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Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!

I spent most of my evenings this week reviewing and acting upon Lauren’s notes for the first chapter of Vivian’s Last Cigarette. This spurred an extensive overhaul of its first half, and a less extensive revision on the second.

As I mentioned last week, the ending of the first chapter is getting a radical change in the fourth draft. Most of the last page got scrapped, along with the original ending. About three pages of new material replaced it, and between that and edits the fourth draft became a thousand words longer than the third.

I’m really happy with this revision of the first chapter. I think it flows much better than the third did, and I’ve ironed-out a number of snags that had been hiding in it since the first draft. In hindsight I think these snags are narrative holdovers caused by the fact that when I originally started writing Vivian’s, I did so thinking it would be a short story.

This problem occurs strongest in the first and second chapters, when I was planning to have only 8,000 total words to work with. Things are condensed and the pace brisk. By the time I hit chapter three, I realized the story my growing vision saw was going to be a novelette or novella, and the scope of my writing adjusted to something much more like novel’s tone.

Reaching chapter eight, which ends what is now the first act, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to make the story a full-on novel. I sat down, did some planning and outlining, and embarked on writing the book’s second and third acts with my mindset as such. I wrote accordingly. However, the terse pacing of the book’s initial chapters remained there lurking. Kind of hiding in plain sight to me until Jess sensed it as the second reader, and Lauren put a spotlight on it as the third.

Here is the first page of the book’s fourth draft. I think it’s a much better hook and introduction to the setting than my prior takes:

(Warning: A little NSFW language. Click for large format.)The chapter’s altered ending leads into the two new chapters that will follow it. With the new setup, I was also able to get in more humor and serious moments. I think Viv and Gronk shine brighter during their introductions because of those additions, and that in turn sets up an immediate hook tempting the reader to check out the next chapter.

I started work on that chapter Sunday… and I had a really good day writing the new chapter two! I doubled my expected goal and reached two-thousand words.

Writing the new material has also been really fun. In short, my intrepid orc teens are trying to avoid trouble by hiding in a creepy, old, abandoned paper mill. To his credit, Gronk is insistent that being in there is a bad idea. But Viv isn’t listening, even when things don’t start off well from the get-go. By the time I stopped writing the other day, their fate was dependent on a Cheez Doodle… And they haven’t even hit the worst of what I’ve got planned for them yet. ;-)

Alright, having said that, it’s time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing them deeper into this mess they’ve gotten themselves into! Take care!