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Progress Report 2023 Week 24

Given the sheer volume of Real Life Family Events (RLFEs) and Real Life Work Events (RLWEs) that have cropped up lately, I have to admit I went into this week with apprehension. Was that feeling warranted? How far did I get in the ProWritingAid pass of Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus? And do I still consider marketing to be the bane of my existence? Let’s look at the numbers first.

Progress Report 2023 Week 24 By the Numbers

The week went much better than I expected.

I’ve read some horror stories about what happened to writers after upgrading to the latest ProWritingAid. The upgrade didn’t cause me any distress, so I’ll consider myself lucky. That said, I did take a little extra time to experiment with the various bells and whistles. I decided that only two of the AI-driven features helped me: Style and Grammar. Both gave me suggestions that helped me improve my manuscript.

I’m not saying others, like Rephrase, Thesaurus, and Overused, failed. They offered a ton of suggestions. For me, though, the suggestions did not help, especially when I compared the percentage of suggestions I thought useful to the time invested. It could be that I need to spend more time learning those features. Or maybe I’m at a stage in my writing career where 50+ years of writing made some tools less useful to me.

Hey, I can dream.

But ProWritingAid’s Style and Grammar features alone more than justify the cost of the tool. I like how both find errors on one hand, and on the other hand make me think hard to confirm that a certain turn of phrase is, in fact, my “voice” and not a simple mistake.

All that said, I finished the ProWritingAid pass for Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus. The manuscript is now in the hands of a beta reader/proofreader. I should have some news about that effort next week!

Work Begins on Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis

Over the weekend, I picked which characters would be my Point of View (POV) characters for Unnatural Crypsis. One of them is completely new: Maximiliano Contrereas, CEO of Advanced Defense Solutions — South American Branch. I set about building the team that worked for him and selecting a location for his HQ in Puente Alto, Chile. I sketched the global home office in Tel Aviv, Israel, and I setup the basic tensions that would drive the character.

But something interesting happened when I was putting the POV arcs together in Plottr. The characters disagreed with my selection. Now, before you suggested I see professional help, I know I’m simply anthropomorphising the workings of my imagination. But when I can envision the characters clearly enough that they interact, I take it as a good sign.

There’s a lot of blanks here — okay, all of them are blank! But it’s a start!

The characters nominated the new VP of Research & Development, Noam Katz, as the POV character to use instead of Contrereas. Tel Aviv inserted Katz into that branch location because they were concerned about the declining market in South America. I’m looking forward to writing Noam Katz’s arc, mostly because he’s about my age. I find that I now think that’s a great age for an antagonist — especially one who thinks he’s a protagonist!

As of right now, subject to change, here’re the POV characters for Unnatural Crypsis:

  1. Melchizedek “Dek” Conrad
  2. Matsushita Sachi
  3. Mariam Al Khatib
  4. Catalina Ojeda
  5. Magali Suarez
  6. Noam Katz

With the exception of Katz, if you’ve read Executive Action and Dying Breath, you should know the characters. I hope they’re some of the characters that you liked! I’ve been looking for an opportunity to write Catalina Ojeda’s perspective, so I’m particularly excited about her addition to the roster.

This stage is simultaneously the most existing and the most stressful. I love building the characters. I love defining where they were born, where I use Google Maps to take a picture of homes or other buildings from the cities I consider their birthplace. Even mundane things like how many siblings they have can add details that make the character feel more real to me — and, I hope, help me make the characters feel more real to you!

Building the characters is a lot of fun.

On the other hand, a misstep at this stage can make writing much more difficult. I didn’t give event sequencing enough thought when I outlined Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus. That made the second draft a lot more work. I thought I had caught all of the inconsistencies by the end of the first draft. Nope. I’m still not sure I caught them all (though I think I did).

Not only that, but if I don’t get the character mix right, or if I’m not as creative enough, I’ll come up with a boring manuscript! I don’t want to write one of those. I’m sure you don’t want to read one!

As an aside, my favorite anime of all time is Re:CREATORS, and even amid a cast that I’m wildly fond of, my favorite is the writer Shunma Suruga. She went to great lengths to come up with stories that would thrill her readers. I want to emulate that dedication. Though I’m not sure I’d go as far as she did.

If you saw Re:CREATORS, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

But I’ll bring the closest thing I have to an A game to this. This is the sixth and potentially last book in the series. I want it to top everything that’s come so far.

Progress against Last Week’s Goals

Here’s how I did compared to my goals from last week:

  1. Evaluate the results of the Fussy Librarian ad: Done! I consider the add a success, too. I’m pleased with its click-to-cost performance. That, and I can’t complain about the number of books it sold!
  2. Monitor the long-duration Facebook ad: Done! The ad is still cranking along. I can see now how some writers can spend thousands a month on advertising. My budget is so low because I’m focused on finishing the series and don’t have time to dedicate to the ad oversight I anticipate needing for a large advertising operation. There’s a ton of room for optimization — not doing that can be costly! But it’s currently performing better than anything I’ve done before, except for the Fussy Librarian ad, so I’ll leave it on auto pilot for a while.
  3. Work on the ProWritingAid pass of Blind Exodus: Done!

Do I still consider marketing to be the bane of my existence? No. But it’s still a monumental effort!

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 24

Here’re the goals I hope to hit this week:

  1. Evaluate the long-duration Facebook ad (ongoing)
  2. Begin to go through the beta/proofreading feedback for Blind Exodus
  3. Continue plotting Unnatural Crypsis

What Do You Think?

I’m using a different iTunes playlist for plotting than I use for writing in the Evolution’s Hand series. It seems to be working, but I don’t have many points of comparison. What do you to do stimulate your creativity? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Progress Report 2023 Week 24

  1. I can’t listen to anything with words in otherwise I accidentally type them so I stick to soundtracks from movies and TV shows. Often, I’ll pick a show that has a similar genre or theme to what I’m writing. Helps with the tempo and makes my fingers move quicker.

    That said, more often than not, I write in complete silence. There’s more than enough noise inside my head… those pesky voices… lol!

    1. I use a lot of soundtracks, too. I’m on a Hiroyuki Sawano kick lately. I can get a lot of work done listening to his Eighty-Six, Re:CREATORS, Aldnoah:Zero, and Re:CREATORS soundtracks.

      I’ve tried silence, and I’m afraid I need the extra noise to interfere with those pesky voices! Only about half of those voices are related to the story, where they can do some good. The others really don’t want me writing, so I have to keep ahead of them. Making them content with Hiroyuki Sawano, Two Steps from Hell, or Keiichi Okabe gives me a head start!

      1. I have different albums for different genres. For fantasy I have Akame ga Kill and Claymore. For futuristic Project A-Ko and Tron Legacy. For horror and suspense the music from stranger Things. And then Akira for whatever. I need to start listening to them again I think.

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