Once Again, With Madness

Here we come around to this particular date, 31 March, 2014, and this is a date I have marked down and have mentioned many times on the blog.  It’s the date that Act Two begins, and that begins starts sometime tonight.

I’m ready and . . . I’m not.

There’s a lot ahead of me, and I lot still remaining.  I’ve already set the word count to one hundred thousand words, but I’m almost certain I’ll go over that–not by much, but over is over.  I have a huge sequence to write, and it’s not intimidating, but one of the last things that happens in this sequence I was going over last night, and I realized something that might happen between Annie and Kerry, and . . . oh, it’s a hard thing to imagine.  Maybe even harder to write, because I’ll be crying a lot while writing.

Parts Four through Eight are waiting; Chapters Thirteen through Twenty-Seven are set with the directions.  All I have to do is write the words.

The journey of a hundred thousand words begin with "It's not fair!"

The journey of a hundred thousand words begin with “It’s not fair!”

Yesterday saw me tweak a few things here and there, mostly with Annie, working not to make her come off like a complete hard-ass in a few place–and, if I should say so, I think I did the trick.  And since one of the things that a beta reader told me was there could be a lot of confusion with how I set up measurements and scales, I created a notation page for the start of the novel which explains a few things to the reader:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Throughout the story various scales are used to denote how time is told, how things are measured, and how buildings are laid out.

Floor Plans

The Foundation uses terms used in much of Europe and South America for building floors. Ground floor is found where the entrances are; first floor is the floor above that, second above that, and so on. The thirteenth floor is used within The Foundation; it is not considered an unlucky number. This will also be explained by characters from time-to-time.

Measurements

The metric system is used throughout the book by The Foundation. There are times when the Imperial system is referenced, but metric is the standard way of keeping track of distance, speed, and weight.

Time

The Foundation and nearly all countries other than the United States use twenty-four hour universal time; this results in times in the story being listed at “09:00” or “17:30” for denoting when events occur. Some speakers will speak in universal time, while other will interchange between twenty-four and twelve hour times when speaking.

As a character in the novel says, “This tends to confuse the U.S. kids when they first arrive,” and it will likely seem confusing to the reader at first. Remember, it’s also the first day in a new world for you as well.

 

It’s not much, but it’s an aid.  And it should help you along.  And, no:  I’m not doing conversions for you.  That’s what the Internet was for.  And please don’t say, “I don’t wanna do conversions when I’m reading,” ’cause I did them forty years ago when I was reading stories, and there was no Internet, so you found a book and memorized your conversations, and that was that.  You kids these days . . .

I’m ready, about as much as one can be to throw themselves back into a daunting task.

Wish me luck.

Rebuilding Off the Beta

First order of business:  I made it back to The Burg, and it was a real adventure.  I started out in cool but cloudy conditions, then it got windy, then it started to rain–and right around Cleveland it started snowing.  Hard.  Real hard, like you could only see a few cars lengths in front of you and one lane was clear hard.  Then I made it east of the Cuyahoga River and it turned to rain.  Then I made it to Pittsburg and it turned to harder rain, and by the time I rolled through the Allegheny Tunnel with Brian May blasting the guitar solo from Brighton Rock, it was fog, spray, and hard, hard rain all the way.  One good thing was very few people heading east, because I didn’t have to deal with idiots.  And I had some new old tunes, so that helped the time pass.

Still, it was a nearly twelve hour trip, with an hour or so at a rest stop in Ohio because I needed to eat and decompress, and I chatted a little with people I know.  I needed that, because heading through the mountains the rain was hard enough to cause ponding on the PennPike.  I didn’t stop to ask if it was Amy Ponding . . .

Thank you.  I’m here all week.

Once I make it home a little after eleven PM (or should I say 23:00?), I start up my computer and slip into my jammies, and what do I do?  I find one of my beta readers on line, and we start talking about my novel.  But of course, because after driving twelve hours through some climate hell, what else would a writer do?  Go to bed?  Surely you jest!

But it was a great chat, and we covered one chapter that had mistakes–I seem to slip “the” in a bit where it’s not needed, like saying “the her bedroom”, which is likely my way of starting out impersonal and then making the object personal–but more importantly, discussing a line that has bothered me since I first wrote it, because it makes the character in question seem like a bitch, which is not my intention at all for the character.  My beta reader picked up on it right away, and we both agreed that it was something that needed changing–so now there is a note in the scene that reminds me to look this over at some point in the future.

See?  When I say I make a note about not making someone a bitch, I mean it.

See? When I say I make a note about not making someone a bitch, I mean it.

More feedback will come–probably when I’m more awake and not having just drove through a flood that could be surprising as hell when blasting out of a tunnel at . . . fifty-five.  Yeah, that’s how fast I was driving.  Me drive like a manic when it’s raining like hell?  Not a chance!

But there will be feedback, and discussions, and since this is a long-term project, there will be lots of work before this is published.  Because this time I want to get it right.  However, the fantasy porn I can probably shoot out their like no one’s business, right?

Act Two is set up, at least for the first two parts, which now have part and chapter cards.  The word count is reset, and I’ve determined what’s going to get counted, which includes the title cards, and that’s why you see a number in the total word count.

A clean document ready to get sullied by my thoughts and ideas.  Poor kids:  they deserve better.

A clean document about to be sullied by my thoughts and ideas. My poor kids: they deserve better.

Am I ready for this?  About as ready as I’m gonna get, which is to say bring on the stress and doubt and craziness that comes with writing a story.  Particularly a long novel that is going to take me most of a year to finish a first draft.  But I’m the one who signed up for this, and I will see it through to the end.  As Neil Gaiman says, “Write.  Write every day.  Finish what you write.”

I started this mess, and I’m damned if I’m not going to give my kids a great ending.

The Curtain Parts

Today is Travel Day once more:  that day where I hop in the car and drive six hundred and thirty-five miles back to The Burg after a week of sleeping in my old own bed.  So on the road about ten my time, and back to the apartment about ten at night Burg Time–or as the kids in my story would say, around twenty-two.

I managed to get Parts One and Two formatted and set up as a pdf for beta reading.  I sent the first one out last night, so right before I headed off to bed someone was reading this:

Yeah, this is what it looks like when you give Scrivener the go-ahead to make your manuscript look nice and pretty.

Yeah, this is what it looks like when you give Scrivener the go-ahead to make your manuscript look nice and pretty.

Two parts, one hundred and seventy-six pages.  Part Three is waiting in the wings, and I know one of my readers will demand I have it to her soon.  I’ll be mean and ship it off about the time the season finale of The Walking Dead comes on, because I’m that sort of mean girl.  Naw, I wouldn’t do that.  I’m not that mean.

This is another of the great things about Scrivener.  I set up what I wanted printed, told it I needed a pdf, set the basic formatting, and there it was–and there it was again, because I’d find something I didn’t like, and I’d go back and fix it, then tell the program I needed another pdf.  I did this for a few hours, because I pretty much did another read through of the manuscript.  My beta reader found a couple of things like words that are unnecessary and a few other things, but I know that’s coming.  There’s one hundred forty thousand words there, and I’ve only given this a pretty good read through, and a so-so yesterday.  There’s probably three or four more edits ahead of this act before it’s to where I want it.

I know this, because I’ve become a better writer in the last year.

But the manuscript is nice and need, and if I’d wanted I could have made this an .mobi and let someone read it straight up as an ebook without navigation.  Or maybe with it, because you can have Scrivener set up your own table of contents.  I should try that and see if it works.  The people could get here sooner:

When Helena smirks, a shiver should run down your spine, 'cause it's not a good smirk.

When Helena smirks a shiver should run down your spine, ’cause it’s not a good smirk.  Don’t worry:  Annie will get to see it next week, ’cause she’s gonna have fun . . .

And right there is where I go from one scene–The Witch House–to another–Selena’s Meadow–with the four “#” there to show where the break happens.  I have them labeled for me, but the reader won’t see them–unless I set it up in a table of content and allow the person reading this on an ebook to go right to the scene.  Not a bad idea, actually.  A bit of work, but . . . if you’re paying to read a huge first act, then you should have the option to do it your way, right?

This gives me extra incentive to get back to The Burg in one piece, ’cause I’ll have someone eager to read Part Three real soon.  Like . . . yesterday soon.

I knew I should have formatted that when I had the time last night.

Second Leg of the Triathlon

This is what’s waiting for me:

It doesn't look like much, but . . . yeah, it is.

It doesn’t look like much, but . . . yeah, it is.

I began looking over Act Two in detail yesterday, full of the realization that come Monday night I’m going to sit down at this computer and start writing again–just like Liz Parker, only without the trauma that comes from dating a kid from another planet.  (Though now I wonder if Liz Ortecho wrote as well . . .)

The interesting thing, at least for me, is I looked this section of the story over, and I was like, “Eh, I know what I need to do, so no problem here.”  The biggest thing I’m looking at is figuring out what spells the kids are gonna work on in one of the early scenes, though there’s something coming up in transformation class that’s gonna be fun.

And during this mental walk-through I did something that I rarely do.  It’s right there–see?

You gotta look close--see it yet?

You gotta look close–see it yet?

No, you’re not going to see it, because I’m playing with you.  As of yesterday, there was a scene right before “The Walking Tests”, but the more I looked at that scene, and then looked at what I wanted to do in the chapter, the more I came to the realization that it didn’t fit into the flow of what I really want to say in Chapter Fourteen–particularly since the new first scene sets up something that’s spoken of in the scene, “Preparing the Evidence”, and this helps push along the plot to “Confronting the Students”.  Since there’s a scene in Chapter Thirteen that will do the job just as well, I decided to delete the Chapter Fourteen scene.

This is one of the reasons why I lay everything out before I write, then look everything over again and again.  When I laid out the novel I knew what I wanted to say in that scene, but as you work things out in your head, and you see these scenes three, four, five times before you start writing, it’s a simple matter of knowing if they’re going to fit or not.  I know my novel, I know what’s happening–and I knew after some consideration that scene didn’t fit.  So off to Scene Hell you go, love.  Have fun.

I also thought up a few scenes for the next book–what did you say?  You’ve seen my time lines, you know I’ve thought things out way more in advance of this first novel.  There is more to this story than just Act One, and about the only thing I don’t have all that figured out is what happens during the last year of school for this kids.  Oh, I have a general idea, but nothing down in any sort of detail.

The last thing I have to do today–besides everything else I need to do before heading back to The Burg tomorrow–is print off Parts One and Two for someone who wants to beta read the story.  Since Scrivener lets you determine what you want to print, I’m removing Part Three from the compile options and I’ll have that pdf created before you know it.

If only the weather were better today . . .

And Today I’m With Rachel Carrera!

Before I get into my normal post, a couple of weeks back I was interviewed by Rachel Carrera, and today the interview is up on her blog.  Click on this link, go over and give her a little love, and read all about get into my work.

As if you didn’t know already.

The Order of the Wordness

To say I didn’t write yesterday would be misleading, because there were lots of things going on in my head–I simply didn’t put any of that stuff down into the computer.  Nothing to edit, nothing to write.  First time that’s happened in some time.

And the good news is I didn’t freak out.

"I haven't put a single word in my story in ten minutes--my god, the walls are closing in!  Help!"

“I haven’t put a single word into my story in ten minutes–my god, it feels like the walls are closing in! Help!”

Like I said I worked on scenes in my head, mostly for the upcoming Act Two, but I branched out into Act Three a little.  Safe to say I know the ending of this novel–and pretty much every one that happens after this.  I’m nothing if not ready–though some would say, insane.  But there’s nothing wrong with a little crazy, right?

I might also have a few people who’ll beta read part of Act One.  I always fear that, because the last time I sent something out for beta reading the person told me they couldn’t get past the third page, and that I needed to cut the first two parts–without reading any of it, of course.  But I’m thinking about sending out the first part, then if that goes well the second, and then the third part, which is pretty much half of Act One.  Then sit back and wait for the comments to come in.

There is something that concerns me, and that’s word count.  This first book is long . . . real long.  Act One is 140,290 words, which, if I use the Harry Potter word count metric, is just short of both a Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  Once Acts Two and Tree are in place, this one story will pretty much end up about the length of those aforementioned novels, plus The Goblet of Fire tacked on for good measure.

Which is the main reason why I decided to publish the individual acts alone:  throwing the whole story out there would be a little insane, and I don’t need War and Peace comparisons.  (For the record War and Peace clocks in at 561,304 words, and I have read it.  You get a definite feel for war in Russia in the winter, trust me.)

But then there’s these guys . . .

We all know George R. R. Martin, he of the “Don’t Get Too Attached to That Character” school of writing.  When you get into The Song of Ice and Fire series, the first book, A Game of Thrones, is 298,000 words.  And that’s the shortest book.  Second is A Feast of Crows, which is three hundred thousand, and they go from there.  Total count for five novels is one million, seven hundred seventy thousand words, and the remaining two novels will crank this up to about two and a quarter million words.

Stephen King’s Dark Tower series started out small, with The Gunslinger ending up fifty-five thousand words–King was probably having a bad day.  The remaining novels in series ran between 170,000 and 250,000, those the last book, The Dark Tower, ended up 288,000 words, bringing the series total to one million, two hundred and ninety-five thousand words.

But if we want to talk about massive word counts, let us head over to the Wheel of Time.

Robert Jordan’s fantasy series is huge:  eleven novels, with the shortest of them being about a quarter of a million words, the saga has a total word count of three million, three hundred and four thousand words.  Now, that brings it in just short of the ten novel series, Malazan Book of the Fallen, by Steven Erikson, which has a total word count of three million, three hundred twenty-five thousand words, but after Jordan died it was decided to bring in another author to finish Jordan’s final novel, A Memory of Light.  Brandon Sanderson finished that novel, and when it was published it was cut into three novels because–have you been following this thread?

A Memory of Light was huge.  How huge, she says?  The book was turned into The Gathering Storm–297,502 words–Towers of Midnight–327,052 words–and A Memory of Light, the original title, and that ended up with a count of 353,906 words.  Let me do some quick adding here, and . . . the final novel in the series was 978,460 words.

A million word novel.  Yeah, I can see that.

Come on, little fella--let's do this!

Come on, little fella–let’s do this!

 

You throw that into the mix, along with a prequel that’s just over a hundred thousand words, and the entire Wheel of Time series is 4,410,036 words, or 684 chapters, or 11,916 pages of good, fantasy fun.

I should also point out that David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest ran five hundred and seventy-five thousand words, and I seem to remember a lot of people trying to read that–“trying” being the operative word here.  But that sucker sold, and is probably still selling today.

So, is this where I’m heading?  Writing about these kids for the rest of my life?

Well . . . there are worst things that could happen.

Act Two of Act One

As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, when you have time on your hands and you’re looking for something to do, you might end up, oh, I don’t know, editing a whole lot of words because you don’t want to do it later?  It wasn’t enough that I was editing someone else’s novel, but I decided that I was time to get into my own.  I mean, time be time, right?

So, in the period of just under two weeks, I put my just under one hundred and forty thousand word novel through a first pass edit.  I fixed words; I rewrote passages that were wrong; I deleted words that weren’t needed; I add those that were.  And what do I have?

Nice and shiny, it is.  Oh, yes:  it is.

Nice and shiny, it is. Oh, yes.

Act One is a First Pass Finish, and “They went home” is probably as good a close as I’ve done.  And now I’m about to get the kids into some insanity, so that’s going to keep me busy for a while–

In fact, I may start on that insanity tomorrow.  Maybe today.  Maybe today.  But right now I’m so ready to write I’m about to flip out.  Not that I haven’t done that before, but this is a good flip out.  Particularly after I worked up one of the scenes in my head yesterday, and when I realized it was going perfect lead-in for a few scenes that follow, I had to pat myself on the back and say, “You rock when it comes to this shit, Cassie.”

What does the story look like now?  Cleaner.  I did a good read of manuscript and caught things that were missing, and removed words and phrases that were redundant.  But I also added a few things.  How much?  Well, the First Draft was 139,375 words; the Revised Draft First Pass is 140,290 words–a net addition of nine hundred and fifteen words.  Not bad, really, particularly if it makes things better.

What will happen now is I’ll remove Act One from Compile status and set up Act Two that way, so Scrivener will track the word count for all the new material.  I say with all my heart that I don’t want to write another one hundred forty thousand words for this part, but I’m pretty certain it’s gonna top one hundred thousand without a problem.  Transporting is two hundred forty-five thousand words, and I see myself getting damn close to that total by the time I get to the end of Act Two, where I’ll type something along the lines of, “Good evening, Headmistress; ladies.  May we have a word?”  See?  You already know how Act Two is going to end, which means I’m in a good mood, since I almost never give away anything.

It’s a happy day around here because I’m ready to get into the three or four month slog for the second act of my novel, where Annie and Kerry are gonna learn things about their abilities, and both will find themselves in some incredibly deep caca at a couple of points in the upcoming school year.  There will be blood and more than a few trips to the hospital.

It’s gonna be glorious.  I can’t wait.

"There's nothing I like more than torturing my characters!  Yay!"

“There’s nothing I love more than putting my characters though hell! Yay!”