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December 3, 2013

On NaNoWriMo (AKA Voltech the Liar)

Don’t worry, your pies are safe.  But I guess it’s about time for me to come clean.

With any luck, the truth will set me free.  Either that, or make some people very, very cross with me.

First off, I want to start by saying that for those of you who went all in with this year’s National Novel Writing Month, congratulations.  You deserve praise just for even thinking of taking part.  Doubly so if you actually wrote some words -- any amount, even if it’s just one.  Of course, if you’re one of those dazzling people who not only took on the challenge, but also broke past the 50,000 word barrier, go and buy yourself ALL OF THE PARTIES.  Or something like that.  You know what?  Just take this jingle -- you deserve it, hero.

If you’ll let me be realistic -- for once -- then it’s safe to say that even if you’ve got a 50k file you’re not even close to done.  Setting aside the fact that the file (the story at large) might not even be finished, there’s still the issue of figuring out what words need to stay, what words need to go, what words need to be added, and generally just deciding if your story’s got the juice it needs.  But I guess that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about, isn’t it?  Now you’ve got something to show off and work with.  And with any luck, something good will come of it.  Whether it’s just for practice, putting your ideas onto a computer screen, or just plain preparing your magnum opus, you’ve got the chance to do something fantastic.

I’ve got high hopes for you out there.  I wouldn’t be the Eternal Optimist if I didn’t.

And with all that in mind, I should probably be honest.  See, I’ve got this file.  I don’t remember when I started it -- in October, maybe -- but I didn’t get very far.  Maybe a few thousand words.  Not even all the way through a full chapter.  Maybe not even to the halfway point.  So I thought to myself, “Hey, other people are getting into the NaNo spirit.  Maybe I should pick up that file and try to beef it up a bit.  I probably won’t get that far, but it’s worth a shot.  I want to put some real effort into it.”  So I did. 

About half an hour before November ended, I checked the word count.  And apparently, the file reached 60,206 words.  A sick palindromic number.

…JJ, you wanna take this one? 

Yeah, that happened.  I guess it’s a byproduct of my “locomotive style”.  See, I’m the type that’s a slow starter -- I stare at a blank screen for a long time, then out of frustration I might just slap down a few words.  But as time passes, I end up getting going, and the flow’s all set, and the next thing I know…well, you’ve seen my posts here on Cross-Up, right?  Imagine that, only concentrated into a single file over the course of a month.  (I’d call it a NaNo win, but I don’t think it counts unless you say “I’m doing NaNo this year!  Watch me explode!”) 

It might seem like I’ve worked myself to the bone over that little project -- especially in light of the fact that Cross-Up posts have still come in -- but I really haven’t.  If you’ll let me pull back the veil for a moment, I should probably mention that posts can be (and are, more often than you think) written days or even weeks in advance.  It’s just a matter of scheduling them via Blogger, as those of you who use the platform may know.  Likewise, my locomotive style applies to writing those posts as well; it takes me a while to get started, sure, but I’ve found that it’s surprisingly easy for me to go from one thought and one paragraph to the next, especially when A) I’m pretty much just typing out what I’m thinking, as opposed to describing things or laying the groundwork for events to come, B) I’m yammering on about games or movies and whatnot, and C) some forethought has gone into the post beforehand, so it’s even easier.  It certainly helps that the ever-illustrious video game industry makes it so easy to harp on certain topics, because they keep dive-bombing into the same problems.

So, what is this mysterious file?  Well, I’ll tell you…later on.  It’s something that’s kinda-sorta important to me, but explaining its meaning is going to take some time.  You can look forward to hearing more about it soon, though; I’m thinking about doing an end-of-year post, and that’ll inevitably get a mention. 

By extension, I’ve been thinking about putting Cross-Up on hiatus for the holidays.  I imagine that not a lot of people will be rushing to check the blogosphere anyway, so that’ll give me a bit of breathing room.  Writing posts is simple enough, but that’s not all I’ve got up my sleeve.  Thing is, what’s up my sleeve is infinitely more…well, not difficult, per se, but tedious and time-consuming, so maybe I’ll slow things down for a couple of weeks (if not shut it down entirely) to get some stuff going.  That might be the best thing I can do right now, not just for the “mysterious file”, but also because I seriously need to implement some edits into I Hraet YouSpeaking of which, have you seen the guest chapters over on Memories of a Dimanagul?  If not, get your sweet bippy over there and read them!  They’re awesomeriffic!  Check the sidebar for a link, and go read now!  GO READ NOW, FOR GLORY!

There we go.  That should give me some good karma.

In any case, you can probably look forward to a bit more content in the meantime.  I’m done with Family Guy for the next thousand years -- as indicated by the finale post, which is the closest thing to a must-read there’ll ever be on this blog -- and now I want to move on to something positive.  I’m thinking it’s about time to do some quick posts on Wii U games; at the moment, the mere existence of them is enough to put me in a good mood.   But those are stories for another day.  Or days.

So I guess that’ll do it, then.  That should be a relative signal of the blog’s trajectory for a while yet.  What’ll happen next, though?  I don’t know.  Stuff, I guess, so look forward to it.

…But man, aren’t trains awesome?  Just look at this guy.

Yeah, he knows what’s up.


  1. Well, I feel a bit less bad about myself. You pump out more material than me, but you have tons of drafts to work on behind the scenes. I'm a slow writer too, unless I focus well. Several drafts have sat in around, waiting to get beefed up before getting out. Sometimes I end up spending three hours on my fanfiction and suddenly 30 pages are born out of nothing (it's STILL not done).

    As for the supposed break you want to take, go for it. Mass producing posts per month must be tiring. And now that Family Guy is over... yeah. You need some rest. O_o

  2. Hmmm. You know, now that I think about it, writing a fanfiction must present a whole new set of challenges. In a case like mine, I'm pretty much free to do whatever I want -- but fanfics demand an adherence to the rules, nature, and ideas of the canon. The characters especially. Step too far out of line, and suddenly you've got diehard fans crying foul.

    ...I guess what I'm getting at here is that I feel no envy for those who would get in deep with fanfiction. But that said, I'm more than happy to wish you good luck. You've probably got it under control, but you never know how people might react to what you write.

    In any case, I probably should take a break. I feel like Cross-Up's in need of a bit of an overhaul, so if at all possible I'd like to see if I can work on that as well. Then again, I've been thinking about doing another post on Beyond: Two Souls; watching the Two Best Friends LP has gotten me thinking, and there is a topic in there worth gabbing about. Then again, it'd probably be another negative post; I can tell you right now that if I HAD played the full game instead of just the demo, it'd be the worst game I've played this year as well as this console generation. (Yes, worse than DmC.) So maybe I'll hold off. I don't know. We'll see.

    Side note: I see you changed your avatar. Very nice. Frankly, a part of me wants to switch over to something based on this; I'd very much like to increase my swag levels a thousand-fold.


  3. Lol, totally. Every time I see that pic, for some reason I see Yu dancing and singing to "Moves Like Jagger" and blowing Maroon 5's version out of the water. His swag is just that memetic and BA.

    "...I guess what I'm getting at here is that I feel no envy for those who would get in deep with fanfiction. But that said, I'm more than happy to wish you good luck. You've probably got it under control, but you never know how people might react to what you write."

    That's kind of why I don't have a fanfiction.net account. I only dab into it when I'm really into something, and this is the first time I've done it in YEARS. (The last time I did it, I was 13). Now, I think the [only] one I have is okay, but I constantly re-edit it and wonder how the hell I'm going to end it.

    But the one thing I've run into at times is how as much as I try to follow the "rules of canon", the characters I've tried to keep in line suddenly just escape and do their own thing. It's like they see their original selves as being too restricted to the scenes that the original creators wanted and just want to be something else in another scenario. It might be similar to the concept of characters having a mind of their own, or having them write themselves. In a way, it might not be too different from writing original stories, but only if you are comfortable enough with the fiction you're lovingly "revering".

    My P3 fanfic is arguably more light and fluffy - as in not many characters die - than its canon, but man, there are some pretty bad injuries these guys suffer. Really bad. So call it death in another form... and people are free to call foul on that.

    "Then again, I've been thinking about doing another post on Beyond: Two Souls; watching the Two Best Friends LP has gotten me thinking, and there is a topic in there worth gabbing about. Then again, it'd probably be another negative post; I can tell you right now that if I HAD played the full game instead of just the demo, it'd be the worst game I've played this year as well as this console generation. (Yes, worse than DmC.)"

    ... Oh my. I... I'm shocked. Something is worse than the game that featured a "fuck you" ping-pong contest, terrible face-rendering tech, AND the trade that made many men scream bloody murder over a scene that did not disturb a woman like me?

    I wants to see... but you need something positive in your life. O_o

  4. Thanks for the plug by the way. But you know what I learned from my successful Nano jaunt? Writing an outline helps. Set a goal. Set a standard. Stick to it. I just started with bare bones. Knew what I wanted to accomplish and gave myself word limits. I used... math.

    I know. It sounds diabolical. But just knowing when I wanted to wrap things up and knowing how long I'm allowed to have chapters be, helped immensely. I knew my ability pretty well and allowed my inner editor to swat away adverbs and passive voice like I had a shock collar on. It worked well.

    I also set my goal higher than the 50,000 word requirement. 55,000. I never intended to hit it. It was a ploy. When I finished at 52,000-ish, I couldn't help but smirk at how well I know myself.

  5. Dude, you got NaNoWriMo done?Congrats, man! I never had the courage to get that shit done, myself! Congratulations and here's to hoping this monster of a book you churned out finds a publisher!

  6. Well, I've still got a lot of work to do -- that much I can tell you right now. It'll probably take a lot of explaining as to what this "mysterious file" means (and what's in it, for that matter), but I am excited that I've taken a big step in the right direction. Well, hopefully right. Time will tell.

    But all things considered, I'm probably the one who should be thanking you. You took time off from Shapescapes to work on your stuff, and that made me realize that if I did the same -- or if not that, then at least giving some other stuff a good, hard try -- I could make some real progress towards that whole writing hero thing I keep talking about (if only because it sounds super-cool). So yeah, thanks for lighting that fire under my feet.

    I hit the 50k mark in spite of Family Guy. I'm kind of eager to see what I can do with 100% focus.

  7. On that note, I DID finish my book, did I tell you that? 94 thousand words at the final count after a year's worth of work, pretty much. Which makes this the SECOND biggest thing I've ever written that was not utter horseshit from the word go.

    Now, to find a damn publisher...

  8. Oh ho, excellent news. Here's hoping that something positively dazzling comes of your efforts. (Yeah, dazzling. I need to add that word into my rotation.)

    Go in all guns blazing. Or something to that effect.

  9. Yeah, DmC is bad, no question, but it's still better than Two Souls. At least DmC had functional, if ridiculously flawed, gameplay. And even if the story was rock-stupid, I'll gladly take rock-stupid over "makes no sense...and is also rock-stupid". And the lead character is as bad as, if not worse than Donte -- for different reasons, sure, but the fact remains.

    I might do it after the Best Friends finish their LP. In the meantime, you can indeed look forward to something positive.

    But back to fanfiction. It's tricky, I bet, but not impossible -- and the way you talk about it, it almost seems like the very things that could make it turn into a hot mess are the same things that could make it amazing. Fanfic or no, it's all about exploring those possibilities -- and if you can do something with a canon that the official work wouldn't (within reason), then maybe that could make for an even stronger product. Come to think of it, TV Tropes does seem to mention something called a "fix fic", so maybe that's a key signal of the power fans hold.

    Interesting, indeed. Perhaps one day I'll look into the world of fanfiction. The only one I'm really familiar with is Thirty Hs.

    Make of that what you will.

  10. No! Not math! It punches kittens in the face and makes grandmothers really gassy! I know it because I've seen it myself!

    With this recent "mysterious file" (sure, let's keep calling it that), I actually did try making an outline. I started plugging stuff into PowerPoint to try and chart things out, and to some extent I have a good idea of the inevitable goings-on. Except if I go back and look at that PPT, I'll probably find lots of places where I diverged from THE PLAN. It couldn't be helped; I'm a sucker for train top battles, you see.

    You should probably ignore that last bit.

    In any case, congrats on making it past the 50k mark. It's cool that you know yourself so well, especially since you know your limits -- and since you know your limits, you can surpass them. Become an even stronger man than before!

    Ah, would that I could employ my own advice. Perhaps one day soon, I too will use...math.