Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNo Eve

Tomorrow is the beginning of NaNoWriMo.

While the rest of America is celebrating Halloween, I'm at home doing some research on science I never thought I'd need and barely understand so that I can give my upcoming story some factual things to work around.

The last couple of days have been especially productive in terms of what I need for the story, which is informing the plot as I build it. The characters (the two 'good' guys) are pretty well-formed and in this draft the villain is bound to be fairly one-dimensional and perhaps a too Bond-ian. I'm going to try to avoid that going in, but I suppose that the weight of trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days will get to me. I know I'll have to fix him in December. However, there's a lot of time before the 'heroes' get to him so maybe I'll be able to do some villain research before they arrive on his planet.

For now, I'm sitting in the front room of my house with a basket of candy waiting to hand it out to the kids that are supposed to be haunting this block tonight. An hour and fifteen minutes into the 'official' Trick or Treating time and I have yet to see one of the little beggars. Yesterday I had a Girl Scout offer me cookies, but I gracefully refused.

The bloggening here will likely be on schedule (as normal as this blog ever is) this November because I'm really happy with my story going into NaNo and I anticipate kicking ass and taking names as the days wear on. Expect updates on my word count both on Twitter and Facebook. If you see me faltering, give me some encouragement. Hell, please cheer me on no matter how I'm doing. I think this story could be the one that finally shakes me up enough to do a finished 1st draft and give it to readers for feedback. I'm excited.

So Happy Halloween, America and elsewhere. Hope your treats are better than the tricks, but I hope the tricks make you smile in the end.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Details & Organization

Two of my weakpoints.

Seriously. At least in my home life. The day job is a little different.

We moved into our new house in the middle of June and it wasn't until the middle of August that I felt like my home office was anything like settled. Here at the end of October, it's still in that limbo-state of "not where I want it but still usable".

I could take the time to go in there and clear off my desk (because it inevitably becomes the catch-all for everything that eventually lives in the office) or I could sit in front of the TV drinking whiskey. I could make time to unpack the last half-dozen boxes and get rid of the stuff that I no longer need or I could open up this here laptop and type a story or surf the web doing 'research' or catching up with friends on Twitter or Facebook. I should force myself to make sense of all my books and graphic novels by reshelving them according to author or subject so that when I'm writing a story I can find what I'm looking for.

But I haven't done any of that yet. There's a ton of stuff that needs to be moved out of the house and probably never should have been moved into the new house. Am I lazy or am I just putting off the things that bore me in favor of something really only marginally more interesting? Probably a little of both.

Organization goes a long way in a writer's world, this is true. However, this writer hasn't needed to be that organized to this point. That's got to change.

I am a creature of habit and I collect bits and pieces that I believe will eventually help me be more organized. It's time I started putting those things into use because I have to change this behavior in order to be successful. I have to spend the time to do the work because I know that I'll enjoy the fruits of the efforts.

At my day job I have to be more detail-oriented and organized or I'll get swallowed up by a roaring waterfall of issues and problems and complaints. I've preached for years that a writer has to treat the act of writing the same as any other work. It's time I took my own advice and got to it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Somewhere In The Middle There's An Ending

Tuesday is the start of NaNoWriMo and of course I'm participating again this year. It'll be my fourth whack at writing at least 50,000 words in 30 days and I hope my fourth win. (Last year's novel is only about half done and I haven't gotten back to it but that's another story. Nothing to see there. At least not yet.)

I have the main characters pretty much worked out. I'm building the world and the idea is developing quite nicely. What I needed is the ending and that came to me this morning. It's not nice.

I'm not going to tell you about the ending because I think this story is going to be the one that I can be proud of enough to get it out on the street in some form or another. It's definitely SF because there's faster than light travel involved and an artificial intelligence and interesting races that aren't human. At its heart though the story's about relationships because that's what fascinates me. I hope there'll be some clever dialogue ala Russell T. Davies or Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss or even (dare I say) Joss Whedon.

Now I'm not in the same league as those guys, or even in the same dimension, but that's what I'm aiming at this year. Bigger and more ambitious.

Dammit, I'm going to be a full-time writer some day.

Because the ending I came up with this morning? It's intense. It's emotional and it's going to make you hate something, maybe me for writing it. But it's GOOD. It'll have meaning that will resonate back across the novel because I know exactly why it happens and to who. This is the first time I've had this clear a vision of the end of a work.

And if I do my job correctly in the writing of it, it will be brutal. I'm choked up just thinking about it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another Idea

The Baker (not so) Wetlands
When one opens up the floodgates to potential ideas, the catchpool can often be overwhelmed with them.

Yesterday I mentioned that I had an idea for my NaNoWriMo work this year. I thought it was pretty good and had quite a bit of potential. Today inspiration struck again.

This story is a lot more lighthearted and is a science fiction caper.

Juggy is a shipside AI. The Duchess is a master thief. Together they travel the galaxy stealing hearts and valuables for a mysterious buyer until they run into the rather formidable, relentless race of warriors called The Sovereignty Board. With the help of a dimension-hopping chef they take on the Board to complete the last theft they've been commissioned for and to deliver the goods to the buyer.

Who turns out to have evil intentions of his own...

So I'm not sure now if I should write Juggy & The Duchess (I just love the title) or if I should write Organ of Record. It seems to me that since I can better describe J&tD in a nutshell like this, maybe I should develop OoR more. Maybe I shouldn't. Then again, time is running out. AGH!

So, dear readers, which do you think?

Monday, October 10, 2011


I missed the deadline to submit a story for a contest in Esquire magazine celebrating its 78 years of publication. I share the tale here with you anyway. 78 words for 78 years.

Dyson dreamt of a simpler what? Time? Place? Emotional state of being? It didn’t matter. He dreamt.

She sat at his bedside, Dyson’s wife, and waited for him to wake or die. Her world was simpler since the settlement but the money wasn’t enough.

Their son stayed away because his mother asked him to. His life was complicated by his father’s indelicacies. Dyson’s son studied while Dyson dreamt.

Dyson’s nurse made plans for the end of her shift.

Copyright ©2011 by Jason Arnett. All Rights Reserved.

Coming Up

The Baker (not so) Wetlands.
Since it's mid-October, I'm thinking about what I'm going to write in November.

Yeah, it's time for NaNoWriMo again.

Those of you that follow me on Twitter and are friends on Facebook (links are over there on the right of this post if you're not already) should brace yourselves for the onslaught of updates about how many words per day I'm going to be writing. I know the barest of outlines of my story though I don't know the characters yet. It involves cities, books, ancient gods and a threat from beyond time and it's called Organ of Record.

I know my central character will be a strong female because I love writing that kind of person, but this time I'm going to have to make her more flawed than ever before because that's where the conflict will come from. It has to. There can't just be some nebulous threat 'from beyond time', there has to be a real, physical threat. That's what will force the floodgates of my mind open and let the words flow.

The last couple of months I've been writing super-short stories, things just for me in the 1000 to 3000 word range. For NaNo, I've gotta write 1800 words a day. I'm hoping this year will grease the ol' brain enough that I can go back to last year's unfinished novel over the holiday break from my day job.

In order to get started, though, I need to know a bit about my heroine and the villains. (I'm not giving away anything here. When it's done you're going to love the concept, it's BIG.) I already know the device that will be used to solve the problems, all I have to do is create the complications that will make them seem insurmountable. I need whiskey (or coffee), some quiet time and pencil and paper to accomplish this.

I'm rambling. I'm excited. I want to write this book, I want to finish last year's book. I've got other things that are on the backburners of my word processor (Scrivener, by the way, in case you were wondering) that are begging me to get back to them. I'm planning my writing time, limbering up the knuckles and expanding my vocabulary.

Are you going to participate in NaNoWriMo? What are you going to write? What kind of flaws should my main character have? Tell me in the comments and stick around for the next seven or eight weeks to see what happens. It should be a magnificent disaster at the least and might be even better. Either way, this story has got to get out of my head.