Friday, November 30, 2012


Time for one last progress report...

Day Twenty Two

Tired, I have cheated the word count a bit – there is no room for the apostrophe in NaNoLand. Also went back to a secondary character for a different perspective on things.

Day Twenty Three 

Managed to drag myself up to 38k by 2am. Most of it was decent story, although I am a bit concerned now that Matthew Smith, my eponymous hero, is the most completely two dimensional of all my characters.

Day Twenty Four 

The Travelling Shovel of Death turned up today, which was nice. So did Yosemite Sam, which was odd. Still, somehow managed to power through and get back on track by about 1.30am.

Day Twenty Five 

Powered through 2000 words today, getting myself ahead of the curve for the first time. Still lots of ideas coming, and still just as many things that are going to have to be taken out in the edit…

Day Twenty Six 

Another 2000 word day, creeping ahead now in the hope of finishing a bit early. The home stretch is always easiest, although I still have no idea how to get to the climax, and there’s a whole bunch of good stuff that hasn’t been used properly!

Day Twenty Seven 

Almost a day ahead at the close of today; did a good bit a Shovel of Death carnage during today’s write, and brought the heroes together in preparation for the final battle…

Day Twenty Eight 

Deliberately a short day today, because I knew if I started the final approach to the climax I would just want to finish it…. Wrote about 1100 words and left the rest for a final charge tomorrow night.

Day Twenty Nine

So far 2200 words written tonight, the big final showdown is about to commence…. Aiming to get past the 50,000 words mark tonight, whether that means ending the story or not remains to be seen…

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Tunes - The Ballad of Matthew Smith: First Draft Soundtrack

The soundtrack to the book has been slowly developing as I’ve been writing; some of the tracks are things I've listened to while writing, others tracks that just sprung into mind at particular points.

The tracklist is more or less in the order events happen in the current draft, which is to say not even close to the final order. It’s a fairly electic mix too: there’s some Blur, Blondie, the Beastie Boys and the B-52s, and a bunch of artists who don’t begin with a B, as well as several versions of the Blue Danube Waltz, Moonlight Sonata and If I Were A Rich Man.

And by this point, you’ve either got the idea, or you never will.

Either way, here's the Official Soundtrack in all its first draft glory:

Friday, November 23, 2012


Time for a progress report:

Day Fifteen
Terribly slow day today, really was not in the zone.  

Day Sixteen

Managed somehow to get back into the swing of things and almost got back up to target. Decided to adopt a character (Grandfather Adamantly Normal) from the NaNo boards because he was not doing anything else at the time, so working my way towards meeting him.  

Day Seventeen
Powered through some serious wordage today, starting to make up for lost time.  

Day Eighteen
Put some time into reordering some chapters (yes, I know that probably counts as editing, but the whole thing was such a mess before!) in order to get a proper feel for where the story had been so far, where the main characters were, and what they should do next. It obviously worked too, as I had another power day.

Day Nineteen
The introduction of Grandfather Adamantly Normal today led to a very strange – but fortuitous – occurrence: Matthew Smith turned out to be his own grandfather. How this has come about, and what philosophical meanderings the story can go on as they figure it out, I have no idea. But it was one of those things that came out of the blue, and knocked the story off onto a whole new direction.  

Day Twenty
Not quite in the mood still… got the daily words down, but not feeling most of them. Quite a bit was cheating quoting from external sources, if I am honest.  

Day Twenty One
Got to a good bit today, a bit that I have been playing with in my mind for a while, and finally reached the right point in the story to share it. Wrote 1940 words – still behind target, but gaining ground again now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Time for a progress report:

Day Eight

Think I'm out of the slump; some good story bits today but I did cheat a little and paste a recipe for rabbit stew into the text.

Day Nine

Hard going again, partly because I was half asleep writing.... another 1667 day, by sheer fluke.

Day Ten

Did not get the chance to make good use of Saturday (unless you count catching up on ten days of washing up). Really need to get a good amount of time to put the various scenes I have written into a sensible order, and those I've subsequently retconned out of the timline need end with 'And then he woke up to find it was all a dream and he was still back where we left him at the end of Chapter Two'.

Day Eleven

A quick visit to the adoptables thread and discovering the NaNoWriMo tradition of including a Mr Ian Woon in the story made this evening's session a breeze - I actually wrote some good stuff that probably won't be deleted in the re-writes.

Day Twelve

I have resigned myself to the fact that this story is determined to be a Jet Set Willy fanfic. I had originally planned something a little more in the way of a subtle homage, but the story has lent itself better to being more full-on. So today I embraced that, and gave Willy some more back story, because that was easy word count and I was under the weather.

Day Thirteen

After a little light plundering of the adoptables threads on the NaNo forums, I got inspired again today, and got some good writing and some solid story down. Word count still not quite as epic as it could be, but keeping in line with the curve.

Day Fourteen

Mostly continuing on from yesterday, and some notes for a good scene with a boat and lots of cookers that came out of a real life conversation... I may be writing that next :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Red Dwarf X: The Beginning

You know the drill by now... this will be spoilerific, so go away if you haven't seen it yet.

And I'll keep it brief, because there's important novelling to be done. I think the most important thing to be said here is that if they never make another episode of Red Dwarf (although all concerned have amply proven they can still do just as good a job as the beeb ever did), at least now it will have ended on a good note.

'The Beginning' was not the non-stop gag fest that 'Trojan' was, although it had more than a few laughs, but it was a superb bit of science fiction in its own way, what with simulant Death Ships looking all 'deathy' and some nice little nods to Star Wars and to earlier Red Dwarf - the first oblique reference to the ending of series eight, and right back to episode one, 'The End'.

Anyway, while all this Death Ship malarky is going on, Rimmer finally decides to play a holographic message from his father, who (massive spoiler) turns out not to be.

And that's when everything changes. Rimmer stops feeling like he has failed his father, stops trying to impress his father by being someone he obviously wasn't meant to be. He realises his father was somebody else, somebody who had entirely different expectations of him and would have been proud of who Arnold Rimmer actually was.

Isn't that what we all need sometimes, to realise who our Father really is, and to think about what He wants and expects from us, how He feels about us even when those around us seem to think we are worthless? Once we know who our Father is, we can begin to get a sense of who we are - and once we start trying to be that person, instead of whoever we think other people want us to be, that's when we can make a difference to the world around us.

And so, armed with a new found sense of self-worth, Arnold Rimmer finally sucks it up, grows a pair and acts like the senior officer on board, managing to save the day in what I at least thought was quite a fun sci-fi way.

And since fun sci-fi is what Red Dwarf has always been about, there could hardly be a better way to end the series. A very satisfying climax to what has, overall, been a return to form for Red Dwarf.

Friday, November 09, 2012


In case anyone's interested, this is how the progress has been so far:

Day One

Had no idea where to start. I knew I had to get Matthew Smith into the world of my story, but I didn't even know whether that world was real, virtual, a dream, or something else, so how to do that? I picked a good openeing line and went from there... I'll figure the opening out one I know what the story is about. Got to exactly 1667, but straddled midnight so my tracker showed yellow.

Day Two

Struggling on, still no idea where the story is going, and really wishing I hadn't decided to wing it like this! Pantsing is not for me. Squeaked over the 1667 in the early hours again.

Day Three

A bad wordcount day, the first day I didn't make the magic number (unless you count the end of day two's writing). Horrible day all round.

Day Four

A few mini word wars helped get the word count up again, and somewhere along the line I started to figure out who my characters were, what the story was... and felt good about it again! Put some serious retcon in, but that can be fixed later.

Day Five

Wrote from the bad guy's point of view today, to give the muse something new to play with. Seemed to work, got some good back story and some funny bits, and more pieces falling into place.

Day Six

Bit of a slump, didn't do much beyond some elaborated character profile and back story. Slave to the word count at the moment.

Day Seven

Would like to be able to slow down and write some of these bits better, but if I slip behind on the word count I'll get disheartened and give up entirely. Todays wordcount was mainly describing the setting a little more, stuff I can work into a context later.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Tuesday Tunes: Red Dwarf Top Ten

As this blog has been on something of a Red Dwarf theme lately, it was kind of inevitable, wasn’t it, that we would get here: The Top Ten Red Dwarf Songs.

10. Vincent Gene – Cat Man
Who knew it was going to start off all rockabilly?

9. Psychonaut – Starbug
I couldn’t not have a tune about Starbug, even if this one is rather longer than strictly necessary. It does change a little in the second half, but you know, just skip ahead when you get the idea.

8. Marc Gunn - The Mining Ship The Red Dwarf
OK, they get the name of the ship slightly wrong, but its an Irish drinking song about the Cat. How can you not love that?

7: Born to Hula – Red Dwarf
Actually has nothing to do with Red Dwarf, but sounds very cool.

6: Disasterpeace – Kitty Cat and Spacey Man
Sounds like it should be the tune from the Mega Drive game of Red Dwarf. Heck, it might be, for all the research I did!

5: Republica – Holly
Indie dance rock tribute to Norman Lovett. Probably.

4: Altered Images – I Could Be Happy
The relevance of this song will not need explaining to Red Dwarf fans, of course.

3: Missing Andy – Dave
We haven’t had a song about Lister yet, so he can have this one. It’s kinda fun, but messes with his backstory a bit…

2: Tom Songs – A Rimmer
This one actually is about that A Rimmer. And it’s pretty good too!

1: Ccada Luge – Red Dwarf
Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun. The coolest version of the theme tune I could Spotify at short notice.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Red Dwarf X: Dear Dave

I'm briefly interrupting my NaNo writing to continue the mini-series of Red Dwarf reviews, mainly because this isn't going to take very long.

Dear Dave was not a bad episode, but it didn't have a lot of structure or depth to it. It had a few nice comedy moments, and had the feel of a much earlier episode, Lister being all melancholy about being the last human, Kryten and Cat failing epically to console him while Rimmer is just... Rimmer.

But the trouble was, all the various plot points (such as it could be called a plot) were things that had been done before in earlier episodes. To give realism its due, in 20-odd years with the same three smegheads, conversations are going to be repeated occasionally. Still, taking bits of old storyline and gluing them together with some new jokes didn't really work; the episode needed something a little more meaty than a letter from Lister's ex to hang all the other bits on.

There wasn't much Cat in the episode, but he did, once again, get all the best lines for his trouble. The random reference to the JMC on-board computer (don't they remember Holly?) was a bit odd and disrupted the sense of continuity from earlier Dwarf that the episode otherwise maintained.

Oh, and I quite like the way Red Dwarf has taken Douglas Adams' vending machine nightmares off to a completely different extreme, especially in this episode (although I'm sure nobody in the known multiverse would really try and lift up a vending machine by lying on it and jumping up and down).

On the plus side, the cast are all well in their stride now, so combine that with the (presumably) minimal budget spent on Dear Dave, and given the overall goodness of Red Dwarf X, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a decent finale next week...