Setting a planned novel aside

All the way back in early December, I’d already decided what I was going to write for the April 2021 session of Camp NaNoWriMo. I spent some time reworking the plot, characters, and setting of Venére Magic, a novel I originally write in March & April 2015. I even redid the entire outline (25 chapters) from late December to early February. All the hard work was over! The only thing left to do was actually write and edit the novel.

I was fine with this plan until the last week of February, when I realized that this novel was not going to work.

There’s genuinely nothing wrong with it. It’s a perfectly fine story with a plot and characters who have goals, and I’m confident in my ability to write it well. The major problem Venére Magic has is that it does not fit thematically with the rest of my writing. This might seem like a weird concern, or maybe not even like a concern at all. People can write different things if they want! That should definitely be encouraged! There’s nothing wrong with a writer that jumps around to different genres and explores different things rather than sticking with one genre or subject.

The problem, I think, stems from the fact that I wrote this novel in 2015. I was a very different person then than I am now – I spent a lot of early & mid 2018 heavily examining every single aspect of myself and my life. The things I like reading & writing are largely the same, but I’m much more easily frustrated by stories that don’t examine the setting and its impact on the characters and instead treat it as an unimportant part of the background.

By “setting” I mean things like religion, cultural practices, languages, holidays, food, etc. I want to know why things are the way they are! Things don’t happen in a vacuum!

Unfortunately, Venére Magic in its current state doesn’t examine the things that it should. The setting has a rich history that I was not able to put into the outline because I wanted to keep Venére Magic as a shorter novel. Back when I was redoing the outline, I thought that was unfortunate. Now I think it’s lazy. I’m a little disappointed in my past self.

So Venére Magic is on hold until I think of a way to work everything I want to add into the story. By the time that happens, it probably won’t be a short novel any more. And since I didn’t want to write any longer novels this year, that probably means I’ll be putting it on hold for a longer period of time than I wanted to. What a bummer!

Writing Throughout the Years

I’ve kept track of how many words I’ve written each day since November of 2009. These started out as .txt documents with the number of days, target word count, and words I actually wrote. From 2012 onward, I started keeping track of my daily writing in a spreadsheet. Over the years, I’ve been refining these spreadsheets into what I hope is their final form.

jan2021wordcount

This is what the spreadsheet currently looks like. If I work on more than one project in a day, I copy the columns (Project Name, Task, Goal, Written) to the right and fill in the information. That way I know exactly how many words I wrote for each story each day.

Additionally, everything I write, whether it’s prose, worldbuilding, or even blog posts, gets copied to a document created specifically for that month. They’re named 01_January, 02_February, etc. and I delete them at the end of the year. This is what I use to figure out my monthly word count, which is what inspired this blog post in the beginning.

Originally, I was wondering if 2020 was worse writing year than previous years. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my monthly word count in one place. I spent way more time than expected compiling all this information and putting it into one place only to find out that 2020 was actually a better-than-normal year:

wordcounthistory

I wrote 237,601 words in 2020, which is more than every preceding year except for 2013. It’s one of my best writing years. All I did in 2020 was write and edit The Book of Immortality and The Land of Two Moons, and I’m pretty sure that’s why I did so well. I didn’t have to come up with anything new!

Any other writers following me? Do you keep track of your writing on a daily or monthly basis?

NaNoWriMo 2020 Results

2020nanoprogress

This post was originally going to be very long – I had a day-by-day breakdown of what stories I worked on and how many words per day I wrote for them. I realized pretty late into the month that that sort of detail isn’t actually necessary (and it made the post way too long), so here’s a much better summary!

I started off November 1st by writing 5,046 words – since it was the last Double-Up Donation day, I thought it would be good to write more than the minimum 1,667. And since it was a Sunday when I had no other commitments (other than getting groceries in the early morning), there would be no problems with me sitting at my computer all day.

5000 words per day is pretty impossible for me, so I set a goal of 2000/day. I did (roughly) this until November 10, which is when I got the news that I got laid off from my job (second time this year, unfortunately). I only wrote 1000 words that day because of it.

I then wrote 3000 words the next day to get back on track, and continued with roughly 2000/day for the rest of the month. I started feeling the mid-month slump around the 14th/15th of November, but managed to push past it.

I finished rewriting the 5 chapters of The Land of Two Moons on the 17th! After that was done, I turned my attention towards finish up the WIP short story The God-King, which I ended up finishing on November 21st. Then I finished the final draft of The Book of Immortality on November 23rd!

All of that, in total, added up to 49,183 words, so I decided to continue novelizing The Land of Two Moons for the rest of the month. I created a new goal: 60,000 words, which I reached on November 29th. My final word count ended up being 61,227 words.

So, how’d I do on all four of my goals?

1. Finish editing The Book of Immortality. All chapters of the final draft are fully edited. That was a total of 19 (out of 38) chapters this month, and 37,576 words (out of a total 75,839 for the whole book).

2. Edit at least 5 chapters of The Land of Two Moons. This goal is also complete. In fact, I managed to double this, and edited 10 chapters in total.

3. Finish writing The God-King and the Spellsmith. This only took 558 words to finish. I’m glad I can finally set it aside and think about other things.

4. Write Cosmic Stardust: Vermillion. I didn’t get a chance to do this, and I didn’t expect to, since I didn’t even have a rough outline by the beginning of November. What I did actually do was write a very rough outline of the first two chapters.

All in all, I had a pretty good month, despite losing my job on the 10th (second time this year…thanks a lot, 2020). Thankfully, that is the only negative thing that happened to me all month, so I was able to stay focused on writing.

If you did NaNoWriMo this year, how did it turn out for you?

NaNoWriMo 2020 Goals

There are a couple of goals want to accomplish this November:

  1. Finish editing The Book of Immortality. Since there are only 19 (out of 38) chapters left to edit and chapters are, on average, 2000 words each, this won’t get me to 50,000 words. Thus, I also plan to:
  2. Edit at least 5 chapters of The Land of Two Moons. Each chapter is also around 2000 words long, so that should give me close to 10,000 words total.
  3. Finish writing The God-King and the Spellsmith, a short story I started rewriting in March. I had a plan to finish this during Camp NaNo’s July session, and it didn’t happen. It’s time to finally finish this story.
  4. Write Cosmic Stardust: Vermillion. This is the lowest on my priority list, and I won’t be too upset if I end up not accomplishing it.

This is the third year in a row where I’ll be editing and rewriting instead of working on something new. And this will actually be the last NaNoWriMo I spend doing that sort of thing, since I’ll be finished with rewriting The Land of Two Moons before November 2021.

Is anyone else doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are you working on? I’d love to hear about it.

And if you want to add me as a buddy, my NaNoWriMo author profile is here!

Camp NaNo July 2020 & Upcoming Stuff

Camp NaNoWriMo

I definitely achieved my goal of 20,000 words (I ended the month with 20,013), but I did have to make a few modifications to my secondary goals.

My initial plan was to edit 10 chapters of The Book of Immortality. This changed to 8 chapters about halfway through the month, since I had an episode of fatigue that lasted long enough that I was seriously considering taking the rest of the month off from any creative work. It fortunately went away, but I kept my 8 chapter goal and managed to reach it.

I…did not work on the short story. At all. I didn’t write a single word of it. I haven’t abandoned it, but it’s definitely not my first priority right now. I’ll get it done sometime this year, I promise.

Chapter 7 of The Land of Two Moons has been successfully translated into prose! It’s very bare-bones in parts and definitely needs a couple of edits. I’ll probably work on getting it finalized all throughout August.

The Book of Immortality

I have eight chapters of the final draft done, and that means it’s finally time to start posting it online! I’m planning on posting the first chapter on this blog on Friday, 7 August.

I am planning on posting chapters every other Friday. One chapter per week is a bit too much for me; I’d like to have some kind of buffer rather than constantly scramble to get things done at the last minute. That’s what happened with The Land of Two Moons during the past month, and it was not pleasant.

I will probably edit this subpage for The Book of Immortality with more information sometime during the next week.

Until then!