I hit a stumbling block this week — and it threw me off balance! But I also had a week off from my primary career. Did they offset? Or did they bring my productivity crashing down? Also, I had realized marketing a second book in a series is a lot different than marketing the first. Was I able to make any useful adjustments? Let’s take a look at the numbers first!
Progress Report 2022 Week 50 By the Numbers
Well, there’s a spoiler: I might have stumbled, but because I had taken some time off my primary career, it didn’t hurt my word output at all!
I’ll talk about the stumbling block a little later. You might enjoy the insights I gained from the experience! But being on vacation let me work in two or three extra writing sessions. That helped me write over fourteen thousand words last week! The book is now over a hundred thousand words. It’s silly, I know, but I still think that’s a milestone worth celebrating!
Intersecting Arcs Are Dramatic
Bringing multiple arcs crashing together in the “jaws of defeat” plot point might be dramatic. But for the likes of me, it’s a monster to pull off! Especially when the action behind the jaws of defeat is a mystery that each Point of View (POV) character experiences differently — and whose different perceptions drive the plot forward from that point forward.
In the case of Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus, four of the main plot lines crashed together in the star system named Ross 128. It involved two star ships, an abandoned and wrecked lunar base, and a remote Security Operations Command and Control center. I got through that portion and realized that even though I’d plotted that portion carefully, I hadn’t been careful enough. The details had gotten away from me.
I don’t have a hat like that. But I certainly know the feeling! From Know Your Meme.
It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about the demons that haunt my writing. I’ve kept ahead of them by writing as fast and as hard as I could. Unfortunately, when I realized that I’d screwed up this section of the novel, they pounced. I was convinced — absolutely, and down to my soul — that the book was dead, that I needed to either go back to square one or declare Evolution’s Hand a trilogy and quit.
To be honest, the feelings surprised me. It’s not that I consciously thought I’d gotten beyond them. But I had forgotten how convincing they can be. Fortunately, two published books and demonstrated writing progress since 2020 Week 52 gave me momentum to challenge that negativity.
Heck, even realizing I had written almost four books in two years helped!
I combed through those chapters, brought the details in line, and extrapolated the subjects of the next chapters. After about a day and a half’s worth of work, I was back on track. Disaster averted!
But there are two lessons I need to learn from this:
- No matter how detailed my plot braiding worksheet, I need to allow for organic (or simply mistaken) developments. I’m not programming a Java servlet; I’m writing a novel.
- I’ll never really get “beyond” those demons. They’re simply part of who I am. I need to be prepared for them. Because next time, I might be tired or in the middle of a major Real World Life Event, and I might not have the intellectual resiliency to bounce back.
Progress Last Week
I had three main objectives for last week:
Finish Plot Turn 2 for The Sirius/Ross 128 Arcs
Remember how I just mentioned I have to allow for organic growth? The four plot arcs are so closely aligned that I discovered the plot braiding worksheet is too coarse. I need to use it as a more general guide and allow the characters and situations to drive the plot forward. I’ll hit the beats I need to hit. All of that is clear in my mind. But I don’t know how to chart it. Rather than wait for my charting skills to catch up, I’m going to push forward.
I’ll need to remember this for the next book (Evolution’s Hand Book 5: Darkness Falls). It’s going to be a challenging plot, so I’ll need to develop some new plotting skills anyway!
The bottom line is that even though I had to temporarily abandon the plot braiding worksheet, I completed this section.
Begin Plot Turn 2 for the Earth Arcs
Henry Duncan’s chapters are in light purple. Owen Payne, the other character in the Earth arcs, also sees some action at this point in the story. His chapter is light blue.
Thinking of these Duncan’s and Payne’s arcs together has helped me focus. I hope the result will delight my readers! At least, I’m having fun with it. Though my character Henry Duncan seriously hates all of the metal studs he had to wear in his nose, eyebrows, and ears. I hope he gets time and a half for that — undercover work really difficult.
I finished this goal.
Research How Other Writers Have Approached Marketing Books Beyond the First in a Series
I did some research, and I could not come up with a better way to articulate my new approach than Lynn provided in his comment in last week’s post. He said:
Trust the read through and market the hell out of book 1.
I tested that theory and compared the results to me marketing book 2 alone. Guess what? He was right. So, that’s the approach I’m going to keep tweaking.
Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2022 Week 50
Here are my goals for the coming week:
- Start the resolution chapters for the Ross 128/Sirius arc
- Start the resolution chapters for the Earth arcs
If all goes well — and we all know we can’t count on that! — I should be able to finish the first draft by end of the calendar year. Wouldn’t that be cool?
What Do You Think?
Almost every writer I talk to experiences moments of doubt. How do you deal with yours? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!