Thursday, February 16, 2017

2017 Accomplishments and an Ode to Scrivener // Also a Snippet

Yes, you read that title correctly. I started out this year cynical and frustrated with goal making, and while I am still hesitatant to make grandiose goals I might not be able to accomplish without running myself into the ground, the year is not even a third over and I already have progress to celebrate. And celebrate I will. 

During NaNoWriMo, I drafted what was intended to be a novella with the idea that I could edit it on the side and hopefully publish it, serially, on Out of Coffee, Out of Mind in early 2018. (Now, please remember that a lot could change between now and then, so I don’t want to promise that I will be ready or willing to share it with the world when the time comes, but I also want to gauge interest. So if a serialized novella on this here blog would be something you’d be interested in, please, please let me know.) 

I have two goals, of sorts, for this project: 1) I want to challenge myself by writing a shorter work of fiction, since I’ve always felt that’s one of my areas of weakness, and B) I want to work on being consistent. *ahem* 

Back to what I was trying to say. I drafted this baby in NaNoWriMo, and if you were paying attention to the individual word counts of the projects I completed during November (if I shared those, I don't remember now), you’re probably wondering why you didn’t see a novella-length work. Um, see, that’s because the first draft for this widdle project clocked in at 103,000 words and change. It’s almost like I have a problem or something. Anyway, this gave me pause, because while I have historically cut half of my novels’ words during the second draft, I have also ended up adding 20-30K during the third. Of course, I got the sense that I had included extraneous information and unncessary internal monologue in an attempt to figure out where the plot was headed (because my writing process could best be described as: “There appears to have been a struggle”), but I also wrote this draft fairly near to the end of NaNoWriMo when I was in a coffee/wrist-pain/food-deprived trance, so you’ll have to pardon me if my memory is a tad distorted and shiny in places. 

Still, I decided to pull one of my more brash moves, which I like to call: “Hold my coffee—watch this. But also, like, I’m going to need that coffee back in just a moment.” 

Okay, let’s put on the brakes here, because I didn’t just write a gazillion words on this here baby. Oh no. That would be waaaaayyyy too simple. No, I wrote everything, and I do mean everything, out of order. In one document. Why, you ask, why? Because Scrivener, I tell you. Now, I have owned Scrivener for over a year already, but until this week, I did not know the true power of what I possessed. (Forgive me, muse fairies, I was young and foolish.) However, I was intelligent (yes, intelligent, we’ll go with that) enough to realize that you can at least use Scrivener to split your document into managable sections, which you can then switch around at will using the corkboard feature. So I let myself go hogwild with this draft, and honestly, I wouldn’t have let myself do that on Word because of all the clean-up I knew I was going to have to do, but it was also what this draft needed in order to come to life. Enter Scrivener, my hero. 

Coffee beans! My dear, dear coffee beans! 

You can color code things.

“But wait,” you say, attempting to be polite and ignore my embarrassing outburst, you kind soul, you, “aren’t you putting the cart before the horse here? You haven’t even finished the second draft yet. Why are you celebrating, you walnut???” 

Because coffee beans, in less than a week, I was able to take my giant 103,000 word “novella”, organize it into some semblance of consecutive order, use the notecard feature to painlessly whip together a detailed outline that has the tiny part of my brain that wants to be a planner in a state of euphoria, and hack off over 48,000 words—48,000 words—bringing my draft to a little over 55,000 words. Obviously it’s still too long to be a proper novella, but just from skimming the whole thing, I can tell that I will be able to cut at least 20-25K easily. This will take a lot of work, a lot of hours, more than one headache, and a devotion to concise writing that I am still working to develop, but don’t tell me it can’t be done. 

So you see, I love Scrivener. But I lied about the ode part in the title. I'm not going to start writing lyric poetry about it, even if it is an impressive word processor. 

You thought that was all, but it’s not. 

Oh no. 

Because there’s nothing like coming clean about an embarrassing personal struggle to get you into the rhythm of things. 

So far this year, I have also edited about 15K words of one of my two major WIPs, and I’m loving it. It’s a harder one, both emotionally and stylistically, than any project I have previously tackled. Had I attempted to edit it two years ago when I first wrote the rough draft, I don’t think I would have been ready to dive into it. Which is partially why I set it aside to age while I tackled DRACONIAN and then fell off the bus for a while (something I plan to talk about soon). But even though this project is challenging, I wouldn’t trade it for any other story in the world. *wipes away fake tear* *stares dramatically into camera lens* 

I do, however, really need to finish DRACONIAN so I can start sending out query letters. I’m so close to being finished, I think the biggest reason why I’ve been stalling is that I’m scared to return to the querying trenches. And by that, I mean, I think I’m scared that I will get an agent and a book deal and have to work on DRACONIAN even more, which at the moment sounds like less fun than chewing off my hand. Consequently, I’ve been burying myself in other writing work, all the while ignoring the red folder in my computer bag. (This, however, is not how you get published, folks. Monkey see, monkey don’t do.) 

In addition, I have drafted more blog posts over the past week, and will hopefully be blogging every Thursday (plus any bonus content I feel like throwing at you) from now on. 

I mentioned in my 2017 resolutions-ish post that I didn’t want to set many public goals for myself, but I do want to share my current project deadlines with you for accountability reasons (because I have been bad at meating deadlines for DRACONIAN, and I can’t afford to make a habit of that). So, you have my permission (and my encouragement) to pester me about these deadlines and revoke my coffee privileges if I fail to meet at least two of them. 

Here are the lines of death (to my sanity): 

DRACONIAN: Finish final draft and begin querying by March 31, 2017

BMT (my other full-length, priority WIP): Finish second draft by March 31, 2017 (sic)

SSNSP (Super Secret Novella Side Project): Finish second draft by April 15, 2017

Obviously, I have other writing plans for this year, but I’m not going to talk more about them in this post. I have to keep some secrets, don’t I? (I don’t, not really, but something about starting an editing project in secret lets me enjoy it more. *shrugs*) 

Anyway, in the title to this post, I promised you a snippet, so here’s a snippet of BMT (and be forewarned, I still have a lot of editing to do, so this probably won't be the final version, but I still wanted to share a little something of what I’ve been doing): 

“The sink of his mind was backed up again. His thoughts made slow revolutions, draining in microscopic increments. The paper swam before his eyes until all he could see, for half an instant, was a snapshot of her bending over a rosebush, a white dress clinging to her hip bones, a floppy straw hat shielding her brittle hair from the sun, a trowel in the dirt-stained glove of her hand. The single sliver of her face he could see past shadows and faded memory was the hint of her mouth, trying for a rueful smile. His fingers found the watch by habit, toyed with the dials as he toyed with the thought. Habit took over and he almost pressed the watch face. Barely managed to stop himself. Felt the whiplash as his body careened to a halt while his mind kept going. 

Not again. The memory was slow poison. Already he sensed it dripping into his veins, seizing up his heart. He blinked and he could smell her perfume, could feel the cool breeze braving summer to bring him the faintest taste of her scent, the smallest sample. 

His eyes slid halfway shut as the world blurred. Reality untethered, let him squish soil between his toes, let him relive without returning, and he sat there in a daze, his body pressed heavily into the dying couch, until a famliar metallic click woke him from his reverie. 

His hand found the watch face, but the cold press of a gun barrel kissed his temple, and time ran out for the time traveler.” 

And that's it for today. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? What writing shenanigans have you been up to lately?


  1. I'm so glad that your year has gotten off to a good start, Liz! :) I absolutely LOVE your snippet, and I really hope you meet your deadlines. :D

  2. Ahh, the shenanigans... I finished the first draft of The Importance of Stars yesterday (12 days, 15,978 words) and am now going to go work on Tattoos and Tiaras.

    Tell you what, I'll revoke your coffee if you revoke my tea - I need to get on Spinner of Secrets and get a final draft so I can publish it. At the moment I'm waiting on my mom to finish her edits so I can combine with the edits from my other beta reader, and make the final manuscript to send to a proofreader, before beginning the long and arduous task of formatting. Current goal is to have it ready for release by the first of June and set the release date for my birthday, June 13th. *hides in a corner and flips out*

  3. Aw I was looking forward to the Ode to Scrivener, since I have also recently been discovering it's full depths, even though I've used it for several years now. Honestly, I don't think I could ever go back to using anything else. Your snippet is awesome!

    I'm pretty sure I beta read a draft of DRACONIAN for you?? I really enjoyed it :) I hope you meet all your writing goals, they're pretty impressive!

    p.s. your writing and editing process is out of this world!!

  4. These are some good goals! Very exciting! I'm glad you found a good method. I love color coding things in Scrivener. XD I read through the entire tutorial when I first got it. XD Cause I'm a nerd like that ... I'm currently prepping to begin my rewrite of Starbloods on the 10th to then finish during Camp NaNo! ^ ^

  5. I'd love to read a serial on your blog! Yay for goals! It happens to be the 31st as I'm commenting, so here is me kindly pestering you... did you reach them????

    Also, the imagery in that snippet though... It's incredible. I especially love the end.