Plus, Four Songs from Leah’s Kings & Queens That Appear on the WIP’s 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’s post marks 60% completion of Draft #3 with another progress report and more songs on TKC’s novel playlist.
It’s time for another update! And you know what’s better that giving another progress report? Sharing the news that I’ve met my stretch goal for cutting TKC’s word count!!
To be honest, I’m not surprised that I reached this second goal so quickly. I was just over 2,000 words away at the 40% update; and with several overwritten chapters around the corner, it was bound to happen before this pair of Chronicles. But that doesn’t change how thrilled and relieved I am that TKC is now within the recommended word count for its genre (under 100K for YA fantasies by debut authors).
Today I’ll go more in-depth about where TKC stands and what happens now that I’ve reached my stretch goal. I’ll also introduce you to the music of melodic metal singer-songwriter Leah McHenry and share more tunes from the novel’s playlist. Ready?
The 60% Progress Report
I hit the 60% mark of Draft #3 last month when I was in New York City for Writer’s Digest Conference. (Which made the trip all the more sweeter!) And as of yesterday, I’m up to Page 240, which comes during Chapter 26. The latest statistics break down like this:
Number of Words Cut So Far: 11,847 (current total word count is now 99,107)
Number of Pages Cut So Far: 32 (current page count is 342)
Progress to Draft #3 Word Count Stretch Goal: Complete!
It’s been an interesting 7 weeks of editing. I’ve deleted unnecessary words, made the writing more concise, and fixed other expected problems. But I’ve also edited the lyrics to a song I “wrote” for the novel (to fit its meter better), split a chapter in two because of its word count despite any editing, and done more research. (Knowing how my 17-year-old female protagonist would have to manage her “monthly friend” while on a quest had slipped my mind until recently…) My confidence has been riding a rollercoaster lately, too, so I’ve had to work harder on keeping my spirits high. But now that most of Draft #3 is behind me, I’ll hopefully start to feel the momentum of being “almost done” again.
So, what happens now that I’ve passed my word-cutting stretch goal? Some of the upcoming chapters are still a bit long, so more trimming will happen. But at this point, most of the significant cutting that was needed has happened, so I’m not going to stress a particular goal for the rest of the draft. And based on what’s left, Draft #3 might be between 95K and 97K when it’s done.
Finally, I’ve set a “soft deadline” of Sunday, November 20th for Draft #3. It’s the weekend before the American Thanksgiving holiday; and at my current rate, I should make it. Plus, the idea of finishing this draft before the holiday shopping season is AMAZING. Not having two big priorities competing against each other ought to make December less stressful. Let’s see what we can do!
The Keeper’s Curse Novel Playlist: Four Songs from Leah’s Kings & Queens
When I bought Leah’s latest album Kings & Queens last fall, I was merely looking forward to new music by this Canadian singer-songwriter. What I was NOT expecting was to find several songs that remind me of events in TKC. Yay! Plus, the album’s mix of symphonic metal and world music fit perfectly with the direction I wanted TKC’s novel playlist to take. The only difficulty I ran into was making sure I didn’t include the entire CD. 😉
Out of the six songs from Kings & Queens that are currently on TKC’s playlist, I’m sharing four with you today. If you enjoyed the Within Temptation songs from the 40% Progress Report, you’ll probably like Leah’s music, too!
“Enter the Highlands”
This is one of the heaviest songs on Kings & Queens, but it’s not lacking in melody or atmosphere. That’s one of the beauties of symphonic metal: It’s all about contrasts. Here, you get staccato riffs, swaying rhythms, and tempo changes along with sweeping strings, lilting synths, and Leah’s harp-sweet vocals. Lyrically, the song is about lost civilizations and how humanity often repeats the mistakes of our ancestors’ past.
Why This Song? “Enter the Highlands” works well as the playlist’s “quest kick-off” song. It’s not a 100% fit lyrically (which is tough to guarantee for a novel playlist, right?). However, the idea of setting off for legendary places or uncharted territory matches the significance behind the scene that “Highlands” represents.
“Alpha Et Omega”
“Alpha Et Omega” is an unusual ballad (if “ballad” is the right word), but gorgeous all the same. Down-tuned guitars take a backseat to the symphonics, with the Middle Eastern influences giving the music an exotic flair. Listen closely to the lyrics, though. Do you understand what Leah is saying? Probably not – because she’s singing in Latin! The song contains verses from the Latin Vulgate. (Check out the lyrics here.)
Why This Song? One of Eva’s tasks in TKC involves translating an important document that uses an ancient alphabet. (Eva is the Council of Selanaan’s lead navigator and translator.) What better way to represent that task on the novel playlist than with a song that uses Latin lyrics? 😉
“This Present Darkness”
Another atmospheric track, “This Present Darkness” brings out the Celtic side of Leah’s sound. Harps, flutes, and keyboards abound, with soaring orchestrations that make you feel like you’re flying. Leah’s voice, however, is the centerpiece. From her mesmerizing verses to her crystalline power in the chorus, you really hear her at her best on this track.
Why This Song? Let’s just say the lyrics of “This Present Darkness” fit one of TKC’s Act III scenes. The music for the chorus and instrumental sections through also reminds me of the relentlessness and intensity of fantasy warfare. I love it when a song’s musical aesthetics reflects the lyrical content and themes – but that’s just the music geek in me!
“Palace of Dreams”
We go heavy again for this last track! “Palace of Dreams” is one of my favorite tracks on Kings & Queens, and for so many reasons. The maniacal energy of its intro and ending, the unexpected twists and turns in the music, strong guitarwork and solos, Leah’s stunning range and catchy melodies… It’s an awesome song from beginning to end, and I’m thrilled it fits the playlist so well.
Why This Song? I actually can’t tell you why I picked “Palace of Dreams” because SPOILERS. Just know that the first time I heard this song, I thought, “OMG! This is the perfect song for That Really Awesome Scene!”
What do you think of the Leah songs? Have you found entire albums that seem to reflect your WIP perfectly (or close to it)? Also, how is your WIP coming along?
Looking for the editing tips portion of Chronicling The Craft? Check it out here!