Writing status update

Now, that‘s more like it. In the month-and-a-bit since my last update, I finally made more than statistically significant progress each week, continuing the trend I noted at the end of that cycle.

In my last update, I listed a handful of goals that I hoped I would have achieved by now. I should start my description of the past month’s results by looking at whether I met those goals.

Most of them were utter failures. I didn’t even look at “The Adventure of the Royal Wedding,” I wrote essentially no actual prose, and while I opened the timeline with the intent of working on the revision a couple of times, each time ended in frustration with no progress, which prevented any character-history work. (Though I did write at least one, maybe two, character descriptions.)

On the positive side, however, I did meet or exceed two of the items. First, I accomplished the administrative chore that was the last item, cleaning up my task list—more about which in a moment. And I far exceeded my outlining goal: I had hoped to get through “at least most” of Stone of Power, but I finished my outline of Stone of Power by sequence before the end of November, and kept going. I (tentatively) outlined Sunshine Civil War, The Imperial War, and most of The Barbaric Dragon by scene; when they come round again, the “next step” for them will be to either outline their scenes by action, or simply to write them.

On my task tracker, I alternate “plotting” tasks (outlining, at this stage, like what I’ve just described) with “worldbuilding” tasks. (I put those in quotes because I have filed some tasks that really fit “plotting” very well under “worldbuilding” so I’ll get to them sometime before next fall.) Sometime this past year, the alternation had gotten way off, so that there were stretches with no “plotting” tasks for what Tracker then thought of as months at a time, and then similar stretches with no “worldbuilding” tasks. I finally buckled down and fixed that.

In this cycle, many of the “worldbuilding” tasks were “chores” to add later, more detailed, tasks for going through the Holy Worlds race and culture “fractalling” systems for the races and cultures of the Shine Cycle. But also “chores” for adding tasks for “fractalling” my planned novels using the “Snowflake Method”. (We’ll see whether I have the patience for it.)

The last sub-category of quote-“worldbuilding” items I accomplished this past month, which like the “snowflake” administrivia doesn’t really fit the “worldbuilding” label, was loglines. After reading *Finding the Core of Your Story (which I intend to review properly, probably as part of my next “review of ‘recent’ books” post) a few months ago, I became convinced of the value of distilling the central plot of a novel to one sentence, so I added tasks to Tracker to have me create a logline for each planned novel of the Shine Cycle. (Happily, creating a logline happens to also be the first step of the ten in the “Snowflake Method,” so by the time I get to actually trying that, I’ll have the first step done.) And in this cycle several of those tasks came up, so I created loglines for several of my planned novels.

Because my conception of most of the Shine Cycle isn’t strongly focused, I doubt the loglines I’ve created are very good either. So I’ve added tasks to remind me to ask for critique of each logline before I go to the next stage of outlining or writing the novel it describes. But even so, I suspect the loglines are better summaries than the “premise” sentences I had (and that were, in many cases, all I had) for the stories in some of the planned sub-series.

Aside from the usual poetry and quasi-essays that have already appeared on this blog, I should also mention that a couple of weeks ago, I was suddenly struck by an idea for how a very occasional “web series” I follow could continue, which wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it down in the form of a screenplay. I will say no more here (except one thing, in a moment) because I’ve sent it to the series’ director. We’ll see.

The “one thing,” a tangential item that might be interesting to some readers, about that screenplay is that I’m developing it (as I continue to revise it) in LibreOffice, but storing it in my version control system in \LaTeX (actually, xelatex, because the only way I could get it to use the standard screenplay font was incompatible with standard \LaTeX). I would prefer to develop in \LaTeX, since the interface of Vim plus the “screenplay” document class is far superior to LibreOffice, but for some reason \LaTeX doesn’t space lines anywhere near as widely as the examples I have available, which throws the pagination way off. (A scant five pages versus nearly exactly seven.) And its margins seem not to match the style guide I used.

In the next month or so, I would like to:

  • Finish outlining Barbaric Dragon by scene and Space and Time and Galaxy by sequence,
  • Make a good beginning on “fractalling” Imperial culture,
  • Re-polish “The Adventure of the Suspended Rose” and send it to any volunteer readers,
  • Finish at least the second arc in my timeline revision (I now have an idea for how to go about developing a program to make that task less frustrating), and
  • Write at least several hundred words of actual prose.

We’ll see. But since I’ve maintained a reasonable pace for a little more than a month for the first time in quite some time, I’m hopeful.

(I omitted character histories from that list because when I fixed the ordering of my task tracker, I put them in as a third part of the rotation, but starting a fair “distance” out to give me time to actually do the timeline revision; I probably won’t start working on them until they come up in Tracker.)

Next week, in addition to a seasonal “worldbuilding”/”background” post, I plan to write a post looking back (briefly, since I did my full “year-end retrospective” at the end of the liturgical year, as usual) over 2013 and setting goals for the Shine Cycle (and my other writing) in 2014.

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