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.
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)?
- 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.
- 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.
- Holiday Shopping & Preparations: Well, it is November, so I need to start thinking about all that. 😮
- 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.
- 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.
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. 😉
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!