Tag Archives: Writing

Four thousand words a day challenge: day fifteen


That’s it: I’m done. A shade under 70,000 words and must say I’m rather pleased with the results. Of course what anybody else thinks is moot.

The next day or so is scheduled for day job and picking through for errors. Still finding the odd typo and sentence needing a swift dusting, but overall it’s not bad for such a quick piece of work. Slightly under fifty thousand coherent words in two weeks. Wow.

Looking back, I might have done it quicker had I not been dealing with the day job and all the sundry discombobulations of the day to day. On the other hand maybe not. On the final section I had over four thousand words done by one in the afternoon after starting at quarter to seven. Nothing spectacular, just solid, head down keypad pounding. Everything was mapped out in my head, and all I had to do was pour it out. Today is final edit and format re the submission guidelines.

Tomorrow I’ll log on to the Harper Vector link and fire it off. If nothing comes back at me I will be a bit teed off for having put in so much effort but what’s the worst thing they can do, apart from say no? For myself I’m going to back up, put the keyboard into a locked box for a week and go fishing with a hip flask of whiskey in my back pocket. Do some heavy duty thinking about where the second in the series is going to take off from. Whatever happens, Paul Calvin is going to move on.

Four thousand words a day challenge: Day fourteen


Yesterday was a retrench and correction day. Tidying up and adding in, tying up loose ends over the whole manuscript so there are no bits a reader can point triumphantly to, shouting “You missed a bit.” The end is in sight after two long weeks, and the only writing tasks in front of me are one small conversation with a minor character and the grand finale.

Then it will be finished; the story of a slightly neurotic (Well wouldn’t you be if you saw peoples emotions as coloured mists, could hear their every thought, and talk to the recently dead?) Telempathic mid 21st century detective, and how he helps save London, but not his marriage. Paul Calvin lives in a world not too much unlike today with very similar social problems, but faced with a technology that threatens the very sanctity of individual human uniqueness. The story has a number of possible taglines. My current favourite being;

“The living shouldn’t try to talk to the dead. We say too much and know too little.

To work; I know what I have to do, and how I have to do it. Three more days and I’m hoping Harper Vector don’t change their minds about opening the submission floodgates.

Working title for this first in the Cerberus series of novels is “Heads of the beast” The reasoning behind the title will be obvious to the observant reader.

Update: I think I’ve finished. The story has run its course and has come to a natural conclusion at a shade under 70,000 words. 69715 Including heading. Finished main first draft at 3:18 PST today. Ever since then I’ve been reading and revising. Still finding the odd typo, but in the main it all makes sense, and I’m quite taken with some of my creations. My particular favourite is ex Police Sergeant Megan Cardhew, invalided out of the Police Service after suffering brain damage. She has some of the best lines in the whole MSS, and I find myself liking her as a person. Even though the only place she exists is on the pages of my manuscript. Perhaps because she reminds me of some of the less politically correct people I’ve known in my life. She’s so delightfully up front and uncomplicated, and being slightly demented, she gets away with saying some quite ribald things to Paul. However, she is a key character because she helps him develop.

I’ll keep chipping away over the next day or so to see if there’s anything I want to add, subtract or multiply from this version, but to be honest I’m very pleased with it. I know the average length of a novel is traditionally between 80-100,000 words, but if I add any more I think it will spoil the story. So 70,000 it is.

Four thousand words a day challenge: day thirteen


I’m slowing a little at present, and yesterdays output on Cerberus was down to just over 3400 words. However; the ending is all mapped out and the next three days will see me galloping for the finish line at full tilt. I may even pass the six thousand per day mark. That means being at my keyboard solidly from six am to midnight for two days at least. This is not a problem for me, as my next day job shift is on Sunday.

Today I’m backtracking over the rest of the current 64,000 words and reviewing some of the less well constructed paragraphs. Tasks include adding in detail and correcting the most glaring errors. Smoothing the flow where it feels clumsy and contrived, and generally clarifying POV’s. At this stage of the game I’m confident of completing on time.

My only current distractions are my Wife’s few mildly challenged clients and the bleeping of the answerphone. My answer to that is to crank up the music and stick on some headphones. The words must flow.

Four thousand word a day challenge: day eleven


Still playing catch up with Cerberus after the near disastrous ‘stutter’ the other day when output dipped to just over 2300. However, I’ve picked up the pace, and through sheer force of will and pig ignorance have boosted my work rate to back over 4000 words a day since then. This includes what I’m beginning to call the great typo hunt, because as I get tired my fingers stumble over the old Qwerty and leave some weird and wonderful combinations of letters hidden within each chapter. First task of each day is proofing the previous days output to try and fix the most garish errors.

Still; Yesterday I began at 55640, finished at 59971, which gave a daily total of 4331, and a running average back up at a shade over 3963 words per day. This is including doing day job shifts which are a little longer than evenings and weekends, and therefore shave an extra hour or so off prime keyboard time.

Story is shifting towards the final section, where my hero confronts some of his worst fears and overcomes them. Trying to keep any possible readers guessing by throwing in the odd clue, but keeping the narrative cracking along. Four days to go before I pitch into story edit and checking prior to formatting for submission to Harper Vector. After that I’m going to sleep for a week.

Kenn Joubert, a neighbour of mine who writes historical novels, has asked me if I’ll keep him company to the evening sales event at the Surrey International Book fair 20th October. Just so we can get some product out there in the flesh and blood marketplace. I’ve emailed to register, and am waiting for a reply. Have also tried to register for Fan Expo in April 2013, but no word on that yet.

Four thousand words a day challenge: day ten


Cerberus has stuttered a little, and I’m concerned that the main narrative thread has veered off in the wrong direction, although the main denouement is still firmly in my narrative sights. However, Word count for yesterday was Start: 51389, Finish: 55640, daily total; 4251. Average has dropped sharply to just over 3900 and I’m feeling very tired. Doing 4000 words a day and holding down my day job is proving very difficult. That said; nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and I’m actually looking forward to finishing and then going to sleep for a full twenty four or forty eight hours. Five more days. Have I hit the ‘wall’? The part where you’re just so bloody tired you pick up the pace and carry on anyway?

This whole 4000 thing is beginning to feel like Hubris. The pride that challenges the Gods, and I’m beginning to hate myself for walking into it with both eyes wide shut.

Four thousand word a day challenge: day eight and nine


Yesterday was a bit of a disappointment. For some reason I really had trouble getting the story moving, and ended up 1700 words short of target with a measly 2300 on my scorecard.

Now here I am at a quarter to six in the morning, up since quarter past four and I’m back on form. Just me and the laptop, the stars in the sky and barely a ghost of light over Vancouver. 700 words so far, and moving on at speed. Mojo again working my is.

Day shift on the day job today, which cuts down available writing time, and I’ve got a hell of a lot of ground to make up. But the good news is that I’ve got a cracking dénouement worked out in my head. An all action blood and guts cliffhanger and life or death struggle, Well I like it anyway.

The first Cerberus will be ready on time and it will be bloody good. I just hope it’s what Harper Vector are looking for.

Four thousand word a day challenge; day seven


This is bloody hard work, and I’m flagging a bit. Still, the scores on the doors are;
Start: 44841
Finish: 49010
Total words for the day: 4169
Seven day average: 4096 words a day.

All this and a day job too. Seven more days to run before I have to start proofing and reviewing for submission on the 1st or 2nd of October. Five of which will be split between employer and Cerberus.

The story so far is good, with my hero about to go and play directly with the big boys. Am only hinting at who the villains might be so far, as there are three possible endings I want to try out. All three of which are partial cliffhangers for the next in the series, which I am going to have at least a weeks rest before even thinking about attacking. I might take a fresh look at the ‘Darkness’ MSS. There’s another marathon to run if it’s to be ready for launch in late April.

Four thousand word a day challenge; day six


Cerberus Conspiracy MSS progress

Start word count: 40648
Finish: 44841
Daily total: 4193
Total over six days: 24503
Average over 6 days: 4083.33 words per day. Comfortably on track and feeling fairly pleased with my output so far. As Angie puts it, I’m ‘in the zone’ with nine days to go before denouement followed by final edit and proof checking before submission.

Short interlude piece before the ramifications of the last chapter begin to play out, and I’ve tossed the odd clue as to the identity of the true villains into the mix. Just a hint, but enough for the diligent reader to connect one specific thread. Doesn’t pay to give the game away too early.

Have thrown in a few good lines for one of my female characters which should have any female reader thinking “Uh-huh.” and having a good giggle. Angie thought one specific saying was absolutely hilarious. She’s told me to watch out as it may come back to bite me. No doubt she will be proved correct.

That’s enough for tonight. We’ve done everything we set out to do today and then some. I’m good and tired enough to sleep soundly tonight. Working late shift tomorrow, so that leaves me the best part of the day to ratchet the story forward another couple of notches.

Murders most foul


Have just been writing a passage for Cerberus which gives any reader a chilling little insight into the perpetrators of a specific killing, and as such have had tremendous fun writing it. What that says about me as a person I’m not sure, but it can’t be all good. Still, I can see why people get off on reading the salacious details of a murder case. It seems to tap into something vicarious and cruel in the human soul. It even gives me the creeps, and I thought I was all creeped out many years ago after reading several illustrated manuals on forensic medicine and criminal psychology found by one of my then classmates.

Glad my version is fiction.

2401 words so far this morning, and I’m sitting in Nanaimo Waterfront Library typing this, listening to the Very Best of Billy Joel on my headphones. Aren’t laptops a boon to the time strapped wannabe novelist? Another forty five minutes and I have to go and pick Angie up from a do she has to attend. Then off to Coombs.

Four thousand word a day challenge: Day five


Start: 37018
finish:40576
Total: 3558
Total over 5 days: 20238
Average: 4047.6 per day. Still on target.

Today has seen my hero extending his abilities and being recalled to try and solve two new murders. I had to scrap 1000 words today, as quite frankly they weren’t up to snuff. The rest is good steady narrative. Cerberus is on track for the 80,000 word target. After submission I’m taking the week off from the keyboard.

Will try and get an earlier start tomorrow, as I’m off to the ‘Goats on the roof’ market at Coombs on what I call a ‘Cheese run’.

Four thousand words a day challenge; day four


Start: 33250
Finish: 37018
Total: 3768 words, 232 short of daily target. Average 4170 and on track for 80,000 word target by October 1st. This includes research, fact checking, and editing for grammatical and spelling errors.

Not bad considering. Have just ratcheted the first Cerberus story on to the next phase with a bizarre and ritualistic double murder. One my hero has to come back from exile and not quite solve. Because there are some things beyond even his abilities.

Am resisting the temptation to read the newspapers, because bad news always takes my mind off what I should be doing; i.e. writing.

Four thousand word a day challenge; day three


Late shift this evening, but I’ve been at Cerberus hammer and tongs today. The story is moving on, and I’ve spent a little time on an interlude for serious character development.

Beginning word count 28167
End session word count 32499

Close of play 4332 words
Averaging just over 4000 words per day excluding headings and formatting. Might have trouble keeping up the pace tomorrow as I have errands to run, but a break will give me time to think about how I link in the next story elements.

Update: Added a few more paragraphs after this evenings work shift. Final word count 33250. Total for the day; 5083. Birthdays and errands tomorrow, so I’ll be lucky if I make 3000 words. Time for bed.

The four thousand word a day challenge; day two


Fell short of the four thousand word mark today at 3617. Close, but no cigar. Yesterday was 4212, so that averages out at a shade over 3900 words, excluding headings so far. However, the story is at a natural break part of the narrative with a nicely barbed narrative hook baited.

Tomorrow I move on to the next phase of the story which is mostly in note form, so cracking the 4000 might be a little easier.

Cerberus is taking shape nicely.

The four thousand word a day challenge: day one


Harper Vector are opening their books to new authors without agents for two weeks from the 1st to the 14th of October 2012. They are looking for new science fiction and fantasy authors for an assault on the eBook marketplace. I have a novel I’d like to submit, but the problem is it’s all notes and fragments, and there’s two weeks to go before the submission floodgates open.

No agent has seen fit to respond to my many missives about other work over the years, and I’m pretty sure my work has gone unread and straight into the shredder. No agent, and no publisher will even look at your work. Not even into their slush piles. However, there is a window of opportunity here, and I’m going for it. At a target of four thousand words a day starting yesterday.

Word count for the first novel in the Cerberus series started at 20338 16th September. Current word count 25982 Tuesday 18th September 08:40am Pacific Standard Time. 1500 pretty good words since 6:10am this morning. Another thousand before 10am when I go off to the day job, and another 1500 after I get home around 6pm. Add in cooking breakfasts, making tea and suppers for both Angie and I, cleaning kitchen, brushing dog, and acting as Angie’s home tech support, plus watching a movie with her, and I have a full day. Tonight’s movie fare will be the Bourne Supremacy.

I have to keep up this work rate for fourteen whole days. I’m currently out of my office and working in the kitchen almost full time. Which seems to work. Back in 1987 I put together a 40,000 word novella, ‘Machine’ from scratch in thirty days using an old Imperial Safari. So work rate isn’t a problem. Hodder and Stoughton did ask me about writing a series back then, but I felt the character of the ‘Machine’ didn’t have enough in him to justify extending the franchise. I still have the old MSS, and revisit it from time to time. Just to see if I can pick holes in it. Oddly enough, that was written in a kitchen too.

Right. 9am. Break over. Back to work.

The hardest part of bringing characters to light and bolting them into a riveting story is the opening and closing sequences. Those I have. The rest of the story is mostly a detective whodunnit with some serious sci-fi roots. I’ve also managed to get a handle on who Paul Calvin is. A psychic cop with a conscience in a crumbling society, but that is all I’m giving away on this blog.