Category Archives: Writing

NaNo Update and Other Ramblings About Writing Goals

My NaNo novel is going better, so far, than any of the previous attempts. I’m over 12,000 words, and I know, sorta, where it’s going. I previously never made it much past 5000, and I never had an outline before, not that the one I have is much of one. But any outline seems to be better than none for trying to mash out 50,000 words in a month.

Of course, at 12,000 words, I’m not on target anymore. I’ve essentially only averaged about 1,000 a day, which is far short of what I need to win NaNo. I’ve got to hit 2111 words a day, now, to win, and I don’t know if I can manage it. It was hard just getting 2000 yesterday. I just have too many projects going, and suffering through a cold for the last week hasn’t helped at all. I’ll have to see if I can pop some extra words out this weekend, but we’ve got projects to get completed around the house, too, so I don’t know how much uninterrupted time I can squeeze out.

I’m satisfied, though, with my progress. Even if I don’t win NaNo, I’ll finish the draft of this novel, as it will still count toward my goal for the next year (yes, I worked out my 2010 goals early) of getting three novels drafted.

“Huh, what?” you say.

I’ve come to the obvious conclusion that, if I want to get better at writing, I need to write. And I think I need to write a great deal, so I’ve set a goal of drafting three novels by the end of 2010. They’re going to be written as practice, with no intention of trying to get them published through a traditional publisher. I may even make them available here, in some fashion, if they aren’t total trash. A friend of mine, back in 2006, did a project he called A Short Story A Day, and this will sort of be my novel version of that project. I’m not about to post as I go along like he did. I’m not that comfortable with my fiction yet, but I may post them as I edit them. We’ll see.

NaNoWriMo – 6.5 Hours To Go and StoryBox 0.0.44

I’ve tried to spend the day working up my plot and my characters for my NaNoWriMo attempt, but I kept finding things in StoryBox I wanted to change immediately. I really need to not try to write on the same computer where I develop StoryBox. I did manage, however, to come up with an idea, a half a dozen or more scene descriptions to start the novel, and a description of the final scene, as well as short descriptions of the essential characters. There’s still a lot of work to do, but what I’ve got should get me through the first couple of days. I’ll try to make sure I stay a step or two ahead on the scene descriptions as I go, and I may even get more done this evening as I watch Monster House with my kids.

My main worry, now, about NaNo, is that I’ll spend the time I’m supposed to be writing on tweaking StoryBox. For example, todays effort netted a Recent Projects list under the file menu, tweaks to the Black theme for checkboxes, a Dated Entry option (for doing things like keeping a journal inside of the Box of Notes folder), and the moving of relavent document types to the top of the File Drawer context menu (so if you right click on the character folder, “New Character” will be at the top of the context menu).

Enjoy your Halloween and good luck with NaNoWriMo, if you’re participating. I’ve set a goal this year to complete it, and I mean to. No more 5000 word attempts for me. Mark crosses his fingers, shuts his eyes and says this over and over until he thinks he believes it!

StoryBox 0.0.43

I added two things for this build. A global line spacing setting that changes the line spacing across ALL documents. I will be adding other, more localized options at a later date. I’ve already started the work, but there are some weird issues I’m having to deal with. I also added basic bullets and numbering, accessible from the context menu (put the caret where you’d like to put the bullet, and right click on the text). Again, I will be adding more formatting options as time goes on.

I would have waited to put this build out to provide more options, but I thought, with NaNo coming up, I wanted to at least get these out for people to use on Nov. 1. Which reminds me.

I will probably not be working on StoryBox the next two days, as I’m going to try to take tomorrow (as much of it as I can) to prepare for NaNo, and then on Nov. 1, I’m going to try to get a really big head start. But if something comes up that’s really crazy, send the bug report and I’ll do my best to fix it right away.

Remember – back up your projects nightly, just to be on the safe side.

Some Updates On StoryBox and Other Things

I just uploaded version 0.3.6 of StoryBox, with a new “Preveiw” mode so you can see how any portion of your story will look when all it’s parts are combined. It also fixes some scrollbar issues, and a couple other things.

Also, after a year and ten months of off and on reading, I finally finished Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, and it was worth the effort in the end. But man, those first couple hundred pages are hard to get into. Too many disparate things going on for my simple mind. I always have problems with novels that start out with a large number of POV characters. Keep me with one for a few chapters, give me some background on the world, then switch. At the very least, do that in the first book.

StoryBox Somewhat Weekly #5

So late on this update. Been far too busy with the contract work. It’s getting close to the end of the project, and the time frame for it is getting tight, so it’s taking more and more of my time.

In any case, I’ve just uploaded Version 0.0.30 of StoryBox, with some changes and fixes to support some of the people that have actually started to check it out. The usual crashes and things to be expected when first real users get their hands on it, and some other insights, too. It’s really nice to be getting some feedback.

Most of it is coming via the “bug” button on the UI, which is probably the quickest way to tell me what’s wrong. It’s making it easy on my side to keep track of things.

If you haven’t already, check it out on the StoryBox Downloads page. You can see everything I’ve fixed, added and changed as well as the frequency of the updates.

I just hope I don’t spend so much time working on it that I don’t have time for NaNoWriMo (which I’m very intent on winning this year).

StoryBox

In my “copious” spare time, I’ve been working on this little app designed for writers of novels. It’s more than loosely based on Scrivener, which I’ve come to love, and would use without spending the time to write my own were it not for one thing. Scrivener is only available on OS X. Yes, I have OS X, but it’s only on one machine, a MacBook Pro (which I love), and I can’t use it on any of my others like my desktop with the nice keyboard and comfy chair, or my tiny little Toshiba Netbook.

I tried out several other programs on the PC, none of which were for me. Liquid Binder is nice looking, but convoluted and not really suited to the way I want to work. yWriter seems OK, but it’s not oriented around the manuscript that you are writing. The manuscript window has no more importance than any of the other tabs, and it sits at the bottom of the window and is uncomfortable to work in. The other software I’ve found has also been unsuitable, for other reasons – restrictive workflow, clunky interfaces, and just plain ugly.

So, I started work on StoryBox, and I’ve been far too obsessed with it for my own good. At some point, I will make StoryBox available to the rest of the world at a fair price. I would be tempted to make it “donation” ware so that I’m not enjoined to update it all the time, but for the fact that, in order to make it behave the way I wanted and to have certain up to date UI features, I’ve had to purchase some third party components, and they’re not cheap, and I’m not likely to use them for any other project.

I have NO idea how many people are looking for this product, though I know there are at least a few. I’m mostly making this for me, and I’m not trying to clone Scrivener exactly. Scrivener just happens to have a workflow, or at least, allows a workflow, that is very close to the way I want to write, and I’m really just building StoryBox so that it allows my workflow.

I hope to have a beta before NaNoWriMo in November, but we’ll see how that goes. Right now, you can enter text into it, you can import an existing novel if it’s in plain text format (with some basic tags for chapter and scene breaks), but you can’t get text back out of it. 🙂 It’s got a full screen edit mode, and a synopsis and notes for each document. It counts words as your typing, but it doesn’t yet keep track of words across the whole project. There’s lots of work left to do.

Storybox Screenshot