2017 is now a quarter gone, as short a time as the past three months have felt, and since one of my goals for the year was to “After each quarter, assess progress and note any necessary amendments to goals in a blog post,” it’s time to do just that. I’ll begin with my goals for developing the Shine Cycle today, and go on to the others over the course of this week. Since I haven’t managed a “writing status update” since the end of January, I’ll include those “monthly” goals today as well.
The past few months have not been good ones. In my end-of-January “monthly status” report, I mentioned “being laid somewhat low by a cold last week.” That condition lingered at nearly full strength for something like another week more, and then it took me several more weeks to get back to anything like full energy and strength. There was also a several-day power outage (which was a hindrance mostly because it also left my family without heat) early last month, and the stress of classwork sapped my motivation. Lately, however, I’ve begun making progress (in general, not just here).
Looking at goals, first, here were my goals for Shine Cycle development “for the month” that I set at the end of January:
- Write at least three character histories.
In all that time, I only managed two.
- Create “character loglines” or “motivation summaries” for at least four characters.
Similarly, I only managed three of these.
- For “snowflake step 4” of The Invasion, expand each sentence of my single-paragraph plot summary into at least a paragraph.
In the past week or so, I finally made good progress on this, to the point that I now think it likely I’ll finish this section this week, but that’s again less than I wanted to have gotten done a month ago …
- For “snowflake step 5” of The Invasion, write “character synopses” of at least three of the principal characters.
Since I didn’t finish the previous step, there was no chance I could have made such progress on this step, of course.
Yearly Goals: So Far
Next, here are the goals I set for the Shine Cycle for the year. For each one, I’ll comment as to how I’m doing on it so far and how likely I think I am to accomplish it by the end of the year.
- Objective: Finish a complete and detailed outline of my chosen story.
Goal: Choose the story to focus on by the end of January.
The one real bright spot this quarter was that I did make a firm decision to focus on The Invasion.
- Goal: In my iterative outlining, outline that story by scene
Based on my limited progress the last four weeks, my task tracker thinks I’ll finish the last “outlining” task for this story in October of next year. If I recalculate with a slightly more optimistic rate, that improves to next February. So I’d call this possible, but not exactly likely—especially since there are several tasks that are still only represented as “create tasks for such-and-such,” which will push the later tasks back even further.
- Goal: Follow the “snowflake method” to at least Step 7 for that story.
Even at “the current rate” (the average of the last four weeks) my task tracker thinks I’ll get to the last piece of “snowflake step 7” in November of this year. There are a lot of tasks that aren’t accounted for between now and then, as I just mentioned, but I’d still say that meeting this goal before the end of December is likely if I can keep up a good pace.
- 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.
“At the present rate,” according to my task tracker, I won’t get through thirteen more (having done two this quarter) until about November of next year, but if I adjust to a more optimistic view that shrinks only to next January. Since character histories have typically given me more trouble than any other part of the “character development” side of things, I will say that this, too, is possible but not likely.
- Goal: Create “character loglines” or “motivation summaries” for at least five characters.
I’ve done three of these so far, and there are at least three more scheduled not too far out in my task tracker, so I should most likely far exceed this goal. Those few are a cluster, which is then followed by others less often, but even so a “stretch goal” of nine this year would still be more than reasonable.
- 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.
In the weeks that I’ve done anything at all related to the Shine Cycle, I’ve kept plugging away at increasing the level of detail of my long-range plans on these topics (creating tasks for making sure the maps of each specific country include rivers, for example, where previously I’d only had “make sure that the physical map of the continents includes rivers.”
- Stretch Goal: Get at least half-way through the “race fractalling system” for elves.
I’d consider getting to this unlikely, but conceivable if I manage sustained significant progress for much of the year.
- 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.
Given the state of my outlining, I doubt I’ll complete either of these goals by the end of the year, but they’re conceivable.
- 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.
The total count of posts that have appeared so far and what I’ve already written and scheduled for the future stands at nine so far. If I make good progress on character histories and complete some that are the last remaining piece of a character profile, or if I take the time to plow through my notes from working through the Wrede questions, getting up to twelve shouldn’t be too hard. Eighteen would be harder.
- Stretch Goal: Post at least one Shine Cycle-related post (with the same exclusions) to this blog every month.
I have précis scheduled once a month through July, but after that we’ll have to see.
- 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.
I think I’ve made a wee bit of progress this quarter, but not much.
So the past quarter has not been a good one, at all, but reaching the important goals by year-end still looks eminently possible. For the more immediate future, however, here are my goals for the coming month. I’m taking my task tracker’s current, I hope overly-pessimistic, estimate of my rate of progress as a guide, as usual, rather than guessing as to how much more optimistic to be.
- Finish “snowflake step 4” for The Invasion.
- For “snowflake step 5” for The Invasion, create “character synopses” of at least two characters.
- Write at least one character history.
Very modest goals, but blowing through those and more would be an excellent start to the rest of the year. And I shouldn’t be spending too much time on the Shine Cycle anyway.
Writer friends, how are your goals for the year going?