Writing Report, September 2016

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Welcome to the monthly writing report. As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve made a change in my overall writing strategy to incorporate more editing in general and little or no drafting on weekends. That decision, made in order to potentially keep a little balance and not get years ahead in drafting stories, colours everything that follows in this report.

 

Novel-Length Fiction

Drafting: Hero’s Life, 16,699 words

Finished on 28 September at 58,982 words. That said, there is a lot of cleanup necessary in the dictation this time. Not sure if it’s the new installation of Dragon, a crappier headset microphone, or excessive road noise in my tiny car. Probably some of each. I’ll tidy a little when I get to revision notes and the rest during the second draft. That level of tidying will probably make the third draft a lot smoother and easier.

Drafting: Shrine, 9,849 words

After struggling with parts of Hero’s Life, I’ve made a start on Shrine, with several thousand words of transcription and a couple of days of dictation totalling 9,849 words. Not quite where I originally expected to be before shifting gears, but not a bad start.

Revision Notes: Scattered on the Wind

Scattered was my 2014 NaNoWriMo project, with a teenager as the protagonist after her family emigrates to a new planet. I’m just over two-thirds (by word count – eleven chapters to go) through story making revision notes, and things are hanging together better than I expected. A lot better. Like, I like the story better.

Second: Arena

Completed on 12 September. See previously mention note on strategy changes.

Third Draft: Universal Destiny

As of September 30th, stood at 78% completion. A little cleaning, a little presentation, a little polishing. The word count doesn’t change much day to day, but the third draft should be just on the high side of 75k words when finished. With the strategy change (okay, I won’t mention it again), I’m actually expecting to be finished this draft in mid-October instead of by the end of the year.

 

Short Fiction

I finished only 2 started-from-nothing short stories this month, both for the Undead Project, one at 2,510 and one at 2,727 for the first draft. I’ve also put in about 3,000 words into something I think is going to finish at around 4,500. The end of this project, at least for first drafts, is in sight. Even with a weak September, I expect to have the last first draft story finished sometime in mid-October

Also finished two stories picking up previous ideas, a mixed SF/F story at 6,131 words (about 2,500 when I picked it back up) and a short I took from about 500 words to 3,729 at first draft completion. Working on something now that I thought was going to be a Superhero prison break short story, but inspiration gave me a twist turning it into something far different that I’m pretty sure is going to wind up being a heave novelette.

Total short fiction wordage for the month: 17,234. Lighter than last month, but still not bad.

 

Year of Trek Fiction

The Chekov novella is at final draft and I’m mid-way through the second draft of the novelette starring Uhura. This one is a little slower going as I changed something fundamental about the story, noting it inside brackets, not once, but twice. By the time I’m finished the second draft, no one will ever know, but aside from tidying up the dictation and fixing things wrong with the plot, it needs more rewriting than is normal for a second draft. With luck, both it and the Sulu novelette will hit final draft by the end of October.

 

Other Writing

A handful of reviews, a few blog posts, and a little bit of poetry transcription makes for another 11,104 words. On the subject of poetry transcription, having misplaced my primary haiku notebook, I found it again only to lose the replacement. I’m sure it will turn up eventually, but in the meantime, there’s a gap almost a month long in my haiku work.

 

Total for the Month

Counting word count changes due to editing and adding absolutely everything together, the total for the month comes to a fairly impressive 62,524. Perhaps not as impressive as the almost 105,000 words I racked up in August, but I’m quite happy with things overall. If I’d struggled a little less early in the month with Hero’s Life, I suspect that would have been 10k or so higher, but life has a way of changing things.

 

Goals for October and Beyond

  1. Universal Destiny: finishing up the Make It Pretty draft.
  2. 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.
  3. Shrine: the sequel to Arena. Peeling back to no drafting on weekends, I hope to be something close to half way through the story, in excess of 25k words.
  4. Fallen Heroes: third book in what I’ve come to think of as the Heroes Inc With the first draft of Hero’s Life complete, I feel comfortable in outlining the third book.
  5. Scattered on the Wind: no idea how far I’ll get, but revision notes to be completed in October and jumping into the second draft.
  6. At least 15,000 words of short fiction, finishing the first draft of the last Undead stories and continuing work on some of the incomplete stories I’d like to turn into complete ones—there are still seven of these after the I’m working on, two more of which I’m sure are novelettes, one of which may jump over the line to novella.

I’m trying to limit my basic reforecasting to only once per week and a major one for the end of each month, but the spreadsheet I’ve built to assist in that is a thing of beauty. If you like spreadsheets.

For the rest of the year, October-December, working through completion levels from Final Read Through down to basic outline:

Read through complete for Heroes Inc, Skip to My Luu, and Graceland.

Final Draft: Universal Destiny.

Third draft: complete for: Arena as stretch goal. The current forecast says no earlier than mid-January, but it could happen.

Second draft: complete for: Scattered on the Wind and starting on Draugr Rising. So far, Scattered is far less broken than I remember, but I’m only at the midpoint for revision notes and there’s still plenty of time for things to go wrong. Draugr, I remember as being stiff and strange at times, so we’ll see what that looks like when I crack it open.

Revision notes: complete for Draugr Rising.

First draft: complete for Shrine and all stories for The Undead.

Plotting: Fallen Heroes, the third, and planned final, in the Heroes Inc. trilogy.

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 second draft for Scattered On the Wind, that means I need to have finished the revision notes, too.

Again, how much I actually accomplish each month will depend on a lot of things. I’m maintaining an aggressive plan, considering work, family, and life, even if the overall shape of that plan changes sometimes. And I reserve the right to change my mind about any particular project and the order I want to pursue things in. Just considering the novel-length stories I want to tell right now, if I maintain the general drafting pace I’m making at the moment, it will take until near the end of 2027 to finish the last first draft.

And I have several ideas I’m putting a tiny bit of flesh on.

And I have a couple of non-fiction projects I want to do.

And I’m a poet.

The project list will go on forever, I hope.

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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