Aramis Gothboi – Progress Journal: 30K OK. Where to from here?

Progress Journal for Aramis Gothboi: Book One

Mog’s ongoing account of completing the first draft.

Total word count: 30,040

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Twenty-second Post:

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:

  • blurb
  • chapter outline
  • summary
  • 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.

 

the-cast-texture-colour
Aramis Gothboi – Cast of Characters (2012)

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.

Stay safe.

Aramis Gothboi – Progress Journal: 10K in 10 days – Day 09

Progress Journal for Aramis Gothboi: Book One

Mog’s ongoing account of completing the first draft.

Total word count: 30,040

~

Twenty-first Post:

Word total: 30,040 (+1,747)

30K complete! I hit my goal just now with one day to spare (although it has technically been Day 10 for about 30 minutes now).

It’s really quite amazing for me to see how much I have been able to achieve in such a tight amount of time. To get over the line I followed through with last night’s plan and inserted 2 additional chapters.

The first added chapter puts more focus on Jo’s (protagonist) home life and helps to answer the question of why she is doing what she does at the beginning of the book. It also spends a little more time teasing out the first mystery that needs to be solved. For the mystery, I added a detail that will fuel a little more conflict between the main characters further down the track. For this session I sat and wrote a little over a thousand words. I admit that it is rough, but still pretty well-formed.

I finished that chapter and realised I only had 694 more words to get to 30K, so I decided to sit down for one more session tonight and just bash it out.

The second added chapter is a scene that I’ve been wondering whether or not is actually necessary for quite some time now. I’d cut it from the chapter plan for this current drafting phase, but as I’ve got what is now essentially a completed first draft in front of me, I can now see that it won’t hurt to include it. As I fleshed the chapter, I came to the conclusion that it may become a very necessary scene.

To get that chapter out I simply bashed out what I thought was enough to get me over the finish line, so it’s pretty rough but the main thread is there along with some fun character interaction and dialogue. A few ideas from a later chapter will need to be adapted align with what happens here now, otherwise it’s pretty sound so far.

What a ride! …but it’s not over just yet.

I have tomorrow and Friday night to do the submission stuff. If I get the time, I’ll also clean up that last chapter.

‘Night!

Aramis Gothboi – Progress Journal: 10K in 10 days – Day 08

Progress Journal for Aramis Gothboi: Book One

Mog’s ongoing account of completing the first draft.

Total word count: 28,293

~

Twentieth Post:

With two days to go, I have to average 900 words per day to get this 30K in the bag. I reckon I got this.

As mentioned yesterday, I hoped to have completed the thing over the course of last night and today, but it was not to be. Guess I’ll have to settle for scraping in on time instead.

I fixed that climax issue and spent today reviewing chapters to see what’s missing where, and adding the necessary details. Unfortunately, every time I do this, I only add about 200 words at a time because the bulk of the text for this phase is already on the page.

I’m thinking I’ll sit down and add a whole new chapter tomorrow to get this thing done. I was considering that it would be a necessary step in the second draft anyway, and it’s the only way I’m going to hit 30K in a time-effective way.

From there on in, I can begin work on the additional submission material that includes:

  • story summary
  • breakdown of my progress with the project so far
  • reasons why I am throwing my butt in the ring

It’s all due this Friday. Such fun.

Aramis Gothboi – Progress Journal: 10K in 10 days – Day 07

Progress Journal for Aramis Gothboi: Book One

Mog’s ongoing account of completing the first draft.

Total word count: 26,508

~

Nineteenth Post:

It’s 11am and I’ve only made a small dent in the word count today, so I’m tossing up whether or not to push a late-night session, or wake up early tomorrow and get it done then. Honestly, getting up early seems to be much harder than it needs to be, and I usually end up filling what’s left of that time before lunch with housework and such anyway.

I’m pretty sure I’ll tackle one more session before I go to bed. With less than 3,500 words to go, it will take the pressure off I can get that number down to less than 2,000 before I sleep (and then it won’t matter if I happen to sleep in!)

Progress today was spent finessing the climax. I know what needs to happen structurally, but I’m still playing with how it is delivered, and those damn kids are playing up again with surprise dialogue and carrying on by doing the unexpected. Don’t worry, I had a chat to them, and they know who’s boss here and they promised to behave better so I can get the action of the scene to work in return for a good play in another, less critical chapter.

Should post this now and go have a cup of tea. So I will.

‘Til tomorrow.