Plus, Four Within Temptation Songs from 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 marks 40% completion of Draft #3, with a new progress report and more songs from TKC’s novel playlist.
I’m going to try my hardest to not start this post like a ping-pong ball bouncing off the walls… Oh, forget it, I’ll do it anyway.
I’ve already reached my word-cutting goal for Draft #3!!!!!!
To be honest, aiming to get The Keeper’s Curse under 105K was a conservative goal. I was aware of that going into Draft #3 – but I also underestimated how much editing the manuscript needed. The longer, overwritten chapters have benefited from the most trimming, but even some of the shorter chapters are 200 or 300 words slimmer now.
Wow. Simply wow.
So, what happens now that I’ve already reached my word-cutting goal for this draft? And what playlist goodies do I have to share today? Hop in and find out!
The 40% Progress Report
I passed the 40% mark over the 4th of July weekend, but couldn’t post the Chronicles sooner for various reasons. So, this should really be the 50% progress report, because I hit the halfway point on Sunday. (WHAT?!?!)
And statistics. Yes. Here they are:
Number of Total Words Cut So Far: 8,698 (current word count is now 102,260)
Number of Total Pages Cut So Far: 24 (current page count is 350)
Progress to Draft #3 Word-Cutting Goal: I think my goal of cutting 6,000 words isn’t just “done,” but OBLITERATED. XD
I’m just… floored. I didn’t think I’d be able to cut this much from the manuscript already. And I don’t think I’m over-cutting, either. Some chapters really needed to be shortened by 500 to 1,000 words. (*gulp*) But between the reformatted print-outs, reading certain sections out loud, and using Word’s Speak option (thanks for the suggestion, Sarah Higbee!), I’ve been able to identify the overwritten areas and make them more concise without (hopefully) compromising vividness or emotion. It’s not so much meat (content) that’s disappearing now, but the fat, if that makes sense.
So, now that I’ve reached my first word-cutting goal for Draft #3, it’s stretch-goal time! I’m now shooting to get TKC under 100K. And honestly, that might happen by the time the 60% Chronicles post. It’s like this draft has become a game of Limbo. How low will it go, indeed. XD
If you’ve overwritten a first draft and are terrified by the prospect of getting your manuscript under an industry-recommended word count, let me assure you: It can be done. Take a deep breath, focus on what you need to do with your story, and march forward. You can make it happen without sacrificing your story’s heart and soul. I believe in you!
The Keeper’s Curse Novel Playlist: Four Songs by Within Temptation
Last time, I shared songs from film soundtracks that helped me write TKC and are now part of the novel’s playlist. Besides paying tribute to those film scores, I knew one other thing I wanted for the playlist: It needed LOTS of symphonic metal, the music genre I associate most with fantasy. 😀 And since Within Temptation is one of my favorite bands (heck, I wrote an entire post about their music here), it was only a matter of time before I found songs of theirs that fit the story.
Out of the five Within Temptation songs on the playlist, I’m sharing four of them here today. Sit back, listen, and let me know what you think!
“Where Is The Edge?” (from 2011’s The Unforgiving)
What’s neat about The Unforgiving is Within Temptation wrote the album in conjunction with comic book writer Steven O’Connell (BloodRayne, Dark48). The comics tell the story of a taskforce of “lost souls” recruited to fight evil as penance for their past sins and poor decisions. The songs touch on some of the comics’ characters and events, but focuses more on underlying themes such as revenge, regret, second chances, and salvation.
Why This Song? “Where Is The Edge?” represents TKC’s inciting incident, which introduces Eva’s hatred for the Mountain Folk and reminds her of her vow to avenge her parents’ murders. The lyrics focus on how revenge awakens the darkest parts of ourselves and blind us to the consequences of our actions – ideas that grow increasingly clear as TKC continues. (Check out the lyrics here.) This part of the second verse especially reminds me of Eva’s struggle: “It’s the rule that you live by and die for / It’s the one thing you cannot deny / Even though you don’t know what the price is / It is justified.”
“Mother Earth” (from 2000’s Mother Earth)
“Mother Earth” was one of the songs that put Within Temptation on Europe’s metal map back in 2000. It’s not hard to imagine why. Sweeping strings, soaring melodies, and Sharon’s haunting, ethereal vocals make “Mother Earth” intense and surprisingly accessible. The song made a huge impression on me the first time I heard it, and it’s still one of my favorites by WT to this day.
Why This Song? Two reasons. First, the Fei in TKC’s world practice a nature-centric religion that’s similar to Native American nature worship. So, I think the Fei would agree with the song’s lyrics, which are about nature’s whims and power over humanity. Second, since TKC is a quest story, I wanted setting and the environment to present challenges to Eva and her travel party. “Mother Earth” represents one of those moments in the story.
“Tell Me Why” (from 2014’s Hydra)
One reason why I love Within Temptation’s music is the variety of their songs. Gorgeous ballads, catchy midtempo numbers, epic rollercoasters – and searing uptempo tracks that ROCK. “Tell Me Why” is one such number. It’s heavy and intense, yet it never loses touch with the band’s symphonic-melodic nature. You get some death growls from Robert Westerholt between 3:22 and 3:41, but they melt in with the music and Sharon’s vocals seamlessly and add to the song’s sense of anguish and desperation.
Why This Song? Lyrically, “Tell Me Why” is about regret, self-blame, and the desire to set things right again. There’s a point in TKC when a Really Bad Thing happens (trust me – it’s really bad), and Eva holds herself responsible for it. This song represents her distress and her bad habit of clinging to guilt.
“Sounds of Freedom” (B-side / Rare Track from 2007’s The Heart of Everything)
A b-side? Yes, you won’t “Sounds of Freedom” on any Within Temptation album. The band recorded this song and “The Howling” for the Chronicles of Spellborn video game. But while “The Howling” was later included on The Heart of Everything (and became one of WT’s biggest hits), “Sounds of Freedom” was saved as a bonus track for the European CD single for “Frozen.” If you’re able to get a hold of this lovely midtempo ballad, you’re a lucky fan indeed.
Why This Song? “Sounds of Freedom” echoes some of the themes reflected in TKC’s plot, especially peace and reconciliation. And while the lyrics mention supernatural forces that don’t exist in TKC’s world (e.g., ghosts), magic is vital to the plot and Eva’s growth as she discovers her true potential.
What do you think of the song choices? Are you a fan of Within Temptation’s music? Do any of your favorite music artists appear on your WIP’s playlist?
Looking for the tips portion of Chronicling The Craft? Come back and read it in its own post on Thursday, July 21st!