Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 Begins!

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A Quick Update, Plus Upcoming Changes to Future Chronicles

Chronicling The Craft is an article series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today’s installment marks the beginning of Draft #3 (edits and minor revisions).

As the great and wise Rafiki once said during The Lion King

Rafiki It is time animated

If the subtitles are tough to read… “IT IS TIME!”

Yup! About 4 weeks after finishing Draft #2 of The Keeper’s Curse, I decided that I’d spent enough time away from the story. I wouldn’t say I’ve been impatient about starting Draft #3. (Welll… maybe a teensy bit.) Instead, now feels like the right time, rather than a week or two from now. The plan is in place, all of the necessary documents have been printed – so, why not?

Since a new draft is beginning, I’ll recap my approach and goals for Draft #3, then reveal how this next round of Chronicles will run. Plus, I’ll let you in on a Tweet-y way you can follow my progress. Ready?

TKC D3 Day 1_1

My dining room table (a.k.a. Draft #3 Central)

Getting Back Into the Swing of (Editing) Things

I actually started Draft #3 last Saturday, April 2nd, so this post is coming 1 week late. (*oops*) So far, I’ve read the first two chapters (and bled ink all over them!) and began editing Chapter 1. I also took a quick break to freewrite about one aspect of TKC’s world-building and history that needed strengthening. In hindsight I’m glad I took care of it, because now I can weave those elements throughout the entire draft and still have things make sense.

As mentioned in my previous Chronicle, I’m starting Draft #3 by reading a printed copy of TKC and double-checking all story-related facts. The neat part about this stage is that I can do most of the work away from my computer and give myself a “change in scenery,” so to speak. And as you can see in the above photo, my dining room table has become my temporary “Editor’s Desk.” 😉

At the same time, my “plan of attack” for Draft #3 has changed slightly. Originally I was going to finish reading the printed copy before I began the actual editing. Now, I think it might be better to read a couple chapters, then incorporate their changes right away. That way, what I read will still be fresh in my mind, and I can still fit in time for either reading or editing on select weeknights as well as weekends.

Also, I’m holding off on reading the manuscript out loud. Several changes that I made during the second half of TKC still need to be incorporated during the first half. (Read here and here if you’re curious about what I mean by this.) As a result, parts of the manuscript are still messy, and I’d rather not make this stage more complicated than it needs to be. So, the “reading aloud” part will wait until the end of Draft #3.

Finally, what other documents am I looking at besides each chapter print-out? Here’s a quick list of them:

  • My Draft #3 checklist, based on my “Self-Edit Saver” Checklist. This one is comprised of notes I took while revising Draft #2 as well as your feedback on the excerpts I shared here at the blog. (Thank you again for your comments, btw!)
  • A timeline of important events that happen prior to and during TKC.
  • Fact sheets that keep track of character details such as hair color, eye color, etc.
  • A glossary of names and important terms to ensure consistent spelling and capitalization through the manuscript.

Target Word Count and Other “Goals” for Draft #3

A few people have asked what my target word count is for Draft #3, or how often I plan to post new Chronicles during this go-round. Here’s what I’m thinking on those counts:

  • Target Word Count: 105,000. I *think* it’s doable, since I was able to get a 132K first draft down to a 111K second draft. But we’ll see…
  • Deadline: Once it’s in beta-readable shape. (See? I learned from last time’s misjudgment! *lol*) Ideally, l’d like to finish Draft #3 before the end of 2016, but I won’t be too hard on myself if it happens later.
  • Frequency of New Chronicles: Maybe every 25%? Or every 20%? I haven’t decided yet. Once I’m further along, I’ll have a better idea on how often this series will post.

The New Format for Upcoming Articles

Thanks so much for your feedback on the Draft #2 Chronicles! The responses were unanimous on the overall length and suggested approach. It also became clear that eveyrone would like to see none of the current content (Progress Report, Tips, and “Fun Stuff”) cut from future posts.

So, instead of one new Chronicle for each Draft #3 milestone, two new Chronicles will post about 2 or 3 days apart. The content will be split as follows:

  • Part 1: Progress Report & Novel Playlist Selections
  • Part 2: Revision & Editing Tips

Doing this should help make this series more manageable for everyone: on the preparation and writing side for me, and on the reading and commenting side for you. Plus, if you’d prefer to check out the tips instead of the playlist songs (or vice versa), you’ll be able to pick which part to read once it posts.

Follow #TheKeepersCurse on Twitter

Have you noticed that writers (both published and not) often hashtag their novel titles on Twitter? People have asked if I’d do the same for TKC to make it easier for anyone who wants to follow its progress. So, if you’re one of the interested parties, feel free to follow the hashtag #TheKeepersCurse to see my most recent Tweets about Draft #3.

How is your WIP coming along? How do you typically approach your revision or editing process? 

24 thoughts on “Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 Begins!

  1. It’s interesting, because I’m bang in the middle of the first major edit of Breathing Space. Of course it has had to stop and start around events like starting a new term at college and looking after the grandchildren – but the first thing I had to do was a couple of major rewrites as the pacing in the first quarter was too flat where I’d done too much ‘telling’ and now enough ‘showing’. I’m now on the last lap – after I’ve gone through to the end, the next editing pass will be looking at the language and pacing. The one after that (when I’m sure the big chunks will disappear) is when I use TrackChanges to ensure the narrative timeline is solid, by labelling every day and event using the Comments boxes. I’ll probably break off at that stage and slip back to Dying For Space for a final line edit, before revisiting Breathing Space again:).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Checking a story’s timeline is so important, I agree. It’s good to make sure that things happen when they’re supposed, and not too soon or too late – or that you’re not missing a day completely. I read an article by Juliet Marillier recently, where she talked about receiving her editor’s editorial report on her next book Den of Wolves. One of the editor’s comments was that, somewhere in the story, she had lost a day or two of her timeline, so some of the details were off. So, yeah, the story’s timeline is crucial to “get right.”

      Good luck with your edits / revisions for Dying For Space and Breathing Space! How much longer do you think it will be before the books will come out?

      Liked by 1 person

      • It all depends on how smoothly the editing goes! So far, I haven’t encountered any major problems, but it simply isn’t a process I’m prepared to rush. I still think it’s doable to get all three out this year, but it certainly won’t be before the summer.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. How exciting, Sara! Sounds like you’ve got a great plan of attack for this next draft, and really: take no prisoners! I love reading about your process and I’m eager to see how that process works out for you along the way. Crossing my fingers for you that you reach your deadline, but I know how you feel about not being too hard on yourself if you don’t make it. It’s great to have that deadline to keep you on track, but at the same time, you don’t want to rush yourself.

    My WIP: I reached 70k on my WIP last night! That my was initial WC goal for the project, but I always aim low; I’m thinking I need about 15-20k at the least to finish this sucker up. My initial “deadline” was actually April 15 (this Friday), with April 20 as a “last resort” deadline, but I’m honestly certain I won’t reach the 15th, and the 20th . . . well, it’ll be iffy. But hey, c’est la vie, right?

    Congrats on starting Draft #3!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Rae! 😀 I just finished Chapter 1 a little while ago, so I’m on a bit of an adrenaline rush now. I’m also taking this week off from work, so I’m eager put the time to good use. (And have some fun away from the book, too!)

      That’s awesome about your WIP! Great job with reaching your original word count goal. And yeah, don’t worry too much about the deadline. You’re on a roll, anyways, so keep plugging away. I’ve no doubts that you’ll get to The End soon. 😉

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  3. I like your idea of freewriting the worldbuilding bits. I have “all the world” sorted out, but it’s only in my head, so it’s easy to forget the good stuff or end up digging through a whole novel for consistency. I sometimes take note of things, but I might start doing as you do and have more covered by freewritten notes like that.
    Also, good look with your third draft! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so tempting to keep it all in your head, isn’t it? But if you write or type it somewhere, then you’ve got a reference to go back to later. I’m the kind of writer who easily confuses or forgets details if I don’t have something to guide me, too, so it’s a good thing to have.

      Thank you! Just finished editing Chapter 2 today, so I’ll read Chapter 3 this afternoon. That should be… interesting, since Chapter 3 is one of the “still very overwritten” chapters. :S

      Liked by 1 person

      • I most of the time remember things, but obviously, once details make it into the story, I forget them, so… I remember they’re “somewhere”, but need to find them each time I need to check consistency.
        Definitely, I need to start free-writing my world down. 🙂
        Hope your editing still goes well, and apologies for late replies, I’m only now catching up with comments (and hopefully blog posts).

        Liked by 1 person

      • No worries about the delay. I know you’ve been busy with A To Z and other things. 😉

        Speaking of remembering to do things: I need to start updating my glossary. I’ve been marking up a hard copy with changes or additions as I’ve been editing and reading, but those changes haven’t made it into the actual document yet. *oops*

        Draft #3 is going about as well as it can right now. A couple chapters have needed more work than others (which I expected), but no big hiccups so far. I might be on track for 20% or 25% update posts sometime in May.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Glad to hear that it’s going well. At the moment, you’re my inspiration and a proof it can be done. (I spent the last 3 days staring at a single scene… I mean, trying to fix it and all that. 😉 )

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Yay for progress! I love the Rafiki gif. That made me chuckle. 😄 Editing is a tough stage, one I’ll be undertaking next month. My current WIP is going slowly. I got behind on CampNaNo, but I plan on catching up today during a write in with a friend. I’m 3K behind. Oops. Happy editing!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Tori! I’ve actually had this week off from work, so I’ve been hard at work on Draft #3. (I’ve done some fun stuff, too – so it’s not all work and no play. *wink*) I’m almost done reading Chapter 4, and I’ve started editing Chapter 3.

      Hey, you’re still making progress. You might not be where you want to be at this point, but it’s always better than having not started at all. 😉 How many words are you hoping to do this month? (And this is for Silver Hood, right?)

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m glad to hear your dive into Draft 3 is going well, Sara! You have a great plan here for future craft chronicles; I’m looking forward to it!

    I’m journeying through V.Chronicles’ chapter 3 at the moment. Tweaking a lot of things and checking worldbuilding facts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Elizabeth! I’ve already picked out the songs for the first update post. Now I have to think of a topic for the tips post. Hmmmmm….

      Glad to hear things are moving forward with your Draft #3. What do you think has been the most difficult part so far? And the most fun or exciting?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Can’t wait to listen to them! Hmm, yeah, those topics are difficult for me to come up with too, which is why I don’t frequently write updates. *blushes* I usually try to think what I was struggling with most, and use that for a topic. Were there any new/different challenges you faced this time?
        Most difficult part, I’d say how slow-going it feels. Most fun part, seeing the story more refined and polished, for sure! ^_^

        Liked by 1 person

      • I keep coming back to cutting back on description, actually. One of my “culprit” areas using too many words to describe things. Unnecessary details, long paragraphs, too many adjectives… So, making those sections of the manuscript more manageable has been one of the things I’ve already had to work on quite a bit with Draft #3. It’s probably going to end up at the tip topic, for that reason.

        I definitely agree with you on how good it feels to see the story becoming more polished. That’s how I feel about the first few chapters of Draft #3 so far. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a very good and relatable topic. Description can be a touchy thing. You don’t want to overdo it, but you don’t want to cut out too much either. For me when I read it’s the descriptions that draw me in and help me visualize a world, but if the paragraph is structured as a massive block across the page that will make my brain dizzy, haha. I think that’s a great topic to discuss in more detail. 🙂

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  6. Hooray for Draft#3 – I hope the editing is going well!

    I’m impressed by the amount of words you cut, you know. I never seem to be able to manage more than a few thousand overall. Knight of the Blue Surcoat actually ended up longer by about 3K words by my final edit! (And it’s still the shortest novel I’ve ever written – at around 79K words).

    All of your ideas for the edits are great – I agree that keeping a glossary of terms/words is crucial, especially when you’ve invented a language (or three) and a bunch of different cultures! It’s amazing how quickly you forget things when you don’t do this.

    My basic read-through of TLCS is going well. I’m also having Grace read it, and she hasn’t chucked it at my head in despair yet, so we’re doing okay (fine, that would be a bit out of character, she’s too nice, but still . . .) Also, I’m rereading it and still loving it, and I’m looking forward to more comprehensive edits. That’s a good thing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Rebekah! I’ve edited through Chapter 4 and have read / marked up Chapter 5, so that will be next on the editing “plate.” It’s going pretty well so far. The first two chapters were straightforward in terms of their changes. But the last three (including what I’ll need to do for Chapter 5) have been more complicated. They’ve required a mix of cutting, rewriting / revising, moving certain (small) pieces around, and a teeny bit of adding.

      I’m still mind-boggled by how much I was able to cut from Draft #2, too. But I’m glad I did, and I know it still needs more trimming. But 105K is doable, especially since I’ve already cut 1400 words. :O And I admire you for being able to keep Knight of the Blue Surcoat so short!

      Oh, I have separate “dictionaries” going for the languages, all in separate Excel files. The glossary is mostly for names of characters, locations, and important terms. But they’re all really helpful to have. I just need to make time to update the glossary as I go along – and THAT (remembering to make time for it) is what I struggle with…

      That’s good that you still love TLCS, and also good that Grace is enjoying it. 🙂 What do you think you’ll need to work on when you dive into the actual revising and/or editing?

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  7. This all sounds really good! And exciting. Draft 3 is hopefully coming along nicely. And I think the idea of splitting the Chronicles post is a good idea. 🙂

    I’m currently fixing plotholes and worldbuiliding mistakes in a first draft. I’m thinking a complete rewrite is going to be in order because of the amount of changes I’m making. The story was written in parts over a number of years, so it’s a bit of a mess. But I love the characters and the overall theme and idea so much that I can’t give up on it. It’s a lot of work, but I hope it’s going to be worth it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Phoenix. 🙂 I’m hoping to start reading Chapter 6 this week. I haven’t been able to work on TKC a lot on weeknights this month, since a lot has been going on offline. (Nothing bad – it’s just a very busy time right now.) But we’ll see. I’m doing my best to be patient.

      A total rewrite? :S It sounds like you’ve considered all the potential changes for a while, though. And the fact that you don’t want to give up on this story to make it the best it needs to be – that says a lot about your perseverance and faith in the story. Best of luck with the next draft!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know what you mean. My work on Elondria (the rewrite project) hasn’t been going that swiftly just recently because of life. Getting in the way. 🙂
        I thought about it hard, but in the end, decided that a rewrite was just what the story needed. It is a passion project, and I believe it could be something really good. At least, I hope so. Thanks. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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