Nanowrimo 2017 and beyond

Posted by Chris Rosser on Sat 02 December 2017
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Nanowrimo 2017 Winner
Nanowrimo 2017 Winner

Another Nanowrimo under my belt and this feels like the best one since 2014. First Byte was a completely new project — a mix of the thriller and romance genres set in modern-day Chicago — a city I visited in 2010. I reached 50 thousands words by the 25th and finished with just under 55 thousand.

Completing Nanowrimo is only the first step in what will be a long and laborious process. I must finish the first draft and have given myself until the 23rd of December to do so. I'm aiming for 80 to 85 thousand words, which puts it in the ball park of a typical thriller/romance novel.

Once the first draft is complete, it will go through an exhaustive period of reviews (by alpha and beta readers), revision and editorial. Despite that, I'm confident I will publish it next year and it may in fact be the first book I publish.

Writing a shorter book it seems is not without its advantages. At 85 thousands it is significantly shorter than my fantasy novel, Weaver of Dreams and so the turn around is much quicker. It will also be significantly cheaper to get professionally edited.

Another thing I'm looking forward to is commissioning a cover and will likely start that process in the new year.

How I Tackled Nanowrimo 2017

At the start of October, when I announced my new Nanowrimo project, First Byte, I noted that I was thinking about using Ulysses to write the project. Its developer, German company The Soulmen, announced a generous two-month trial period which I thought would give me plenty of time to evaluate it for long-form fiction.

I lasted maybe one day with it.

I spent several hours setting up my project, using a structure inspired by Matt Gemmell's post and my response to him. Here's a screen shot.

First Byte Ulysses Project Structure
First Byte Ulysses Project Structure

Structurally, there's nothing wrong with this. I experimented with re-creating my character and location sheet templates in Ulysses and they looked fine (though Ulysses doesn’t seem to the concept of creating new sheets from templates). I even managed to get over the oddness of not having a concept of a synopsis by using the passthrough block in the file header. For example:

%% This is how I added a synopsis in a Ulysses sheet. 
%% It’s visible in the groups view.

However, the dealbreaker was no built-in outliner. Honestly, Scrivener’s outliner is fundamental to the way I work, not having it felt like the metaphorical hand tied behind my back. With Scrivener’s outliner, I can instantly see my project at bird’s eye view, complete with meta-data — another feature I use extensively, which Ulysses does not have.

Here’s the view of First Byte in outline mode:

First Byte Project Outline in Scrivener.
First Byte Project Outline in Scrivener

So I went back to Scrivener and wrote my Nanowrimo project in the beta of Scrivener 3 and Scrivener for iOS when I out of the house.

Blog and Newsletter

With Nanowrimo finished, I can also return to my blog and newsletter. I have been planning and writing several posts (including a full review) concerning the recently released Scrivener 3. Scrivener's release mid-way through November meant I wasn’t able to publish it on release like I originally planned. However, since I used it throughout Nanowrimo, I’ve got a great sense of the product and hopefully that will be reflected in the review when I get around to finishing it.

Both the newsletter and this website are getting an overhaul. I’ve already started with the newsletter — I’ve migrated to Mailchimp and will shift from a weekly to monthly schedule. You can sign up on my Newsletter page.

A longer-term project is a full-redesign of my website. More news on that, including previews, will come in future posts.

Anyway, I must get back to it. I’ve got 30 thousand words to write to finish the draft!

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