First draft complete!

The Aramis Gothboi project: writing a children’s book

progress journal
DRAFT: 01 | word count: 48,938

Journal entry 31:

Monday 16 November 2020

Not a huge volume of work achieved over the weekend, but certainly a substantive amount. Less that 8,000 words to go and I’ve found myself a plot hole that I’m going to have to fix somehow. It’s simply a matter of moving characters around so they’re in the right place at the right time, but it feels good to see it and know that I can fix it.

Speaking of plot holes, I just know that this draft is littered with them. Over the past two weeks I’ve done what I could to resolve such things, but there were a few I let go to fix later. The second act has been improved and makes a lot more sense now, but I still see moments where characters simply say the things I need them to say to push on to the next bit. All of this will need fixing. Also, I noted that some characters get a little too meta—which I’m sure I only wrote that way to amuse myself at the time. It will be interesting to see what I do with these bits. I like comedy for the sake of comedy but if it detracts from the reader experience, it’s got to go.

Back to progress, I’ve got one more chapter to flesh out before I tackle that new chapter. Who knows, I might get this done before the week is out. If I do, I’ll use the rest of the month for clean-up and a final pass on each chapter before it goes in the drawer for a bit. Well, we’ll see how we go. I don’t want to push for too much if I don’t have the time to do it.

Monday 23 November 2020

It looks like I’m just about done. Still short of my 50K by a little over 1,000 words but all of the story is now there on the page. Over the weekend I managed to fill all the holes, completed that additional chapter, and added two more as well.

I could sit here and chip away on those last few words to make 50K (there’s always work to be done), but I think it’s safe for me to declare it now:

I have completed the first draft!

I am very much looking forward to putting this manuscript in the drawer for a few weeks and commencing the second draft in the new year.

In the meantime, I suppose I should try to live a little. You should too.

Until next year, peeps. Thanks for following the journey so far. 2021 is going to be a big one.

Stay safe.

On track for completion (the second week of NaNoWriMo)

The Aramis Gothboi project: writing a children’s book

progress journal
DRAFT: 01 | word count: 40,894

Journal entry 30:

Monday 9 November 2020

I’m feeling pretty down from the constant need to progress faster than anticipated. Starting this, I planned to get at least 500 words a day and I have achieved that so far, but I feel like I should be doing more.

To give myself a bit of a roadmap I wrote a list of all the chapters that need additional content and put an average of +1,000 words to be added to each one, but every time I attacked one, I was finding it difficult to add that many words and not mess with what was already written.

So, I revised my plan to tackle the problem chapters in smaller chunks. Instead of looking at them as lacking in wordcount, I look at what needs fixing in terms of content. Once I fix the issue, I tally up the count and move on to the next problem. If, when I’ve fixed all those little problem areas, I am still below the desired wordcount—I will just look for more problem areas and repeat the process until I get there.

I know that writing, like any craft, is working with a set of tools and guidelines to achieve a creative outcome but I think doing it—especially in the first draft—to hit arbitrary markers like having so many words per chapter can be damaging to the process.

Yes, you must write the words. No one else will do it for you. There are expectations for the form that come down to lengths for chapters and novels in their entirety and I get that, but if the chapter has been pushed as far as it can go and you haven’t hit that expected number of words—for me at least—it’s better that I leave it and move on to keep the ball rolling.

Anyway, I’m a third of the way to my goal. One quarter of the way through the allotted time to complete it, so whatever I’m doing, I must be doing it right.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

I did not get a whole lot written today but I did have a little breakthrough on the story. I had been working with rough structural notes for where to add further plot points to fill in a few holes and after today’s effort have figured out that there is room for a whole new chapter! Yay! That will certainly bump up the wordcount.

Friday 13 November 2020

It has been a slow week for progress. I am still on track with my 500-word average, but only because I built it up previously.

Seriously, the last four days have consisted of half-hour sessions in which I barely get 200 words down. I have not put time aside to try and do more, but I have not had the energy either. I’ve been putting off doing that new chapter as I know what will happen if I reach my wordcount before I finish plugging up these holes—they will be left gaping and that will simply mean more work for me when I attack the second draft.

Righto, back into it. Will let you know how I go.

Another hour, another 250 words. So. Slow! That said, I made some huge improvements on what was previously written. I was seriously stuck on the opening paragraph—it was actual garbage. It was sort of a scene, I guess. But it felt a hell of a lot more like a laundry list of things in a room, so I spent some time making it flow. Once I did, the additional stuff came easy. Sometimes you just got to keep chipping away until you find what you were looking for.

The good news is there is only one more hole to fill before I jump on board with that new chapter. With my wordcount sitting at less than 10K to go, I am now feeling enthusiastic and confident about progress. Let’s hope it’s a fruitful weekend.

On track for completion (the first three days of NaNoWriMo)

The Aramis Gothboi project: writing a children’s book

progress journal
DRAFT: 01 | word count: 36,283

Journal entry 29:

Sunday 1 November 2020

November is here and I’m using the NaNoWriMo thing to complete this first draft. The official benchmark for participating in the initiative is 50,000 words in a month toward a new project. I don’t need to do that. My aim is to complete the remaining 15,000 of this manuscript. That’s 500 words per day, which is absolutely doable.

I’ve got my first 500 words down and am feeling quite good about getting back into the swing of things—even if the primary goal is so I can say that it’s done and take a break before I commence the second draft phase.

Over the month I will follow my roughed-out plan that outlines which sections need additional text with between 500 and 2,000 words necessary per chapter. I am very much looking forward to getting this done.

Monday 2 November 2020

So, two days in and I’m finding the NaNoWriMo stats page rather interesting. Not only does it give me totals, daily averages and projected targets, it also tells me that I currently write at eight words a minute. Whoooooooooshhh!!! I’ll get this done in no time.

Seriously though, I’m on track and am feeling good about it all. Hopefully I can get another few hundred words down before the end of the day too.

Got another two hundred words in, which has led to the completion of the missing section of a chapter. I projected an additional 2,000 but I’ll settle for 1,300. Everything I need is in there now and I’m sure that when I revisit it in the second draft, there will be more to add (there always is).

For the moment though, I can move onto another section.

Tuesday 2 November 2020

A quick session this morning saw the addition of 500 words to another chapter, which is good. This included a new interaction that I feel raises the stakes earlier on in the story. That said, this chapter has notes to revise for inconsistencies—one of those inconsistencies being that the events taking place are out of order and I need to reshuffle a few things. I knew that before going into it, and was going to just fill in the gaps of the scene leaving the reshuffling until later but now I’m thinking about it, it seems to be demanding that I take care of it right now. Oh well, seeing as I’m on track with my daily wordcount, I suppose I can spend a little time shuffling things around now.

Lastly, a few newsworthy things worth mentioning:

  • A short story of mine Level Crossing has gone to print. The official launch is on Thursday for this collection of short pieces by RMIT graduates called Spiral Anthology. I’m super proud to be a part of it and can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy. If there’s an opportunity to buy or read it online, I add the details in a future post.

  • Why Are You Here? is due to commence its third podcast season soon and I will be resuming sound editing duties for that in the coming week. More to come when it drops. In the meantime, why not catch up on all your favourites episodes from the first two seasons.

The verbal pitch

The Aramis Gothboi project: writing a children’s book

progress journal
DRAFT: 01 | word count: 35,262

Journal entry 28:

I spent the last few days casually honing my verbal pitch. At three minutes long, there’s not much to work with. I’ve been considering the flow of information and sentence structure to get it as clear as possible. I’m not great at writing uncomplicated lines when it comes to describing things. I have a habit of getting caught up in dumb turns of phrase that entertain me for the moment, which results in muddied clarity.

As mentioned last week, I have 400 or so words and three minutes to work with. I’ve had no problem fitting everything into that time limit and as a bonus, every time I go over it, I’m getting a clearer idea of where I’m wasting words. I’ve managed to shave off about 50 and between the next few hours before retiring for the evening, I believe I’ll lose a few more.

Note: A few words changed, but the length stayed the same.

I have a weird relationship with the process of editing. My brain doesn’t work quite the way other people’s do. Where some people can be quite clear in their meaning from the first word that comes out of their mouth, I was (and in many ways still am) a kid that would say ‘um’ a lot. Maybe this is because I’ve started talking before knowing what I wanted to say or I’m self-editing as I go, and the um is a buffering delay.

One of the positive things I got from doing standup was that this self-editing um process doesn’t go down great in a tight five. You’ve got to know what you’re going to say, or simply trust what you’re saying will result in what you mean. Admittedly it takes practice and learning to fly without a net is terrifying, but it has to be done.

Another thing, I’m not going to memorise this. I’d rather get it right than mess it up because I don’t remember it. 18 hours before it’s time to perform…

Journal entry 28.5:

Done. It went well, mostly.

A tech issue halfway through was one hitch—another was the order in which I presented my information, simply to frame the tone of the manuscript. I’d hoped the tone was inherent in my words and voice. It was not. I went too hard on the edit. Lesson learned. I also should have gone with memorising the piece—this would have given it the energy that spontaneity brings.

I am yet to learn I can do this without a net. This was not the end of all opportunity but it did mark the end of my studies.

I’m going to take a break before I push for that last 15,000 words. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner—perhaps there’s my chance to get it done.