The Finish Line

The holidays ruined my NaNoWriMo.

I’m only half joking.

Due to travel plans around Thanksgiving to see my wife’s half of the family and then my family coming into town the very next week meant I lost quite a few days being a productive member of my family and not a productive writer. Now, I could have squirreled away somewhere to crank out some words, but we were in Disney World for crying out loud and I couldn’t figure out how to sell to a couple of three year olds why Daddy would rather play on his computer than play with them in freaking Disney World.

I’m not going to hit that fifty-thousand word mark and that’s okay. I write year round, not just November. Sure the challenge of hitting a high word count is fun. So’s the camaraderie during that time period, but truth be told, that stuff happens day in, day out throughout the rest of the year too!

Honestly, the most fun I have with NaNo is inputting all that data and watching a bar graph. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing the estimated day of completion get earlier and earlier. I don’t need a contest to do that. I can do that with Excel. Okay, so the graph might be an extra step, but I’ll manage.

My only real goal this November was to take a nice sized chunk out of my current manuscript and that’s just what I did. So, mission accomplished.

For those of you who’ve hit that fifty thousand word mark, way to go! I’m proud of you.

Writing isn’t a hobby for me or a contest, it’s a lifestyle, so I’m just going to keep on trucking. I won’t always want to write fifty thousand words a month, but I’d like to give it another shot. Maybe February. Sure, it’s short, but there’s nothing going on in February to pull my focus elsewhere.

I don’t rely on a writing app to track my progress, but for the purposes of the monthly data it’s pretty fun. So, if anyone knows of something similar to the NaNoWriMo input, please let me know in the comments. I’d appreciate it!

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Blocking Fight Scenes

I always seem to run into the problem where I lead a protagonist into a situation against a giant monster/beast/enemy thing and then have to figure out what to do about it. Seriously, out of the 4 books I’ve written (counting the one I’m currently working on), it’s happened in 3 of them. I like fight scenes. I like watching fight scenes. But when it comes to writing them down, I hit something of a wall. I want a rampaging beast, but my mental space is totally blank.

There’s your backstory for what happened today. I’ve known for months now, that this particular fight was going to happen but all my notes say is something like:

– Abe shows up and ambushes Gus

– This is Abe’s last chance to redeem himself. He’s desperate

– They argue like brothers. Fight breaks out

That’s it. My next note is for what happens after the fact. Oh, and Abe is a werewolf. I should probably have mentioned that. In order for this scene to be interesting, something needs to happen. There needs to be danger and conflict. I realized yesterday that I couldn’t accurately visualize the fight because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Just like outlining the story itself, I needed to outline the fight. And that meant blocking.

I’ve heard of blocking fight scenes before. I meant to create a bullet point list of events, but I soon ran into the issue where I wanted to expand on things. Then I’d get lost and end up trying to figure out what was coming up next same as I would if I just winged the fight scene like usual. So I had a better idea. My experience with theater and role playing led me to this:

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I drew the layout of the room. Luckily, I had these two vinylmation guys at my desk to help out. And my wife said they were useless! We have Captain America there as my protagonist, Gus, and Oogie Boogie as the werewolf, Abe. I still kind of made the fight up as I went along, but I kept this little playset right by my computer. I just acted it out. I’d jump from the figures to discover the next action/reaction and then back to the keyboard to write about it and describe all of the emotional stuff.

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It helped so much! Not only did I get a clearer picture of what was happening, but by drawing in the background, it showed (if only to me) that this wasn’t happening in a white room. I had props and obstacles and just stuff that could help and hinder my characters. I’m really happy with the outcome and it’s definitely something I’ll be doing with fight scenes from now on. I have a big one coming up at the climax that’s going to take a map D&D style! I can’t wait to set it up and play – er, I mean, manipulate my models – to see what happens.

On a side note, I really hope this book gets published. That way, when you read the scene I’m talking about, you can picture these vinylmation figures duking it out instead 🙂

Motivated!

The cycle continues! After running myself ragged two weekends ago, I spent most of last weekend being the laziest bum this side of lazy-bumsville. And it was awesome!

I got my running in, wrote some and had a couple hefty chunks of Final Fantasy XIV too. So, everything I wanted to accomplish on my lazy Friday got done. On top of that, my main character in FF can almost touch 50 and no longer is dressed like a sex slave. AND, not only am I 3/4 of the way finished with my latest novel, but the Pitch to Publication contest has me motivated to knock this thing out by the end of the month. If my rough outline to actual word count conversion is working, it’s looking like I’m about 25k from the end. I just want to fist bump everybody I see. I’m so motivated. Aren’t you motivated? I can’t stop saying motivated!

The weekend wasn’t entirely selfish either. We cleaned up the house some by getting rid of old clutter to replace it with new clutter. We also tackled the nursery some more. It’s functional, as in two babies could live there, but it’s not the most organized. Or so I’m told. Every time I think it looks nice, my wife either dumps more stuff in there or she just rearranges everything and leaves piles to sort through later. The babies won’t care which drawer holds their burp cloths! But I’m learning one of the first lessons of being a new dad, I suspect: keeping my mouth shut when my wife is on a rampage.

We also watched the World Cup. We’ve been following it since the beginning of the tournament and now that it’s over, it’s kind of bittersweet. I’ve grown used to looking forward to the next game during the week. We’d usually go over to the inlaws and watch it on their screen and I’ve have a text thread going on my phone with a bunch of people back home. Each game was always a mini party. So, the buildup was great and the payoff was definitely worth it, but now that it’s over, I’ll miss the festivity around it.

There’s a lesson in there too right out of Inside Out but I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone. We got a chance to see that one too over the weekend. We used to ration our movie theater experiences like nobody’s business, but with the babies about a month away it doesn’t take much convincing to get us out there while we still can. So yeah, Inside Out is amazing! I figured, I’d like it. With the current state of Disney and Pixar, it’s pretty safe to guess that anything they come out with is going to be good and I gotta say that I was definitely not disappointed. The story was great, the music was awesome, the voice acting was freaking perfect and the whole package just left me with all the warm fuzzies I was hoping for.

Wow, looking back, that was quite the weekend wrap up! Oh, and happy belated 4th, people. The day in which we celebrated Will Smith saving us all from the aliens …

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