September 2023 in writing

I had planned to tackle the 2nd draft of the 1st POV in September. I didn’t realize how much I had riding on this second draft. I wanted to:

  • fix the overall structure of all three POV arcs, tightening them, increasing conflict, making sure they culminate in a satisfying climax;
  • add description and depth where I had glossed over or skipped it the first time around, including many characters’ names;
  • improve the prose, removing any modern day language, terminology, turns of phrase; adding depth to the world by the way characters speak and think;
  • get into each major character’s head, so I would know how each would react, in specifics, to any given situation;
  • have a better understanding of my world; improve my maps; be able to describe the architecture and fashion and currency and units of measurement; go further in depth in the religions, beliefs, rituals, superstitions, parables, ghost stories, …

That’s a lot for a draft. Too much. I found myself bogging down in rewriting the first three scenes.

I put that on hold for a bit. I spent a while improving my tools, then I reworked the outlines of the 2nd and 3rd POVs using new methods I’ll blog about later.


These end of the month blog posts are soft deadlines in themselves – I have to admit when I’ve been slacking, and it’s an opportunity for me to brag about my accomplishments when I surpass my expectations.

The end of the year is an arbitrary but tangible deadline – I’d like to see the second draft done by then. I may rejoin the software industry next year, so this time is valuable.

I’m also thinking NaNoWriMo may be a good time to finish up my second draft, if I’m positioned to do so. That means I should get a strong amount of progress done in October to set myself up for success.

Broken streaks

I intentionally ended my 1700+ day Duolingo streak in September. Too many consecutive days of feeling aggravated at having to extend my streak, and too little feeling of reward.

I started two other daily habits: Tim Clare’s 100 Day Writing Challenge and delving back into some programming exercises, starting with Comprehensive Rust. I’ve already broken these streaks. I think I need to just focus on finishing my 2nd draft.

2nd Draft Process

I made the process up as I went along for the first draft, and I think I need to do the same for the second. I’m currently thinking I’ll start a new daily habit. Write one scene, then choose two more tasks from:

  • write another scene
  • edit another scene
  • expand the outline
  • garden the wiki
  • answer some open questions or handle some todo items

Some of the scenes will be fairly close to what I wrote in the first draft, only requiring small tweaks. Other scenes I’ll have to write from scratch. I’ll do what I can each day.

I’m planning on keeping track of various arcs’ statuses: this relationship falls to a 3 out of 10 in this scene, the tension is a 5 and the action level is a 6. Then I can scan these and identify any unexplained jumps, overly slow parts, or places where I need to let the reader take a breath.

I’m leaning towards writing the chapters in book order, which would mean I would switch between POVs regularly at chapter breaks. I did the opposite in the first draft, which helped me see each arc as its own story, but I’d also like a feel of how the book’s chapters weave together and echo similar themes and events.

I don’t know if this will work, but I won’t know unless I try it. I’ll definitely have a better idea of how it’s going and make my NaNoWriMo plans accordingly.


September’s stats:

Manuscript markdown files: 98
Manuscript words: 102263
Total markdown files: 417
Total words: 242338    

These numbers only make sense when I’m adding things. When I delete or change large numbers of words, combine chapters, rewrite large swaths of scenes so they’re better but the word count doesn’t change much, the stats don’t necessarily change as much as the contents of the manuscript.

I may decide to write a stats script that tracks changes. How many words and files I’ve deleted and added. Or maybe I should start tracking by chapter or scene: numbers of chapters where I’ve completed the 2nd draft, how many chapters to go. But I don’t want to distract myself from the larger goal: finish the 2nd draft.