Archive for the ‘Novel #3’ Category

“The Emerald Shower”, first draft is done

Posted by arnaud on February 2nd, 2013

Just a short post to tell you that after 2 NaNoWriMos and an extra month of writing, my third novel “The Emerald Shower” is done. Well, the first draft is done.

This is by far the longest I’ve written yet (180 000 words as opposed to the 140 000 words for books 1 and 2) and it’s also the one where I’ve written the fastest (3 months), while being the one where I’ve taken the longest from word 1 to the last word (15 months). I have one year of editing ‘The Fifth Compendium’ to thank for that.

I was very pleased with the first half written during the 2011 NaNoWriMo. It was epic with really hard scenes for some characters (I’m still considering cutting off the rape scene because it’s really rough). I liked it very much as I re-read it this year.

Then, there is the second half. It’s becoming more personal, less epic, and goes in directions I never expected. As I said earlier, it feels like this was the second book in the series. I like it too, but it’s very different from the first part.

This means of course that I have a huge editing job ahead of me.

For now, I’m going back to editing. This will be “Shrouds”, which I hope will take me less time than “The Fifth Compendium” and then I’ll get to start my fourth book.

Beware, the revolution is coming in book 4!

NaNoWriMo 2012 Recap and thoughts

Posted by arnaud on December 1st, 2012

I’m recaping here something I wrote in my online writing group about writing ‘The Emerald Shower’s ending.

This has been a strange event for me this year and to explain it, I’ll have to rewind back to last NaNo.

I started last year a new novel which had been brewing in my mind for a few months. The writing went great – so great that I decided early on to do a double NaNo and go for the full hundred thousand words. I managed it, but discovered that writing 3.5K per day while being doable doesn’t leave me much time for anything else. Come December, I was so burned out that I decided to leave the book there for a few weeks. Then, something I hadn’t anticipated came. I got the opportunity to submit a partial to an editor in January on another work and discuss her input after that. So, I did what any author would do, I put the last project aside and went to full editing mode on the other. This editing before and after the editor’s input took me the better part of the year as I finished it in September.
I needed to go back to my NaNo project and finish it, but soon realised I didn’t remember much about it. I had to re-read it (a strange experience) in order to remember everything and find the book’s voice back.

Then came this November and I thought I could use NaNo to finish the book. At the time, it was at 100K in early act 3 and according to the acts 1 and 2 lengths, I figured I needed to write about 35k to wrap it. The only problem was, I only had in my mind a partial idea about that ending. The characters were all in very bad positions and it seemed like enough for me to find a good ending.

So I went to writing and produced a solid 5k in the first day. Things were looking good and characters started to converge on the final battlefield. Then, the villain did something unexpected : he decided to send all his minions that were hunted down by my hero to the 4 corners of the world in order to buy himself some time. I never expected this and since it was logical (and quite clever on his part), I had to go along. That single paragraph cost me about 20k, I’d say, launching the characters in a journey like those you find in early acts 2.

As a result, most of the writing for this ending feels like I’ve been writing the sequel in a series and not the end of book 1. After now 50k and a few more detours, I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, though not in the way I would have figured. The main character was supposed to go into a bloodthirsty killing spree and be stopped by an alliance between her friends and the villain. Instead, I have a main character who accepted to surrender to the villain to escape destroying everything in her path and her son is doing all he can to turn her back into the bloodthirsty version of her, thinking it will save her. Very different endings and I think the second one is the stronger. I never even considered it until the characters moved in this direction. This is what I love about writing.

So to recap, I’m at 155K now, with an ending in view which should take me about 10k (ok, let’s be realistic here : maybe 15?).
I don’t advise anyone to put a book aside for 1 year as I did. There are multiple problems to solve when doing this : the character voices change, the plot gets fuzzy, and you waste words getting back into the book’s mood. I don’t know how Ray Bradbury did it all his life.

Another thing I learned is that doing 50k in a month is a breeze for me. 100k was hard, but 50k is barely more than what I would normally do. NaNo just helps me force myself to write 7 days a week instead of 4 with time to spare. I even found the time to attend a 4-day con (did the same last year, but found out I could barely attend the panels because I needed to write).

We’ll see what next year has in store. Probably something very different.

End of year thoughts

Posted by arnaud on December 28th, 2011

I wouldn’t want to do the traditional year recap here, and bore everyone to tears, but 2011 has been a pivotal year in my writing experience, so I wanted to take some time to write those down.

I wrote 2 books this year (almost, but let’s not dwell too much on that).

I know ‘Shrouds’ took me almost a year to produce, and that it has a lot of problems, but let’s be honest, I learned quite a lot writing this one, and there is this feeling when you reach the end of a book where your fingers write faster and faster, like you are riding a horse that won’t stop. Crossing the finish line in these conditions makes you forget all the time you were down in the mud trying to convince the horse to make a step.

I learned to like rewriting.

Funny how it’s much easier to edit your work once you actually see what’s wrong in it. My first editing passes were awful, and I knew it : I corrected nothing, and only got frustrated. Thanks to the writing group, now I know what to look for, and how to fix it.  It’s becoming difficult to read one of my earlier chapters now, because I can see what’s wrong in them, and I have to fight the urge to edit said chapter on the spot.

I joined the RE writing group where my writing got much better after a hurtful few submissions were trashed.

I was warned beforehand, that the writing group process was a difficult one. Man, I had no idea. They minced my first chapters real nice, pointing out all that they felt was wrong in it. That wasn’t easy to hear, but in the end, I found that the worst things they said about me were also the most useful. Sometimes, I really wish I had more bad reviews out there.

I’m now attempting to be professional about my writing : I follow Locus sales, I read business blogs, I go to conventions.

Yes, I’m switching to professional writing mode. I always wanted to sell my work, but 2011 is the year I began actually doing something about it. As every SF/F writer should do, I subscribed to Locus and am actively tracking the sales each month to get a feel of what editors and agents are buying today. As many writers this year, I asked myself the question about self publishing, and read actively writing business blogs to get a better feel of the industry. I’m also now a member of the SF/F community, as I voted for this year’s Hugo awards.

Let’s not forget conventions, shall we? My plan right now is to attend 2 cons a year, one local (Utopiales has really been good to me), and one international. This year, I went to Sweden for Eurocon, where I saw some wonderful people talking. Eurocon didn’t bring me much in the way of business connections, but it certainly widened my understanding of the genre a lot.

Next year, I’ll go either to World Fantasy in Toronto, or to Eastercon in London. Worldcon in Chicago seems out for now.

I attempted and won Nanowrimo – twice.

I don’t want to boast too much here, but I did it. Twice! This year, I was in a good position to start a new novel for Nanowrimo, with the concept and basic characters formed in october. I launched myself into it, and soon realized that 50 000 words were too easy to reach for that novel, so I pushed my limit to 100 000. It seems like the procrastinator in me really needs fixed goals in order to produce. I usually do 1 000 words per day, 4 days a week. During nano, I did 3 000 words per day every day, which boosted my productivity. Since then, I allowed myself a few days rest, and the novel isn’t going forward anymore. I need to fix myself a new goal – preferably an unrealistic one.

I’m extending my networking with other writers, known or not known.

Last year, I met Brandon Sanderson. I was pretty much a fanboy then. He gave me some great writing advice, but I wasn’t that professional then. This year, I met him once more, this time to talk about business. At Utopiales, I met Ian MacDonald and he explained to me for an hour the whole process of submission. After Nanowrimo, I got to meet Aliette de Bodard, and she spent an hour of her time to talk about the business too.

On the not-yet-published side, I’m also networking with other aspiring writers who are serious about being published. It’s great to exchange tips on writing or about the business with them. I also am building a writers group in Paris with one of my Nanowrimo friends. We’re going for an innovative format where we’re not only critiquing our work, but also discussing about the writing business and craft.

I’m pushing my work to an editor.

I haven’t blogged about it yet, since I’m yet at the proposal stage, but I was lucky enough to win a detailed analysis of 10 000 words I’ve written by Gollancz’s editorial director Gillian Redfearn. Gollancz is one of the biggest SF/F imprints in the UK, and Gillian Redfearn is a top editor there. It’s really a privilege to be able to push my work to her and get her input on my writing.

I’m currently assembling the package I’ll be presenting to her early January. Staying under the 10k barrier has proved difficult and forced me to merge together chapters the writing group suggested be presented as one. Right now, the submission includes a 5 pages synopsis, the book prologue, and chapter 1. I intend to write a short query letter as well for Gillian to critique.


So, I have a lot of things to be grateful about this year.

For 2012, the plan is to:

  • Finish the third novel. Honestly, I shouldn’t spend more than 2 weeks on this.
  • Finish editing the first novel. The entire first act is almost through the writing group. I think now I can finish editing this novel without them.
  • Present the first novel to agents. If I want to do this by Easter (for Eastercon), the novel has to be edited by then.
  • Edit the third novel
  • Start the fourth novel
Lots of work in perspective!

NanoWriMo completed!

Posted by arnaud on November 30th, 2011

Yep, I’ve done it!

NaNoWriMo is officially over this year for me, with a whopping 100 301 wordcount.

The first 50k – the official ones – were done on November 14th, due to some heavy advance taken on the first day and the first weekend. This advance allowed me to cruise at 3k per day instead of 3.3, which would have been way more difficult.

The novel is not over. I should go on writing it on december, hopefully finishing the last 30k before chrismas. After that, the editing part will begin. The fun never ends.

I now have earned the right to use this image on my blog!

NaNoWriMo winner

NaNoWriMo winner

Nano-report, Utopiales, days 0-1

Posted by arnaud on November 10th, 2011

Day 0 of Utopiales

Despite the trip by train to Nantes, I managed to write pretty well.

The start was slow, as I’m not accustomed to write on the small laptop keyboard, but once I got the hang of it, words flowed pretty fast. The trip took 2 hours, and I managed to produce 2500 words nonethless.

I then got to the convention desk and picked up my pass. I browsed through the con’s expositions.

I found very nice displays of original ‘V for vendetta’ strips, and a wonderful collection of Greg Broadmore paintings and sculptures. This year Utopiales’s theme of history is apparent everywhere here, everything has a steampunky feel. Very cool.

Then, I got tired about waiting for a cocktail that was late as usual – as soon as you put politicians in any meetup, things start to get slow.

I then went back to the hotel. For once, it’s nice to have the con hotel taking people in the restaurant as late as 11 PM. The last one I went to in Sweden closed at 9 and wasn’t even open on saturday. After a full day at the con, going back to the hotel and finding the kitchen closed isn’t a nice experience. This time, though, everything is looking good. I love room service!

I ended the day with some writing, meeting my daily 3000 words quota easily.

Day 1 of Utopiales

Today’s con was mostly meetups, and a few panels. They try to cram as many YA and middle grade meetups there, as this is the only school day and they usually invite schools to come in and see the con.

First meetup was in fact a presentation on alien history. Quite fun to follow. Two other meetups followed with french authors. They talked a little about their respective process. It was interesting to see how they work.

I went to lunch at this point, skipping the short story contest. At lunch, I got a glimpse of Brandon’s editor. Apparently, she comes here often.

Coming next were a couple of meetups, then the first panel begun “The new genomancy”. That one was about genetics and what could happen in the not so far future with genetics advances. The panel had two scientists and two novelists. Boy, that was an eye-opener. I always considered genetics to be a dangerous science (Star Trek fan here : I know all about the Eugenics Wars), but we’re reaching heights of danger here. I’m not talking about only eugenism there, but also the way we could basically stop Evolution if we wanted to. Scary stuff.

Next panel was “history is more unbelievable than fiction”. That one derailed as panels sometimes do. Instead of what I believed the panel would be about, the people here went on tangent after tangent. Glen Cook was at the panel, and he got as confused as I was about the topic.

The real gem for today happened to be the last panel about a couple of editors telling about how they went on looking for stories in an anthology. They used an online writer’s group to do the pre-selection (basically, they delegated the slush-reading to the people from these forums). They explained then how they managed to blind choose people from that writer’s group (unprofessional people like me) when pitted against professional writers. They ended up taking 4 out of 40 submissions from this group, which is about ten times the usual rate. They went on about explaining to the audience the joys and pains of having an editor ask rewrites of a writer. I knew everything about this thanks to WritingExcuses, but it was still very instructive to have live editors talking about it in front of me.

After dinner, I went back to the room and did my 3 000 words for the day. Act 1 is over at last, and act 2 is on its way. I’d better find some ideas for tomorrow, or I’m going to run out of steam very fast.