It’s away!

My past two weeks have been pretty busy — end of summer, kids went back to school, etc. And, of course, I finished my book’s revision. It is now in my editor’s hands and on her Kindle, so, it’s time for me to put Book One away for a month.

In the meantime, I’m going to:

  1. Take a break.
  2. Look at Book Two
  3. Rip Book Two’s guts out
  4. Create a timeline outline for BK2, then a per-character outline. And make them detailed.

The over-arching plot arcs won’t change — they can’t (certain things happen in Norse myth; those are my signposts). But, there are plenty of other changes to make thanks to this year-long rewrite process.

I first completed BK1 in September 2015. That version was ~145K words. This rewrite (just submitted) clocked in at a cool ~186K words. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’d guess that most of those original ~145K words were rewritten.

So, as I move into revising BK2, my plan is to make it — at most 90-100K words. There are several reasons behind that, but I want it shorter b/c it may be easier to produce.

Writing short can be harder than writing long, but if I break the existing BK2 up into sensible time groupings, then I limit the narrative arc for each book. And that means that what I’m calling BK2 now will eventually be Books 2 thru N.

Ultimately, I want to publish BK2 within one year of BK1’s publication, sooner, if possible. I’d like to ramp up to producing two books per year, but I need to change my process (2K to 10K, better outlining, etc.).

But that’s all for later in the week. For now, at least, there’s some rest for the wicked!

 

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Yes, that bird’s a crow, not a raven.

Average word counts

In my last post I discussed how I got to scene counts by POV. The natural extension of that is word count per POV*.

Here they are:

  • Vidar: 42,878 (28 scenes) … avg: 1,531
  • Odin: 44,656 (23 scenes) … avg: 1,942
  • Frigg: 43,754 (23 scenes) … avg: 1,902
  • Hodir: 19,511 (15 scenes) … avg: 1,301
  • Hyrrokin: 15,774 (17 scenes) … avg: 928
  • Loki: 12,014 (10 scenes) … avg: 1,201
  • Vaft: 6,795 (7 scenes) … avg: 971

I’m actually a little surprised/pleased that the word count is so (roughly) even among Vidar, Odin and Frigg since I wasn’t focused on that while writing or editing.

However, I did try to keep each scene at ~1500 words. But, as the averages above show, some POVs have scenes that run longer than others. Some of that is intentional — Hyrrokin is kinda “action adventure” and I cut to her to keep the pacing up. Vaft’s scenes are mostly short b/c I don’t need to be in his POV very long.

However, these low averages may be too low. I won’t be able to tell, probably, until:

  • I get my editor’s comments back
  • I let the book rest & then read it thru (like a reader would, not focusing on revision)
  • Both of the above.

BTW, I focused on 1,500 words per scene b/c that takes 10-15 minutes to read aloud. Yes, I’m thinking ahead to audiobooks.

More importantly, I want the book’s overall pacing to be quick. Shorter scenes help. It’s not all one note, of course, as I drop longer scenes in, just as you might use longer sentences (kinda like this one) to slow things down. Burying the “sequel” (or making it short), can also help vary the pacing.

I doubt I’m firing on all cylinders here, but that’s why the book’s going to an editor =D

 

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* Scrivener’s bottom bar “always provides a live word and character count of the current section.” When I selected all of the individual documents in my POV Collections view (described in my prior post), that live word count showed the total word count for the entire POV. Score!

Writing tools

Scrivener’s been my writing app of choice for several years now. Lotsa writers use it and, frankly, it’s become indispensable for me.

This post is a bit of a /golfclap for myself since, as of a couple days ago, all the major POVs (Frigg, Odin, Hyrrokin and Vidar) have roughly equal numbers of scenes (~22 each). The rest have fewer scenes with Vafthrudnir having the least since his role in this book is mostly “off stage.”

A few months back Frigg & Hyrrokin had maybe 5 scenes each while Vidar and Odin had more than 25 each. Pretty unbalanced.

Using several simple functions of Scrivener helped me identify that problem and then track my progress in fixing it.

The first image shows the “Binder” structure. It’s the default interface for the application and there’s nothing particularly amazing about it except that it’s a totally customizable, drag & drop way to organize your manuscript. So, pretty amazing. 🙂  You can see my oh so precise timeline happening in there & the working titles of each individual scene.

What I want to highlight are the color-coded character POV labels — it’s a simple setting change that makes it really easy to see how the book flows.

The second screenshot shows a different view. Those are “Collections” of saved, custom searches keyed off the labels. Clicking on each tab shows all of the scenes in the book that belong to Odin, Frigg, etc.

It was really this “Collections” view  that helped me identify the “unbalanced narrative” problem without going through all the trouble of, you know, counting the scenes.

The third screenshot is the “Outliner.” Mine’s pretty streamlined since I really just want to see word counts — per directory/folder (the “total words” column) and per scene (not shown).

I realize these are pretty basic ways of using Scrivener, but maybe it’s helpful to somebody out there. And if anyone feels like sharing some insight on their own process/tools, then drop me a line!

 

Progress?

So, I pretty much lost a week of writing — business travel, kid stuff, etc. It happens.

The little I did do involved further tweaks to Frigg’s story. Here’s the basics:

  • Kept making her more active & made that activity directly related to earlier plot events
  • Turned the new activity into a diversion for Frigg — i.e., things that happen to her cause her to look one way while the real threat is from the other direction.

Here’s how I have it the plots interleaved before the run up to the final event (Midwinter celebration):

  • Odin is in Helheim figuring out what’s going to happen b/c he’s summoning, finally, a dead seeress. You know, as ya do.
  • Vidar is in Utgard getting his butt kicked.
  • Hyrrokin is on the team that’s doing the kicking.
  • Hodir is on his way to Gladsheim to reconcile with his family.
  • Vafthrudnir is with his buddy, the High Chief of the Jotunn, getting the troops ready.
  • Frigg is figuring out that there’s a plot against her son Baldr’s life. ZOMG. However, Odin’s learning the same thing — from the dead seeress.

Which character has the real scoop? The reader knows. Frigg thinks she knows, but she’s wrong. Hopefully that creates some tension. Also, the reader doesn’t really know why this “major event” is happening or how it ties into the overarching plot. I hope.

Looking ahead, I’m 23 days from sending the manuscript to my editor. Tick, tock. Next week I hope to publish something more involved on the nature of the struggle between the Aesir and Jotunn, but we shall see!