Chronicling The Craft: 35,000 Words

A Music Playlist for My Work-In-Progress

Chapters In Progress: 10

Chapters Completed: 8

Somehow I’ve developed a bad habit of forgetting how chaotic life can be during the end-of-year holidays. And writing a book amidst the stress of work, Christmas shopping, baking, braving winter weather, and going to or planning parties… Well, who has time for all that? (Ha ha!) So, due to a combined lack of time and concentration, it’s taken from before mid-November to January 2 to write another 5,000 words. But that’s OK. Forward progress is forward progress, especially during one of the busiest times of the year. And progress is always worth celebrating.

Here’s what I’ve worked on since the previous Chronicle:

  • Chapters 7 and 14 (the latter was my original Chapter 12) are done! The second of the two had been so close to completion for weeks, but I hadn’t touched it because I’d been focusing on other chapters. So, it felt great to finally put a checkmark next to that entry on my novel “to-do” list.
  • Notice that I said Chapter 14 used to be Chapter 12. Yeah. I decided to add new Chapters 11 and 12 after noticing I was trying to cram too much stuff into one or two chapters and needed to space things out more to help with the story’s pace. However, these two new chapters will also allow for more time to fully develop the conflict unraveling between my protagonist and one of her travel companions. This conflict is central to the plot as well as the protagonist’s growth and development. And the more I flesh it out, the more believable I hope it will become.
  • I’ve also written various scenes for Chapters 6, 13, and (the newly added) 17. (Yes, I’ve added placeholders for three new chapters since hitting 30,000 words!) As mentioned here, I’m using the “writercopter” method for the novel, working on whichever scenes I’m most inspired to write at that time. And the further I plunge into this story using the “writercopter,” the more grateful I am that I created a outline before doing any writing! I know about 95% of what’s going to happen in this story, but allowing my creativity to flail here, there, and everywhere like octopus arms has started to get overwhelming. My priority for the next few sessions once again is to finish some of these in-progress chapters, and maybe eliminate the pressure I’m unintentionally putting on myself.
  • Outside of the novel, I’m continuing to develop historical and character background. I’m also planning to use some of the character development piece in a later Chronicle so you can “meet” the protagonist. What do you think?
Music Note Snowflake

Look! A music-note snowflake!

Many of you who’ve visited this blog before may know that I’m also a freelance music journalist and avid music fan. It might not surprise you, then, to learn that music is an integral part of my novel-writing sessions. This “novel-writing playlist” doesn’t include the hard rock, progressive, and heavy metal fare I usually listen to. Instead, it shuffles through film score compositions as well as more “pop”-oriented music that reminds me of certain scenes, conflicts, or characters.

When I sit down to work on the novel, I either pick out a specific track that fits what I’m planning to write that day or turn on the iTunes playlist and let it randomly play one song after another until it “finds for me” a piece matching the day’s muse. The music doesn’t distract me, even if I know by heart what scene from which film it belongs to. Instead,  the song’s mood, tempo, and/or other elements allow me to focus on my own scene. Sometimes I’m so lost in the intertwining act of imagining and writing that I don’t even hear the music – yet, it helps me feel the emotions I’m hoping to convey in that particular scene or conversation.

So, here are a few songs from my playlist that have been particularly inspiring to write or brainstorm to so far!

“Axe or Sword?” (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

This piece blossoms with so many different emotions and attributes: trust, discovery, companionship / friendship, forgiveness, majesty – I could go on. One of my favorite pieces to write to so far for this novel, it’s been incredibly effective and evocative for quieter or dialogue-centered scenes.

“Prince Caspian Flees” (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian)

This track builds in momentum starting at 0:44, then comes the fluttering and swelling of the orchestra and the tribal percussion.  It’s not be the best examples of a track I’ve gone to for action-writing, but the necessary urgency, breathlessness, and tension for such scenes are there.

“Evenstar” (The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers)

“Evenstar” was on repeat when I wrote a scene in which [SPOILER] the protagonist learns a close friend has died. [END SPOILER] Now I can’t listen to this track without tearing up. It’s the musical epitome of heartbreak.

“She Moved Through The Fair” (Josh Groban, All That Echoes)

This version of the traditional Irish folk song reminds me of a scene I’ve planned for the novel but have yet to write. It involves the protagonist realizing her true feelings for someone as they talk outside on a balcony, then go inside to dance. The lyrics don’t fit the scene, but that’s not the point. I simply imagine the dance moving to this song’s tempo, and my heart goes pitter-patter.

“Run” (Eklipse, A Night In Strings)

I’m not familiar with Snow Patrol’s original version of “Run,” but this Eklipse cover gets me every time. And somewhere in the mingling of melancholy and love, I see my protagonist and her (eventual) love interest. Maybe it’s because they take the ultimate rollercoaster ride together in this story, and they grow closer through their shared suffering, sadness, and support.

And that concludes this latest Chronicle! I’m starting the New Year with an mini-vacation of sorts to take care of things at home, and to continue working on the book. (Yesterday’s snowstorm helped make this a true stay-cation, too!) January looks like a quiet month right now, so let’s see what happens from here.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what tracks or genres of music do you play in the background while working on your WIP?

Next Chronicle: When I reach 40,000 words

Until Then: Stay tuned for my review of Baliset’s Exordium EP at Sonic Cathedral! A long time coming, yes, but we’re also preparing for a major Zine facelift, which will hopefully happen soon.

6 thoughts on “Chronicling The Craft: 35,000 Words

  1. I hardly ever listen to music while I’m writing, really, though there have been a couble of times where I set down to work immediately after listening to something. I once wrote a fairly major scene right after listening to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHlM0PTddEs; worked really well :).

    And “meeting” your protagonist would be absolutely fascinating! How are you planning to go about this, exactly? Are you planning to do a little bio of them, or something else?

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    • Every writer has different habits and rituals to “help” them with their practice, that’s for sure. I’ve read about writing rituals they do before (long walks, yoga, meals) or during (smoking, music, candles, beverages) their writing sessions. Apparently Stephen King has his own pre-writing ritual where he’ll drink a glass of water or a cup of tea and then ensure the papers are arranged on his desk in a certain way. How about you? Do you do anything in particular before or during your writing sessions?

      Thanks for sharing that piece of music! It’s very pretty. Glad it helped inspire you for that important scene. Was it for your novel or one of the short stories you’ve recently been working on?

      Yay! 🙂 I’ve been writing a background piece on my protagonist off and on since mid-December. It’s an exercise I’d been meaning to do for a while; it was recommended by a writing instructor I met this past summer at a character development class. The background piece is basically the protagonist telling the reader about herself: her past, her successes and disappointments, her values and motivations, etc. Sort of like an interview. And then I’ll draw bits and pieces of that write-up for the future Chronicle. What do you think?

      Thanks as always for following and commenting! I really appreciate it.

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      • First off, I’m really sorry for not responding to this (much) earlier. My uni schedule unexpectedly blew up last week and I completely lost track of WP as a result.

        That said…I think that background piece sounds like a very good idea indeed, both as blog material and as a writing excercise. Did you find writing it helpful? Because it certainly sounds like it would be.

        The scene in question was for my novel; my protagonist is dealing with intense feelings of guilt (and, well, regret) in that scene, and I found that the linked music set the mood well. I’ve more-or-less stopped working on the short stuff now, actually: I’m not going to have much time to write for the forseeable future, so focussing on the novel is the only way I’ll ever get it done.

        As for habits and rituals: I like to have tea within reach whenever I’m writing something something, but that’s really about it. If a writing session is going badly I often stop to do some physical excercise, but if things are going well then I usually don’t bother.

        Besides music, do you have any other writing-related habits?

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  2. No worries! That happened to me in college frequently, so I know the feeling.

    Yes, the background piece (or “journal entry / interview”) has been immensely helpful so far. It’s nowhere close to being done, either. I keep thinking of new questions to ask my protagonist, and as a result I learn something new about her each time. I’ve also written about the journal-entry exercise for a potential blog article, explaining how writers can use this method for character development. Just waiting to hear back from the prospective blog to see if they’ll publish it!

    I can imagine how your studies have it difficult to find time to write. But it sounds like you’re finding time nonetheless, no matter how small those chunks of time may be. Good for you.

    I also drink tea when I write! 🙂 I also burn a scented candle, but that depends on where I’m sitting. If I’m at my desk, a candle comes with me. If I’m in my papasan chair with no place to put said candle, then no. I don’t want to burn down my condo complex. (*lol*)

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  3. Pingback: Chronicling The Craft: 40,000 Words | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

  4. Pingback: Time Flies!: December 2015 | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

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