Writing Report, August 2016

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Focus was pretty good this month, at least going by the overall totals, but early in the month I took a few days off work to assist with a family issue. My assistance consisted of a few chores, some animal care, some driving, and a lot of waiting for information with a family member. So, really, I was there to lower stress levels and pretend my own wasn’t high. During those days, I kept my computer close and got a lot of words down.

 

Novel-Length Fiction

Drafting: Heros Life, 29,246 words

Admittedly, about three thousand of those were transcribed from paper and didn’t get counted in previous months. I’ve revived the habit of working just a little bit on one thing by hand to scratch the “next project” itch. Words added this month takes me to 42,283 and I’m probably not much more than 15k words from the end of the story.

Drafting: Shrine

Sort of started the sequel to Arena, with a couple of thousand words on paper, even though I only just finished plotting it about a week ago. See the note about scratching the itch above. This draft will start in earnest in September, probably even the day after I finish the first draft of Heros Life.

Revision Notes: Arena

Completed, and I’m actually almost a third of the way through the second draft on this story. It’s always a pleasant surprise to pick up a story and have it be a lot better than you remember. That was the case with this one, though there are a few things that need to be reworked and quite a few minor adjustments. It wasn’t broken, just a little rough.

Second Draft: Universal Destiny

Also completed. The second draft finished at 71,660 words and I think I nailed all the bogeys I found during revision notes plus a handful I picked up in the process of fixing those. There may still be a few small ones, and I hope I’ll find them now that I’ve slipped into the third draft phase of this book. This is the “make it pretty” draft, and typically takes longer in terms of raw time than the original skull dump. Not to be rushed, I hope to be finished the third draft by the end of the year, but I won’t stress too much if I’m still working it in early January.

 

Short Fiction

I wrote twelve short stories from scratch this month, eight for the Undead Project and four Star Trek fanfics. These range in length from an 868-word yet-to-be-transcribed flash piece to a 5,483-word short, with the average story length being 2,980 words.

Also finished two stories picking up previous ideas, both of them finishing in the high end of short story range at 6,677 words (just under 2k when I picked it back up, and 7,019 words (just under 3k when I picked it back up. It’s possible successive drafts might put them both over the edge into novelette range.

Total short fiction wordage for the month: 44,089.

 

Year of Trek Fiction

Finished off the Scotty short at 3,953 words, and drafted one staring Chapel just after she got her MD and serving on the Yorktown at 5,483 words, one featuring the recurring minor character Lt. Leslie at 4,359 words, and a short piece at 3,163 words for poor, overlooked Chief Kyle that I finished just before the end of the month. Drafting-wise, that means it’s time to switch gears and get back to the conversion of Fractured Unity into a short novel. But revision notes have been made for all my Trek fanfic so far except for the recently completely story for Mr. Kyle.

 

Other Writing

A handful of reviews, a few blog posts, and a little bit of poetry transcription makes for another 17,892 words.

 

Total for the Month

Counting word count changes due to editing and adding absolutely everything together, the total for the month comes to a staggering 104,710. That’s a clear personal best. And I find myself thinking, what if I’d put all of those words in on one project?

The answer is that I would have burned out like I usually do when I try too hard to focus on one thing. I’m far better off with multiple creative irons in the fire. That allows me to switch when I’m struggling with something, coming back to it with fresh eyes tomorrow or next week or whenever. Took me a while to figure that out, but I need to have more than one thing in the drafting stage. It’s probably good if there’s only one long thing, but there needs to be more than one story at a time.

 

Goals for September and Beyond

  1. Heros Life: looking to finish this. Like I suggested above, I think I’m within about 15,000 words of being finished, though it could be a little more. I’ve already written the denouement, though not the climax.
  2. Universal Destiny: I hope to be as much as a third of the way into the Make It Pretty draft, but if I’m less, that’s okay.
  3. Arena: if I can maintain the current editing pace of, I should be about ¾ of the way through the story, maybe even a little more.
  4. Shrine: this is the sequel to Arena. Maintaining the primary drafting pace of 1000 words per day (on average, and I just missed that in August by being way too into a book I was reading during the last week of the month), plus the 2-3k I’m likely to have handwritten by the time Shrine switches to be the primary story, I could be as much as 1/3 complete on the first draft.
  5. At least 25,000 words or so of short fiction, mostly on the Undead (and getting close to being finished the first drafts of all potential stories here), but there are still some incomplete stories I’d like to turn into complete ones, and I don’t think I’m quite done with the Star Trek fanfic.

I’m continually reforecasting when I think I’m going to finish each stage of each current project, and sometimes I adjust the next one out in each column. The plan for the rest of the year remains intense and hasn’t shifted much overall since the last report. Working through completion levels from Final Read Through down to basic outline:

  1. Read through complete for Heroes Inc, Skip to My Luu, and Graceland.
  2. Final Draft: none expected.
  3. Third draft complete for: Universal Destiny. This is a bit of stretch goal. I’m currently expecting to be done this in mid-January, but I’m hopeful.
  4. Second drafts complete for: Arena and Scattered on the Wind. The latter was my NaNoWriMo project in 2014, and I think it’s got a lot of potential, if I can fix all of the broken things in it. But maybe I’ll be lucky and it will be less broken than I remember. It’s happened recently with other stories.
  5. Revision notes complete for Heros Life and Draugr Rising.
  6. First draft complete for Shrine and all stories for The Undead.
  7. Plotting: Fallen Heroes. This is the third, and planned final, book in the trilogy that started with Heroes Inc. I already have the ending in mind.
  8. Basic Outline: a list of story ideas for Speculative Emotion.

Note that anything falling into one category isn’t listed in another. If I’m hoping to be done the Revision Notes phase for Heros Life, that means I need to have finished the first draft, too.

Like I said last month, how much I actually accomplish each month will depend on a lot of things. It’s an aggressive plan, considering work, family, and life, but if you shoot for the stars and miss, you’ll probably still wind up in orbit. Or something cliché like that.

All that aside, September’s word count will be lighter than August’s. Back to School, three teenagers re-establishing normal life, ongoing other stuff. You get the idea.

Be well, everyone.

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Lance
Lance Schonberg is an eclectic genre fiction author with more than two dozen stories published or on the way. 2019 is the year he dives into independent publishing, starting with "Thorvald's Wyrd", "Skip To My Luu", and "Turn the World Around". And he needs a more exciting short bio.

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