our bread and butter. Warren liked to say that he was bringing a note of much-needed culture to the masses. Maybe we were, but then I did read on YouTube comments that some people were expecting to see one of Kostya’s infamous meltdowns. That might have had something to do with it.

November 10, 2014

NotNaNo Days 9-10 – Slow crawl

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 11:51 pm

The good news is that I’m keeping myself honest, with a writing session every day. Committing to this regular blogging – boring though it may be to read as well as write – helps. At the end of the month I think I may set up another private blog page for my own reference – invisible to the public but somewhere I can diarise my writing progress. It’s a useful reference tool to help me track what I’ve done, even if I don’t think it’s particularly valuable to inflict it on anyone else.

The bad news is that I’m forming the potentially bad habit of not starting writing work until after 9 or 10 pm most nights. Given that I’ve been turning into a pumpkin well before midnight since I started sleep apnea treatment, that doesn’t live a big window for productive writing time. My numbers so far are bearing that out – I’m doing business of 400 to 500 words a day most of the time. While that doesn’t take long to add up, I’d be happier seeing the occasional spike of 1000+ words from a session. It’s been a while since I managed one of those with fiction.

For the last couple of nights I’ve turned my attention back to Serpentine Precipice. I’ve decided to try something different with it now, fitting in with the essentially chaotic plot that is emerging. While I sat watching my daughter at swimming lessons on Saturday, I wrote out a list of 20 or so exciting events that could happen to my central character in this setting, in the vicinity of the specific plot unfolding in this story. I’ve decided I’m going to just write most or all of these scenes individually, developing my characters and the world as I go, and not worry too much about the transitional elements that carries the story from one scene to the next. When I’m done I’ll decided which ones I need and which ones I can store away for later, then I’ll arrange them, work out what clues and plot elements need to go where, and then edit everything after the fact.

Not very efficient, I know, but because I started this story with only a sketchy idea of the setting, everything I’ve written so far is needlessly expository and slow. It will need a massive cleanup when I’m done as it is, so I’m resigning myself to that before the fact.

Tally: 350 (Sunday) and 430 (Monday)

Total fiction word count for the month: 5310

“Orilo, I wonder if you remember my brother Dario?” announced Castor, showing many of his teeth. It struck me as odd that the right circumstances had never cropped up for me to smash any of them down his throat.

November 9, 2014

NotNaNo Day 8 – Oh great, now I’m sick

Definitely a bit under the weather, at any rate. I have a stuffy head and a sore neck, which aren’t the same symptoms as the Joey’s. So maybe I just spent too much time mowing today. Could be that.

I gave myself most of the evening off and curled up with a cup of hot tea to watch Catching Fire, the second Hunger Games movie. Aside from the creaking, groaning noises coming from the premise, it’s a remarkably tense film, clearly informed by heavier post-apocalyptic/dystopic dramas like Children of Men and any number of zombie epics. But the thing that kept occurring to me throughout the film – apart from the unstartling insight that Jennifer Lawrence is a canny, subtle actor at times – was that PanEm is for all intents and purposes the Galactic Federation from Blake’s 7, only without the spaceships. If you were putting together a remake of B7 these days and it didn’t have the look and feel of the Capital from HG, you’d be leaving money on the table.

The other thought that occurred to me – and again I realise I’m coming to the party late on this one – is that Mockingjay is going to be a tricky project without poor old Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The scenes with him and Donald Sutherland underplaying being sinister at each other are just delightful. I can’t imagine how they could do the finale without his character, but it’ll be a horrible job to follow his act for whoever is cast.

Anyway. after that I worked on Incidental, writing another ending. I may not have to go to six, tonight’s one felt pretty good. Perhaps in keeping with the Hoffman vibe, though, it went way darker than I was anticipating for this story. I’ll see if it still holds up in the cold light of day, but I’m not often inspired to deliver a gut-punch final line. This one has not so much a twist as a pivot, and I got that little hit of “oh this is great” when it came to me (just before I typed it). I’ll still do a couple more versions to see if the other ideas work better but I think this variant is the one to beat.

Tally: 430

Total fiction word count for the month: 4530

He thought he should cry. Without low, slurring strings rising with the lump in his throat, he didn’t know how.

November 7, 2014

NotNaNo Day 7 – Yes, still sick

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: — lexifab @ 11:59 pm

The Joey spent another day at home, though he’s definitely on the mend now. Today’s enforced rest was precautionary more than anything else. Better to give his course of antibiotics something to work with rather than let him run himself down at school. Surrendering the delusion that I might sneak in a quick writing session somewhere made it easier to cope with the disruption.

At least it’s the weekend now, so any plans to get writing done will have to contend with only the standard obstacles. Another short session tonight, because I had to get some non-creative writing work done that I’d been putting off. Starting at 11 pm, I got a solid thirty minutes in before my brain started to nod off.

  • Tally: 555 words in 30 minutes
  • Total fiction word count for the month: 3545 + 555 = 4100

I’m reasonably satisfied to have some momentum going. I do still wistfully long for an uninterrupted morning stint of two or three hours to see what I can really crank out when I put my mind to it.

Today’s chunk of text comes from Serpentine Precipice:

The Heros were a licensed Cult of Nethanus. They’d picked up the gig of Court bodyguards in perpetuity about forty years earlier, when their spiritual leader and chief scalp-taker, Gessio something, saved the Paro Verita herself from Phedivician assassins. Or so the story went. Whatever the truth of it, they had grafted themselves to the Talmaggio and stuck there like a tick on a teat ever since.

Eee, lots of proper names and made-up fantasy garbage. This is almost certainly not a passage that will survive the editing process unscathed, but my first drafts tend to have a lot of these quick wikipedia entries so I can understand the context of whatever is about to happen in the story. I’ll rattle off an exposition dump until I know the background details, and then plow into the action. Hopefully later I will remember to come back and delete the boring details or split them up and parcel them out to early scenes, if they’re crucial. I don;t know yet, but I’m guessing a lot of what I wrote up there will not prove to be essential storytelling.

November 6, 2014

NotNaNo Days 5-6 – The Kid is Still Sick

Filed under: news of the day,Uncategorized,wordsmithery — Tags: — lexifab @ 11:08 pm

Several consecutive days of kid-wrangling have burned a great big hole in my productivity. Never mind. I managed to get a bit of work done yesterday morning, planning to write more in the evening, but instead I crashed at about 9 pm. Now it’s Thursday, after 10 pm and for one reason and another I still haven’t started work. I’m debating whether to crank out a desultory effort as I type this recap of yesterday’s effort:

  • Tally: (Wednesday) 690 new words (no idea how long it took, but probably something like an hour)
  • Total fiction word count for the month: 3165

As I’ve been totting up those numbers I’ve decided I will go and do a quick sprint of 30 minutes or so, so [invokes the magic of internet] there, that was a quick 30 minutes or so.

  • Tally: (Thursday) 380 words
  • Total fiction word count for the month: 3545

And here’s an excerpt from Wednesday:

Not all of a Cassandra’s prognostications are mind-blowing revelations of hidden truths. Sometimes they just talk complete rubbish.

And her’s an excerpt from Thursday:

I’d made a keenly-felt pact with myself not to cause the Acorn any further inconvenience, and so spare both of us the modest effort on his part that it would take to accomplish my final irrevocable end.

November 5, 2014

NotNaNo Day 4 – Sick Kid Part 2

Filed under: joey,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: — lexifab @ 1:19 am

A very quick one because it’s late. Worked on two of the three stories I have kicked around, tacking on a page or so to each. Pretty inconsequential but progress nonetheless. While Serpentine Precipice is spinning its wheels a bit while I figure out how murder mysteries are supposed to work (that’s going to need some major editing later), I’m quite happy with the concept behind my first Incidental ending.

Tally: 530 (only about thirty minutes this time)

Total fiction word count for the month: 2475 words

November 3, 2014

NotNaNo Day 3 – Sick kid

Filed under: administraviata,joey,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 9:57 pm

The Joey, my eldest, was home sick today, so although I got a bit of outlining done, I didn’t get to writing until the evening. I started a new story, one of the ones I outlined over the weekend, with a working title of ‘Third Violin’. I don’t think I’ve quite nailed the tone I’m looking for yet, but I got a good chunk of the setup established. I expect to have at least some time in the morning to bang out the bulk of the story, which should be no more then three to four thousand words in total.

I also did some administrative stuff for the CSFG website and tinkered a bit with the back end of this blog. I’m vaguely considering changing up the layout. radical, I know, since it’s been six years of this vanilla WordPress theme.

I have another story I’m working on called ‘Incidental’, which is a weird fiction idea I’ve been thinking about for years. It’s a setup that could go more or less anywhere and so far I haven’t figured out what the ending should be. As I type it occurs to me that the solution is just to write a half a dozen or so different endings and run with the one that appeals the most. That’s an interesting experiment. I think that’s one of the things I’ll do tomorrow.

Tally: 535 words from a 50 minute stint.

(I’m starting to detect a pattern in these numbers. To be fair though, I’m usually more prolific when I write in the morning, which I’ve not been able to do for months.)

Total fiction word count for the month: 1945 words

This is the opening of ‘Third Violin’:

Nobody thinks much of you when you’re third violin. If I’m honest I don’t think much of myself. But it’s a dream job and I’m not one for gift horse dentistry. I don’t care where you got the horse. Why would I?

It’s terrible, I know.

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