Progress Journal for Aramis Gothboi: Book One
Mog’s ongoing account of completing the first draft.
Total word count: 30,040
All right then, I got that submission in with at least a few minutes to spare on the Friday night it was due and have since taken what I consider to be a well-deserved break over the weekend.
The accompanying application took about three re-writes to get it up to scratch, mostly because I didn’t have a super tight story summary and found myself continually diverging from the path as I tried to over explain what is, at its core, a fairly straightforward plot.
The following night I stopped in at a friend’s house and found myself recounting this problem and also retelling my tale of not being able to tell people what my book is about. Of course the next question that arose was, what’s your book about? Leading up to that moment, for my book I had previously written a:
- chapter outline
- fair chunk of the actual book itself.
You think I’d be an expert on this by now, don’t you?
Nope, the same thing happened. I talked too much about unimportant details, tried to explain half the backstory and also began talking about things that will happen in subsequent stories. As a writer, when someone asks, you should probably be able to sum up your work in a couple of sentences. You should be able to pitch it.
After a few attempts, I got the story out in a fairly succinct way and it was suggested that perhaps I should record myself talking it out that way and writing down the way I explain it. That way I’ve got the old pitch in the bank and ready to go for any similar occasion. Damn good idea and I’ve added it to my list of things to do. And then…
I’ll begin redrafting all the work I did over the last two weeks. Writing 10,000 words in ten days is all well and good, but it sure as heck isn’t going to be of the highest quality.
I guess I need to reflect on that whole process. That last paragraph sums up my general feelings pretty well, but I think there’s more to explore.
Here we go:
10K in 10 Days: Evaluation
First things first, I should address my use of time over the period.
Day 01: 21,633 (+1,538)
Day 1 was off to a good start. I remember mentioning the night before that I thought I could easily knock out 3,000 – turns out I could not. I think the lesson there is to set realistic goals. I did hope to ensure that I was getting 1,000 words a day on average, and with work days approaching where I knew I’d be pressed to write 500, I set the bar a little higher.
Day 02: 22,066 (+433)
Day 03: 22,681 (+615)
Day 04: 22,715 (+34)
I stuck mostly to what I’d set out to do with the exception of the Friday where I got lazy and assumed I’d pick up the slack over Saturday. Saturday, however, did not go as planned.
Day 05: 22,832 (+117)
With a list of other commitments to meet, I soon realised that it would be a very unproductive day.
Day 06: 25,192 (+2,360)
Sunday became my catch-up day and I put in the hard yards to make up for lost time.
Day 07: 26,508 (+1,316)
Monday chugged along fairly well, but my total word count was slowing down due to the fact that I no longer had full chapters to tackle. Putting 1,000 words down in a session is really easy when it’s a rough draft from scratch, but when I’m looking at the clock and trying to add to existing text (and unavoidably editing as I go), it proved far more difficult to add volume as I spent more time tinkering with how to piece paragraphs together.
Day 08: 28,293 (+1,885)
Tuesday was a continuation of that same struggle as I backtracked over previous chapters to see where additional work was needed. By the end of the day, I realised that if I wanted to make the target (especially on a work day) I was going to have to add chapters that would allow me to write with flow and so I planned out two additional scenes and set them up for the following day.
Day 09: 30,040 (+1,747)
After work on Wednesday I didn’t mess about. After thinking about the additional chapters all day at work (sorry boss, that’s how my brain works), I got home and set myself in front of the keyboard as soon as I was able then knocked out the first new chapter with a little over 1,000 words. I had that done by about 10pm, which was actually an early wrap-up for writing on a workday. I had two choices, finish the last chapter with a little under 700 words the next day, or take a quick break and knock it out with a slighter later finish time for the evening. I chose the latter and got it done just after midnight. It was the right choice too. If I’d left it for the next day, I would have had zero energy for the submission application.
So there we have it, I managed to write 10K in 10 days. Am glad I did it? Yes. Would I do it again? Maybe, but certainly not under such time constraints if I do not have to. If I had 10 days with no other commitments, then sure. It’s an excellent way to keep myself accountable – especially in the first draft. If I were pushing for a final edit? No, avoid at all costs (In what universe would that even happen anyway?).
To recap, the next phase is cleaning up that work. I’ve now got ten chapters in front of me that could do with a little tender loving care. Once that’s done, I’ll call this as completion of the first draft, so I can then move onto the second. Preparation for this will include revising chapter outlines, reviewing character arcs, pacing and story beats, and then working out what needs to be added, revised or removed.
It’s going to be an absolute bloodbath.
L to R: Uncle Devin, Loofah, Jo, Bubbel, Noodel, Squeek, Jaida, Aramis, Parochian Kid #01, Al Green, Piebald, Parochian Kid #02, Parochian Kid #03, Parochian Kid #04, Parochian Kid #05, Mayor Galveston, Porcelina, Doctor Gothboi, Lady Gothboi, Mr Cowell, Scabigail, Pustina, Brian.
To celebrate the progress I’ve made, this week’s bonus content is the full cast of characters for what was to be the 2012 comic book version of this story. With the exception of Porcelina, Doctor Gothboi and Lady Gothboi, every named character here makes an appearance in the written pages. At this stage I’ve added three more characters to the ensemble, and if I can squeeze it, will likely get the likenesses of Doctor and Lady Gothboi to turn up in the form of a painting somewhere inside Gothboi Manor too.