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Progress Report 2022 Week 34

Now that I’ve split my attention between the rewrite for Evolution’s Hand Book 2: Dying Breath and planning for Book 4: Blind Exodus, did I make any progress on either? Did I get my plot lines confused? Do I even remember what happened in which book now? Let’s look at the week’s key performance indicators before answering those questions.

Progress Report 2022 Week 34 By the Numbers

It’s a little harder to gauge progress without a constantly increasing word count.

I spent the first half of the week letting my subconscious (or whatever mechanism handles this part of the process!) tell me about the plot for Blind Exodus. I’ll talk in some more detail below, but I fleshed out the characters and picked who I’ll focus on. I also scouted some sites and tried to envision where the main action would take place.

During the second half of the week, I dove back into Dying Breath. This will be the third draft. I do not want to pick up the paperback three months after its publication date and find a typo on the first page. Yes, that happened in Executive Action. And no, unless you already bought your copy, you won’t see it because I fixed the eBook and the paperback.

In my defense, it wasn’t a typo. It was a missing word. I missed it, two proof readers missed it, and ProWritingAid missed it. Still, it’s my responsibility, so I’m putting Dying Breath though an extra edit.

Progress on Blind Exodus

I spent a lot of time on what Stephen King called, in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, an archaeological dig to unearth the story for Blind Exodus. What particularly interested me was who I’d choose to be the point of view (POV) characters. As it stands now, absent any flash revelations, the POVs will be:

  • Melchizedek “Dek” Conrad, CEO of TransStell
  • Matsushita Sachi, VP Security for TransStell
  • Owen Payne, a Worker at Ohio Machine Excellence in Wooster, Ohio
  • Henry Duncan, a Professional Field Operations Specialist for TransStell
  • Jadwiga Janczak, VP Mergers and Acquisitions for TCP
  • Ira Malhotra, Manager for TransStell

In order to help Owen Payne feel real, I had to build out his environment, including co-workers, family, and even the bar he likes to visit.

I still have more to say about Atticus Porter and his household, but I think that’ll have to wait until Book 5: Crypsis. Or maybe I can shoehorn it into Book 5: Darkness Falls. Come to think of it, that might be kind of cool, actually. Hmmmm…

The story of Blind Exodus has to focus on Owen Payne, and that means I need a corresponding level of TransStell employees for him to to interact with. It’d be insane to say that Atticus Porter would interact with him, and I don’t want too many plot lines, so I had to keep POVs to a minimum. I think my books run a bit long for their niche as it is!

How well is the story evolving? I don’t really understand clearly where stories come from, so I can only answer that indirectly. I’ve learned it’s a good sign when I mow the grass and the characters start interacting in my imagination. That’s been happening a lot for Blind Exodus, so it looks promising!

And for the record? Having just finished writing Book 3: Primary Target, beginning work on Blind Exodus, and crafting the third draft of Dying Breath really stresses my memory of what happened to whom and when!

Dying Breath’s Third Draft

I said above that I didn’t want to find another typographical error or omission on the first page of Dying Breath after it’s published. And that’s true. But the real reason is that I want to give my readers (yes, it’s plural, thanks so much for asking!) the best experience I can. And I think I need a third draft to do that.

Since publishing Executive Action (which is still a phrase that elates me!), I watched a video from Chris Fox called The Value of Extra Editing. He talked about the benefits to adding more polish to his stories. He tied that extra effort to rising Amazon scores for his books. That appealed to me.

I also recently listened to the audio version of J. Michael Straczynski’s book Becoming a Writer, Staying a Writer: The Artistry, Joy, and Career of Storytelling. He also talked about the value of rewriting. He mentioned two things in particular that stood out to me. First, he said that he tries to get rid of adverbs (Stephen King mentioned that too). I can get behind that. I have a tendency to throw in an adverb when I’m in a rush, because thinking of precisely the right verb can be a chore. But I also remember reading Goblet of Fire and thinking, “So many adverbs…” It got distracting! I don’t want my writing to get in the way of my stories.

The second thing JMS said was that he tries to cut 10% out of the manuscript during each pass. He’s had experience across multiple genres and multiple forms of entertainment: graphic novels/comics, novels, and screen plays. It’s clear he speaks from well-earned experience. The challenge for me is that I tend to underwrite. I get going to fast I gloss over details I should have added. So cutting 10% as a standalone goal might be counterproductive for me.

I’m added fewer words in the third draft compared to the second.

However, as I’m writing the third draft, I find that even thinking about cutting helps me eliminate unclear/redundant paragraphs entirely. It’s also helping me tighten my prose. I’m still adding sections, but the reductions are almost offsetting the additions. Since the net effect is more clear, focused sentences, I’ll try to keep that part of my third draft stage from now on.

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2022 Week 34

I hit both goals for last week (start plotting Blind Exodus and begin rewriting Dying Breath). This week, I intend to:

  1. Get 50% of the way through Dying Breath’s third draft
  2. Revise the Amazon blurbs for Executive Action’s ebook and paperback versions
  3. Run another BookBub ad to test the effectiveness of the new Amazon blurbs

Self-publishing’s marketing work continues to be a major bear. It’s time-consuming and it’s frustrating. However, I’m starting to understand some of the basics. If I learn something repeatable, I’ll include it in a future Progress Report!

What Do You Think?

How many drafts do you push your manuscript through before you’re satisfied? Or does it depend on the manuscript? I’d love to hear about your experiences! Please feel free to share them in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Progress Report 2022 Week 34

  1. The one thing I’ll say about adverbs is that Stephen King uses them fairly frequently. I’ve been listening to the Dark Tower and notice every one thanks to his rules. I also just flicked through Carrie and found at least one on every page I stopped on.

    I’ve read On Writing and took in all the rules, but then I noticed that everyone pretty much does as they please. I’d say don’t go overboard, but that applies to both directions. Kill the unnessecary ones. Sometimes, a stronger verb might be a better choice stylistically, but sometimes they can confuse the matter and alienate the readers.

    Like every rule in writing, they are just opinions and often don’t hold much weight.

    1. Yeah, writing rules really should be called writing guidelines. Or things to briefly consider! But in terms of adverbs, I noticed that I too often used them as a crutch, and that means I’m not producing my best work. So, they’re like a caution and warning light to me! I leave them in place often.

      Without consciously realizing it, I’ve changed what I expect from books like On Writing and On Becoming a Writer. I’m less looking for specifics and am more looking for some indication that the things I’ve noticed about process or attitude aren’t completely insane. I’m so unlike most of the people around me it becomes difficult to know if I’m even making sense half the time! Hearing perspectives like King or JMS suggest that if I’m crazy, I at least have good company.

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