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and on the 7th day, he was still writing Nanowrimo.. November 7, 2012

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7 days into the month of November, a month which brings you a world of men growing moustaches for a good cause –

A month which brings you the “Race that stops a nation” 

An election in some country –

And an awesome world wide writing contest!

I am currently sitting on just over 13 000 words on day 7, which is ahead of schedule. November 1st was a Thursday, and I didn’t really get started writing until 10pm that night. Friday was out for me, and so was most of Saturday, so, I wrote the bulk of my words in the 2 days of Monday and Tuesday. Not bad.

I am having a very casual word war with Penmonkey. She and I are old hats at Nanowrimo. We are both confident of hitting the 50k score SOMETIME this month, so are just slowly pottering along, encouraging and taunting each other. I feel like a gentlmanly old man, walking arm and arm with a ‘lady’ pointing my cane at the youth of today and saying- off you go, write with vigour. We will see you home soon. Rah rah, pip pip!

What I have noticed, and enjoyed, in the past couple of days, is the anarchy of characters taking over the writing. I have been writing so controlled for so long, either editing a novel already in play, or writing copy which needs control in and of itself, that to have characters do unexpected things, has been both scary and fun. What do I mean?

Well, I did plan on my MC’s having a battle with slavers, discovering how they are capturing so many slaves so easily. What I did not intend on happening was Mizzell being captured, and Navarr launching a solo boarding mission to rescue her! Luckily 2 of his allies joined him, but still, 3 people against a boatload of slavers?

I have been stuck in this scene for a day or more trying to figure out how to get them out. Navarr caught a knife in the left shoulder, so now that arm doesn’t work, one of the Mountain Men is down, blood everywhere, possibly dead. There is no key to the slave cage, and to top it off, the fight is happening around a great hole in the bottom of a sky ship. Any wrong move and you’re freefalling.

I must admit I am not writing with as much gusto as  I did last year. I feel more like I am putting in the yards and getting ahead of the word count, but I am not rushing ahead with a wicked gleam in my eye. It is possibly outside influences, or pressures. For example, today, I have a to-do list. I have a timer set on 50 minutes, so I dedicate some time to each dot point, and then have a ten minute break. The list includes-

  • Writing my Facebook Document & promotional material
  • Blog writing
  • Social Media work for Ilinga Books
  • Write and review and update website
  • Filling out worksheets examining completion on copy writing & marketing channels worksheet
  • Writing novel

Some where in there I might leave the house.

I have always said that Nanowrimo is good for showing how you can really work writing around your life. I am trying to squeeze it into my writing life, as a writer, while I write, other stuff. And, lacking on that list is client work, which I haven’t got at the moment. I am working on a plan to go GET clients, but I don’t think it is a real, exact science, not for me. Maybe people will need great copy to sell their wares ‘just in time for Christmas?

Well, as you can see, writing a blog post was number 2 on the list, and according to my counter, I have 8 minutes left. This gives me enough time to talk about future projects. I am planning a collection of short stories based in the world of my current Steampunk novels. Events which happen, seen from other points of view perhaps? Other locations which had a brief mention getting some meat and potatoes? I like the idea of a rogue piece written from the Ravens point of view, the Royal Secret Service. That could be cool.

I am planning to put together a collection of articles on how I plot and plan and write a book. My 11th Nanowrimo and I am getting people asking me how i do it, how I continually do it, and what do I do? So,  I have taken some time to figure out what it is I do, since some people are curious and want to know.

Thanks to a client, I have created another package I can offer to clients- the Sock-Knocking Tag-Line package. Watch this space for more!


The Plots are Plotted October 23, 2012

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8 days out from the start of Nanowrimo. I have settled on my three plots, and I am happy. I changed it up slightly from my original plan. I was going to have the 3 plots mingle and weave around each other, but considering the actual geographical location of the 3 plots and who are in each plot, that would have been just crazy.

So now the plots all come together at the end. I am once again, planning an epic battle at the end of the book, and the rough sketch I have on it, it is going to be awesome. A land, air and sea battle (yes, on the waters, where you might find out why the people in this world use sky ship and not boats…), plus the battle is going to be taken to the other world for a bit, just for funsies.

I am a little bit fearful of running three plots. How much time do I give to each plot, and where does that time get allocated? One chapter each? Jump between all three per chapter? Or write one entire plot, and then get to a point, go back and start another plot so I don’t lose that writerly flow? This is a decision I am going to have to make before Nanowrimo starts, I know that.

My next step is to look through art that I have, looking for environmental imagery, character art to represent people in my story, and redoing my map. I enjoyed having a map last year, eve if I didn’t publish it. It gave me a sense of place.

And then I am going to write an exciting preview for the book. I already have it in mind. I will release the preview to the world, get people excited about my book again!

The Month of Plotting and Planning- 2012 October 3, 2012

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October has arrived, and in my world, this makes it the month of Plotting and Planning. The month I spend preparing myself to jump back into next month, National Novel Writing Month.

This years planning involves plotting 3 story arcs. The Cornwallis has headed out of the Realm and headed south into the desert lands, where slavers rule the markets and nomads ride on magnificent prehistoric beasts. Meanwhile Navarr and Mizzell are living in in The Glade, with Mizzell’s great grandmother. How did she get from her world to ours, I wonder….

And in the big city, the Cabal who control Lenzell and Associates are licking their wounds- they lose their hunting party right before they need them the most; Mizzell has escaped their grasp and they are on the verge of civil war with the Royal Family. Luckily for them they have new technology and a new line of Golems to bring to market. But where is this new technology coming from?

So, I have 1 out of those 3 story lines pretty much plotted. So I will work on the other 2.

And I am drawing a map. I drew one last time, for personal references. After talking to other people, they felt, and so did I, that I didn’t need a map. The story can take you through the world without having to plot it on some hand-sketched map stuck at the front of the book.

I am also trawling the internet for imagery, pictures of places, characters, vehicles, things, guys riding giant lizards, all of which will inspire me and make me remember what characters look like.

I need to finish off some formalised work before the end of October, so I can have some paid work to coincide with my novelling.

I enjoy November. I think I enjoy November in the same ways that I enjoy Thursdays. I Thursdays because at the end of the day I knew the next day would be casual friday where, even though I was working, it was casual, I could wear jeans and people seemed more relaxed and playful. So, Thursday was the day before the relaxed day before the weekend.

November feels like that. December you tend to switch off and relax in the summer sun- parties galore. But November is a month leading up to it. Its building in its playfulness, but is still work related. I don’t know if that explanation was very clear, but it made sense to me.

I think getting more into the creative writing might just get me into here more. I should be more disciplined.

Nanowrimo wrap up, and my plans. December 1, 2011

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I finished my book. I wrote the whole story. I said to someone that I try and write the whole book during November, that is my challenge. While the official challenge is 50 000 words in 30 days, I hit that easily now, so my challenge is to complete the entire story arc for that book. This is harder for me, and I appreciate pushing myself that little bit extra. For example last year, I may have written close to 75k words in the month, I didn’t finish writing the story. And then I let my motivation slip and it took so long just to finish, it was ridiculous.

Do I like my story? Yes. Yes I do. You might think that is a strange question since I wrote it and I asked it, but there are so many people who do Nanowrimo who say- I wrote it but it was crap. But no, I enjoyed writing it, and I enjoyed the story.

I was confused using the words ‘sigil’ and ‘glyph’ throughout, and I am going to have to decide which word I like, and what the actual difference between them are. It might be a regional dialect thing, in that some call the magic writing Sigil Work, others Glyph work. That’s for an edit.

The end fight scene for me needs more. They’re carrying swords, so why dont they use them? And the lead male went down far too quickly. I will re-write that with more sword play. And what frustrated me with the final scene was playing it out in my head, while dramatic music was playing, and thinking to myself- I hope my writing is as exciting as what I can see in my head! Which it never is, but that’s okay. The reader can fill in the stunt work for themselves.

Some stats for the month of November:

  • Total Words Written – 94473
  • Average Words Written per day – 3258
  • Highest word count day – Wednesday the 16th – 10227
  • Days not writing – 3 (Two Saturdays and the last day)
  • Number of days not hitting daily word count – 5  (0, 0, 913, 1543, 1589)

I do have plans for my novel. With the number of people commenting on my Facebook updates desperate to read it, I have decided to e-book my novel. I am going to give it a quick read through in the next couple of days, just to find a few little bugs and wipe them off the screen. Then I will let it sit during December. In January I will give it an edit with the hammer. The story is fine, I am happy with the pacing and how long it takes to get where it needs to go. Language is a little bit over the place, so I will make sure when my male lead speaks it is all very proper. When my lady speaks it will be halting and a little bit confused. Actually, I may base her speech pattern off my Polish friend. She has been in Australia for 30 years but she still cannot grasp Australian slang. It is so cute.

And then the plan is to get the book up for purchase before Valentine’s Day. I am going to announce this on Facebook as well. I am putting it out, into the universe, there will be a release date. That way I can not hide behind the- oh yes I plan on getting it published. I will have announced it, and will target that date, and my inner perfectionist be DAMNED!

One of my best days was last Thursday. I managed to write 4146 words on my novel, while also putting together and writing a newsletter for my BNI group. Writing content, setting up the template and laying it all out was a very involved job. So being able to do both was a good experience for me. Showed that I can work and play at the same time. That would be a great work life balance for me, to be able to Copy Write, to do professional writing during the morning and afternoon, and then write into the evening on novels. I did that for a couple of days during November, and it worked.

So, how am I feeling now? I am actually a little sad I don’t have a novel to write. Yes, I know- but wait! You can still write! But I don’t want to get Book 2 going until have book 1 wrapped up nicely. I am not one of these multi-tasking writers, well not for novels. Not yet. The day a publishing house asks me to write this novel, and that novel, oh and help with this one, and here is loads of cash? Then I will adapt.

Week 3 Nanowrimo, Act 3 of my novel November 24, 2011

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It is late Thursday, Australia time, week 3 Nanowrimo. I am in Act 3, nearing the end, sitting just under 75k words as I write this. I am determined to get to the end of my story, although Act 3 implies a bit more story than I thought, dramatic ending, and such. They were just going to walk off into the sun(s) set, but I might have to make it a bit more deadly. Perhaps an avalanche. We will see.

I have noticed that I sometimes settle into a nice rut of conversation. A lot of talk, quirky talk, not dull conversation. But the book doesn’t go anywhere. That was happening today. I was enjoying the conversation. My Alchemist was fitting my MC with a gun, explaining how and why it works, what types of potions it fires and such. I enjoyed it because the workings of the weapon made a sense of logic for me. And the way they described things- this is the casting plate. I like the term casting plate. Plate, being a physical, metal object, which allows the ‘casting’ of a spell. I want a mix of magic and technology, brought through alchemy. And I feel like I even have the language to do this.

However, the book wasn’t going anywhere. I had such fun creating the village of Thunderfall, way up in the mountains, that I wanted them to stay a few days. But in a book, in an adventure, that can’t happen. So I brought the bad guys there, in the middle of the night. Okay, they didn’t arrive there, a massive dragon blew their ship up and it crashed. I thought- if that doesn’t get their butts moving, nothing will!

A few interesting things have happened to the book and to the characters while I have been writing. Some characters have been wrestling with me. The lead male and female both wanted screen time at the start of the book. I would manage to get one under control and then the other would start acting up. Then those two were quite happy to hop along with the ride, until they decided they wanted to be lovers. Well, I intended that, but it took them a while. And now they cant keep their hands off each other. The poor boy, just as he is getting around first base, SURPRISE! Goblin attack

But what I think was the most intriguing thing to happen was to a character who lives with my alchemist. He was found as a child, in the wild, and she more or less adopted him. Not a motherly type, their relationship is more like friends. He is a very talented tinkerer, which is like an engineer. Except he draws pictures of creatures and puts cogs and gears and pulleys in them. He has this way of seeing the world as it would look like as a machine. And that was the character basis. Then, when my MC meets him for the first time, I discovered he was autistic. I honestly had no intention of making him so. It literally just happened. He hasnt fought me over it, he hasnt argued, he is quite happy seeing the world as he sees it,”much better this way”, as he likes to say. It surprised me. But I am happy with it.

Being at home with not much work has enabled me to pull out 5000 word days, 3000 word days and the like. However, I am thinking I may need to delegate Thursdays as my ‘maintenance’ days. I have just began the weekly newsletter duties for my BNI Chapter. Great idea, I will get content from everyone and put it into a newsletter for them. Actually a bit of work, chasing down people to email you content. Lay it out in a template and such, and then send out. Free of charge. It’s always the setting up of templates that is the biggest bit, next time will be copy and paste under the picture. And 2 other people have expressed interest in me creating a newsletter for them

And some have expressed interest in me creating and maintaining a Facebook page for them. So I think I will delegate Thursday to be THE DAY where I update newsletter templates, update Facebook. Thursday will be my day of social networking. I must be on Facebook! As a job! Who would have thought…

Week 2 and a little bit of Nanowrimo, winning! November 17, 2011

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It is now day 17 of Nanowrimo. I have yet to write today, but that is okay because yesterday I had a 10 000 word day and hit the 50k goal line for Nanowrimo! I completed the challenge in 16 days! There was only 1 day I did not write, and that was Saturday. Chances are I’m not going to write this Saturday either, so, 15 days to get 50k words. This is, of course, while not being full-time employed, so for me its been the quickest I have written. I am quite happy with the effort.

Have I finished? Gosh no. I am just coming to the action packed conclusion to Act 2, and Act 3 beckons! I stopped writing early last night because the next scene is going to be utterly chaotic. Two ships, fighting each other, and throw in a good  dose of dragons. Crazy! And so I wanted a fresh day to write this scene. I have been thinking about it all of last night and this morning. Who is going to die, how can they overcome the pride of the corporate fleet. And then I needed the collective noun for dragons! Role Playing Gamers seem to think a Flight of Dragons is the term. I trust them. They have provided a load of inspirational ideas for my fiction.

Another facet of my Nanowrimo this year has been my daily updates of my status on Facebook. When I wrote the first book in my science fiction series, I posted the chapters on a blog for people to read as it happened. It prompted me to write for an audience, but it was an audience I never really knew were there. Long before I could see blog stats and visit counts. But now, I am updating on my Facebook, a good, meaty sized update at the end of the day with a humorous summary of what I had written during the day.

And it is generating interest. This may seem like a no-brainer to other people who are more experienced in the world of advertising through social media, but I am finding it fantastic to generate interest in my writing through just my friends. So many want to read my work, ask about my writing, how it is going, can they be a part of it. I included three friends of mine in the story as pit fighters and sent them the extract. They totally loved it. And people who I never thought would be into writing come up to me and tell me their husbands or partners or friend have always wanted to write a novel and so on. It has been great.

The link to get the WINNING image is not yet available through Nanowrimo. But in the mean time, there is this one.

See you in a week!

Week one-and-a-bit nanowrimo. I am now recognised as a writer. November 9, 2011

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I was going to give a one week update of nanowrimo, however I got caught up with writing and family visits and the obligatory restaurant dinners, and so I am two days late.

I have had a fun time wrestling with the lead male character and the lead female character. Firstly, my male lead was trying to control the book and what happened. Admittedly the action was around him making discoveries, such as who the bad guys were, what his feelings for the lead female were, what drove the golems and made them creepy. Except, he was taking his time discovering these things, and when he did, he wanted to explore them more.

It may sound strange to say this, but I took control back from him, and made him behave, by changing the weather. A festival and a ball was going to happen once it stopped raining. It is going to be at this ball where the chase begins and they must escape the city. I made the rain stop early to stop my man from dawdling.

But then the female lead started taking control. She has developed strong mind control powers, suggestive powers. This has helped me move the plot along, but she is too powerful. And she met with royalty half a book earlier than she should have. I am going to give her a head injury so she loses those powers. Take over MY novel will you?

I have to admit, saying things like this, out loud- I will give her a head injury, is such a cool thing to do and say. In normal conversation you would be looked upon as strange and possibly as a felon if you said those things.

So, I am twenty two thousand words into the novel, and they havent left the city yet for the flight on the sky ship. Nearly halfway to the word count target, and they are still in act 1. I get the feeling a lot may need to be edited from the start of the book. I have only done one serious edit so far, and that was on a phrasing about the revelation of two suns for the world. I was very aware of feeding the reader small portions of explanation jelly beans about the names and the looks of the suns. So I Changed it, implied some and left the description minimalist. If you don’t get it, you will later on.

I am also updating my Facebook page at the end of each day with an exaggerated description of what I have done for the day in terms of nanowrimo. This has had some fun follow on effects for me. On the weekend a friend hugged me hello and asked if I could put her into my novel. On Saturday night a friend greeted me with a bow and said- Hello nanowrimos! Someone else, while skating, asked how my novel was going. She told me how her husband wanted to write a book and we should talk. I asked why he hadn’t started.

People are more aware of me as a writer, that I am writing a book and are actively asking about it. If they see me they ask how it is going. If I am online they ask if I am writing. Twice I have been guilted off Facebook to write. I like this in my friends.

And, to be honest, I am also enjoying people coming up to me and asking how my writing is progressing. Especially those whom I never thought would ask. That makes me feel like a legitimate writer. I can already hear friends saying- BUT YOU ARE! Yes yes, I know. But, its good to be reaffirmed.

I will give you an update at the halfway mark, November 14th. If they haven’t left the city by then I am dropping that asteroid on them. That will get them moving.

2 Days until it begins – National Novel Writing Month October 29, 2011

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Where I live, Nanowrimo starts on a public holiday. This is a good thing. I always try to get a head start in the daily word count because inevitably something will pop up which will mean some days I don’t write.

The difference this year is, I WANT something to pop up that means I can’t write my novel. Yes, you heard… or rather , read me correctly. I want something to pop up which means I am too busy to write the novel.

Yes, it was a brave move, and the right move, I still believe it was the right move, to be a freelance copywriter. It’s just not bearing many fruits just yet. One project briefly flashed into life, and then just as quickly disappeared due to budget cuts. Other ideas have surfaced which need to be thought upon before committing. And other projects, well there were some delays, I will just say that. This has put me in the position of willing and able, but not doing. So, if, as many people have been telling me, it is going to pour, not rain, then I will be too busy to write the novel. Then I will be stressing about finishing the novel in between writing reports and brochures and web pages and suchlike. That’s what I want.

But, until then, I will try to enjoy playing around in the sandbox of my magical steampunk verse. I use the word ‘try’ because I know my own mind. In years gone by when I have had the 9-5 job and written my sci-fi epi, I did enjoy escaping to that place and writing of a ship crew against the corporate MAN, trying to survive.

Now part of my mind is going to nag at me saying- you need to be earning coin.

ARGH! It even makes it way into this blog post!

So, with two days left, what do I have? I have a map! YES! It’s no where near as pretty as what you can get online at the cartographers guild, but it will serve for me. It has the general geography that I NEED. It has the city, and it has the plains leading to the hills. Beyond the hills it has deserts and sparse, desolate valleys. Then it has the tundra, which lead to the second and more imposing set of mountain ranges, where my frontier town lays. And that’s all I need.

I know there are frozen wastes to the north, with active volcanoes. I know there are tropical jungles and tracts of desert wastes to the south, and people ride dinosaurs there. I know there is a massive inland sea further to the west. But for THIS story, they’re not important, so they are not on my map. But, I know them.

Some people go to outrageous lengths to create a world, and then, because they have put so much effort into making that map, and that world, they feel the need to share every facet with the reader. I know I have a little bit of that in me, so part of a self-constraint was to only map the areas I knew my story would take. That and I suck at drawing maps, so the less map I had to draw, yay me!

But I have 2 characters ‘from the south’. They dress different, and their skin is darker. But pretty much that’s it. There is no interjected history about them and their race or culture. They’re just – from the south. I have some ‘mountain men’, giant creatures with blue skin. You could call them trolls, I guess, but I’m not. They’re mountain men. They are tribal, and have their own language and culture. But am I going to dump all that on the reader to say- how cool was this idea?!?! Nope.

Now, if, in book 2, our intrepid adventurers are forced into Mountain Man country, well, that gives me a chance to explore that culture. If, in book 3 theres something of value in the south, then you know what? They can go exploring the vast deserts and oasis kingdoms of the south.

Until then. I am going to assume that every character in my world knows enough to get by and say no more. If the reader doesn’t, well, that’s too bad.

Plus it means I don’t have to draw those maps until next year!

Am I ready to write novel number 10? Yes I am. I am really looking forward to stepping away from 5 years of sci-fi, and into a new universe, new characters. Its going to be fun.


4 simple ideas October 22, 2011

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I was directed to this site by various means, the most obvious was someone sending me the link to click on… obviously.

A simple four-item formula for turning story into fiction

And so now I share it with you.

I am glad I have found it before I start Nanowrimo, so I can keep it in the back of my mind while I write. Each chapter, something will happen, the characters will move from one space to the next space, each chapter.

I am going to keep that in mind.

I also like the idea of reusing characters. I like making characters, and being encouraged to reuse them because readers remember them and have an affinity or attachment to them makes sense and is a good idea.

Just a quick stop here. I am building my world. There is just over a week to go and things are heating up.

You put your write hand in…. October 2, 2011

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This blog was due to go up on Wednesday, but I held out until today. Why? Because I was told by my second client I had done work for that he would pay me on Friday. So I wanted to wait until today, check my bank and then say – I am now a paid freelance copywriter. No, it’s not much, it was a small job and I discounted the hourly rate a lot, but it was a job, we sat down, we talked, he told me what he wanted, I suggested some ideas, wrote them up and sent them to him. He discarded half of what I wrote, moved the text to where he wanted them, changed something I wrote and sent it back to me. I told him what he changed was not good because it repeated a key word which makes the word have less power.

I have yet to see the final product, but he was happy and he paid me. The above proceedings are typical client actions, I think. You need to be less precious about your work. You present, the client may not have got across to you their vision, and change it. Once you’ve handed the copy over and they say – I like it, it is theirs. You may see it in the future and wince, but it is no longer yours to concern yourself over. This is a lesson I am learning.

But yes, I have been paid, for a job, which I scored through the networking group. I am hoping there will be more soon.

I am still in a bit of a grey zone, however. I jumped right in, two feet first, not knowing how deep the water I was jumping into was. I left my job, felt empowered by this. Encouraged by many, supported by the most important, and off I went. I created a database, refined my templates, wrote some web copy, and joined a networking group.

Then it didn’t happen so very fast. I know, in the back of my mind i need to be patient. And I am, well I am trying to be. I had some money to live on. Paid for web hosting, the electric bill, the rent. Oh, not so much money now. Am I doing the right thing? Lets call some temp agencies for some fill-in work. Lets comb through job ads to see if there is something I can do, make some good money maybe?

But during the past week… I met with, composed and sent off that job.

I attended the induction meeting about how to sell yourself to the group, how to pare down all the noise about stuff and nonsense to know what it is you want to do, why you want to do it, and how to get it done. I became a member of the BNI Group, with a name tag and everything.

I met with another member from the networking group, a photographer. We chatted while he took my picture, all professional and studio shiny good. He handed me an A4 pamphlet which had been created for him, before a copywriter joined the group. He wasn’t too happy with the copy and asked me to re-write it. What would I do?

I then met with a couple who are printers, graphic designers, working in the digital and print design world. From the induction meeting a concept was shown to me – that of the power group. Find those industries which truly complement yours, and work with them. Printers are the next step along from a copywriter. Often someone goes to the printer and discovers they need to go back one step to get copywriting done first.

It was a great meeting, we talked business opportunities for each other, what I could do for them, for myself, what they could do for me. It was thrilling. It was a big moment, the moment where I shifted gears. Or, more like the moment I put the clutch to the floor in preparation of changing gears. I sense things are about to pick up, in a massive way.

And then I got paid….. shake it all about.

Creatively? It is now October. This is traditionally my month of Plotting and Planning for November. Did I do the full 30 days of world building? Nope. I got stuck on the map. Stupid map. But, I figured out currencies, government, evil organisation, that yes, I can have 2 suns for my world (thank you NASA), weather patterns, some divinity. So, I got some good stuff out of that exercise.

Now it is time to create the characters, the races, the monsters and wild animals. And the map… Now it is time to have major plot points, and link them. That is how I work. What major events I want, in chronological order. How I get from one to the other, I don’t mind, but getting there I will.

And I have to think of a title. I can think of hooks and shout outs in the advertising world. But a title for a novel? Tricky.