Overall, it was a very productive week for Novel #2. At the beginning of January, I set a sub-goal of reaching the halfway point of the first draft by the end of the month, thinking that would be a good challenge to push myself (I was at 42% completion on January 1st). Much to my surprise, I crossed the 50% threshold on January 16th. Yay!
Word Count Progress:
Draft #1 Word Count:
- Start Word Count: 35,558
- End Word Count: 37,696
- Total: 2,138
Draft #2 Revised Word Count:
- Start Word Count: 36,484
- End Word Count: 38,614
- Total: 2,130
My word counts are little low mainly because the progress I made had more to do with making adjustments to the story, voice, and overall flow. I was expecting this as I’ve had a particular section of the novel highlighted for attention since I finished the first draft.
As I watch my numbers, I find it very interesting that they are so close together. Even as I cut large chunks, I find the deletions are making way for much needed expansion in other areas. It’s rather fascinating how the two processes are canceling each other out!
Writing Process Notes:
- It’s a good thing I wrote a lot in the beginning of the week because by the end I found myself with another cold, (I was down for the count Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Today isn’t looking so great, either.).
- Before succumbing to yet another virus, I had an interesting experience with my muse. On my way to the mailbox on Wednesday, I was debating whether I should take the night off and let my novel breathe or settle in for another marathon session of revisions. In the mail was a piece of junk mail from National Geographic, which I opened because they always send cool bookmarks. When I saw the image on the enclosed bookmark, I just about died. It was the same image I’ve had stuck in my notebook since I began taking Novel #2 seriously. Dan’s Cave in the Bahamas has served as the ultimate inspiration for the setting of the climax scene in Novel #2, (see Into the Writing Cave) and now the image was once again sitting in my hands. Needles to say, I put the bookmark on my desk and wrote like a lunatic that evening.
While there are sections of the story that venture into unknown parts, I chose to stick close to home for the bulk of the novel. I used my neighborhood as the model for Amanda’s home as well as Ian’s, while also utilizing several locations throughout Phoenix, Arizona. At the same time, I added an element of fiction to each and every locale. Mixing a little imagination into the real world is what gives my novel an extra sense of realism, which is an important element in urban fantasy. A few of the locations I included and fictionalized are as follows:
- Buffalo Ridge Park
- I work near this park and therefore see it every day. It has a small mountain with a trail that leads to a spectacular view of the horizon. I invented an easier hiking trail and a stone slab large enough for my characters to sit. The location serves as both a metaphor for a step in Ian and Amanda’s relationship, but it’s also a very romantic place where they share something beautiful.
- Coffe Bean and Tea Leaf (on Cave Creek Road)
- I’ve only been to this coffee shop once, but the ambience was just what I needed for a particular scene between Amanda, Ian, and another character. It has large windows, (bigger than most Starbucks locations), which is exactly what I needed so the scene could play out as planned. However, I invented table arrangements and specific drinks.
- Phoenix Art Museum
- I visited the Phoenix Art Museum in the name of research a couple of years ago when the idea for Novel #2 was taking shape in my head. Art plays a central role in Ian’s life, so I knew I had to learn as much as I could to understand his fascination with sculpture and paint strokes, (his taste in art is very different from my own). In the process, I realized the museum was a perfect setting for a series of key scenes. I ended up creating a traveling exhibit – a collection derived from bits and pieces I saw at the British Museum – to give Amanda and Ian motivation to go to the museum. Then, I used a real exhibit that is a fixture on the second floor. The moment I stood before that particular exhibit, I knew I had stumbled upon an incredible spot for a critical scene between Ian and Amanda. I actually rearranged my timeline notes to make way for the use of this art installation, (you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is!).
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