1. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Nastyjman's progress journal

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by nastyjman, Sep 13, 2015.

    Hey folks, I'm starting a progress journal for my first ever novel. I'll be cross-posting my progress from my blog to this thread.
     
  2. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Started the 2nd draft of my novel on July 16. On August 11, the novel was at 20,000 words, and as of now, September 13, it's at 39,800 words.

    It's strange. I began the 1st draft this year on January and finished it around April. When I started on the 2nd draft, I threw out everything except for the beginning and the end. The middle part is completely rewritten.

    My 1st draft was written by the seat of my pants. That means I did not have an outline, a character sheet or a world building sheet to begin with. The only thing I began with was an idea for a short story that eventually turned into a novel.

    The 1st draft was terrible: cliched, action packed, with little room for character introspection. On the 2nd draft, however, I fixed what was lacking and added some backstory to illuminate my characters.

    The 2nd draft is now relying on an outline. I created an outline for my 2nd draft so I can steer the direction of the story and reinforce its structure.

    Sometimes I wonder why I began the story without an outline. Surely, beginning with an outline would save me time from completely rewriting the 2nd draft! But I can't start a story with an outline. I had tried it once. I had an in depth outline to a story I named Powerless, and when the time came to actually write, I lost my enthusiasm.

    In retrospect, I understood why. When I write, I don't want to know what's going to happen. I like to venture in a story without an idea of what the outcome might be. I'm a discovery writer.

    But that's for the 1st draft. Once I was finished with my 1st draft, I created an outline to bolster my story and give more depth to my characters. I was in the editing/revising phase, so the outline was appropriate. I played in the 1st draft; now I'm working on the 2nd draft. Two hats of the writer.

    I always thought that writing a novel was hard, but I'm finding out it's doable. As for publishing this book, that's debatable. It's my first novel and so it's going to stink. However, I won't see it as a waste if it doesn't get published. Think of it as a tuition fee--an expenditure of time and effort and loss of sleep.
     
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  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    That was a little uncanny to read. I also wrote my first draft from January to April, without an outline, and started the second draft in July, with an outline.

    Will we see some of your novel in the workshop? :)
     
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  4. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    I'd like to, but I think I'm going to wait until it's polished. 2nd draft still needs a line edit, and I don't want to edit the 1st chapter, or any other chapter, then get stuck editing when I'm supposed to be pushing forward.

    And that is uncanny. :D Winter season brings the inspiration out... or maybe it's just too cold outside so we get stuck with the stories in our heads.
     
  5. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    I've hit the 50k mark! Hurray! I feel tingly, and I'm smiling like a pirate who just stumbled upon loads and loads of treasure.

    I always thought 50k words was impossible. Well, not impossible; that would be an exaggeration. Maybe hard to reach or a gruesome crawl. I thought that writing 50k words would take six months or more. Nope. It took two months and two weeks to reach this goalpost.

    Now, a few things I had picked up along the way.

    Free writing--

    This one's an amazing writing tool. Before, I only used free writing to get me out of writer's block in the middle of a writing session.

    Now, I use free writing before I start my writing session. It gets my creative juices going, and it also breaks down my 'inner editor.' Even though I'm on the 2nd draft, I'm rewriting everything, which means I need to bring my 'inner creator' out rather than my 'inner editor.'

    For those who don't know what free writing is, it's a writing exercise where just write down everything inside your head. It's stream of consciousness. While you are free writing, you are forbidden to hit the backspace and correct any typos. You just go on and on and on.

    However, you need to set a time limit. Ten minutes is the max, and anything more than that is procrastination. Most of the time, I don't use all ten minutes. Usually I end my free writing exercise at the five minute mark.

    The novel is moving pretty good, and I'm estimating that the word count could be around 100k. I'll probably do another blogpost when I reach 75k. Until then, I have to write the adventures and heartbreaks of my two protagonists.
     
  6. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    I don't think I'm alone in this, but I had a revelation on how to increase my word count per hour.

    Now folks will say, "Jay! You shouldn't focus on word count. Quality over quantity. Let the story flow. More platitudes."

    I get that, but there's room for improvement. So here's the revelation I wanted to share:

    While writing, there are moments where you hesitate in writing the next sentence. You anticipate that it will suck balls and that it's stupid garbage. Because of this, you slow down. Sometimes, you start to write what you think is the proper sentence, but second-guess yourself so you hit backspace. Back and forth, back and forth--you're pulling your hair because you need to pass through this goddamn sentence!

    Enough!

    Instead of hesitating or even deleting the errant sentence, write it out and let it stay there. Once you've brought that sentence to light, write another that improves on it. For me, I separate the bad sentence from the improved one with a slash (/). Once you have the two sentences to compare, delete the bad one and move on. You can do three possible sentences, but no more than that--you don't want to get stuck writing and rewriting that damn sentence. Pick one and move on.

    That's it. I anticipate that this works when you're writing the first draft or rewriting your manuscript. I believe this is efficient rather than moving your mouse or cursor and editing it within.
     
  7. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    I'm at 76k words now, and it just entered Act III. I plan to finish the whole story by the end of November or early December.

    I'm both excited and sad. Excited because I'm about to finish the 2nd draft. Sad because I'm going to enter the next phase which is structural edits and line edits. The whole journey leading up to the ending has been exhilarating. As authors, we vicariously live through our character's life, going through their joys and suffering. I don't want that to end...

    With the few chapters ahead of me, I feel like I don't want to say goodbye. It's ridiculous since I know a second book is warranted (Volume I ends with a cliffhanger), but I just can't shake the feeling that I'd be sad to end this draft. I'd pick it up again after a month has elapsed. While I cool off from this project, I'll be writing more short stories to add to my submission circulation.
     
  8. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Final word count on the 2nd Draft: 89,737.

    I haven't given details about the novel's story, but here is the elevator pitch:

    Twin brothers, who have the ability to transmit injuries to one another, fight crime in the belief that they are superheroes. But they soon find out why superheroes do not exist. The twin brothers must face The Purity Project, an old organization with the mission to preserve humanity and to cull mutants as soon as they're born.​

    So happy that the draft is finished, but I'm far from finished. The plan on the 3rd Draft is to tighten the scenes and the prose. Once the 3rd Draft is finished, I will send it out to publishers first, get my feet wet and have the door slam on my face. Rejection is part of the process, and I need some to temper my soul.

    I'm giving myself a one-month break from the novel. In the meantime, I'm going to refill my well and complete two short stories.
     
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  9. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Sent out a short story to a magazine. Not getting my hopes up as always; it's better to detach myself with the process rather than fantasizing about getting accepted and published.

    Before I go back to my novel, I want to complete two more short stories to add in my circulation. Currently, I have four that are still looking for a home. Tonight, I'm going to revise the werewolf story that borrowed concepts from "Wolf and Cub."
     
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  10. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Great job and lots of lessons learned here... trust yourself, editing comes afterward!
     
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  11. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Doing a reverse outline on the short story I'm revising. Somehow the outline method I'm using is evolving every after story. Prior to this, I was more focused on outlining only the Scene/Sequel format. With this story, I have a spreadsheet that have two columns: one for the Scene/Sequels, the other for expositions.

    Since the Scene/Sequel format doesn't allow any exposition to be mentioned in it, I'm experimenting by adding another column for expositions, which were elements lacking in my outline format. Previously, the expositions and beats were all isolated and contained within the manuscript. Now, I'm adding exposition in the mix, but still keeping the beats within the manuscript.

    I've toyed with the idea of using index cards, but I hate the idea of ripping them apart to start anew. An excel spreadsheet works best, I think, since I can move line items up and down easily.
     
  12. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Getting back to the writing groove after the holidays. My short story isn't finished yet. Soon as I'm done with it, I need to work on the third draft of my novel. I have some ideas floating inside my head on how to fix and finish it. I didn't write those ideas down, however. I did what King advised which is this: if the idea is good enough, it will stay in your head.

    Hopefully I will have a final draft next year, aiming for it to be finished by my March or April.
     
  13. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    2nd Draft manuscript... yikes.



    I've already started the revision process. Basically, I'm curating my scenes, making sure they have a function and purpose, and not just there as filler or fluff. I'm also creating an outline that fleshes out each scene, guaranteeing that the suspense and tension is controlled. My initial estimates of finishing this thing by March might not be feasible, but we'll see. Two days in already, and I've gone through 40 pages, but that's only reading it and creating the outline for the scenes. Actual edits have not happened yet.
     
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  14. nastyjman
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    The first three chapters were garbage, but I've planned how to revise them. Hopefully they'll look good when I do fix them. After those chapters, the writing and the structure got better compared to the garbage, which somehow surprised me. I hope it still true on the next chapters. Really psyched on how everything will pan out.

    Anyway, I wanted to share to you guys how I organize my scene:

    START--LOGLINE--Narrator talking about superhero origins.

    Ezra IS BORED because the batteries in his Gameboy dies. He THINKS about climbing the tree in their backyard. Aries ASKS if he wants to play with his action figures and OFFERS his toy Wolverine.

    Ezra WANTS TO CLIMB the tree because he had always wanted to. Ezra STARTS for the tree, BUT Aries tells him to stop.

    SUCCESS--Ezra is climbing the tree, BUT as he goes further up, his foothold breaks under him.

    Aries IS CONCERNED for his twin brother; Ezra IS AFRAID that he’ll land on Aries (clue on how their powers work). Ezra FALLS with his right arm outstretched. It BREAKS and then HEALS immediately. Aries IS CRYING. Ezra DISCOVERS that Aries’ arm is broken. The neighbors FIND the boys in this situation and TELLS Ezra to wake his mother up.

    Ezra NEEDS TO WAKE his mother up, BUT Gracie is drunk, high or both. (SHOW the inside of the living room: bottles, pills, cigarettes). Ezra SHAKES and SCREAMS at her, BUT she’s barely stiring.

    SUCCESS--Ezra SLAPS her awake.

    END--VISUAL DESCRIPTION--Gracie freaks out and argues with the EMTs; the neighbor offers Gracie and Ezra a ride to the hospital; Ezra appears worried; Ezra scratches his arm.​
     
  15. kateamedeo
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    kateamedeo Active Member

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    Just read your posts, congrats on finishing the 2nd draft of your novel! :) That thing (the manuscript I mean) looks impressive. I am currently working on the first draft, also getting carried away by short stories along the way.

    Good luck with finishing the last draft! ;)

    KA
     
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  16. nastyjman
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    Thanks Katea! It's the first time I've printed a large manuscript, and the print out had some technical mistakes in it, one of which is page numbers--I forgot to add page numbers! So I had to write them down by hand. Another is chapter breaks. When I wrote the 2nd draft, I didn't dedicate a page for a chapter, so the chapters sometimes melded into one page. I was so excited on printing it out that I forgot to format it properly.

    Mistakes were made; lessons were learned.

    Anyway, good luck on your first draft! First drafts are the most fun for me. It's where I play around with my characters and then torture them. :twisted:
     
  17. kateamedeo
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    kateamedeo Active Member

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    Haha, yeah, I know all about page numbers, had to write them by hand myself too :D
     
  18. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    I'm one-third in my manuscript, but still writing the scene outline for the 3rd draft. Most of my scenes had to be killed off or consolidated with other scenes. Lately I've been reading up on Story Grid by Shawn Coyne and Make A Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld. These resources are helping me out greatly in planning out my scenes: they help point out my weaknesses and flaws. One thing I noticed was most of my scenes didn't have a turning points and proper scene launches.

    I've learned that turning points are crucial to make a scene work. This was mentioned by Shawn Coyne and also Sandra Scofield in her book The Scene Book (what a humdrum title). Coyne, however, has a complex method with regards to turning points; he talks about Value Shifts, Polarity Shifts and Turning Point (see here: http://www.storygrid.com/tracking-the-scene). As for Scofield, she calls it the Focal Point, a moment where the momentum shifts, where things change from good to bad and vice-verse. Each scene needs a turning point so it doesn't come across as dull.

    And going through my draft, I've noticed that my narrative summaries were all over the place. I've since planned them out and placed them in strategic scenes where they could elicit the best drama for the novel.

    I'm learning as I go, and it's great. When I started this novel early last year, I told myself that the time I spent on it was my "tuition fee." Hope I graduate this year with a complete manuscript.
     
  19. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Itching to write, but I'm still in the outlining and planning phase for my third draft. Currently on Scene 49, half-way through my second draft. At this rate, I think I have 98 scenes by the end of everything.

    I've also updated my outlining and planning processes. Along with the scene list, I also added a spreadsheet that tracks turning points and questions raised.

    Turning points is borrowed from Coyne's Story Grid and Scofield's The Scene Book. Basically, they are events that changes the mood or the fortune of a specific scene. Things either go from good to bad and vice versa. Or it can go from bad to worse and so on. I think it's beneficial to keep track of these so you can see if a scene is stagnant.

    Questions raised came up as an idea and also from years of learning. Previously, I never kept track of potential questions that readers might raise while reading my stories. So in the spreadsheet, I will write up a question that could be raised such as "who is the man in black?" Next, there would be two columns: Answered/Hinted at Scenes and Unanswered.

    With the example question "who is the man in black?" that could be answered or hinted at in a future scene. If it's answered in scene 12, then I enter the scene number under that column. Sometimes, you just want to give hints rather than answer a question directly. So in the example, we can sprinkles hints throughout the story. I will then enter the related scene numbers under the column (example: Hints in scene 12, 18, 20).

    Other times, you might not want to answer the questions raised just to give your reader a sense of mystery. I think this works only if it is not crucial to the plot. Also, the question might be answered in another book; just not in the one you're working on. In this column, I will write down the answer as a convenience to myself and as a reference. With the same question from above, I can write an answer for myself, stating that the man in black is a magician who orchestrated a disaster (something like that).
     
  20. nastyjman
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    Outline is finally done, and I think I overdid it. The outline file is 30 pages, single spaced and contains 82 scenes. Finally, I can start revising and editing this baby.

    Here's a sample of how one scene looks like in the outline:

    ----

    SCENE 79 (POV: Aries) (pg 289-294)

    START. ACTION. Susan, Aries and Theo step out of the elevator. Gilmore is pointing his hand at the receptionist. Gilmore is holding a gun. Susan tells him to knock him out, which he does.

    GOAL. The three of them need to escape the area before the police and The Project get there.

    They step out of the building. Aries notices two dead bodies on the sidewalk. Across the street, a car is burning. They step inside a car, which was driven by Wesley. The sirens are coming.

    Wesley drives recklessly, BUT Susan assures Aries that Wesley won't get them killed because he can slow down time. AND THEN a cop car tails them. Susan tells Wesley, BUT Wesley is too concentrated to hear. Susan and Gilmore point their hand towards the incoming cop car, and the cop car stops and takes a turn.

    After the coast is clear (no helicopters above them), Susan snaps her fingers three times in front of Wesley.

    SUCCESS. Wesley says “hope you didn't piss yourself.”

    EMOTION. NUMBNESS.

    THOUGHTS. Didn't mind dying. Didn't even know they were in danger. Hoped they died somehow.

    END. ACTION. Susan lighting a cigarette and offering one to Aries.
     
  21. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    The 3rd draft is in progress. No hiccups so far. I've been working two hours a day, consistently hammering out about 1,200 words. I thought of increasing my word count by adding another hour or a half, but I decided against it because for fear of burning out. I don't want to burn out. Like a drug addict, I shouldn't OD.

    The pacing is fine for me. I estimate that the book will be finished by May or June. After that I have to at least try sending this out to agents or publishers, just to get my feet wet, while writing my next book. I find that would be a challenge since I'm already having that trouble with my short stories in circulation while writing this book. I love writing, but I hate the administrative aspect of it: the sending out and the waiting. I think I need to discipline myself to succeed in this. At least now I don't feel angry or depressed when I receive rejections (well, a little bit, but it passes in a sec).

    Baby steps. Or as what Anne Lamott said, "Bird by bird."
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
  22. nastyjman
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    So I've decided on the title of my WIP: No Heroes.

    Previously, it was titled as Bond. I chose that because of the protagonists' power. The twins can transfer injuries to one another when they incur it, but they can't give that injury back. But as the story evolves and gets refined, I honed in on the theme which is "no good deed goes unpunished." And in this universe, "all heroics gets punished." Therefore the new title matches the inherent theme. It also hints at the universe as to why there are no heroes.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
  23. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    I'm 15% in on my 3rd draft. At this rate, I think the book will be ready past my estimate of June.

    Eh, so long as the book is finished and ready. The plot lines are getting tighter, and the holes are getting filled out. I also had a breakthrough with writing flow. Previously, I was insecure with regards to sentence variety in my story. Now, I've picked up a trick or a technique where I can't have the same subject of an independent clause three times. I've tested this out with other authors, and the trick holds well. The only exception is when you need to be dramatic or emphasize a specific scene.
     
  24. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    23% in my third draft. Scenes are taking shape, and the pacing, I feel, is getting fixed as I go along. There are moments when I want to finish the draft faster, but if this is the rate that my brain is taking me, then I must adhere to it. Just gotta' chug along, I guess.
     
  25. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    35% in my third draft.

    I'm beginning to feel that this thing won't see the light of day except for my friends and family who are eager to read it. It's my first novel, and I feel like it's very green (which means terri-bad). I won't overhaul the whole story. Doing so will push me back to square one (well, not that extreme). What I want right now for this novel is to finish it: finish revising, finish proofreading, finish line editing, etc.

    Finishing it will be an accomplishment in itself, and it paves the way for my future novels. Already I have some concepts stewing inside my brain which I'm excited about. But I have to hold off on those.

    Like what my dad used to say, "finish what you have on your plate."
     

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