Novel: Accidental Distances
Posted on Dec 24th, 2018
There are several things for this to be the post of today,
NaNoE – Where to Begin
I am not necessarily good at naming things, this is “National Novel E”. The goal is to make a minimal Windows application that I can use for building my NaNo entries next year. The awesome side is it also will allow me to edit (and complete) 2018’s entry. I missed the 50k words, but that isn’t a stumbling block. Swapping back and forth between several documents is.
I’m sure you can understand what it means to plan your plot. This year was the first year I did it and I passed 37k words this year for the first time. My previous novels? 1.2k, 4.9k, and the third went to 3.4k. I’m sure you can understand how I felt, I needed to have a way to actually finish making a novel. The plus side is you would have seen a snippet of the map on my wall.
What I found was the frustration of having documents written on my PC that I had to constantly swap between, and it wasn’t easy enough to use when my exams had finished so I struggled to get back into it completely. Through the thoughts, I figured I would like a simple ‘single page’ application (more or less) that I can use for NaNo. The minimal items to include are easy to understand:
- Track word count for the book (ignore chapter headings, fluff at the start, etc)
- Track word count for whatever we add (i.e. have a paragraph helping system for example)
- Have a simple interface to map things for the plot (a list of ‘elements’ in the book, each has a list of ‘items’ we add to elements, e.g. ‘Sidd’ has the element ‘History’ which contains his backstory)
- Have a ‘plot map’ that you can create and edit (like the image above, but simpler, easier to use/edit, I’m sure you understand)
- Make it in a manner that is excessively easy to save and backup for yourself (what I chose could even be used in a Git repo for yourself, but I figure the simpler, the better)
This may seem too complicated for some people, it does have tiny complications. Keeping these in mind I started building the application and can share simplified ‘build’ notes. Essentially the next section will share what I did and how it felt (mostly).
Day 1: 18/12/2018
Initially, I tried to make a WPF application, however, it annoys me for the form design and binding, so I swapped over to a standard Windows forms APP. I made the helpers and plot areas. I figure we don’t need to split up the elements within plot/helpers. We can have descriptive names.
I tried my best to keep the UI minimal and simple, you don’t need to worry too much when using it. This is as far as it went on the first day:
It went from a blank Windows desktop app to a larger starting app. I only stopped here today as I wanted to convert “Accidental Distances” to this format from a word document. That way I can see the features working tomorrow when adding things (e.g. word counts).
I’m sure you can understand, I am slightly slower than I used to be (it also feels like that). I have had to double check everything a few times each time I wanted to keep parts of the code. I kept it simple and minimal, 454 lines of code today for me to have a minimal editor I can use for any NaNo writing I ever do again.
Tonight I am bringing Accidental Distances into this writing application. Tomorrow the first things we will make sure we add is simple and easy to understand. We will add the word counts, and hopefully sort out the save system (it won’t back itself up at the current time I’m writing this). I can tell you for free I will be watching videos and such about ‘editing’ to help me know what I should add (perhaps spell checks? perhaps words that shouldn’t be used too often?).
Day 2: 19/12/2018
Bug fix, upon bug fix, upon bug fix. That is what I did for the start today. There were certain bugs from what I did yesterday, and while I was waking up it was a good idea to double check everything. I also moved the code around into categories so it will be easier for people to contribute to in the future.
After moving things to help them to easily be found, used and adjusted, I moved over onto creating the word document. I figure we can just use minimal formatting.
The first thing I started after getting the creation of the word document complete was making a system to help editing. Currently it only has a single feature, though you will see there are tons of ‘pre-editing’ edits the app will find and suggest for us. It helps minimise any problems with editing.
I ran the first chapter through and found quite a few places that this single option for editing found. I need to stop using ‘to be’ and ‘to have’ for describing things. I was slightly slow at thinking of how the editing would be mapped. I have a simple caveat, we will need to go through absolutely every paragraph with an editing requirement currently. As you can see we can refresh the ‘Problems Above’ so we will see when the errors are minimal for ourselves.
The next factor in the development plan was to start bringing my Novel “Accidental Distances” out for the app to help with.
As you can no doubt tell, some of that isn’t actually English as you can no doubt see for yourself. I can share what I built to ‘imagine’ using an alien language that fits the plot at a later stage if anyone is interested. It wouldn’t really be a full blog post, but rather just a quick sharing of how it works, and what I did. I know there are logical flaws to it, unfortunately, I just needed to rush through completing it on 28th October to guarantee I could start the novel.
Day 3: 20/12/2018
Today I want to finish a single editing option that it needs (from the list you would see in ‘NaNoEdit.cs’). I read through tons from a few Google searches about editing for myself. Essentially, I tried my best to pick up what would make logical sense. I definitely plan to write as much of the novel as I can. I want to make sure there are minimal bugs, jot down what I need to fix or change, and actually get back to finishing this novel.
I added the editing checks for “-ing” and “-ly” words more or less. I kept it minimal and simple. I also adjusted to cater for the spacing and lines. I compiled it under 32 bit again to see if it works and thankfully it does. I can use it on my tablet easily from now on.
Things Continuing After Day3
Now I figure I will mostly be writing things into the novel for myself. Following my plot (I didn’t adjust it from the changes I made for myself in writing) I figure I would love to finish it. I will also do some editing at the end of each time I work on it. Not necessarily as much as I will need, but as we add editing requirements eventually we can improve the novel for free. I have already done a few, and my word count is starting at 34,760 as I’m about to start writing the novel some more (this is on 20/12/2018). After 2 hours I got to 36,601 words, it was way easier to write more as I could swap from writing to the plot and character way quicker. It feels good already, I wrote 1,841 words in that time, sure it isn’t as fast as I got to in the past, I just haven’t written anything quickly like the novel for nearly 4 weeks (blog posts don’t count). I won’t share more today, just what I get to on the Monday of the blog.
Some reminders for changes in the future I make:
- The spacing is weird for the size used in word currently, perhaps make it 2 spaces instead of a tab?
- There is a bug that copies Ch.7 (and others) over and over in saving/loading.
- When making a new paragraph I keep accidentally pressing “enter” a few times, there should be an easy way to go “I wasn’t finished” – like perhaps a button on the web view of the novel so far (above)
- I should eventually get through “edit” helpers and make the hunt for suggestions easier to understand (aka. double check the words are on their own and not part of another word)
- Perhaps add a flag for paragraphs so in a single session we can turn certain paragraph edits off?
The Monday of the Blog is Here
Today we will share 2 things, however, first off we would need to point out something with the editing. The editing contains quite a lot that is potentially not edits we will need. Consider what you will see for words like “often”, we should minimize the use of that word through our editing, however, a character might say “I don’t eat often.” Sure, we could still replace “often” with something else, but it might fit into the characters dialogue. So half the “edits” are more “suggestions” to improve the writing.
I fixed the chapter bug, you will see that in the repo. For the helpers and plot elements just make sure it has something helping it be different from what is in the paragraph. For example, ‘c] Sidd Fid’ won’t take out “Sidd Fid” from “Sidd Fiddlehorn”. As a side note, perhaps I should make it default to adding an extra “.” in front of every helper and plot element? Thought for all my comments and notes in this post would be appreciated!
First is the GitHub repo that has the application I built. Warning, there is a confusing mishmash of code. I have tons of things I should have changed already in the code, I just focused on making it work as perfect as I needed to finish my NaNoWriMo novel I started this year. I’m sure for starting out projects we just need to use what works fastest, then we can slowly but surely make it ‘better’ in anything we implement. When something works we can start looking at adjusting it to make it better!
Secondly, a snippet for you to read from my novel, Accidental Distances:
… This is quite intriguing, “we looked around quite a bit on the cameras on the ship when landing. I believe we saw this area right here, and it was sandy like everywhere else,” John pointed out. “We didn’t see anything else around here…”Excerpt from “Accidental Distances” – I’m the Author
“Yeah, I’m sure we did” I added, it is quite definite we are more comfortable with use for the voice
com. and I didn’t even concentrate, I pressed the button to speak, however, I did.
“We’re almost there, a few more steps,” Andrew slowed and showed us we can head in front. We should get over the top first.
I slowed as it slowly filled all I could see, way larger than I would have thought. There is definitely a supposed spaceship right here in front, “my word, there’s actually a…”
John finished my sentence “alien spacecraft here.”
As the whole ship came into view I stopped walking. My jaw had dropped, it was amazing. I could have seen several things which are similar to this in a computer game I played in my past, a glass cockpit in between 3 arms jutted out like sharp teeth.
While I look back at this though, it has high similarity to the spacecraft I have seen in the games I once played, however, I couldn’t comprehend the differences. The smooth body doesn’t even seem to show its size at all. The whole ship looked the same dark grey.
“Come on, we don’t have all day to wait for you,” Andrew had come back. They were quite a bit closer before he saw I wasn’t following the party, I stood there bewildered.
“Sorry,” my eyes must have shown it completely, “this is literally an alien spacecraft.” …
Hopefully, this will pique people’s interest. As a note, this may be edited slightly more before release, I just edited it with the minimal suggestions for this post. On the 20th till the 23rd I also did some editing, sticking to the editing helpers I made on the 19th and 20th.
There are tons of things I need to add, and fix bugs in. I would love for people to take a look at it, I would like to improve it before 2019 NaNoWriMo since I have an idea for how the story will go (as in, there will be a
From writing quite a lot for a change for Nano this year I was feeling bad that I stopped before I was finished. It happened to be a perfect challenge. Build something with minimal features, have it work perfectly on my old tablet, and keep track of the average words count.
I must point out the fact that my tablet had very minimal capabilities in terms of the software I can get working on it. Having a minimal novel editor that works on it is awesome. What I chose to do now is spend an hour a day on writing, then every second day odd I spent a while editing. My word count increase has been a decent number (more than 2k words in an hour usually, where to do the 50k words I need to guarantee 1.6k a day odd). It is fabulous that I can now take my tablet far out the city with me and write for the novel. I will definitely do Nanowrimo in 2019, plus I already have plans for the plot and can easily map it for myself.
This weekends word count: 36661 -> 41536 (before I edited the snippet above). It still isn’t on the distant planet in the plot, it will definitely be there by the end of the week. This story shares that us as humans could also be alien invaders, I just keep book 1 to the minimal conflict, since in this case, the second book would, unfortunately, bring danger.
I am never good at making things look very pretty, so I would love input on how it looks. If features need to be adjusted and/or added be sure to let me know. As you can no doubt tell, I found the novel I’m enjoying writing and will finish it. Implementing the editing helpers that suggest what we should look at has been making me use better wording in how I talk. Slowly but surely, it is beginning to be reliable in my everyday speech.