Upon Review: A Tale of Two First Drafts

I spent the last week of January reading over two first drafts: The End of the (Werewolf) Curse, which I wrote back in 2015 for NaNoWriMo, and The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant, which I wrote this past November for NaNoWriMo. One turned out to be in better shape than the other, which kind of surprised me.

I remember when I finished writing The End of the (Werewolf) Curse that I wasn’t very happy with it. I thought it was going to need a lot of work and so I shoved it to the side to wait its turn, in no hurry to get to it. I expected to feel the same when I read it this last month. I went in expecting that it still needed some serious work.

Gleefully, I was wrong.

Maybe gleefully isn’t the right word, but after the rough time I’ve had with my first drafts lately, I felt pretty gleeful.

Anyway.

It will need work, of course. There are some minor things that need to be taken care of and I have to do my usual thing of adding in details because I’m the worst at description. But as far as heavy rewrites, which is what I was expecting, that’s not in my future with this story. I’m actually really pleased how well the first draft did turn out.

Ah, those were the days, when I remembered how to write.

Because The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant was just as bad as I remembered it. Yes, not too much time has passed, but even a decade wouldn’t erase that memory or the accuracy of it. I could see the struggle I had during that writing process in the words. It’s going to to take major rewrites to fix this story. Major rewrites. Major.

However!

When I was reading the first draft, I could see exactly what needed to be done to fix the story. So while this story will take a lot of work, I have a very good idea of what that work is and that is somewhat of a comfort.

I’m still not looking forward to doing all of that heavy lifting, but at least when it’s time, I’ll know just how heavy that lift will be.

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The Long and Short of Some First Drafts

Safe to say that since I started doing NaNoWriMo, the majority of the first drafts of the novels I’ve written have been written during 30 days (or less) in November. In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve written the first draft of a novel outside of November that I can’t remember the last time I did it.

I mean before this last time.

My bright self decided after finishing the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant to immediately start on the first draft of The Coop Run. Had the former gone better, then perhaps the latter would have, too, and I wouldn’t be writing this post.

But the former didn’t and that could be why the latter took me more than two months to write.

The original goal was to write The Coop Run in the two weeks I had left in November. Once I finished writing the slog that was the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant, I didn’t have the energy to keep up the needed pace of 3,500 words a day to get it done. I decided to take it a little easy for a while, only writing 1,000 words a day, and then I’d pick up the pace. It looked at the time like the first draft would only be about 35,000 words and if I picked up to 2,000 or 2,500 words a day, then I’d have it done in the first week or so of December.

Oh, how dumb I can be.

It’s no secret that the holidays are my least favorite time of year and I actively try to not work on big projects during them because the entire month of December drains my life force. Let this past December be a good reminder of that.

Instead of my word count on The Coop Run picking up, it went down. I was basically writing 500 words a day most days and calling that good. I just didn’t have the energy to write more. I did end up picking up the pace to 2,000 words after January 1st, though that dipped again the week of my birthday. The slog feelings from The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant carried over to The Coop Run, though I think overall it turned out to be easier to write, especially toward the end.  It also turned out to be longer than I thought it’d be. Instead of 35,000 words, it ended up around 56,000.

I actually ended up sick of writing the story. I wanted to be done so badly but just couldn’t push hard enough to finish it. It was a miserable feeling. And instead of feeling satisfied when I wrote the last word, I felt relief. Overall, it wasn’t the most enjoyable first draft writing experience I’ve ever had.

I do believe that I’ve learned my lesson, though.

No more novel first drafts in December!

December Writing Projects

Hello. I survived NaNoWriMo. As I mentioned in a few posts last month, it was a close call.

As anticipated, my first draft of The Coop Run is still not finished and I will continue to work on it throughout December. I’ve only written about 14,000 words (as of this post) because I had anticipated picking up my daily word count and that did not happen. Instead of writing more words, I started polishing (Vampires) Made in America. That will also continue throughout December. I’m a little more than half-way through, so I should have no trouble finishing it before Christmas.

I’m not sure I can say the same about The Coop Run. I suppose we’ll see. That pick-up in word count might still happen since I’ve got the majority of my Grinchmas making and wrapping done (the goodies I’m making have to wait so they’ll be fresh), but December has a way of sapping my energy. It’s one of the reasons why I usually don’t like to write first drafts during this month. But I did this to myself and I’ll see it through.

I’m also not sure how long this first draft is going to be. I was thinking it’d be another 50,000 words, but it might end up being closer to 30,000. Again, we’ll see.

So much seeing this month.

And since it’s the end of the year, I’ll be attempting to hash out a schedule/make some goals for next year. This year’s goals didn’t exactly work out. I only accomplished about half of them, but that happens. I have a tendency to be shit at long-term planning.

Here’s to hoping that I finish The Coop Run and end the year on a high note.

March Writing Projects

green flowerConsidering the loss of my only day job, my plans for March haven’t really changed that much. Probably because I didn’t have any real solid plans to begin with.

Last month, I finished my latest round of revisions on (Vampires) Made in America, wrote the first drafts of two short stories, “Grandma’s Funeral” and “A Girl’s Best Friend”, and formatted Murderville: The Last Joke into an eBook novella. I also ended up writing the first draft of a short story called “Suicide Paris Green” (I told you I’d do something with that eventually) and published The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys as a stand alone novella eBook. And finally, I began writing the first draft of a story called Come to the Rocks, a story I thought would be about 4,000 words, but is now over 10,000 and headed straight for novella territory.

February was surprisingly productive.

This month I plan to finish writing the first draft of Come to the Rocks and start the first draft of another story that I really don’t know if it will be a short story or a novella. I love those kinds of surprises.

I’m also going to work on the Storytime Jukebox, try to make it a little more user friendly. I’d like it to be more popular, for obvious reasons, but I realize in order for that to happen, it has to be better.

Of course, anything I can do to boost my writing career will be happening this month in earnest. The ball, as they say, will start rolling.

The next episode of The Last Joke comes out on the 7th. Don’t miss out! Read teasers for episodes one and two and then become a patron.

February Writing Projects

roseIt’s a short month, so naturally I’m going to try to accomplish several things.

Though I managed to write a poem a day last month, I need to finish the revision of (Vampires) Made in America. I probably would have finished it last month, but I was in Chicago for Cubs Con the weekend of my birthday. Oh, I still worked that weekend, but just not as much as I would have if I was home. Another factor is that I’m adding chapters, so writing the new content is taking a little bit longer.

I’m also going to write the first drafts of two new short stories for the next short story collection, “Grandma’s Funeral” and “A Girl’s Best Friend”. I’m anticipating these to be somewhat difficult because it’ll be such a gear shift and the ideas have been sitting around for a while so I’m worried they’ve lost their freshness. I’m sure I’ll be able to get some kind of a first draft for each of them, but I’m anticipating an extra effort for some unfortunate shit. Thank goodness I like rewriting/revising so much.

I’m also going to be formatting Murderville: The Last Joke into a novella eBook, which will be available to my patrons at the end of the year. I will also be giving my $2 patrons their first freebie this month. So, if you want to get it on that, check out the Murderville page.

Also, the next episode comes out next week. Check out the preview of the first episode and then find out how to read the rest.

December Writing Projects and Other Tidbits

SnowflowerIt’s December! And December means that I don’t do as much writing work because I’m too busy wading through all of the holiday cheer to get much done. And yes, that was sarcasm because this has long been my least favorite time of year and I think I lost what precious little Christmas spirit I might have had back on November 1st when I inhaled about a pound of artificial snow during a floorset.

Anyway. Writing projects.

I’m going to continue working on The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys novella. Just writing 500 words a day, taking it very easy. I’m also going to start revising Voice, again taking it very easy. I have almost nothing made for Grinchmas so that’s where most of my energy is going to be directed. Making little bits of progress on writing projects is better than making none or stressing myself because I’m struggling to write and make Grinchmas. I can go full blast again in January.

Tidbits and News:

The distribution of The Ivy Russell Novellas paperback has hit a snag because that book is jinxed and/or I am terrible at my job. So for the foreseeable future, it will only be available on Lulu. Sorry for any inconvenience, but there shouldn’t be much because Lulu is just as good as the more popular marketplaces.

Speaking of other not so popular places, I’m doing a couple of holiday deals through Smashwords (which is compatible for most all eBook platforms) for my two 2015 eBook releases, The Ivy Russell Novellas and People Are Terrible.

Use the coupon code CW86C to get 15% off of The Ivy Russell Novellas.

Use the coupon code DS99F to get 15% off of People Are Terrible.

These coupons are only valid at Smashwords and the deals end on Christmas, so don’t miss out!

NaNoWriMo 2015 Done and Other Stories

nanowrimoI officially reached 50,000 words and the end of the first draft of The End of the (Werewolf) Curse yesterday. Compared to the last two years, I was positively slacking on the daily word count and the speed because it took me nearly three weeks to finish. In 2013 I finished in 12 days and in 2014 I finished in two weeks. I averaged between 2,000 and 3,000 words a day this year, which is good, but I still felt lazy.

I felt so lazy, in fact, that I started working on a novella in addition to working on NaNo.  At just a page a day starting on November 3rd, I managed to get about 5,400 words written on The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys.

But, back to NaNo.

The use of the loose outline worked out pretty well for me in terms of getting my word count in every day. My biggest hang-up as always is just getting started for the day. Once the words start, I usually hit my daily target in no time.

However, I admit that this first draft felt like a total slog. There are aspects of this story that I really like and I really hope I can build on when I revise it, but I also feel like this thing is boring as hell and my characterization is shit and everything is terrible. Considering I feel that way about a lot of my NaNo projects, I may be just a tad pessimistic about it, but I don’t think so.

But it’s done and that’s always the goal and it’s time to start thinking about other things.

When I’m doing NaNo, I don’t really want to do much else. I don’t want to read. I don’t want to write blog posts. I don’t want to work on any other projects (obviously writing the novella at the same time this year was the exception, not the rule). When I finish NaNo, it’s like touching back down after orbiting the Earth for a few weeks. Time to get back to the other things on the To Do List of Doom.

I’m working on getting The Ivy Russell Novellas paperback out and about.  Right now, it’s only available on Lulu, but eventually, it’ll get to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and such. I’ll also be updating the links to The Ivy Russell Novellas eBook, as it’s finally hit some other marketplaces.  So be sure to check that out!

Now, back to the word mines.

June Writing Projects

pinkflowerLast month was a bit of a struggle because I wasn’t feeling all that motivated to write. Little by little, I finished the two short stories I’d set out to write, “Through the Electronic Looking Glass” and “Cabintown Road”. I wrote a page a day on each of them and then did a finish line sprint one weekend when they were almost done. It took two weeks to get them done that way, but considering how rundown and blah I felt about the whole thing, I was just happy to get them finished.  Whatever it takes.

The last two weeks were supposed to be spent writing a novella. The one I picked to do doesn’t have a sure title yet, but the idea was pretty fresh and I thought a thousand words a day would get it, if not done, then pretty close to done on the shorter side of the novella scale.

That didn’t happen.

I’m working without an outline and after about a week I realized that there was more to this story than I thought. So, it’s either going to be a longer novella or an outright novel. We’ll see. I’m going to keep working on it this month.

I’m also going to revise (Vampires) Made in America down to novella size. Since this first step is focusing primarily on cutting out all of the fat and repetition and such, I don’t think it will be too difficult, nor will it take too long.

Now watch me struggle with it.

And of course, it’s time for yet another self-publishing release!

Look for The Timeless Man, the second Ivy Russell novella, to come out sometime this month.

May Writing Projects…and Some Furniture Moving

pinkflowerHow you like this newness? Yeah, I’m feeling bored and uninspired with this bit of blog. I want to do something different with it, but I don’t know what I want to do with it. I’m sort of an asshole like that. So, I figured that maybe a little bit of a layout change my help with my blahness. So far it’s only sort of working.

At least I’ve been productive on the To Do List of Doom, though.

Basically, aside from some cover art and print proofs, I’m set for the rest of the year when it comes to the self-publishing schedule. Everything I’m working on for the rest of the year will be stuff coming out for next year. Right now that’s looking like an anthology and some novellas. One of the novella ideas could go full novel, but I don’t know. We’ll see.

This month I’m going to finish the first drafts of “The Electronic Looking Glass” and “Cabintown Road” which I started at the end of the last month. Then I’m going to start working on one of the novella ideas I’ve got. There are four and their themes are sort of similar so they might actually make a good collection. Not naming any names because I’m not sure which one I’m going to work on and I’m not sold on the titles yet and I’ll probably change them and a 30,000 word story doesn’t need 95 tags because I keep changing my mind.

I’ve got two weeks off of one of my day jobs this month (this year teaching our “spring break” is two weeks in May; “summer vacation” will be two weeks in September) so I’m hoping to use that time to get a lot of writing done.

Yeah, I was laughing before I even finished typing that sentence.

Writing–Let’s See Where This Goes

Rainbow paperI’ve been working  on “Nadie Has a Dog” for the better part of the month and I’m finally getting to the point where it’s wrapping up.

I’ll be honest with you; I’m only now sure how it will end. I wasn’t sure before. In fact, the ending is nowhere near where I thought it’d be.

That’s probably because when I started the story, I only had a couple of scenes in mind.

-The beginning, in which we establish who Nadie is and how she got her name.

-The scene in which she acquires her dog.

-The first scene illustrating what she and her dog do.

After that, I figured I’d wing it. More than likely, writing those scenes, stringing together those parts of the story would lead me to the end. Actually, I thought the last scene was the climax and Nadie and her dog would ride off into the sunset.

Only they didn’t.

And I had to see where the story decided to go.

That happens occasionally with my short stories. I try to be a little more planned out with my longer works, like novellas and novels, just because there’s so much going on that I need to keep track of all of my threads. I let myself have some room to play, of course, but it’s more like dallying between set pit stops on a road trip rather than full on wandering in the woods.

With short stories, I can wander more, though I don’t usually. When I sit down to write, I know what the story is. I still manage to surprise myself, but the overall story is usually written with a solid beginning and ending.

With Nadie, I thought I knew the ending, but I didn’t. There was more story there than I’d originally thought. That’s both scary and neat. The potential to go so far off the rails that the story meanders into nothingness is there and that worries me. I don’t like it when my stories end up as bupkiss. But it is kind of a thrill to just write as it comes and see what happens and see where things go.

Nadie has turned out to be longer and not as overtly shocking as I thought it’d be. Instead there’s a touch of sweetness and a even a little humor to the story. And I like that! It feels right.

Sometimes it’s good to wander.