Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nanowrimo 2014: Completed -kinda

On November 27, I crossed the magic number of 50,000 words (while writing my story, I would have written that as "fifty thousand" to get the credit for an extra word and also because I vaguely recall an elementary school teacher telling me that was the proper way to do it in prose).

The story isn't done.  It is just in the middle of the climax.  Right now, on a large island on Lake Baikal, Russian, British and Chinese forces are battling with muskets and steam powered engines that can fly over who will rule Asia.  And, what's that?  A scorned shaman is dancing for an audience of seals, imploring their help?  Will they bring in a new super weapon from the depths of the deepest lake in the world?  Really?  In the last chapter, a whole new group of characters, motivations and weapons are being introduced?  Ah, probably to build interest in the sequel.

The story has been fun to write and I hope I continue it this afternoon.  I am happy that the stress is off but the point of Nanowrimo is that this stress is often the only thing that gets one to write in the first place.  God knows my first story hasn't been touched in eleven months and three days.

Again, the story has been fun.  It starts off in the Himalayas with an expedition heading toward Tibet headed by a man named Oldwife.  Is that clever?  I have tried to use connections to historic events - like Younghusband's expedition to Tibet, but I am not sure if it is too heavyhanded or not.  Anyway, the story takes place around 1800 and Oldwife is an ex-naval officer who sailed with Cook.  His chief engineer is a man who studied watchmaking from the man who supplied Cook with his chronometer and apprenticed under Harrison, the famous clock-maker who made the first timepiece accurate enough to determine longitude at sea.  There is a man who basically invents scuba diving - a tuque-wearing Frenchman of course.  A female Korean martial artist, smiling, deadly Gurkhas, flamboyant, deadly Kazakhs, gruff, deadly Tashkentians and more.  I needed a few browser windows open to find names appropriate to each nationality as I went along.

I love the term 'plot bunny'.  You think of a few plot points and suddenly they've mated and you're overwhelmed in them.  Probably adding semi-sentient seals in the last chapter is an example of too many ideas without enough mortar of story holding them together.

A shovel that someone carried a long distance - not a special shovel, just an ordinary one, appears in the story and is used with intent to kill.  One could call it a traveling shovel of death, if one so chose.

My planning this time was minimal. I wanted something 'steampunk' and that meant a steam-powered giant dragonfly and more.  I also wanted Tibet or the Himalayas and I can't explain why although the area has always fascinated me.
From my notebook:
In my notebook, I see that I thought about the previous year's story - The Distancing Engine - on September 11.  I had written some notes about where the story was and how to move it forward.  I don't think I got beyond that point.

On Oct 9, I have the start of Nanowrimo prep - one thing that stands out is that I spelled 'Himalayas' correctly - recently I have caught myself using two 'i's and two 'a's instead of one and three respectively.  I then wanted the story to be about local areas rejecting imperial power.  Nepal did fairly well at that, compared to India - I'm sure the location helped.  I also wanted to include Tantric sex.  Maybe I could still add that in the revision.

Oct 28: some attempt at character sketches.  Discovery of 'Orion' as the religion that offers meditation training that turbo charges your brain.

I have just found a list of names.  Some of the names are from Cook's final expedition.  I took the surnames and given names and shifted them a little so they don't match the original.
I also have notes comparing the education of three individuals - Oldwife who received a Classical education - Greek and such, Kasher, who learned even older dead languages and Mi-suk, who studied Confucianism - the Classical of east Asia.

As with last year, everywhere are numbers. Nanowrimo drives home the message of record keeping and if the story was going slowly, I would stop many times in a day, write down the current and the most recent number, subtract one from the other and record the difference.

I consider myself to be fairly objective and numbers oriented.  In descriptions of battles and fights, I often found myself writing "The charged the final 50 meters to the enemy line." or "The landing field was a little more than ten kilometers away."  Is that kind of precision valuable?  when writing about gunfights, does it make the action more visual, more relatable or more obviously wrong?  I don't know how accurate a pistol made in the late 1700's is.

The leader of the main group is an ex-Naval officer - naturally Forrester and Hornblower figure in my mind as I write his exploits.  Forrester once described Hornblower as having a pair of rifled pistols that were accurate to fifty meters and that always seemed excessive to me. Forrester did not have Hornblower picking off individuals at that distance so the question might be moot, but, well, I clearly remember it.

There are a total of 17 pages of notes, including two mind maps.  I also used two sheets of A3 paper - that's the double A4 size - for maps and other notes.
Well, that 's over nine hundred words.  More than half a day's work at standard Nanowrimo pace.  Enough for now.  Time to exercise or do school work or any of the millions things I put off doing for the month.

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