08 January 2009

The Late 2008 - Shine in 2009

Like my cheesy title? *grin*

So, given it's what everyone else is doing*, I thought now would be a good time for my 2008 recap.

Raw stats first.

In 2008, I:

* wrote 161,207 words of fiction.
* finished a draft of TBAEO.
* did preliminary edits and replotting of TBAEO.
* worked on The Black Gates, then retired it at about chapter 5 - the plot Needs Work.
* started Logan. Wrote 10 chapters only to realise the story started at chapter 11. Put aside, as the MC was too boring.
* learned how to write short stories - hoorah! Total of 8 in various stages.
* edited my first 'proper' play. Wrote several others, including an 8 act one to be performed in a week's time.
* began The Project. Wrote half, outlined the rest, realised I hated the MC and put it aside.
* signed up to write a self-pubbed non-fic ebook, to be completed this month.
* began several MG novels for nano, none of which behaved, so they've been temporarily put aside.
* started Jesscapades, which I adore, and which at this point I'm planning to be my debut novel.

My main goals for the year were to make 10 submissions and have 3 complete manuscripts. Sadly, the year has been fraught with false starts, so I have only one :( As for submissions, I've done 12 :) So that's a success. Granted, a lot have been resubs, and I've had no bites yet though a couple of commendations and personalised rejections, but hey - I did more than 10 subs :) Rah!

Although on the one hand I feel like the year has been a bit of a failure - I haven't completed any novels that I'm happy with - on the other hand, my total word count is up by 60% on last year's count. And more importantly, I've learned a lot. Sure, I've had a lot of false starts - but I know why they were false starts, and each time, they've been for a different reason - which means I'm learning.

And now I've hit on a novel that I like, with a reasonably strong voice, a fun plot, a great MC... Mind you, I'm not halfway yet, so I'm hoping like mad that I like the book because it really is good (this is what the beta readers are saying) and not because I just haven't hit the wall yet (what my brain is saying).

So, this is what I've learned from each of my false starts this year:

1) TBAEO - not a false start, but something that DEFINITELY needs work before it can see the light of day. From this I learned perhaps my biggest lesson of the year - that I can finish a complete novel, and that I can dissect it and replot it to make it stronger.

2) The Black Gates - this is actually my first novel. I've been working on it off and on for years - and because of this, it's fraught with beginner mistakes - not least of which was a lack of original, interesting plot. I fixed that by introducing some great twists - but I'm yet to figure out how on earth it all goes together. It's not complex enough - but it's too complex. Gack.

3) Logan - heh. From this, I relearned the importance of having not only a strong MC, but one who has enough tension and internal conflict to drive the plot. Logan, the MC, was not strong enough to be a driving force - instead, he was someone who was driven, being forced and manipulated into making his decisions instead of reacting to the situation himself - and so he was boring. It was about now that I also realised that I didn't actually want to write traditional-style fantasy after all...

4) The Project. If TBAEO could be called an exercise in character development, then TP is its opposite: an exercise in plot. I set out to write this deliberately as a pot-boiler, simply to force myself to learn how to keep up the pace and tension, how to introduce stumbling blocks and small problems - in short, how to keep the middle from sagging. I succeeded pretty well, but unfortunately in doing so sacrificed character, and the MC turned into someone whom I didn't like, couldn't identify with, and just plain didn't want to write about.

5) The Edge and Gem series - I only made a tiny start on these at the beginning of Nano, but it reinforced for me the necessity of knowing your character's voice before writing the book.

6) Jesscapades. With luck, this one won't be a false start. So far (about 1/4 of the way in) it's got a great combination of character AND plot, and I'm excited to see just how much better this is than anything I've done before.

And that, my friends, was 2008. I know, I haven't talked about my goals for 2009 yet - but to be honest, I can't really get my head around the idea of new goals until this big camp (Jan 16-24) is over, and the dog book is written. I'll think about goals, and post them either in the final week of Jan, or in early Feb.

In the meantime - what's the biggest thing you learned in 2008?

* I was going to do it anyway. It just seemed like a good excuse O:)


Just_Me said...

What did I learn in 2008? Not much writing related I'm afraid... But I managed to reintegrate my family after 15 months spent in separate countries, move, fix a house, almost sell a house, rent a house, and so on.

Writing wise.... um... finished DoJ. Finished Bryson (minus the last two chapters), finished Skippy, started several other books at random. I realize I'm terrible at staying on task with editing and that's something I'll have to change.

I wrote a few short stories and submitted. Several very nice rejections, but no bites. And I'm fine-tuning my list of agents I want to query. The longer I watch them, the more I realize probably aren't right for me.

Lady Glamis said...

Great list there, Inky! Mine wouldn't be nearly as long or productive-sounding. Just two novels, and they're both a mess right now.

I wrote and finished Breakaway, but it needs a lot of polishing. I'm very happy with it, though!

And Monarch, which is 4 1/2 chapters and a prologue away from being done...

and then lots of polishing with your help, I hope!

What did I learn? Um, that my Muse still exists. I started writing again after 5 years, and let me tell, it's been one hectic ride! I've loved every step of the way! Let us hope that 2009 brings some more learning and growth... and another novel or two.

marieconley3 said...

Learn-to let things go. Such as novels that need to die.

Happy New Year.

Merc said...

WOW, you've been productive, Inky! :D I like how you've kept track of it all to list it... heh. (I SO need to do that this year. I forget too easily.) Nice job on what you did get done.

I'm actually really liking the idea of taking the novels and figuring out what you learned from them. I may definitely have to try that. (I may do a blog post about it. Poke me. O:))

Here's to an even better 2009!

Oh, and yes, I agree Jesscapades is totally awesome. B-)


Yunaleska said...

Have posted my comment on my blog...it was getting a bit long to put here!

Inkblot said...

L ~ sounds like you've acheived a lot to me :) Well done.

Glam ~ that's an incredibly important thing to learn, I think! Welcome back to your muse :D

Rie ~ so true. And such a hard lesson to learn. Why is giving up things we know are bad for us so hard?

Merc ~ thank you. A lot :) And I can certainly poke you :D

Yuna ~ Will go check it out :)

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