Monday, August 23, 2010

Timeline of a Writing Contest Entry

As I tweeted out to the Twitter group (I'm HanaMoonfire if you want to find me there!) I submitted my entry into the Blizzard Global Writing Contest for 2010. It has been a long an arduous process, which either says that I'm insane or I'm very dedicated to my fiction.

In retrospect, I thought it would be fun to see how the timeline of my writing process looked. Hint: It's not pretty.

June 23rd (60 days remain) - Blizzard announces the 2010 Global Creative Writing Contest. That afternoon I begin brainstorming and when I come home in the evening I write several possibilities for the plot.

June 24th (59 days remain) - The setting of the story changes from within Icecrown Citadel to a little earlier in the Argent Crusade's march on ICC. I begin writing. It's only two paragraphs though.

June 29th (54 days remain) - I finish the first scene, but I'm not terribly happy with it. That's okay though, because I've learned that the start of a story is generally crap until I have time to revise it.

July 5th (48 days remain) - It's a holiday and I write an entire second scene and half of a third. I realize pretty quickly that the third scene is going to have to go. It's fun and shows a lighter side of life in the Argent Crusade encampment, but doesn't serve the rest of the story.

June 17th (36 days remain) - The first major action scene (and fourth scene overall) is completed while I get my oil changed at a Jiffy Lube. I'm rather pleased I pulled it off without making paladins look silly, but I'm getting nervous because the contest is almost half over and I haven't gotten to the meat of the story.

August 3rd (19 days remain) - For one reason or another I barely write for two weeks and it's another 17 days before I complete the fifth scene. It has a dubious opening that I was not entirely able to rectify even in the final draft since there is not really any lore precedence for what happens.

August 5th (17 days remain) - Despite the impending deadline I have a burning urge to go write a particular scene that does not even belong to one of my existing writing projects. It's not even a germ of new story. It's just a scene that will have to, one day, belong to a large work that I haven't a clue about. I write the scene anyway and the characters and scene bother me for the next few days as I try to figure out what to do with them.

August 10th (12 days remain) - I return to my contest entry. I am now approaching the moment of truth. The sixth scene will be my longest and most important. It will contain the climax of the story. I know what must be done in broad strokes. This must happen, and that must happen, and then there's gotta be a big explosion. The problem is, how is the protagonist going to pull it off? I realize I don't have a clue how my finale is going to occur.

August 11th (11 days remain) - I continue working on the sixth scene. At this point I am terrified of the impending deadline. I wanted to be finished with the first draft at the beginning of August and obviously that hadn't happened. I spend almost every lunch hour at work from here out working on my draft.

August 15th (8 days remain) - The climax finally comes to me. I know what I'm going to do, how the explosion's going to happen, how the protagonist is going to escape. Looking at the day, Sunday, I realize that my overtime at work has cost me so much time. I have been working six days a week at my day job since mid-July. I am very tired and plan to ask for time off in advance of the 23rd. Not only is the 23rd the contest deadline, but the first day of a writing workshop I agreed to attend months ago.

August 16th (7 days remain) - My boss kindly agrees to let me take Thursday and Friday off in advance of my planned vacation. It's not really because of the contest, but because he realizes I need to decompress after all those six day weeks before heading to my workshop. Actual decompression might not actually happen. I run a partial raid with my guild, helping people get their Been Waiting A Long Time For This achievement before bowing out to work on my story.

August 17th (6 days remain) - As soon as I get home from work I sit down at the kitchen table and bang out the rest of the story (I always write in longhand first). The paper draft is complete. I begin typing it in and get as far as typing the first two scenes in before I go to bed. It's 2am and I still have work the next day.

August 18th (5 days remain) - I allow myself to decompress and relax for just one day. I do some revision work during lunch and make good progress. The mess hall scene in the Argent Crusade is definitely gone, but I'm not sure what to do with the opening yet. The evening I spend playing with my usual Wednesday night D&D group. The current story arc is very critical to my character so if I didn't show they might not have played.

August 19th (4 days remain) - The second draft is complete and I mail it out to five volunteers. I end up sending the story out later than I want to, but still at a respectable hour. It really helps that I had the whole day off.

August 20th (3 days remain) - Four of the readers get feedback to me before end of day. I already have plans for the third draft so I don't expect that incorporating their comments will take me as long as they do. As the hour gets late I consider throwing in the towel, but realize that if I do I won't get the story out to the Friday night group in time (different set of readers). When I finally mail out the third draft it is 3:20am.

August 21st (2 days remain) - The last Thursday reader gets back to me, and all but one of the Friday readers. I try not to stay up too late, and bow out of the raid with my guild's blessing, but then the MT disappears from the raid in the middle of the fight with only an extremely panicked "I gotta go!" in vent. I'm called in to fill the last raid spot. I finish the fourth draft and mail it out at 2am.

August 22nd (1 day remains) - I wake up earlier than I expect and I'm in a sunny mood. I read through the morning's comments from the final Friday reader and the only Saturday reader. The remaining issues are largely technical, though I clear up a few story points. I'm quite happy with the way the story has progressed. I have a final copy-editing read which involves me reading the story aloud and "performing" the dialogue to make sure everything sounds right. (It's a very good technique for finding typographical errors.) I spend a little more time polishing up the formatting and then submit the story to the contest.

I really want to thank Cursedhoof, Klepsacovic, Colarna, Puffyier, Sting, Peter, and Denis for critiquing this story for me. It was a crazy-ass ride. Now I just need to pack for my workshop.

Damn. It's almost 1am over here. I'm never getting to bed am I...


Klepsacovic said...

Remember your hyphens. Crazy-ass ride sounds like a challenge or stressful time, while a crazy ass ride sounds like uh... Yea.

Sorry, gotta toggle my mode switch. 'editor' 'whiner' 'blogger' ah here we go.

Good luck!

Hana said...

Thanks a lot, Kleps. :) I was a mix of euphoric and tired when I wrote that. It sounded fine at the time!