sci-fi · Stories · Uncategorized

The Dare from NaNoWriMo 2017: My Biggest Mistake and Story Excerpt

By this point you should know I have ensnared myself in the NaNoWriMo Dare Squad and have a tiny, Doomful fate to fulfill…For while I accomplished my goal, and became a winner, Kenzie threw in a twist (which many of us encouraged her to do), making it possible for the winners to participate in all the deathly fun.

(I’m also planning on writing the Blooper Reel dare, so stay tuned.  Or maybe a parody, because I already have a little idea for that.)

My dare came from Lillian of Inky Insanity.  It reads:

DOUBLE WHAMMY!  Share your biggest writing mistake from your current project, and how you’re considering fixing it – AND share the first chapter/1k of your project. Mwahaha!

So.  There were plenty of mistakes in this ginormous, messy draft of The Desolation of Kaldoa.  What comes to mind first is that my outline got snapped in half by the sudden appearance of Cool Villainess, which I extensively wailed about before.

But deeper than that, I think my real mistake was not having a timeline.  Not pinning down dates. Ages.  Birthdays.  Events.  How long the war lasted.

All those matters.

Worldbuilding matters set in precise, firm sequences of time.


Those I never quite get comfortable with, so honestly I’m not sure how I’m going to fix it because when I try to approach it I feel like all my decisions will be arbitrary or for vague reasons and won’t get down to what the story needs.

But the whole thing is such a mess, and unfinished, that I sense I need to keep writing more and more mismatched scenes, just whatever pops into my head from what’s come up from this, and I’ll be able to muddle together enough raw material to get to the REAL story and hew down the stones enough to start polishing them up and build a galactic story palace of shininess and dreadful doom.

And quite honestly I just want to share the excerpt already instead of ramble in circles about not liking dates set in stone.  So.  I have a problem.  It will get fixed eventually.  Who knows how.

Excerpt time!

I did not write in proper chapters, so I’m going by wordcount.  The first 1,151 words.  I did not write in chronological order, so enjoy the contextless scenes!  Unedited. Because, Nano.

The Desolation of Kaldoa

Scene 1


Page opens up with a cityscape tinged in gray and morning pink/purple as a train rolls across a track headed through the heart of the city. Panel shows a close-up of the train with gleaming, reflective windows and wheels sparking against the rail (or maybe later if it brakes? Cuz that makes sense).

Inside, Sheyla looks out the window, her body mostly turned to the outside. Her face expressionless or slightly glum. View of rail lines and electric fences, which then blur into olive sight of the same. Sheyla sighs, or something.

“Why are you looking out there, it’s just ugly.”

“It’s Kaldoa,” Sheyla replied.

“ugh,” the other girl breathed.

Action 76 Sheyla saves them from spaceship fire

Sheyla climbed to the top of the turret, opening the back panel and searching for the wire connections, some of it was badly damaged, she doubted she had all of the component parts necessary. The main motherboard was damaged. She opened her kit and dug around for the right tools, glancing at the turret through olive sight. How was she supposed to repair that in time? The alien spaceship was bearing down on them once more, she struggled to twist off one of the damaged components and replace it. The AI was not working, how was it going to target the ship accurately? Huge plasma blasts were splattering the landscape. Soldiers were hunkered down in cover, but soon they would die. Sheyla had fixed one component but there were more. The fire mechanism was operable, but the command structure wasn’t. Sheyla lifted up her finger and faint olive light surrounded it. The turret hummed to life, and laser blasts struck the alien ship forecefully. Other turrets fired too. Sheyla tried to fix more of the turret one handed and kept concentrating on keep the command line up, but it was difficult, whatever happened, she had to keep the turret firing on the spaceship accurately.

Plasma bolts and lasers were flying everywhere, as was purple fire charges, and the spaceship was broken through. But it also blasted the tower Sheyla was on.

“Get out of here!” a familiar voice yelled. The tower began to shake and crumble and Sheyla was thrown off balance. She began to fall, but someone caught her around the middle. It was Nice Soldier, umm… Cpl. Good. Or Green. Grant? Green rushed to safety with Sheyla. Unforutantely she didn’t get all of her tools back, but maybe she still has her bag?

“Move out! The ships out, but more will come so we better get to the LZ!” the squad leader said. Or platoon?

“Good job,” Green said quietly to Sheyla. She was still shaking as they began running, so Green just carried her. They passed the old structures, robot escorts with them too.

“87% of the turrets are malfunctioning,” Robo Dragonface said. It had a “pointed” turret face and black coated body. Like in that airfield comic.

“Third platoon is coming from the east and first from the northwest. Base camp is destroyed. The fleet is in atmosphere,” the comm man reported to them. (Related to Action 78?)

Action 20 Dale leads mage record wipeout

He clicked the safety off. Or clicked the magazine in. Whatever, a gun clicky noise, holding his rifle down, gray armor/uniform and gauntlets thingies.

Dale Gray broke through the door and into the office. Several desks and filing cabinets were in the room. Everything had to be destroyed.

“Set up the incinerator,” he siad. That was probably known already. Or bombs

They began searching for the files, a couple panicked staff pitched in to help? One man came out and shouted at them, he held up a pistol and began shooting.

“They deserve to die after what happened!” he yelled. “All emps, this travesty should never have happened!”

He was shot and staggered back, his entire being off kilter. “Those children will kill everyone and the Union must know who they are!”

He clutched a stack of papers.

I guess he would run out of there. But Dale and the others chased him down and shot him, retrieving the list of names. I bet the guy was already trying to upload the names online, but I’ll bet there’s at least one refractor on the team who froze it and they stopped it just in time.

The crazed principal lay on the floor, dead. (I keep imagining everyone there in white lab coats, so I don’t know what that’s about.) Blood pooling around his head.

Dale picked up the stack of papers.

Names of children and past students were there.

They would destroy many of the records, but first they would memorize what information they could and find these kids. Or they would surely emp in fright and be killed. Or fight back and lose. They needed help.

Sheyla Klark, age 11. britanny Howell, age 12, Ryan Kaln, age 11… They would all need to be protected. Alissa Sanders, age 7...Dale carefully tucked the concise list into his pack. They regrouped, the explosives were set off and the whole school was engulfed in flames. The helo hovered and they ran onto it.

“Five more schools to go…”

Headquarters was dealing with the national mage registry.

Action 42 Dale splits the team

They gathered in the hanger. Or maybe they’re on a helo. They just heard about Andra and the capitol being conquered. Dale looked out over the land he loved. The once green hills covered in smoke and clouds, patches of ashes and burned buildings. Space cruisers hanging from the clouds on the horizon. He felt like he had been punched in the stomach. His normal sense of resolve felt weakened. He couldn’t believe this happened, he couldn’t believe the governemtn had surrendered, and that their allies had turned on them.

The Void Lord was willing to give asylum though…But maybe that hasn’t clicked yet.

Aleins destroyed the south central region of Provst. Some incursions into Kaldoa, but no one cared about that. The government was fleeing, not surrendering.

Dale turned to his team.

“We lost this round. The other alliances are against us. People are going to get hit hard. We’re going to need to go undercover however long this lasts, and some of us need to get our families out. Some of us have to regroup in the fringe so we can keep training and get back up. I’m staying. Other Leader, you take your guys and get everyone out of here, the eight of us will stay back and make Provst regret what they did.”

Shout of assent. Hooah or equivalent.

They split up. The other men taking various shuttles to double check that families had been evacuated and sneak away anyone else who needed it.

Dale turned to his team of sabotuers.

“Let’s get started.”

And they melded into the shadows of their land.

sci-fi · Stories · Uncategorized

End of NaNoWriMo 2017

I won Nano.  And my story is still unfinished.

Let’s see if I have any deeper thoughts than that.

As you can see, I wrote 75k words, which was my secret, higher goal. 57,000 words just isn’t enough in comparison.  I even maintained my Triforce of Lower Word Count.  The Triforce of Procrastination, Wailing, and Confusion.  It probably does not grant wishes.


Really wants to play a certain open world game that I presently cannot afford.

Might make up my own open world game some other way.

Well, my plot/outline collapses on itself in the middle of things thanks to the sudden introduction of Cool Villainess who couldn’t simply postpone her appearance.  And part of me feels very done with writing for now, and another part of me is imagining up scenes for TDoK.  But I for sure want to work on more visual stuff for a bit.

Storywise, my brain seems to have shut things down.  My story got so muddled, it doesn’t make sense to try writing again until I have time to plan stuff.

This year’s Nano has been much better than previous.  I got to 50k on day 17, which is great.  There are three reasons why I managed to do it: 1) I had a large story I’m really invested in. 2) I started hanging out on the Over Achiever forum on the Nano site, which is full of contagious enthusiasm and high word counts (half a million, even!), and… 3) The Nano Dare Squad!

I mentioned the Nano Dare Squad in my last post, which my friend Kenzie started up this year, you can read the current results of it here.

Basically, a bunch of writers stated word/project goals and gave each other dares that would be determined by rolling dice.

It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Through a convoluted system of being a winner, I rolled a 3 and got to roll on the regular dare table, and was allowed to swap that dare with someone else.  So, expect some madness about me telling my biggest writing mistake from this project and how I intend to finish it.  PLUS, I must offer the first 1k of my writing.  Which will be  total mess because it’s out-of-order snippets. 🙂

(But I’m not to do it until the 10th, so…maybe I should write about my outlining system that only half worked?)

The community aspects of Nano have been much better this year.  Even though I never went to one of my local write-ins…

I think my biggest writing mistake in this project was not having a clear timeline.  I need start and end dates to for things, people’s birthdays, all that sort of thing.  And I haven’t done that yet.  Not in a set-in-stone fashion.  Blargh.

And then I had characters show up out of the blue, and then I had the second main character never show up.  Oops.  But I better save that for the later post.

For now, I should give some little snippet from my story, shouldn’t I?

Behold, Dystopia!

Until eventually Mrs. Malverran came charging around the hall screeching her head off about why was Sheyla in this out-of-bounds place?! Or does she call her first and screech out of the speaker phone?

“Not my problem,” the guard says.

Sheyla was very grumpy in that moment. She hadn’t finished her clean-up detail and Mrs. Malverran was verily threatening to murder her.

“The guards ordered me to clean up a mess, and one is supervising it right now.”


Sheyla glanced at the guard. He had certainly heard that insult too.

“So, do you want the guard to shoot me since one’s right here?” Sheyla said flatly. Practically.

“Ew, then I’ll have to clean your brain matter out of the carpet.”

“RRRR RRRRGHGH RARRGH” Mrs. Malverran screeches in the background.

“Why is there so much carpeting if we can be killed at any time?”

“Beats me,” the guard said.

But maybe it is tile on the floor, I don’t know.

You can tell I always take my dialogue writing super seriously and it’s 100% in canon and in character.  As is the rest of my manuscript.  *Proceeds to insert a completely random medieval fantasy story idea near the end of the month because writing juices were so depleted*

Lemme add a snippet from that…


Wow, that regular quote text is super pale…

Edit: Now I’ve fixed it.