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2100 words

Not my best day ever, but not bad either. Some big things happened without including tons of adventure.

The Palumbos met up with Serang and her army. They delivered what might be the most important piece to the whole war. Things are starting to fall into place.

James is still off somewhere doing his part, so I didn’t get to work on his story today.

Honestly, I think I could have done more, but there was another squirrel festival happening in the back yard. At one point, I let Frankie out, and before I could write a single word, another squirrel showed up. Trust me, she is strong enough to worry about the glass slider, so I let her out again.

My plot struggle now is timing. I have a continental sized war going on, and people can’t just get together without travel on horseback. A few weeks ago, I introduced the Crier’s Guild, and that helps with fleshing some things out. That way, I don’t have to write about every single campsite or battle that happens. I change scenes, and the town crier updates my readers.

I need at least one more battle for Serang, then it might be advantageous to lose track of her for a while. That way, when she shows up it can be a surprise that turns the tide somewhere. Bears some thought, at least.

James has some problems to sort out in the south, and that’s going to involve at least two battles. I have a fun plan for him on the second one.

After that, it should all be pretty easy. The big issue is making it feel real from here to there. I don’t want to write every step, and readers would get bored. I still have to include some changing seasons or something so readers can tell I’ve moved the story along.

This is a good time to stop and put thought into the gap I’m worried about. I’ll take 2100 words any day. Absent squirrels it could have been more.

I have a post written for Story Empire, so I need to check the calendar and schedule it.

It’s also a good time to assess some promo for Lunar Boogie. I have my completed MS back from the formatter, and am only waiting for the last Lisa Burton poster. This weekend, I can start advance hacking on blog tour posts for when I publish. It looks like I’m going to get it out before summer and I’m excited for that.

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Tough going today

I scratched this weekend off as far as writing is concerned. Our daughter was supposed to come and we were going to help celebrate her birthday.

When you live in a smaller town, you keep a list of things you want to do when you do go somewhere bigger. Our daughter is living that now. One of her goals was to visit her hairdresser. The hairdresser came down with Covid and cancelled. This means our daughter isn’t coming and will have to reschedule.

I get it. She’s a young woman making her own way out there, and even the gasoline has to be accounted for. I would reschedule things myself in her place.

That left me with available time, so I used it to write. I’m in a tough transitional part of my story, so it was slow going.

My main character, James, has to give up everything and step into a new role. I tried to show a few emotions, but probably didn’t dive deep enough into that. Project for later.

I moved James inland to get involved in the land war. He’s separated from his son, who is MIA, but he has to go.

Transitions are part of every story, but I find them difficult. The words don’t flow quite as well as they do in the exciting parts. It came to just over 1800 words today.

Now that he’s relocated, it’s time to review all available intelligence. That will move to making plans, and things tend to pick up from there. The last line for today involved him hearing a rumor about Serang and her army. Some of this has to happen before all the characters can converge once more.

Saturday is looking like a writing day, too. Things might move faster since I put the work in today. I still have to figure out what to do with the root monsters. They’re with James, but can’t steal from his allies. I’m sure there is some kind of mischief they can get into along the way.

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Bad day for Fulminites

I’ve been working toward this scene for a long time. I knew the writing would go fast, but that usually means it needs repairs. I’ll do what I can on that front later.

Serang reached the Fulminite temple with her army. This place wasn’t quite the pushover some of her previous battle were. They stacked the deck as best as possible, but those Black Assassins are rough.

Then there was the High Detonator, who Serang faced alone. I like the way this scene played out, because she snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. (Stealing an old World of Sports line)

I also enjoyed the final appearance of the Fu Dogs. I got a bit emotional writing it, but that’s nothing new. (Who knows, I may decide I need them one more time as the rest of this tale unfolds. It really feels like the end for them.)

There is also a bit where Serang has to do a bit of soul searching. (While drunk, as is her way.) I want to go back over that to make it perfect. It involves the realization that she was born of the great temple purge, and she just did the same thing to the Fulminites. The temple purging has driven her entire life, and now she has to face this.

I also actually used onomatopoeia in one place. I’ve added some graphics to The Hat series before, but nothing quite like this. I think it works, but there is plenty of time to think it over.

I’d like to get more words out of this, but action scenes shouldn’t be long drawn out affairs. Yes, it was a city wide battle. I followed Serang, and readers will have to assume other fighting was going on at the same time.

Grand total today was 3500 words. That includes the opening volley, fighting in the streets, the one-on-one battle, plus dealing with Fu Dogs and Serang’s drinking binge. Somehow I thought all this would fill chapters, but it feels right as is.

Next up is Serang getting over herself, then making plans, and delivering a speech to the peasants. I want that to come off like a big deal.

What’s your thought on action scenes? I think they need to be short. I could make this more of a battlefront with several action scenes, punctuated by reflective sections, but I don’t think it needs it. Serang is still a hero, and on her worst day she still kicks ass.

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Flex day productivity

My only goal for today involved Lanternfish. Okay, there were two. I got exposed to someone with Covid, and had to get another test. My results were negative, so that was a goal, too.

I picked up Lanternfish with Mule and Yoshiko trying to retrieve his ghostly knife, also known as the black spot. This turned into a somewhat adventurous romp, and Yoshiko stepped from behind her veil of complaint servitude to show some gumption. I kind of like the way that turned out.

After that, I returned to the Palumbos. Everything is turning to crap for the Hollish invaders now, and while nobody will ever figure it out, they played a role in all that. As the battle lines collapsed, they were tasked with an important role by the Hollish General Staff. No spoilers here, but it put them in an unusual circumstance.

They murdered someone along the way, so there was a smidgen of adventure involved. I have mixed feeling about this, because the dead guy was a huge threat and I could have milked that a bit more. Words were flowing and I didn’t want to stop for deep thought at that point. Sometimes you have to move the story ahead. I might rethink this during my remaining commutes this week.

Note to self: Probably need to come up with the next root monster adventure, too.

These were short chapters, but accomplished quite a bit. I find moving the pieces around this board to be challenging compared to other stories I’ve written. I’ve done the different story lines before ala Tarantino, but this one is more complex than my previous work. Everything has to come together at the right times and places. Characters have to get misplaced along the way. It’s just more complicated.

Having said that, I’m having a good time with it. It think that bodes well for readers of the trilogy.

Next up is Serang and her most important adventure yet. This proved the perfect place to stop for the day. Having the Palumbos fall into another con game, and drive away with the goods allowed me to calm things down from the big Lanternfish battle. It’s about time for some martial arts warfare and I hope I can make it huge and fascinating.

I try to post a few word metrics, but didn’t keep count this time. The draft is at 51,000 words. By going back to my last update and doing a bit of voodoo, it looks like my Sunday and Wednesday combined came to just over 5000 words. Most of that was today, so it was a great day.

Since I’m Covid-free, I’m going back to the office to finish my work week. Might address Serang over the coming weekend.

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Gotta stop for the day

Today was my flex day and Lanternfish was my goal. I wound up waking early, even though that wasn’t my intention. After I tended the dogs, I read back through my previous chapter, then let her rip.

Last time, I wrote right up to the cusp of Lanternfish’s biggest battle. Today it was time for that battle. A little bittersweet for me because it’s also Lanternfish’s final battle. I’ve spent a lot of years with this fictional ship.

Don’t worry, it isn’t all devastation and she has a different role, but the main characters do too. To grow, sometimes you have to give some things up.

There were deaths among the named crew members. This is war after all, and some of that needs to happen to keep things realistic.

There was a conflict between a Prelonian officer and Sergeant Schuster about rank. James settled that with a promotion that made Schuster into a captain. Since he is a marine, the rank isn’t as high as a naval captain. Quite different actually.

Schuster had a big night with his own POV adventure to go along with it. Banquo went with him and deployed the poison of Big Boogah which is a nice tie back to the original story.

Mule and Yoshiko also had a long night, but they were bailed out by Mule’s knife, also known as the black spot. Now they have the obligation to find and recover it. A nice tie to the second story.

Mal saved the day with one of his magical creations, but I need to go back and make that more prominent. Maybe add some results readers can appreciate.

Root monsters were involved, but I only focused on them in the aftermath. One named Fishbone is walking around with a fifty-caliber hole through his chest and the others think it’s hilarious.

I stopped with James in a state of exhaustion. Everything changed in the scope of one night. He has dead and wounded, he lost his ship. And he doesn’t know if it made any difference at all.

This is the perfect place to cut it off for the day. My next day will be a reflection and assessment section.

The events of this battle will lead directly to problems for the Palumbos, and I need to dream up how they will handle the two or three things I need them to accomplish.

Serang is at the point of her big event, but that seems like something I won’t reach this weekend.

All told it came to 4200 words. That’s amazing by my standards, but it has to do with getting out of that middle slog. This book is at 45,000 now. I hoped for about 50K at the midpoint so I’m a little shy. Since this is fantasy, I’d like to break 100K with the finished product.

When I write that fast, the results are usually weak. I like what I have, but I’m sure it’s full of word echoes and soft descriptions that I’ll have to address later.

Right now, I’m pleased with the results. I have a couple of guest spots to schedule, so the timing for that is perfect.

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Unexpected progress

This is my short weekend, and my wife is off at the same time. I never really expected any writing progress, so I’m pleasantly surprised.

I have a tree I need to prune and we wanted to check out a new restaurant while we still had some Biden Bucks in our account.

Old What’s Her Face insisted we hit the restaurant at 11:00, because it’s so new. A big lunch will require us to skip dinner, but it turned out to be a pretty good idea. When arrived, there was already a line down the sidewalk.

The place is called Sid’s Garage, and it’s a burger joint, but a really upscale burger joint. I had something called the Jekyll & Hyde burger. (Really, how could I pass up something with that name.) It had a grilled peach atop a Wagyu beef patty. It was wonderful.

We shared a basket of Parmesan truffle fries, and a small plate of flash fried deviled eggs. I’ve never even heard of something like this. They’re like the love child of deviled eggs and Scotch eggs.

They also have fancy milkshakes. It’s to early for beer, so I went for one that was peach and pralines with a bit of bourbon maple flavor to it. It looked like this. Oh yeah, there was a crumble of candied bacon on top.

I mentioned writing, so here’s that brief. I never planned on writing. Somehow, I wound up closing myself into an alternate room before lunch and tearing into my project. Before it was time to get ready, I dealt with moving Lanternfish into position for the big battle.

After a bunch of orders and prep, it was time for the cannon to roar and a whole new kind of trouble to face my crew. Exploding monks made an appearance, but I had to stop just before Mal pulled one of his witch doctor shenanigans to benefit the war effort.

I’m telling you, things were really working for me this morning. It came to 2500 words and I feel like I could have doubled that given the time.

Sometimes, you have to spend time with your wife and chow down on something incredibly bad for you. With that kind of word count, I think today was a big win all around.

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Have to be happy with today

It all came to 2800 words today. I’m always apprehensive, but it feels right to me.

It started with Serang’s army making plans for a major attack. They have to keep the moon phase in mind because of the Fulminites and their special ability.

What I didn’t care for was the three page chapter. I try not to do those, but I got everything I needed down and didn’t want to add filler just to make this section ten pages. I see these in books from time to time, so I figure I’m safe. It is what it must be.

I switched to James and Lanternfish, but handled this a bit differently. By this time, readers have experienced sea battles, so I told a bit to move the story along. We joined James at the aftermath of a battle where they wound up rescuing some Prelonian prisoners from the Hollish.

Then they went ashore to examine a signal from Diego Palumbo. In one of his previous sections, Diego left a bit of intelligence behind in hopes James might find it. Back in HMS Lanternfish, they used special lanterns for this purpose.

I turned recovery of the data into a root monster competition where the prize was getting a name. It became quite an event with monsters being thrown off a cliff, lots of laughter, and some confusion over what James might want. All told four monsters got names: Papers, Buckle, Fishbone, and Splat.

In brief, the army is in place with a plan. The “navy” is in the right spot, but needs to review their treasure. Even Diego and Camila are set up for their next adventure. I also have a cool sequence planned for Mal the witch doctor. And it all wrapped up with root monsters.

I’m pretty happy. The next stretch behind the keyboard will have to be James interpreting the data, but then all hell is going to break loose on multiple fronts.

Tomorrow is my errand day, then I drive to Nevada for a visit. Mom doesn’t have wifi, but I can pigtale to my phone if anyone needs me. I’m up at Story Empire with an interesting story structure. I’ll monitor comments, then check them once more before my drive. I will be out of range until I get to my parent’s home, but I can check again there.

Long drives are heavenly for spending with my Muse. I discovered a new song that gave me a character. It will be a couple of years before I can use him, but I might get an idea how a special grave digger fits into Lizzie’s universe over in the hat series. The song is too obscure for her band to play, but it’s a cool character idea.

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It feels like progress

Today was the first decent writing day I’ve had in a while. I didn’t exactly jump on it like a leopard from the trees, but it feels pretty good.

I allowed myself to sleep in, which kind of seems like the wrong thing to do. Then I spent my first hour reading back over portions of what I already had.

This is because I have three distinct tales unfolding in this book. Since it is the third volume of a trilogy, I assume readers will already know these characters, so working it this way ought to be easier to accept.

What I have is James and Lanternfish at sea, Serang deep inland on a specific quest, then the Palumbos who are stuck somewhere in the middle pulling off their con game.

I’ve been stuck at the Palumbos for quite a while. Readers know they are being deceptive in every move they make, but they still have a couple of big deals to put in play. Today, I forced the issue.

As a story boarder, this feels like a section between the index cards that I usually free write. It’s just a bigger deal than most sections. This bit is like the summit of the whole book. From this point on the stories will start converging.

My goal is to keep readers from seeing it that way, but as the author I look at it like that.

It’s about one page less than a chapter, so it was a reasonable day word wise. I didn’t count them, but maybe 1800 or so today.

I think this chapter needs a lot of work, but in budgeting my days, I may return to it later. Both James and Serang have huge events ahead of them, but I still need to set their stages to a small degree.

Fortunately, their events don’t hinge upon each other. Meaning, I don’t have as hard a time deciding which one comes first in the story. Something tells me I need to get James in action first so we can see more of the danger and devastation everyone is facing, so I’ll probably do it that way. It will make Serang’s section that much stronger.

I’m kind of excited about today. After this, it’s going to be major action for a long time, and while that is hard to write, it tends to move pretty fast. I’ll break it up with lulls, like a section Mule has to do. There are several other things.

Bottom line, I’m happy with my output today. I might get a chance to review this section while I’m in Nevada. Tomorrow, I want to hit it hard again.

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Happy with my output

Sundays are usually wasted days for me. As an example, I always call my parents on Sundays. We chat for about an hour, and I won’t sacrifice this time for anything.

Old What’s Her Face is also off today, so that means distractions and noise. She’s had the Harry Potter marathon on since last night and it started again first thing this morning. As much as I love these films, I’ve seen them hundreds of times and wanted something else.

I decided to go into another room and pick at my WIP. I also tried an experiment with dubious results. I’ll experiment a bit more, then it could lead to a post for Story Empire one day. It involves ambient noise while I write.

It started off with me monkeying with Alexa one day. There wasn’t a lot of choice there, but Staci Troilo set me up with an amazing site. I tried it today, but the noise goes off as soon as my phone darkens. This led me to YouTube, and that was more functional. The trick is to pick something and not get caught up surfing for several hours.

I settled upon two different “songs” for lack of a better term. One involved a peaceful meadow, the other was designed for inside a tomb.

The meadow is where I started writing, and I like what I came up with. Serang found the ruined city as planned in my storyboard. She uncovered the secrets I plotted out, but how she went about it was magical.

She’s discovered the lost temple of the Cartomancers. The one that was burned in the history of a previous war. This gives me a great tie back to the original Lanternfish book, and it works because we’re back on the original continent.

It turns out there is still one hidden storeroom that was not destroyed in the first war. Serang uncovered this by playing her flute. She noticed that a semi-circle of standing stones were placed in exactly the same configuration as the holes on her flute.

Musical stones are a real thing, so mine work as a kind of lithophone when someone grinds on them. This lithophone required multiple people, but it opened a hidden door to a small treasure trove of the intellectual variety.

It gives me a great tie back to Mule, his parents, and even the goblins who used to live in these lands. I’ll be circling back to this in the denouement phase of the story.

I also spent extra time to detail this area. This is a special place and so I added some fantasy creatures and details to make that apparent. I created linen birds, a ribbon bird, and even a clown spider. The spider also took Serang back to her youth when orchid mantises were fascinating to young monks. (Orchid mantises are also real.)

It only came to 2500 words, but I really like them. I need to go over it several times, but at least they exist. Wreck of the Lanternfish is about 32,000 words right now. I mention this, because it needs a big denouement. Both James and Serang have a couple of gigantic things to accomplish and I’m getting closer to those. My married cons have one big one to pull off, but it isn’t on par with the others. (Important to the story, though.)

I should probably wrap the war up somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 words. That will give me plenty of room to change the world and give everyone’s favorites a conclusion of some kind.

I’m sorely tempted to go back in my cave and write more, but I’m off tomorrow. I’ll start my day by going over what I just produced. There is an opportunity to drag out the discovery and that could be helpful. Best to look with fresh eyes.

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A good day for writing

I didn’t get to the writing cabin very early. I allowed myself to sleep in, took my time tending the dogs, then browsed through a bunch of sites.

By the time I got there, Lisa had already set everything up for me in the paranormal office. She wore one of her favorite bandage dresses with a cherry pattern and red heels.

“What’s all this?” I asked.

“It’s your first real writing day in weeks. I put the coffee in a thermos beside your desk, and disabled the WiFi in here so you won’t get distracted.“

“I won’t get distracted.”

“I know. There’s no WiFi. I’ll turn it back on so you can save to the cloud when you’re finished. Now see if you can help that poor girl find the killer.” She left to take care of other duties.

I read back over my last chapter, made a few corrections, then forged ahead. It felt like a slog, because everything is starting to come together. There were a couple of times I had to go back and adjust the plants that were starting to pay off in the story.

My detective character still can’t remember his encounter with Lizzie and the hat. His wife’s spirit talked him into asking his father for help, but that happened off the page. I spent some time with him going over the six silver bullets his father provided him, and kind of like the way that scene came out.

Because of this POV character, I’m using more section breaks now. As the story comes to an end that always seems to be the case.

Meanwhile, Lizzie finished blinging up her pawn shop jacket and earned some new snow tires, because it’s the little things that count. She also spent the evening with one of her bosses at the diner. When chasing a monster that only shows up a few days per month, she also tends to get a little grouchy.

I enjoyed her evening with Dave at the diner, and it’s a nice reminder that she had friends before the hat upended her life. The diner was quiet, it was a major snowstorm, and a killer is stalking their streets. Makes the dinner shift kind of slow. I’m not totally out of my mind, because right after they locked up, Lizzie went monster hunting on the first night of the full moon.

Because of the blizzard, their night was mostly a stakeout. They spent some time listening to the idiots who call in to Night Bump Radio, then checked what appears to be a favorite travel path of the monster. They just reached the drainage when the sound of distant gunfire pulled them into action.

That’s where I stopped for the day. While it felt kind of laborious, I’m happy with the scenes. I was surprised when my word count came in at 3000 words, because it felt like about half that.

Sundays usually make for lousy writing days. I need to put something together for Story Empire so I’ll dedicate my time to that. I have a couple of things roughed out, but I need to find some graphics. I know posts always do better with graphics, but rarely use them here.

I’m calling it a win. I got some words down, and actually like what happened. Tomorrow I’ll get my next SE post scheduled.

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