Shine Cycle 2014 Review, 2015 Goals

As we near the end of the civil year, it’s time to look back over the year that was and forward into the new year. I did my blog retrospectives at the end of the liturgical year, before Advent, including the one on the Shine Cycle, so this week I’ll consider the goals I set last year, and set new ones: my goals having to do with the Shine Cycle, my planned fantasy series, today; Strategic Primer, my strategy game, on Wednesday, and the rest on Thursday. I’ll also include my regular montly status update in each category.

2014 Goals

First, let’s look at the Shine Cycle-related goals I set a year ago:

Worldbuilding Program Development

I’ve long felt that some of my problems (largely of scale) in developing the Shine Cycle could be made much less difficult by the use of better software tools—tools which apparently don’t yet exist, as I’ve explained in several of my “unwritten program” essays.

At the end of last December, I had thought of some ideas as to how to go about writing one such tool that I felt I urgently needed, so I set the following goal:

Goal: Write a “timeline program” that meets enough of my needs for me to use it (nearly) exclusively for managing the history of the world in which I write.

However, not long after I set that goal (and started asking if anyone else wouldd be interested in helping me design and test it), I figured out how to make a spreadsheet work “well enough.” So I failed to meet this goal (and I’ve now forgotten essentially all of the development ideas I had, which I do regret), but this wasn’t the “blocker” I thought it would be.

Shine Cycle

Most of my goals were repetitions of ones I’d made progress toward but failed to accomplish the previous year.

And instead of simply listing them in the order I posed them, I’ll group related ones together.

Outlining

Goal: In my iterative outlining, get at least to the end of the saga in the current pass.

I’ve made significant progress, but partly because that progress was inconsistent and partly because The Longest War in particular proved more complicated than I’d initially thought, I’m still quite a ways from actually accomplishing this goal. So I’ll yet again repeat it.

Goal: Have at least a tentative logline for every story or planned story or volume in the Shine Cycle, for each sub-series, and for the series as a whole.

Goal: Have at least one “polished” logline.

Stretch Goal: Complete the “snowflake method” for at least one story or planned story.

I wrote a few tentative loglines, but came nowhere near meeting the first goal. And I didn’t even think about submitting one of my tentative loglines for critique, or get anywhere near the point of expanding the loglines using the snowflake method. These will come, or not, with my iterative outlining.

Goal: Have at least a general outline (what I call a “super-sequence” outline) for every planned story.

This is close; there are perhaps two or three that I don’t have in the “main line” (see the series outline), about half of the “Game of Life” sub-series, and all of the Alternate Universes series (which I have setting but not really story ideas for anyway). But close isn’t success.

Goal: Sort out “POV assignments” for every planned story.

I made some progress, but not much. And this, too, will come or not with my iterative outlining.

Background and Worldbuilding

Goal: Finish “the timeline revision.”

I didn’t accomplish this, but I decided at some point to give it up for now.

Stretch Goal: Write at least six character histories.

Met and accomplished, twice over: I wrote fifteen character histories (plus approaching twice that many character descriptions and “entries”). But I still have many characters whose histories I want to get down, so this too will repeat in the list below.

Goal: Finish the “race fractalling system” for at least one race from the Shine Cycle.

Stretch Goal: Finish the “culture fractalling system” for at least one Shine Cycle culture.

Because the culture fractalling system came up before any race-fractalling tasks in my task tracker, I’m closer to what I called a “stretch goal” than the “goal”. But I’m not all that close to finishing it. So I failed to meet either of these.

Actual Prose

Stretch Goal: Get at least halfway (probably about 50,000 words, but assessed using the outline if the story turns out to be significantly shorter than that would indicate) through a draft of one of the (intended-to-be-novel-length) stories I’ve done at least preliminary planning for.

Again, utter failure. I didn’t even get the few-hundred-words’ progress I manage in last year’s NaNoWriMo. But I’ll repeat this goal below too.

Monthly Status Update

In my last update, I identified the following goals for the month:

  • Continue regular work on Shine Cycle development.
  • Outline at least the rest of The Longest War by sequence.
  • In fractalling the culture of the Empire and the Sunshine Kingdom, get at least halfway through the “Reality” section.
  • Write at least two character histories.
  • Write at least a hundred words of “actual prose.”

Between classwork and my new internship (which I shall write more about in my “general” post later this week), I had neither time nor attention enough to spare to manage any of these. I did finish one character history, and made slight progress on outlining The Longest War by sequence—and that’s the extent of my progress this month.

Because I expect my schedule to be about as hectic for the next month at least as it has been, I will scale my ambitions for the immediate future back yet further:

  • Continue regular work on Shine Cycle development (the prerequisite for any substantial progress at all).
  • Outline at least the rest of The Longest War by sequence.
  • In fractalling the culture of the Empire and the Sunshine Kingdom, get at least a third of the way through the “Reality” section.
  • Write at least one character history.
  • Write at least a hundred words of “actual prose.”

2015 Goals

I don’t know what demands will be placed on my time beyond classes and this temporary internship, so the goals I’ll pose for the next year are yet less ambitious than what I’ve set in previous years—but because I do want to get things done so I can move past them (and get my task tracker down to more manageable levels) I’ll also moderate that tendency somewhat. Lastly, I’ve decided to set “intermediate goals” so I can check my progress before next December.

Outlining

  • Goal: In my iterative outlining, get at least to the end of the saga in the current pass—which is converting “super-sequence” outlines to outlines by “sequence”, deciding on point-of-view characters, and creating tentative loglines.

  • Intermediate Goal: Have at least a general (“super-sequence”) outline of every “main-line” story, plus the “Game of Life”, by July.

  • Goal: Have at least one “polished” logline.

  • Stretch Goal: Get at least half-way through the “snowflake method” for at least one story.

Background and Worldbuilding

  • Goal: Write at least four character histories.
  • Intermediate Goal: One character history by April, two by July, three by October.
  • Goal: Finish working through the “Deep Culture Fractalling System” (that is, the “worldview” part, which is all that’s been posted …) for the Imperial culture.
  • Intermediate Goal: Finish “Step 3: Reality.”

Actual Prose

  • Stretch Goal: Get at least halfway (probably about 50,000 words, but assessed using the outline if the story turns out to be significantly shorter than that would indicate) through a draft of one of the (intended-to-be-novel-length) stories I’ve done at least preliminary planning for.

We’ll see.

Any thoughts? Writer friends, do you have any goals for the coming year?

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