Progress report: One Million Words, week 16

With NaNoWriMo starting today, and the prep work I’ve been doing this week, I’ve really picked up again this week. I’ve better than doubled last week’s total, having written 6,659 words over the last seven days – my best week since I began the challenge, by over nine hundred words.

My total stands at 56,702/1,000,000 (5.67%) and my NaNoWriMo total is 1,739/50,000 (3.48%).

Day by day summary

Monday:239 words (on the Kell start from 24th October)

Tuesday: 1,432 words (Kell meets Shen in the river – a background story)

Wednesday: 235 words (completing Tuesday’s story)

Thursday: 990 words (Kell in a sinking boat – another background story)

Friday: 883 words (completing Thursday’s story)

Saturday: 1,141 words (twitter horror stories and a background story involving Sorient and Turriac, and the source grudge I said I wanted to add to the group dynamics for chapter 2)

Sunday: 1,739 words (NaNoWriMo story – Kell’s adventures)


I’m very glad I decided to attempt NaNoWriMo. I think it was just the spur I needed. I was starting to tire, but this has reinvigorated me. Having a big huge long-term goal in the One Million Words Challenge is ambitious, but it leaves something lacking when it comes to using reward as motivation. NaNo gives me a short to medium-term goal, with clear measurable daily targets, and a framework by which to attempt an accelleration to my existing challenge.

I’ve struggled with the background stories. The one where Kell meets Shen was easy enough; I already had the encounter in my notes, as Shen is a key character who will continue to crop up. I wrote it because I didn’t have much idea of what else to write, but it did help. This is an important relationship and I needed to have some idea of how it started, and of what Shen was like.

The sinking boat story came on a day I really couldn’t think of what to write. I went looking for prompts, and ultimately asked my partner for a scenario prompt. He said “shipwreck”. Given that no part of my story goes near the sea, I adapted this for the river and sinking boat is what happened. This gave me a second scenario for Kell to meet Shen, and an idea for a sort of runnig joke or theme – one that is entirely appropriate within the mechanics of the world. Hopefully you’ll spot it when I start posting the story here.

The realisation the other day that I needed some new element to chapter two to give it a boost meant that yesterday I felt I had to write the “grudge source” story. Again, I used prompts for this. I used a random number generator to determine which two characters would be involved in the grudge, and Chaotic Shiny’s writing exercise generator to give me the setting (a cave) and writing style (something I wouldn’t normally write in – conversational first person) and added a storm to give a parallel to make it relevant in chapter two, and then it came together fairly easily.

The twitter horror stories I wrote on Saturday were a little fun thing – flash fiction via twitter, with scary stories of a more mundane variety than most of what was going on for Halloween. Here’s one:

Outside, darkness. Inside, emptiness. The cupboard door creaks as she opens it. She reaches up and finds the coffee jar. It is empty.

Scary, right? I thought so. Thankfully my own coffee jar is about 80% full, so no danger of running out for at least a week or two, even if I up my consumption this month!

So what about today?

Today started at midnight. Given that NaNo’s rules are midnight to midnight, I have suspended my “the day ends when I sleep, not necessarily at midnight” rule. I was out last night and got back right after midnight, so made a start with 700 words before bed. I’ve had work today – a particuarly tiring day due to a Halloween market and 10k run event in town, so I didn’t even sit down all day, and read barely a page of my book (usually on a Sunday it’s quiet enough that once I’ve made sure the shelves are fully stacked and everything is tidy, I’ve got enough time when the shop is empty that I can sit down and read a chapter or two over the course of the day). Once I was recovered after I got home, it was time to cook dinner, and then I managed another half hour before Downton Abbey and another session afterward, before the F1 highlights (currently open in another tab, and I keep switching between this and the race depending on the tone of the commentary).

I’m happy to have met the 1,667 word target for today, especially given how busy and tiring it’s been. Three shorter sessions meant the word target was covered with ease. It might be the way to go for the month, set aside several sessions each day. There seems to be a limit to how much I can write in a session, not a hard limit so much as one based on factors like knowing what I’m writing and not being too tired, but a limit nonetheless. Spacing sessions out gives me time to think and refresh.

As for what I’ve written, I’m not sure. I’ve put in some early conflict, but I’m still worried it’s a bit slow, and it’s got some exposition in that isn’t needed – information about a town which I have no immediate plans to return to after chapter one finishes. But it’s in character, for both of those invovled, Kell and Merdrig, so I’m not sure what to do with it. I’ll worry about it in December, I guess, and probably cut a fair bit and get the conflict part in a little earlier. I’m not sure how to get things from where they are now to where I want them, but I’ll work that out tomorrow. A good night’s sleep will help, and it’s getting towards the end of the race coverage so it’s time to conclude.

Take away points

  1. The prospect of NaNoWriMo has proven to be motivating in this week of preparation. Having smaller, shorter term goals within my million words challenge seems to be beneficial. I’ll have to consider other short-term challenge options, maybe another month-long wordcount drive or a week writing a new story each day or something – but that’s something to think more on after November has ended.
  2. Multiple sessions a day is probably the approach I need to take this month. Another week’s data should confirm it, one way or another.

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