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A super friend was inspired to make this from a quip I wrote in my latest chapter. ;-)

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

After all the roadblocks I encountered last week, this week was a lot more productive! Getting much of my blog work done ahead of time granted me bonus hours to write on Vivian’s Last Cigarette, and with that added time I finished its new chapter three early Friday evening.

At 6,750 words, it ended up being the second longest chapter in the book so far. The number one spot still belongs to the climactic chapter of the novel, if only by 20 words. However, like the climax, there’s a lot of action and thrills so it reads quite quickly. Combined with the revised first and new second chapters, they form an exciting short introductory story arc of about 15,000 words.

This new opening puts the focus right on the two protagonists for some time. It also makes me confident that readers now will have enough investment in the characters by the time the story shifts into a different gear and terrain during the mid-book chapters.

My weekend hit, and Saturday was a full day. I started by editing the first chapter notes of Lauren L. Garcia, my ever awesome 3rd reader, into a sixth draft of chapter one. Thereafter I got Kim’s feedback on the new chapter three, and after making a second draft of it from that I sent the third chapter over to Lauren.

I then started work on editing the new chapter two into a third draft. Once again this was based on feedback from Lauren, and with around a hundred and eighty items to review and take action on, the edit took the rest of the day. However, I did finish it by the evening. And between editing, I was also interviewed for a writing podcast that blogger and author Bryan Aiello is trying to launch as a series. I don’t know what will come of it, but we had a good conversation all the same!

Sunday was entirely about getting the new fourth chapter started, and I got a bit more than 1,700 words done for the day. That’s a decent showing for me, given that I had to stop and think-out several parts along the way. I discovered that, although I have a good idea about what I want to happen in chapter four and have done some planning with that… I didn’t have its opening plotted very well.

This proved particularly tricky, because the chapter features a big shift in setting and tone. Some themes that have taken a backseat since the first chapter are entering center stage again. The initial opening I had in mind was far too abrupt, and a jarring change of gear.

And it really is a radical transition. Going from an abandoned deathtrap of a paper mill –where the focus is completely on the orc protagonists on their own– to interacting with “normals” (some with biases towards them) in a small mom and pop convenience store. That’s quite a shift, and my initial idea to open with them literally walking into the store just didn’t cut it.

So I took a different approach. Instead of the abrupt open, everything I wrote on Sunday was a segue to bridge the change from three to four.

I think it turned out well. I say this because I also used it as an opportunity to highlight and show a few things along with doing a longer and gentler transition. It gave me a chance to illustrate some signs of improvement and a couple of stumbles involving Viv and Gronk’s growing friendship. I also found some opportunities to show more details about protagonists, ideas that I’d had in my head as parts of the background, but hadn’t found a place for in the novel until now.

Lastly, I worked-in some foreshadowing of themes that get more attention later in the book and some that are just about to play out.

All-in-all, I think it’s a good start. It does make me concerned that the material I wanted to cover in two chapters may require a word-count more fitting of three instead. That doesn’t bother me insofar as making the novel too long (I could fit-in several more chapters if I had to), but it would mean a little more work and time needed to finish the revisions.

I’m content to see how things unfold with the storytelling, and modify my plans from there.

Even after the weekend, progress on the novel continued in the form of getting the feedback from my second beta reader on the climactic chapter of the novel (formerly chapter fourteen and currently chapter eighteen). Then I received a check-in email from my book cover artist, advising me that we’re still on schedule for her to start shooting me ideas and cover sketches this weekend.

That’s some news that has me SUPER excited! :-)

Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!

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