Cautiously Making Progress

As I’m sure many of you have guessed by now, Through Windows and Hearts, my stand-alone novella, is finished and in the drawer. The final count was 17,462. That’s about half of what I’d originally expected, but I’m not terribly surprised by that. Especially on new worlds, I tend to write fairly succinctly in the first draft and then layer in details on the first round of editing.  We’ll see what happens when I turn to edit that in the new year.  I have to say, I rather liked the world that was shaping up in it. The only problem is that it kept trying to suggest a novel to follow from the larger story that was sort of in the background of the novella, and I already have too many of those to begin with. *whimper*

That being finished meant it was definitely Cayle’s turn. As I mentioned a little while ago, I was going to go back and review the outline, tweaking as necessary. I’ve done that, with very few tweaks needed, though the ending did get a slight overhaul. Really just breaking something up into two pieces. I didn’t even bother putting it back in the drawer. Instead, I moved full steam ahead.

Starting Unmasked made me realize something about Necromantic. I had, until now, assumed that writing Devan’s books came so easily because I was simply that comfortable with my process. I forgot something important, which is that Necromantic was built around him, around the character. That’s significant because my stories tend to be character driven, so when they grow up around one, it’s easier to write. In contrast, Masques is built around the idea of a society where all the people with power wear masks. Cayle sprang up out of that.  This may seem like a chicken-and-egg thing, but it’s definitely making a noticeable difference for me.

How big is that difference? Well, on Monday I wrote almost 2400 words of the first chapter of Unmasked. It was difficult, a real slog, which I sort of remember from the first drafts of the Mirrors books, but hadn’t experienced with any of the Necromantic stories (which makes sense, given the above idea). Worse, when I thought about it the next day, it didn’t feel right. It was like slightly off-key notes in what should have been a harmony. So I went back and thought about it. I talked to Cayle (no, not quite literally because even I’m not that crazy), and I realized a few things. I started over, incorporating those realizations and reordering things. I didn’t like having to junk that first day’s work, but that’s better than slogging on with something I know isn’t working.

So, I did that, started over, and it’s working much better now. First books are hard to begin with, because you’re new to the world yourself as the writer I guess, but I feel better about this beginning. The first chapter is longish, but I’m okay with that. First draft, after all, will be as long as it needs to be, will be anything it needs to be. I’m now partway through chapter 2, up to 7,283 words. Being on vacation, I can at least really concentrating. I haven’t been toppling any records, haven’t even exceeded 3k yet in a single day, but I’m not worried about it. I’m still passing my 2k pace number, and I’m happy with what I’ve written (grading on the first draft curve, of course), and those are the things that matter.  The story is coming together much better on the screen, and that’s really what I ask for.

Also, there’s been another review of Bound, which can be found here.  All I have to say is wow and thank you, Kate. 🙂 Also, thank you for cross posting it to both GoodReads and Amazon. Very awesome of you to do that.

And, last but not least, on a personal, day-job note, I got the new position I’d applied for, which will mean a little more money and a lot more stability. As it’s doing the same work, very little will change about my work days, and that’s good, because I really don’t need the distraction, or any day-job stuff cutting into my writing time. I don’t have enough of that as it is, but I doubt I ever will. So things are coming to a wonderful close on this year, especially since it seems the Mayans were wrong and the world hasn’t ended (so far).  I must say, I’m looking forward to writing my year-end wrap-up post. I thought it was a pretty good one last year. This year’s? Even better, if I do say so myself. 😉


About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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4 Responses to Cautiously Making Progress

  1. Kate says:

    You’re very welcome! Thanks for writing an awesome book that I want to talk up to everyone!

    I haven’t really thought about it, but I can see why it’s more difficult to start with a world and then figure out the characters instead of growing the story the other way around. With a world first, it seems like there would be a lot of parts to that world that would be important to show, and then characters might be forced to just tour the reader around those aspects. I’m glad you were able to work things out before you got too far. Getting help by talking to the characters is always my favorite part :).

    • Julie says:


      I think the difficulty really does depend on what kind of story you tell. If it’s more about the world or the situation, then starting with those aren’t a problem. But as I said (and you may have noticed), I write stories that are very much about the characters, so I have more trouble not starting with them. I adamantly refuse to force my audience to tour through parts of the world that don’t matter though. It’s one of my staunch rules, that just because I thought it up doesn’t mean it belongs in the book. And if I feel like I’m slogging, it also doesn’t belong, because if I feel that way, the chances are my reader will too.

      • Kate says:

        Absolutely. World-building is neat, but it needs to serve a greater purpose for the story. My similar problem with characters I create involves giving them super cool abilities and then…those abilities not really meaning anything. I think the Kushiel’s Legacy books by Jacqueline Carey have been my favorite for showing me how to give purpose to traits of characters and culture.

        • Julie says:

          I have ended up operating under the theory that if it isn’t important, it doesn’t go in the book. That might be why mine aren’t that long either. 🙂 The corollary is that, if you feel like it has to be there, ask yourself why and what purpose it serves. The last time I did that, it added a delicious twist to the story involved. I was left sitting there with my mouth hanging open, shocked at the brilliance of my subconscious. Why can’t my conscious be that brilliant? 😉

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