November 29 2011

NaNoWriMo — complete

So, I’ve got my 50,000 words written–50268 by the official count and I have a few thoughts. Firstly, I am quite glad that I decided to give NaNoWriMo a try. It “forced” me to think about a story in a fair amount of depth and gave me a feel for just how much 50,000 words are. And, how much are they–well, both less than you might think and more.
50,000 words are less than you might think in that it is a bit light for a full blown novel–after I compiled it (Scrivener) I get 132 pages and it also doesn’t completely tell the story I want to write. For the purposes of the event, I went ahead and put in an ending, but for the full purpose of a novel, the work is certainly not any where done (more later on that.)
50,000 words is more than you might think in that it is a lot of words to write in a part time fashion in the space of a month (especially one with holidays in it.)
When I first started, I noticed right away that my desire was to go back and revise what I had put down. That strategy was obviously not going to cut it to make the deadline. So I ruthlessly suppressed my background editor and pounded out text. Some of it is almost acceptable but it all needs work, but as background material and a starting point for an actual endeavor I think it will work out fairly well. I’ll keep you posted on where this heads.

November 28 2011

The Little Sister

The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler is the fifth in the Philip Marlowe series and starts with the following:

The pebbled glass door panel is lettered in flaked black paint: “Philip Marlowe…Investigations.” It is a reasonably shabby door at the end of a reasonably shabby corridor in the sort of building that was new about the year the all-tile bathroom became the basis of civilization.

Marlowe seems to be feeling a bit tired and shabby himself. This could be a reflection of Chandler feeling down himself from dealing with the care of his ailing wife and having to deal with Hollywood.
The titular character, Orfamay Quest phones Marlowe in an attempt to persuade him to search for her brother Orrin. Orrin had moved to nearby Bay City (probably a bad sign) and has stopped writing letters home. Orfamay doesn’t offer much money and Marlowe doesn’t offer much hope but he starts the search and starts finding more than Orfamay may have thought he would.
The search leads Marlowe into Hollywood and Chandler gives Marlowe rein to vent a bit:

California – the most of everything and the best of nothing. I smelled Los Angeles before I got to it. It smelled stale and old like a living-room that had been closed too long. More wind-blown hair and sunglasses and attitudes and pseudo-refined voices and water-front morals.

Marlowe follows the threads of leads where they go. That is sometimes quite different than where those who hire Marlowe might want them to go.

November 17 2011

The Call of Cthulhu

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft gives us the outlines of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. The story is presented as a manuscript “found among the papers of the late Francis Wayland Thurston of New York.” Thurston tells of his discovery of the notes left by his granduncle, George Gammell Angell, a Professor of Semitic languages at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Professor Angle died suddenly in “the winter of 1926–27” after being “jostled by a nautical-looking negro.”
Thurston then begins piecing together the papers and newspaper clippings into an account that unveils the workings of a mysterious cult. By telling the tale two or three times removed from the action, Lovecraft adds to the gradual feeling of horror and alienation of the piece. Interestingly, Cthulhu is not presented as a god, but rather a visitor form strange stars. Cthulhu and the other old ones travel across stellar distances when the stars are “right.”
Here is a quote that captures the general atmosphere:

The aperture was black with a darkness almost material. That tenebrousness was indeed a positive quality; for it obscured such parts of the inner walls as ought to have been revealed, and actually burst forth like smoke from its aeon-long imprisonment, visibly darkening the sun as it slunk away into the shrunken and gibbous sky on flapping membraneous wings.

Here is the Google Map link for R’lyeh:-47.15,-126.716667 for those who might want to glimpse it.

November 14 2011

Halting State

I couldn’t quite bring myself to jot off 500 words or so that wouldn’t count towards NaNoWriMo, So I thought I would kill two birds with a single pebble and do a bit of a different review for Halting State by Charles Stross. So here is one character’s thoughts about Halting State praeteritis in futura as it were:
Paul put down the yellowed dog eared copy of Halting State. The cover was worn and smooth but wrinkled like the skin of some desert lizard. He almost never read actual physical books, but this one had caught his eye as he wandered through the swap meet. Sometimes it’s just good to hold onto something real.
He had liked the book quite a lot although the sequel Rule 34 was maybe even a little better. Now that the book’s setting was in the past for Paul he found parts of the book a bit amusing, but Stross had got a lot of the details surprisingly well. Specs with overlays and cops plastered with cameras were all too accurate. The downfall of the US and the rise of a united Eurosphere, well that didn’t quite happen that way, now did it? Also, a bit weak on biological advances rather than just technological advances, but that wasn’t really the book he was writing.
The second person view point was a bit weird at first but pretty soon Paul had flowed into the various characters. He could empathize with the character of Jack, the programmer and Elaine was well done. You’ve got to like sword wielding forensic accountants. Come to think of it, an accountant with a sword is probably safer than one with a pen or a set of nasty software drills.
Paul put his own specs back on and flexed his fingers, reengaging his debugger and about 20 screens full of code. Time to get back to the task at hand, he thought.

So, there you go. That was an interesting little experiment. It needs some work but I’m trying to restrain my impulse to rewrite things as I’m going along here—Warp speed ahead and all that. Like Paul, I enjoyed the book and found a number of the tech forecasts fairly likely but I wasn’t so sure on some of the political/global forecasts.

November 8 2011

NaNoWriMo — 7 days in

So, on day 1 I got the free Scrivener download. I decided to use that for my NaNoWriMo month as a good test drive. So far, I really like the software. It seems to fit my style of work fairly well. Being able to easily create pieces of work as thoughts occur and keep them in an organized whole seems beneficial to me. I’m pretty sure I’ll buy a copy when the trial is over.
My word count is at 9525 as of last night. That’s a bit slower than the pace, but I spent quite a bit of time the first couple days gathering some research material. I started the writing with a scene and a bit of background in mind. I’ve now got more background and an underlying plot that seems to hold things together. So, that parts going pretty well also.
Having the 30 day goal of getting out 50,000 words is giving me some incentive to actually do something, so that part is working ok also. I think that I’m seeing that I have a desire to write and then loop back and change things, so the raw cranking out of additional words ever day probably doesn’t fit my preferred style. I’m not sure if that is good or bad. Since I haven’t outputted much fiction in the last twenty years, getting some work modification may not be a bad thing. 😉 Onward!

November 1 2011


One of the reasons I reactivated this blog was to encourage myself to write more and get back into the habit of writing. That seems to have gone fairly well. I can crank out 500 words or so about a book I’ve just without much problem.
Now, I’ve decided to go ahead and try writing some fiction again and NaNoWriMo seems like a decent motivational tool. My userid there is shalter and I just created a novel with the very creative title of Working Title #1, genre Science Fiction. We’ll see how it goes.
The rules appear to be — write and then write some more.