NaNoWriMo 2014 – Game Over, Man. Game Over.

Mario64GameOverI have had a lot of false starts with NaNoWriMo over the years. That’s to be expected. The goal can often feel distant, the daily work is tough, but I think this is the first year where I’ve made a really solid attempt at the event and failed anyway. Truth be told, I was doomed from the start. The 1st was a bad day for me to start, the 30th was a bad day to finish and there were times when the days in-between were really piling it on.

It’s not a good feeling, of course, to put so much time into something and end up at a disappointment, but it is a learning experience nonetheless. Overconfidence got me in the beginning, told me I had this whole NaNoWriMo thing down now, that I didn’t need to push it like I had before. Don’t worry, I told myself, you can catch up in your free time. But then when things happen and your free time stops being free, things can take a turn for the worse.

I might carry on along the same path with the novel. I am way off that 50k mark, but I could push to the end in another week and see where I would have arrived. However, this might be a good opportunity to take a different approach with the book. I can’t say I was completely happy with the way the book was going anyway, and it’s an idea I don’t want to waste.

So, my project was a bit of a bust this year. How did you guys get on?

NaNoWriMo 2014 – Day 14

Today's update is hosted by a photo of Herman Melville, folding his arms as if someone has asked him to eat Rice Pudding for dessert.
Today’s update is hosted by a photo of Herman Melville, folding his arms as if someone has asked him to eat Rice Pudding for dessert.

We’re almost at the halfway point.

It’s a scary time. Particularly if you’ve only just hit the 1/34 mark like some of us. *shame*

This year has been a very different NaNoWriMo for me. I usually make a really good start, drop off a bit in the middle when life gets in the way, then make a mad dash for the finish line in Week 4. This year I started behind and I’ve stayed behind. I’m not falling any further back, and if I keep this pace then I can probably still make my sudden sprint to the end, but I can’t figure out why I’m working so slowly. Part of it is the rest of my life, I work more hours than I did this time last year, Christmas is coming and I’m trying to get more of that stuff done in advance. I understand all that, but I think overconfidence is a factor too. Finishing on time two years in a row has made me cocky, and I’m not sure I’ll really get on top of things until the situation gets desperate.

This year’s novel is really reminding me that there’s a big difference between a plot and a premise. (Perhaps a subject for a blog post in the future.) I started this book with an idea I loved, but in practice, I’m writing what currently seems like quite a boring book. Of course, you never judge a story by a first draft, but come revision time it is going to be a lot more work than I was planning. On the plus side, I feel I have matured a lot as a writer since last year. The work I’m producing feels immediately better. Less rambling, less awkward. When it comes time to return to it, I’ll be spending a lot less time just rephrasing sentences that no longer sound right.

What I may do is approach the book aggressively in January. Cut like an angry dressmaker until every wrinkle is discarded and then give it a quick rewrite. The word count will drop, but I should have a shorter, tighter story left over. Still, I’m getting ahead of myself.

How are you guys doing?

NaNoWriMo 2014 – Day 10 – Oh Dear God What Happened?

Today's NaNoWriMo update is presented by Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, in front of a dinosaur skull trying to eat shadows.
Today’s NaNoWriMo update is presented by Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, in front of a dinosaur skull trying to eat shadows.

Day 10 is upon us!

Panic, Panic, Panic. Day 10! 1/3 of the way through? Have you all written your 16,666 words?

I certainly haven’t. I am ashamed to say that I am way behind this year. I only have myself to blame. A big part of why I’m so behind is that I normally panic during November. This year, I had a lot on and I didn’t want to get too stressed out so I told myself to take it easy. After all, I’ve finished two years in a row now. Surely a third would be a doddle? I was working a little bit behind par most days, with a few days hitting 2k to compensate, but I work weekends and this last one really knocked me for six. I wrote nothing on Saturday or Sunday. Nothing! I don’t know what kind of a mad fool novelist I thought I was to try and get away with it, but now my graph looks like this:

Dark times for us all!
Dark times for us all!

As you can see, I have done a little bit today. I have a day off, so I’m working to close the gap a little. I’ve broken down everything I want to write today into 500 word blocks, and I’m going to attack the problem head on until I’ve written 3k. I won’t catch up with that fiendish dotted line, but I should close the gap enough to keep me going. I have some more time off coming up next week, so I’m going try and leave Mr Line coughing in my dust.

As for the novel itself, things are interesting. Plot developments are happening without my control again, and I’m being forced to confront more problems with my initial idea, but I’m still pretty happy with the results. My usual weaknesses are peeping through. Too much emphasis on dialogue, not enough establishment of clear characters and settings, but I’m going to really try and clean that up in the rewrite.

How are you guys doing?

NaNoWriMo – Day 3

For this year's NaNoWriMo pics, I have interesting pictures of interesting novelists. Here's a portrait of Emily Brontë painted by her brother.
For this year’s NaNoWriMo pics, I have interesting pictures of interesting novelists. Here’s a portrait of Emily Brontë painted by her brother.

November is here again!

Are you all working hard on your novels? I was unlucky enough to be working for the first two days this year; if you check my stats so far you’ll see I haven’t even hit 1.6k yet. Terrible, I know, but everything else is done today so I’ll be making some good progress this evening. My hope is to get a good 2k down every day until I’m back to work on Saturday. That should push my averages ahead.

If you want to follow my progress, feel free to add me on the NaNoWriMo site here:

While it has been a slow start this year, I’m finally working on an idea I’ve been kicking around since last year. It’s a sci-fi / horror yarn, that I’m hoping will have a little bit of a B-Movie vibe without being too corny. It stars a certain literary mad-scientist often mixed up with his creation, but I’m hoping to put my own spin on it. I’m having a lot of fun with it, which helps when you’re working on such a high pressure project.

I’m also celebrating NaNoWriMo with another big book freebie, so you can grab some free reads for your kindle for the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, my new book launched yesterday and I’m eagerly waiting for the first reviews. Check it out, and let me know what you think.

That’s all for now, I’ll have more updates later in the month.

The Big NaNoWriMo Book Sale!

Custom-Balloon-design-toolNovember is here again and you know what that means! Thirty days (*cough* Twenty-Nine now) of manic scribbling with the desperate hope of reaching 50,000 words before December arrives. It’s a slow start for me this year because I’m working like crazy until Monday, but I’m hoping to get ahead in the week. If you want to follow my progress, you can look me up here:

Once again I’m kicking off NaNoWriMo with my Big Book Sale. For the next few days, Christmas Past, Time Trial and The Octopus of Suspense will all be free on kindle. Grab them now from the link below, but don’t let them come between you and your novel!

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NaNoWriMo 2013: The Second Draft

Editor Red PenOne of my strengths as a writer is knocking out a good first draft. When you’re working for yourself, it’s good to know where you work best, and I’m at my best with the blank page. I write quickly, the writing isn’t terrible, and the plots have a lot of potential. If that were all there was to writing, I’d be home free. But my big weakness comes in the rewriting stage. Perhaps this is because everything I love about writing, exploring a narrative, discovering who characters are, resolving the little puzzles that come from taking a story to its conclusion, are muted in the rewriting process. Here my job is little more than finding better ways to say everything I said already.

It is no surprise then that my previous NaNoWriMo attempts have gone untouched after the November deadline has expired. This year, I resolve to do better. A few years ago NaNoWriMo showed me the benefits of finishing that first draft of a novel, in 2014 I am determined to solve the mystery of turning that first draft into something worth sharing. It will be tougher than the short fiction previously published, but it is a hurdle I have to overcome.

It helps that I have a lot of faith in the story. I went into NaNoWriMo last year a little unprepared. The idea came half recycled from a plot that had been kicking around my head for some time. I simplified it, got a few details straight in my head and leapt in on the first of November without really plotting it out. I had a loose idea of the arc from start to finish, but over the month I added subplots and supporting characters that I found fascinating. By the end of the month I was forced to wrap up several plots much more quickly than I anticipated, and I’ve been itching to get back to the story and really expand the ideas.

I’m not setting myself a deadline this time. Tackling the first draft in 30 days was strenuous enough, this time the story needs space to breath and stretch out its limbs a bit. There are other projects too that can’t be abandoned. I intend to write a follow up to The Octopus of Suspense this year, hopefully before the end of March. My work was sporadic in 2013, this year I’d like to fill my time with more writing. More than anything, I want to avoid long stretches without working. I don’t know if the novel will be ready to see the light of day by the end of the year, but I’m certainly aiming for it.

If you did NaNoWriMo this year, or in the past, I’d love to hear if you’ve revisited your work since then and how you found the process?

Celebrate the end of NaNoWriMo 2013 with another Free Book!

NaNoWriMo 2013 is over, I’m in high spirits but still feeling exhausted from that last minute crunch. As usual, I couldn’t do it without my fellow WriMos. I don’t have much to give in return, but I am very happy to offer another eBook freebie.

The Octopus of Suspense CoverAvailable on: /

The Octopus of Suspense is a collection of eight little stories with a very silly title. They cover a range of genres but are all between 1000 and 1500 words long. I’m really proud of this book, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. It will be free until the 7th of December, and is available on Amazon’s kindle store. So, if you have a kindle or kindle app on your phone, check it out!

That Was NaNoWriMo 2013!


November is over, a lot of you will still be reeling from 30 days of full on writing. Some of you will have just finished your first novel. This post is a little late because I had a incredibly busy weekend and so I just haven’t had the time to stop and blog about it. But I’m here now with my NaNoWriMo updates.

I did finish, that makes my second completion now, and I’m feeling generally more positive about my novel than I did last year. It’s generally a better looking creature than 2012’s crazy mess. It’s a bit choppy towards the end as I rushed to completion, but I can see myself working on it just as soon as it’s had a little time to settle. My final word count was 50345, so I just scraped by.

As I said when I hit 25k, I will be having another freebie to celebrate my completion. There’ll be more details about that tomorrow, so fire up your kindles!

As always, let me know how you got on in the comments.

– Owen

NaNoWriMo 2013 – Day 19: Time is Running Out

PaulMcgann Eighth DoctorGood Morning, my fellow WriMos! How are you novels this fine day?

I know I’ve been a bit short on updates since somewhere in the middle of Week 2, but I’ve been crazy busy and my novel fell a little behind. Any spare time has been going on playing catchup, and unfortunately I’m still behind. There’s still time to pull ahead and my confidence is scuffed but undamaged and so I’ll be racing to the finish line in Week 4 with the rest of you. Though, I’m working on Day 30 so I might be pulling a few all nighters for an early finish.

So, how is my novel going? Well, I jut crossed 25k in my first session today. It’s a landmark, even if it is late. I said I’d be running an eBook freebie to celebrate, and I am. More info on that later. The novel itself is interesting. The first draft suffers from one of my common NaNoWriMo weaknesses in that it currently reads a lot like hastily written sessions stitched together. Of course, my first drafts always look like that, but in November they’re even worse. I have a feeling I’ll be expanding on a lot of stuff when it comes to rewrite, and possibly re-emphasising some characters over others. My plan was pretty cliché when I started it, but as I’ve gone on I’ve found better perspectives on my characters, and I really like the arc my protagonist is travelling. Other characters are a bit more slapdash, I have subplots and scenes that are interesting to write, but currently just run parallel to the main plot. I might find some way to tie them together well, but it’s likely they’re going to get cut in rewrite. And of course the prose is currently totally devoid of subtlety, show don’t tell, and readability, but that’s part of the first draft fun.

As to Freebies. I crossed 25k today and so I’m giving away Christmas Past as a special Half-Way celebration. The promo starts tomorrow, and will last for four days. I’ll post a proper announcement hear and on all my various social networks then, but for now you can click through to Amazon (US / UK) and see if the book captures your interest. I wrote this back in Christmas 2011, and I’m still really proud of it.

As usual, I’d love to hear how your own NaNoWriMo is going on, so if you want to leave me a comment or hit me up on twitter. Feel free.

NaNoWriMo 2013 – Day 12: I’m Going Through Changes.

Lisa Simpson and her LaptopAs we reach Day 12 of every writer’s favourite event, a lot of you will be nearing the halfway point. I’m a little behind the target average still, but the gap isn’t getting any bigger so I’m not too worried. I’m actually around the 1/3  mark and my novel has gone through some changes. I expected my character to have travelled further in the first act, but I’ve found their journey a bit pacier and more introspective than  I imagined. I’m probably going to tighten that up and make things a bit more tense in the edit, but for now I’m looking forward to starting Act 2. I’ve introduced a few characters that weren’t in my plan, and I’m liking them a lot, but I don’t know how big a role they’ll play in the conclusion.

Also, I’ve decided when I hit the half-way point, I’m going to celebrate with a little eBook freebie. More word on that when I get a bit closer.

How is it going for the rest of you?