What’s Next for The Keeper’s Curse, Plus a Final Excerpt for Your Feedback
“Chronicling The Craft” is an article series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, starting with the first draft and now into revisions. Each article contains a progress update as well as writing / revising tips and excerpts from the updated draft. Today’s installment celebrates finishing Draft #2 of THE KEEPER’S CURSE.
Well, the title gave it away – but guess what happened this past weekend?!?! 😀
I’m still stunned. When I sat down to work on revisions last Friday, I was convinced it would take two more weekends, bringing me to Saturday, March 12th / Sunday, March 13th. But that was before the “end-of-WIP” adrenaline rush kicked in… and on the last day of Draft #2, I plowed through the entire final chapter. My initial reaction? “Uh… Did I really just do all that in one day?!”
But hey, I’m not complaining. This story is another step closer to where it needs to be. That calls for a celebration!
So, what’s the final word count for Draft #2 of The Keeper’s Curse? What are my plans for Draft #3? And, how can YOU help shape the next round of Chronicling The Craft? Plus, I’ll share one more set of excerpts for your comparison and feedback. Let’s start with…
The Final Progress Report
Here are the final Draft #2 statistics:
Total Word Count: 110, 954 (20,767 words cut)
Total Page Count: 374 (67 pages cut)
Total Percentage Cut from Draft #1: 15.7%
How Long It Took To Complete: 4 days shy of 11 months (Draft #1 took 2 years, 1 month)**
Wow. Even the numbers boggle my mind. My goal was to get the word count down to 115K, so the fact that I blew past that milestone and almost reached 110K… It’s like hitting a stretch goal on a crowdfunding campaign. It makes this accomplishment a little sweeter and even more rewarding. Also, did you notice that it took less than half the time to revise Draft #2 than it did to write Draft #1? 😀
That said, TKC is still too long. According to my tracking sheet, six (6) chapters are still about 1000 words longer than they should be, and another six (6) chapters are between 200 to 500 words longer than necessary. It’s possible that I’m squeezing too much into certain chapters and might have to split them instead. But I also don’t want to chop up the novel’s pace, either. That, however, isn’t a “today problem.”
On a positive note, the faster turnaround and the amount of words / pages cut are defiitely due to the pre-planning I did before Draft #2. By making a list of changes during Draft #1 to stop myself from self-editing, and then transferring those changes to the Self-Edit Saver Revision Checklist, I was able to remember and incorporate the additions, deletions, and other revisions I wanted to make. Writing additional notes before each session also helped me stay focused and made my time more efficient. Methinks I’ll have to make both items (the checklist and note-taking) permanent parts of my novel-writing process.
As for what I learned during this stage? Be patient with my process. I’m not a speed-demon writer, no matter how concentrated or prepared I am – and that’s OK. As long as I work diligently, make good use of my novel-writing time, and accept that I have no control over certain things, I’ll finish a draft I can be proud of without stressing myself out more than I should. Will there be a day when I’ll have to meet deadlines and reorganize my priorities so my life revolves around my writing career? Possibly – but I’ll adapt when the time comes. For now, though, I’m content with things as they are.
**NOTE: Due to my work schedule and other commitments, I tend to only have time for novel-writing / -revising on weekends and days off.
My Plans for Draft #3
“Wait. You mean, I can’t read TKC yet?!?!”
Yep. Sorry. I’ve known since the beginning of Draft #2 that TKC would need three drafts before it would be ready for beta-readers. That’s still the case now. So, here’s my current plan for Draft #3.
I’m going to take another short break between drafts. Last time I took a 6-week break before starting Draft #2 (mostly so I wouldn’t worry about squeezing in time for it over Easter weekend). This time, I’ll also wait until after Easter, and for the same reason. This will give me a few weekends to prepare for the next stage and catch up on other writing “projects” (like TKC’s separate world-building and character profile documents) and non-writing stuff (like housecleaning… yeah *blushes*).
The earliest I’ll start Draft #3 is Friday, April 1st. (Wait – is starting a new draft on April Fools Day a bad omen?) I’m planning to handle this draft differently than Draft #2, and here’s my thinking:
- Stage A – Print, Read, & Fact-Checking: I’ll start Draft #3 by reading a printed copy of TKC out loud. This should help me with gauging the flow of writing, word choice, paragraph / scene length, etc. in a way that reading it off a computer screen wouldn’t. I’ll also take the time to check facts such as timing (i.e., story timeline, pre-TKC events), redundancy, and consistent details (eye or hair color, setting, etc.).
- Stage B – Incorporating Changes: Once I finish Stage A, I’ll incorporate the changes I want to make based on reading TKC aloud as well as the items on my new self-editing checklist. (Yes, I created a new one during Draft #2. I couldn’t help it!)
This all is subject to change, of course. Last year I had an idea of how I thought Draft #2 would go; and about 20% of the way through, I realized said idea (especially my timetable) was unrealistic. This time, I think I have a better idea of what I’m doing. At least, I hope I do.
Do you know what’s neat about this approach to Draft #3, though? I could actually work Stage A into my weeknight schedule. Yay!
When do I expect to finish Draft #3? Ideally, I’d like to finish it before the end of 2016. However, between my parents’ upcoming move, being a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding, and a potential (yet relatively small-scale) home improvement project, this spring and summer will be quite busy outside of writing. So, I’ll have to practice patience and diligence once again, and be happy with whatever reading and editing time I can make for myself. In other words, when I finish Draft #3 is when I finish Draft #3 – and that’s OK.
Questions and Feedback for the Next Round of Chronicles
A new draft means a new stage of Chronicling The Craft! Like last time, your feedback is crucial for guiding me in the right direction on where to take this series next. So, I’d like to ask for your feedback on the following questions:
- What did you think of the length of the Draft #2 Chronicles?
Were they too long? Or did you not mind the length? Personally, I loved including tips as well as excerpts for your comments – but that often meant the posts were close to 4,000 words. :O
- Would you prefer writing tips or fun TKC-related “stuff” – or both?
In other words, when a new Chronicle pops up on the blog, what are you most excited to read? The writing / revising / editing tips, or the novel-centric content? Or, do you enjoy both? Depending on people’s answers to #1, I may have to consider removing a section (most likely the fun stuff) to get future Chronicles to a more reasonable length.
- If we do fun TKC-related “stuff,” what would you like to see this time?
This will also depend on your answers to #1 and #2. However, a lot of readers have expressed interest in hearing songs from TKC’s novel playlist – and I’d be thrilled to share somewith you! Would you be interested in this? Or, do you have another idea? Also, if we cut the “fun stuff” out of future Chronicles, should I make a separate series for that content?
Excerpts To Compare: The Final Page of Chapter 8 of The Keeper’s Curse
It’s been so much fun sharing these excerpts with you! The feedback you’ve provided (with great suggestions for Draft #3) and the excitement you’ve shown has been so encouraging and rewarding; and I can’t tell you how much I value it all. However, I’m also apprehensive about putting too much of TKC’s actual content “out in the wild,” if you know what I mean. So, today’s pair of excerpts will be the last for the foreseeable future. But, again, I do hope you know how thankful I am for all your input. (*hugs*)
Today’s excerpts are the final page(-ish) of Chapter 8 from each draft. The scene in question is an important conversation between Eva and her aunt Maji the night before Eva and her fellow Councilors set off on their quest. See what changes you notice when you compare the two excerpts, and let me know the following:
- What general comments do you have on the Draft #2 excerpt?
- Do you think Draft #2’s excerpt is an improvement over Draft #1’s? Why or why not?
- If you were reading the full manuscript, would the end of the Draft #2 version compel you to keep reading?
I sat upright. Yes, there was another question, one I had been meaning to ask for a long time.
She turned to me. “Yes, dear?”
“Can you tell me what you saw?”
Aunt Maji cocked her head to the side. “What I saw?”
“When you named me.”
Her face softened. “Well. I thought you’d never ask me that question.” She walked back to the hammock and sat down beside me again, taking both of my hands in hers. I waited as we sat there silently and Aunt Maji’s gaze grew distant with remembering.
“When your mother gave you to me,” she finally began, “I didn’t see much at first. It took a while for the vision to present itself to me. Once it did, I still didn’t see much, only a grey cloud that never faded or parted. It simply hung there, unchanging. Yet I was moving forward through the cloud, moving toward… Well, I couldn’t tell what I was moving toward, because I couldn’t see it. Yet I kept moving with what felt like a sense of purpose, wonder, intrigue. I wasn’t afraid of the unknown. Instead, I wanted to embrace it, or confront it, or both.”
She then looked at me in the eye, her gaze more present. “I could have given you a different name, Eva. Maybe Iripana, for ‘grey cloud.’ Or Kelinyikara, for ‘the girl who walks blindly.’ But none of those names felt right to me. They implied uncertainty and recklessness. And, being your aunt, I didn’t want to give you that kind of name, especially since I didn’t feel uncertainty or recklessness when I held you in my arms. I felt courage, strength, and resolve. And hakria. Oh, you were bristling with hakria! So, I needed a name that would fit the vision I saw and the sensations you gave me within. I needed a name that was more than simply a name. So, I chose Isonyeva.”
“Unknown fate,” I whispered.
“Yes. I understand it sounds like a name of doom, but I intended it to be more like an affirmation. One that says you are willing and able to create your own destiny, to make your own choices in life. That you may not know, at this very moment, what lies ahead on your path, but you will meet it face to face nonetheless.” She watched my face, as if seeking my approval. “Does it make more sense now?”
My answer stuck in my throat at first. I was so stunned by the honesty and clarity of Aunt Maji’s story that I almost forgot how to speak. So I let my eyes fall to our hands, which were still clasped together. I could sense her hakria in her fingertips, warm and soothing on my skin. My aunt, my name-giver, the woman who had raised me as her own daughter and now held my hands, had decided not to choose my fate for me, but to let me choose instead. Name-givers were not supposed to do that. The names they gave Faerie children always matched the children’s character or hinted at their future. Aunt Maji, however, had not given me a name of unexpected strength and power, a secret reminder of free will. It was the greatest gift I had never thought to ask for, and it washed over me like a rainshower of joy.
Finally I raised my eyes to meet Aunt Maji’s again. “Yes, Aunti,” I said. “Yes, it does.”
Yet that was not all. Something about Aunt Maji’s wisdom reminded me of a question I had been meaning to ask her for a while. I shifted so I could look at my ryenara. “Tila, I don’t know if I’m allowed to ask, but…” A sudden fear of never knowing the answer clenched in my chest, but I pushed past it. “Can you tell me what you saw? When you named me?”
Aunt Maji’s face softened. “I thought you’d never ask.” She took my hands in hers, and her gaze grew distant, remembering. Long moments passed before she spoke again.
“When your mother gave you to me… It took a while for the vision to present itself. Once it did, I didn’t see much. Only a grey cloud that never faded or parted. It simply hung there, unchanging. And I was moving forward through the cloud. I couldn’t see where I was going, but it didn’t matter, because I moved with a sense of purpose. I wasn’t afraid. In fact, I wanted to embrace the unknown, or confront it, or both.”
She looked me in the eye, her expression more present. “I could have given you a different name, Eva. Maybe Iripana, for ‘grey cloud.’ Or Kelinyikara, for ‘the girl who walks blindly.’ But none of those names felt right. They implied uncertainty, and I didn’t sense that in you. Instead, I felt courage, strength, resolve. And hakria. Oh, you were bristling with it! You deserved a name that fit the vision I saw and the sensations it gave me. A name that was more than simply a name. So, I chose Isonyeva.”
“Unknown fate.” The words left my lips as softly as mist.
“Yes. Not a gossamer-clear name, but I intended it to be an affirmation. One that says you are able to create your own destiny, to make your own choices in life. That you may not know at this moment what lies ahead on your path, but you will meet it regardless.” She watched me, seeking my approval. “Does that make sense?”
At first the reply caught in my throat. Fei names always hinted at one’s nature, passions, or destiny; and their meanings manifested as the fledgling grew. Mine had been a mystery, thick and inpenetrable, until now. Because my ryenara, the aunt who had named me and then raised me like a daughter, had not predicted my fate, but chosen to leave it in my hands. She had given me a name of power, and the revelation washed over me like a spring rainshower.
I moved my hands so they clasped Aunt Maji’s. “Yes, Tila. Yes, it does.”
What do you think of the excerpts above? Do you think the Draft #2 excerpt is an improvement over the Draft #1 excerpt? How are your WIPs coming along, by the way? Also, any feedback for the next round of Chronicles would be greatly appreciated!