Accountability, Etc: Daily Goals #24 (BONUS: my fast-drafting process!)

It’s Wednesday. It’s Wednesday. PITCH WARS MENTEE ANNOUNCEMENTS ARE TOMORROW.

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eeeeeeeeeeee eee eee eeek

I NEED to write to distract myself from giddy excitement/butterflies in stomach/fear of impending rejection! Yesterday I did all right—let’s look at my goals and how they stacked up at the end of the day:

  • Write 3,000 words
    • Ok, 2500 isn’t the worst. I did finish Chapter 2! and threw in a flashback chapter for some more action at the beginning.
    • But today I want to start to catch up…!
    • I think while my partner is out of town over the weekend I’ll aim for 5-6k days.
  • Write Scene Weave + Chapter divisions, goddamnit, or you’ll freeze up about moving forward
    • I ONLY BARELY STARTED AND I REALLY NEED TO FINISH THIS TODAY
  • Unpack for fuck’s sake
    • Did this at last! yay!

I’m a bit mad at myself that I didn’t make more progress on the Scene Weave/Chapter divisions, because that step is key to my hideously high-octane fast-drafting process. My first draft MO is putting in a lot of work up front before I even write the first chapter–that way I can rip through the material I’ve outlined/sketched.

Hey, I have an idea… wanna take a look at my WIP first draft process?

What am I saying? Writers are nosy folk. Of course you wanna creep on my process.

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aw yis

 

TADA, SYLVIA’S PRETTY DAMN GOOD FIRST DRAFT PROCESS

  •  Idea spark!
    • I write down a plot bunny and, if it’s a particularly powerful one, create a new Scivener document
  • Gestation
    • I spend the next 3 weeks-3mo-sometimes a year scribbling down things that occur to me. Scenes, dialogue, plot points that excite me, etc. I put everything in documents I call notedumps, with every entry dated so I know what information is most “canon”/current
    • This is usually going on while I’m fast drafting or editing another project, because I have serious fidelity problems with WIPs
  • Outlining
    • I take my main characters and most engaging plot points from my weeks or months of notedumping and begin to hammer them into novel-shape using Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants! and John Truby’s Anatomy of Story
      • Literally Hawker’s book is LIFE CHANGING. No matter if you’re a pantser looking to convert or a plotter looking for new strategies, I highly recommend it.
    • This stage can take an afternoon or three months, depending on the project. My Pitch Wars manuscript (The Demon King) took a day to outline back in December. My current WIP, Iron Queen, took… Jesus. Ages. It has more POV characters and convoluted storylines, so that’s to be expected, but… yeah. It took some time to tease the right weaknesses, desires, and needs out of my two main POV characters. BUT NOW I’VE GOT ‘EM, MUAHAHA.
  • Scene Weave
    • This is where I take my outline and make a chronological list of every. Single. Damn. Thing. that happens in my project, beginning to end. No gaps allowed.
    • Here I have the opportunity to analyze the pacing and character development from a bird’s eye view–if something is amiss, if I need to remove a scene or combine it with another, I think it’s best to do so now before I get bogged down in thousands of words and lose sight of the forest for the trees.
      • (That happens often help)
    • This is what I’m struggling with today. It usually takes a long day.
  • Once Upon a Time/Stage Direction Draft
    • I like having two screens open in Scivener at any given time, so in this stage I have my Scene Weave open on one side and a new, pretty, blank page open on the other side.
    • Then I write “Once upon a time…” which is, like, my magic spell for allowing myself to sketch the roughest of the rough drafts.
    • I call this rough writing “stage directions.” It’s a mix of dialogue, blocking, and “he does this, then she thinks this, then they go here” prose that reads something like this:

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      THIS IS AN ACTUAL EXCEPT FROM MY CURRENT DRAFT PLS BE NICE
    • *cringes* Pretty rough, I know. But what I do in this stage is vitally important for me. Basically, I take every single scene from the Scene Weave and pad it out with the pages and pages of notes, world-building, and dialogue from my months of Gestation-stage notedumps. That way, when I’m actually trying to write sort of nicely, I don’t have to slow myself down by stopping and thinking “damnit, where did I put that sketched scene of the intro to Gazanfer?”–because it’ll already be there, incorporated into the stage directions.
    • Last summer, my final Once Upon A Time document ended up being about 10,000 words for a 150,000 word project. But it can vary. My guess is that because I’m taking material from old drafts of Iron Queen and slipping it into my Once Upon A Time doc along with stage directions, it’ll be pretty long this time around.
  • Chapter Divisions
    • My Once Upon A Time draft ends up feeling like a long patchwork quilt of scenes poached from old drafts, newly sketched scenes, and dialogue.
    • The next step is to read through the whole thing and make notes about where I want each chapter to begin and end. I take each of these chunks and copy-paste them into documents of their own, in chronological order.
    • These are my chapter rough drafts. Because of these, every morning when I sit down to write, I have a road map, a plan, a scene to blast through right from the get-go. No time for writer’s block because I have a plan.
    • My Scrivener sidebar ends up looking something like this:Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 9.35.46 AM.png
  • On your marks, get set… SPRINT
    • AT LAST.  I set up my timers, get settled in, and blast through fast drafting.
    • Basically, I take the “stage directions” prose that I showed you above and turn it into actual writing, filling in gaps and adding/editing dialogue where need be.
    • I carve through the project chapter by chapter until I reach the end.
  • Cry, celebrate, ice your poor battered typing hands. Also wine.
    • YAY, CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS STEP

The result of all this? A pretty damn clean first draft with solid momentum and strong character arcs building up to one hell of a cliffhanger… on the first try.

I highly recommend this method if you, like me, have limited writing time during the year. I gestate/outline/notedump all school year long and then binge write my first drafts in the summer or during winter break when I don’t have classes (or during NaNoWriMo!). It’s worked pretty well for me thus far!

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So, long story short, today’s top priority is:

  • Scene Weave + Once Upon A Time + Chapter Divisions, because if I don’t get these done I will get mired down, and, worst case scenario, ruin the momentum of fast-drafting this WIP

Lower priority:

  • 3,000 words/Chapter 3 – aw yis I’m looking forward to this because it’s a nice and spooky chapter with witches and oracle bones

 

That’s it! *cracks knuckles* Let’s get Scene Weaving and dividing my Once Upon a Time Draft into chapters!

xo sp

 

Accountability, Etc: Daily Goals #23

Heeeelloooo, yesterday went sort of well!

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YAY CELEBRATE

This update is going to be quick because I want to start sprinting by 8am (it’s 7:45am right now… gotta rush!).

Let’s look at yesterday’s goals:

  • Write 3,000 words (this is going to be my daily minimum goal)
    • ok 2800 words pretty acceptable especially because I had some POV struggles
  • Scene Weave + Chapter divisions
    • Uhm no not yet goddamnit I need to do this
  • Decide whether I’m going to stick to 3rd person all the way through or throw in some first person
    • CHECK DECIDED!
    • Going to go the Roshani Chokshi/A Crown of Wishes route and do 1st person for my heroine/3rd person for my hero
  • Unpack and do some laundry…
    • Unpacked a leeeettle bit, no laundry though, much to my partner’s chagrin…

Ok, that’s 2/4 at least! Yay!

I’m going to keep binge-writing today (with a break for brunch with one of my besties) because it’s an excellent distraction from the #pitchwars and #pwteasers tags on Twitter… actually, come to think of it, I’m just going to block Twitter today. I can’t handle the excitement/anticipation/squeeeeeeeeee!

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actually me

What about today’s goals? They’re mostly the same as yesterday, with some adjustments (read: swear words):

  • Write 3,000 words
  • Write Scene Weave + Chapter divisions, goddamnit, or you’ll freeze up about moving forward
  • Unpack for fuck’s sake

That’s about it! One of my friends printed out my outline at work so I have that in my paws and I’m READY TO GO.

But before I bounce, a track from my brainstorming/daydreaming playlist:

 

Time to BINGE WRITEeeee

xo sp

 

 

Accountability, Etc: Daily Goals #22

Heyyyyy. It’s been a while…

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Remember how I said I was too exhausted to write in Turkey? Well, that continued for the rest of the time I was there. It was just too damn hot, you know? After 4 hours of languages classes, by the time I sat down to write I always felt as if my brain had totally melted.

BUT NOW I AM BACK IN LONDON. And it’s time to be productive af again!

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So, I entered a thing called Pitch Wars (you might have heard of it)… and I hear back about whether or not I will be a mentee on Thursday. Naturally, I’m dying to know, and naturally, it’s driving me crazy. To distract myself in the meantime, I’ve decided to (once again) binge write a new project.

I want to write 70,000 words of my new Iron Queen manuscript by 21 September.

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And this time I’m serious! Which means that the daily accountability posts are going to be up and running again… are you ready?

Today’s goals:

  • Write 3,000 words (this is going to be my daily minimum goal)
  • Scene Weave + Chapter divisions
  • Decide whether I’m going to stick to 3rd person all the way through or throw in some first person 
  • Unpack and do some laundry… 

No time to waste.

I’m going to bounce, but have a peek at my Pinterest board for Iron Queen if you’re curious!

 

xo sp

Accountability, Etc: Daily Goals #21

Oh heyyyyy, it’s been a while.

I’m in Turkey and have been consumed by work for my language program! Between oodles of difficult translations and 90F+ degree heat (for a while we were averaging 35-37C, kill me please), I’ve been way too exhausted to write.

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omg the heat u don’t even know

…unless that writing is queries. I’ve sent off 12 now! I’ve had one form rejection and one full MS request, so I think I’m doing pretty well thus far. I’ve decided that Mondays are going to be my query-binge day–I’ll send off around 5 queries every Monday for the rest of the summer. Or until something fantastic happens (fingers crossed!!). Whichever comes first.

In the meantime, I’m following the Victoria Schwab rule: ALWAYS BE WRITING.

 

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this should be me

 

This month I’m binge-writing a novella for a publication I found and fell in LOVE with called the Fantasist.

They’re a magazine of fantasy novellas and are open for submissions until 25 August. I wigged out when I found it and read their (sassy af) submission guidelines. Like, where else am I going to send a historical paranormal urban fantasy novella about Arabic-and-Spanish code-switching vampires and grumpy undead Janissaries stomping around fifteenth-century Istanbul and the mountains of Abkhazia?

Remember my Ottoman Vampire project? I thought it was going to be around 10,000 words, but I outlined it and filled in most of the beats… and yes, I think it’s definitely novella material. My aim is ~20,000 words by 19 August, when I leave Turkey to go back to London. Then I have a few days to rest and edit and format it before sending it off!

Ideally. I usually write lean and clean first drafts, so it shouldn’t take too long to edit. I currently aim to write 1000 words a day, but I might have to push for a little more than that to give myself more editing time. A Saturday afternoon 4k binge or two should do the trick.

(I’m also going to eventually give it a less generic name than Ottoman Vampire. Still brainstorming that one. I keep scrambling/rearranging words like “blood” “hope” and “Constantinople” to no avail.)

In the meantime, it’s fast-drafting time!

And you know what fast-drafting means.

IT MEANS I NEED SOME GODDAMN ACCOUNTABILITY.

New projects give me the heebie jeebies at first, especially when I haven’t settled on all the characters’ voices and/or don’t know them very well yet. So I’ve jumped back on the MyWriteClub train–add me if you’re working on a project too!

OH, I ALMOST FORGOT–

Daily Goals!!

My goals for today are:

  • Edit first 800 words
  • Write another 1000-1200 words/ Ch II

Simple. To the point.

Let’s goooooooo!

xo sp

Accountability, Etc: Daily Goals #20

Hey y’aaaaall, I’ve been super busy getting ready to leave for Turkey (TOMORROW NIGHT, WHAT THE ACTUAL F). But I’ve gotten a lot done over the last two days!

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i’ve gotten so much done wtf

Let’s assess our goals etc:

  • Continue agent hunt and editing
    • I spent five hours over two days agent hunting and query editing
  • Send first ever query!
    • AHEM, OKAY, I SENT THREE BECAUSE I AM EXTRA AF
    • am now spazzing out every time my phone buzzes BECAUSE WHAT IF IT’S A MANUSCRIPT REQUEST
      • i even changed the notification sound for my gmail to something really unique so it really grabs my attention
      • yeah
      • i did that
      • ok moving on
  • Continue ghost/needs/desires/flaws/antagonists for Iron Queen POV characters
    • I THINK I FIGURED OUT A FEW MASSIVE CHUNKS OF THE OUTLINE AND I’M SO PLEASED
  • Read for fun, goddamnit!
    • Mostly reading Vis & Ramin at the moment as inspiration for Iron Queen. Dick Davis’s translation is transcendental.
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i’m really proud of myself

Speaking of transcendental, my latest writing jam is Lewis Capaldi’s LOST ON YOU. It’s fucking magic:

 

For today’s daily goals, I’m going to keep it simple because I already sent off a query before 11am (BOOM BABY). Aaaaand because I need to do laundry so I can have a massive packing binge tomorrow:

  • Type up material from green and black notebooks for an hour
  • Begin synopsis for other project
  • Continue Iron Queen outline

 

That’s it, kiddos! Catch you on the flip side

xo sp

Accountability, Etc: Daily Goals #19

HAVE BEEN EDITING AND AGENT-HUNTING LIKE A MADWOMAN TODAY

 

I crushed my goals yesterday too!

  • One hour of typing up handwritten notes
    • CHECK WHEEE I WROTE SO MUCH
  • Continue ghost/needs/desires/flaws/antagonists for Iron Queen POV characters
    • CHECK and I think I’m really starting to get somewhere with them! I even figured out the precise emotional note where one of their storylines end, snuck in a wee cliffhanger, and called it a WRAP. Well, not really… because I plot backwards from the end moment, I now have to build up to it. And ohhhh boy, is it going to be a wild ride >:)
  • Send query letter draft to my mom for editing
    • CHECK. Also I sent my pitch to my older sister to look at and might query my very first agent TODAY. Isn’t that crazy???

 

Because I put off my Daily Goals blog post until like 1pm, I’ve mostly finished my work for the day because I’m meeting a friend in a bit and then have an evening watching movies in Hyde Park with my s/o and panicking about packing for Turkey.

What did I do today? And what do I still want to get done in the late evening, when I come back from the park?

  • Continue agent hunt and editing
    • I spent two and a half straight hours editing and agent hunting
  • Send first every query!
    • I WILL DO THIS TODAY SO HELP ME GOD
  • Continue ghost/needs/desires/flaws/antagonists for Iron Queen POV characters
  • Read for fun, goddamnit!

 

OK LET’S DO THIS

Accountability, Etc: Daily Goals #18

Hiiiiii I’m late again on my updates.

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yolo

Yesterday my s/o was off work so we were busy all day doing gross couple activities like watching Wimbledon, but I did get in some work on Iron Queen and began an epic quest for travel insurance that lasted HOURS.

HOURS.

UHG.

AND IT WAS EXPENSIVE.

But hey. Ya girl’s insured. That’s important. And arguably more pressing than having an outline for Iron Queen.

So let’s look at my goals and see what I did/didn’t accomplish on Friday/Monday:

  • Two hours of typing up handwritten notes
    • check! WROTE SO MUCH. Jesuuuuus I have so many handwritten notes from this year, it’s ridiculous.
  • Decide on ghost/needs/desires/flaws/antagonists for each POV character
    • HALF DONE. This is tough, ok guys?
  • Outline (graph?) the first book of Iron Queen
    • lol no, because I need the above things first!

 

So what’s on my plate for today? I’m working on getting my shit together for when I go to Turkey at the buttcrack of dawn on Sunday morning (functionally Saturday night, tbh… I’m taking the night tube to Heathrow, that’s how ridiculous it is), but I think I can squeeze in a fair amount of writing/reading:

  • One hour of typing up handwritten notes
  • Continue ghost/needs/desires/flaws/antagonists for Iron Queen POV characters
  • Send query letter draft to my mom for editing

 

Ok. That’s it!

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY BY THE WAY. My friend and I started off the day in a wonderfully patriotic fashion here in London by bitching about how shitty our health insurance is. America, fuck yeah.

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Ok, enough kvetching. Time to put my nose to the grindstone. Here’s a tune from my writing playlist and I’M OUT OF HERE

 

grşrz çocuklar

xo sp

Accountability, Etc: Daily Goals #17

Yesterday was not a great writing day. I think I really struggle with goals that aren’t hardcore word and/or chapter counts.

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uhgggsdjdn

Let’s look at our goals:

  • Read for fun, goddamnit
    • I did this. Went to a cool bookstore with a friend and dropped some dough on more fun reading too.
  • Type up at least 40 pages from green notebook for Iron Queen
    • OKAY I DID NOT. I did like 10 pages I wanna say? Gonna crush some more.
  • Begin to re-outline Iron Queen
    • Working on it
  • Edit/incorporate more beta suggestions for The Demon King
    • Eh I didn’t do this, because I haven’t yet gotten more beta feedback.

Eh.

I’m too groggy to come up with more things to say about that. I wrote brainstorming notes for Iron Queen for an hour and a half between 7.30-9am this morning, so that was good, but I need some concrete goals to get me through the day.

Let’s keep this short and sweet:

  • Two hours of typing up handwritten notes
  • Decide on ghost/needs/desires/flaws/antagonists for each POV character
  • Outline (graph?) the first book of Iron Queen

Ok. Time to get to work.

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gotta write like i’m running out of time

 

Have some music before you go! I’m going to be listening to a bunch of Azam Ali and Niyaz as I write today.

 

ta farda joonam

xo sp

Accountability, Etc: Daily Goals #16

So, it’s been a few days.

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hiii

Between THE WORST hay fever OF ALL TIME and end-of-MS angst, I’ve been a bit of a blob. I’m a little disappointed in myself for not hammering out a short story this week, but I think I needed the rest. I leave for Turkey in 10 days and need my strength!

My goals from Monday completely fell through, except the Read for fun, goddamnit one. I did, goddamnit! I read Every Heart a Doorway and started The Winner’s Curse and am SO happy I did. The Winner’s Curse is a master class on the first ten pages, which is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Because what did I do instead of writing?

  • Edited my manuscript for a few hours
  • Researched 15 agents
  • Picked 5 for my first round of queries
  • Wrote 3 rough draft queries
  • Broke the bones of my WIP project Iron Queen and began to reset them yesterday.

I’m really proud of myself for having done anything to do with submitting/agents/queries because it’s something I’m terrified of, but managed to do with some gentle encouragement from my older sister (aka her yelling at me over text) (which is surprisingly effective).

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#blessed with my sibsquad tbh

The last one is the one I’m most excited about. Remember how I said I knew I needed to break the bones of one manuscript before I reset them and began to rewrite it?

It happened.

I’ve been slowly working on my rewrite of the book since my 100k writing binge last August but then I panicked while I was in the shower yesterday because AN AMAZING IDEA OCCURRED TO ME. I sat on my bed in my towel and speed-wrote 1000+ words of notes, my wet hair dripping on the laptop keyboard, because I was frantic to get it all down before I forgot it.

Basically, I’ve realized that Iron Queen has spent the last few months TRYING to tell me that it’s a fantasy re-telling of the 11th century Persian romance Vis & Ramin, the tale of star-crossed lovers that eventually made its way to Europe and became Tristan & Iseult.

So to sum up in a word (or two)? LOVE TRIANGLESSSSSsss

By adding just a single character, I threw in more politics, war, and political assassinations than I know what to do with, and made the betrayals a million times WORSE

IT’S LIKE THE CHARACTER WAS FILLING A HOLE THAT WAS THERE THE WHOLE TIME, AND NOW THINGS MAKE SENSE, AND ARE EVEN MORE FRAUGHT AND ANGSTY AND WONDERFUL

I AM SO PLEASED

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SO MANY ASSASSINATIONS

So it’s like 10am now, and I really want to get started on today’s goals:

  • Read for fun, goddamnit
  • Type up at least 40 pages from green notebook for Iron Queen
  • Begin to re-outline Iron Queen
  • Edit/incorporate more beta suggestions for The Demon King

That’s all for today.

OVER AND OUT, JOONAM, I GOT SHIT TO DO

 

xo sp