Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 – 20% Progress Report

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Plus, Five Film Soundtrack Pieces That Are Featured on the WIP’s Novel Playlist

Chronicling The Craft is a 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, to celebrate 20% completion of Draft #3, here’s the first progress report and a reveal of some of the songs on TKC’s novel playlist.

Yep – it’s update time!

Mark Watney Martian gif

Well, I haven’t been blowing things up like Matt Damon / Mark Watney was in The Martian… But I’ve reached the 20% mark in editing Draft #3 of The Keeper’s Curse! That means it’s also time to unveil the “revamped” version of the Chronicling The Craft series.

Based on readers’ feedback, I’m splitting each Chronicle into two separate posts. The first one (i.e., this post) will feature a progress report and a few tracks on TKC’s novel playlist. The second post (scheduled for Saturday, May 21st) will focus on tips for the editing process. So, whether you prefer “fun stuff” or “writerly stuff,” you can now choose which one you want to read – or, you can read both posts at different times. 😉

So, how have things been going with Draft #3 so far? Let’s see…

The 20% Progress Report

As of Tuesday night, I’ve finished reading and editing Chapter 7, which ends on Page 69. Statistically speaking, here’s how things look right now:

Number of Words Cut So Far: 2,463 (current total word count is now 108,491)

Number of Pages Cut So Far: 8 (current page count is 366)

Progress to Draft #3 Word Count Goal: 41% (goal is cutting almost 6,000 words to bring the word count down to 105,000)

Pippin celebrates gif

Pippin approves!

Wow! That’s more than what I was expecting at this point. Chapters 3 and 6 especially needed extensive editing (which I was aware of), and I managed to bring down their word counts quite a bit (800+ and 700+, respectively). What surprises me is the amount of words cut from other chapters. I don’t want to jinx anything… but knowing what I have left to work on, reaching my main word count goal for Draft #3 shouldn’t be an issue. 😀

“Cutting,” by the way, might not be the right word for describing the editing phase of TKC so far. It’s been more like trimming and finessing so the word choices are more precise, economical, and necessary. There’s also been some puzzle-piece rearranging, re-imagining of certain scenes, and figurative hair-pulling during brain cramps. (Which is just as painful as actual hair-pulling.) It’s interesting, challenging for sure, and entertaining in spots. (The things your characters say that make you laugh? Yup! It’s great to revisit them again!)

What’s been the most difficult part of Draft #3 up to this point? Learning how to manage my time better to fit in editing during the week. I’ve made a couple lifestyle changes to allow for an hour’s worth of editing on three weeknights. Yet I also HATE letting certain things slip at home… and as a result, I’ve gone to bed waaaaay later than I should some nights, and it’s wearing on me. :/  So, I need to experiment with my schedule and try not to cram in so much at night. Let’s see if I can figure it out before the next pair of Chronicles.

The Keeper’s Curse Novel Playlist: Five Songs from Influential Film Soundtracks

When I created TKC’s novel playlist, I wanted to include songs from the film soundtracks I listened to while working on the story. Music is a huge part of my writing process, so it only felt right to pay tribute to the scores that influenced the story and “steeped” me in the right moods for certain scenes.

Today I’m sharing the tracks that represent the five soundtracks I listened to while writing TKC. These songs will be listed in chronological order as they appear on the playlist. And I have a feeling that most of the picks won’t be shockers. 😉

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian by Harry Gregson-Williams

C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia was the second fantasy series I read in its entirety (after The Lord of the Rings). So, of course I saw the live-action Narnia movies when they came out. And while I can’t place why I bought the Prince Caspian soundtrack and not the others, I’m glad I have it. There’s something heroic and magical about this score, with hints of wonder, adventure, and innocence that fit the Narnia stories perfectly.

Why “Arrival at Aslan’s How”? It’s the perfect introduction song. I alternated between this and other Prince Caspian tracks while working on TKC’s first couple chapters, but “Arrival at Aslan’s How” resonates most with me. When I listen to it, I can  imagine riding down from the sky on a winged creature and gently landing in a strange, beautiful land – or, in TKC’s case, gliding into the Fei forest and finding my protagonist Eva and Council brother Doni in the middle of an archery lesson.

The Hobbit by Howard Shore

Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy may have its flaws (that’s a discussion for another day, though), but An Unexpected Journey holds a special place in my heart because it planted the seeds of inspiration that became TKC. And since I loved Howard Shore’s LOTR score, I knew I’d get his soundtracks for all three Hobbit movies. His signature style, familiarity with LOTR’s musical themes, and deep understanding of Middle-Earth from an aesthetic perspective allows The Hobbit‘s score to be its own unique self while re-immersing us in the splendor of a much-beloved fantasy world.

Why “Axe or Sword?” from An Unexpected Journey“Axe or Sword?” is one of the songs I’ve played most while working on TKC. It teems with nobility, integrity, and fellowship, as if multiple characters are having an important conversation. So, I often played “Axe or Sword?” during scenes where Eva was getting to know her Mountain Folk companions better, as well as her “Point of No Return” scene, which this song represents on the playlist.

The Lion King by Hans Zimmer

The Lion King might seem like an odd choice, but GOODNESS is it gorgeous! Even when I first saw the movie when I was 10, the music stood out because of its tribal choirs, wind instruments, and percussion along with a standard orchestra. (Yeah. I paid attention to things like that when I was younger. *blushes*) Now, as an adult, it’s still one of my all-time favorite film scores. It’s emotional, evocative, and true to the film’s African setting. And since I imagine the Fei’s music sounds a cross between Native American and African styles, listening to The Lion King also made sense from a world-building perspective.

Why “To Die For…”? I’m afraid readers will HATE me for picking this track, because it comes at one of the most terrifying and heart-breaking moments in The Lion King. But for TKC, I was looking for something fast-paced and exhilarating to help me write a particular action scene. “To Die For…” was exactly what I needed at that moment.

The Lord of the Rings by Howard Shore

Surprised? No?? Gee, I wonder why. (*lol*) It’s no secret that I adore Howard Shore’s LOTR film score. In fact, I wrote an entire post about its music here. And you bet I listened to many LOTR tracks while working on TKC.

Why “The Forbidden Pool” from The Two Towers Standard OST? “The Forbidden Pool” has this amazingly quiet, creepy vibe. It’s low, dark, tense in parts, and quivering with unease. To me, it’s a great musical reflection of suspicion and secrecy. I turned to this piece quite a bit for scenes when Eva senses that something’s amiss.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 by Alexandre Desplat

How could I not own the soundtrack for my favorite Harry Potter movie ever? 🙂 Equal parts sinister and triumphant, thrilling and tearful, the score for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 has always captured me with its rich, emotional resonance. Then again, the film does yank at the heart for scene after scene. Alexandre Desplat does the same in this soundtrack, and beautifully so.

Why “The Resurrection Stone”? Like the other pieces featured above, “The Resurrection Stone” matches the moods of certain scenes in TKC. It’s a delicate, nuanced piece that reminds me of Eva’s lingering sadness over losing her parents, as well as her increasing sense of vulnerability during the story.  “The Resurrection Stone” was perfect for those moments in TKC, especially for Eva’s “Dark Night of the Soul” scene.

What do you think of the five song choices? If you had to pick film soundtracks for your WIP’s novel playlist, which one(s) would you choose? Also, how is your WIP coming along? 

Looking for the editing tips portion of Chronicling The Craft? Come back and read it in its own post on Saturday, May 21st!

28 thoughts on “Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 – 20% Progress Report

  1. Ohmygod, Sara, The Lion King! *swoons* Have you ever listened to the broadway soundtrack? Seriously, you’ll never go back to the movie’s music. Just sayin’ 😉

    Back on track: I adore that you split the post into two; it makes it a lot easier to read now that I don’t see my scrollbar so tiny. A lot more manageable for the reader and (I hope?) for you, as well 🙂

    So happy to hear the great news on the first 20% too! Sounds like you’re getting a lot done; you’re already so close to your WC goal; at this rate, d’you think you’ll actually wind up under 105k? I definitely don’t think it would be a bad thing if you did; from the sound of it, you’re making your current prose stronger and more precise versus cutting large chunks (which is more of a draft #2 move, if my own editing’s been any hint).

    My own WIP: I started re-reading it just last night! Only three chapters (about…30-ish double-spaced pages, I think), but I’m astounded already. Not only is the prose not as bad as I feared it would be (which is really reassuring, because I definitely see how much I’ve grown as a writer in the last few years), but I’ve already got a plan to combine those three chapters into one. I’m going to keep reading and making notes, of course, but it feels fantastic and not as intimidating, knowing that I can “see” where the novel needs to go and how to shape it from where I’m at.

    As for a soundtrack . . . since you mentioned a movie soundtrack in particular, I’d go with Sucker Punch AND The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Both of them have fantastic scores, and the songs that have lyrics, as well, are so punchy and rock/alt and are enough to get my blood boiling to the tune of the WIP. They’re awesome.

    Thanks for the update, Sara! I’ll be keeping a lookout for more. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Rae! 🙂 I’m pretty confident I’ll get this draft below 105K at this point, especially knowing how much work the remaining chapters need. My stretch goal is 100K… which I’d be shocked to pass, but if I can get close, I’d be happy.

      Splitting the Chronicles was a FANTASTIC idea. 😀 Writing each half really was more manageable, and the post length isn’t so intimidating this time around. Well, at least for this first post. The tips post (which will post on Saturday) is a bit on the long side, but I hope readers won’t mind…

      Yay for The Lion King! I don’t have the Broadway soundtrack, but I’d love to see the show itself someday.

      That’s great to hear about your WIP! Though combining three chapters into one sounds a little scary. I’ve done something similar, though (combined two chapters into one during Draft #2 of TKC), so it’s possible. Good luck!

      Cool choices for soundtracks. I’ve never heard of Sucker Punch, but definitely The Huntsman. That one’s a sequel to Snow White & The Huntsman, right?


  2. Yay for progress! I’m also doing a bit of cutting in my current editing. XD I’m sharpening everything right now to send off to betas. And I very much approve of your choices. ^ ^ Great picks all of them–even that incredibly heartbreaking Lion King track. XD

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love these songs! You’ve reminded me– I need to get serious about complying songs I like, not just giving them a “thumbs up” on Pandora.
    I usually use Pandora for the sense of secrecy. If I know where the song is coming from, and I’ve heard it a bazillion times while watching it’s movie, then I can’t focus. I end up thinking about the movie and the scene where it came from instead of working. XD
    I’m somewhere towards the end of the second draft of my WIP. It’s a slow pace as I read through and scout out overlooked plot holes. *sigh*
    Can’t wait for the editing tips!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jeneca! The tips post went live on Saturday, so it’s there now for your reading pleasure. 😉

      I know what you mean about being distracted by songs you’re familiar with if you try to write to them. For some reason, I don’t have that issue with instrumental pieces… but I do with lyrics and distinct vocals. They make me want to sing along! *lol*

      Good luck with your second draft! What is your story about? And what genre is it?


      • Yay!
        My story is about girl named Lyric who’s always known that something isn’t right with her little world, but then discovers it’s more than she realized and has to decide what she’s going to do with it. It’s a YA Christian Dystopian. I’m still working on concisely describing my story in a not boring way (working=very slowly working and mostly failing 😅) but I do have a blurb of it in the ‘my writing’ tab on my blog. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I love The Lion King. I watched that film so many times I think I could quote it by heart! I have the soundtrack too, and love it just as much as the film. 🙂

    Your song choices are good. I’m thinking of compiling a playlist for my WIP. I don’t listen to music while I’m actually working, but music;s good for inspiration and getting into the mood.

    Well done on your editing/revising progress. 🙂

    Finding time for everything you want to do is hard. I’m trying to fit more writing in, but it’s hard with other commitments and needing to do things like, you know, sleeping. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! 🙂 I still rank The Lion King among my favorite animated movies of all time, and the score isn’t the only reason.

      “Danger? Hah! I walk on the wild side. I laugh in the face of danger. Ha ha ha ha!” 😉

      Nice! What kinds of songs (genres, artists) do you think you’d feature on your WIP’s playlist?

      I’ve been doing some serious thinking about what to do about my schedule since this post went live… Hopefully I’ll have something to share about that in Time Flies at the end of the month.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 😀 Love the quote.
        So far, I’m thinking it will be a mix off instrumental and some “sung” songs. There are some that I’ve earmarked, mostly powerful, emotional type songs. There’s a particular Gabrielle Aplin one that really fits with a particular scene. The problem is that I love music so much it could very easily become a procrastination tool. So got to watch that one!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve never heard of Gabrielle Aplin before. What kind of music does she perform?

        The rest of the Draft #3 Chronicles will use “sung” songs, btw. Not songs I listen to while working on TKC, but songs that remind me of certain characters or scenes and are on the novel playlist as a result. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats on the progress! That’s really impressive!
    I am such a big fan of scores and all of those songs are such amazing pieces. The Chronicles soundtrack is so gorgeous! And anything from Howard Shore always manages to sweep me away! And the Lion King is just…words can’t describe how much I love every aspect of that movie!
    Thanks for sharing ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, those are some pretty good soundtracks. I particularly love listening to Hans Zimmer’s music.

    I’ve never actually really thought about a soundtrack specifically for my novel. I mean, I almost always listen to music while I write, but it’s usually just whatever my favorite songs are at the moment—but then again, now that I think about it, I had a Pandora playlist of soundtracks while I wrote the first draft of Oracular. If I were to pick one movie soundtrack for that, I’d say one of the ones from the Man of Steel movie (which was also done by Hans Zimmer)…well, either that, or from the Ender’s Game movie. I love those soundtracks so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like the scores and can see why you picked them for your WIP, they all have the “magic” feel about them and I could easily picture a Fae forest while listening to them. However, I wouldn’t pick them for myself, mostly because I prefer something more energetic when I write.
    My writing playlist on Spotify has over 250 songs (about 14 hours of music), mostly instrumental and energetic, though some slower as well. Many of them are video games soundtracks, trailer music or selected tracks from movie soundtracks (yup, the more energetic ones).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cool! The only time I listen to energetic pieces is when working on TKC is if the scene features action (chase, fighting, etc.) or adrenalizing emotions like fear or terror. So I find your overall preference for energetic songs really interesting.


  8. 20% done, congrats Sara!
    The music scores you chose are some of the best, I really should listen to them more. I’m still putting a playlist together for my WIP, and so far the music I listen to is instrumental and game osts. Gladiator, and How To Train Your Dragon are two movies whose osts I’ve listened too, so far. But I’d like to add a few more to my playlist. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, E.! I had a feeling you’d like some of the soundtracks that were featured. 😉

      How far along would you say you are with your current draft of the first V Chronicles book? (That’s what you’re working on, right?)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am due for another Behind the Scenes post of V Chronicles, aren’t I? I keep falling behind on things. I actually have some exciting news that book 1 now has a title! I need to find some time and write up a post explaining it all. 🙂 I’m about 25% through draft #4 right now. Thank you for asking. 🙂 I’ll try to write that up and choose a day to post.

        Liked by 1 person

      • *lol* I thought you had a title for Book 1, though! Have you found a new one you prefer over that one? Or am I remembering things incorrectly? (I think I’m having a hard time keeping all my writer friends’ stories straight. :S )


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