Tribal Wars: Act 1 finished

16,140 words for the first act. A bloody start to a rather large story that is the historical foundation for the upcoming series A New Kind of Warfare (three of the nine books are already written but editting proves to be a real bitch; there are some that might be familiar with the Warfare stories though I suspect they do not visit this blog).

Damn but I have to find a faster way to write this. I may be a veteran when it comes to writing but I’m a complete noob about finishing and publishing this stuff.

NaNoWriMo report #1

Yes, I was wrong. 50,000 words do not come easy. I’ve been getting emails from the NaNoWriMo team, saying things like “Skip to the scenes with meat on them, and laugh in the face of linearity.” Ah, but this is exactly what I’m trying to avoid with this story. If I did what they wanted me to, I would have another Arena on my hands. Arena was written precisely in this way, writing just the interesting bits. And you know what? The boring parts that you eventually stick in between are so boring that you lose your readers. I’ve been patching and repatching Arena for four years now and still I’m not done. I’m not making the same mistake with Tribal Wars.
One chapter is done. 30 pages in 10 days? I’m calling that a success. Now it’s time to get my bearings for the coming chapters. I’m not doing this blind and disorganized again. In the meantime, let’s see what Prison World will turn into.

“Let the games begin!” *in Bane’s voice*

NaNoWriMo 2013 has officially begun and this time I’m a part of it. I’ve been trying to decide which story I will be writing; I feel as if I’ve been surveying a batch of eggs, trying to to decide which one I will take through gestation. The competition has been fierce. One choice was to go back to Vira, an old story of mine that has the most native supporters, the first of my monster plots. It’s gone through much change and development in the past few years which is why I’m not quite certain it’s ready. Enniorhon is another story I’ve been itching to put down but I’m not sure the time is just right. Also, Enniorhon needs propper introduction, most likely by short stories.
Finally I realized that not one but two eggs showed signs of hatching and why would I try to go aganist the natural order of things?

The first winner is a plot I initially developed for a game of a friend of mine. As usual, I’ve gone way overboard with my worldbuilding and the whole plot has grown to the point where I knew there was no going back. It’s also missing some fine tunning which is perfect for me to try my hand at improvization that I love. It has no working title at the moment– working title will be Prison World (see? I’ve been looking for a title for weeks and it came to me while I was typing that crossed out sentence!). It’s a high-tech cyberpunk setting, a crossover between the Matrix (the good parts) and Orson Scott Card’s Treason.

The other one is my personal twist to a classic Tolkien-esque setting with a whiff of GRRM’s Game of Thrones (only the juicy bits). This is a high fantasy story with some of the stereotypes thrown out to make room for other nice things such as holocaust, infanticide and eugenics (no incest yet but I remain hopeful). I’m calling it Tribal Wars (sounds like a game, doesn’t it? Will definitely have a different title by the time I’m done).

Neither of these stories are for the squeamish kind. Both will contribute to the word count so I will very likely pass the 50k target. As some bits of these stories are already written, they will not contribute to the final word count. The idea is to shoot past 50k before the time is up with possible room for editting (I have to do something during the weekend).

Overall NaNoWriMo word count:

Here we go…

Post-British activity

My stay is Bristol has come to an end and once more I find myself in my homeland. I’m definitely not the same person. Wiser, stronger, more determined, more confident of my own choices and abilities. Which was the whole purpose of going so mission accomplished. I can feel more epiphanies will follow but right now, my thoughts turn to the future.

Now that the British campaign is over, writing is once more in my focus. I still feel that my writing style needs to be upgraded. The Arena could use some more work in that area and I intend to devote October to this. I’m planning to spend November writing something new, probably in the context of NaNoWriMo. Instead of one big story, I plan to write in the episodic form. Large chapters or smaller stories, we’ll see what works best.

After hearing how Dmitry Glukhovski used the comments by his readers to rewrite Metro 2033, I think I will emulate this approach. I intend to publish the chapters of the new story on this blog and I hope anyone who visits will be willing to leave suggestions. When it’s satisfactory, I intend to publish it on Smashwords as a series of short stories.

It’s in the letters

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about writing styles in the past few days. Foremost, I’m obsessing about my own style, trying to improve it and make it more literal, more pleasant to the eye and to the flow of thoughts.

This got me thinking of the connection between an individual’s personal writing style and the character of that individual. It’s happened several times that I’ve guessed a character of a person whose text I read and then met them in person. It’s about what kind of words people choose, how they put those words together into sentences, what kind of points they make or at least try to make. Do they grope around the point they are trying to make or are they straight and to the point? By now I know very quickly if I’m reading words of a rookie or a professional writer and even guess at their emotional maturity. A wonderful example of a master writer showing his strength in his style is Stephen King – the man’s words flow smooth as silk.

This has some similarities to seeing written words on paper. I don’t have to read the text, the handwriting itself is enough. There are those types of handwriting that haven’t changed since grammar school. You can recognize them instantly from the stiff curves that were supposed to look like a flourish but they look so trained it doesn’t really fool anyone. Then there’s the jagged handwriting types – those tend to belong to people who are constantly in a hurry, are not used of writing on paper and are not used of the feel when a point of a pen meets the surface of a paper.

Emotional maturity can be recognized in customized handwriting, one that shows that a lot of effort has been put into developing it to look good but also to help add atmosphere to the thoughts written down. In this way, the shape of the letters and words reflect the nature of the writer himself/herself.

I think it’s time I get some people together to write papery letters and send them to one another via snail mail so we can all enjoy our little flourishes. It’s time to buy some black ink, me thinks…

Novels. Short stories. Pick your poison.

In my youth (yes, I’m 29, but you know what I mean), I only read novels or novellas, never short stories. I am convinced that this is mainly due to the culture I grew up in. In western countries, attention spans of readers are shorter so they need shorter stories. Reading is a hobby, it should be fun. In my country, reading is a life style. Acquiring stacks of books in one’s living room may not be the norm anymore (it certainly was in the time of my grandparents) but we still take books seriosuly. Very seriously. Too seriously, to be honest. I’ve been given novels to read since the day I could read. Yes, I learned to read from comic books (about two years before we officially learned letters in grammar school) but I switched very quickly to 100-page books (for a five-year-old, those were novels; I think it took me two weeks to get through one; I usually read more than one at the same time.) It wasn’t long until I was reading the classics: Jack London, Jules Verne, Karl May (maybe I was 10 before I delved into the Vinetou monster), basically everything that I found translated to my native tongue.

To me, reading a story should be about becoming a part of that world, getting to know the setting and characters intimately, spending a considerable part of their (and my) life with them. When I finally got my hands on a short story collection, things were different. Yes, they were interesting characters. Yes, they usually involved intriguing situations. But before I could truly immerse myself into that world, the story would be over. Starting a new story, I had to discard everything I have learned about the world and had to start from an empty board. That particular detail was incredibly irritating.

All this leads back to my writing. I find it more fulfilling to write a short story than to read one but still I always find myself checking the word or page count when I do it. I’m paranoid about my short story evolving into a novel if I let my guard down. That’s not the writing I like. It sounds too much like a school project where you had to write a specific number of words to make a cognitive statement. The biggest essay of my high school had to be between 4k and 5k words. To most people, that is pure torture. I barely got warmed up at that point.

I tried (and still do) to write short stories because I’m an adult now and time has become a different thing. But, to be blunt, I suck at it. The only reason I try writing short stories is because it’s finished quicker, editted quicker and can be read quicker. The one short story I finished turned into a novella (Clockworks Warrior) but now I know it’s only a part of a greater story I am obliged to write some day.

Don’t expect short stories and flash fiction from me because you won’t get it. What you will get from me is epic novel series which unfortunately take time. LOTS of it. Speaking of which, it’s time to get back to that particular activity. Ta ta.

Fan fiction might be beneficial for your craft

It is my solid opinion that fan fiction is in fact good for beginning writers. Why? Because the essence of it comes from someone else’s mind. It comes to a writer through a movie or a book, fully formed and preferably done by someone with experience. It is easy to get immersed into a well-formed universe and become a part of it. Fan fiction can come easier than original fiction precisely because it already has a visual sense, whereas your own setting/plot is pure abstract; it only exists in your mind, therefore it is not fully formed until you put it on paper.

Fan fiction is a great way to practice. Some people stick with it forever and don’t write original fiction at all. Most of us, though, start to crave to invest our effort and time into something that we can call our own. That is where original fiction comes from.

Play to learn. Learn to master. Master to succeed.

Time waisted

Today I woke up and realized I’m 29 years old. No, my birthday was four months ago but today my brain finally processed it. As soon as I knew it, a part of me started to despair because I’ve missed the best part of my life.

Why? Because I didn’t get hammered every weekend? Because I spent most of my days sitting behind a desk, typing down letters and words? True, a lot of that time also went into playing games and watching movies. It’s strange how all of that used to mean so much to me.

So I’ve changed. I know exactly when I’ve changed. I know why I’ve changed too. I was busy getting my own mind under control. If I’d lived anywhere else, I imagine I would have spent my youth on one pill or another. Now that’s a scary thought.

So this is not really a rant about how I missed my twenties and didn’t do what I really wanted to do. No, I did exactly what I wanted to do. It’s just that I don’t like to do that anymore. Not because it was meaningless but because I’m a different person now. Hell, I’m about to be 30. About time I’m a different person.

I know what I want. And I’m going to get it. At least I will know to appreciate it. Twenties gave me that. Is that waisted time?

Made a colossal botch of Clockworks Warrior

I just found a very elementary mistake in my novella Clockworks Warrior. Bad news is I can’t take it out because it would make the entire story fall apart.

So here’s the problem: a certain character in Clockworks appears very unexpectedly and pretty much saves the day even though I think he still had a hard time and could never do it without help. Some readers complained that this character was too “deus ex machina” and I was surprised that I didn’t see it that way even when it was pointed out to me.

Now I know why I didn’t see it the same way.

Because I created the story for my WIP novel Arena first and Clockworks second.

Arena is happening two years after Clockworks, but it is paramount to read the Arena first and Clockworks second. Even though Arena happens later in the timelane, it’s a much bigger story and it introduces new characters, some of which also appear in Clockworks. If one reads just Clockworks without Arena, those characters are brand new and therefore strangers. But if one reads Arena first and Clockworks later, the reader would go “Hey, I know these guys!” and create the impact I was going for.

The catch is that Arena is still unfinished while Clockworks has been published for more than a year, since April 2012, so I’m really the only schmuck who found those characters familiar.

Good news is that I don’t have to repair it at all. All I have to do is publish (finish first) Arena and tell people that they should read it first, Clockworks later.

Such a rookie mistake. My apologies to people who read Clockworks and found the Arena characters confusing.

CLOCKWORKS WARRIOR                               ARENA
<——————–ORDER OF READING—–———-

So much dust

I’m not blogging lately, mainly because my focus is on my Master’s and second because I lack the energy to write my own stories, let alone to come up with an interesting blog post. At the moment, my primary concern is to finish a Master’s and finally get a decent job. My secondary concern is to improve my social life because being in a foreign country means lack of true friendships – you only realize how important they are when you have none to speak of. Way down in the third place is where I have writing at the moment. At this time, writing is one of the excuses why I’m not outside, looking for interesting people to hang out with.

Time to dust this blog and get it back in active mode, neh?