Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 Is DONE!!

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Plus, the Final Five-Song Reveal from 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. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today’s post marks the end of Draft #3 with a final progress report and more songs from TKC’s novel playlist.

Well, the title gives it away… but this happened 2 weeks ago!!

So, yes, TKC is done for the third time, and 2 weeks before my “soft” deadline of November 20th. Since then, I’ve been feeling… well, a weird mix of emotions. Relief. Accomplishment. Excitement-anxiety-nausea over the upcoming beta-reader phase.  Also, a sense of “What do I do with myself now?”. You get used to weeks and months to doing something on most weeknights and weekends, and when it’s done you’re almost at a loss. But I won’t let myself flounder for long, and I’ll explain why shortly.

You know what else this means? It’s DANCING PIKACHU TIME!!


Now, here’s the final progress for Draft #3, as well as the final five-song reveal from TKC’s novel playlist. 🙂

The Final Draft #3 Progress Report

After three drafts, TKC now sits at 97,991 words. It already passed my “word count cutting” goals of 105K and 100K, so I’m really pleased that I’ve gotten the manuscript to a much more manageable length (and within industry recommendations for YA fantasy). Also, here’s how the final statistics compare between Drafts #1, #2, and #3.


In total, I’ve cut approximately 34,000 words since Draft #1. That’s about 26% – just over a quarter of the original story. Wow.

The “Length of Time” stats caught my eye, too – and I know my writing schedule was the most influential factor there. I had worked on Drafts #1 and #2 on weekends, holidays, or other days off from work. But for Draft #3, I changed my routine to weeknights and select weekends. (Read why I changed my writing schedule here.) As a result, I can’t say whether I actually spent more or less time on Draft #3 than I did on the previous drafts. But it certainly progressed faster because I found a way to work writing / editing into my (almost) daily schedule.

Oddly enough, the final word count is higher than what I was expecting a few weeks ago. It fluctuated after the 80% Chronicle because I decided to split another chapter into two, so the scenes involved would feel complete and not rushed. But that doesn’t change how happy I am with how far this story has come since Draft #1, which was a BEAST of an overwritten mess; and I think (hope? pray?) the changes and cuts I’ve made since then have helped make it a stronger story.

My dining room table on Day 1 of Draft #3 (left) and the day after finishing Draft #3 (right).

My dining room table on Day 1 of Draft #3 (left) and the day after finishing Draft #3 (right).

What’s Next for The Keeper’s Curse, Me, and Future Chronicles

As I mentioned earlier, the next step for TKC is giving it to beta-readers. Right now it appears it will happen in two “waves.” The second group will receive it in January, after the end-of-year holidays have passed. Three readers, though, will get it in December because it’s more convenient for their schedules. Which means… please excuse the use of capitals, but OMG PEOPLE WILL BE READING IT NEXT MONTH!!!


So, what will I be up to for the rest of 2016 (and once I’ve recovered from freaking out like Sheldon)?

  1. Immediate Goal: Get TKC ready for Beta-Read Group A by checking the manuscript’s format, preparing a short list of questions, and creating a status sheet to help me keep track of things.
  2. Writing: Not much, really. Once #1 is all set, I’ll concentrate on outlining my next writing project (a novella set in the same world as TKC). I might also tinker with a short story idea that came to me last month but set aside for various reasons.
  3. Holiday Shopping & Preparations: Well, it is November, so I need to start thinking about all that. 😮
  4. Exercising: I fell off the yoga wagon over the summer because of how crazy life was offline. So I’d like to start that habit again, as well as fit in general exercising (weights, pilates, yoga, walking) on the weekends again.
  5. Relaxing & Stuff at Home: Reading, coloring in my mandala book, cleaning (UGH but necessary), getting together with friends… This will be the first time in 3 years that I won’t have a major writing project going on during the holidays, so I’m looking forward to having that extra “breathing space.”

As for Chronicling The Craft, I haven’t decided how to continue this series from this point forward. So far the journey has focused solely on TKC, and I’m not sure if switching between that and The Novella in future posts would confuse people. If anything, I’ll post a standalone Chronicle in January, once the manuscript is out with Beta-Read Group B and I’ve had time to think about the future of this series. (And perhaps by then, I’ll have comments from Group A, too. MEEP!)

Maybe you might have suggestions on how I should continue Chronicling The Craft, too. If you do, feel free to share them in your comments on this post.

My laptop? At my actual desk? Who ever heard of such a thing?? (*lol*)

My laptop? At my actual desk? Who ever heard of such a thing?? (*lol*)

The Keeper’s Curse Novel Playlist: Five More Songs by Various Symphonic Metal Bands

Awww, this is the last Chronicle where I’ll share songs from TKC’s playlist! It’s been great to read your reactions to these songs. I’m aware that symphonic metal is an “outside-comfort-zone” genre for many people, but the fact that you’ve given these tracks a fair listen makes me feel a little less crazy. Just a little bit. 😉

If you’ve missed past Chronicles with playlist reveals, click on the respective links to hear songs from inspiring film scores, Within Temptation, Leah, and various “non-metal” genres.

Today I’ll share five more tracks from TKC’s playlist, each performed by a different symphonic metal band. Feel free to play each YouTube clip as you read how these songs fit into the overall picture.

“Into a Sea of Souls” by Edenbridge (from The Bonding)

Like with Leah’s Kings & Queens, several songs from Edenbridge’s The Bonding appear on TKC’s playlist. The album was released while I was working on the novel’s first draft, so it wasn’t long before I started drawing connections between the Austrian band’s new songs and certain scenes in the story. Or maybe Edenbridge’s songs influenced what was happening in TKC at the time. Hmmmmm… 😉

Why This Song? “Into a Sea of Souls” is one of several Bonding songs inspired by the death of lead guitarist Lanvall’s father. That sense of loss is something that TKC’s protagonist Eva grapples with, too. Even though her parents were killed years earlier, she clings to to her bitterness toward the Mountain Folk (who had killed her parents in a raid) and to her guilt of surviving when the rest of her family didn’t. “Into a Seal of Souls” fits one of the quieter moments when Eva struggles to reconcile those feelings before heading out on her mission with the Mountain Folk. The lyrics also reflect Eva and her people’s beliefs about the afterlife.

“Frozen” by Delain (from Lucidity)

To me, Delain’s debut album Lucidity is a quintessential example of symphonic metal. It balances power and ethereality so beautifully that when I revisit it, I often think, “If Howard Shore had invited a metal band to play along during the Lord of the Rings score, it would sound like THIS.” So I knew early on that Lucidity would feature heavily on TKC’s playlist. In fact, “Frozen” is one of six – yes, six – Lucidity tracks on there.

Why This Song? “Frozen” is Aurek’s song for Eva in Chapter 10. At this point in TKC, he’s trying to communicate with her, but she’s too bitter to listen – and she makes no effort to hide her feelings. So I wanted a song that could represent this stage in their relationship. The metaphors in the lyrics for “Frozen” are a bit abstract, but underneath they echo the ideas of communication breakdown and (especially in Aurek’s case) persistence in the face of that stalemate.

“Soulcrusher” by Xandria (from Neverworld’s End)

Ohhhhhh this is such a FUN song! In a sinister and wraithlike way, but still. “Soulcrusher” has been one of my favorite songs from Xandria’s Neverworld’s End ever since I first heard it, so I’m thrilled it found a place on TKC’s playlist. Plus, Xandria was one of the first symphonic metal bands I became a fan of when I first discovered the genre, so this German band and I go way back.

Why This Song? The fictional world where TKC takes place features a race of parasitic shadow-demons called the Bhadurak. (You can read more about them here.) I decided they needed a theme song of sorts… and “Soulcrusher” describes what these demons do pretty closely. 😮

“Let Me In” by Stream of Passion (from The Flame Within)

Stream of Passion’s style is a bit different from other symphonic metal bands. They focus more on the guitars, vocals, and other “band” aspects before bringing in a string quartet. So while their songs might not be cinematic in nature, the melodies are gorgeous, the lyrics poignant, and the musical chemistry second-to-none. Not to mention Marcela Bovio is one of my favorite singers ever. Her voice has a mesmerizing, emotive quality that makes the band’s sound all the more unique.

Why This Song? Remember how Delain’s “Frozen” is Aurek’s “open up to me” song for Eva? Later in TKC, Eva runs into the same challenge with Aurek. So, “Let Me In” is her “open up to me” song for Aurek. Funny how dynamics between characters can switch during a story, huh? 😉

“Our Destiny” by Epica (from Design Your Universe)

I’ve been on an Epica kick as of late, thanks to their newest album The Holographic Principle. So it feels fitting to close this post with one of their songs, albeit one from a different CD. This Dutch outfit leans more to the “extreme” side of symphonic metal. Strings, choirs, and soaring melodies from lead vocalist Simone Simons define their sound. However, the music gets a bit thrashy at times, and guitarist / lead songwriter Mark Jansen throws in death growls on most tracks. So Epica may not appeal to everyone, but if you keep an open mind, you might be surprised with how much you like what you hear.

Why This Song? Without spoiling much, “Our Destiny” represents Eva’s relationship with her fellow Councilors (a.k.a. her Council brothers) at an important point in TKC. In fact, I like to call it my “We Are Family” song on the playlist. (You’re familiar with the Sister Sledge hit from the 1970s, I hope?)

What do you think of the songs? What impressions do you have of TKC’s playlist as a whole, now that you’ve heard several tracks on it? Also, if you’re a writer, how is your own WIP coming along?

Looking for the tips portion of Chronicling The Craft? Come back on Tuesday, November 22nd to read it!

27 thoughts on “Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 Is DONE!!

  1. Big congrats on finishing draft #3! I hope you take some well deserved time off and enjoy the holidays:-) And your tracks are pretty cool. That isn’t a music style I’m familiar with, but it gave me a feel for what your story will be like:-D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tammy! It’s been a weird transition mentally, going from editing right into holiday planning / preparations, but I’m going to squeeze in some relaxation when I can. 🙂 Glad you liked the music, too!


  2. Huge congratulations, Sara:). You have worked really hard on The Keeper’s Curse and those stats are impressive. I love your soundtracks – Lucidity is BEAUTIFUL… I’m very much looking forward to reading your manuscript in January, as I’m hoping to have completed my rewrite of Miranda’s Tempest by Christmas. I think you deserve a bit of downtime and a holiday where you don’t have a major project hanging over you…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sarah. 🙂 It’s been a weird transition from editing mode to “real life” mode this time. I think it’s because the holidays are around the corner, so I needed to get myself in the right frame of mind for getting a new (smaller) tree, thinking of / shopping for gifts, and preparing / planning for other things I usually do around Thanksgiving and Christmas… and I’ve had a hard time making that jump mentally this year. :S Maybe it’s because I’m craving a stretch of downtime, and I haven’t really given myself it yet. But it’s still early, so hopefully that phase will pass soon.

      Isn’t the Delain song pretty?? 😀 If you’d like to listen to more, these songs from Lucidity are also on the playlist: Sever, Daylight Lucidity, The Gathering, Shattered, and Pristine. (The last one features some male death growls, just so you know in advance…)

      Best of luck as you finish the rewrites on Miranda’s Tempest! And how are things with the Sunblinded Trilogy, btw? I think you might have talked about that in your most recent Shoot For The Moon post, but now it escapes me…

      Liked by 1 person

      • It takes a surprisngly long time to wind down from a long-running project, in my experience, so I hope that you find preparing for Thanksgiving a useful break to refocus on your daily life. Thank you so much for the other info on Lucidity – I may well be asking Father Christmas for that CD (being the old fashioned sort that likes having music on my shelves rather than in a virtual CD rack). As for the Sunblinded Trilogy – Running Out of Space was requested by a very well respected agent, who has seen a couple of my other m/s and likes my writing, so I sent it… Obviously my self publishing career is on hold at present until I hear her response:).

        Liked by 1 person

      • We’ll see. Part of me still can’t believe that Thanksgiving is only a week away now… Though I’ll be at my parents on Cape Cod this year for the holiday, instead of driving 4+ hours to Maine. So that should be a nice change.

        Really?? 😮 Best of luck as you wait to hear from the agent!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Another great congratulations, Sara! I have enjoyed following you on this journey. Thank you for sharing these amazing chronicles with us. I’ve loved discovering the music that inspired you!
    Wishing you all the best of luck with beta readers. Having just had my first experience, I can understand the nerves. Trust in your own strength as a writer and approach feedback with an open mind. That’s my advice.
    And if you need any more betas in the New Year, well, you know where to find me 😉
    Enjoy your breathing space during the Holidays. I’m looking forward to the same after publishing (eek, is that possible!) Eléonore.
    Stay well, my dear 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Faith! *hugs* It really has been quite a journey so far, and I’m both nervous and excited to see what happens next with the story.

      I’ll see what happens once this round of beta feedback is in. It’s possible I might need another go-round, but I’ll wait on that decision until I’m more certain about the next step. But I’ll keep you in mind. 😉

      I don’t know how you’re managing NaNoWriMo and prepping Eleonore at the same time, especially now that the end-of-year holidays are around the corner. Remember to breathe and take care of yourself in between it all!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s had its highs and lows, but I’m surprised by how well it’s been going so far. With the last week of November approaching, I’m starting to feel a bit of the crunch, but I’m still breathing, so that’s a definite plus 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. YAY! So excited for you! And can’t wait to beta-read 🙂
    Looking at your “length of time” assessment, I can’t help but wonder if your third draft went quicker not because of the time you put in, but because, well… it’s the third draft. You must be getting more confident with the story every time. Do you ever track how fast you’re typing? I’m not even sure what software that would require, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.
    I tend to find that my second draft of anything takes the longest. The first is getting the general picture (outlines help, but I’ve found that I need to actually write the thing before I really know where the story and characters are going). I need to do a lot of prep before the second draft: character development, research, more outlining, etc, and that draft takes the longest because I usually write from scratch. Every draft after that takes less and less time. It’s like focusing in on a picture that starts off really blurry and slowly gains clarity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Leanne! 🙂

      I did track my typing “speed” during Draft #1 (figured out the # of words added, then divided by hours spent and logged into an Excel spreadsheet), but not during the two later drafts. So it’s hard to tell which draft was the fastest one to wrap up and which was the slowest, especially since my routine changed from weekends only on Drafts #1 and #2 to my Draft #3 routine. So… I don’t really know? But it felt like Draft #3 was the “fastest” one.


    • THANK YOU!! (The caps aren’t big enough for that, either. *lol*)

      I’ve actually felt stressed and in a mental lurch as of late. XD :S Between work, holiday preparations, and other things, I haven’t had much time to relax or let things sink in. But I need to give myself that time, or else it’s going to be an exhausting holiday season…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. CONGRATS! That’s so exciting! It’s so satisfying to polish a novel! Also I don’t think it would be confusing to switch as long as you clarify in the intro. Best wishes with betas!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. CONGRATS and a special final round of Tropical Killer Cake for you!!!!
    How awesome that you’ve reached the beta reading stage already! *hugs* That is a huge accomplishment! I also know that it’s a bundle of emotions as you get ready to release TKC for others to read (I was so nervous about releasing mine to beta readers last month!), but now you can fill your time with refreshing and fun activities and the holidays.
    If you find that you need any more beta readers, btw, you know where to find me. 😉
    I think you could continue Chronicling as long as you explain it’s for a different story, like StoriTori said.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awwww, thank you, E.! Here, let me cut you a piece of Tropical Killer Cake before I gobble it up. 😉

      I actually haven’t had a lot of downtime since finishing Draft #3. The holiday planning / gift-shopping bit crept up on me pretty quickly (I have birthday presents to get on top of Christmas ones, so I have to buy double for some people), so for the past couple weeks I’ve been mentally lurching and also stressed. (Work’s been busy again, too. :/ ) So I need to remember to carve out time for rest and relaxation in between it all. Maybe that will help.

      I’ll keep you in mind if TKC needs more beta-readers. 😉 And I think I’ll wait to decide on the future of Chronicling The Craft at the end of the year / beginning of January.

      Thanks again for all your support and encouragement! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • *yum* Why thank you. 🙂
        “One project finished, another sneaks in to take its place,” it seems. Thankfully I don’t have to rush as much with shopping this year, but I am struggling to get into the holiday spirit with it feeling like Thanksgiving still.
        But that aside, yes, I do think you need to carve out time for yourself. I remember you mentioning last year how you’d over-exerted yourself that December, so maybe following a schedule this year could help you find downtime?
        You’re very welcome, Sara, it’s been a wonderful journey following TKC’s progress!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, last December was also compounded by my parents’ house sale, move to Cape Cod, and some… emotional challenges that arose from it. That’s not the case this year, thank goodness. But one thing I realized a couple weeks after finishing Draft #3 is that I go through a period where I want to do absolutely NOTHING. XD So, now that I know it’s partly a motivation problem, hopefully I can spur myself to move past it.

        How was your Thanksgiving, btw?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Finding motivation isn’t easy sometimes. I usually dive into reading or other hobbies until I begin to miss my story and want to write again. Perhaps something like that will work for you too?
        Thanksgiving was good! We don’t have relatives living nearby, so we invited two families over from church and it was a crowded, fun time. 🙂
        How was yours?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanksgiving was quiet and relaxing. I drove to the Cape and spent it with my parents and brother. A lot different from the 5+ hour drive to our relatives in Maine – and a reasonable amount of food, instead of tons of leftovers!

        Liked by 1 person

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