Shine Cycle 2016 Review, 2017 Goals

At the beginning of another year, I again pause briefly to take stock of the past year and look forward to the next, specifically looking at how what I accomplished compared to the goals I had set and then setting new ones. I looked at my “miscellaneous” goals on Saturday; today, I’ll look back over how much I accomplished on the Shine Cycle, my fantasy series-in-preparation in the past year, and set new goals.

2016 Goals

First, let’s see how I did compared to the goals I set a year ago for the Shine Cycle.

At the time, I said

Because I forgot to check my “intermediate goals” for 2015 until it was time to check all the goals, I’ve decided against setting “intermediate goals.” However, if I remember I intend to briefly check how I’m doing midway through the year, perhaps in July.

I didn’t remember, so this is the first and only review for 2016.

Outlining

For once: Success! Not only six, but all the Alternate Universes stories (except for a few that I have decided to shelve indefinitely because I couldn’t think of a suitable story concept) are at the “pre-sequence” level.

  • Stretch Goal: Get at least sequence-level outlines for at least two Alternate Universes stories.

This, however, I didn’t get to.

  • Goal: Decide on point-of-view characters for at least six Alternate Universes stories.

Nor this, at least not “officially.” For most of them I suspect the Quester will be the point-of-view character, but I don’t haven’t given the question enough thought.

  • Goal: Get at least two of the Game of Life sub-series to at least the sequence level, and at least five more to the super-sequence level.

I don’t remember where things stood at the beginning of 2016, but four of the “Game of Life” stories’ outlines are at the “sequence” level, and all the rest are at the “pre-sequence” level. Success!

  • Stretch Goal: Get at least five Game of Life stories to at least the sequence level. (Including the two from the previous goal.)

Four, as I said, are there, so I nearly met this “stretch goal.”

  • Stretch Goal: Get at least one Game of Life story outlined to at least the scene level.

On the other hand, I didn’t get to this point.

  • Goal: Get at least eight other non-“main-line” planned stories outlined to at least the super-sequence level.
  • Stretch Goal: Get at least one of those stories outlined to at least the sequence level.

Again, I don’t remember where exactly things stood in January, but at the moment five non-“main-line” stories’ outlines are merely at the pre-sequence level, and two are at the sequence level, and there really aren’t any other stories that are in my file of story outlines as mere concepts. So while I may not have quite hit the target I set, I’m counting this as a success.

  • Goal: Decide on point-of-view characters for Anarchy and at least the first third of the Reignalmia sub-series
  • Stretch Goal: Decide on point-of-view characters for all of the Reignalmia series.

Done and done.

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

With a great deal of help from my friend who writes under the name Aubrey Hansen, I revised and “polished” seven loglines this year. (Thank you!)

  • Goal: Get at least fifteen planned stories to at least step 2 (the first being the logline) of the “snowflake method”.
  • Stretch Goal: Get at least twenty planned stories to at least step 2 of the “snowflake method.”

Skimming through the version-control log of my “writing” repository, I count twenty-nine “snowflake step 2” additions in the last year. I haven’t done this for any of the “Alternate Universes” stories yet, but all of “the main line” and the “Game of Life” sub-series have “the snowflake method” at least to step 2.

  • Stretch Goal: Get to at least step 3 of the “snowflake method” for at least one story.

Done: I finished step 3 for two stories, and may yet finish it for a third before you read this.

  • Goal: Create précis for at least five planned novels that I don’t already have one for.

More than done: I wrote twenty-two précis this year, and except for the story ideas that I shelved indefinitely because I couldn’t think at all of how to develop them into a plot, every story currently planned for the Shine Cycle now has a précis. (Not all have appeared on this blog yet because I’m posting one a month; they’re scheduled to continue until the last of them has been posted in this coming July.) I am again deeply grateful to Aubrey for her help in developing my ideas from “concept spark” to “something resembling a plot,” and especially in coming up with titles.

  • Goal: Carefully check at least ten previously-posted précis against subsequent development.

This, on the other hand, I didn’t get to.

Character Development

  • Goal: Write at least fifteen character biographies or histories.
  • Stretch Goal: Write at least twenty character biographies or histories.

I wrote nearly seventy character biographies, but only one character history (to my surprise; I thought I had written at least five character histories this year). So a great success here.

  • Goal: Create “character loglines” or “motivation summaries” for at least five characters.
  • Stretch Goal: Create “character loglines” or “motivation summaries” for at least ten characters.

I wrote thirty of these.

Worldbuilding

  • Goal: Answer at least seven questions from the “worldbuilding questions” devised by Patricia Wrede
  • Stretch Goal: Finish this pass (which leaves some notes like “TODO: answer this in more detail,” but should give at least some answer to every question) through the Wrede questions.

I did finish this pass through the questions.

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.

Sigh. I got a couple of hundred words this fall, and no more.

Blogging

  • Goal: Post at least twelve Shine Cycle-related posts (not including writing status updates, year-end retrospectives, and the like) to this blog.
  • Stretch Goal: Post at least eighteen Shine Cycle-related posts (with the same exclusions) to this blog.
  • Stretch Goal: Post at least one Shine Cycle-related post (with the same exclusions) to this blog every month.

Even setting aside posts that are already written and scheduled to run in 2017, I posted 23 Shine Cycle-related posts … very nearly two a month.

2017 Goals

Unlike previous years, I am not going to simply move the “interval under consideration” in my task tracker forward. In 2017, I want to focus on one story and get it as close to a “publishable” state as I can within the year. I still intend to work on worldbuilding and character development, but instead of making incremental “plotting” improvements to each story in turn, I want to apply my thought on that to just one story all year.

Outlining

  • Objective: Finish a complete and detailed outline of my chosen story.

Character Development

Since I want to keep making at least some progress this year on filling out my character database, but want to spend most of my effort on whichever story I choose, I’m going to simply repeat my goals in this area from last year, but omit the “stretch goals.”

  • Objective: Have a biography, history, description, and “character logline” or “motivation summary” for every named character.
    • Goal: Write at least fifteen character biographies or histories.
    • Goal: Create “character loglines” or “motivation summaries” for at least five characters.

Worldbuilding

My previously-usual worldbuilding objective, answering the “Wrede worldbuilding questions” for the setting of the Shine Cycle as a whole, is finally (all but) complete. Those answers could use another pass through them, to fix all the items I marked to come back to to add more detail, but that’s not worth making a whole-year goal.

On the other hand, unless I totally reorganize my task tracker again (after the tedious task of reordering the “plotting” tasks to focus on one story at a time), “at the current rate” all of my “worldbuilding” tasks for the next year and more will be planning tasks, making detailed lists of what needs to be done for creating maps and setting up tasks in my task tracker for “fractalling” secondary cultures. None of which really lends itself to a goal here either—though I may decide to schedule the tasks I create for some of those at the front, rather than the back, of the queue, so I’ll still list Objectives for those.

But on the gripping hand, after all those planning tasks come a series of tractable tasks for actual development, which will make a fine “stretch goal.”

  • Objective: Create sufficiently-complete, sufficiently-detailed, maps of the worlds and areas with which the Shine Cycle is concerned.
  • Objective: Develop each race and culture that the Shine Cycle is concerned with sufficiently to portray it distinctly and excite potential readers’ interest.
    • Stretch Goal: Get at least half-way through the “race fractalling system” for elves.

Actual Prose

  • Goal: Get at least a quarter of the way through the first draft of the story I decide to focus on this year, or 25,000 words in, whichever comes first.
  • Stretch Goal: Get at least half-way through the first draft, or 50,000 words in the story I’m focusing on this year.

Blogging

  • Objective: Regularly post substantive Shine Cycle-related content here, as an incentive to continued progress and to attract interested future readers.
    • Goal: Post at least twelve Shine Cycle-related posts (not including writing status updates, year-end retrospectives, and the like) to this blog.
    • Stretch Goal: Post at least eighteen Shine Cycle-related posts (with the same exclusions) to this blog.
    • Stretch Goal: Post at least one Shine Cycle-related post (with the same exclusions) to this blog every month.
  • Objective: Create blog posts using “worldbuilding” material created using the various “systems” and question sets.
    • Goal: In the process of transferring material from my answers to “the Wrede questions” to “background essays,” reduce the length of (the temporary copy of) the former by at least half. It currently stands at about 1500 lines and 36,000 words.
    • Stretch Goal: Finish transferring material from my answers to “the Wrede questions” into “background essays” and schedule the first post using that material to run on this blog.

We’ll see how the year goes. Fellow writers, do you have any plans for the new year? And do any of my readers have any thoughts on which story I should focus on this year?

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