Six-Month Checkup

So here we are, midway through 2012, and it’s time to look back and see how those 2012 writing goals are coming along. (Expect much back-pattery in this post.)

Progress on The Ageless

My intention was to write three times a week, every week, until my post-apocalyptic science fiction novel The Ageless was done. So the first question: Is The Ageless finished? As of July 7, I’ve finished the final scene of the book, but still have yet to write the epilogue. (Edit: As of July 10, the novel is complete, including the epilogue! I’m not completely satisfied with it, but that’s what the second draft is for.)

At some point between here and January, I got a feel for how many words I could produce in a week, so I revised that promise to myself to write three times a week OR 3,000 words. I’ve met that revised goal 17 out of 27 weeks.

I also wanted to finish The Ageless by June, and I almost had! You can see on my writing calendar that I was writing the climax of the Ageless during the last week of May. But the trouble actually started at the beginning of May, when I realized the ending as outlined was no longer valid. So I reoutlined, and then started writing toward that new ending.

Something still bothered me, though. There was just this little tickle in the back of my mind that something wasn’t quite right. I decided to continue writing until done, then try to sort out the problem. I knew that might mean discarding a lot of writing, but it was the only thing I knew would work, being unable put my finger on the problem.

Then I went to the scifi convention ConCarolinas (see two posts back for my recap) and attended several writing panels. During the Killing Friends and Enemies panel, I finally realized recognized the problems. Of course, I can’t tell you what they were, because that would ruin the ending, but it involves the characters’ roles in the final battle (and yes, who lives and who dies).

I also wrote a short story set after The Ageless (the novel would probably be done already if I hadn’t written the short story, but it came to me almost fully formed, so I put it down as fast as my fingers could type). Now I’m just trying to decide whether to release it into the wild yet or not. If I do, you’ll see it appear here and on the science fiction story area of Wattpad.

Word Counts

When I set my 2012 writing goals, they weren’t based on word count because I didn’t know what a realistic word count was. I eventually realized 3,000 a week was very achievable, and later began pushing myself to go beyond 4,000 (which I achieved for 10 out of 27 weeks, 5 of which were the last 5 weeks straight).

Writing Accomplishments

The Crossing – Accomplishments 2011 – Challenge #16 by Bob Long Jr | Flickr

From November (when I got serious) until now, I’ve averaged 3,378 words a week, even when you factor in the weeks where I was hunting down problems instead of writing (see February and the beginning of May on the calendar). If you just count the beginning of March (when I was about two-thirds of the way through) until now, the average was 3,988 words a week.

So for my next novel, I’ll might try for something closer to 5,000 words a week and boost that average (unless I’m also working on getting an MBA, in which case I’ll probably stick with 3 to 4k).

Since November, I’ve written 114,840ish words, which means I actually can write a novel in nine months, even with a few troublesome patches slowing me down. Of course, that doesn’t include revisions.

If you’ve been keeping up with me, you know that The Ageless was already partway done before November. That doesn’t mean the novel is super long though, because I ended up discarding about six scenes (almost 20,000 words) when I rewrote the climax.

The Ageless stands at 129,770 words (approx 360 paperback pages). But I’m sure the second draft will change all that.

Other 2012 Writing Goals

Besides finishing up my current post-apocalyptic novel, my other main goal for the second half of the year was to complete two drafts of my finished science fiction novel, The Century, before year’s end. Since I’ve never revised on a time table, I have no idea if that’s still feasible, but I’m going to find out!

I’ve been bookmarking agents who like futuristic science fiction, so I’d count that goal as “eh” sort of complete. I don’t want to get set on a couple agents, only to see they’re closed to submissions by the time I’m done with The Century. But as the year draws to a close, I’ll start looking more.

I did print some awesome business cards for conventions, but really only handed out a couple (mutually). The font is smaller than I’d like, but there’s always room for another draft of those as well.

As of today, I plan to attend MystiCon, ConCarolinas, ConTemporal, and DragonCon in 2013 (as well as DragonCon this year, I hope). I’d like to go to WorldCon next year, but getting married takes top of the priority list in the budget for 2013! Hoping WorldCon 2014 is also in the United States.

My entire collection of books is on Goodreads, so that goal is complete. Come be my friend! I also started a Facebook page, which wasn’t officially on my list of goals. I still need to get the icon up top of this page, though.

As for my last goal, yes, I’ve become “more” involved in online writing and scifi / fantasy discussions. I don’t really see the value of forums (yet?), but social media is engaging. I like seeing what everyone is discovering on Google+ and Twitter especially. Much less interested in Facebook and Pinterest, but I now have a presence on both. And I’m in the process of figuring out LibraryThing.

What’s Next

The Century is a science fiction story with fantasy elements, set in the not-too-distant future. Born with a strange disease that causes her to age half as quickly as normal people, Psyche Collins has spent her life pretending to be younger than she actually is. When she meets others who share the same problem, they learn it may not be a disease, but proof they’re members of a race of supernatural humans called the Century. The more of her kind Psyche meets, the more frequently she’s attacked by a mysterious Order — a group of equally supernatural humans who seem determined to prevent the Century from learning more, even if they have to exterminate them.

The story is only about 60,000 words and probably needs a great deal of work, because a lot has changed in the almost ten years since gathering ideas for it. In 2009, I reviewed the story without editing it, I think. I need to do more research into certain areas of probable technological growth to be sure the future shown in The Century still seems realistic. I’m going to try to avoid a complete rewrite, which is what I did with The Ageless, but I’ll find out in a few weeks.

But before beginning work on The Century, I want to leave myself some editing notes on The Ageless while it’s still fresh in my mind. I’ll also want to study up on editing techniques from scifi authors. My guess is that I’ll end up writing some new scenes for The Century, rewriting some others, and then I can start rereading, focusing on different aspects (character, pacing) for each read-through.

If you read all of this, congratulations. If TLDR: I met some goals, sort of met others, and failed on a few. The Century is next on my to-do list!